Monday, June 30, 2014

Pregnancy Exercise Video Comparisons

This post will have limited appeal, but I thought it would be helpful for anyone who is pregnant and looking to increase their fitness options by selecting one or more of the myriad of pregnancy fitness DVDs available at Amazon.  It's hard to get a good sense of the reviews there at Amazon, because one reviewer will be a triathlete when not pregnant, and another will be a total couch potato who just wants to get the blood stirring a bit, so it's hard to make a good comparison.

The day after I found out I was pregnant with this baby, we left for our big space-a adventure to Hawaii, where I ate a ton of delicious food.  When we got back to the states and got stuck in California, I ate a ton of junk food in an attempt to stave off the emotional nervousness about getting back home (didn't work, LOL).  So right away I started off gaining more weight than normal for me!

After I failed the 1 hour glucose test at 16 weeks, I got really serious about exercise, which is earlier than I usually do in pregnancy.  So since then, I have been exercising pretty much daily, and actually twice a day on most days.  Usually I do some sort of pregnancy workout video in the morning after breakfast, and then Bob and I try to go on a 40 minute walk after dinner (or I'll walk on the treadmill or do a lighter exercise video).  I had thought I had a somewhat decent selection of videos, but after a few weeks of them, it became obvious that I needed to increase my choices or go slowly insane, since I still had over 20 weeks of pregnancy left!  So I bought several more from Amazon, and now I have been using them for several weeks, so I think I can give a decent comparison/review for them all.  For the record, I'm in fairly good shape because I exercise a lot, but I'm not the kind of person that you would look at and think, "Wow! There goes an athlete!"  Especially while pregnant, LOL.  So definitely middle of the road, as far as average Amazon reviewer.

We'll go in chronological order.  I got pregnant with Nathan the beginning of October, 1996, so almost 18 years ago.  This Buns of Steel Pregnancy Workout video (yes, my copy is actually a videocassette!) is definitely an antique, having been produced in 1994, and it is the only workout video from that era that I still have around.  My kids think it is hilarious because the 3 pregnant ladies are wearing maternity leotards, and the head person wears shiny nude-colored stockings.  Yes, kids, exercise wear has come a long ways in 20 years!  The problem with only having "modern" videos is that they all mainly have some modified form of pilates or yoga.  This oldie actually has a little over 25 minutes of aerobics, and you know, it really feels good to move around!  This is not an extremely strenuous workout, but it does get the heart rate up, and it is not difficult to follow.  I like the instructor--she doesn't seem too annoying to me--so I think this video is good for something different, especially when it is rainy and I know I won't be walking outside.  After the aerobics section, there is a 15 minute section of toning, which mainly focuses on legs/rear, and not too much on arms or core.  But this video gives a nice 40 minute workout that is a good change of pace from my other DVDs.

Now the first thing you will notice about this next dvd ("Super SlimDown Pilates Yoga Blend) is that it is not technically for pregnant women.  I got it out of the library after I had Grace, and I liked it so much that I bought my own copy.  And when I got pregnant with Faith (and got a specific-for-pregnancy pilates video), I realized that all but one of the sections on this dvd could be modifed for pregnancy, just like in the pregnancy pilates dvd.  This workout really flows nicely, and I always just feel really good when I finish. It's a blend of yoga and pilates, and it works all areas but not in a vigorous, sweaty way.  The only part you can't do while pregnant is a section sort of in the middle where the instructor has you lay on your tummy and do several different exercises.  I usually do several sets of push-ups (like in the Perfect Pregnancy Workout), and when I'm done, I merrily skip to the next section.  That means it takes a little over 35 minutes instead of 40, but it's okay.  When I need a shorter workout, I often pick this one, and I still enjoy doing it when I'm not pregnant!

This "Pilates During Pregnancy" dvd is the one I bought while I was pregnant with Faith and started doing more exercise once I got diagnosed with gestational diabetes.  It is good and thorough, and once you do it, you will know how to modify a lot of basic pilates moves for pregnancy.  You will need several pillows to stack behind you.  There is a 15 minute ab section, and a 25 minute legs/thighs section.  It is fairly rigorous for a beginner, I would say, but doable.  Also, the instructor is in dark clothes in what looks like an airplane hanger with concrete floors and not much natural light, so it can be hard to see what exactly she is doing.   The leg section is actually harder than the abs section, and I have never done it without getting tremendous charlie horses in my hip muscles, LOL.   It's a good workout, but not particularly relaxing, so I don't usually do it in the evenings.

The Perfect Pregnancy Workout I also bought when I was pregnant with Faith.  The instructor is a former Cirque du Soleil acrobat, and she is in amazing shape (also, she has a nice little French accent).  I really like this workout because it really does work out every part of your body ("buddy" as she would say).  You do need a chair with a back, as well as some pillows.  You can use light hand weights for some of the parts, and she also gives intermediate and advanced alternatives to some of the moves.  I personally still can't do most of the advanced moves, even after using this dvd for over 5 years and 4 pregnancies, but hey, for those former triathletes, those modifications are probably excellent.  There are lots of lunges, push-ups, arm work, and other moves more like I don't know, calisthenics, maybe?  The one weird thing is this 3 minute "keep up exercise" she does at the end, where basically you do arm circles for 3 minutes while moving around.  I have read that this is supposed to help you practice focusing during labor, but I'm just going to say it has nothing to do with labor for me (and I am pretty positive I've been through labor more than she has, LOL), so I usually just skip straight to the cool-down, especially if I am in a hurry.  This is not an easy dvd, but none of the moves are really complicated or anything.  She also works out in a darkened gym, but at least there is a little more light actually on her, so you can what she is doing a little bit easier.

These last 3 dvds are the ones I ordered back in the middle of May, so I haven't used them for as long as the others.  The 10 minutes Solutions Prenatal Pilates is a good, not-too-hard workout.  There are 5 10-minute-long sections (buns & thighs, standing, core, flexibility, and total body).  I prefer to do all of them at the same time, so I can feel like I got a good long workout and used all parts of my body.  These moves are similar to the ones in the Pilates During Pregnancy workout, but for some reason they are not as difficult or uncomfortable, so I guess I prefer this one, although it is easier.  For any of you super-paranoid types, there are a few times (about a total of 2 minutes during the flexibility segment) when you are on your back, but not for long AND you are moving around, so you don't have to worry about pressure on your vena cava, unless you are really sensitive and feel faint or something.  It's never bothered me.

Suzanne Bowen's Slim & Toned Prenatal Barre workout is a good, hard workout.  I am always totally exhausted when I finish.  There is a section for the lower body, a section for the upper body and core, and a cardio sculpt section.  Then there is a short stretching section at the end.  I do either the lower body or the upper body section, along with the cardio sculpt and the stretching, and it ends up being about 50 minutes.  I do it just twice a week (so once with the lower body and once with the upper body sections per week), because the rest of that day I'm really tired, LOL.  She does these really intense sculpting moves, where you are up on our tiptoes, but also squatting, and by the end, my legs are just shaking and burning.  Whew!  Definitely the hardest pregnancy workout dvd I have, and I can definitely see doing it while not pregnant and still being quite challenged.  The moves are all pretty small, except in the cardio section, where you actually do move your whole body around.  The instructor Suzanne is not pregnant (there is also a lady who is 35 weeks pregnant who does the workout too--she is a fitness instructor herself, so she is already in fantastic shape), and Suzanne does these modifications for those in their first trimester or for post-partum.  I don't know if I'll ever get around to being able to do the modifications, LOL.  You need a straight-backed chair for this one too, and you can use light handweights for the upper arms section.  The one weird thing about the dvd is that the studio (a lovely open loft area, like in an old downtown area) has a big black pole in the middle of it, and the camera is behind the pole.  So when the camera scrolls across the 2 ladies, all of a sudden, there is a black pole down the center of the screen for a few seconds!  It's just weird, but not a big deal.  I kept wondering--why not move everything back a bit and put the camera on the other side of the pole?!

Last but not least, there is the Fit Mommy-to-Be Prenatal Yoga with Hilaria Baldwin (who sort of needs a bigger top, because she looks like she's about to fall out during some of the moves).   I really like this video for the stretching it provides.  I really started using it at my parents' house, when my hips were bothering me from the long drive in the big van.  There are 3 sections--one that focuses on the back, one for the hips, and one for "de-stressing".  The one for the hips was tremendously helpful for my hips.  I was really surprised at how much better they felt after these deep stretches!  Each section is about 23 minutes long, so I usually do 2 of them.  The instructor is in her 2nd trimester, and there are 2 other ladies doing the workout with her, one in her first trimester, and one in her 3rd (poor thing--she looks uncomfortable!).  They show modifications you can do if you want to.  You are supposed to have pillows as well as "yoga blocks", whatever they are.  I don't have them, so I just make do, and I've been fine without them (the blocks, I mean--I do have pillows, LOL).  This is a relaxing dvd, I think, and I do enjoy doing it in the evenings.  Then I feel nice and stretched out before bed, but my heart isn't pumping away, and I'm not all sweaty.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

USAFA Summer Seminar Wrap-up

So Nathan got back Friday from his week in Colorado Springs at the Air Force Academy summer seminar.  He was selected to attend--there are only 600 slots a year, with 3500 applicants, so we were really glad he was able to get in.
The candidates had to arrive at the visitors center between 9:00 and 12:00 Sunday morning, and it was impossible to get a flight out there at that time.  Fortunately, friends of ours in the Springs were kind enough to pick Nathan up at the airport Saturday night, let him spend the night there, took him to church Sunday morning, and then dropped him off at the Academy.  He had a great time at their house!  Eric is a VMI grad, so they were even able to have a little discussion about some of the merits of VMI versus the Academy.

When the candidates got there, they were issued a ton of stuff, all of which they were able to keep--3 sets of athletic clothes, 2 polo shirts, a backpack, water bottle, towel, sleep sack, and binder.  The main activity they did that day was an orientation briefing and dinner.
Monday was "doolie for a day", where they got treated like the 4th classmen ("doolies") do for most of their first year at the Academy.  So they were woken up at 5:00 by the cadre banging on their doors and shouting at them.  Then they had to do PT in the hallway until 7:00.  The candidates had been given knowledge sheets (with info about airplanes and some famous quotes) that they were drilled on, and they also were expected to know things about the other people in their element, like where they were from, favorite colors, etc.

Then they had breakfast at 7:00, where they had to eat like the doolies do, which is at attention--heads look forward, eyes only look down at the plate, feet are at a 45 degree angle, sit on the front 1/3 of the seat, hands are on the thighs.  You can move the hands to get one bite, which you have to move at a 90 degree angle (straight up and then straight over) to your mouth.  You have to put the fork back down, and your hands back on your legs, before you can start chewing.  You have to request things in a special way, even if it is right in front of you.  Not a relaxing way to eat, for sure!
Then they went to the parade field to do more athletics.  They did 8 stations, including running the bleachers, some pushups and ab stuff, sprints, and other game-type things.  Then they ate MREs for lunch, a highlight for Nathan since he had always wanted to try one.  He said it was pretty good (he had maple sausage), and that there was a ton of food in one.  Then they had a tug-of-war battle (Nathan's element won all his matches--above, they are celebrating one of them!), did a fireman's carry relay, and a push-up competition.  Lastly, they got to charge up the hill on the terrazzo, which is pretty symbolic for the Academy, because the cadets run up it when they are recognized (the end of their 1st year there), and when they graduate.

Monday night was an academic fair, where the candidates went around to different tables where the faculty for the different majors had set up.  They could ask questions and find out about the different options.  Before they walked around, there was an academic briefing, which Nathan found very helpful.  They talked about all the different opportunities available, like athletics, glider and jump teams, and so on, and they stressed how if you want to take advantage of these opportunities, then you should not pick a major which is going to be super difficult and suck up all your time.  Pick a major that you really like and are going to enjoy studying for, but not necessarily the most challenging one, especially if you want to go on and be a pilot.  It was a different perspective, and now Nathan is considering majoring in something like economics, which he had not really considered before, especially because at the Academy you already are taking so many classes including engineering classes as just basic requirements.
On Tuesday morning and Wednesday morning, everyone had 4 classes.  Nathan took an economics one, one on officership, an intro to electronics one, and a laser and optics one.  His favorite one was the electronics one because they each built a circuit and soldered it to make a device that is sort of like a "magic 8 ball", where you could ask it a question, and it cycles through answers randomly.
Tuesday afternoon they did some various team-building exercises, including this spider web one, where you have to get each team member out of a different hole in the web, and if you touch the side while in the hole, you can't use that hole anymore.  There was also a v-line, where 2 candidates had to lean on each other as the 2 lines got further apart, and there was one where everyone in the element except 3 people were blind-folded, and the people who could see had to direct the blind-folded people, who were all holding ropes, in doing this complicated thing with a bucket.

The candidates also took a tour of the athletic facilities Tuesday afternoon, and then they took a practice candidate physical assessment test.  Nathan maxed out the sit-ups and push-ups, and he got 14 out of 18 possible pull-ups.  He wants to shave a little time off his shuttle run.  His mile was okay (6:30 but max is 5:20), but that is also at altitude.  He is faster here at sea level!  He really needs to work on the basketball throw, which is a totally useless real-world test in which you kneel down and then heave a basketball (from your knees) as far as you can.  The max is 102 feet, but the average is 70.  Nathan only got a 59, but it seems like the only way to improve is just to practice that one thing, since it's a weird move.

Tuesday evening, they divided into male and female groups.  The cadre also divided into male/female and were in 2 different rooms.  The girls all went in one room, and the boys in another, and you could ask any question you wanted about cadet life.  Nathan was not real impressed by this, as the bulk of the male questions either dealt with sex or were boring, dealing with either career questions, or admission and athletic questions that were going to be covered in later briefings everyone had to sit through.  Nathan was glad to have an element leader that was a cadet, because he talked about what cadet life was like, as far as scheduling and so on, and so that was helpful.
Wednesday morning was an outside PT session.  Here Nathan demonstrates his good push-up and squat form.  Then they had the other 2 classes, which were already mentioned.  Afterward, they went to the cadet store, and Nathan bought a watch cap.  At some point in there, they all toured the chapels.

Wednesday evening they had an ROTC briefing, but Nathan said that wasn't really helpful--it was mostly just stuff that is online or that we had already heard from people at VA Tech or VMI.
Thursday morning the candidates all toured the air field, but there were no pictures of Nathan, so sadly I didn't download anything to show here.  Nathan really enjoyed it though!  First they got to try on equipment from Wings of Blue, the Academy jump team.  They talked to the candidates about how you can get 5 free jumps, which Nathan was really excited about.  Next, they sat in an airplane and 2 different gliders, a trainer glider and a lighter one for cross-country competitions.  Then they had some glider pilots talk to them about that program.

After the air field tour, they had an athletic briefing.  Nathan is thinking that club sports are the way to go, as opposed to intramural sports (which everyone has to participate in), or intercollegiate sports (which have really grueling schedules).  But if you are on the starting team for a club sport, you can still get passes for some things, but you aren't missing as many weekends, and there aren't as many practices.  Nathan is thinking--rugby!

Then they had a character briefing with a really funny master sergeant who talked about your values, vision, purpose, and your influence on other people.  
Right after that briefing, still on Thursday afternoon, there was a career fair, set up like the academic fair, where they could walk around to different tables and talk to different active duty people about things like getting into a specific field, what the opportunities are there, and so on.  The guy above is a computer engineer, but Nathan also talk ed to pilots, security forces guys, and a drone pilot.

Thursday evening was a wrap-up final session, and some parents were there.  Not us, unfortunately!  Then all the candidates stayed up late talking.  Nathan had to get up super early to catch a 6:05 flight back home.  Some people stayed up all night and then caught the 3:00 AM bus, which is the one Nathan had to take. Nathan got home safely and had a great time.  I asked him what his favorite part was, and he said, "Everything.  It was fun just to be there for everything."  But after thinking more, he decided that the doolie day was the most useful experience.

Tomorrow Nathan leaves for another week of adventure.  This time he is flying to Albuquerque, where he will participate in a pararescue orientation course that is a Civil Air Patrol special activity.  He's been training really hard for this, as it will be physically tougher than the time at USAFA, but he is really excited about it!  I'll have the complete report when he returns next Tuesday . . .

Luke is also leaving tomorrow.  He's taking a tour of all the Norfolk-area military installations with a group from their Civil Air Patrol squadron, and he'll be gone until Thursday afternoon.  It is going to be so weird to have both of the biggest boys gone at the same time!  Caleb is quite excited about his chance to be the oldest kid!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Micah has had a busy past few weeks!  On the Wednesday before we left for Ohio, while I was at my OB appointment and all his brothers and sisters were otherwise engaged and not really paying any attention to him, he decided to be helpful and feed the fish for us.  So he dumped an entire ziploc snack baggie of fish food into the tank.  None of us realized anything was amiss until Bob got home and noticed that there were flakes of fish food all over the place around the tank--and hey, there was a layer of fish food flakes coating the gravel at the bottom of the tank as well!  This little episode brought back memories of the infamous microwave incident almost 2 years ago . . .  We commenced clean-up operations, trying to scoop out the food with our net.  We actually got out quite a bit, but it was a pittance compared to the amount still left!  So we had to call in the big guns--Thursday morning Amanda L came to the rescue, with her gravel vacuum thing, which worked amazingly well, as well as some water clarifier stuff.  She left all her supplies over here, so Thursday, amid all the packing and general chaos of getting ready for a big trip, we also vacuumed out the fish tank a few more times.  Fun!  I was not at all sure the fish would survive all this, since we left on that Friday for a week.  But when we got back home, amazingly all the fish were happily swimming around.  Whew!  So we reduced the charges to "attempted murder"--ha!  Micah has now definitely been told very clearly not to touch the fish food or really anything at all related to the fish, in hopes that there will not be a repeat attempt.

Micah's next big event happened last Thursday, when he went in for his first dentist appointment.  I know I didn't take the older boys in until they were 4, but hey, everyone else is going now, so why not.  Caleb had to get some sealants put on, so I made an appointment for Micah at the same time.  He was very excited about going, until the hygienist came out and actually called his name, LOL.  Then he got all mulish and stubborn.  I went back with him, which is a first for me.  The hygienist was an absolute saint, so kind and patient.  Micah glared at her and was not at all interested in the chair going back, so she pretty much stood up and cleaned his teeth all hunched over.  Eventually Micah sort of relaxed and watched the movie, so she was able to get done.  And by the time the actual dentist came by to examine his teeth, he even was okay with reclining.  Everything looks good, thankfully.  The whole time I alternated between reminding him to obey Mommy and do what the lady was telling him to do, and telling him that only big boys go to the dentist, and he was a big boy.  He was pretty happy when it was all over, and he got a new toothbrush and bouncy ball, so maybe next time he'll have a more cooperative attitude.

All the talk about being a big boy was part of a larger conversation we have all been having with Micah lately.  You see, Micah turned 3 on April 9 and still wasn't potty-trained, the latest so far of my kids.  In fact, he really didn't have any interest in *being* potty-trained.  He would pee on the potty when asked, but with the exception of only one time, he refused to poop on there, and he never peed on the potty of his own initiative.  So we talked about how Nathan, Luke, Caleb, Jonathan, and pretty much any other boy is in his life peed and pooped in the potty and wore big boy underwear--except Drew, who peed and pooped in his diaper, and was a baby . . . and Micah, who also peed and pooped in a diaper, so he must still be a baby as well.  Unfortunately, this air-tight logical argument did nothing to sway him, but we certainly brought it up often enough!  And I told him that his days as a "baby" were numbered, because when we got back from Ohio, he was going to start wearing big boy underwear and going on the potty because I had had it with changing his diapers.  Unfortunately, the week right after we got back was full of various appointments, as well as picking up the girls and getting Nathan ready to go, so it really didn't work to just immediately launch into my plan.  I was counting on starting the whole potty-training thing the following Monday.

Well, the Friday morning after the dentist appointment, Micah pitched a huge fit about getting his (incredibly soggy) morning diaper changed, so I decided I would just not put on another diaper.  After he settled down, I told him to pick out a pair of underwear, and he picked a Cars pair.  I had basically no expectations, but later that morning, while I was doing laundry, the surprising news came that Micah had pooped on the potty!  Of his own volition!  We were all shocked!  And then he just kept right on going both pee and poop, all by himself, and he's been dry each morning since then.  So . . . that's that, I guess.  Here is Micah, enjoyed a little lollipop as a reward for his labors.
If you had ever even hinted that Micah would be the easiest to potty-train, I would have laughed myself out of the room!  But you know, potty-training (and learning to read) are skills that come to most kids pretty easily when *they* decide they are ready to do them.  So (in both cases) you can work and work and work, and be very frustrated because of a lack of progress, until *voila* the light switches on and suddenly they take ownership of it themselves and want it.  I am SO glad that I didn't try to potty-train Micah earlier, when it would have been a huge battle of wills (because everything else certainly was, and things like sitting in the carseat and getting buckled were much bigger issues to me than going on the big potty!).  During the school year, I really don't have the bandwidth at this stage of my life to constantly remind little people to try to go potty, and I definitely don't have the time to sit there and read hours of books to them while they try to decide if they need to go or not!  So maybe this will encourage someone whose child is really fighting something like potty-training.  You don't have to make this the hill to die on.  Eventually they will want it, especially if you are continuing to work on their attitude in other areas of their life!
And that brings me to the last new big thing for Micah--swim lessons!  He and Faith are taking swim lessons for 6 weeks.  Their first one was today.  Micah was (again) somewhat mulish at first, but the teacher was so patient.  He eventually was happily putting his face in the water and kicking around.  Faith is fearless in the water, so we thought it would be especially good to have her actually know how to swim so she is not a danger to herself and others!  Life is full of new and exciting opportunities for big boys and girls!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

All Together Again . . . Briefly

On Wednesday, Bob took the day off, and we had a "date day", as we drove into PA to meet my parents, Aunt Claire, and the girls at Cracker Barrel.  Unfortunately, they got stuck in a terrible traffic jam around Wheeling (an unfortunate omen for travel that day, for sure), so they were about an hour later than expected.  Bob and I had a perfectly lovely drive heading west, with hardly any traffic at all!  We were driving the Sienna, which was a wonderful change of pace from driving the big van.  I could drive that little van forever I think!

The girls looked so adorable in their matching Grandma/Grandpa camp outfits--so many people commented on them and asked if they were all sisters.  They definitely look like they are all related!
We had a lovely lunch together, and all too soon it was time to go out to the vans to switch stuff around.  After a sad goodbye, we got into our vans to head our separate ways.  Bob and I were parked facing I-70, and when I looked over there, I couldn't believe it--traffic was at a standstill heading west this time--just the direction my parents and their crew were heading!  Dad ended up creeping along until the next exit, where they bailed and found a different route back to Wheeling, so that didn't end up slowing them down too much.

They all got dinner at McDonalds, and then dropped off Aunt Claire, Emily, and Elia at the Columbus airport so they could catch their flight back to Dallas . . . or not.  Mom and Dad waited around a little bit, and Aunt Claire texted that the second leg of their flight was going to be delayed.  Eventually Mom and Dad started home, and when they were about halfway there, Aunt Claire texted with the terrible news that their flight wasn't going anywhere that night because of mechanical problems, and she was waiting in a huge line to find out if they would be able to go to a hotel! They eventually got put in one, but it was far away, it was late, they were all really exhausted, they didn't have any luggage, and the flight was going to leave at 0600 the next morning!  They slept but couldn't catch the 4:30 shuttle bus, so they had to take a taxi to the airport.  Eventually they got there, where they had to fly down to Tampa and then up to St. Louis before finally getting back to Dallas.  What a nightmare!!  Emily and Elia were real troopers the whole time, and Aunt Claire deserves some kind of medal for her efforts!  She flew back to Salt Lake really early Friday morning, and I'm sure it will take a month for her to recover from this whole adventure, LOL.
So we were all back together again for a few days.  Micah and Drew were so thrilled to have the girls back!  But it didn't last long, because this afternoon Nathan left for the USAFA summer seminar.  His flight got delayed as well, but it did eventually take off about 2 hours late.  At least it was a direct flight, so we didn't have to worry about connections!  He was really excited about this week, so hopefully he will have a really fun time!  I imagine that, like with the girls, we will miss him, but he will not really be missing us at all, LOL.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Happy Birthday, Jonathan!!

Jonathan turned 11 while we were in Ohio!  We actually started celebrating early, before we left.  Bob took Nathan, Luke, and Jonathan to Nathan's new favorite place, a military surplus store, for Nathan to get one last thing for PJOC, which is coming up soon.  Jonathan fell in love with this hat, so Bob bought him an early birthday present.  It's sort of an "Ohio Jonny" look.
On his actual birthday, Nathan, Luke, and I had been doing some thrift store shopping in Ohio.  We also had to stop by Walmart, so we picked up some special after-lunch desserts for everyone, since I wasn't making a cake or anything.  We found this adorable mini-cheese sampler, with 4 different kinds of cheesecake, as well as a small container of this "chocolate mousse dessert".  It was all really yummy, and everyone enjoyed tasting both things!
For dinner that day, we went to Youngs.  Jonathan picked a hot fudge ice cream sundae for his dessert.  He had never had one before!  He picked chocolate peanut butter for the ice cream to go in it.  He enjoyed it, but he couldn't eat it all, so Bob finished it.  He reported that it was "quite rich", LOL.
Jonathan just yesterday was able to use a Walmart gift card Grandma and Grandpa gave him to buy this nerf crossbow and replacement bullets!  That was quite popular around here yesterday, and I foresee lots of random bullets around in the next several months.

Jonathan is such a fun addition to our family!  You might think that being the 4th boy, he would constantly be trying to keep up with his older brothers, but he very much marches to the beat of his own drum.  He's still got the artistic talent, and he is also very interested in birds.  He tells us he would like to be an ornithologist when he grows up.  He really wants to get a pet bird, but I've told him he has to wait a few years.  It took several years for us to get a bunny, and I always wanted one of those!  Birds are so loud and messy, LOL--I think more noise in the house would drive me over the edge right now!  And we really don't have room anywhere for another cage.  In the meantime, we were all pleased to see that our birdhouse in the front yard has another occupant.  It must be another wren, since once again, this bird built its nest really late.  Anyway, he can observe that bird and her babies all he wants!  A "pet" with no responsibilities for me!

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Ohio Trip

Last Friday we drove to Ohio for a week.  It was a wonderful vacation--so very relaxing!  It just wasn't long enough!  Bob actually had a TDY there, so he worked during the week, but even that was much less stressful than the Pentagon, and it was so lovely when he would call to say he was on his way home, and then *poof* 5 minutes later, he would be home, unlike here, where it takes over an hour.
We were able to spend good time with Amy and her family.  Before leaving, I had gone through some pictures, looking for baby pictures of Caleb for his TNT yearbook, and I found some really cute ones of Nathan, Luke, Caleb, and Zachary.  Now all our kids take up a lot more room on the couch!

We went over to Amy's house Saturday afternoon, she and I went out to lunch on Tuesday, and then Tuesday we all went over to their house for dinner, and the older 4 boys spent the night.  It's never enough time, though!
Monday we made the obligatory trip to Youngs, this time celebrating Jonathan's birthday.  It was delicious as usual.  Luke had the flavor of the week, which was peaches and cream, while Nathan tried a new flavor, salted caramel pretzel crunch.  That was quite yummy!  We all sampled another new flavor, "maple waffles and bacon".  It was good, but there were little pieces of waffle in the ice cream, and since you were tasting the bacon, these little chewy things made it seem like you were chewing little bits of bacon at the end, and well, it was just a little disconcerting.  The taste was good, though.  Interesting concept.  I stuck with the world's best flavor, chocolate peanut butter, of course.  Why mess with perfection??
Family picture on this nice shade thing Youngs has added!  The weather was actually really, really nice the whole week we were there--not very hot or humid--which made it nice to go to the park, and for Bob and me to take walks in the evening.

Wednesday was a VERY special day.  We picked up the boys from Amy and Jason's, and when we got back, our special company had arrived!  Aunt Claire, Emily, and Elia were in from Utah and Texas!  My girls had been on pins and needles, waiting to see their cousins, so it was a very joyous reunion, with lots of giggles and squeals!
Thursday we went to the base bowling alley for their "eat and exercise" deal--2 games, shoes, and $4.00 worth of lunch coupons for $8.00 a person!  The kids had a good time, although there were some rough patches.  Anna bowled for the first time without using the cute little dinosaur thing they have to help the little kids roll the ball down the lane.  Caleb and Jonathan bowled with Grandpa, Dad, and the older 2 boys, in the lane without the gutter guard, which of course led to many gutter balls and frustrations.  Definitely a learning curve there, and we just don't bowl often enough to get it down!  But by the end of 2 games, everyone was having fun.

Bob, Nathan, Luke, and I had our own little miracle Thursday afternoon.  All 3 of our dependent ID cards were set to expire on July 22, 4 years after that fateful day at the National Zoo when my wallet got stolen.  Well, Nathan and Luke aren't both going to be home to go renew the ID cards during the 30 day window, plus we have to drive to Ft. Belvoir (because Bethesda is just a total pain, with huge wait times).  So I was hoping we could renew them at Wright-Pat, even though it was more than 30 days out.  After we ate, the 4 of us ran over to Pass and ID, where we were greeted by a room full of people, and a sign on the door saying that wait times were significantly increased because people were supporting Corona.  Ack!  So we signed in and then went back to finish bowling.  After we were done, we drove home, put Drew down, and headed back over.  The room was a lot less full, but there were still probably 40 people in there.  It was a little after 3:00 by that time, and the place closed at 4:00, so I was feeling pretty hopeless and discouraged.  But after about 5 minutes, our name was called!  We went back, and the lady told Bob she could only do dependent ID cards, not CAC cards.  Bob just happened to write on the sign-in sheet "dependent ID cards", instead of "mil ID cards", which is what everyone else wrote down.  Wow!  And the lady never mentioned a thing about it not being within the 30 day window. So it took less than 10 minutes to get new ID cards for all 3 of us.  What a blessing!  I was amazed!
Aunt Claire is a "pro" at coloring, so here she is showing the girls her tricks, specifically outlining.  We are so glad she could come out to Ohio too, and that we could overlap with her visit!
Friday we left to drive home--but we had 3 more extra seats in the van, since we left Anna, Grace, and Faith in Ohio for Grandma/Grandpa camp!!  They waved us off enthusiastically, but I think they were all happy to see us go so they could start in on all the fun things they had planned!  The first thing they did was bake pies--blueberry and strawberry.  We were sorry to miss those!  The girls are wearing aprons from my Grandma, which is such a fun connection.  They are also doing other fun things, like going back to Youngs to play putt-putt and go down the giant slide, visiting the Boonshoft kids museum, and the Newport Aquarium, as well as going to the park, playing in the sprinklers, and just enjoying time with Aunt Claire and their cousins!  The week of Grandma/Grandpa camp is definitely a highlight for the girls!

As for us, the house is strangely quiet without the girls.  Micah asks before we do anything or go anywhere, "Now, where are Anna, Grace, and Faith??  I am the lone girl in a sea of testosterone (while my dad is the lone male in a sea of estrogen, LOL).  We'll be meeting halfway to pick them up soon enough, and I know the van will be full of excited little voices telling us about all the fun they had!

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Pregnant at 41

Well, I was 22 weeks on Thursday, so over halfway done.  Yay!  I had an OB appointment on Wednesday, and everything was fine.  The doctor said everything on the ultrasound looked good.  She also said I was only a point or so off on my failed glucose tolerance test at 16 weeks.  I guess it's good that I wasn't pulling in sky-high numbers, LOL.  She said for my 28 week glucose test, I had the choice of taking the 1 hour one again, or just going straight to the 3 hour one, since my 16 week one wasn't very abnormal.  Ha--I don't have a chance of passing the one hour test, and I'm almost positive I won't pass the 3 hour one, so I definitely opted to go straight to the 3 hour one!  I don't want to wast my time AND have to drink more of that nasty glucola that I have to!  The baby's heart rate was the low 140s, which would normally be a boy heart rate for me.  I guess I'll be bringing blue and pink outfits to the hospital this time, just in case the ultrasound was wrong!

I was concerned about my weight because I feel like I have gained more this pregnancy than in all my others.  I think I've gained about 20 pounds, and usually I only gain a total of 30 pounds.  But she calculated I had only gained 16 pounds, which she was fine with.  Maybe I wrote down a higher number for my "original" weight?  Who knows?  That got me to thinking about differences in pregnancy now that I am over 40, and metabolism is a big one--I gain weight really easily now!  I've always been able to just eat normally and not gain too much, but now I find if I am not really careful, I'll gain a pound every few days.  Ack!  And this is with exercising twice a day most days, ever since my failed glucose test!  Crazy.  I know it's going to be really, really tough to get this weight off once I deliver too.  Ah, something to look forward to.

I also am already having a lot of round ligament pain.  That may actually not be a function of being over 40, but rather of this being my 10th pregnancy though.  But if the pain can be so bad at 21 or 22 weeks, I am really dreading weeks 38 and 39!  It's really bad at night, and it can be hard to fins a good sleeping position that doesn't cause ligament cramps.  I'm going to have to start wearing my maternity support belt already during the day, especially when I am walking, I think!

I think those are the only big things I've noticed, so hopefully no one is scared off by a pregnancy at such an advanced maternal age, LOL.  The biggest thing is that being pregnant is not the novel condition that it was back with numbers 1 and 2.  No time for naps or any other special treatment!  It's more like just a normal, everyday condition--which is good in some ways, but hard in others.  Oh well, only 18 more weeks to go!  I think I can, I think I can . . .