Silas Arthur

On October 23rd, our lives were forever blessed by the arrival of our first son, Silas Arthur Charlebois. He is so extremely perfect; we are all smitten by him! I already can barely remember what life was like before him or what it would be like without him.

The story of Silas' arrival is much different than any of the girls' births were. After a very easy and normal pregnancy, I started developing some more unusual symptoms I had never experienced with the girls. During the final weeks leading up to his birth, I had been experiencing hip pain, especially on the right side. At first it was just annoying, then it started to become painful, and then it started going out on me completely at inopportune times.

When it got bad enough, I called my doctor to see what could be done to help me function as a pregnant mother of three with a hip that wouldn't support me. His said the only way to make it go away was to have a baby. We scheduled an appointment for the next day for him to check my cervix, and if things were favorable, set up a plan for an induction.

The next morning I hobbled my way into his office with all three girls in tow. I was already 3 cm dilated and 50% effaced; the doctor said it would be easy to put me into labor if we wanted to go that route. I was all for it (get this baby out of me!), and expected to set up a time in the next couple of days to induce. Imagine my surprise when he told me I could head straight upstairs and get the process going! I told him I had to take the girls home, call JP, wait for my mother-in-law to come watch the kids, and then I'd come in.

JP and I arrived at the hospital around 12:30 pm. At 1:30 they gave me a cervix ripener thingy. I started having contractions, but they were very mild and about 6-7 minutes apart; not hard labor by any means. At 5:30 the doctor came in and broke my water. Right away the contractions picked up and became more intense. A little bit later I got an epidural and all was beautiful again. For the next couple of hours JP and I watched TV, barely aware that I was in labor at all. I was so comfortable that I thought my contractions had stopped altogether even though they hadn't.

At 9:00 pm the nurse checked me again and said I was ready to push. JP went into the bathroom as the doctor was walking in. After the first push I knew this baby was coming fast. I called to JP to hurry up if he didn't want to miss it. Three pushes later Silas was born and I burst into tears at the sound of his sweet, tiny cry. 8 pounds, 7 ounces. 20.5" long. So perfect.

Tonight, I am in newborn heaven. There is absolutely nothing sweeter than snuggling my tiny baby boy, his warm little body close to me, tiny soft cheeks to kiss, that sweet newborn smell making my heart melt every time I breathe it in.

Silas weighed in at 8 pounds, 13 ounces at his one week checkup. From here on out it's a steady climb forward as my tiny son gets bigger and bigger every day. Within weeks his newborn stage will vanish and I'll have to pack away his tiny clothes. It doesn't seem fair that it should go so quickly, but I'll take every moment I can get.

Silas, you've already filled my heart with more love than I ever thought it could hold. I am completely smitten with your handsome face (looking just like your daddy!) and peaceful disposition. Your big sisters adore you and fight over who gets to hold you next. You are loved from every direction, and you always will be.

Now...I think I'll get off the computer and snuggle my baby. :)


Ruby is 4!!!

Our Ruby-dooby turned FOUR on the 29th! I cannot believe it has been four years. We celebrated by meeting up with some friends at the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge for a fall festival. There were tons of booths and exhibits with birds, reptiles, nature crafts, and even a horse-drawn wagon ride -- Ruby's favorite! 

 Rae & Rosie check out a tiger salamander

Ruby gets her first tattoo -- the MN loon.

Ruby requested a horsey cake this year, and this is what we came up with. I used the girls' Moon Dough mold and marzipan to make the fence. 

Ruby, you are beautiful, quirky, smart and hilarious! You make Mom & Dad smile and laugh every day with your funny Ruby-isms and curious ways. You go out of your way to tell me you love me every single day, and I love you back more than words could ever say. You are so precious to us. Happy birthday, Ruby Ann!

37 Weeks

I am now 37 weeks pregnant -- so close to meeting our BOY!

Everything was great at my checkup this week. Our little dude is head down and ready to go. He's very active and strong. My stats/vitals were all good, although I did fail my group B strep test. That just means they'll have to give me antibiotics during delivery to keep him from getting sick. We did that with Rosie, too, and it was no big deal.

I finally have a "plan" in place for delivery time (ie: who can watch the kids, etc.) and as long as it doesn't happen when JP is gone hunting we are in good shape! I just need to pack my hospital bag. Maybe I'll do that tonight.

Speaking of hunting, JP took Rae & Ruby out grouse hunting with him for the first time last week.

They are just too cute in their blaze orange get-ups! They didn't see or even hear anything that day, but JP has brought home a few birds so far this year, and we're really hoping for a nice, big turkey this year. 

Ruby and Rosie had their 4- and 2-year checkups a couple of days ago.  

Ruby's Stats: 37 lbs, 8 oz (72%) and 40.5" tall (60%)
Rosie's Stats: 31 lbs, 8 oz (66%), 32.75" tall (93%) and 19.5" head circumference (91%)

They are both healthy and growing strong. I'm so thankful for FOUR healthy children. 

Christian Emmanuel

I am SO behind on blogging and posting pictures. My energy level at the end of the day is nil, and I've been scrambling to edit photos for other people as much as I can before the baby comes. But I am making the time for this post, because I'm so excited to announce the (belated) arrival of my newest, new little nephew, Christian Emmanuel Peterson.

This handsome little man entered our lives in the early hours of October 1st, weighing in at 8 lbs, 7 oz. Rosie is completely taken with him, as we all are! 

He definitely has the "Peterson" look -- he looks just like his big brother, Elijah. 

Look at these two boys!! Are they not the two cutest things you've ever seen?! I can't wait to add our little man into this picture once the three amigos are all together! 

Amber & Pete, congratulations on another beautiful, healthy baby! My heart is bursting with love for him and all of you! Auntie loves you, Christian!!!!!!!!


(Almost) 36 weeks

Today I had another baby checkup. I'm almost 36 weeks -- full term! Everything is still going great, and the arrival of all of these sweet babies is really getting me excited to hold our little man.

My swelling continues to worsen. I gained 5 pounds in two weeks, most of which is probably fluids. My legs and feet are so swollen that I had to buy a new pair of shoes today, and I had to go up TWO SIZES to get my fat feet to fit.

The carpal tunnel in my right hand is getting worse, too. I'm having difficulty buttoning the kid's clothes, putting hair binders in their hair, and holding heavy things without feeling like I may drop it due to poor grip.

Sadly, I also had to take off my wedding ring for the first time in four pregnancies. :(

BUT...my baby is healthy. He is head down and ready to go, just fattening up a little more before we get to meet him.

Here is a video I took of my belly the other night. I started recording after about 20 minutes of nonstop movement (BIG movements), and it continued for about an hour total. It was crazy.

Christian Emmanuel

Early this morning, my newest nephew made his grand entrance into the world.

Christian Emmanuel Peterson
8 pounds, 7 ounces
Born 10/1/12 at 2:11 am

He is SO STINKIN' CUTE!!!!!! Thank you Jesus for another healthy, handsome nephew!!!


34 Weeks

Last night I was lying awake in bed having fairly regular, fairly strong contractions. They were about 10 minutes apart and lasted 1-1.5 minutes each. They kept on like that for about an hour and a half before fading away.

As this was happening, I started thinking to myself, "Wouldn't it be kind of nice to go into labor early for a change?" All three of the girls came late; I wouldn't mind going a little early this time.

When I woke up the next morning, there were two different posts on facebook about babies who were struggling for their lives. One was born full term but with her cord wrapped around her head. She wasn't breathing on her own for about 8 minutes after birth. The other was born at 24 weeks and will spend at least 3 months in the ICU.

Immediately I was reminded of the frailty and unpredictability of life. I told God I was sorry for complaining about all of the uncomfortable late-pregnancy symptoms and thanked him for a healthy baby boy. I am more than happy to carry this baby as long as needed; I don't care how big or swollen I get. Just keep my baby healthy, Jesus.

Rosie is 2!!!

I can't believe I failed to post about Rosie's second birthday! Our sweet Johnye Rose turned two on the 12th, and although we didn't do much to celebrate, there is no downplaying the overwhelming joy and gratefulness I feel to have had her in our lives for two years now.

Rosie is the definition of "sugar and spice and everything nice." She is definitely a stinker, known to test her limits to see exactly what she can and cannot get away with; but she is also so freaking cute and affectionate that it's actually hard to get mad at her when she's being a stinker. Many times I have to hide my smile & giggles in order to discipline her.

Rosie is adventurous, loving, conniving, an excellent communicator, very smart, independent, goofy and full of smiles. She thinks she is the oldest child but takes advantage of her "baby" status. She loves attention and will seize any moment to wrestle with Daddy or snuggle and read with Mommy. She is fearless, except when it comes to loud noises. She is strong-willed and stubborn, yet seeks to please. She adds an exciting and heartwarming dynamic to our family that we could never dream of living without.

Johnye Rose, you fill Mama's heart with the sweetest kind of love in the world. Happy birthday, Pook-a-loo!


Hard Drive Woes & 33 Weeks

My posts are few and far between these days, and I have no photos with which to make this one more colorful. For those of you who are not subscribed to my Facebook sob stories, my hard drive crashed last week. We have something called a Time Machine that is supposed to have everything backed up on it, but of course it wasn't functioning, so I had nothing saved.

I already had a new hard drive, so I took it to Micro Center (an hour away, with three kids) to see how much it would cost for them to swap everything out and transfer the files from my old drive. They wanted $300 IF there were no problems, and my first born child if there were problems. I probably should have just choked it down and gotten it over with, but being the cheap people we are, we decided to try to do it ourselves.

JP is amazing. He did a little research and printed out step-by-step instructions on how to swap out a hard drive, then did it himself without any trouble. I then went to install the operating system, only to remember that my CD drive is also broken. I had to drive down to Elk River to buy an external CD drive, then successfully installed the OS.

While I was at Micro Center, I spent $17 on a hard drive to USB adapter which was supposed to allow me to plug in my old hard drive and transfer over all of my stuff. Unfortunately, my hard drive was too far gone to be able to do that myself, so now my old hard drive is at a computer repair shop here in Princeton as they attempt to recover all of my data.

The whole thing has been extremely stressful for me, especially since I was in the middle of three different photo shoots I needed to edit with two more coming up in the next couple of weeks. I am now way behind, and now that we've started homeschooling for the year, my time to edit is even more limited. Thankfully, all of the people who are waiting for photos have been extremely understanding and patient.

If you think of it, please be praying that our little computer repair shop is successful at recovering my files. The thought of all of that stuff being lost makes my hair fall out.


In baby news, I am now 33 weeks along. There has been some confusion about when my due date is, but today my doctor confirmed October 30th based on my first ultrasound.

The baby is fine, although my doc says he is measuring quite big; perhaps 2-4 weeks bigger than normal. That scares me since JP was over 9 pounds! It's not pushing him out I'm worried about, it's carrying that big of a baby around for the next six weeks! I'm already swollen and experiencing several other crappy late pregnancy symptoms; I have a feeling this last month and a half could be pretty tough.

The other day I told Rae I needed to get off my feet because my ankles were swelling up. She looked at my feet for a minute and then said, "Where are your ankles? I can't see them?" Exactly.

It's still strange to me that JP and I still haven't settled on a name yet. I almost wonder if he will remain nameless until it's time to fill out the birth certificate.


The girls are doing great. Rae is doing My Father's World Kindergarten this year. So far it is very easy for her. I knew it would be, but I also decided I didn't want to try to skip over Kindergarten and jump right in to first grade, especially with a newborn on the way. She loves school and doesn't like taking two whole days off on the weekends. We studied the sun in her first unit, so we took a little field trip to the Planetarium at St. Cloud State University for a presentation on the solar system. She loved it.

Ruby is doing a preschool curriculum called "Little Hands to Heaven" by Heart of Dakota Publishing. I can already notice the major strides she is taking in just two weeks. The program is full of fun crafts, songs, finger-plays, and hands-on activities to make learning fun and engaging. Even Rosie is picking up on basic concepts.

Rosie started potty training a couple weeks ago, and while she hasn't perfected it, she's definitely doing awesome. She hardy ever has accidents with #1, but is more hesitant when it comes to #2, which is normal. She is very reward driven, and if I slack of on giving her some sort of treat or reward, she loses interest quickly. Ruby is night trained now, too, so with the exception of Rosie wearing a diaper at night and nap time, we are diaper and pull-up free in this house for about a month and a half! :)


Time to elevate my cankles. Have a great night, y'all!


Pregnancy Update + My Sweethearts

I'm 32 weeks along in my pregnancy! Not much new has happened, except writing 20+ thank you notes after my surprise shower triggered a case of carpal tunnel syndrome that hasn't seemed to go away. My Auntie-in-law clued me in that this can be common during pregnancy due to higher fluid retention.
Long story short, my right hand has been tingling, numb, and experiencing dull pain for the past 5 days or so. It's really annoying.

What's not really annoying are these sweet faces that I can't get enough of.

Surprise Baby Shower

On Sunday, August 26th, I thought I was going to my friend Nicole's house for a laid back girl's night. What I actually stepped into was an unbelievable SURPRISE baby shower! Apparently Nicole had been scheming for months. She managed to pull off a gorgeous shower during a small window of time in which my sister-in-law Missy was in town from KY and my dear friend Bethany was in town from TX.

I was so shocked. Completely clueless. Overwhelmingly blessed. Even after everybody yelled, "surprise," I still wasn't sure what was going on. I kept thinking, "But my birthday was two months ago...??" Finally someone yelled out, "It's a baby shower!" and I, of course, burst into tears.

My sister caught this photo...my face says it all, but Rae's face is my favorite! (click the photo to see it bigger.) 

And then, the tears. 

I don't know how, but somehow these ladies gathered many of my closest friends from every aspect of my life. Family, friends from high school, friends from my old church, friends from my new church & life in Princeton...it was amazing. 

Only second to the company was the incredible spread: tomato/mozzarella kabobs, chicken salad sandwiches, build your own fruit pizzas, and lemon cupcakes! All themed around my favorite color: green.  I even got to take home the mums!

I could not believe the onslaught of generosity. We already have all of the "big" things we need for a baby, but I had barely any boy clothes. I had collected a few things here and there and received a few hand-me-downs, but up until this shower, this is all I had, from size 0 to 4T: 

After the shower and another friend stopping by with a bunch of hand-me-downs, look at what this baby boy now has! There is nothing this child needs.

Thank you, Nicole, for the unbelievable shower. And thank you to everyone who helped pull it together, brought food, brought decorations, wrote encouraging notes, and gave so generously. I've been moved to tears several times since the party just thinking about the love and thoughtfulness all of you showed our family. I love you all! 


Pregnancy Update: 29 weeks

I had my 29-week checkup today. Everything is still going as smoothly as possible. I've gained 14 pounds, which is still on track for a very healthy weight gain. Baby boy Charlebois is kicking and moving around a lot; JP and the girls love watching my belly wiggle around like a Jello mold. :)

Today I took the initial blood glucose test, which tests for gestational diabetes. I haven't heard back about my results yet, but I'm confident of another good report as this has never been an issue in the past.

The test requires that I drink a thick, syrupy, disgusting drink and then wait an hour before they draw my blood for labs. I had all three girls with me today, and besides having to wait for that, my doctor had been called in to an emergency operation during our appointment. We ended up having to wait around for quite a while. During our wait, I had two separate people come up and tell me how sweet and well-behaved my girls were. It's so refreshing to hear those things. So many times we moms wonder if we are doing a good job; I often feel so inadequate to raise these three precious, young women. But there they were, playing so sweetly and quietly, obeying everything I asked them to do, being so patient during our long wait. TRUST ME -- it's not always that way. But they truly are sweet girls, and I'm so proud to be their mama.

Here is a picture of my girls with their cousins. They have been taking swimming lessons together this summer. :)

Photography Lately

'Tis the season for photography! I went from Christmas until July with barely any photo shoots, and now I'm booking new sessions every week! It's fun, I love it, and hopefully people are happy with what they are getting in return!

Makena at 3 years: 

Mohr Family: 

Brandvold Family:

Tony's Senior Pictures: 

I have four more shoots lined up for the next few weeks. As always, I'm open to constructive criticism, so if you notice something, please let me know! I still feel like I'm "faking it." :) 

Isaac John

Our newest little nephew, Isaac John Harpel, came into our world on Monday, August 6th. He has immediately captured our hearts...I am so in love! Every baby is amazing, but there is something so incredibly spectacular about that first baby born into a family and seeing the way it changes everyone's lives forever.
My sister-in-law Becky is a true hero; my brother Joe has always been destined to be one of the greatest dads ever. This family is so precious. I love you guys. <3 p="p">