Life with 4

I'll be honest...I was pretty freaked out at the prospect of being at home with 4 kids. Fortunately, Hallie is an angel baby. I was hoping and praying that she would be mellow (especially since Matthew is particularly challenging most of the time), and Heavenly Father heard my prayer!

From the very beginning, Hallie picked right up on breastfeeding and has been a super champion ever since. We went to our pediatrician for a weight check (she had lost a tiny bit more weight than the discharging pediatrician liked to see), and she gained 11 oz. in 4 days--she was back up at her birth weight after less than a week! I'm not really surprised, though, because it seems like I'm making enough milk for three babies.

*Breastfeeding TMI alert*

It's been a little more than a week since my milk came in, and I'm just NOW starting to get over the engorgement. I tried to pump to relieve a little bit of the pressure but it never really worked very well. What worked instead was just hand expressing one side while Hallie was nursing on the other side. Pretty much every time I've done that I've gotten at least two (and usually more) ounces without much effort. In the past it always took pumping for 10-15 minutes to get a similar output. I'm building up quite a freezer stash without a lot of work, which is nice. I'm hoping the little miss will get nice and chunky with all this liquid gold.

Evidence that my milk is doing work...her first spectacular blow out.
Hey, she's got to keep up with her brothers, right?
It's a good thing Miss Hallie is adorable, because she is pretty disgusting. We're still adjusting to changing girl diapers (wipe DOWN, not up!), and I've had quite a few unfortunate mishaps. Everybody knows you have to change a boy's diaper fast, because as soon as the cool air hits his nether regions you get an unwanted shower. What no one tells you is that a girl has the same problem--it just goes in a different direction. I also have extremely bad luck or terrible timing, because there have been a handful of times where she, ahem, does her business while undiapered (like during her first sponge bath...way to defeat the purpose, baby girl!). I guess I'll get faster with practice and then I won't have so many issues...right?
Hallie is a pretty good sleeper, for a newborn. I don't stress about my babies sleeping through the night at a young age, because newborns need to eat frequently (not only to gain weight at a healthy pace but also to help develop a healthy breastfeeding relationship). She will typically go to "bed" around 9 p.m. and sleep until 1 a.m. Then, some nights she'll get up every 2.5-3 hours and other nights, like last night, she'll sleep until 6 a.m. She's a great snuggler though, so I have to be careful--if I bring her to bed to feed her we'll both fall asleep and she'll sleep through the night. Nice for my fatigue; not so nice for my engorgement problem.
Overall, Hallie is a really mellow baby. She loves to be held, but she'll chill out in the swing too. She loves to be swaddled, but she always wiggles her left hand out so she can have it up by her face. She'll take a pacifier reluctantly, and she'll make a really funny face if you try to stick one in her mouth when she doesn't want it. Interestingly enough, her temperament reminds me a lot of Lucas, which is promising. Lucas was my easiest baby so far, so I could definitely get behind Hallie behaving similarly.
I think Cole is over the moon about having a daughter. He loves the boys, don't get me wrong. They all have a grand time rough-housing and wrestling. But there's just something special about a daddy having a daughter, and I'm so glad he finally gets to experience that.

Snuggling with his babies. Matthew looks like a GIANT next to Hallie!
 The novelty of having a sister hasn't worn off for the boys yet. They still ask to hold her all the time, and Matthew in particular is especially sweet with her. We're still working on being soft, though, because he can be a little rough when he's trying to kiss her head. :)

Loving on their baby sister
I think Matthew is especially tickled that he gets to sit next to Hallie in the car. I opened the door to get her out of the car one day and found him holding her hand, quite proud of himself.

I'm honestly so relieved that he loves her so much. I was a little bit worried about him because they're so close in age and he can be really demanding, but so far he's adjusted quite well (knock on wood). We've even only had a couple of "Osama bin Matthew" moments in the first week, which is far less than I expected, especially since I spend a lot of time out of commission nursing the baby.

We're still not quite back into our regular schedule, but we're doing pretty well. I am still adamant that the boys all lay down and have nap time/quiet time at the same time every day (during which they all typically fall asleep), which frees up a couple of hours for me to take a rest with the baby. My house is a little on the disastrous side, but eventually I'll get to the point where I can do some straightening during nap time instead of resting.

Overall, life is really good.


Hallie's Birth Story

We were scheduled for an induction at 6:30 am on Tuesday, November 5. I was pretty excited, because the last two times we've been put on the waiting list, so there was always a chance of being bumped. This time, we had a scheduled time and everything so I figured it was a solid lock.
Well, nothing is a solid lock. I realized around 8:30 pm on Monday night that I hadn't gotten a call from anyone at the hospital confirming the induction and giving me instructions, which worried me a bit. I made a quick phone call and was told by the charge nurse that they were crazy busy that evening and all inductions the next day were on hold until further notice. I think she heard the discouragement in my voice because she reassured me that they would get me in; she just wasn't sure what time it would be. She told me to call when I woke up the next morning for further information.
So, we went to bed that night without knowing exactly how things would go the next morning. I slept pretty well and woke up around 5:30 when Matthew climbed into bed with us. Cole was already awake and was pestering me to call the hospital. I finally called just after 6 am, gave the charge nurse my name, and was told to call again at 7. Cole guessed (and I agreed) that she told me that because her shift was almost over and she wanted to pawn me off on the next shift, because when I called at 7 the nurse told me to come in right away before I ever gave her my name. We threw ourselves together and arrived at the hospital at 7:40.
We got all registered and checked in, and Cole took one last photo of me and my pregnant belly.

I wanted to take an "after" picture in the same dress,
but I never got around to it before we got home.
 I got changed and settled on the bed, and my doctor arrived. They started pitocin and he broke my water all at the same time, so the official start of my labor was 8:44 am.

My labor and delivery nurse was the best I've ever had. She was friendly and laid back and funny, but she didn't hover or intrude. She checked on me every 45 minutes to an hour so she could change the pitocin dose. It took a little while to get my contractions into a regular pattern, so the early part of my labor dragged on a lot more than I would have liked. Originally, my doctor said (assuming a 6:30 start time) we'd probably have a baby by lunchtime; since we started two hours later than that I figured we'd be all done by early afternoon. But, we passed 2:00, 2:30, and 3:00 before I even had to concentrate on my contractions, so I knew it wouldn't be anytime soon.

*small side note* My doctor was mentoring a medical student at the time, and he asked if it was ok if the student was present for the delivery. He reassured me that the student wouldn't actually DO anything himself; he was there mostly to observe and learn. The student did stop by once during my early labor and was INCREDIBLY awkward. My mom and Cole are still laughing about how uncomfortable it was to talk to him.

Somewhere between 3:30 and 4:00 my doctor sent his student over to "get ready for the delivery." My doctor has been practicing for 25+ years (although he doesn't look it!) and has already delivered two of my three kids, so he has a pretty good sense for when things are about to happen. I'm pretty sure he meant for the student to hang out around labor and delivery so he was close when the time for delivery came, but the student was so gung ho that he got all gowned and gloved up. Since he had all of his sterile gear on he couldn't leave the room again, which meant I acquired an extra unwanted labor attendant. I know he was just anxious and excited, but he ended up being really distracting. When my contractions start to be painful I typically close my eyes and breathe quietly through them. Cole and my mom have been through labors with me so they know that, so they stop talking and are quiet. The student just kept on talking, even though he HAD to be able to see I was trying to focus. Cole tried to deflect some of his conversation, but he didn't seem to get the message. All I really wanted to do was tell him to shut up, but even when I'm in labor I'm too polite.

As I approached transition I had the weirdest inability to sit still. I was sitting upright in the bed (like I usually do during my labors) and dangled my legs off the sides, and I couldn't stop bouncing my legs and wiggling my hips. I've never really experienced that before. The movement would get a little more intense with the contractions, but it persisted between them as well. Super strange.

Around 4:15-4:30 I started hitting transition and really vocalizing through contractions. I remember being angry at the pain. It surprised me, because I've never been angry before. I thought about it, and I wasn't angry at Cole, or God, or any one person in particular (although, I think I might be having a conversation with Heavenly Father when I get to the other side about why labor has to hurt so much), just at the pain. It actually helped me stave off the inevitable hopeless feeling that comes with transition for a while, though. The nurse checked my dilation just after 4:30 and I was only at a "stretchy 7" and about 90% effaced. This was really discouraging, especially since I had a contraction while I was on my back and it HURT more than any of the others. That discouragement brought on the hopeless "I can't do this" feelings and I even briefly considered asking for an epidural. The rational part of my brain reminded me that even though it didn't seem like it, I probably only had half an hour AT MOST left, and the drugs wouldn't even kick in by then. All I could think about was when my stinking doctor would get there, because I knew as soon as he was there everything would get better.

*second small side note* Somewhere during the last half an hour of my labor a nurse came in and told me they had several CNA students on the floor and asked if I would be ok with them observing my delivery (apparently I was the only one delivering without an epidural that day and they were interested). The nurse told me that my doctor had delivered a baby of one of the students, so I assumed they were college-aged. When they came in the room (there were about 6) I realized they were HIGH SCHOOL students--they were taking CNA courses at the tech center. So, with the students, my doctor, the med student, my nurse, the baby's nurse, Cole, and my mom, there was quite a crowd in the delivery room!

My doctor strolled in probably 10 minutes later. He is probably one of the most calm, relaxed people I've ever met. In three deliveries I've never seen him be anything but laid back and chill. Fortunately, his calm is infectious, and my mom told me later that she could visibly see me relax when he came in the room. He checked my dilation and told me I was at a 9, but if I wanted to start pushing my cervix would stretch around the baby's head. As soon as he said that I realized that pushing was EXACTLY what I wanted to do and I bore down with everything I had. It took approximately 3 solid pushes to get my baby earthside, and all I felt was relief that it was over.

They placed her on my belly, and I have to admit, I checked to make sure she was a girl before I ever looked at her face. Once I had that confirmation, I got to admire her beautiful little face and full head of dark hair. She was COVERED in vernix, which was a big contrast to the boys--they all came out relatively clean. My doctor helped his med student deliver the placenta and I got to snuggle my baby girl skin to skin.

lots of dark hair!
After 20-30 minutes they took her to get weighed and measured: 7 lb., 15.3 oz., 19.5 in. long. She is my smallest baby, but only by a few ounces (Matthew was 8 lb. 3 oz., Lucas was 8 lb. 4 oz.). The weird thing is everything about her seems SO tiny! I guess she's just petite and delicate. :)

chubby little face...our first impression was that she looked like Lucas

Making a classic "Lucas" face
They moved us to our recovery room and we got all settled in. We called my sister and let her know she could bring the boys up to meet their new sister. Apparently, Kyle was extremely anxious. Around 2:30 he exclaimed "Ugh! What's taking so long?" :) They were all instantly in love with their baby sister and took turns snuggling and kissing her. Kyle and Lucas were happy to see me, but Matthew was a little gun-shy (I was prepared for this, though, because Lucas was the same way when Matthew was born).

wide awake after her first night earthside
wearing a bow from Uncle James and Aunt Liz--it was HUGE on her tiny head!

Finally--a bow the perfect size for her little head,
courtesy of one of Cole's co-workers.

All dressed to go home in the outfit Lucas (with help from Grandma) picked out
All bundled up in the carseat
My recovery this time around has been amazing. By the next day I seriously didn't even feel like I had given birth the day before. It's a good thing I had both Cole and my mom reminding me to take it slow the first few days, because I felt so good that I think I would have tried to do too much and worn myself out. Even now it doesn't feel like she was born only a week and a half ago. I'm so grateful for a physical body that can adapt and change to carry and deliver a child and bounce back so quickly and easily.


What (We) Made Monday: Hallie Jo Christensen

November 5, 2013
4:57 PM
7 lb. 15.3 oz
19.5 in
Our tiny peanut of a princess is here! So far, the consensus is that she most resembles Lucas, but I see a lot of Kyle in her as well. She definitely looks like she fits in with our family, though!
I'm still working on her birth story, so I'll get that posted as soon as it's finished. I'm already starting to forget some of the details, so I really want to get it down asap. I also need to make sure that Cole has an opportunity to get his edits in--I think his perspective adds a special element that my side alone can't provide.
We are absolutely in love. The boys have all been so great with her! I think the biggest surprise is Matthew. I expected him to be ambivalent at best and extremely jealous at worst, but he has been so sweet with Hallie. He loves to hold her whenever he gets a chance, and he looks at her so tenderly. 

4 kids!


What I Made Monday: Tutus

Ever since I found out we were having a girl, I've been dreaming and scheming about what I want her newborn pictures to look like (priorities, right?). I fell in love with pictures that had little girl babies almost overwhelmed by fluffy tulle tutus. I looked at a few boutiques but never really found exactly what I wanted. Then, I remembered a few tutorials for making tutus I'd seen on this blog I follow and thought, "I could totally do that!"

After a quick trip to Hobby Lobby and some repurposing of a few items I already had lying around, I got pretty much exactly what I wanted.

For this first tutu, I used a stretchy crocheted hat that I already had for the upper part. I just snipped the thread that held the top gathered together and it opened up nicely for me to use. I also already had the purple ribbon that I used for the neck tie.
For the tutu part, I used one 25-yard roll (yes, the entire thing!) of lavender tulle from Hobby Lobby. I wanted to make the tutu part 10 inches long, so I cut 20-inch pieces of tulle and folded them in half. I tied the tulle to one side of the crocheted piece using that simple knot that probably has a name, but I don't know what it is. You know, the one where you wrap your folded-in-half string, thread, yarn, tulle, etc. around another object, then thread it through the loop formed at the other end? Anyway, I'm sure everyone in the world knows how to make this knot, and if you think about it, it's exactly the one you'd think of using for a project like this. I continued around the crocheted piece until the tulle went all the way around. Pretty simple, right? I tied the ribbon on the other side of the crocheted piece using the same knot to form the neck tie, and voila! All finished. I have a pink headband and a pair of pink lace-up ballet flats to accessorize this tutu.
The second tutu was a little bit trickier. I didn't want to use elastic for the waistband (because it required .05 seconds of sewing, and I don't even sew THAT much), so I bought some cream-colored satin ribbon to use instead. I cut my ivory tulle in 20-inch pieces, folded it in half, and tied it to the ribbon using the same easy knot as above. I used an entire 25-yard roll of tulle for this tutu as well. I had a bit of coral/pinkish satin ribbon left over from a gift I received that I loved, and it paired nicely with the ivory tulle. I folded it in half width-wise and hot-glued it over the top of the knots to create the waist and give it a more finished look. The cream and coral satin ribbon make a really pretty bow when tied at the back.

I have a coral flower on a cream headband and a string of tiny ivory pearls to accessorize this tutu.

I'm really happy with how they turned out! They're super fluffy and overwhelming, so they'll be perfect for newborn pictures.


Pregnancy Update: Full Term!


The only reason I have clothes on is because I had a doctor's appointment.
Usually I live in cookie pants.
So, I'm officially considered "full term" with this pregnancy: 37 weeks. Of course, my kids generally have a different idea of what full term means, so I'm not expecting anything to happen anytime soon. I scheduled an induction for November 5, so there is officially an end in sight! I just can't believe in less than two weeks I'll be the mother of FOUR. I'm only freaking out just a tiny bit.
I have to say, my brain has done a really good job forgetting that I have to do some actual work to get this baby here. It's interesting, especially when you consider that it wasn't even 2 years ago that I gave birth to Matthew--you'd think I'd remember the whole process better. Maybe "forgetting" isn't exactly the right word. It's more like my mind won't settle long enough on the idea of labor and delivery for me to actually have any complete thoughts about it. It's easily distracted to other, more pleasant topics. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not. It means that I haven't really done much thinking about a "birth plan." I'm pretty confident that I can do it without an epidural again since I've been successful the last two times. But, I'm not opposed to having one if I feel the need. I've been checking books out of the library about different ways to help manage pain during labor. I've never really used any specific method, mostly because I never really think about it until it's too late to take a class, but also because my pain during labor is totally manageable up until the 30-45 minutes that I'm in transition, and by then I'm almost done. I have realized that HypnoBirthing as a whole is definitely too "out there" for me. I'm sure it's very helpful for people, but it just seems too drug-trippy for me. I did like many of the relaxation suggestions though, and I'll probably try to incorporate some of them into my labor if I remember.
I've already had a handful of people at church tell me (meaning well, I'm sure) that there's "no way" I'm going to make it to my due date--that I'll go into labor sooner. I think this is something else that should go on the ever-expanding list of "what not to say to a pregnant woman because she is hormonal and mostly crazy and will probably fly off the handle if she hears it." First of all, does it mean that I'm huge? No one wants to hear that, even if it's true. Second of all, my experiences (which, to be fair, they know little to nothing about) have proven otherwise. The only reason I haven't gotten to my due date with my last two pregnancies is elective induction. Otherwise, I'm fairly confident my babies would stay camped out in my uterus until the age of 3. I wouldn't want to get my hopes up for an early delivery just to have those hopes shattered when things go exactly as they always have. 
Anyway, if you asked me two weeks ago I would have told you that this last trimester has totally DRAGGED on forever. Now that I'm 13 days (!) away from having a baby, I realize just how wrong I was.


What Having a Daughter REALLY Means to Me

Having three boys has made a lot of parenting issues pretty straight-forward for us. For example, we've never really had to have a talk about how boys and girls are made differently, if you get my drift. I imagine we're going to have to have the "no, her penis didn't fall off; she doesn't have one" conversation with the boys a few times before the idea really sticks (yes, I just said "penis" on the blog. It's real up in here, guys).

Seriously though, I've never really had to think about how to approach the issue of modesty with my sons, since, for boys, it's a universal standard. I've never had to worry about what to tell them if someone else objectifies them or stereotypes them solely because of their gender, because, by and large, it will not happen to them. There are plenty of other issues by which I've been absorbed, but lately, one has jumped to the forefront:


As long as I remember, I've struggled with more self-esteem issues than I'd like to admit. They've come from just about every direction and can be classified in just about every category, but the one thing they have in common is when they strike they can be crippling and debilitating.

I thought about chronicling my self-esteem journey step-by-step from my youth to the present (and I might or might not have actually started typing it out) until I realized, "ain't nobody got time for that." No one wants or needs to hear about the specifics; suffice it to say, my issues have varied from intelligence to appearance to acceptance and everywhere in-between. It's also important to note that I covered up my insecurities du jour by being overconfident or, at times, bitchy (yes, I just said "bitchy" on the blog. Told you--real). I'd like to think that I've made some progress, but I know at times I still come off as overconfident and, yes, even bitchy at times.

Anyway, as I've thought about all of the ways I've felt "less-than" over the years, I realized that I absolutely don't want that for my daughter. She is already going to be surrounded by people and things that tell her she needs to be someone other than who she is. I'm already going to have to fight every day to get her to realize she is special and unique and important. She doesn't need to see me agonizing over my flaws. She doesn't need to see me being my own worst critic. I can't teach her to be a confident, self-assured woman if I am not practicing what I preach.

I've always cared too much about what other people think of me. But, as I've thought about my daughter and how I want her to see herself, I'm finally realizing that the only opinions that matter are those that belong to the people who know me best--my family. To my husband and sons, I'm the most beautiful, important, intelligent woman they know, and that's finally starting to be enough.

I've thought a lot about this little girl and everything that she can and will be in this world. The one thing I didn't count on was her being a balm to my troubled soul.


What I Made Monday: "Fall"ing Leaves

I may have mentioned once a few times a million times before that fall is my favorite season. I just love it when the weather cools down and you pull the sweaters out and the leaves crunch on the sidewalk and football starts up again. The colors are so warm and comforting and, to me, romantic. I can't help but get a little bit giddy when September rolls around.
I'm also a little addicted to fall crafts. I'm not allowed to go to The Wood Connection for a couple of months because I'll bring home countless fall crafts, and, let's be honest, I don't really have space for them anymore. But, I did manage to get away with one more...

I put this together a little differently than I usually would. Typically I trace and cut out the paper before gluing it on, but I read a tutorial where the girl glued the paper on and then used sandpaper to sand excess paper off and wanted to try it. I think perhaps this wasn't the greatest project to test that technique on because of all of the edges and crannies--it took a lot more effort than I imagined. It's also not something you want to do unless you want a worn, rustic look. In any case, it was difficult but ended up being worth it on this project because I really like the way it turned out.

And now, I have to suffer through a Cole-imposed ban from The Wood Connection...at least until after Halloween when they bring out their Christmas crafts. ;)


What I Made Monday: Bathroom Decor

Our guest bathroom is basically a tiny hole in the wall. Even though it's a tiny space, I've had the hardest time figuring out how to make it cute and homey. We painted it a couple of years ago and added a cute border, and I found a few pictures that I liked for the walls, but the space above the toilet has been glaringly empty (probably only to me) for a while now.
When we helped clean out my parents' house before they sold it, I appropriated a little shelf that I thought would work for the space, but it sat in a pile of stuff in the crawlspace for two months before I managed to flesh out an idea.
The bathroom decor always gave me a country cottage vibe, so I tried to stick with that idea.
I had the materials to make little decorative jars from baby food jars, so I started there.
It took:
3 baby food jars of different sizes
3 wooden nickels from The Wood Connection
3 unfinished candlesticks from The Wood Connection
craft paint
wood glue
I painted the wooden nickels, the candlesticks, and the jar lids (if I wasn't going for a rustic look I would have spray painted the lids--they don't hold the craft paint really well so it takes a lot of work to get good coverage). After the paint dried I sanded spots of the candlesticks to give it a worn, rustic look. I used wood glue to adhere the wooden nickels to the top of the candlesticks, then to the bottom of the baby food jars. After everything dried, I filled the baby food jars with items that matched the bathroom color scheme--clear decorative stones, green buttons, and blue felt flowers. I tied a bit of twine around each lid, and called it good.

I also found in my storage a little ceramic picture frame I've had for probably 15 years. I've never really used it for anything because the picture opening is a heart, and it was hard to find a picture that would fit and look good, but I knew it could serve my purposes on my shelf quite nicely. I found a cutesy, short phrase that I liked and would fit in the space. I wanted a cross-stitch type font, and found a free one called Ahoy in Stitches that was perfect. After a little word processing and some extra scrapbook paper, the result was just what I wanted.

font found here
After some playing around on the internet, I found I really liked the idea of using a glass canning jar for some portion of the decorations. I thought using an old jar as a vase for some silk flowers would be the perfect completion to my bathroom shelf. I've got a million canning jars kicking around, so all I had to do was find one the right size, wrap some twine around it, and fill it with silk flowers. $6 at Wal-Mart bought me more than enough flowers in the right colors.

I'm super happy with the finished result.

Now, after 3 1/2 years, I finally have the tiniest room in my house decorated to my liking. :)


What I Made Monday: Summer "Trees" Make Me Feel Fine...

Summertime is another season where I seem to have a dearth of crafts for display (with the exception of July). After I took down my 4th of July decorations my living room looked pretty sad. I racked my brain trying to think of something I could do to brighten up the space.
The Wood Connection didn't really have any more "summer" projects that I was completely in love with, but they did have this trio of trees for the fall that I thought I could easily adapt for the summer. After all, green, leafy trees are staple of summertime!
I was a little worried that they would turn out too monochromatic for my liking, but because I used different shades of brown and green and different detail accents on each of them they turned out quite nice. 

I even finished them in enough time to display them for about three weeks before I got antsy to put up my fall decorations (fall is, hands down, my favorite season).


A Visit From the Tooth Fairy

At the end of July Kyle came to me with his very first loose tooth. I almost lost it right then and there, because HOW CAN MY BABY BE GROWING UP SO FAST?!? I know, I know...loose teeth are a fact of life, and I knew it was only a matter of time before he started losing his baby teeth. But, he was already starting kindergarten in less than a month, and there are only so many coming-of-age milestones this hormonal pregnant mama can take before she's reduced to a quivering mass (emphasis on the "mass" part) of ugly tears. Ergo, the almost losing it part.
One thing that Cole and I both realized is that we are both grossed out by loose teeth. Fortunately for Kyle, that meant that Cole didn't bother him too much about trying to pull it out. I love the kid, but Kyle is a world class wimp when it comes to pain or potentially scary things. I knew Cole trying to pull the tooth out would result in a lot of dramatic screaming and lifelong trauma that would take years of therapy to overcome. Of course, being who he is, Cole threatened to pull Kyle's tooth out at least once a day just to make him scream (even though this was a total empty threat)--it wouldn't be my house without Cole tormenting one or all of the boys at some point in the day.
So, we waited...
Almost a month later, I was out with my mom and my sisters for a girls' night and I got a text from Cole.
"Guess what!" it said.

After a few tears and the tiniest of tugs, Kyle's first loose tooth became his first lost tooth. He was beyond excited for the tooth fairy to come. When I got home, he had already fallen asleep, but he had very carefully constructed an envelope for his tooth so it wouldn't get lost.
I asked him the next morning why he had written his name backwards.
He shrugged and said, "Because I can."
The tooth fairy quickly worked her magic. She figured that Kyle deserved an extra special treat for his first loose tooth.

The tooth fairy told me folding dollar bills is a lot more trouble than it's worth...
especially when it's for a little boy who doesn't really care what it looks like.
She opened up Kyle's special envelope and replaced his tooth with his special gift.

The next morning Kyle came in a little bit sad. "The tooth fairy didn't come," he told me, because his special envelope was still under his pillow. I asked him if he looked inside the envelope. He perked up quite a bit when he realized that she didn't take his envelope because she filled it up with awesome stuff for him.

It was not many days later than Kyle showed us he had another loose tooth...

Incidentally, what does everyone else's tooth fairy do with the lost teeth? Ours isn't quite sure what to do with them...


Kyle's First Day of School

Kyle has been extremely excited to go to school ever since he finished up preschool in June. He spent all summer talking about Kindergarten to anyone who would listen; I overheard him tell Lucas one day that Kindergarten was "just like a garden, except full of kids." 
We got back-to-school ads in the mail starting at the end of July, which prompted even more questions and speculations from Kyle about Kindergarten: Who would his teacher be? What school supplies would he need? It frustrated him to no end that I didn't have the answers. Fortunately, we received a letter from his teacher early in August. As part of her classroom decorations, she asked each of her students to fill out a "flag" with information about themselves. I was so proud--Kyle wrote the answers to all of the questions with only a little help from me.
I love kid writing.
When my parents came to visit mid-August, we got to take a school shopping trip. Kyle got all decked out for school with new clothes, shoes, and a backpack.

Kyle also had his pre-Kindergarten assessment with his new teacher the week before class started. I sat at the back of the room filling out paperwork and idly listened to the conversation between Kyle and his teacher. His answers were pretty standard; there were many things he knew and many he did not. One conversation, however, had me stifling giggles because of how truly "Kyle" it was. When his teacher asked him to count as high as he could, he got to 12 and stopped. She gently asked if he knew any more, and he responded, "Well, I know a lot, but I just don't want to say them all." With some gentle coaxing, he counted to 100 before she let him stop. On the way home from the assessment I asked him if he was nervous for school. He thought about it and said, "No, I'm always excited for school." I was so happy to hear him say that--I hope he never loses that excitement for learning.

Finally, the first day of school arrived. Kyle woke up well before 6 am because he was so excited. After showering and getting ready and eating breakfast, I made him take pictures by the front door.

We all piled in the car (even Cole--he went in a little late to work so he could see Kyle off on his first day) and headed to school for the first of what will be many times. We were a little bit later than I wanted to be, and by the time I walked him over to the door his teacher had already come outside to pick up the rest of her students. I thought they were lined up just inside the door, so I sent him inside to find his teacher. He panicked a little bit once he got inside because they WEREN'T immediately visible like I thought, but once I walked him to his classroom and he knew where he was supposed to go he walked confidently into the room and didn't look back.

I wasn't a total basket case like I expected I would be. I did get a little emotional when we started walking from the car, but I held it together. :)

When I picked him up he couldn't stop talking about everything they did and the new friends he made. His first day of school was a huge success.

My mornings are definitely different without my Kyle-man, and I do miss him while he's gone. But, I'm so proud of him and how grown up he's getting. It's definitely a bittersweet thing to watch your babies grow up.


30 Weeks, and a Pregnancy Update

Well folks, we're in the homestretch. This pregnancy has honestly flown by! I can't believe we only have 10 weeks until we meet the little princess!

I've never been super big on taking belly pictures during my pregnancies, but I've consistently taken one at 30 weeks (in the same shirt, natch) for all of them. Here's a comparison of my belly at 30 weeks with all four pregnancies.

I know the angles aren't exactly the same with all of the pictures, but you get the general idea.

It would appear that I carried the first two more in my (ahem) behind and midsection. The last two pregnancies my belly was more pronounced. I REALLY feel that's the case with Miss Hallie this time. I'm not expecting this girl to be dainty either--the granddaughters in Cole's family are typically smaller than the boys, but I think Hallie will be at LEAST as big as Lucas and Matthew were. Probably not as big as Kyle though (thank goodness!).

Little Miss is quite the mover. I think I've said the same thing with each pregnancy, but it really feels like she moves way more often than her brothers. She hangs out mostly on my right side, and when I lay on my right side she goes crazy! I haven't noticed any hiccups yet, so that would be one major difference between her and her brothers--they ALWAYS had the hiccups. Kyle likes to sit and watch her move; he's not always patient or still enough to feel her, but I think he's felt a few bumps now and then. He and Lucas still love to pat my belly and talk to her. They're going to be great big brothers. Matthew, on the other hand...

So far I've been feeling pretty good. The itchiness is all but gone; it only flares up right before bed and it's not unmanageable. I've been super lucky and managed to avoid swelling and/or retaining water through the hot summer. There were a few weeks where I had pretty constant sciatic pain, but since it seems she's moved all out front there hasn't been any more pressure on my nerve and the pain is gone. I still experience some minor nausea, mostly in the morning if I get out of bed too fast. I passed my gestational diabetes test last week (which I always worry about, even though I'm probably more on the hypoglycemic side) and I'm measuring spot on for dates. Cole always jokes that I'm my doctor's most boring patient because I never have any problems, complaints, or questions. I truly am blessed to have easy, straightforward pregnancies.

So, now we're just watching and waiting. I'd love it if Little Miss decided to come early, but I'm not holding my breath on that one. I'll probably try to schedule an induction on my due date (because 11/12/13 is a super cool birth date) but I'm not counting on that either. And, honestly, it might not be so bad if she cooked a little longer. The "So You Think You Can Dance" tour is coming to the Maverik Center on 11/15 and we will most likely have tickets in Cole's work suite for that, so I guess it wouldn't be so terrible if she stuck around until after that. :)



Christensen Family Staycation

Cole took the first week in July off so he could have some much-needed downtime (practically running a hotel takes its toll, I guess...). We decided to plan a few fun activities for the week with the kids--a "staycation" of sorts. Unfortunately, it was too FREAKING hot to do everything we wanted to do, but I think we packed in a fair amount of activities.

Sunday evening we were dying to escape our stuffy, uncomfortable house, so we decided to head for the hills. We figured it would be marginally cooler up one of the canyons, so we took a drive. We decided to take a walk around Silver Lake, which is one of our favorite spots. I think everyone else in the valley had the same idea, though, because it was as crowded as I'd ever seen! We still managed to enjoy our walk around the lake despite the crowds, and we even got to see a doe, several families of ducks, and two big moose! The boys had a fabulous time.

After we finished our walk, we weren't quite ready to head home. Cole suggested we drive over Guardsman Pass into Park City, which I've never done. It's a pretty amazing experience.

This is the view from Guardsman Pass. You could literally drive to the edge of the cliff--Kyle was FREAKING OUT about it (granted, Cole did his part to scare him as much as possible).

We took a nice drive down into Park City, then down Parley's Canyon to the valley again. It was a refreshing way to get out of the heat and enjoy our beautiful surroundings.

Monday we decided to head into SLC and visit some of the downtown sights. We ate lunch at the Gateway food court, where the boys were all scarily well-behaved. As a reward, we let them choose a quarter machine ride (and we actually put money in it!).

They chose Bob the Builder and Rolly, naturally
As we headed to the TRAX station, we passed the Clark Planetarium. Neither Cole nor I had ever been there, so we decided to check it out. We looked at all the exhibits around the building, which the boys enjoyed primarily because there were buttons to push and things to touch. They were too riled up to entertain any scientific explanations, so we decided the planetarium was probably something to save for when they're a little older.

feeling the "clouds"

They did have fun on Mars, though
We rode the train to the Museum of Church History and Art. The big boys were only mildly interested until we headed upstairs to the childrens' exhibit. There they got to play in a kitchen (Lucas would have stayed there all day if we let him--do we have a future chef on our hands?), "fish" on Nephi's boat, build a temple in Zarahemla, and tons of other fun activities. Matthew took a quick nap in Daddy's arms, which helped improve his disposition remarkably.

After dragging the boys away from the museum we walked over to Farr's Fresh Creamery for some ice cream. YUM.

Tuesday Cole and I went to my midterm ultrasound. Baby girl was still definitely a girl, everything looked and measured perfect, and we got a lot of great pictures of her (I'll include those in a separate post). I love having ultrasounds when I can both feel and see the baby move--it's really cool.

Baby girl's face--NOT an alien.
Wednesday we decided to have a low-key day. We spent time outside in the kiddie pool and running through the sprinklers.

Matthew was not a huge fan of the pool--
he spent most of his time playing in this car

But he did give it a chance when Cole put the water table inside
Thursday we didn't really make plans. We're not big 4th of July celebrators, and Cole's parents didn't have a BBQ this year, so we teamed up with Stephanie to figure out what to do. We ended up eating our weight in fried food at Sonic (this MIGHT become a new tradition), ate ice cream at Dairy Queen, caught a bit of the parade in Sandy and perused the booths at the festival there (just so we could say we did something festive), and finished the evening with air-popped popcorn and a movie.

Naughty baby, ever true to his nickname, dumped his popcorn on the floor and stomped on it.

Friday morning Cole gave the boys summer haircuts.

Yes, Matthew's popcorn is STILL on the floor
Then,we packed a lunch and headed to the Hogle Zoo. Much to my delight, the Cache Valley Cheese Mobile was at the zoo that day so we got free grilled cheese sandwiches and string cheese. YUMMM....I love cheese.

The animals were pretty active despite the heat, so we got to see everything we wanted to see. We also discovered they completely rearranged the big cats in the Asian Highlands and acquired a leopard in the less-than two weeks since we had been there last! Lucas was so tuckered out from our busy week that he crashed in the stroller before we finished at the zoo.

We all had a blast during our staycation! I think we might try to do it every summer so we get a chance to do and see all of the fun things in our area.
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