Lianne and Shad

Friday, December 23, 2011

It's the most wonderful time of year!

Well the holidays are almost over, and although I'm going to miss all the beautiful Christmas decorations that have been present in my home for the past month in a half, I will also be glad to be getting my life back to normal over the next month. I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but the holidays are STRESSFUL. Between the decorating, the baking, the present buying, and the party go-ing, the holidays seem to bring on a certain amount of pressure that can make even the most easy-going person loose it.

For our family, one of the most stressful parts about Christmas tends to be money, or specifically the growing amount of money we feel we need to spend each Christmas on the kiddos. I blame Santa. After all, that old man sure does perpetuate the idea that if a child is really, really good, anything the eye desires could be awaiting for them on Christmas morning. And what choice do parents have, really? If your little one asks Saint Nick for a present that may be a wee bit out of budget, do you break their hearts or break your bank??

This year, we were determined NOT to break the bank during the holidays. Instead of paying off Christmas for the next 12 months of the year, we decided a novel concept would be to NOT overspend. So we planned and we saved, and when the kids began to make their Christmas lists, we used our powers of influence to "suggest" items that they might want to ask Santa for. For instance, when Solomon said he really, really wanted a new Nintendo DS from Santa, we "reminded" him how much he really needed a new bike instead. The fact that the bike was $100 less than the DS was just a little bonus for all of us.

We also decided that instead of overwhelming them with gifts from mom and dad, we would leave that to the grandparents. As for their gift from us, we used the money we would have spent on presents and surprised the kids with a trip to Great Wolf Lodge in Concord. We had a fabulous time, and I'm 99.999% sure the kids didn't miss the presents they would have gotten. But I'll let you all be the judge. Here is a few pics of Christmas morning and our trip.

Santa came and brought Solomon a BMX bike and Sebastian a "robot talking dinosaur" (his request- I won't get into how hard that one was to find).

Slushy Magic!

The boys, clad in their Christmas sweaters, open presents for grandma.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mirror, mirror

While in the grocery store the other day, I passed the normal gossip magazines and saw at least two cover articles about Jessica Simpson's suspected pregnancy weight gain. One article was titled "How much will Jessica gain?", the other "Jessica Simpson hires personal chef to control weight gain." I have to admit that I, like the rest of the world, am fascinated by celebrity news. Anything from weddings to babies to affairs- celebrities have virtually no privacy and I love it. But after seeing these two cover titles, my first thoughts were that they (aka the paparazzi) should give that girl a break. Or even better, give that girl a cheeseburger!

It may have a little to do with my current condition, but I couldn't help but think that criticism over celebrity pregnancy weight gain has gone a bit too far. I mean poor Jess- getting criticized about her weight during the one period in a girl's life when weight gain should be expected, even celebrated. If the average celebrity can't gain a few extra plans during this most magical time, then what does that mean for the rest of us??

I have to admit, during this pregnancy I have not been my own best critic when it comes to topics of weight gain and body image. During my first two pregnancies I gained the expected 35 pounds like a champ. I look at pictures of myself from those past pregnancies and think, ick- why didn't someone warn me I looked like that?? Fast forward to this pregnancy and 25 pounds later (yes, that's 25 pounds in 27 weeks) and my self-esteem is less than spectacular. I look at photos of myself and cringe at the double-wideness of just about every part of my body. My husband, bless his heart, still tells me I'm beautiful all the time. I figure that is a husband's job, though. After all, this is half his fault although I have reaped all of the "benefits".

From what I've learned by seeing friends go through pregnancy (as well as from my daily reading of parenting blogs), I'm not alone when it comes to being self-conscious during pregnancy. I realize there are two types of women in this world in terms of pregnancy and body image. The first type relishes what pregnancy does to their bodies. They see themselves as sexy, developing curves in all the right places. They find their ever-growing belly to be an amazingly beautiful. You will know said women by their propensity for showing off their "budding" bodies in such ways as wearing a string bikini on the beach while 9 months pregnant, taking a multitude of pictures of themselves in pregnant form, and even posing nude for a magazine cover while with child (ahem... Brittany Spears) .

The second type feels a little less secure with their growing physiques. Their newly enhanced curves are more likely to make them don a sweater than a string bikini. For these women, myself included, pregnancy brings on a certain set of insecurities that can range from slightly self-conscious to outright mortified. Hiding from the camera tends to be more of the norm than showing off in front of it. I mean, do I really need a memory of looking like Jabba the Hut? I don't think so!

Don't get me wrong, I do find growing a life in side of me to be one of the most amazing things my body has or will ever do. I try to focus on that life instead of the growing amount of stretch marks on my stomach and hips, or the size of my ass on any given day for that matter, but this is not easy. I blame the media for their coverage of celebrities like Jessica Simpson. After all, the media has taught us that our bodies must look a certain way, and pregnancy is no exception. You can't just be pregnant-pregnant, you now have to be thin-pregnant, or at least the latest gossip column would have us believe. Gaining 35 pounds is no longer acceptable. 20 pounds is now the desired amount of weight to gain for a 9-10 month period.

Looking at Jessica Simpson, I think she looks beautiful, glowing even. And if I think this of Jess then maybe, just maybe, I have to admit that I may be being a little too hard on myself. 20, 30, or 40 pounds heavier, pregnancy should be a time that we can celebrate our woman-ness, our divine ability to grow another human being inside of us, our bodies' ability to grow to gigantic proportions and shrink back down again (hopefully) all within time.

So with that said, I present to you a picture of myself, 25 pounds heavier and ever growing. Enjoy. And now I might just go eat a cheeseburger :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The real baby blues

Two months ago Shad and I were given the news that our newest bundle of joy was indeed going to be a card-carrying member of the XY variety. In short, we were destined to add a third boy to our brood. Shad overjoyed by the news- what father wouldn't be after all?? Me? Well I was a little less overjoyed. To be honest (since that's what I'm going for these days), I was crushed. I love my boys more than life itself and I couldn't imagine not having them; but when the ultrasound tech pointed out the little tiny penis on the screen and wrote the words "IT'S A BOY!" at the top, a little piece of me died.

Now I know what some of you are thinking- "How dare she! When so many people cannot have babies; when so many babies are born with fatal anomalies! She should be glad she is pregnant and that the baby is healthy!"

Let me say that I completely agree with you. I know how lucky I am to never have struggled in the fertility area. I see everyday the devastation of children who are born sick and will never recover, and I am extremely grateful that I've never had to deal with something like that.

The piece of me that died that day was simply a dream of having my own daughter. A dream of frilly dresses and pink baby bonnets. A dream of ballet classes and mother-daughter outings. A dream of all things girly really. This dream may have been completely unrealistic but it was my dream, and the news that it was never going to happen was quite sad.

Recently, I've been wondering how many other women share similar experiences from when they found out the sex of their baby. I know most women tell people, "Boy or girl, as long as it's healthy" but how many of those women really long for one particular gender? How many of those women are secretly (or not so secretly in my case) devastated when they find out that their little bundle of joy is not what they expected?

Apparently this topic is not so popular and tends to incite both appreciation for those who openly discuss it and rage at those who admit to having similar gender-favoring dreams/longings such as my own. On one blog I was reading, the author, who had openly admitted that she wanted a girl but got a boy instead, was accosted with all sorts of rageful comments. One person even referred to her as "sick and disgusting." Sick and disgusting, really?

My reaction to that ultrasound didn't last long. It took a couple of days but eventually I got out the funk about everything I was going to miss out on and realized everything I would be getting from being the mother of sons. Boys are A LOT of fun and A LOT less drama. I wouldn't have to worry about the girl drama that ensues at even the earliest of ages (as I'm told by my friends who have little girls), and I wouldn't have to deal with the I-hate-you-because-your-my-mom phase of raising a teenage daughter. I'm having a 3rd boy, and while sometimes I still get a little nostalgic when I see little baby girls all dressed in pink, I know this baby will be loved- most emphatically by me.

I had a dream and I had to mourn the loss of that. I don't think that makes me a bad person, or "sick and disgusting" but hey, maybe others do. At least I'm being honest about it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Long time no blog?

It's been a while since I posted. I could use the excuse that I've been really busy, which I have, or that there hasn't been anything to post about, which is absolutely a lie, but the truth is, it's much easier to write about happy things that occur in one's life than the difficult things that occur along the way. When I started this blog, I wanted to write about what it's like to be a wife and mother of multiple children while still working and attempting to maintain some sort of a social life. I wanted it to be funny, light-hearted, but more than anything honest. But honestly, life isn't always funny and light-hearted. The past months have been filled with joys but also sorrows. Life-changing things have occured which I wasn't exactly sure I wanted the world (or at least the few of you that read this) to be aware of. Honesty, it turns out, comes with a price and that price is exposing one's deepest emotions to what life throws at us. So from here on I will try to do just that- talk honestly about the good, the bad, and the in between. Because that's my life.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dino Fun!

This year Sebastian celebrated his 4th birthday! This would be the first birthday in which he was able to invite other kids. Normally birthdays cause a certain level of anxiety for me that I already mentioned in a previous post, but this party was actually fun to plan! He chose a dinosaur theme, much to my relief, which very easy to plan for (I should mention that Seb originally chose a "motorcycle theme" for some reason I will never know but luckily for me, he became strangely fascinated with dinosaurs weeks before his birthday! Good thing- I have know idea where I would find motorcycle decorations!) I ordered dinosaur eggs for a dino egg hunt and dinosaur figurines for the kiddies to paint from Oriental Trading Co. I also picked up some dino themed decorations and a T-Rex pinata from Party City. The cake came from a local bakery in Mebane that was able to do a dino scene with dino candles to top it off. We had quite a houseful as our family, many of our neighbors, and 13 children showed up! Below are the pics. As you can see, the kids had a blast and Sebastian now has more dinosaurs then he knows what to do with!

Sebastian is dino form!

The table was set!
Dino birthday cake.
Dino Grub
The kids painted dino figurinesThe cake was served!
It was obviously a hit!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fall beginnings...

There's something about a cool, crisp morning at the end of summer that makes me very nastalgic for Fall. Fall, after all, is my absolute favorite season. With fall comes not only cooler weather, which let me tell you I am SO ready for, but the rise of school buses, the start of football season, the countdown until my birthday (don't really know how excited I am about that), and of course, preparations for Halloween. Fall is also the season I got married in, and the season my youngest was born. Although busy, I do, indeed, love fall.

Today was one such morning when the coolness of the air mixed with excitement of the first day of school combined to make me realize that fall will soon be aproaching. I'm sure many mom's were in the same position this morning as they sent their "little" boys and girls off for the first day and realized, 'God, I can't believe he/she is a second grader (or whatever grade they're in)'. Solomon's first day of the second grade began like any ordinary day of school, with me restling him out of bed as he complained that he was just 'too tired'. As I reminded him that this was the first day of school and he should be excited to see all his friends again, he half grunted and then let me know in a very grown up voice that he was not wearing what I picked out for him. Ah the joys of having your kids grow up. After breakfast at Biscuitville, I did manage to get him to cheer up and express that he was excited to start the second grade. Here's the evidence and the one picture I managed to take of him on his first day of the second grade (single tear...)

In other events, I had my first OB visit with my nurse midwife today. I am very excited about delivering with a midwife vs a MD because since going through nursing school, I now realize and appreciate the level of care a midwife can deliver. I was absolutely thrilled to meet her and actually like the woman! She spent over 45 minutes talking with me about my past pregnancies and what I expect from this one. She then examined me and assured me that everything looked great!

I have one week until I am out of the dreaded first trimester and heading full throttle into the greater portion of this pregnancy. So far this pregnancy has been pretty different than the other two, and not in a good way. I don't remember being quite so tired, nauseated, constipated (sorry for the TMI but it's ture), and well, BIG. I've attached a picture of my first trimester ultrasound. As you can see, my baby is a peanut :) It's hard to believe a peanut could wreak so much havoc on my body but it has! Maybe this is a sign it's a girl??? I guess we will just have to wait and see... For now, though, I am VERY excited about fall and everything it has to bring!

Friday, July 29, 2011

It's that time of year...

Summer tends to be a very busy season for the Cole family. Not only are the kids out of school and vacationing plans are in full swing, but it is also the season in which two of our children have birthdays a week apart: Solomon July 22nd and Kaidyn August 3rd. Because of this, I refer to this time of year quite commonly as the season of "birthday madness". For those of you who do not have children, or even for those of you who do but haven't reached this stage in their childhood, let me enlighten you on why this period often becomes my own personal version of hell.

Don't get me wrong, I love my kiddos and am more than excited to help them celebrate the day that they came into this world. As a new parent, the first few birthdays your child celebrates are filled with feelings of joy and celebration. Pictures of your little bundle of joy taking his first bite of cake, and subsequently wearing most of it, are proudly displayed on fb posts and alike for all your friends and family to see. Birthdays really don't start to become complicated until small gatherings of friends and family turn into larger gatherings of your child's school friends.

This is also usually the point in time when your child becomes very opinionated about the type of birthday party he or she wants to have, aka the party's theme. This can be the initial source of anxiety for many party-planning parents, as sometimes little Jonny's request is all but impossible to find. We've had some very unique parties in the past, including Winnie the Poo, Dora/Diego, Spiderman, Wolverine, and Under the Sea. More than one of these parties involved some creative online google-ing by yours truly in order to find select party supplies that just did not exist at the typical party supply store.

The second source of anxiety of party planning parents is the RSVPs, or the lack there of. I'm not real sure when it became acceptable to not RSVP to any party, let alone a child's birthday party in which numbers are typically needed for things like food, goodbags, etc but sadly, this has been the case in the past years. Summer is the worst time for parents to not RSVP, and because of this, I have spent countless amounts of time in the past calling each individual parent (at one point 20 parents!) to ask them if their child was, indeed, going to attend. In the end, many "yes" parents don't show up, only adding more fuel to my ever-growing frustration and irritation with said parent.

For all of these reasons, birthday madness becomes a point of my summer that I could go with out. So this year when the idea surfaced for our family to go to six flags over Georgia instead of having a large, anxiety-producing celebration, I was the biggest advocate. Luckily, the kids were more than happy to for-go a large party for the opportunity to go to six flags. Instead of a large party with themes and friends involved, they got a small, family celebration this past weekend. Presents were received (ipod touches- they were lovin it!). Cupcakes were eaten. There was no theme and RSVPs were unnecessary. The kids were happy. I was ecstatic. A simple party with zero stress= perfection. My only question is why don't we do this every year?

Monday, July 25, 2011

And so it begins...

For those of you who were not clued into to my recent cryptic fb post, yes, Shad and I are expecting a baby next March 2012. Are we excited? Yes! Nervous? You bet. A little shocked? Well yeah.

It's not that this particular baby was not planned. We always knew we wanted another child. The question of when was never far from our minds as each year past us by and we decided, a las, it was not the right timing. This year was no different as we contemplated growing our family to a party of six, which would include four children under the age of 9. As we weighed the decision, certain fears inevitably crept in: Do we have enough money for another child? Is our house equipped to hold 4 children? Certainly, we would need a bigger car, right? Can we both really work full time and give the children the love and attention we would want to give them?? Along with this anxiety, however, also came anticipation and excitement for the possibility of another child. We thought through the positive aspects of having a child right now: Our children would be closer in age than they would if we waited. We are both at a good point in our careers to have a larger family. Do we really want to be in a position where we have a teenager and a baby? And most importantly- is money really the most important factor when it comes to having a child?

We weighed the decision carefully, but in the end, we decided to let "fate" decide. We had decided a while ago that the next child we had was to be born in the spring. If it was indeed "fate" or God's plan for us to have another child this year, we would try for two months to ensure the baby would be born in either March or April. If I did not get pregnant, however, we would take this as a sign that it wasn't the right timing and wait until the following year. Thus we embarked of the adventure of trying to conceive. If you have ever been TTC you will relate that it has to be the most anxiety-filled period of time you will ever go through. From the time you ovulate and possible conceive to 10-13 days later when you actually find out if your pregnant or not, all you can wonder about is whether you are pregnant. This will drive you crazy! For me, this led to some overly obsessive web browsing on every possible pregnancy symptom that could occur and some over speculation that these symptoms were actually happening to me. Fast forward to that fateful day when I could actually test to see if I was pregnant. Both Shad and I had our doubts that we had indeed conceived, so when that + sign did happen to appear, all I could do was laugh. Fate, it seems, was with us all along.

So we begin the journey of pregnancy, and although we have been here before (twice), everything seems just as new as the first time. We are excited. We are nervous. We are trying to get over our shock that this is actually happening. But overall, we are just happy this is the direction our lives have taken us.