Thursday, June 12, 2014


The newest member of our family, Charles (Charlie for short).

Charlie decided to take his time entering the world. We had thought since Will had been a few days early that Charlie would follow in his big brother's footsteps, especially since subsequent babies usually come sooner and faster than their older counterparts. Charlie had other ideas though. He decided that he wanted his birthday to be a few days after we expected him, and came on May 21, at 6:49am. He was 8lbs, 4oz, and 21 inches long. He entered the world very quickly, we were only at the hospital for 45 minutes before he was born and didn't even get checked in until after he arrived.

I woke up with contractions that were pretty close together at around 4:15 in the morning. I went to the bathroom and noticed how close they were together, but they weren't lasting a super long time, and they weren't super strong yet, so I tried to go back to sleep but couldn't. Then I decided to start timing them because they were coming so often. After timing them for about 15 minutes and they were averaging about a minute and a half to two minutes apart for about 40 seconds a piece I decided to wake Jake up. They had also intensified a little bit over that time, but weren't too bad yet. Jake watched me have a contraction and agreed with me that we thought it might be a little longer than it took to have Will, and decided not to worry about rushing to the hospital. We slowly got up and started getting the last minute things packed and called my parents around 5:00am to come into town to stay with Will while we went to the hospital. Jake told them not to worry about rushing, and at that point my contractions were starting to get a little stronger, and I almost added to tell them not to meander either though, but I decided against it.

As we waited for my parents to get to our house we finished getting everything packed and my contractions continued to come at intervals of about a minute and a half to two minutes, but they started lasting closer to a minute each time, and were also getting much more intense. I tried to eat a banana to have a little food in me, but I was only able to eat about half of it before the contractions were close and strong enough that food did not sound good at all, so I just drank a little water in between contractions. By the time my parents arrived at our house around 5:45, Jake and I both knew I was in transition and that we better get going pretty quick. Even my parents could tell, and my mom admitted afterward that she had been concerned about us even making it to the hospital. We left pretty shortly after my parents arrived, we just had to give them a few general instructions first and then we headed out to the hospital.

It was already getting pretty light outside by the time we left around 5:50-5:55, and it was a nice cool morning. On the way to the hospital we texted our family and friends who would want to know that it was baby day. I continued to have strong contractions but they weren't quite as close together on the way there, and I just grabbed the hand bar thing on the ceiling of the car as each one came and peaked. It only took us about ten minutes to get to the hospital since it was early and there wasn't really much traffic to deal with yet, and when we arrived Jake dropped me off at the ER and then went to find a spot to park. I went in and waited for the person in front of me at the ER window to finish and then walked up. I was happy to see a girl that I went to school with behind the window, so while I was having a contraction she was able to look up my information without having to ask too many questions and call down to the labor and delivery that I was on my way. Jake came in shortly after I got to the window and was able to answer any other questions they had while I gratefully took a seat in the wheelchair that they had brought out, I had no intentions of walking down there this time like I had with Will, I was exhausted from all the contractions.

Once we got down to L&D the first nurse we saw we quickly informed that I had a history of fast labor. They had me change into a hospital gown and then they checked me. I was already 8cm and 100% effaced so they went to call my doctor. Neither of us are entirely sure what time we got to the hospital, but I would guess that by the time I was in my gown and checked that it was around 6:10-6:15. While we waited for my doctor to get there they tried to put some cordless monitors on my belly to monitor Charlie's heart rate, but they were having a hard time with them. They eventually gave up on them and just monitored him with a corded one for a minute or so to make sure everything was okay. They also put in my hep lock (the needle that would attach to an IV if I were to need one) during this time. To be honest I was not very fond of the nurse that put it in, all the other nursing staff I interacted with were very kind and friendly, but when I asked her to wait until my contraction was over she told me that my contractions were too close together and that she would never get it in if we waited, which I am not completely convinced was true. She blew the vein in my left hand as soon as she stuck me, so then she looked at my right hand but knew that she wasn't going to be able to get it in there either, so she went back to my left hand and put it in the side of my hand just beneath my thumb. It wasn't the most comfortable thing in the world, but I was glad to finally have it in and have that nurse out of my room.

Shortly after getting the hep lock my doctor came in my room. It was fairly obvious that she had hurried over; she even told us she was in the shower when they called so she had jumped out and gotten dressed and headed straight over. She checked me while she was still in her normal clothes and said that it was time to start pushing. I protested that my water still hadn't broken yet, but she said that was just a formality at this point. Everything started happening very quickly then (as if it hadn't been going quickly enough already), they wheeled in a big table with a lot of instruments on it, my doctor put on those shoe cover things and dove into what can best be described as a hospital snuggie, while my nurse broke down my bed so that I could push. I did not feel ready to push yet, the intense and close together contractions had really tired me out, but I didn't really have much of a choice at this point, Charlie was coming whether I was ready or not.

The next part of the story is the part that makes me feel the most ridiculous. I was physically exhausted, and so when my doctor told me to push I did, but I also screamed like a banshee. Seriously, they had been in such a hurry that I'm pretty sure the door to my room was open, and I feel sorry for any woman who was in there with me and already dreading giving birth, I am positive that I was not an encouragement to her. After a couple of screaming pushes my doctor got up in my face and told my that all my energy was coming out of my mouth and that I needed to pull it together and stay quiet to push. She reminded me that I wanted a natural birth and that I could do it. While I was still tired, that talk was what I needed at the time, and so on the next push I tried to stay quiet and focused in order to push with all my energy. I did still make noise, but it wasn't nearly as loud as I had been, and I was focusing better. After a few more pushes Charlie's little head showed up and then on the next push the rest of him entered the world too. I was so tired and leaning on Jake, who had been sitting behind me supporting me while I pushed, that I just kept saying "I can't" over and over. They told me that I had already done it, which I knew, the "I can't" was referring to how I couldn't see him because I was so tired I couldn't lift my head or open my eyes to look at him for a couple of seconds. He was quickly placed on my chest though, and then I saw my beautiful little boy for the first time. His hair was much lighter than Will's had been when he was born, and he didn't have a crazy cone head like Will either, but beyond that I did think he looked kind of like his brother when he was born too. In all my labor was about 2 1/2 hours and we were at the hospital about 45 minutes before I had him; I know, I apologize to all the ladies out there who have crazy long labors.

After letting me hold him for a while and Jake cut the cord they took him to get his measurements. I was surprised to hear that he was bigger than Will had been because he looked so small. Once he was weighed, measured and wiped down a little bit and wrapped him up and brought him back to me and I held my sweet little boy for the second time. He wasn't interested in nursing right away, but he caught on pretty quickly, and became a pro in no time at all. In fact at his two week check up he had gained a half pound over his birth weight and grown 3/4 of an inch. I don't see him staying tiny for a long time like his big brother did. They also did all of the checking in and signing of release forms at this time since we hadn't had time to take care of that beforehand.

Later that morning my parents came up and brought Will to meet his new brother. While he didn't seem thrilled to meet him he also didn't seem jealous either, mostly just indifferent, which was fine by us since we had expected the worst. It also helped that our room was right next to the heli-pad, so Will got to see the helicopter take off while he was there.

We got to leave the hospital and come home the next day shortly before noon. Since then we've just been adjusting and learning how to change from being a family of three to a family of four. While it hasn't been the easiest thing in the world it has gone much smoother than either of us had really even hoped for, and we're looking forward to seeing what life looks like as the boys continue to grow up.

***I apologize if any of this narrative was confusing or disjointed. I'm pulling the running on little sleep and not enough coffee card***

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Adventures in Cloth Diapering

I posted something a while back about possibly doing a cloth diaper post in the future, so here it is. We have cloth diapered for a year and a half now, and while we are by no means experts, I can give you our experience with them and explain how it works for us.

Before we were even trying to get pregnant with Will, one of my favorite blogs did this post about cloth diapering, and honestly, it will probably give you better info than I'm about to, but I'll do what I can. Up until that point I had never even considered cloth diapering, it sounded hard, gross, and like a lot more work than I wanted to put into it when I could just buy and throw away disposables. I mean, what's the point of living in the age we do if we don't take advantage of the convenience of disposable diapers, right?

Well, as it turns out there are a lot of reasons to not use disposables and to use cloth instead. You can find people who use cloth for a myriad of reasons, for us though, the thing that brought us around was the cost of using cloth over disposables. While that is no longer the only reason we use cloth, it is still a major factor, and the reason that we decided to do it in the first place. The start up cost for us was around $450 for 24 diapers and the diaper sprayer that attaches to the toilet to spray out any poop. I know, that seems like a lot of money to spend on diapers, but when we figured it up, we realized that we would probably end up spending that much money on disposables in about 4-5 months, and so any time we used cloth after that we would be saving money.

After doing a little research we decided to go with BumGenius Freetime diapers. They are an all-in-one diaper, meaning that there is no stuffing of inserts involved (I will get to more on that later), no safety pins and plastic pants like the days of old, they really go on pretty much exactly like a disposable diaper does, except that we opted to get snaps instead of velcro for the closures because we've heard that it lasts much longer, and since we planned to use them from baby until potty training for multiple kiddos it seemed like a better investment. The above picture is what a Freetime looks like closed up and open with the two absorbent flaps folded in, as it would be when you are putting it on the baby. The picture below is with the flaps out, which is solely done in order to help it dry faster.


The Freetimes are one size diapers, meaning that they fit a child anywhere from 8-35lbs. There are snaps down lower on the front of the diaper that change the "rise", so that they are smaller when completely snapped up, and then much larger when they are unsnapped all the way.

I have yet to put a 35lb child in the diapers, but I have put them on our 3 1/2 year old, almost 30lb niece for when she is napping over here since she still has accidents sometimes while she is asleep. They fit her great, with no issues whatsoever, so I have no doubt that they would work on a 35lb child also. As for the smaller side of the scale, they are definitely more bulky when the baby is little, but they are stinking cute anyway, and they work well too, so that is the main concern. We used disposables for the first month of Will's life until he was able to fit into the one size diapers. They do make newborn size ones too, but it didn't seem like as good of an investment as the one size ones to us, and we figured that not having to learn how to do cloth diapers along with all the other crazy parenting things right at the beginning wouldn't be such a bad thing. Here is a picture of Will in his very first cloth diaper; he was just over 1 month old at this point.

As you can see, the diaper was pretty bulky, but it did its job and only moved him up from newborn to 0-3 size pants, so the bulk really wasn't an issue for us.

With cloth you do need to change the diaper more often than with a disposable, about once every two hours at first, then when they are older and hold their pee in a little more you don't go through as many in a day. Right now we probably go through about 5-6 diapers during the day with Will and then he has a special night time diaper in order to keep him dry for the full 12 or so hours that he sleeps at night. With the 24 diapers we started out with we were washing diapers every 2 days, 3 days if we really stretched it at first. Now we have a few more diapers and we only wash every 3-5 days, although I am certain that will change as soon as Charlie gets here and is in them as well.

Something that I was kind of concerned about when starting out with the cloth diapers was the additional laundry and the amount of work that it would mean. I have to say that I have been very pleasantly surprised by this aspect of using cloth. We use a wetbag (a fabric bag with a waterproof lining) to put all our dirty diapers in, so whenever it comes time to do laundry we just dump all the diapers in the wash along with the wetbag. Some people have very complicated wash routines with their cloth diapers, but thankfully for us it is pretty simple. We just start washer on the longest and hottest setting (we have a top loader that is a few years old, so it doesn't get too hot like some of the newer models with the sanitize option might) and then pour in our detergent and then the diapers. We use Seventh Generation liquid detergent on all of our laundry including baby clothes and diapers. We prefer to have only one type of detergent for everything just to keep our lives simpler, our shelves cleaner, and our laundry more streamlined. We always hang dry our diapers in order to try to keep them in the best condition possible, since just as with clothes, over time the dryer will break down the fabric much faster than line drying will. If it is nice we will hang the diapers outside on our retractable clothesline, and if not we dry them on a rack in the laundry room. We can also throw them in in the evening and let them dry overnight and they will be ready by morning, which is nice when we realize that we've forgotten to wash them quite as soon as we needed to. I have to say, there is something oddly peaceful about hanging clothes out on the line to dry, and diapers are no exception.

As I mentioned, Will wears a special diaper at night now. The Freetimes worked great for him for the first year or so of his life, but he has become somewhat of a heavy wetter at night now, and the Freetimes were just not able to keep up with him at night anymore, so we had to look for another solution. We first tried the Bum Genius 4.0 diapers, we had gotten one for free with our original order of 24 Freetimes, but we never used it because it was a pocket diaper that you had to stuff inserts into to get it ready for use, rather than being an all in one style. The 4.0 worked for us for a bit, but not long. We now use the two that we have for nap time, and they work great for that. We use one of the microfiber inserts that came with the diaper and a charcoal bamboo insert that I bought at a local cloth diaper store. The type of insert you put into a pocket diaper can dictate how well it absorbs. The microfiber absorbs quickly, but doesn't hold as much, while the charcoal bamboo is very absorbent, but not the fastest, so I put the microfiber insert on top so that it is closest to Will and able to absorb quickly, then the charcoal bamboo underneath to absorb more. Pockets look pretty much the same as Freetimes from the outside, but you just put the inserts into the back end of the diaper.

Since the 4.0s hadn't worked out for the night we had to find something different. I had heard several people speak highly of the Kawaii Good Night Heavy Wetter (GNHW) diapers, and a group that I am a part of on Facebook was running a group buy on them to get free shipping. Since they were only $8 per diaper we decided to give them a try, and figured we could always resell them if we didn't end up liking them (most cloth diapers, especially if they are in good condition have great resale value). When we got the diapers and tried them out they worked great for us! Will woke up completely dry the next morning, and we were very happy with them. The GNHW is also a one size diaper, but it is a pocket like the 4.0 that has to be stuffed, and it is specifically designed to keep kids dry for long periods of time overnight.

We eventually had to start adding a charcoal bamboo insert inside the pocket along with the two microfiber inserts that came with the diaper, but since doing that we haven't had any issues at night, and Will wakes up dry in the mornings. We only bought three to start out with, but then we got another three when the same Facebook group was running a coop on them a month or two later, so now we have six of the GNHW along with our 24 Freetimes and 2 4.0s that we have.

Now everyone's favorite topic, poop. Yep, I threw that out there. Wow, maybe I should have thought that through a little before I talked about throwing poop out there. Anyway, poop was one of my other big concerns when it came to getting on board with cloth diapers. After all, I know that I don't want any poop floating around in my washing machine, ick! So when I read on Young House Love that there is a sprayer that attaches right to your toilet that you can use to clean any dirty diapers into the toilet. We bought our sprayer from here, but I've heard of people making their own from a kitchen sink sprayer. I am so glad we invested in a sprayer also, I know that there are people who think they are unnecessary, but I for one am not one of them. Every dirty (not just wet) diaper in our house gets sprayed out in order to keep the dreaded poop out of my washing machine, and as you can see from these pictures, our diapers are not gross and stained with poop, but still look really good, especially for being in use for a year and a half! Another method for dealing with poop, which I have yet to try since I just found out about it and got the supplies the other day, is to use bio-liners. The idea with bio-liners is that you put it on top of the diaper and allow liquid through but hold the poop, so that when you change the diaper all you have to do is take the liner out and flush the whole thing down the toilet. I am really hoping we like them!

There is one other type of diaper we have tried, and to be honest, we liked this one the least. It is the Grovia one size all-in-one diaper. I initially bought it because I absolutely loved the print, and I still do for that matter. I mean, bicycles on a diaper, how cute is that?

Our issue with these diapers is the way that they close. Rather than closing like a regular disposable diaper, or any of our other diapers for that matter, you have to pull the sides over first and then put the middle up to snap it. On the left the diaper is open all the way, so to close it you would fold the flap down, then bring it up over your little one's bum, then you have to fold in the side flaps as shown on the right and then bring the middle part up and snap it. It is just more work than we care to do to change a diaper, so we are going to sell these two.

As I said at the beginning of the post, there are loads of reasons to cloth diaper, even in this day and age. I don't have the time, or as good of information as others would on the different reasons, but if you are wanting a jumping off point for your own research then I would check out these different reasons for using cloth over disposables:
  • Cost savings
  • Environmental impact
  • Toxic chemicals in disposables
  • Less frequent diaper rash than disposables
  • Earlier and easier potty training
I'm sure there are other reasons that I am forgetting to list, but there is a lot of information out there on cloth diapers, so doing just a little research can give you a lot of results. 

I think that pretty much wraps up our adventures in cloth diapering thus far, we will see how it all goes in the next few months when we start having two in cloth, although I have to admit we hope to only do that for a few months and then get Will potty trained. If you have any questions about using cloth or other experiences I would love to hear about it in the comments!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Last Outing as a Family of 3

We decided that before Charlie comes we wanted to do something fun for Will with just the three of us. One last hurrah, if you will, so we headed up to Springfield the day before Easter for a little trip to the zoo.

Before hitting the zoo we went to Build a Bear in the mall since we don't have one here in town. A few weeks before Will was born Jake and I made him a monkey at the one in Branson, and we wanted to make something special for Charlie too. Will got to help out in the process this time. We gave him three options to pick from for Charlie, a dog, a bear, and a tiger. He decided that the tiger was what Charlie would need, and Will also got to help stuff the special present for his brother.

After the tiger was stuffed Will got to put the heart in it for Charlie, then we took a family picture, just like we did after the monkey for Will.

After a quick trip to Old Navy to look for a hat for Will to wear for Easter (we found one!) we headed to the zoo. We had packed a lunch, and it was about that time when we got there, so we ate at the little park outside the zoo before we headed in. Will wasn't too sure about the petting zoo area, he mostly just wanted to look at the animals rather than touch them.

I don't know if it was because it was kind of hot that day or because the animals at this zoo are just pretty lazy, but most of them were not very exciting for the most part. A lot of the animals just sat around or laid out in the shade, and were more difficult to spot, especially for a year and a half old. Will did like the monkey exhibits though, and I think the tiger and giraffes were his favorite. 

This lonely elephant was the only one we saw, and it was actually further away than it looks in the picture. Will was getting pretty hot and tired by this time too, so he wasn't in the mood for smiling during a picture. 

The zoo had a small playground for the kids, so since Will was starting to get restless we let him run around there for a while and he really enjoyed it, although he mainly wanted to practice his stair climbing. He also really liked the bucket drums they had just outside of the playground area, seriously, we may need to invest in some sticks and buckets, he didn't want to leave. 

The Dickerson Park Zoo is pretty small, but that was probably best since Will was getting tired and I was getting tired from toting my 8 1/2 month pregnant belly up all the hills at the zoo, so we took a couple of quick family photos and then headed out to the car. We were there for a good portion of the afternoon though.

Will actually fell asleep on Jake as we were walking out, but woke up just enough to take a quick picture outside the zoo entrance before conking out in the car almost as soon as he hit the car seat. 

We left the zoo around 4:00ish, and wanted to let Will sleep a while before eating dinner, so we drove around Springfield for a little bit and then went to Bass Pro where Jake went in to use a gift card he had while I stayed in the car to let Will continue sleeping. After Jake got back out we headed to dinner (Will had woken up while Jake was finishing up in Bass Pro). We ate at Wilson's Chuck Wagon, a cute little burger place owned by one of the guys that worked under Jake as an electrician. It was a good burger/BBQ place, and to qualify as a good, true BBQ place in my opinion, you have to have at least 3 different types of sauce: sweet, hot, and house. Well it qualified, and I'm not sure whether the sweet or house sauce was my favorite. I love this picture of Will and Jake from after we had finished eating.


We hung out there for a while, it wasn't busy since it was early for the dinner hour, so Will got to roam around and flirt with the ladies that were working there before we got in the car to take the hour trip home. All in all it was a fun and tiring day, and hopefully one that Will may at least have a faint memory of as he gets older. It will definitely be an adventure as we learn very soon what it is like to be a family of four instead of three, and I'm glad we had the opportunity to have one last little outing with just our first born little boy.

Monday, April 14, 2014

First House Progress

Ever since we moved we have been working to get our old house renovated the rest of the way and ready to sell. It was kind of slow going for a while, with the holidays and being sick, but now that winter is (mostly) over we have kicked things into high gear. There were several things we wanted/needed to get done to the old house before putting it up on the market, so we went through the house with our realtor to see what needed to be taken care of and made a list room by room.

For Will's old room there was very little that needed to be done, we just patched the holes in the walls from pictures, etc., and then touched up the paint. It was the most recently completed room in the house, so there wasn't much need for any work on it.

In the master bedroom the list wasn't horribly long either, but it was a little more than Will's room.
  • Repaint.
  • Fix broken window sill.
  • Patch hole where exhaust fan was.
  • Put up new blinds.
  • Remove carpet tape from floor. 
Some of these jobs, like replacing the blinds were just because it's easier and worth the $12 to us to just replace the old mini blinds rather than clean them. The carpet tape on the floor was a leftover remnant from who knows how long ago. It was there in a giant X shape when Jake bought the house 7 1/2 years ago, and we never worried about removing it because it didn't really bother us that much and wasn't even noticeable in this picture, but without furniture in the room it was a little bit of an eyesore. Jake ended up using some goo-gone to get it all cleaned up and off the hardwoods.

The fan that was in the wall adjoining the living room and bedroom was there to move warm air into the bedroom when the floor furnace was in use, but since we installed central heat and air in the summer of 2012 it wasn't necessary anymore and our realtor suggested we loose it. So Jake took out the fan and patched up the hole that was left in the wall. You can see the offender in the top middle left of this picture.

And here it is all patched up. I had also started edging in this picture for the painting.

I don't have any pictures of the window sill that needed replaced, but it was just cracked and a little rotten, so Jake made a new one and mixed some stain together to get it to match the rest of the trim in the room.

The last thing we did was paint the room. I went with the color Frosty Grass by Valspar in satin. It is a light greenish-blueish color and really lightens up the room a lot. These pictures were taken before we took the tape down, so don't worry about the bold green on all the trim, that's just the frog tape waiting to be taken down.

With all of those things taken care of we were able to mark the master bedroom off our list as well.

In the closet in between the two bedrooms we just need to repaint, we were going to use the same color as the bedroom but we ended up using the whole gallon on the walls in the bedroom and didn't have any left to use in the closet, so we'll have to go pick up a quart of something to paint in there, there are just some scuff marks and general repainting needs in it.

There was also a little bit that needed taken care of in the attic. Jake (who I will remind you is a professional licensed electrician) had started rewiring the house a while back and needed to finish up the rewire, so he and his dad (who is also a professional electrician) took a day to get that finished up.

I think that's a long enough post for today, we still have to cover the hallway, bathroom, living room, kitchen and back room, as well as a few outdoor fixed that we're going to be working on, so there will be more updates on the old house as we get those done and photographed.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Christmas in March?

I realized I never really did a Christmas round-up, which I promised to do back in January, so I thought I would do a short little post about our Christmas before Easter gets here at least. This year we were sick a lot of December, so we ended up taking care of Christmas presents mostly at the last minute, as in, the week of Christmas we started our shopping/present making. However, the last minuteness didn't stop us from having a great Christmas.

We actually had snow through a lot of the month of December, so even though we had been sick, the Christmas cheer was still working its way into the house. This was the snowy view out our kitchen doors a lot of the month, give or take some of the snow, although Christmas Day was one of the few snow free days of the month.

Having the Christmas tree up before everyone got sick helped too. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we put up the Christmas tree the day we bought the house and then decorated it for a Christmas party the day after we moved in. Here is our family after the Christmas Eve service in front of our tree. Please forgive the graininess of the picture, I'm not entirely sure what caused that.

We let Will open one present on Christmas Eve, it was a pair of Christmas pajamas for him to wear that night. Then Jake read The Night Before Christmas to him before bed.

On Christmas Day we woke up and I made some breakfast; Will even got to try chocolate milk for the first time, it was a hit. Then after eating breakfast together we read the Christmas story from Will's Jesus Storybook Bible.

Next we opened stockings. We got Will a little car at Ikea while we were there in November that was in his stocking. He loved it and probably played with it for 10-15 minutes straight, which was nice because it gave Jake and me time to open our stockings and then watch as Will enjoyed his car, along with giving me time to set up the tripod to take another family picture in front of the tree before we opened presents. 

I took a few pictures of Will in his Christmas jammies in front of the tree, and then we took a few family pictures. With how much Will moves all the time I have to take at least a few pictures in order to try to get one that isn't completely blurry.

After pictures it was present time! We followed a guide that I heard about a few years ago for our gifts to Will that we really liked, and plan to continue in the future with him and our future kiddos as well. You only buy four presents: something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read. He had already gotten part of the something you need the night before since he was in desperate need of new pajamas, but his Christmas pajamas came in a set of two, so I just wrapped the two sets separately so that he could open one on Christmas day as well. He had also gotten his something you wear the night before, it was the vest that he wore to the Christmas Eve service, and he looks stinkin' adorable in it. He got the Sandra Boynton book But Not the Hippopotamus. We have a few of her other books and he really likes them so we thought we would add to the collection. 

The last present was the real hit though, even more so than the car that was in his stocking. Will got a set of Mega Bloks and loved them.

I pointed out as I was taking this picture how much Will is like his daddy. He had to read the instructions before playing with his new game.

It made us even happier that we had gotten him so few presents when we saw how much he loved playing with the couple of new things that he had, and we didn't have to try to force him to come open more presents while he was busy playing with his new toys already. It really worked out well overall, and we would highly recommend using this system or something similar as it simplifies and cuts down on the materialism of Christmas, which enabled us to be able to focus more on just being a family and playing together, as well as on the reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place, the coming of our Savior.

Oh, and for anyone wondering, Jake got me a phone case since I had been walking around since September without a case for my new phone, as well as a Lumineers record.  For Jake I got a framed picture of him and Will that had been taken at a photo booth during one of Joplin's Third Thursday events and Dominion, which is a strategy game that we both really like. Will seemed to think my phone case was actually for him for a good portion of the morning until it actually got put on my phone.

Later on that day we headed over to Jake's parents' house to have Christmas with his family. We all had lunch together, and then, after the kids had taken naps it was present time again. We were blessed with a lot of nice things from his family, and Will got some more new pajamas as well as some puzzles, and a latch board. For both sets of our parents we made a snowman family for them to put up around Christmas time. It turned out really cute and we labeled each family member on the snowmen. You can kind of see Jake's dad holding it in the midst of all the craziness of this picture. We had wanted to find out the gender of the baby to label his snowman as well as a surprise, but he didn't cooperate at the ultrasound we had the week before, so we just left the name off with the promise to fill it in once we knew the name.

We all had dinner together that night and then played games and finally headed home. It was a full but good day.

On Saturday we celebrated Christmas with my family, and since my parents were in the middle of a bathroom remodel we hosted all 15 of us over here, well 14 actually since my sister didn't take up much room since we just Skyped with her in Romania. Having the basement with basically nothing in it turned out to be a great thing that day. We just sent the older kids down to play in the family room that was virtually empty and let them run wild. We had a great time with my family as well. We opened presents first and then sent the kids off to play while we prepared breakfast for dinner, or brinner as we call it in our house. You can see my sister in the background as Will plays with his new vacuum in this picture. For a little ambiance we also set up a "fireplace"  on the tv thanks to Netflix.

It's hard to convey through pictures how truly crazy it was here that day with six kids ages 7 and under running around, along with eight adults, but it was fun, and we love having a home that we can comfortably host groups like this in now.

All in all we had a great Christmas where we got to spend a lot of time with family, which we love doing, and Will loves playing with his cousins. Even though we were sick through much of the month of December we were still blessed with good times, family, and food, and most of all, stopping to remember that our Savior came to earth as a baby.