Pregnancy - It's not that simple this time around.

Every so often someone asks me if I'm excited about the baby, or gets excited for me and asks related questions and it leads to some awkwardness in my head.

It's not that simple this time. For one thing I just have no time to be pregnant. This baby is a deadline, a reason to get everything done and our move to Thailand accomplished in time for him/her to arrive. I am lost in a flurry of activity, with 2 months fewer than I expected to have originally in order to not be on a plane a month before I'm due.

In this context the baby is more of a challenge, a problem to be solved and worked around, than something to be excited about.

But then there are other things. My dear, dear friend Chantelle who got pregnant at exactly the same time, and has lost many babies, unlike me, lost this baby too, right at 3 months. She has now buried 4 children who didn't make it to term, out of 5 pregnancies, and my heart is so tied to her and her loss that I feel a huge hesitation inside about blithely celebrating this baby with her loss so recent. I find myself keeping the baby talk to a minimum in social forums. I know firsthand how hard it is to watch other women have normal healthy pregnancies, and see their babies, when the loss of your own is so fresh. I can't change what happened, or how unfair it seems, but I feel guarded about celebrating a fifth birth too loudly when I know she is there listening. I don't want to post pictures of my expanding belly for her to see on facebook, it feels like rubbing salt in the wound. This is all me. We've talked about it before and I know she would never ask me to be less than joyful because of her. But I am nonetheless. I am still grieving her loss along with her.

I don't even know if that makes sense. But joy is tempered by grief for my friend this round, and it's just there.

BamBam still seems so little to have to move over and make room for a baby. I'm sad about weaning him so early. I hadn't planned to. He's fine, and he will be fine, and he adores babies. I'm sad, a little, about rushing him into being a big kid this fast, and weary, because the last 2 months of transition have been a lot of work. In my heart, for 2 whole years, he has been my last baby. I really didn't expect to be pregnant again. It doesn't make any sense, really, I just felt done.

So here we are, pregnancy number 6, baby number 5 apparently alive and well, and every kick is startling, a shocking reminder that in the midst of all this there is a baby in here, very much alive and very much on the way.

Sometimes I really forget.

I know that once we get to Chiang Mai, and the packing and planning and visa worries are over, not to mention all the doctor's appointments for the kids, that I will probably have the breathing space to let my heart catch up to the reality of this child who will soon arrive. I know that once he/she is born I will fall instantly in love, and not be able to imagine our family any other way. I know that our lives will be richer and better for the added blessing of a child we didn't expect or look for.

Until then, I'm just working on keeping my head down and making it through. February is going to be a crazy month my friends. Pray for us?


Thailand Move, Progress Report

I am neck deep in year end receipts and reporting dear friends. It's as fun as it sounds.

I have several posts half written, or with scribbled outlines, but no time to finish them.

So here is a quick update on how the move is going instead.

The good news is that this is the last year I have to do year end reporting or any of that stuff. I resigned as CFO of The Charis Project in November. I was very excited to do so. It's one less thing on my teetering plate as we make this big move. So after bringing 1012 to a close I will no longer have to do this. Everyone say YAY! My replacement is awesome, and very qualified. You can find out more about him here.

Other news. We had someone donate enough airmiles to pay for 4 plane tickets!!!! We are now hoping that we can get the remaining 80,000 miles donated as well to cover the cost of all the plane tickets. It makes it a lot easier to buy them together. If you collect United Mileage Plus Airmiles and would like to help out please contact me at carrienblue at thecharisproject.org

The baby, tentatively nicknamed peanut button, is doing well. I don't really have time to think about the fact that I'm pregnant. I actually find it's best not to think at all about how crazy it is that I'm trying to finish so many things in so little time including have a baby, so I don't. But he/she move around every day and reminds me to say hello every so often. I will have time to think about having a baby after we get there. Until then... there's just too much else to do.

My nativity scene is still up on the mantle and there's a wreath on my door. I have put nothing away. I keep thinking about emptying, so storage seems a waste of time.

Aaron is building a storage shed at his parent's house this weekend. So I can start putting away the things I plan to keep. That will help with the packing, which I intend to begin in earnest in February. I also intend to finish all the urgent Charis work by the end of January but it's already the 21st and 10 days may just not be enough.

I try to think of what else to write at this point and the only thing that happens is my brain starts ticking through my to do list again. Which is probably a sign that I should wrap this up here before I bore you all to tears, or stress out about the sheer volume of stuff on that list.

Oh, except, I am happy to report that BamBam is weaned now, and no longer upset about it, and the sleep at night is getting better again. I usually spend at least part of the night with him strangling me with his arms/body wrapped around my neck/draped across my chest, but he wakes up in the morning and grins at me before burrowing back into my neck and falling asleep again that it's very hard to get up, what with how heavy he is, and how much I like sleep, and how much I enjoy his little snuggles, even when I can't breath so well.

Sleep is amazing though. I slept in my own bed after 2 days of adventures and gallivanting, which I may or may not get time enough to tell you about, and it was lovely, so very lovely. I'm going to turn in early tonight and do it again. Well, it's 12:52am now, so it was early for me until I started to write this.

Good night.


Narnia Party!!!

So the girls changed their minds several times about a party theme this year. They couldn't agree on anything you see. So 8 days before the weekend I had invited all their guests we were split down the middle between the Girl wanting it to be a Brave themed party, mostly because the shocking lack of any archery at the Boy's Hobbit party was extremely disappointing to her, most of the boys being more into sword fighting. For her the most important part was that we had bows and arrows to shoot. Sophia was not so sure about about a Brave theme, she just wanted a cake and to have all her friends come and play hopscotch with her. So I was planning a mix of both, to make them happy.


Five days before their party was to happen they both came running to me with great urgency. "We want a Narnia party!" They both yelled it, so excited were they. "That would be so cool."

photo 4
My Little Lucy at Beaver's Dam

It was a great idea. A little short notice, but a great idea. I of course tweeted about it and one friend started telling me all about the Narnia party she had for her son a few years back with some really great ideas. If only I actually had time to put it all together.

Check out the cape my friend Suzy made for her daughter with a table cloth and duct tape.
Well, as luck would have it the girls had been horribly sick with fevers and coughs and congestion and they just weren't getting better, at least not fast enough to not infect all their friends, and then BamBam started showing symptoms. So I made an executive decision. We postponed their party 2 weeks, until after Christmas, when their daddy and big brother would be back from Thailand, and we would have time to do a party properly.


I have to start by saying that there is no way these parties this year could have happened without my in laws. Their property is perfect for staging epic adventure parties, not to mention all the work they do with setting up and making the party work, and clean up afterwards. They are the best.

The Girl as Jill Pole, tramping through Ettinsmoor

So, with time to think about it, a plan started to come together. We would have bows and arrows, obviously. Aaron found this youtube channel where this guy make bows and arrows out of PVC pipe. Down here, where fresh springy branches for wood bows are kind of in short supply, this was going to be our best building material. My little brother in law Alex, figured out how to make the bows and arrows so they actually worked. Which was awesome. Now we needed to fit them into the story somehow.


The rest was easy. A scavenger hunt, in the form of a quest. We borrowed from any of the books that suited our purpose, and we just looked around the property for things that already existed that could become places in a story.

The girl's drew lions onto fabric for Narnia standards.
 Then I constructed a quest and put the 6 different clues in a fancy font that my SIL Ana then printed and made to look like antique scrolls.


Thanks Karen for this photo. I forgot to get one.

The Wardrobe 
(An old dresser with the back taken out and a rod put in. Told ya my in laws are awesome.)
King Tirian's Watchtower
(Aaron built this climbing tower for his little brother's and sisters many years ago.)
King Tirian of course was Alex, and he taught all the kids to make bows and arrows.


While they were busy doing that Haven, aka the White Witch, tempted away as many children as she could, especially the small ones, with candy, and coloring, and she had them make crowns and promised they could all be queen's like her if they stayed with her. She was very convincing.


This set the rest of the children on a quest to become strong enough to defeat the White Witch and get their siblings back. Along the way they had to practice their archery, follow the signs that Puddleglum gave them, find the sword of Aslan and then confront her with it.


Our good friends Landis and Suzy brought a few of their real bows and taught the kids to shoot them  at Aslan's How.


There was a stop for refreshments at Dryad's Hollow.




Next, to Puddleglum's hut in the Marshes. Where they received 4 signs that would guide them to the sword of Aslan. Auntie Ana called dibs on playing PuddleGlum. You can see her later on with the kids when they confront the White Witch.


The cleverly hidden sword of Aslan.


The White Witch tried to bargain with them. But she was defeated.
And then the celebrating began. I was so glad Brenda was taking pictures. Because hers are usually better than mine, and she got things I would have missed. Most of the rest of these, and a few prior are hers.

I remembered to take pictures of the food this time, but Brenda's turned out better.

I did not get as much food prep done as I wanted to before the party started. Thank God for friends who jump in and help get it all out to the "starving masses" before they grow too restless. Brenda says she loved this part with all the bustle and the maidens carrying food to the castle.

I was so glad this little guy came as a beaver.
Kids feasting in Beaver's Dam
The birthday girls sit in state at Cair Paravel.
Lemon cake with cream cheese icing and blackberries.

They were a little eager to try the cake.

I should have made more. Of everything.
I'll give Bug cake anytime. She makes it look delicious.
Her character banished, the Auntie returns for snuggles.
BamBam was there of course

and the boys back from Thailand.
Aaron's eardrum ruptured while he was there. That's why he's sporting a cotton ball in one ear.
This one looks happy about the whole affair.
Oh yeah, and I sewed the girls those capes the night before.
I bought the fabric for $3 at goodwill ages ago thinking about capes, and finally used it.
It was a lot of fun to do. I think the kids had fun too. One little girl had so much fun she told her mom, "This is the best birthday party I have ever been to." Misson accomplished. Fun had. Quest fulfilled.


PHFR - January is eventful already


Sun shower and rainbows.

Decorations for the girl's Narnia party. It was a great party.


The Girl got her braces off this week. She's so excited not to have to wear them when we're in Thailand.

The Boy came home, and found it very, very cold. I'm not sure he's happy. He really liked Thailand, but I'm really happy to have him home again.


This Girl, she cracks me up. This is her explaining compound words.

This boy, he still thinks that he can hide by shutting his eyes up tight and covering his ears. He was kind enough to open his eyes and become visible long enough for me to take this photo.


This hot chocolate is the consolation prize after spending hours in the Doctor's office waiting for the first round of immunizations. Three out of four kids cried. The 4th winced and made the funniest faces and then all of a sudden said, "Oh, that was all?"

We have to go back next week, on 2 separate days, because our pediatrician's office, in spite of the hundreds of children they see every day, refuses to see more that 2 children per family on a single day, which is about the stupidest thing I have ever heard of. As if I'm not going to have to bring all 4 with me each day anyway, and sit in that little room with them all waiting for the doctor to come in.

Also real? It's just beginning to sink in that I have less than 8 weeks to pack up or dispose of everything I own and be ready to get on a plane. I'm so not ready.

round button chicken


Little is 6!

When you are born the week before Christmas, and so was your sister, there's a good chance your birthday party and birthday post might have to wait until January sometimes. This is one of those years.

 Dear Little,

Sometimes I need to be reminded what a little girl you still are. I mean, you are still tiny, though taller, but you act so much older than your age a lot that I forget you are still a little girl.

You are my most responsible child. Or, perhaps that's not accurate. You are the one with the most initiative. If I say you can't do something you want to do until you do something else, you actually get up and do the thing I told you to do, and you do it super fast. Your older siblings tend to just sit around all day wishing they didn't have to do it, or they just decide they don't want to do the thing they asked to do at first any more. They still have to do their chores eventually... your way is better.

But then you bought yourself a Merida doll two days ago, from the movie Brave, which you love, and have put her in PJ's to take to bed with you, changed her clothes a hundred times, taken her in the bath with you, washed her hair, and sat her next to you to watch the movie she's in. I remember that you have been five all this time, and just turned 6.

It's easy to forget. You are the one who decides to make lunch and sits beside me when I prepare dinner and make the salads. You are the one who decides to do something kind for someone and makes their bed and cleans their room and spontaneously tidies the living room at bed time because you want to.

One of your salad creations.
You had been up half the night with croup, and you unloaded the dishwasher for your sister because she was tired.
You brought me breakfast in bed, and let Bam Bam "help".
Washing dishes while camping.

We bake together and I just tell you what to do now. You can do all the work and the measuring.

You get yourself ready for ballet class hours in advance.

You adore babies, and you take such good care of Bam Bam.

Getting his Jammies on.
You are really a remarkably kind and thoughtful little girl. You bless all of us, all day long.

You are still a little girl however. You continue to be screechy, and vocal about your unhappiness if someone messes with your stuff. You are pretty picky about food, probably one of the reasons why you make it yourself. And you love to play.

You and your big sister are best friends. You two play together all day long.

You like to build forts, or "houses", and invite me over for dinner.

This is what your pretend dinners are like.
Clothesline for the doll fort.

pony rides

You are really good at school, and you love it.
You still love dress up

Wearing dresses. I'm so glad you still like to wear dresses.
playing with baby dolls
I love the way you choose kindness so often, and how you show love through service. I know that the easiest way to make you feel loved on a hard day is to just do something for you. One small act of kindness and you feel treasured.

I'm proud of the way you try, and how well you control yourself, especially considering how very little you really are. Your daddy says, "All our kids are older than their age", and it's true. You all behave older than most kids your age, you especially. You are a little mother hen.

I love you, your creativity, your sense of order, the way you love. You are very special.

Five was a very good year for you. I'm excited about what 6 will bring.

I love you always.

Your Mama.
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