Josanna is One Month!

Alright, let me just start this out by saying I may have gotten slightly carried away with pictures of this wee babe.  I think I stress out that I’m going to become the mom who only took pictures of her firstborn. haha

Plus… I had to walk around like an elephant waiting and waiting for this precious girl to make her appearance and once she finally arrived…. I was enthralled apparently. ❤

The first couple of weeks were a little rough in my department.  At one point I had mastitis, a yeast infection, a uti, and a really nasty cough/cold/diarrhea thing going on simultaneously.  That was a bit unpleasant, but I did manage to avoid going in to the doctor and got over it all at home. haha  Poor baby got the diarrhea, followed by not wanting to nurse while I had mastitis.  As a result, her weight wasn’t off to the best start.

We’re still trying to figure out if her birth weight was a little off base.  I mean, she was 9 lb 3 oz at birth, followed by dropping almost an entire POUND in 2 days according to their weight at the doctor office for her 2 day appointment that Monday (8 lb 6 oz).  It almost seems like she had swelling, but I don’t know what it would have been from since I didn’t get any IV.  Following the whole mastitis ordeal, she had her 2 week check up with an in-home nurse visit (so nice!) and was only 8 lb 3 oz.  The nurse offered to come the following week for a re-check on weight, which I gladly accepted vs. going in somewhere. haha  At the next check, we were happy to have her weight up to 8 lb 12 oz, which showed she was having very decent weight gain!  Yay!  I already knew that though, because I started keeping an eye on her with our baby scale after she was down to the 8.3 weight. haha

She is now up to 9 lb, which means next time I check her weight, she should finally be past her birth weight!  It took a while, but she’s going to get there!  Josie Faith is still fitting in newborn clothes, but that’s probably about to change, especially because I switched her over to my cloth diapers at 4 weeks.  I was ready to do that sooner, but I couldn’t find where I had stashed them.  Moving fun back in December had me all unorganized. (Add that to my massive to do list for this winter)

Baby yawns are so tiny and funny how they often turn into crying. ha

Josie was a pretty good sleeper right off the bat.  She really only did one wake up a night since getting home.  I would nurse her and go to sleep around 11, feed her again in the middle, and wake up around 7 a.m.  She’s been doing a few longer stretches now.  Her best was almost 7, but it’s more typical to get one 5 hour stretch and then a 3 hour.

Speaking of sleeping babies…. this one is pretty cute and cuddly when she sleeps.

I’ll never get tired of snuggling with this sweet little girl. ❤

Waiting for that 2 a.m. burp……

One of my favorite funny little quirks about this baby is how she often sleeps with her tongue sticking out just a little.  I find it seriously hilarious.

As I mentioned above, I had some struggles with nursing.  I always do, and I’m getting pretty convinced (by my sister and looking online) that my kids have all had bad lip ties causing a lot of the pain I have with nursing.  We might actually get Josie checked out to see.

Nursing hurt pretty solid for the first almost 4 weeks.  It’s much better now, but still not GREAT.  Josie’s suck is really not great either, as per my other kids.  Her latch can’t seem to get better no matter what I do and she often smacks the whole feeding (sign of a bad latch).  When I was reading online it said mastitis and thrush are common ongoing issues with a poor latch.  With Elly (baby before Josie), I got mastitis at least once a month the entire year I nursed her.  Thrush has also been a problem for me off and on.

Random other weird thing….. it actually feels painful when my milk lets down each time.  Why??

She looks like she’s going to have a long torso.

Frowny lil’ cutes!

This little one’s sisters sure love helping watch her.  They are typically fighting over the privilege.

The biggest fights over Baby Josie occur during meal prep.  I must say it’s been nicer and nicer as Josie has aged and is more entertained on the floor by her siblings!

Rude, but babies make super funny, squishy little faces all the time and sometimes you just have to roll with it.

Seriously, though…. I’m obsessed with her sweet faces!  When she’s “talking” is adorable and her “being so tiny” face on the right is my fav. ❤

Photo shoot with the beautiful blanket Grandma made!

When Josie was first born, people were thinking she favored Elly in looks, but the majority recently have been saying she’s a Caleb baby.  I think it depends on her expression, but I definitely see him in her!  This picture below I thought was especially similar to him in looks:

She does love her Daddy though.  That’s for sure. ❤

Just looking cute, matching with my blanket.

I always like to do sister pictures.  Here were my attempts to get them all semi smiling and looking in my general direction while also taking a decent picture. hahaha  Two indoor and two outdoor.  Pick your favorite.

Mom and baby pictures usually end up as selfies, because it’s difficult to have my children take decent photos of us at this point. haha

Peering at something.  It’s so fun as they begin noticing and engaging with their surroundings more.

I didn’t get the seal of approval from Abby for her baby sister’s onesie in these next photos.  My comment, “Isn’t her onesie cute?!”  Abby, *reading her onesie in confusion* “New girl in town?  We don’t live in town.  It should say ‘New girl in the country!'”  haha  Can’t win ’em all.

This baby can really roly poly already!  She squirms way up on her sides, especially when she’s angry or waking up from a goooood nap.  Those warm naps outside in the sun are tough to come back from.

We were (believe it or not) loving being outside constantly until about 2 weeks ago…..

….when the weather took an abrupt turn and we entered what you call “Fall” in Iowa.  This is possibly how we all felt about that.

We did manage to get in Baby’s first (and then some more) stroller ride though.  She’s so tiny in there! haha

Josanna got to meet Great Grandma Schumacher! ❤  (Joann and Josanna)

Parents always want to try so many things with you…. like sitting you up in a chair and plopping you in a bouncer.  Oh, and tummy time.  Always such a favorite with newborns. haha

And then they laugh at your silly expressions when you’re working your butt off to lift your top heavy head!  Unreal.

I really overdid the pictures, folks.  I get it.  I really do.  I’m not necessarily apologizing though…. just acknowledging it.  Where do you draw the line though??  Cuteness overload!

We don’t really have too much of a schedule at this point, other than bedtime happens.  That has moved closer to 10 p.m. now.  I probably could lay her in there sooner, but it’s kind of fun to cuddle her a while in peace once the older tots are down for the night. haha  I generally nurse her every 2-3 hours during the day.  She is still typically napping in between every feeding session.  Sometimes she’ll stay awake for a whole period in between though.

Just in the last few days, it seems like Josie has made so many changes.  She’s starting to stay awake a lot more, notice and interact with those around her, stays happy on the floor longer, and SMILES!!!

She started smiling 1 day before turning 1 month.  Smiling is SERIOUSLY my favorite baby milestone.  I LOVE when they get to that point.  It’s so much fun to work for a smile and see them happy. ❤

We love you so much Josie Girl!  We’re so happy you’re with us and thankful the Lord blessed us so much with you! ❤



A Look in the Life….

Alright, this is for all you curious folks out there who have wondered what it’s like to live life with six kids 5 and under.  This is the end of the day, so I’m not mentally with it enough to relive our whole day for you, but this will give you a quick glimpse.

Possibly unnecessary background info: Abby had a hearing test appointment 30 minutes away this morning at 9:15, meaning I had to leave the house at 8:30 a.m. with all the kids and all the stuff that comes with them (diapers, wipes, clothes changes, potty, stroller, baby carrier, cereal bags since there was no way we were going to get breakfast done AND be ready to go in the van by 8:30, etc.).  We actually made it there in time, got done with it and I was somehow still ambitious crazy enough to take the kids to Kohls.  The actual ONLY reason I was that motivated was because we had just bought ourselves shoes online and I had $20.00 of Kohls cash + an extra $5.00 if I spent $25.  Also, Kohls was right next to Abby’s appointment, meaning it was normally a half hour drive away.

The kids were already kind of done at this point, and I am terrible at clothes shopping for myself.  I think everything is extremely over priced and unnecessary and it’s actually a struggle, guys.  I did my typical fill the cart with everything that I might possibly be interested in, because once in the fitting room is all I’m going to get with my motley crew.  We struggled through and I ended up getting one shirt that cost $7.20.  Good news: It was free.  Bad news: I wasn’t able to use up my $20 and definitely didn’t reach the $25 mark.  *sigh*

Alright, here’s the quick glimpse:  We get home and it’s lunch time.  Best. Part. Of. The. Day.  Hands down.  Not even a contest. hahaha  I whip leftovers out of the fridge and start microwaving like there’s no tomorrow.  Elly poops in the potty in the kitchen (which is there for Obie since he needs more help, but she continues to use it vs. the big potty, especially when pooping, because…. ?) and starts hollering that she’s DONE now!!!

Meanwhile, Obie pulls his pants down and announces he has to go and no matter where I try to step he is literally under my feet and we’re falling all over each other.

Abby and Evie found a praying mantis* outside while they were letting the chickens out and continue to race in and out of the house screeching about it AT THE TOP OF THEIR LUNGS BECAUSE IT’S SUPER EXCITING and Abby needs a container quick because it’s going to get away but her bug cage has 2 monarch chrysalises in it and so what can she even do?!?!  And now it got away!!  Oh wait!  Now Evie found it again!!  Quick!  We need a container!!  Where’s her gloves because she doesn’t want it to bite her finger??

Elly still needs her butt wiped and Obie is still flailing around the kitchen with his pants down.  Also, I’m holding Josie because she’s been sobbing hysterically the entire time and Little Miss is scouring the living room floor and devouring every “yuck” she can find.  Good.  I guess she won’t need as much lunch at least. hahaha

I love my children, but WOW!  They just can not slow down.  Ever.  Also, God knows what we need to sanctify us.

The above scenario actually happened within the span of about five minutes.  Livin’ the life. ❤

*They named it “Tulip the Bug Eater” because it likes to eat bugs of course.

Labor and Delivery Round 4

Alright, here’s the deets from my fourth round of natural labor and delivery.  I don’t think I quite qualify for pro status yet, but surely I can rate as experienced at this point, right?!

I had definitely reached the point of, I am really, extremely, deathly (that last one’s probably a bit of an exaggeration but I’m just gonna leave it there for good measure) tired of being pregnant shortly after 37 weeks.  We had gone camping right around that time and after getting back home my contractions really upped it.  I had been having contractions off and on since about 30 weeks, which was a new one for me.  In the past I haven’t felt much until it was really happening.

I believe it was at my 37 week appointment that my OB checked me (still hate checks, but I was hoping it would maybe stir things up) and said I was at a 2.  That was different too, since I normally stay pretty much at a 0 until things are really about to happen.  I had been not so secretly hoping to have the baby in August, in spite of her due date being September 3rd, but I really didn’t have much hope based on the fact that I have been late for all my other darlings.  Still…. a 2 was somewhat encouraging!

Week 38 came and I went in for another appointment and check that Thursday.  That check was definitely more uncomfortable and my midwife said, “You’re still at a 3.”  I figured I must have been a 3 last time too, since she used the word “still,” but it turns out (checked some text messages to clear it up haha) I had indeed been a 2 the last week.  PROGRESS, guys!  Also, I normally want to push around 5 or 6, soooo I started hoping this could be a nice fast one!  Hey, have to hope. haha  We had a game night at our house that night- again, hoping to work myself up enough to get things going. ha  Although the games didn’t end until 11:45 p.m., they didn’t get it done. *sigh*

Friday arrived and I was trying to think of anything to get things moving.  I had tried camping/hiking 7 miles with all 5 kids, sawing down and hauling small trees we wanted out of our yard, periodic weed whipping until I was exhausted, walks, daily meal times with my children (trust me, that’s high up there on the list of effort/exhaustion hahaha), and other things and nothing was doing it for me.  When Callie agreed to another game night, I was thrilled.  We settled on Pandemic.  The first round was pathetically easy – fun to win I guess, but not as great as when you barely make it.  We opted for a second round with surprise roles and we had to work for the win.  It was a super stressful game, but we made it!  Got to bed around 11 I think and made it to morning with nothing more than my usual hard contraction every time I woke up to get up and pee.

A little before 7 a.m. Saturday morning, I woke up with a significantly harder contraction than normal, followed by a couple more when I went in to get the kids up.  So much so, that I actually thought I might be starting labor.  Went to the bathroom and my mucous plug had come out with the contractions.  Only other time I had noticed that was with Abby and it was shortly after my labor started for her.  Although I normally try to keep the kids quiet and let Cabz sleep in as long as he can on Saturday mornings, and although I really didn’t want him to start panicking I was in labor, I figured I needed to wake him up and tell him.  He was up like a rocket, timing my contractions, and pacing the house.  Oh Babe…. ❤

My contractions continued anywhere from 4 to 13 minutes apart.  I texted my mom pretty early on to warn her I was probably starting labor.  I also texted my midwife and Brenda (sweet friend from church who was going to help me through labor).  I wouldn’t say my contractions were terrible, but they were definitely pretty strong and I was walking through the house for each one and breathing kind of heavy.

Cabz hopped in the shower and in between contractions I fed the kids breakfast and packed our hospital bags.  I just can’t bring myself to pack hospital bags before being in actual labor.  I mean, what even is the point. haha  Also, I have ALWAYS been late in the past!  My contractions were definitely getting harder.  I didn’t really realize it in the moment, but they must have been because my kids narrating my contractions and getting in my way as I tried to walk through them was starting to get me a bit aggravated.  haha  I didn’t really want my mom to come too premature because I despise going to the hospital before I really have to, but Cabz was stressing since the hospital was a 30 minute drive away, so I asked her to come.

After I had a group of solid ones that were about 4 minutes apart, Cabz was really ready to get me moving.  My mom had arrived to take over and I didn’t argue as much as I probably would have about leaving because honestly my children were not fun to labor around. haha  They were just too perky and under my feet.  Cabz backed the car out and I walked through another before struggling into the passenger seat and texting Brenda we were on our way.  The drives to the hospital are always the worst because sitting while having a contraction is about the worst possible position for me.  The contractions seem even stronger while I’m in the car too.  Cabz was the sweetest though and pulled over (even along the highway!) each time so I could struggle out and walk through it.

My midwife called while we were on the drive and wanted to know where we were at with things.  Once while we were pulled over and I was walking through one, a lady pulled over behind us and kept yelling something at me out her window.  I finally went over to her and she was saying there was a cop parked back about a 1/2 block and she could have him come over if we needed him.  I said no thanks and explained I just needed to walk through my contractions but we were on our way to the hospital. haha  Not too much longer, we came upon the farmer’s market.  Cabz exclaimed, “There’s Tony!” as I yelled, “Let me out!  Another!”  Thankfully we were at a stop light, so I jumped out and headed towards Tony – a gentleman from our church who was out cross walking.  Tony saw me walking towards him and goes, “Are you in labor??”  I nodded and if I wasn’t in the middle of a contraction I would have laughed at his expression as he realized it was me.  He gave me a side hug and walked me through the contraction down the street as Cabz followed along in the car.  In hindsight, it was pretty funny, although at the time I was so focused I didn’t think too much of it. haha

After that I rode a couple contractions out in the car (ooooooooooooooooooouch) and we finally made it there.  Cabz let me out in the parking lot as another contraction struck and all the sudden Brenda was there by me.  She parked the car and let Cabz walk me inside.  I was getting contractions pretty fast and furious at this point and was pacing around the waiting room as Cabz checked us in.  They asked their usual, “Wheelchair or walk?” and of course I opted walk.

We got to the room (it was about 10 a.m. at this point) and my biggest disappointment was that there was so little space to walk in.  I love big rooms because you can walk in a straight line longer before having to circle.  I kept asking if I could go outside to labor, but everyone kept telling me no.  *grrrrr*  They proceeded with their millions of papers shoved in face to sign (really?!  We can’t do this at an earlier appointment?  It must be in the midst of labor?  Unbelievable.), vitals up the whazoo, and then wanted to check me.  That wasn’t my favorite as per, but they said I was at a 5!!  Wow!  I told them I was probably going to want to push soon then, because I never have gotten past a 6 without having serious push urges.  I gained a little strength thinking it was about time, but….. time kept going by and although I tried a little, I really didn’t want to push yet.  I kept glancing at the clock and feeling really bummed out with how time was passing and yet things weren’t seeming to progress!  I would have quite a few hard contractions in a row and then kind of get a pause without much action.

Cabz and Brenda were both amazing throughout my laboring process.  I can’t say enough about that!  Brenda had to have had some sore limbs after all the massaging she gave me.  Seriously!  And, as usual, I squeezed my poor hub’s hands and arms to pieces and he just let me.  Cabz would hold me in between contractions, which was really nice.  It was really weird, because although this labor was after a night of rest and everything I was EXHAUSTED throughout.  I mean, I was so physically weak that I was actually shaking a lot of the time and if I wasn’t having these painful contractions every little bit, I would have been sleeping.  I wanted nothing more than to lay on a bed (withOUT contractions) and pass out.  It’s never been anything like that for me.  Afterwards, I’m shaking and exhausted, but during labor I’m generally more focused and just getting through it.  I wonder if it was because in the past my labor would start slow, pick up, and result in pushing.  This time around I would have bad labor for a while, then an annoying rest period for a while.  I really wanted to lay down – my legs and feet felt like they couldn’t keep holding me up! – and yet I wanted nothing less than to lay on a bed having contractions.  Ugh.

My midwife arrived somewhere fairly early on (thinking I was closer than I was I’m sure, as I did!).  After I had been laboring for some time, she convinced me to be checked again so she could make sure baby was in a good position.  She said I was a 7.  That was hard to hear because I still didn’t really want to push.  I couldn’t believe it and was getting pretty frustrated.  My midwife kept saying I should lay on my sides to get baby to move down more.  I really despise laying while enduring contractions, but I wanted this all to end so much that I did try it a few different times.  It was really painful, and I kept wondering how much it was really helping.  At one point I got in the bath.  My midwife shut the lights off and left me and Cabz in the bathroom alone.  Found out later she apparently was hoping being alone together was going to help bring labor on more strongly since that’s what animals instinctively do when they’re about to give birth – they go off by themselves. haha  Whatever.

I lay on my side in the tub and went through contractions while Cabz let me squeeze his hands and prayed for me.  I was SO glad to have him with me.  I honestly couldn’t imagine having the strength to go through it all without him there.  At the same time, I felt so tired and weak and wanted him to help me so bad and yet I was the one who had to get it done at some point.  My midwife came in again at some point and was thinking she might need to check me again.  I did NOT want that, but what choice did I have?  I was losing strength and wondering how much longer I could keep this up.  All the sudden I got a much more excruciating contraction.  I got through it, and Cabz helped stand me up while I had two more beastly contractions.  I knew I was about to push now and was beelining for the bed.  They had a squat bar over the bed here which I really thought I would like, but I was SO, SO tired!  I got up on the bed and tried holding on to the squat bar, but I couldn’t pull myself off my knees, so it was more hanging on the bar and kneeling while feeling like I was about to pass out.  I had a couple bad contractions there, then dropped to my hands and knees in sheer exhaustion.  Pushing there a little, then I tried struggling back up to the squat bar.  Wasn’t happening.  Back down to my hands and knees.  I was pushing hard at this point and SO angry when anyone touched me or talked.  When I’m to the point of pushing, I just want everyone to be SUPER quiet and get off me.  I did tell them that, but some nurse just didn’t get it and kept at it.  I was in some major pain, which isn’t necessarily an excuse, but I did scream at her to shut up.  I apologized later though.  Oops.  I think it was after I said, “I just can’t do this” and she just screeched out in this over the top cheerful, almost LAUGHING voice, “Oooh ho ho!  That means you’re close!  That means you can!”  I seriously wanted to knock her across the room.  I was SO mad at her.  I know everyone says the whole when they say they can’t, it means they’re close, and I even agree that’s generally true, BUT OH MY WORD!!!!!!!!!!  When you are the one in labor and you say that, you really believe it and the last thing you want is someone saying that and being happy when you honestly think you’re on your death bed.

Although the labor was really hard as always, it wasn’t my worst labor.  The pushing however, was super, super frustrating.  I don’t know how long it lasted (it felt really long for me, but it probably wasn’t more than 20/30 minutes) but it was SO hard.  Normally, I push, make progress, the baby starts coming out, rips me bad, and gets out.  This time, I would push SO hard and then would feel the head coming and then the contraction would ease up and the head would go back in!!!!  NOOOOO!!!  It was hard to take.  I just wanted it OUT or to not have to redo it all over again the next push.  It was really tough pushing too.  I normally have yelled a little more while pushing.  This time, I did yell a bit at first with pushing but realized I was using up my strength yelling and I was going to need all the focus and self-control I had to just push hard enough to get the baby out.  So, I quit yelling and was actually silently pushing with everything I had in me.  Brenda said later she didn’t even always know when I was pushing. haha  (I sure did. lol)  This went on, for what felt like forever.  I would push, the head would start to come out and then I’d feel her go all the way back in.  I started wondering if she was so big I wasn’t going to be able to get her out.  At one point, I had her head out enough that I felt myself rip.  That was pretty tough, because from then on I had to push each time and go through the rip again and again, vs. in the past when I would rip AS the head came out, so at least it wasn’t over and over through the rip!  It is really tough to force yourself to push through that much pain.  You WANT to just stop pushing, so the hurting stops, but you can’t.  You have to push into this super pain.  Ugh. haha  Okay, so long story “short” her head did eventually come all the way out.  As usual, it felt like you had definitely pushed the entire baby out with that amount of pain, but nope.  You still gotta do the shoulders.  I didn’t have a lot left in me, but somehow she got out.

I was on my hands and knees, just trembling like a leaf at this point.  My midwife plopped baby girl down on the bed underneath me and I’m just staring at her like, “What even.”  What am I supposed to do here?  I love this baby, I feel like I just went through death, my body is almost completely out of my control at the moment, I’m shaking so bad it is only a matter of time before I collapse here, and there she is.  Under me.  I think I gasped out, “Hi, Baby!”  And then at some point, I gathered enough to say, “You gotta move her.  I’m going down.”  Someone did and someone else helped me basically fall over to my side.  They handed me baby and I was seriously so tired I could hardly speak.  It was only moments before all the fun continued.  My placenta was split in two or something so they had to get that out asap to minimize blood loss.  Pushed my stomach, made me push, got it out.  Some nurse lady hammered me in the leg with seriously the most painful shot I have ever had in my life.  That thing felt like a mile of needle jabbing in.  I still don’t even know what the heck that was for.  Cabz thought maybe because of the blood loss?  No idea.  Then, I felt my blood clotting thing that always happens and started getting light headed.  It’s always hard to tell them, because then they literally POUND my already shredded stomach to pieces to get them all out and continue that every 15 minutes for what feels like an eternity.  I did tell them though, because I think the side affect is having a stroke.  Ya…..  As soon as I did, the hammering started.  That is seriously the worst pain.  I have to get someone else to hold the baby, because my hands can’t stop whacking at the person pounding me.

After that they want to assess for stitching.  One positive of baby taking her merry time with my labor, pushing, etc….. I didn’t rip as bad as normal.  Usually I get a bajillion stitches.  This time, she said I just needed one!  It was still rough getting it done, but at least she didn’t have to do the numbing shots because they honestly hurt as bad as a stitch.  Got that done with me yelling and flailing like a fool. haha  More pummeling.  More clean up.  More jabbing.  Finally, FINALLY!!!!!!  They left me alone or a notable period of time.  I got to hold our little miss and just try to breathe.  I didn’t know if I still could after they knocked it all out of me.

It took a little while, but I started feeling SO much better once they left me alone.  I suddenly was pretty wide awake and was able to enjoy holding Baby.  By the way, we named her Josanna (Josie) Faith.  Isn’t she precious?! ❤

I realized after Josie was born that I had completely forgotten to pack her any clothes.  Woops.  Thanks to Callie for snagging a couple adorable outfits and bringing them to us at the hospital. 🙂

Our friend, Darah, brought us beautiful flowers and tacos at some point (I was too far gone to notice haha) and we all ate some of those post delivery.

As I was getting moved to the recovery room, Darah stopped in again for a little visit, along with our Pastor.  It was great to see them and I was so excited Pastor Mike got to stop in too because he was going to be gone over my actual due date!  Bonus: he brought us Whitey’s ice cream shakes!  We never go to Whitey’s, so I have no idea what it was that he brought me, but it was SO good.  I said I liked brownie and caramel ice cream stuff and it was both and SO good.  Seriously.

During the pushing stage, I thought, “I hope I am never ever pregnant again.  Ever,” but after seeing this beautiful baby, she was worth it.  She was worth the horrible pain.  She was worth the months of discomfort and sickness.  She was worth the labor, the contractions, the pushing, the pain, the recovery.  She was worth it all.  We are so blessed by the Lord to have this sweet baby girl.  What a precious gift He has given us!  Cabz and I keep marveling over the fact that her little body was INSIDE me all that time and then all the sudden (not really, but you know….) she was out and in our arms!  God knit that precious life together inside my womb.  What a complete miracle!  He is an awesome God!

Also, side note, but I really enjoyed listening to hymns (quietly) while I was laboring (pre-pushing).  Not sure who put them on, but that was nice.  I’m SUuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuper glad to be on the other end of labor, with our little blessing in my arms.  Recovery, lack of sleep, pad changes, hospital post-birth undies, weight loss (? haha), and nursing fun…… here we go! 🙂

Josanna Faith Miller

Josanna (Josie) Faith Miller was born on Saturday, August 25th, 2018.  We just missed the 24th (that’s the date the three prior were born on hahaha)!

She weighed in at a whopping 9 lb 3 oz which  gave her the lead for our biggest baby yet!  I seriously should have laid off the ice cream this pregnancy…. after Elly and now her, I am pretty convinced it actually does make my babies chubbier and I’m all about not delivering giant babies!  Ahh! haha

I started labor a little before 7 a.m. and had little Miss Josie at 2:23 p.m.  It was about a 7 1/2 hour process – a little longer than Evelyn’s and a little less than Elly’s.

If it didn’t hurt so much, I wouldn’t have believed I was really going to have a baby – EARLY!!  Say WHAT?!?!  This was the first time I have ever been something other than late! haha  I was really glad about that, considering she was already a pretty huge baby!  Josie was born when I was 38 weeks and 5 days, just shy of 39 weeks.  Of course, I’ve had a lot of people asking if the due date could have been off.  I guess there’s always that chance, although that’s what it calculated to based on my last period.  Well, Sept. 2nd was what I got.  Midwife said the 3rd.

It’s just so hard to open your eyes when you’re a baby!!  Scowling is easier. hahaha ❤

Sweet baby girl!  I waited SO long to get to cuddle your squishy little self in my arms! ❤

Fun fact: Josie weighed her due date – 9/3 haha  Grandma and Grandpa stopped in to meet Josie!

This past week.  Whew!  What a week!  As usual, I was dying to get released from the hospital post delivery and, as usual, it took them foooooooooooorever to finally discharge us.  I kept asking and they’d piddle around and FINALLY we got done with her hearing test, her blood draw, our last vitals, and got done with the discharge papers from OB and pediatrician.  Cabz had brought the kids to meet Josie, in hopes that we would actually get discharged semi-soon.  After they met her, Cabz took them for a long walk while I waited around with Josie finishing up.  Newborns always look SO TINY in their big car seats! ❤

By the time we actually got home it was supper time.  My parents met us there with food, which was really helpful!  They got to meet Josie and then we had our first bedtime dash with six kids out of womb.

It was really nice to have my own bed back.  Also, here’s adorable Josie in her rock ‘n’ play next to me.  I mean…. can we just talk about how snugged up and snuggly she is?!

I kept thinking we got home on Saturday, but I gave birth on Saturday and we came home on Sunday evening.  The next morning, Monday, we had doctor appointments scheduled for the 2 two year olds and our foster daughter.  I had strongly thought about rescheduling them, but we decided to go for it.  Cabz was taking this week off to help out and I figured we should just get ’em done.  I called right before we left and asked if we could ALSO have Josie do her 2 day check up while we were already going to be there.  They told me no on the phone, but upon arrival the doctor said we could get her done too.  It was around 2 1/2 hours at the doctor getting everyone seen and I was definitely a little tired by the time we got out of there, BUT it was really nice to get it all done.  The nurse kept going, “You had the baby on Saturday??  You could have rescheduled!  You’re crazy!” haha  But, I’m not sure she realized how nice it was to check all those appointments off the list. ha  This was Daddy and his daughters on our first morning home, before I had gotten hair fixed and we had madly dashed off to the doctor.

I think my milk started to come in Monday late afternoon and I began to get pretty uncomfortable.  Nursing was already hurting – it always does for me in the beginning – but obviously the engorgement process makes it exceptionally worse for a while. haha  This is what an overly tired me looks like after recently delivering a baby.  Kinda dead.

Daddy was working hard too.

Everyone has been telling us Josie looks just like Elly so far.  I’m not convinced that isn’t due to them both being chubby faced babies, but we’ll see as she ages!  The bottom half of her face does look the most like Elly at this point.  Here’s one picture I got where she was really looking like Elly.  Somehow her head looked super round here, which has been a defining feature for Jelly Bean. haha

I would definitely be okay with her looking like her adorably proud older sister, Elly though. 🙂

All the kids love getting to hold “Baby Josie!”  Even though it usually ends in her squirming and crying. haha

Tuesday and Wednesday I mostly was just really uncomfortable with the whole nursing thing.  Soooo, don’t mind me wearing the same shirt as the day previously.  Post pregnancy…. these things just happen for a while.

A head of dark hair, just like our other babies.  We’ll see if she turns blondie like the two E’s or stays dark!

Tuesday night we had really bad thunderstorms and wind and found Wednesday morning that two of our nice big fruit trees blew down. 😦  I was pretty sad about that.  We worked on clean-up for quite a while.  Still more to be done, but it will get there.

This isn’t the best picture, but so far when Josie is really out good, her tongue pokes out just a tiny bit.  It’s probably because I’m her mom, but I think it’s hilariously adorable.

Snuggle Buns.

All ready for a deep night of sleep, right Babes??  I think she looks like Cabz in this one! ❤

Thursday was hands down the hardest day of the week.  Our worker for our foster daughter came that morning.  I can’t go into details, but she had some information that was difficult to hear.  Later that day, right at supper time, we had a serious scare.  Our beloved barn cat, Sunny, had been acting a bit off for a couple of weeks.  She had a bite mark on her head a little over a week ago and was just acting pretty strange.  She wasn’t mean to the kids or anything, but was really grouchy towards the other two cats (her half grown kittens) and had been biting at them quite a bit.  I hadn’t really dwelt on it too much, thinking she was just still in the process of weaning them.  However, that evening, Caleb was outside and goes, “Sunny is foaming at the mouth….”  I ran to look and she had spit and foam all around her mouth and it was drooling to the ground.  She looked a bit crazy and was walking weirdly.  I’ve seen rabid animals before and instantly assumed that’s what she had.  I felt so stupid that I hadn’t thought of it earlier.

We started freaking out a bit.  I was praying and bawling, terrified I had let the kids be exposed to her even as late as earlier that day.  With rabies, if you don’t get vaccinated in time, it’s too late to save your life, your nervous system is attacked, and the definite result is death.  Although Sunny had never bitten the kids, all of the cats lick on the kids all the time and the kids constantly have open sores and scrapes because it’s summer!  Rabies can spread through saliva applied to open wounds.  It can also spread just from a kid petting a cat (who licks itself) and then touching their own mouth or something.  So, it’s pretty serious.  We called some friends with a gun and they came to take care of all the cats while we rushed the kids to the ER to begin vaccines.  I threw a box of cereal and some fruit strips in our bag since the kids were definitely missing supper that night.

Our DHS worker met us there, since it’s always tricky to get foster children treated when you can’t get permission, etc.  I was thankful for that, since we had to get permission from a judge to have babes vaccinated.  We were there foooorever.  I was bawling most of the time as I kept thinking my kids were all going to die of rabies.  Of course they had all had some cold and diarrhea thing going and if you look up any symptoms for rabies it just scares the life out of you.  I was praying and trying to trust the Lord, but it was pretty tough in the moment.

We got put on the “fast track” which means we were there from like 5 something until about 9:30 that night.  The doctor had no idea about rabies and was trying to talk me out of vaccinating until I said, “um… rabies can spread through saliva….”  He went and looked it up and then came back saying we should start vaccines tonight after all.  Ya… really.  They had to have the pharmacy mix them up and send them over, so we were sitting there forever.  Then, they took the kids (Cabz went with) one by one to do the vaccines in the room next door.  Two hemoglobin in the thighs, one nasty rabies shot in the butt.  This was just the first round.  They would need three more rounds different days to complete treatment.  I felt SO terrible!!  All because I didn’t get rabies vaccinations done!!  ARGH!

They told us we should definitely get the cat tested just in case it was negative, so Caleb called our friend back and asked if he could put the dead body in a bag and throw it in the fridge.  Good thing they used a pellet gun so she wasn’t too destroyed for testing.  We finally got home and got everyone in bed.  It was a pretty sleepless night for me as I sat awake praying and reading my Bible (and bawling – let’s be real).  God is good and gave me some peace and comfort through the night, but I was definitely struggling.  My children are an area of serious weakness for me as far as trusting the Lord.  I know they are all His in reality and not mine, but it’s tough to truly live upon that at times.

Early the next morning (Friday) Cabz ran the cat to Coralville (an hour drive) to get it tested in the lab.  They made him take it to a vet to cut its head off first.  Unbelievable.  I had a much needed call from a church friend while he was gone and a visit from another.  To make our morning even harder, I was about to head outside with all the kids when they cried at the door, “Mama!!  Nipsy’s at the door!  Nipsy’s here!!”  Yup.  There was our sweet little Nipsy, limping to the door and crying at us.  He hadn’t actually bit the dust yesterday.  Ohhhh sad day!  I threw him out some chicken fat and made the kids stay inside while I called the vet asking if there was any way we could give him a rabies shot and then keep him somewhere to monitor whether or not it was too late to work.  They said no and they said if he had already been bit then it was too late for the vaccine to work anyway, so he either had it or he didn’t.  He looked in pain from his wound anyways and we were SO sure rabies was at hand that we had to take care of him (again).  My poor kids were broken hearted over losing their little pet (Nipsy was their favorite and loved them all SO much!!!).  It was seriously hard to take.  I was crying over him too.  I’m not a cat person generally, but he was seriously such a sweet little guy.  No matter how brutal the kids were with him, all he wanted to do was be around them and love on them.  I’m going to cry just thinking about this again.  Poor Nipsy.  Cabz had to end up doing the deed.  We found poor Oreo in the process (he too hadn’t quite bit the dust) and had to take care of him as well.  Argh!  I felt SOOOOOOOoo terrible for not having gotten our cats vaccinated!!!!  It was so stupid.  I have a last goodbye picture of Abby with Nipsy (a glass door between them), but it’s seriously so heart wrenching, I can’t stand to look at it long enough to post it, sooooo maybe in a few years I’ll update it. *sob* haha

I called the lab around 1 to see if they had tested Sunny yet.  Nope.  Thankfully my call seemed to get them moving though.  They said they would definitely put her on their second and last run of the day.  I had no thought that Sunny could be rabies free, but was still hoping for a little miracle.  They FINALLY called us back, around 4 that day and said the test was NEGATIVE!!  What?!?!  They had told Cabz, but he let me call them back and just make sure, sure, SURE they were right.  The guy was really nice and explained how two techs had checked and they were really sure.  I sat in shock for quite a while and then we gathered the kids to pray and thank God for His mercy towards us.

I was so grateful for everyone praying for us through this very difficult time and couldn’t stop thanking the Lord all day/night.  They told us to go ahead and stop vaccines, which we were happy to oblige with (although I still can hardly believe it was negative…. the cat looked and acted totally rabid).  We feel horrible about our poor kitties.  Our kids have been so sad over them (me too), but we are so thankful our children were okay!

Our church family has been so wonderful this week!  Blessing us with meals and lots of prayer!  We’re very thankful for them all. ❤

Well, that brings us to today.  Saturday again.

Baby Josie is officially a week old and we all survived!  Yay!  I think my milk is regulating somewhat now.  I still have some unpleasant pain, especially during the latch on, but we’ll get there.

Okay, seriously…. this picture is one of my favorites.  Like Daddy, like daughter. hahaha  Love these two! ❤

Catching some rays.

Yes, sleeping has been quite the theme (well…. for Josie at least… *ahem*).

Every once in a while she’s awake for a few minutes though!  Like, for example, at 3 in the morning. haha  Actually, she has been doing pretty well with sleeping.  There are times she’s a bit wakeful in the night, but overall not too much to complain about there.

Josie is so precious and we are thankful for her and all the other little blessings in our house. ❤


Week 2…. what do you have for us?  One thing is for sure… we will sure miss Daddy when he has to head back to work on Tuesday!  He has been such a help and it’s been so nice to have him here with us all.  We love that guy. ❤

If you’re interested in getting it right, “Josanna” rhymes with “Hosanna.”  Also, both “Josanna” and “Josie” (her nickname) are pronounced with a “Z” sound for the “S.”

It’s been interesting with six kids 5 and under running around.  Everyone transitioned really well, but there are just a lot of tears and whining in general when you have that many young kids. ha!  Gotta love ’em. ❤

Camping & Hiking at Starved Rock State Park and Mattheisen State Park

Yay!!  We got in an August camping trip as well!  Once again, I wasn’t sure we were going to get it done, but once again Callie helped make it happen (even though she was, yet again, just returned from another vacation).  Cabz was (still) busy with his paper/module business.  Thank goodness, he is turning it in SOON and we can be done with it!  The weather and camping weren’t quite as ideal as last time, but for August it was still pretty decent.  Also, this was yet another trip where there were no bugs to speak of!  I can’t believe that we have camped and hiked all these times and have yet to be seriously bothered by bugs.  We haven’t even used bug spray! 🙂  We spent time at Starved Rock State Park and Matthiessen State Park in Illinois and hiked right around 7 miles.

Day 1:

Ready to heady at almost 37 weeks pregnant!!  Not so secretly hoping this encourages the baby out early for me.  I’m always LATE!  This time we’re doing two nights of camping!  Bring it on!  5 car seats locked and loaded.

We pulled into Starved Rock on Thursday morning.  If I remember right, I think we got there sometime around 9 a.m., but the day was already getting a little muggy.  We packed our bag, grabbed a water bottle and map and figured out our first hike.  We were going to try and do a loop hike, starting with French Canyon.  They had a sign to French Canyon right away, but looking at our map, it seemed as if it made a lot more sense to go a different direction first.  Being the astute map readers that we are, we obviously went with our option.  It started with a LOOOOOOT of stairs.  A Lot.  This picture doesn’t even scratch the surface of how many stairs we climbed. hahaha  It was a good work out though!  For once, I almost felt as if Obie’s pace was actually my pace of choice.

We got to the top of the (first) huge chunk of stairs and found ourselves at the lodge.  It really looked like the trail entrance to French Canyon should be right around there.  We looked.  And looked.  And looked some more just for kicks and giggles.  We were finding nothing.  Well, except that we had somehow completely turned around and were going the opposite direction intended towards some much smaller canyons.  Rather than haul all the way back down and start fresh, we decided to continue on and see what we could find…….  We found Aurora Canyon (it looked semi interesting, although small, but our only viewpoint was from way up high through a little hole of trees – lame), followed by Sac Canyon (repeat of Aurora), followed by hiking and hiking and hiking, hoping to reach our planned end point, Kickapoo Canyon.

After going DOWN quite a flight of stairs, we realized we must have gone past Kickapoo without even noticing it.  I think it was after this that we also realized the canyons worth actually seeing were marked differently on the map vs. the pathetic ones that you really needn’t bother hiking by. haha  Rather than continuing allllll the way to St. Louis canyon with the knowledge that at some point we would have to turn around and hike the entire way back (with one dwindling water bottle I might add), we opted for turning around at this point.  Once we were solidly beyond the stairs, we stopped for a snack break.  Mini oreos were a hit, but probably not my best idea.  It’s amazing how atrociously messy kids can get with a handful of oreos.  I mean… WOW!

Here’s where we think Kickapoo was.  Enjoy the view and don’t blink or you’ll miss it!

The entire trip, the girls were both completely obsessed with finding their American Dagger Moth caterpillars (not quite sure that’s the kind they were, but they had a lot of similarities at least).  Abby, in her fashion, decided to shorten their name and began exclaiming, “Another American!  I see another American!”  The best was when we were passing by people as she shouted it out……  er….. Hey, guys.

We were all preeeeeeeetty hot and tired, and maybe slightly disappointed with our not so thrilling, somewhere around 2 mile hike by the time we got back to the van.  Taco in a bowls and juice were a great cool off and rejuvenate kind of lunch.

Looks like I swallowed a watermelon whole.  wOw!

Babes was pretty proud of her munching spot on top the table.  As you can see, her lunch didn’t sit around for long. ha

Post lunch, we really needed a fun hike and preferably a cool one!  Off to Matthiessen State Park we went!  It was an EXCELLENT choice!  We got all the kids suited up and off we went.  More steps to go down, but this time they would be well worth it!

This was a hike I had done last time we came out, but Callie hadn’t, so that was fun!  I think she said it ended up being her favorite hike of the trip.  It was an out and back hike, about a mile altogether.  The best part about it is that most of it can be hiked through water, so the kids were LOVING it.  They had been getting pretty worn out, but once their feet hit the water (water shoes for the win!) it was amazing to see their energy come flying back full force! haha!

The hardest part about this hike was forward motion, because the kids were constantly wanting to stop and explore and splash. haha

The stepping stones are always fun!  Abby was really focused on walking across them, but Evelyn thought they were designed as her personal jumping boards. haha

It was fun just to watch the kids having such a blast!  Oh, and yes of course, this picture was definitely forced.  Before you play anymore, you must hold hands and smile for ONE picture!

Toddlers and their rocks.

Our Super Cool dude.

We got to navigate some pretty cool rocks and tree roots scattered throughout the creek.

Evie and her sticks….. she found this one she thought looked like a cleaning brush and was scrubbing the log off with it.  Cleanliness has always been one of her strong points….

Cool little waterfall on the way! 🙂

We made it to the end!  The big waterfall even had a little water flowing, in spite of it being dry and summer.

Unlike last time, when there was too much water, we were able to navigate clear back to the waterfall.

Of course Abby spotted a giant frog swimming around and the girls all had to try and nab him!

It was an exciting chase, back and forth across the water!  The other two gave up, but Abby kept at it.

Eventually, our friend was caught and Abby proudly showed him off.

After all this excitement, we trekked back, washed sand and grub off the kids, changed the kids, and headed back to set up camp.  My older girls wanted to work on their picture taking skills while Callie got the fire going, so here’s what they managed.  My stomach is so big.  It looks like a weird attachment I strapped on myself.  I’m just here staring at it in amazement.

Critiquing her work.

Evelyn had a splat earlier in the day and got a bandaid back at camp.  She couldn’t stop talking about it because I literally never put bandaids on my kids. haha  Only reason I did is because I didn’t want her falling on it over and over the rest of the trip.

Cutie puh-tooties!

Fire needed just a little more encouragement, but it definitely happened!

Tent set up!

All “ready” for bed. hahaha  First night there was definitely some goofing going on, but sleep eventually happened.  Abby held out the longest, staying awake as long as Callie and I talked I’m pretty sure.  That kid….  Also, no shame here….. that little tiny potty in Elly’s pack ‘n’ play?  Ya.  I set that up in between the two pack ‘n’ plays later on so I could hang on to the pack ‘n’ plays to squat down and use it every 20 minutes all night long (after I had rolled my large hiney off the half sunken air mattress that is).  No way was I seriously going to stumble out of the tent every few minutes in the pitch dark (probably stepping on a snake on the way!!) to waddle my way to the nasty port-a-potty (which was also probably crawling with snakes!!).  Pregnancy problems, guys.

Also, yes, that is part of my pregnancy pillow pictured on the air mattress.  I was SO glad I brought it. haha


Day 2:

We were up pretty late last night.  It had been a rather humid/hot day and it took quite a while for it to be comfortable enough to fall asleep in.  It was definitely the hottest tenting night we’d had all year.  I think it stayed up in the mid 70’s most of the night.  It was fairly quiet though – most of the other guests had campers and weren’t directly by us.  Although the kids were awake decently late, it didn’t seem to hamper their morning energy too much.  Me and Evie have the same dead tired eyes going on in this picture. hahaha  At least Callie looks well rested.

Bee boppin’ before I was mentally ready. ha

Once the kids were up, so was I, because…. mommin’ life.  Callie tried to hold out, but the kids have a funny way of making laying in bed not as great as it sounds. hahaha

Big Sis, Little Sis jammies! ❤  My little blondies.

Breakfast time!  That fruit loops box had some good activities on the back.

Muffins are the best!


Today, we knew we had to find French Canyon.  This time, however, we decided to follow the park’s signs. *groan*  We did a two mile loop, hiking to French Canyon, Wildcat Canyon, and supposedly Pontiac Canyon, but we missed the turn for that last one.  It wasn’t one of the good ones on the map though, so we weren’t too disappointed over it.

We found French Canyon pretty quickly.  It was well worth the hike!

The kids enjoyed climbing up the sloped walls.

After enjoying French Canyon, we were off to Wildcat Canyon!  More stairs!  Woo!!

When we arrived, it was obviously time for a gummy snack break.

The girls found a little rock climbing on our way out of Wildcat.

What a big sister does, Elly must also do.

Evelyn, of course, was much too busy with mud puddles and sticks for rock climbing.

Picture with the kids. ❤

Evie wanted to try her camera skills too, so here is her attempt.

A fun little tree root spur-off the girls tackled.

We made it back from our hike in time for some good ol’ pb & js!  Afterwards, I got everyone cleaned up and then a friendly older man brought over a giant watermelon half to give us.  He offered it from across the parking lot and I said, “Thanks, but we’re okay!”  Upon some serious persistence though, he got us all back to the table and handed out plates, napkins, and proceeded to dice up our watermelon with this giant butcher knife.  It was pretty tasty though. haha

After lunch, we were back at the hiking.  We did a one mile out and back hike to St. Louis Canyon.

It was a pretty fun canyon to explore!  There was a small waterfall beyond a pit of water.

Abby and I tried to carefully cross some logs to get over to the waterfall.  Abby got one shoe a bit damp, but for the most part we had a successful trip over and back. haha

The girls wanted to build a log cabin.  I think the foundation layer was as far as they got though.  Bummer. haha

There were also a couple small caves to climb in.  It was an exciting process to get the girls up there. haha  It doesn’t look super steep, but it was incredibly slick and hard to get traction!  They mostly got butt shoved up to the top. haha

I had to heft myself up there too.  I did manage to get up on my own (barely).

Getting down was just one big slide of fun. lol

Another smaller cave (easier to climb) next to the previous one.

I asked Callie to take a picture of me post this hike, because I wanted to see how rough I looked.  I was literally DRENCHING in sweat this whole hike.  It honestly didn’t feel that hot, but the humidity must have been way up there because we were actually dripping. ha!  This picture doesn’t even do justice to how sopped I was.

Due to being so sweaty, we decided to go back to Matthiessen, just to the beginning of the water, so the kids could splash and cool off. They thrived on that decision, although the sand and suit clean up afterwards wasn’t the adults favorite.

I had told the kids I would take them to the campground park at some point, and although I was not quite in the mood after sweating all day and hiking 3 miles, I pulled myself together and took them over while Callie got the fire going.  They lived it up there with swings and rocks.

Okay, I wasn’t planning to use this picture because it’s kinda hideous, BUT it’s also pretty much how we felt at the end of the day.  Sweaty, nasty, and pooped. hahaha  I think Evie took this glamorous shot for us.  What a winner!

And this is our Abby for ya.  She is all about her own space, but when it’s super hot and sticky out, this is what she goes for.  Cuddling on your lap.  Oh, please no. hahaha  With a smirk, obviously.

Working on that fire business.

While Callie was hard at it getting the fire going, I too was making myself extremely useful…..

Cheeto face!

Callie and I both took showers later.  I did feel better afterwards, but the water was soooooooo smelly and sulfury in the moment.  I had to hold clothes over my nose so I didn’t dry heave to death.  The showers weren’t super handy distance-wise, but the kids were filthy as all get out!  So, instead of giving them showers, I let them put out the fire with water bottles.  Trust me, by the time that fire was “out” they were nice and clean (wet from head to toe).


Day 3:

This little tot was up peering at me way too early.

Time to rise and shine.  Groooooooooooooooan. haha ❤

Our campsite was pretty pathetic and annoyingly pricey for what it was.  We couldn’t stay at Starved Rock because it was completely full, so we went with the campsite I had stayed at last time.  There weren’t many other options.  The spots are super close together, but I was hoping it wouldn’t be full.  The first night was okay, but the second night (last night) was kinda a bummer. haha  People kept pulling in, and we were feeling surrounded.  In reality, the spot to our right never got taken, although it felt like it with such close quarters.  It was a little noisier than the previous night too.  The night was cooler temperature wise though, which was really nice!  Here’s how close the spots were.  The white vehicle is not ours, the picnic table on the left is ours and the picnic table on the right is the next spot (that thankfully wasn’t taken, but the one to the right of that was taken).

We had a wedding shower for a friend at church that we needed to get back for early afternoon, so we decided to just do a one mile hike and head home.  We hiked to Illinois Canyon which ended up being my favorite hike of the trip!

Elly and her little walking stick. ❤

Telling me something very important I’m sure.

This hike was seriously the coolest!  It felt like we were walking through a giant canyon the entire hike.  We were on this wide, flat trail in between two giant continuous bluffs, walking along a creek.  And again, NO BUGS!!  It was so great!

There were cool rocks to climb and hills to run up!

Obie was finding cool rocks too. haha

One of the fun parts about this hike were all the little water crossings. 🙂

Pregnant lady crossing!  Close your eyes and hope she makes it!

We made it to the end!

Building rock towers of course.

This picturesque little scene was at the end of the trail.  Callie and I were dying to get across the water and explore, but the water was decently deep and murky and we were kind of over cleaning wet clothes and sand.  This is on my list for the future though…..  sooo curious how far back it goes!  It probably ends literally around the corner. haha

Time to head back.  Thanks, yet again, to Callie for toting my babe around the entire trip!!  Couldn’t have done it without ya!

We made it home!!  What a fun trip!  Hopefully we can go somewhere else next month and keep up the monthly camping trip trend.  This time with 6 kids out of womb. 😉

Camping & Hiking at Governor Dodge State Park

After June was a slight fail with only hiking adventures and no camping, I was seriously dying to go camping this month!!  Unfortunately, my hubs was still hard at work on his module/paper thing and couldn’t go.  I had almost given up hope, but the amazing Callie came through and decided to join us and carry Babykins for me.  That is mainly why I couldn’t just make it happen on my own – hiking while 35 weeks pregnant is one thing, but doing it while lugging a child (outside of womb I mean lol) is just not doable for me.  Of course we were all pumped to have Callie along and were very excited to have our friend Natalie join as well with her three little guys!!  I can’t even tell you how excited I was to actually get another month with a camping trip off the checklist. haha  Hopefully next month too! 😀

Day 1:

Although this was only a one night camping trip, we were full to the brim as far as packing goes.  Unfortunately, I forgot to get a picture of the van completely loaded, because it was a sight to see!  This was after I had loaded over half of our stuff, but before Natalie and Callie added to the heap. haha!  Natalie had to use most of the kids’ foot room actually (which worked well, considering every child in our van was in a car seat.  It was craaaaaaazy.

Oh my word.  Check out the amount of car seats we crammed into this beastly van!!  Seriously!  EIGHT car seats and the three of us up front.  Natalie was just sitting on a little ottoman thing the whole time. ha!  There was a back seat available (with the broken buckle), but we wouldn’t have been able to talk whatsoever in our loud van if she was back there, so this was a much better arrangement (although Natalie’s legs/back probably suffered a bit from the cramped seating).  Also, this was pulling teeth to get these gals to participate in our traditional leaving for a trip van selfie.

I loved all the conversation we were able to have along the trip!  It definitely helped the 2 hour drive feel not quite so long. haha  We got there sometime around 11 if I remember right and decided to just eat an early picnic lunch roadside and then head out for a big hike.  Not the most ideal location, but it was handy and we didn’t have to worry about hauling lunch on our backs.

Gotta have your flamin’ hots. ha  I don’t think I’ve ever tried them before this.  They were okay, but I think I’d opt for normal cheetos.

This park’s most popular hike was definitely the brief, Stephen’s Falls. It’s just 1/4 mile from the parking lot.  We decided to start with that and then continue on another trail that would end up making about a 3 mile hike.  It worked out as a nice loop too, which is always better than the out and backs.

Abs was smirking, but wouldn’t smile for me of course.

Our first sighting of Stephen’s Falls!  In hindsight, it probably would have been smarter to end with the falls, when the kids were hot and had used their energy hiking, but it all worked out.

This was the coolest area to splash in and explore!  The kids had a blast!

It was kind of fun Callie took a few pictures with me in them.  Mostly so I can laugh at how huge I was hiking around. haha  Just look at that poppin’ cow belly!!  Of course I had to go play in the waterfall too.  My favorite! ❤

Nat couldn’t resist some waterfall fun either.  It was the best! 🙂

The water was pretty chilly (Obie wasn’t too sure about it for a while), but it was still lots of fun!

My girls, of course, didn’t give a rip that the water was freezing.  They were all about it. haha

There was a fun little cave down by the falls too.

Toddlers living it up!

The children, inspired by Nat, got excited about building a dam.

Finally, we decided it was time to harness the kids’ energy and get back to hiking!  We continued onto Lost Canyon Trail from Stephen’s Falls Hiking Trail.

The first part of it was so much fun!  We were hiking along a creek with bluffs all over and fun little bridges to cross.

All inclusive selfie!  Check out that big belly I’m sporting!  I was SO thankful for the pregnancy belt thing I’ve been borrowing from a friend.  It seriously made a HUGE difference!  I didn’t have any of the pelvic pressure/pain the entire time hiking!

Such a fun hike for the kids!!

After a little hiking, we came to these fun hills of giant rocks.  Obviously the kids were all over that!! haha!

Oh, Peanut. ❤

Elly kept saying, “I high up!!!  I so high!!”  She went up much further than this and would have kept going, but we corralled her back in. haha

Obie made it up on top of a rock and was pretty proud of himself.

Having fun on the rocks!

Colton wanted to join a little late. haha

The girlies all posin’ for me.  This was a bit rare for this trip.  One or the other would be super stubborn about smiling whenever I was trying to get a picture, so I’ll take this!

I can’t remember what exactly this was, because it wasn’t the most exciting thing ever.  Pretty sure it was either enclosing a natural spring or was a place designed to keep things cold.  I think we looked at both of those at some point on the trail.

After the fun rock area with bluffs, etc. the trail went a little ways and then was a lot of uphill.  When we finally got to the top of climbing we had a little kid photo op along with a bench break!  Abby was really workin’ it for me here…… *sigh*  Yes, she was intentionally closing her eyes.

Bolkema brothers! ❤

After this, the trail became my “favorite” sunny meadow style for a while.  We survived though.

Once we made it back to the starting place, we were all pretty hot and tired.  Soooo, we decided to head back down to the waterfall area to let the kids play and cool off before heading back to set up camp.  It was a great idea!

This lovely lady had gotten back from a vacation to Wyoming in the middle of the night, hours before we left for our camping trip.  Although she was extremely sleep deprived, she carted Little Miss around in our baby carrier the entire time hiking.

On our second stop at the waterfall, I watched Babykins for a little while to relieve her and somehow she ended up with my heftier toddler sleeping in her arms. haha  You can’t win for nothing, Callie!  Elly was passed out hard. haha  Poor babe.

Waking up is hard work.  In her defense, the toddlers hiked 3 miles today on their own feet!  They’ve done 2 miles at a time before, but never a 3 mile chunker!  I was pretty impressed with them!  All the kids did great, really.  There was off and on a little bit of whining, but they were all able to pull it together and keep going.

Finally, we decided it was time to wash off a zillion kid feet, change shoes, and head out to find our campsite.  Governor Dodge was completely full of course, so I had found another campground about 11 miles away from the park, Tom’s Campground.  Natalie and I hopped out of the van and went in to pay for our sites and were greeted by this sweet old couple (the lady was crocheting in her rocker and it was seriously adorable).  I bought a bundle of firewood and the guy had us take this giant box of kindling for free to help us get our fire started!  Then he hopped in his truck and drove us all around, showing us the different site options.  He said we could pick out whatever we wanted.  Although some sites were near the bathrooms, it was pretty crowded with campers, etc. over there, so we opted for this humongous, private campsite we could have fit a dozen more tents in.  You wouldn’t believe the amount of helpers we had with tent set up.  They were everywhere!!  I don’t know how the work would have gotten done without them to be honest!

Callie’s phone is cooler than mine and could get this panoramic shot of our campsite.

Callie whipped this fire up like no one’s business with that stellar kindling.  Hot dogs and brats, coming up!

Supper fun!

S’mores to follow!

Elly was constantly downing water. haha

Callie was always a central figure for the children. haha  Also, OH MY WORD.  The camp chairs were driving me crazy. haha  My children were seriously flipping backwards out of them every two seconds the whole night.  The ground was slightly uneven by the fire pit and they just couldn’t handle it.  Poor Abs biffed it like fifty million times.  My graceful little darling.  We’d look over and her feet would be flying up in the air. haha  Oh Abby Joy.

The weather for this trip was AHhhhhhhhhmazing!!!  It was literally the best weather you could even begin to hope for in July.  The days were just nice, there were absolutely no bugs, and the evening got chilly!  PERFECT tenting weather!  I brought footie jams for the kids and snugged Baby Girl up in her little snuggie which kept her nice and toasty.

The rest of these children may look sweet and innocent, but they took foooooooorever to fall asleep and then were whining off and on through the night.  Seriously, two nights is always smarter and best, but I was just happy to make even one night of camping happen at this point.


After the kids were in bed (not sleeping, but hey…..), we played a round of Dominion.  We just had time to finish before it got too dark and wet out.  These two were super obliging for my photo request….. *ahem*  Also, notice the little photo bomber bopping around. haha

We had a nice time talking by the fire afterwards until we were exhausted and cold.  I couldn’t fall asleep forever in the tent and kept waking up to pee or deal with the tots, but it was a comfy night and fun to cuddle in my sleeping bag.  Elly joining me sometime in the middle of the night made it somewhat less comfy, but I did enjoy cuddling with her because I’m a cuddler.  Side note, but hilarious…. Calvin had his own little tent all to himself.  haha  Also, off and on in the night there was a bunch of coyotes howling and racing around and they sounded SO super creepy and close, even though they were probably pretty far away.  It was just kinda freaky.  Anyway, didn’t sleep much, but here’s to tomorrow!

Day 2:

We had an early morning wake up call from the Bolkema tents next door. haha  Elly was more than happy for an excuse to pop up.  Callie and I were trying to maintain a sleeping atmosphere, but there was only so long we could hold out. ha!

Abby on the other hand, was passed out BIG time.  She had stayed up later than any other child the night before.  Although Callie was exhausted, we stayed up a little while talking in the tent and Abs was soaking it up.  She just could not settle down and sleep….. until she did.  Then, it was like painful to get her up. haha  This girl is our biggest, best sleeper on a normal night.

Obes is a little wobbly on his feet in the morning, but he was up and at ’em.

What will get Callie out of bed?  Well…. if enough little kicking monsters join you, getting up starts to sound pretty good. 😛

Next on the agenda….. breakfast.

Then, some tent tear down while the kids picked Queen Anne’s Lace.

Abby was in her element, getting to pick flowers and share their beauty with her friends.  This girl would seriously be in her happy place in a field of wildflowers she could pick and play with.

For our hike of the day (if I remember the trails all correctly), we started out on Woodland Trail, turned onto Cave Trail, and looped back around on a brief bit of Meadow Valley Trail before hitting the same home stretch of Woodland Trail.

Abs was constantly preoccupied with arranging her little bouquets.  She wanted to take this picture to remember her flowers.

Once we hit Cave Trail, the hiking was much more exciting!

The toddlers working it up the hill.

All sorts of fun was to be had with rock climbing stops.

Obester didn’t quite make it up this rock, but he still wanted to be in the pic. ha

Seriously can’t say thanks enough for all the baby hauling this lovely lady did for me!!  Baby’s favorite pass time was crumpling our map. haha

So, there were supposed to be two caves on this trail, but we only ever found one.  I like to think it was the better of the two though. haha  It was a little steep to get up to it, but worth it!


The cave entrance!  See that little opening to get in?  Ya… I somehow thought that it would be a good idea for my super pregnant hide to haul in there too.  I’m pretty sure I was even holding Baby Girl at the time.  It was a terrible idea. haha  Once you got inside it was much better, but the little hallway in was SOoooooooo difficult to get through in a squat position while pregnant.  I could barely do it. haha  Plus, I’m not really a cave fan in general.  I get claustrophobic and just would rather

After all our cave exploring, we climbed (or struggled, if you were me) back out and had some good ol’ pb & j.

Then, it was back out to the hiking trails!

Well, until we decided to take an applesauce squeezer break.

Check out all these cute smiles the kids were finally willing to put on for me!  Something about that applesauce I guess…..

At some point Evie had found this giant seashell (some other kid had apparently left it behind).  Abby was enthralled with it, until it accidentally dropped and cracked apart.  She wanted to hold it together for a picture so we could always remember what it had looked like.  Gorgeous, right?

Once again today we hiked three miles and the toddlers did it all!!  Well, we did give them about a 50 foot break once when Abby gave Elly a piggyback ride (so adorbs) and I hefted Obie.  They really did amazing though!  I was so impressed with them both.

Following our hike we decided to let the kids have a little lake fun before packing them in and heading home in time for Natalie’s supper.

The kids of course enjoyed it immensely, but the adults could have done without all the sand clean-up and changing clothes to follow. ha!  I had such a great time with these ladies along for the trip and so enjoyed all of our conversations!  The drive home was nice and peaceful with all the kids passed out sleeping in the back. haha

I forgot to force a return home van selfie with the entire crew because we were in a semi-hurry unloading them all at Callie’s house, but my kids didn’t get out of it so easily.  It was a great trip with great weather, great company, and great exercise with 6 miles of hiking and 8 children 5 and under (well, 9 with baby in womb).  It was kind of funny at one point, because we were all walking along and each were carrying a little one (mine in utero) along with holding two kids’ hands.  One of the ladies laughed, “We’re all holding three kids!”  Story of the trip! 🙂

Obadiah’s 2 1/2 Year Old Update

Okay, I love that shirt color on him with his bright orange hair. haha  Seriously, too cute! ❤

Obadiah weighs 24 lb 13 oz and is 32 inches tall.  We’ve been pretty concerned about his growth (or lack thereof rather) because he isn’t really gaining and he’s definitely not growing any taller.  I know kids go through phases, but he has been sort of stuck for a long time.  This is while eating barely less than the five year old and clearing his plate at every meal.  We took him to his Iowa City appointments back in May – neurology and genetic counseling and were hoping for some answers shortly afterwards.  They said it’d be 4-5 weeks so I waited and called back after that time.  “Um…. oops… we didn’t actually get that sent in somehow.  We’ll do that right away.  It’s going to be another 4-5 weeks…. sorry!”  *sigh*  So much for that.

We’ve been consistently concerned about a lot of Obie’s odd behaviors and tendencies.  He has very poor hair growth (I’ve only trimmed it with scissors four times in his entire life), poor weight/height growth (in fact, seems to have stalled), global hypotonia (stemming from….?), and has an obsession with all things food or drink and still has no concept of stopping when he’s full.  Although we have been having him eat more and more independently, he has to be constantly monitored or he quickly begins to shovel food into his mouth and chokes.  I have lost track of how many times I’ve had to back thump him from genuine choking.  (This is with me ripping his food up small and trying to monitor consistently.)  It’s actually been the longest period of time since he has last choked now, which is great news!  He continues to throw massive freak out fits with anything food related.  If I say it’s almost lunch time, he will go into an almost panic mode.  He stands and watches me the entire time I’m preparing food and throws fits over things like me microwaving something or putting it in the oven or cutting it up.  Even after he finishes a large meal, if someone goes back to the kitchen for something he will be ON their heels thinking he’s getting something else.  He is very interested in the garbage, especially when there is something edible thrown in.  His toenails grow up, he has odd OCD behaviors with strange things, he has a very unique body shape with legs that almost appear to be retaining fluid and have a swollen appearance to them, he scratches his skin to the point of bleeding unless I am on him to stop, has a high pain tolerance and will often hurt himself when he’s upset (example: hit his head with his hands or crash his head onto the floor or wall hard), flaps his arms when excited or angry, and other things I’m forgetting now.  Anyway, we have lots of concerns for our little man and would love to have some answers.  It’s amazing how slow the medical stuff can all be…..

Just within the last few months, I started getting a lot of, “Wow!  He’s really got an outie bellybutton doesn’t he?!”  Until someone asked me, “Does he have a bellybutton hernia?”  I was like, what?  But, apparently that’s a thing.  I showed his therapist and she it definitely looks like that and shouldn’t be a big deal, but I should ask at his next doc appointment if he would like her to tape it or something.  Who knows.  I need to research bellybutton hernias apparently.  Hopefully not a big deal though.  Doctor appointment in August (with his new doctor finally – yay!  His old one was sooooooooo bad).

Poor Obes often gets stu ck with girl hand me downs because it’s cheaper than buying brand new boy stuff.  One example was his pink snow boots he sported all winter.  Poor kid.  Thankfully he didn’t seem to notice/mind. ha  And if I remember right, I did find him some nice boy boots at a garage sale for this coming winter.  Woo!

Mulberries from one of our trees were a huge highlight with the kids this year.

Mowing up some tennis court.  The pace may be slow, but he made it across by the end! haha

That one time when Obie found a mud puddle…. er….. the mud puddle found him.  He was trying and trying to get up and out and kept splatting back in it, shoes, braces, and all. *sigh*  I was running out to get him, but it was one of those slow motion, can’t get there fast enough to fix the situation kind of moments. ha

Although it’s sometimes hard to see in the midst of life, Obie has made quite a bit of progress since turning two.  He finally figured out how to climb up the short ladder on our Little Tike’s playground.  He still struggles to get in a sitting position to go down the slides, but he isn’t shy about plummeting down head first.  His head takes the brunt (intentionally on his part) a lot of the time to be honest.  He really has a high pain tolerance, although he loves to pretend he’s dying when he knows someone sees him get a slight bump.  I have to be careful not to overdo the, “Awwww, did you get hurt??” stuff with him because he immediately escalates in response.

Obie has been talking a lot lately!  Him and Elly are both in the repetitive stage, so I heard a lot of things a LOT of times in a row.  He loves to go, “Mom.  MOM.  MOM.” until I answer.  It’s the best….errrr…..

-“Soooo……” (he uses this a lot when he wants to say something, but can’t think of anything to say)

-“Mom!” What?  “Ummmmmmm……..” (this is another he uses when he wants to say something, but has nothing to actually say ha)

-“A tuh-tle!!”  (a turtle – he points at pretty much everything and says this lately….. ummm? haha)

-“Cucky’s crowin’!” (Clucky’s crowing!  He would announce this every single time our now deceased, mean rooster crowed)

-“Rooster.  Er-uhroooo!”  (His description of what a rooster sounds like. haha  He’s obsessed with our chickens)

-“Meeeeeow!  A kitty!”  Obie is completely in love with our cats.  He is always finding them and petting them.  He seems to love animals in general!  I can’t wait for him to enjoy a puppy!!

-“I on’t WAN to!” (I don’t want to – he uses this when the girls are trying to get him to play and he’s grouchy or when I tell him to do something and he’s being naughty. haha  It doesn’t work out for him the best though….)

-“I fwop!!”  (I flopped – this is usually when he’s in a crabby mood and has intentionally thrown himself on the ground and is pretending he can’t get up. lol  Oh boy…)

-“I DID it!!!!” (his proud proclamation after he accomplishes any and everything haha)

-“Hoe my hand!” (Holding my hand – he loves to announce to me when baby is holding his hand or Elly holds his hand while they’re in car seats in the van because I usually say, “Awww, so nice!”)

Obster loves learning and books.  I mean, LOVES!  He knows all of his letters and sounds mostly from watching Evie get taught them.  He also loves the alphabet cd I made and will walk around quoting it daily.  He will hear someone say a letter and instantly follow it up with what I had in the cd.  Example, I’ll ask Evie what letter ‘G’ says and he will start up, “G!  Guh, Guh, Goat!  G!  G!  G!”

He loves it when big sister, Abby reads to him!  This is such a classic thing for Obie to do – the whole bend your face into whatever you’re looking at until you’re so close it’s comical.  This is totally the same thing he does when I tell him to watch his feet while going up/down stairs etc.  He often gets distracted and then his feet are all over the place.  He has to really focus to be able to handle it.

Reading with four of the kiddos.  Pretty sure I was having morning sickness in this picture which is why no one was crowded on my lap.  Just trying to survive some of the time. hahaha

Riding the pony at Emmy and Papa’s!

This kid is completely obsessed with rocks.  He loves squatting and just digging in them fooooooooorever.

We went to a park that had small rocks and you can imagine what he wanted to spend the entire time doing. haha

Throwing rocks in water is pretty fascinating too.

Obadiah is pretty funny with water.  He usually likes it once he gets in, but he will be pretty stubborn about actually getting in.

Puddles, on the other hand, he could mess in all day.  This turned into a clothing disaster shortly after these photos were taken. ha

Physically, Obadiah has made quite a bit of progress, but is still noticeably behind.  He doesn’t WANT to use his muscles either, so it sometimes feels like I am constantly reminding him to get up and trying to have him not just lean on furniture to support his weight, etc.  It’s encouraging when the therapist comments how good that is for him and how she has another very similar child his age who is not yet even walking because everyone just holds her and doesn’t make her work for anything.  Obie is cute and he loves to ham it up with other people (this is from being in foster care and learning how to use people very well).  If anyone else is around he instantly tries to have them hold him or let him lay on them to avoid movement and others (that don’t get it) are usually happy to oblige for long periods of time. haha

Within the last few months, Obie has really started enjoying to be outside a bit more.  He will, on his own initiative (which is HUGE) go and pet the kittens, climb up his park, or find sticks, etc. in the yard.  This isn’t all the time, but it has been happening a little more as time goes on.  He still prefers things like plopping on the ground and not moving from that spot until I have him get back up, but with encouragement we’re making progress.  Some of his favorite, I’m not actually just sitting like a lump tactics are putting his hands on the ground with his butt in the air (again, until I have him get up or move from this position), leaning on anyone or anything within reach, or squatting until he’s magically sitting on the ground while in the squat position.  It looks very uncomfortable, but he prefers that to actually walking or moving.  I know it’s not as natural or easy for him to move around like the others who are perpetually moving, but it won’t get better if he isn’t working at it and forcing those muscles to develop.  Plus, he enjoys life SO much more than when he is just standing in one spot moaning (this was his pretty much constant outdoor occupation for a really long time)

It seems like everything Obie has learned physically has been by us actually teaching him how to do it.  He was so old with crawling that we actually said things like, “Move this leg!  Okay, now move this arm!” to get him going.  Same thing with walking, standing himself up, climbing stairs, etc.  Nothing comes super naturally to him and he doesn’t often attempt things if they require much effort.  He is always very proud of himself for accomplishing things though once he gets it done!  Here’s his “say cheese” face. hahaha

While I potty trained all the girls by 19 months, Obie has been a lot more challenging for me.  I started around 18 months and he was doing his number twos in the potty (most of the time) for the majority of that time, but pee was a little slower.  Somewhere between 2 and 2 1/2 he has made a lot of progress and now stays in the same [dry] diaper most days.  I could switch him to underwear, but every once in a blue moon he will do a little squirt and I’m glad I didn’t.  I think he’s more than ready though and I probably will in the next few days.  I just need to embrace the risk. haha  For the most part he does a great job telling me when he needs to go potty and that’s been getting better and better lately, so I think he’s very ready.

Obes loves to help me with things.  He is the best at offering to throw things away for me (diapers, garbage, wrappers while I’m cooking, etc.) and is always excited to help with whatever he can.  Hopefully that trend continues with age! ha!

Plucking grapes is always exciting stuff.

“Helping” Emmy with the lilac planting. haha

Music is this guy’s FAVORITE.  He knows the words to most of the hymns we sing at church, although you might not know it because he tends to just stare at me singing them.  I know he does though because if I remind him to sing he will usually jump right in and has every word down pat.  I am pretty sure he knows most of them better than the older girls even!  Once he does start singing, he gets really into it and will emphasize with his hands, head and body movements, etc. haha

Learning colors has been Obie’s recent fascination.  He knows a few of them pretty well although others he mixes up.  It’s not for lack of trying though.  He loves to bring Duplo pieces over to me and Caleb asking, “Red? Red?” or whatever color he thinks it is.  He has also been trying to build with Duplos, but that continues to be pretty difficult for him.  His hand muscles have such a hard time lining a piece up and then pushing it down to connect.  Usually his attempts end with him just piling the Duplos on top of an already assembled building (thanks, sisters) and cheering for himself.

Walking with all five kiddies and one in womb is always an adventure – in the best way of course!  Obie always has to hang on to either the stroller or my hand or his pace inevitably slows to a stand still.

This half smirk has been Obie’s new thing lately.  I have no idea where he got it, but it’s so goofy. ha

We went to our town’s special days parade months ago.  Got enough candy that the kids are STILL getting one piece a day if they do a good job over Quiet Time. haha  I mean, if you have candy in the house, might as well use it as a reward.

These two have such an interesting dynamic.  They are generally either spatting like cat and dog or loving each other and being over the top sweet.  There is no middle ground, guys.  This was a cute moment. haha  Getting ready for Daddy’s cousin’s wedding.

Getting ready for bedtime = another of those cute moments…… ❤

Spotted something super important no doubt!

All of our sweet babes. ❤

We love you Obie Job!  We love seeing you grow and learn and are blessed to have you! ❤