**Scroll down to the bottom to skip the update and get to the big sibling gifts.**
36 weeks! Things are getting down to the nitty gritty. Is the kitchen done? Nope. But we’re moved in and it’s functional (so functional, in fact, that I can’t believe I ever cooked in that other kitchen and got anything done). Do we have four bedrooms? Nope. Still two, with Mommy and Daddy in the living room, so we’re going to work on condensing all four kids into the big bedroom and giving the parents and new baby the smaller bedroom. I just need/want a bedroom for birth and postpartum; we’ll work on preparing the other two bedrooms and giving everyone a bit more breathing room this summer. With the kitchen emergency and resulting renovation, we haven’t had any time (0r money) at all to work on the two bedrooms and bathrooms downstairs, like we had originally planned to do before Baby Five’s arrival. Is the old kitchen transformed into the play room yet? Nope. It’s in progress. That’s the first thing that needs to happen so we can move the toys out of the kids’ room and move Cal into the kids’ room. We are gutting cabinets, re-routing electrical to remove a half wall, removing plumbing, and then painting and flooring.
In the mean while, we have to do normal things like homeschool, maintain some semblance of cleanliness and order in the household, work two demanding out-of-home jobs (Jason), go to school (Jason), and squeeze in family time. This is why renovations are at a snail’s pace. Oh, and did I mention I’m 36 weeks pregnant? And we just got over two weeks of some sort of bacterial plague? Yes, it’s been challenging. A test of patience and faith, for our whole family, and especially for our marital relationship. I think we are succeeding, but that success in our marriage doesn’t necessarily translate to completed home renovations. Even the awesomest marriages can’t squeeze more time and money out of nothing.
I’ve finally been sorting and washing baby clothes and diapers, and I was both delighted and sad to find all the things I had handmade/knit for Cal: pilot caps, wool diaper covers and pants, etc. It will be sweet to see them on another baby, but it really brought home how extremely busy and trying these past six months have been for us. So much so that I haven’t made a single thing for the baby! That is REALLY unusual for me; even in the busiest of times, I have always made something for the coming baby. But when more than half of your house suffers some sort of water damage within months of your fifth child being born, some things drop and new projects get picked up. Like I told some friends today: I didn’t knit for the baby, but I did design him a kitchen. Lucky baby, that one. And you know what? He doesn’t care. Not one bit. But for my own sanity and heart, I am making a simple quilt for him. And maybe I’ll finish the newborn diapers I started way back when. (Probably not.)
As for me and the baby – we seem to be doing just fine. The baby continues to feel bigger to me than the others, and for the first time in the three pregnancies she’s cared for me, my midwife commented the same: “Does this baby seem bigger to you?” Why yes, he does. I always feel like my babies are huge in the end, though, because I am small and they are filling me right up, but it seems especially true this time. Usually our midwife reassures me that the baby is a nice, normal size, and she’s always right. So that fact that she agrees with me on this baby being bigger (“Not TOO big, of course; just bigger”) has me thinking. I predict he’ll be a little bigger than his brothers (who were 8 lbs. 2 oz. and 8 lbs. 3 oz, respectively), but I’m more worried about his head/shoulders/chest than his weight. My babies all have huge heads, so there’s no surprise there.
I am feeling much more like Asher’s pregnancy than Cal’s, which is good, from a labor/birth perspective. Asher’s labor was just over an hour; Cal’s was 18 hours. (Which would you choose? Haha.) There’s a lot going on, lots of Braxton-Hicks, lots of cervical changes/pressure, etc. I predict Baby Five will come before his due date, but probably not very much so.
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On to new baby gifts…
We like to get a special gift for each child, “from the baby” and from us, for right after each new baby is born. They know it’s really from us. The older ones remind the younger ones that it’s coming, so they really look forward to it. We try to pick something simple and small that will occupy their minds/bodies for a while after the birth. That way any caregivers coming to help out in the immediate postpartum have an extra way to entertain my children.
This time around, I chose two books per child: one activity book, and one story book. Here is what I chose:
Cal, age 2:
Let’s Color by Kumon
Angus and the Cat by Marjorie Flack
Asher, age 4:
My First Book of Mazes by Kumon
Davy’s Dream by Paul Owen Lewis
Ellery, age 7:
Paisley Designs Coloring Book by Marty Noble
Maya, age 9:
Pinwheel Designs by Wil Stegenga
The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright
I spent a lot of time carefully considering their personalities and current interests before choosing each book, and I really enjoyed the process. For example, Cal loves Angus books, and Asher loves mazes. The girls have both read so many books that I had to pull out my Honey for a Child’s Heart (a FANTASTIC book about choosing great literature for your kids, including book lists in back) to find something special for each of them. I’m normally not someone who enjoys shopping, but sitting at home on the couch with my feet up, thinking about my kids, and shopping online for books is something I can honestly say I like.