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Friday, November 24, 2017

Countdown to Tab: 1st Weekly Post

So I decided to forgo the monthly "in waiting" posts because WE ARE SO CLOSE to this BABY! Whoop whoop! I know so many are praying and waiting anxiously for news. I post a lot in my Instagram Stories but there is just WAY too much to cover to fit in those short videos ;) So until Tab arrives I'll be doing a weekly update to share the latest news from doctors appointments etc.

This post covers a couple weeks from Nov 10th - Nov 24th.


I get to a point with my pregnancies where I have EVERYTHING ready. And then I wait. And wait. And I struggle in that wait but try to fill that time with FUN as much as I can. With Tab's original due date of 11/16 I wanted to get some solo time with each of the kids. I know I'll be gone the most once Tab is born so that quality time with each of them was important for ME just as much as it was for them ;) 

Britt and I had dessert at The Mix 


Kye and I had a coffee date 


And Tessie and I went to Pet Smart to see the animals and she got a "slushee"


 I went down to Jacksonville on Tuesday Nov 14th. Mama E had a non-stress test as well as an ultrasound appointment. It was a tough day as she wasn't aware of the non-stress test and almost canceled. I'm so thankful I was down there as I think my being there helped the appointment happen! We ended up bringing one of her daughters with us to the appointment and she's adorable. For the non-stress test only Mama E was allowed back so I got some quality time with her daughter and we played and played and she was just precious. She's Tess's age and it was comforting to see that she seemed right on target with Tess in all of her milestones and development. I enjoyed getting to know her and appreciate Mama E for feeling that level of trust and comfort with me.

I have been appalled at the care Mama E receives during this pregnancy. I understand that all the patients they see are Medicaid patients. But does that mean that don't deserve respect? And proper care for their babies? During the ultrasound portion of her NST I was able to come in the room and I overheard the two techs saying to each other to JUST GUESS at the baby's fluid levels because they couldn't figure out the machines. JUST GUESS?!?! Are you kidding me? Overall the staff is just very rude towards Mama E (and all patients I'm assuming) and the wait times are terrible and they don't communicate much AT ALL. It's like pulling teeth to get info out of them. And they don't seem to communicate to each other and everything is done at separate appointments. Like why would she get an NST and then not see the provider for 6 days?!?! So. Weird.

After the NST we went in for the ultrasound. Tab was breach at this visit. His head was all up in Mama E's ribs. The ultrasound tech also didn't give us much info but did say he's weighing 6 lbs and measuring on target for the 12/12 due date.

Look at this precious boy!


Mama E bought me a snack for the ride home, SO SWEET!


I hit bad traffic and had a longer than typical drive. It was a LONG day with the appointments taking longer than anticipated. I'm very thankful I'm able to go to these visits and that Zach and Mrs Charlotte are there to help with our kids to make these visits happen. They are important that I'm there! Not only because it's a lot emotionally for Mama E to handle alone, but she also has to do so much to make them happen (arrange childcare and transportation) AND seeing how she's treated it makes me glad to be there to stand up for her and ask the questions that need to be asked. 


While waiting I like to GET STUFF DONE. I'm all about being prepared! We went ahead and rearranged the van to fit all four seats! 


I also got out all my comfortable clothes and packed things up! And yes, I'm crazy and totally tried on every outfit and took pics and made an album in my phone ;) 


And I packed jewelry too. Because that's totally necessary at a hospital haha


Whenever we add a new sibling to the family I like to put together sibling gifts for the older kids. It's a way for them to feel special in their new role and I include items to help keep them happy and entertained during the newborn phase of life. 


With Tab I wanted to focus on the car rides the kids will be taking back and forth from home to Florida. I thought entertainment was the way to go with these sibling gifts! 

I purchased Kye and Britt a Kindle Fire 7 on Prime Day (they are the same deal this weekend though!) and loaded them with books and apps and set up all the parental controls so they are good to go right when they open them
I also got each of them a kid proof case
And included dvds that I know they are all wanting: Rouge One, Lion Guard and Trolls
As well as some classics that our collection needed replacing: Cinderella, Aristocats, Robin Hood
For Tess I purchased a Leapfrog Leapstart and it's SO cool! I'm really excited about this for her and think she'll love it!


I also organized my packing for Tab. I packed a diaper bag for the typical regular hospital stay. 


I packed an additional diaper bag of things to grab if/when he has a NICU stay
(from what I've read hats, socks, and snap sleepers are best)


And then I did my best to pack 2 weeks worth of stuff for the ICPC stay in Florida once he's discharge from the hospital 


Do you see anything I need to add to any of the bags I've packed?

I added alcohol swabs and a sponge tub thanks to suggestions I received! I also plan to pack my nose frida!

I am a gift giver (it's my 2nd love language after quality time) and I knew I wanted to put together a gift bag for Mama E to give to her at the hospital. I also decided to put together a sibling gift bag with items to help keep the little ones entertained and busy while she rests after discharge. I plan to write a personal letter to her to include with her gift :)

She mentions she enjoys adult coloring books so I picked up a couple of those along with some gel pens. Her favorite candy is a certain brand of sour gummy bears so I wanted to include those along with a Life Changing Blanket and some fuzzy socks. I also purchased a set of pjs for her and wanted to get one nicer, long lasting gift too. I debated a LOT on what to get and ended up going with a simple necklace that has three knots in it. I thought it could kinda represent her, me and Tab without being an obvious representation. From what I've read when birth moms don't plan to have a relationship with the family post-placement it's often better not to give an overly personal gift. Like I had thought of giving something with his birthstone or even name and decided against anything like that. I'm hoping she'll love everything I picked out!


For her daughters I did a board game each, some stickers, expandable washcloths and some magic color books!


Katie was SO SWEET and offered to come spend a night helping me wrap. It was SUCH a HUGE blessing. I love enjoying the gifts under the tree and it took a big stress off my shoulders by having majority of the gifts wrapped!!! Plus it was a fun night together :) Thankful for sweet friends! 


We went the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving to cut down our tree. I couldn't believe we didn't have a baby! Since August we've been counting down to Nov 16th and really assumed he'd come earlier than that. I compare this feeling to what women feel like who go past their due date! I never reached my due date with any of my pregnancies. Tess was my latest and she was born a day before her due date and I WAS SO READY. It just gets pretty miserable at the end and we're in a place we didn't expect to be. To have almost a MONTH to wait after the due date we've been so looking forward to? Whew it's hard! 

BUT that time means we're able to do a lot that we hadn't thought we'd get to do. Just trying to focus on those things to help us make it in the wait!


We celebrated Little Mama's 80th Birthday!


I had a big milestone meeting with the lawyer over the phone on Friday the 17th. They went over all the details of the hospital plan and what to expect and how everything is handled. Y'all. I hung up feeling SO AMAZING. We really are in THE best hands with our lawyer and I felt such a peace and such a sense of calm. She gave me TONS of encouragement. While I don't want to get my hopes up (and while I still want to "plan for the worst case and hope for the best") she said she feels like it's highly likely that NO nicu will be needed! Wouldn't that be PHENOMENAL!?!?! 

The way it'll work is when Mama E goes into labor she will call me and we will head that way. She'd like both Zach and I in the delivery room with her. After delivery she'd like for us to have our own hospital room where the baby will room in with US. Which is awesome and amazing and the lawyer said the hospital room is FREE. Huge blessing!!! 

She did say that NO ONE but Zach and I should see the baby/visit the hospital (our other children included) until 48 hours after birth when Mama E will be allowed to sign over her parental rights. Once she signs then he's OURS and anyone and everyone can come visit! We plan to have a photographer there when the kids come to get all those first sibling pics. I know that 48 hours will probably be the most difficult (and longest) of our lives! Our plan is to announce when he's born but obviously not post photos or name or anything until he's OURS :) 

We will then have that hospital room for the length of his stay. Which will be 5 days UNLESS he is in NICU. She said a lot of encouraging things about him rooming in with us and how well that will help him do etc. If he gets transferred to NICU then we will lose that free hospital room and that that point will hopefully be able to stay at the local Ronald McDonald House (or with sweet friends who have offered!). 

Once he is discharged from the hospital (praying for that 5 day stay!) we will need to stay in Jacksonville for 2 nights as he will visit a local pediatrician there for his 48 hour well check. After that we are free to leave the area while we wait on our go-head to leave Florida! ICPC typically takes 2 weeks but the lawyer was encouraging that it is often less than that, especially if he does incur a NICU stay. 

So our BEST CASE is the 5 days then 2 in Jacksonville then possibly just a week after that in Florida (could be up to two weeks but she sounded like it's common to only expect a week)

Worst Case is still the multiple weeks NICU then 2 in Jacksonville after that...but in that case we'd probably be cleared to leave the state by the end of the 2 days in Jacksonville! 

So with this news our BEST CASE got BETTER and even our WORST CASE got better too! A HUGE win win all around! 

Another huge blessing and advantage of having a lawyer...we don't have to worry about ANY of the legal side of ANYTHING. We don't have to bring a single document with us when Mama E goes into labor. We get to focus on her and that sweet baby and they handle IT ALL. 

On Monday Nov 20th I headed back to Jacksonville for the provider appointment. Since the kids didn't have school I really wanted them to have a FUN day. Robyn was SUPER sweet to offer to help anytime so she took Tess for the day and Courtney had Kye and Britt. They all had a BLAST and it made my day so much better knowing they were having fun and that I wasn't burdening anyone with them. 



Mama E recently was able to move into a home which is SUPER exciting for her little family and I was excited to get to see it and even to meet her oldest child, her son, who recently moved back to town too. He's ADORABLE and just SO sweet and polite. He kept opening the door for me and just had a protectiveness over his mama that you don't see every day. He went with us to her appointment that day and to lunch after so I was able to get to know him better. It's so sweet that all of her kids love looking through our adoption profile book and that they WANT to know us! 

We waited over an HOUR at the hospital waiting to be CHECKED IN. Mama E napped and her son and I just chilled waiting. We finally got to the check in and they said it'd be another hour or more to be put into a room. It was AWFUL. We both have been playing it cool with the many issues we've had regarding her care but this pushed us over the edge. We asked for a supervisor and kinda tagged teamed speaking our minds to her haha I'd say "Mama E has to arrange childcare to come to the visits and it's ridiculous for her to have to wait so long" then she'd say "And Emily drives all the way from Georgia to be here!" Magically a room became open for us ;) 

I was expecting a lot of info and insight at the provider visit. She was a day shy of 37 weeks on their calendar so I expected her to be checked for dilation/effacement. But nope. No check. They listened to his heart (137 ) and confirmed what we already knew about him being breach. Mama E had found her earlier ultrasounds that said his due date was 11/16 and she brought them with us. They said "it's just a couple weeks off which doesn't really matter" Um. OKAY? With a breach baby and a csection being possibly needed I'd think a few weeks does matter. We both left feeling a little frustrated (grubbing out on some Taco Bell helped ha!).

I had originally only planned to come to the Monday appointment and not come back for her NST appointment on Wednesday the 22nd. But the provider said if the baby hadn't turned by Wednesday that they'd schedule the csection for somewhere around her 39th week (Dec 5th). I felt like it was an important visit and honestly seeing how much she has to go through to attend those appointments made me feel bad having her face all that mess alone.  

Zach and I talked about it and since it was the day before Thanksgiving and he wasn't going to work and the kids didn't have school we decided to make it a family affair! I've been SO blessed by meeting ALL of Mama E's children as well as both of her parents and I felt like this was such a great opportunity for her to get to meet our babies and spend more time with Zach too. I sent Mama E a text to see her thoughts on it and she sent THE sweetest response :) 


We got the kids up super early Wednesday morning and headed down that way! We went to her house to pick her up and her three year old saw Tess and instantly pointed to her and said "ME TWIN!" They really do look SO MUCH ALIKE that it's CRAZY! 

Zach took our three kids and one of her kids to the store to get treats and drinks and supplies for our lunch while Mama E and I went to her NST appointment. When we first walked in the same supervisor we spoke with before was at the desk and she remembered us ;) The office was DEAD which was awesome. It was by far THE best experience we've had there. We got right back and I waited while Mama E did the NST part of things. It was funny b/c I overheard the drs talking about a patient and they said "let's get you down to labor and delivery." I about freaked out thinking IT'S TIME! But then I heard Mama E's voice saying "MAN! I'm jealous of you!" haha! 


This time for the NST ultrasound part the tech was SUPER good at it. She knew what she was doing and made sure to see all the chambers of his heart and got the measurements of the fluid and everything. We both felt very relaxed with her and knew Tab was in good hands this time. 

And the best news? NO MORE BREACH! Mama E had sent me THE coolest video the day prior where we could see his feet through her tummy! He TURNED! Yay!!!

He's now head down and in position! Her next appointment is Tuesday the 28th for both an NST and to see the provider. Since she'll be 38 weeks that day we feel confident they will check her and we should get a bunch of info that day. 

After the appointment Zach picked us back up and we went over to her mom's house to gather up the other kids. Her mom and I had a great talk and it's just so amazing how blessed we all feel in this process and in the fact that God put us together. Mama E and I are SO similar which is just so awesome and our babies are all SO much alike too. It's really just so, so amazing how God timed it all just right to bring us together in this way.

I can't think of a day where my heart felt more full and happy. The weather was amazing and Zach picked up a bunch of pizzas and we spent several hours at a beautiful park on the water. It couldn't have been a better spot. The kids all ran and played. The boys played football with Zach. We all got to visit and just enjoy each other. It was precious seeing all the kids pair up together. 

When we left Britt said she wishes she had been adopted because Tab is so lucky to have TWO families. He is! Two families that love him and adore him and two families that are now one :) It was the best Thanksgiving I could have ever asked for. I hope Mama E left feeling as wonderful as our family did! Her family is forever part of ours and I'm just so, so thankful for her and this incredible gift she's blessing our family with to raise her child. 


We had a nice Thanksgiving Day (nothing could come close to comparing to the day prior for me though ha!) and finished up wrapping gifts so we're ready to enjoy the holiday season in our wait!


Looking ahead if she DOES carry him to her new due date of 12/12 then we are pretty confident we will be spending Christmas in Florida. I'm a tad stressed about that as our little family isn't so little and I can't fathom all of us fitting into a hotel room for Christmas. We want this to be a special time together and obviously want to make Christmas as special as possible! If ANYONE knows of ANYWHERE that would be available over Christmas holidays please, please let me know. With the extensive stay we may have I'm nervous about costs over the holidays and about finding somewhere that isn't booked and can accommodate our crew. It's tricky since we won't know for sure WHEN we need the place either! Any and all options would be greatly appreciated :) 

I also wanted to give a puzzle update! You can read more about it here but we had quite a few donations go through and we're over halfway with it now! If you'd like to purchase a piece for $7 you can do so here. If more than one piece is purchased please be sure to leave a note letting me know what you'd like the message on the puzzle to say! These funds will help cover our expenses during our extensive Florida stay!


Please continue to keep us in your prayers! If you're local and want to hang out LET ME KNOW I'm all about filling this wait with FUN :) The lawyer feels extremely confident that Mama E will sign which is a great feeling to hear that but I know I won't feel 100% confident until she DOES sign. So we're eager for his birth. To have him here. To get past that 48 hour wait and to know he's OURS. Continue to pray for smooth delivery, for Mama E and her emotions and strength, and for Tab! I'm so encouraged by the possibility of no nicu and would love love love for that to be a reality! 
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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Favorite Gifts for Kids

Christmas is COMING! If you're a year-round shopper like I am then you are already "done" with shopping for this Christmas and any deals you come across will now go into the gift closet for next year ;)

I've been sharing some of my favorite kids gifts over on my Facebook Page and have been asked by several readers to do a gift round-up sharing gifts my kids have loved and enjoyed and items I currently have wrapped and under the tree! I especially try to focus on gifts for BOYS because I know they tend to be the trickiest to buy for ;)


My favorite place to shop is Amazon and all links in this post are affiliate (thank you for supporting my blog!). Amazon prices vary often so I'm going to refrain from posting prices in this post since they can go up and down at any time (often within minutes!). I'm a bit of a deal addict so it's pretty much guaranteed that I paid less than majority of the listed prices for an item ;) A GREAT resource to check is www.camelcamelcamel.com. You can type in an item and it'll show the price history for that item on Amazon. It is a great way to know if your getting a good deal for an item!

Girls


Color books are great for kids of all ages, but my girls especially enjoy them. Perfect for car trips or lines at Disney and a great gift to give to others as well. This one has been staying steady for awhile for a great price! 

My 6 year old wants to be a  "baker" when she grows up. This Disney Princess Cookbook has great reviews and will be so fun to do for themed movie nights! 




What little girl doesn't want to play in Mommy's makeup? I found this Little Cosmetics set and it's SO perfect because it looks REAL (as in I've picked it up off the floor thinking it was mine!) but it's actually just truly fake makeup. No worries about spills all over the house or lipstick smeared on your couch. The perfect "first makeup" set! 



Disney Princess Pop-Up Magic is a favorite game to play for both of my daughters. It's also SUPER parent friendly because it's QUICK ;) They make additional Pop-Up Castle game sets that can be added to this one (we have a Frozen one too) to make the game longer and have more character options. 

If your little girl has an American Girl Doll then the Mini Doll and Book makes a GREAT gift. It's basically a doll for her doll ;) Britt loves small sized dolls and I know she'll be excited to have a Mini Samantha!


Another great gift for an American Girl fan are matching Dollie and Me Pj sets. They make legit matching clothes as well but I prefer matching pjs because they tend to be cuter and can be worn more often around the house!




Little People are probably THE most played with toys in our house. They are so kid friendly so I never have to worry about a choking hazard with little ones and they make SO many fun sets of them, plus they are all super cute. We have an older version of this Little People Castle and it's Tess's favorite for sure! 


Out of all the gifts I've purchased this year I'm the MOST pumped about the Furreal Tiger. Tess has NO CLUE about it and she will FREAK because she's a HUGE animal lover! 


Britt's big gift this year is a Princess Desk with storage. She's like a special spot in her room to read and do "work" and this will be the perfect solution to fit that need! 


Sleeping Bags make wonderful gifts for any age of children. My kids love to pull them out for movie nights and sibling sleepovers!


I LOVED my puppy and kitten surprise when I was a child and still have all of the "babies" that my girls play with all the time. I love adding to their collections and the prices are so reasonable that they make great gifts! 
Boys


Competitive, active games are perfect for the pre-teen age where toys just aren't as cool as they used to be! I'm excited to have Ultra Dash under our tree this year for both my children and my nephew...the reviews look great!




Hot Wheels are toys that boys seem to never outgrow? Kye is really into anything Star Wars so combing the two makes for a great gift...and at this price why not? 



Nerf guns are always a win but I find that my son plays THE MOST with the smaller size guns! This one fluctuates in price a good bit but when I got it at $5 I figured it was a good one to buy a few extras as gifts for birthday parties! 


One of Kye's top wishlist items is a Spy Alarm for his room to keep his sister out! 



One of Kye's big gifts this year will be the VTech Kiddiezoom Smart Watch. He's asked for this more than any other item and especially likes how it can take photos and track his step counts. 



We've been asked to borrow this Field Goal set about a dozen times for various parties and such. It's a very sturdy set and perfect for any football loving boy!



I've given this Hot Wheels Dragon Blast Playset as a gift at a few birthday parties ranging in age 3 through Kye's age (8) and it's always been a HIT and Kye has been asking for one for himself all year! 



K'Nex are awesome because they are buildable toys that can actually be played with once put together. Kye has this gun and was SO PROUD that he assembled it himself and then was able to use it like a nerf gun for playing. They make several different versions but this particular one tends to drop in price pretty often! (K'Nex K-Force)



I love to get hands on activities for my kids whenever possible and I'm excited about this fossil dig kit for Kye. He will be able to "dig out" the fossils and then assemble them into the mammoth.




This Matchbox Treasure Truck Metal Detector is another gift I've given for birthday presents that has been a HUGE hit. So much so that other mamas have been scooping them up to give as gifts too :) It's a real working metal detector on a truck and includes "treasures" the child can hide and use the truck to find! 


Catapult Wars is another toy that can be assembled and then played with! Anything competitive is always great for boys ;) 



Kye received this stomp rocket a few years ago and it's still played with on a regular basis. Literally when company comes over he likes to do a "rocket send off" when they leave! A simple toy for all kids!

Kye really wanted a laser tag set this year and I did a LOT of research on a LEGIT set. Zach enjoys playing too and we wanted to make sure we invested in something that would last a long time and be fun for our entire family. We purchased Dynasty Toys Laser Tag and we're really excited about it (we actually did 2 of the 2 player packs on a BOGO deal I found but they all can still work together!). 



My brother and I had a car mat similar to this one growing up and I was so excited to find one for Kye! It's held up GREAT for many years now and is packed away waiting for baby brother to be ready to play with it ;) 


Kye asked for a "real camera" last year for Christmas. I purchased the VTech Kidizoom Action Camera and it's been a VERY worthwhile purchase. He's used it DAILY and is fully able to do it all on his own. The case is waterproof (which he's tested!) and it protects it from the many drops ;) A GREAT first camera! 


Another great active gift for a boy is a Hover Ball. They work great on carpet and are super fun!


Either

Look and find books are among my favorite gifts to give. They are PERFECT to keep in the car and kids of all ages enjoy them!


Legos are a great gift for the whole family to enjoy together and a holiday themed set is great for an advent or Elf gift! 



We took the plunge and bought Magna-Tiles a couple Christmases ago and they have not disappointed. ALL of our kids enjoy playing with them and it's a great solo-toy as well as together-toy. I'd recommend starting with at least 100 piece set and you can always add on for future gifts :) 



Leapfrog makes some awesome learning toys and movies for kids and this Fridge Phonics toy is a favorite in our house from when our kids are very little. We like to take it on trips too as it's great in hotel rooms. 


Spot It is a super fun family friendly game that is easy for little ones to follow and great to pack and take when traveling. They make a TON of different versions as well! 


I LOVE this Quiet Book. I bought it when Kye was very young and we've kept it in our church back ever sense and ALL the kids still enjoy playing with it. 


I purchased the LeapFrog LeapStart Interactive Learning System for Tess and am SUPER excited about it! You can purchase additional books to go with the set. She loves books that read TO her and I know this will be right up her ally! It's perfect for preschoolers and they have several books geared towards kindergarten ages as well. 


I purchased each of the older kids a Kindle Fire 7 (on Prime day for $29 each). There is a kids Kindle that comes with protection and free kids programs for a year (I believe) but I went with a regular kindle due to the price being SO much cheaper and invested in kid-proof cases for them. Amazon also has an AWESOME set up with parental controls on the Kindle to make them VERY kid-friendly and SAFE. I've been having a great time getting them all loaded up for the kids and they will be thrilled! 


All of my children love writing notes to each other and Zach and I and use this Melissa and Doug Mailbox on a regular basis for "sending their mail"


What will be under the tree for your kids this year? 





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