Saturday, June 30, 2012

He is (almost) SEVEN.

Last night we celebrated Mason's 7th birthday with a shark themed party.  This was actually his idea.  I had the cutest baseball party all planned out (and was most excited about the party favors), but he is absolutely fascinated with sharks and requested a shark party.  So what's a Mama to do?

The best place for a shark party is at the pool so that's what we did.  Here are some of the sharks.  

Decorating for this party was super easy.  Besides, Mason could care less about decorations anyway.  But that's my favorite part.  We decided to have a fish fry and use the fish we caught on our recent fishing trip.
And here's the fruit tray!  Don't worry.  None of these ideas are original.  You can find anything and everything on Pinterest and Google.  When I first saw this watermelon shark, I quickly dismissed the idea.  But a few days ago, my bestie texted me a picture of another watermelon shark and convinced me to go for it.  Besides, Mason absolutely loves watermelon.  I wish bestie would've been here to help me, but I was rather proud of the results myself, and it didn't take very long to do.  Besides watermelon, we had strawberries and grapes.

And here are the shark fin cupcakes.  Hannah Kate was very concerned about these cupcakes because the fins weren't edible.  I cut them out of blue foam sheets.  I thought that would hold up better than card stock, and I was not about to attempt fins from fondant.  So foam sheets it was.  But I assured her that it was fine, that she could pull the fin out before she ate the cupcake.  She was quick to let everyone who got a cupcake know that they couldn't eat the fin.
Thanks to my husband, the fish were so yummy!  Gavin even had a piece that looked like a shark!
And, as usual, we have our own special theme balloons, too.  Mason loved these sharks!  The "ocean punch" (or "shark juice") was blue kool-aid mixed with sprite.
And I got these gummy sharks at a local candy store.  The kids really enjoyed these, too.
Mason's face lit up when he saw the gift table.  I've always tried to remind him and Hannah Kate that birthdays are not about gifts.  At one point this week, Mason told me that his birthday would be fun because family and friends would be there and not because he was getting presents.  Yeah, I didn't believe that for a minute.

He has been playing all day with his new Legos and cars.  He, Seth and Hannah Kate are currently having some kind of battle with the Nerf guns.

And then came THE BOX.  Mimi sure outdid herself this year.  Mason could hardly take it in.  He got a new backpack with sharks on it, shark bed sheets (which he wanted me to promptly put on his bed at 10:00 last night when we got home), shark towel, shark pajamas, shark goggles . . .

The only thing he specifically requested (besides a shark party and swimming) was a cookie cake.
Hannah Kate got a little happy from Mimi, too.  Her towel has a mermaid on it.  I thought she would never put it down.
And, so, I think it was a really fun evening.  In the meantime, I can not believe my first-born is (almost) SEVEN years old!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

More Summertime Fun

It's a hot one this year . . . so we've been spending a lot of time at the pool.  I try to take the kids swimming a couple of times a week.  Unless being outside involves water, they don't like going outside, and I don't blame them!
We finished baseball season a couple of weeks ago, and Mason got another medal.

Not that this was summertime fun . . . but after Abbie got her pink cast, Mason and Hannah Kate signed it for her.

I do have another garden this year.  I actually have two gardens.  I really wanted to plant one of my favorites: silver queen corn.  So here it is.
The ears aren't the biggest, but that definitely hasn't affected the taste.  This is my absolute favorite corn, and I finally convinced my husband that it DOES matter.  So this has become a staple at our table at least twice a week.  I'm going to be ever so sad when it's gone.  My plan was to freeze some and save it for later, but I'm afraid we're going to eat it all!
My favorite meal this week was turkey burgers with fried green tomatoes (yes, I put the tomato on the burger!) and grilled corn.
Our favorite thing to do this summer has been to go to the water park.  There's a small water park in Baton Rouge that caters to families with young children, and it is absolutely perfect!  It is clean, there are lifeguards everywhere and it's never crowded during the week.  This is actually the first week I haven't been able to take the kids so we will definitely be going back next week.  And, yes, I wear my maternity swimsuit and (gasp!) even get in the water!  They have the perfect zero-entry pool that I can sit it and have a view of the entire park so I can see Mason on the watersides or the lily pads and Hannah Kate in the pirate ship play area.  They love it, and I do, too!  There are usually at least five other expectant moms there so I just fit right in!

I went back to the doctor on Tuesday.  Baby's heart rate was back up to 150 BPM.  The only other notable mention was that my doctor commented that perhaps I'm a little "too active" at this point in my pregnancy.  I guess the cankles were a dead give-away.  There's was really nothing I could say to that so I just smiled as sweetly as I could.  Besides, she understands.  She has two children even younger than Mason and Hannah Kate.  She's just saying what she has to say.

And this weekend . . . well, it's going to be another fun one!  These next few pictures are a hint:

Just in case you're wondering, Hannah Kate is holding a bag of gummy sharks.
It's sure to be FIN-TASTIC!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Where have all the ankles gone?

A sweet friend of mine took me shopping on Saturday because she wanted to get a gift for Baby B.  We pretty much made a day of it.  And it really was a lot of fun.  We did a little more than shop for baby though.

I just couldn't help myself.  I had to try them on.  That was easier said than done.  It took nearly five minutes for me to get these shoes on my swollen, fluid-filled tootsies.
When my bestie saw this picture, she said they look like Barbie shoes.  Well, let me tell you . . . those ain't Barbie's ankles!

After I got home, I took Mason and Hannah Kate to a birthday party.  And this is what my feet and ankles looked like at the end of the day.  I couldn't even bend my toes!
And speaking of shoes . . . 

Something happened today that has never happened before.  Monday is my usual errand and grocery shopping day, which means I try to get everything done so I don't have to go back to town the rest of the week.  Sometimes this plan works, and sometimes it doesn't.  Yet again, I didn't sleep well last night, and I really wasn't feeling stellar this morning.  As a matter of fact, I didn't want to go anywhere or do anything, but that wasn't an option.  So after we had breakfast and got dressed, I told Mason and Hannah Kate to go get their shoes on and get in the truck.  I grabbed my water, and we were off.

We make it to our first stop, and I tell the kids to get out.  Hannah Kate then comments that she can't find her shoes.  That makes no sense.  You shouldn't have to "find" your shoes in a vehicle that's . . . well . . . clean.  I look back there, and I don't see them either.  The reason she couldn't find her shoes was because she didn't wear any!  I mean . . . seriously?!?  For a moment I just stood there.  I was mad.  Really, I was.  And I was trying to decide what to do.  My first inclination was to just leave her in the truck.  Of course, I didn't do that.  I mean, it was 100 degrees today.  I'm not kidding.  We tied the record.  I thought about buying her a cheap pair of flip flops, but we weren't at a store with flip flops.  Besides, as much as that girl loves shoes, a new pair of flip flops, no matter how cheap they were, would be a treat.  And I was in no mood to treat her.

So, to make a long story short, my errands didn't get done because I could only go to stores with buggies.  I was not about to let her walk around bare-footed.  And then I had to carry her from the truck to wherever a buggy was and heave her up in it.  Did I mention it was 100 degrees today?!  And I'm 36 1/2 weeks pregnant with a child who has quite possibly now topped 7 pounds?!  It was not a great day.  But I'm sure I'll eventually look back on it and laugh.  I'm just not there yet.

Tomorrow will be another doctor's appointment.  I really should just set up a tent at Woman's Hospital.  Of course, my ankles and I probably wouldn't fit in said tent right now anyway.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

27 days and counting . . .

In 27 days, I will finally be able to hold this precious baby.  And I can. not. wait.
I had a sonogram this morning.  It wasn't near as exciting as I thought it might be.  This is the best picture we could get.  The baby is looking at us.  I know.  Just take my word for it.  We could not get a profile picture because there just wasn't any room for the sonographer to move the baby around.  The bubble looking thingys at the top is the umbilical cord.

The heart rate was 136 this morning.  That's the lowest it's ever been.  Last week it was 146, and the week before that it was 152.  The sonographer also commented that the baby was "practice breathing," which she said was a really good thing.  But the whole point of this sonogram was to check the baby's weight.  It's NOT a good thing when the sonographer tentatively asks what my other two children weighed.  Mason was born on his due date at 40 weeks and weighed 8 pounds 1 ounce.  He was 21 inches long.  Hannah Kate was born at 39 weeks and weighed 8 pounds 5 ounces.  She was also 21 inches long. That would be right about the time I am told that this baby currently weighs 6 pounds 9 ounces.  That may not mean anything to you, but let me put it into perspective.

My sister-in-law reminded me today that Abbie weighed 6 pounds 5 ounces when she was born.  So this baby already weighs more than Abbie did at her birth.  At this point in my pregnancy, baby B is gaining about 1/2 pound a week.  My section is scheduled four weeks from yesterday.  So, if you do the math, the baby could potentially gain another two pounds by July 16.  If you add that to the 6 pounds 9 ounces, that puts us at 8 pounds 9 ounces.  As my doctor so encouragingly said, "Well, the good thing is that you have to have a section!"  It's possible this baby could even top 9 pounds!  Oh how I hope not!

So the whole point of the story is that baby B is very healthy but also very big.  And let me just tell you.  I'm feeling every bit of this 6 pounds 9 ounces!  I am very well aware of fingers and toes and elbows and knees.  I am very well aware of that little head, too.  I'm thankful for every poke, every jab, every punch, every uncomfortable moment.  I would be thankful if I could get some sleep, but I'll probably have to wait until after the baby is born for that.  I know it sounds crazy.  But I have a feeling I'll sleep more after the baby comes than I do now.  It's not that I'm not tired.  I'm plumb exhausted.  But there is no comfortable position in which to sleep, and I spend more time rolling from side to side than I do actually sleeping.  Last night I managed to sleep about four hours.

There is so much excitement, so much anticipation surrounding the arrival of this baby.  Now that we have a date, it's become more of a reality in Mason's and Hannah Kate's worlds.  They can understand July 16, understand how much longer that is.  It is absolutely fascinating experiencing this pregnancy through their eyes.

They are constantly asking whether or not the baby is moving.  It got to the point that, when I answered no, they would get worried that something was wrong.  So now when they ask, if the baby isn't moving, I tell them the baby is sleeping.  That seems to work much better.  They've also had a lot of questions concerning how the baby is going to get out of my tummy.  I just keep telling them that the doctor is going to help get the baby out.  Mason referred to it as "when the baby pops out," but I had to stop that because Hannah Kate got upset when she likened the baby "popping" out to a balloon popping.  During the past couple of weeks, Mason started asking how the baby eats.  So I've been telling him that when I eat, that same food feeds the baby.  This past Sunday when we were eating lunch, Mason asked me if the baby was moving or asleep.  The baby wasn't moving at the time so I told him the baby was sleeping.  That didn't go over so well because . . . how can the baby eat (after all, I was eating) if he is sleeping?!  Hannah Kate is now more concerned about the "cream" that will be rubbed on the baby's eyes after the baby is born.  We have a picture of her shortly after she was born with the antibiotic cream on her eyes.  She is sleeping, of course.  But she is also convinced that it somehow "hurt," and she doesn't want that to happen to the new baby.

Hannah Kate is in a much better place now that we got all of the baby clothes out of the attic, washed and folded them.  She's no longer worried that the baby doesn't have any clothes to wear.  Her only concern is that we have more girl clothes than boy clothes.  I've explained to her several times that I loaned a lot of the boy clothes out so if we have a boy, and I get those clothes back, we will have plenty of boy clothes.  We also pulled the cradle out of storage.  I still need to clean it though.  We bought a new swing.  I absolutely hated the one I had with Mason, and it (accidentally) got broken during one of our moves.  I loved the one I used with Hannah Kate, but I'd borrowed it from a friend in Mississippi and returned it to her when we moved back to Louisiana.  The only other thing I need that I don't have is an infant carrier.  Again, I hate the one I used with Mason and Hannah Kate so we decided to upgrade.  I've picked out the one I want, and I think my friend and I are going baby shopping on Saturday so I'll get it then.  Now all we need is baby.  And a boy name.

I still think we're having a boy.  But we don't have a boy name.  Well, we have a list of three names.  I guess you could say we have a list of only two names because Seth doesn't like one of my names, but I just can't take it off the list because, every time I think of this baby as a boy, I call him by name.  Samuel.  I just love that name.  That was the first boy name I had picked out before finding out Hannah Kate was a girl.  And I wanted to call him Sam.  I just think that is so sweet.  My husband, however, does not.  He said that no child of his would be named Sam Bayham.  Now. I have to admit.  I hadn't put it together like that.  But I don't care.  I still love the name.  Samuel.  So it's still on the list.  And that's what I call "him" lots of times.

And . . . just one more story . . . I can honestly tell you that cute and pregnant are not two words that you will find in the same sentence with my name right now.  I'll refrain from sharing the words that would be more appropriate in the same sentence with my name right now.  But I guess it just all depends on the eye of the beholder.  My last blog post detailed some of last week's adventures at Vacation Bible School.  I mentioned that I taught the kindergarten class a few days.  Well, one of my kindergarteners told his older sister after the first day that his "teacher is having a baby, but she's still pretty hot."  Now.  When I heard that, I'm not sure if I was more embarrassed or more flattered.  Regardless.  He really could've been telling the truth.  We had some problems with the air conditioner in that classroom the first day so by the end of the morning, I was very obviously hot.  So maybe that's what he really meant.

Monday, June 18, 2012

One Amazing Week

I know I'm really behind on blogging.  But I have a good excuse.  Three little letters . . . V.B.S.  Mason and Hannah Kate watched as, during the past three months, our dining room became Amazing Wonders Aviation express.  Decorations and crafts and curriculum and toys were piled up everywhere.  They could hardly contain their excitement.  They absolutely Vacation Bible School.  And I guess it's a good thing.  Because when Mama is the director, that means that her life becomes pretty much consumed with VBS during the final weeks leading up to the big event.  So much so that, at one point, Hannah Kate asked me what I was doing and before I could answer, she rolled her eyes and said, "Oh.  I know.  That's for Vacation Bible School."  But we do love us some VBS around here.

This year was different.  It was the first year since 1999 (with the exception of 2005 when Mason was born) that I didn't lead the music rotation.  The music was so good this year, so fun.  But it was more important that, at 35 weeks, I not go into labor!  At this point, I'm still not believing I made it through the week.  I crashed Friday afternoon, and I feel like I'm still trying to recover.  But it really was an awesome, amazing week!  I'd been looking forward to it for so long.  And I feel like this is one of the best Vacation Bible Schools we've ever had.  It was so evident to me during the months leading up until now that God is at work in our church, in our community.  Sometimes I get frustrated and discouraged because it seems like it's just the same old thing . . . the empty spots in the pews at church, the family and friends that aren't there week after week.  But just because we can't "see" it doesn't mean God isn't working.  Because He is!  And if we want to see it, we have to be a part of it.  We have to jump in and join Him.  He's calling us to serve Him.  He's calling us to be His hands and His feet to a hurting, dying world.  I got to watch His hands and His feet at work in my church last week, and it just absolutely blessed my socks off.  Here are just a few of my favorite memories.

Worship.  There's nothing like watching children participate in worship.
Our snack ladies did such an incredible job this year!  They made banana planes and spent several hours transforming cupcakes into fish.  We had Northern Lights pudding cups and ding dong suckers.  Mason was really digging the snacks.  And, obviously, Braden was really digging the kool-aid!

Yes, that is a hot pink cast on Abbie's arm.  I've not had time to blog about it, but Abbie broke her wrist a couple of weeks ago.  Please say a prayer for her.  We're hoping she can get a waterproof cast really soon, but it just seems to be healing not as quickly as we thought it would.  And it's summertime.  So she hasn't been able to go swimming or play in the water.  Have I mentioned it's summertime?!  But she's been such a sweet trooper through it all. 
One of the things I've really wanted our youth to do is participate in a hands-on missions project, and my in-laws made that happen this year.  They assembled care / snack baskets for many of our local service providers, like the library, volunteer fire department, tourist center.  They delivered them on Friday, and I have no doubt it was a blessing to our community.  The smiling faces as they received their baskets were priceless.
The music this year . . . was so much fun.  The favorite was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.  This picture was taken at Family Night and just cracks me up.
This year Hannah Kate was finally old enough to be in a "real" class.  And she loved every minute of it!  She came home with some of the cutest crafts and projects.  Mrs. Cierra did an outstanding job with our pre-k class.
And our kindergarten class . . . I had the pleasure of teaching the Bible story to them the first three days.  And then I turned over the rest of the class to these two sweet girls.  Again, this was such a blessing to me.  My first VBS at our church was in 1999 when I was here as a summer missionary.  And these girls were two of "my kids" at the time.  B was 12 years old, and D was in kindergarten herself!  And now, here they are teaching a class.  That's what it's all about!
Another blessing, perhaps the best part of the day, is seeing how happy and excited and full of energy the kids are.  They are happy and excited and full of energy about learning about Jesus!
Here's our pre-k class, Hannah Kate's class.
And here's our kindergarten class.  Another sweet friend, a "new" friend of mine, taught this class the last two days of VBS.  She, along with B and D, really blessed my heart.
Here is Mason's class.  This past year he moved up to the 1st grade Sunday School class, which meant he had to leave his beloved Mrs. Martha behind.  But she was his VBS teacher this time so he was really excited to be in Mrs. Martha's class.
We had an awesome 3rd/4th grade class.
And our 5th/6th grade class did such a great job at Family Night.  They used glow sticks to demonstrate Romans 6:23.
And the youth class . . .
In case I didn't mention it earlier, Hannah Kate loved her VBS class.  In addition to all of the crafts and activities and games and Bible stories, they also played with play doh, drew with sidewalk chalk, blew bubbles . . .
When I was planning the crafts for the kindergarten class, I couldn't help myself.  There were several activities that involved painting.  At first, I was hesitant, but I new there was nothing the kids would love more.  Here is sweet B after one of our painting projects.  I just love this picture!
Another of my favorites is our penny offering.  I call it that . . . but we also get dimes and nickels and quarters and sometimes dollars.  We used to have a competition between the classes to see who could bring the most change, not from a monetary standpoint but from a weight standpoint.  Last year I decided to do things a bit differently.  Instead of having the classes compete against one another, I labeled each bucket with a picture of one of our adult leaders and asked them to fill the bucket of the person they most wanted to throw a water balloon at.  My picture was on a bucket last year.  On the last day, my father-in-law beat me by 5 pounds.

One thing I've learned is that I don't need to start something that I don't intend to do year-after-year.  For example, I rented a water slide for Family Night three years ago.  And now I can not NOT have a water slide for Family Night.  And now the same goes with the offering buckets and water balloons.  This year, my picture was not on a bucket.  But J's was.  And she was the target this year.  After a week of VBS, her bucket had been filled with 103 pounds worth of coins.

On Wednesday alone, her bucket contained $125 in coins.  It took our treasurer and three other people over three hours to count the money on Wednesday.
At week's end, we collected over $1,300, all of which will be used to support ministries and missionaries in our state, in our country and also internationally.  We donate 100% of our VBS offering to missions.

And here they are all lined up and ready to throw water balloons at Mrs. Jessica.
We started with the pre-k class and then let each class have a turn.

I can honestly say that the past couple of weeks have been so overwhelming . . . but overwhelming in the best kind of way.  I'm just overwhelmed at God's goodness and His provision and His love and His mercy and His BLESSINGS.  I love VBS.  The best part is that kids get to hear God's Word.  They hear it in the Bible stories, in the music.  One of our Sunday School teachers was on vacation yesterday so I helped out in the children's class.  One of the verses we read was one that we actually sang the words to in one of the VBS songs.  All of a sudden, one of the 3rd graders proclaimed, "Hey!  I know that!  I sang that this week!"  That's what it's all about.  VBS is, hands-down, one of the most important, most evangelistic ministries of the church.  And I'm so proud to be a part of it year after year.

So, yes, I love VBS.  But, by the end of the week, my ankles did not.  Now.  Considering how embarrassing this is, I'm posting this picture anyway.  This is what my feet and ankles, or lack thereof, looked like on Thursday evening before Family Night.  

I've gained 10 pounds in fluid (yes, 10 !!! . . . guess I should really be thankful for the weight I lost at the beginning of this pregnancy! . . . cause I'm sure making up for it now!) during the past week, all of which is settling from my knees to my feet.  It's become very uncomfortable, to say the least.  Even my flip flops and sandals are too tight now.  But the good news is that my blood pressure is still relatively low, and I don't have any symptoms of preeclampsia.  Four more weeks.  That's it.  I feel like I'm so close but so far away!  Tomorrow will be a fun day though.  I have a sonogram scheduled tomorrow morning.  I can hardly wait to see what baby B looks like now!  I've never had a sonogram this late in pregnancy.  So I should have some new baby pictures to post tomorrow!  Until then . . . my cankles and I are going to bed.