On Monday, I turned 30. It seems like a big number -- there's always something significant about starting a new decade -- but I like the way it feels so far. My 30's are going to be awesome!

The day itself was absolutely wonderful. Even though we had just gotten home from a camping trip the night before and the loads of laundry were screaming my name, I decided to pack up the kids and head to the beach. The day was gorgeous, the sun was shining, our sand castle was kicking butt and taking names, and just when I thought it couldn't get any better, my mother-in-law and JP's grandparents showed up with a picnic lunch, balloons, sunflowers, Caribou coffee, and chocolate cupcakes. Yes!

We didn't get home until almost 3pm, but miraculously Rosie stayed awake the whole car ride home, then she and Ruby took big long naps. I managed to get 4 loads of laundry done before JP came home from work earlier than normal with Thai food for dinner. After eating our fill, the girls and I made cupcakes, then we all cuddled on the couches for family movie night. We rented "We Bought a Zoo," and it was great. I can't imagine a better 30th birthday.

Can you guess which two cupcakes Ruby decorated? 

Thanks to everybody for the birthday wishes & cards -- they were the cherry on top to my wonderful day!



We are VERY excited to announce that our new baby is most definitely...a BOY!

No mistaking that photo, right? ;) The ultrasound technician said, "Well, THAT'S a boy if I've ever seen one!" You could see JP's face swell with pride...hahaha! 

We are so beyond excited, including the girls, who were all rooting for a brother. This is going to be a whole new fun adventure for our family. I can't wait to fill the nursery drawers with little boy clothes and hit the garage sales for trucks, diggers, and tool belts. We are also happy that JP will have a son to carry on the Charlebois name, since he is (or was!) the last male Charlebois from Papa's family line.

Most importantly, the tech said everything looks great with our little man. He was moving all around and giving us a good show. Our baby boy is healthy, strong and active. Some people struggle to have one healthy pregnancy; I am completely overwhelmed that God would bless us with FOUR. 

Here's a funny thing, though. My original due date was Oct. 31, 2012. Today when the tech checked the computer, she said my doctor had my due date set for Oct. 24th. After the ultrasound, she said I am measuring even further along than that, so my due date may even change again! She says I'm measuring around 22-23 weeks, and as far as I knew, I'm just beginning my 21st week. The sooner, the better, as far as I'm concerned. 

Here are a few more pictures. The way he was positioned didn't allow for a good profile shot, so you kind of have to know what you are looking for to distinguish these photos. :) 

Side view



Creepy alien face, but it's my baby boy. :) 


Tomorrow is Ultrasound Day!

I'm so excited I don't know how I will sleep tonight. I feel like it's the night before our wedding all over again! I love knowing the gender of our baby ahead of time.

One of the things I love most is starting to refer to "the baby" by his/her name. This time is a little different, because for the first time in 4 kids, we don't have definite names picked out for either gender yet. We have two boy names and 3 girl names to choose from. I'm choosing not to share them on here this time...too many opinions out there. :) Once we decide, I'm sure I'll let you know.

The girls are so excited for tomorrow morning, too. Tonight as I was tucking them in, I prayed that the baby would be cooperative and give us a good view, no crossed legs, etc. Rae interrupted me with, "Mom, how would legs being crossed keep us from hearing the heartbeat?" The little cutie thought the heartbeat was what determined if it was a boy or a girl.

Today I had my 20-week regular OB checkup and everything looked great. I'm measuring right on track and gained my first 5 pounds.

Don't forget to chime in on the poll on the left side!

I love you, baby #4! I can't wait to see your sweet face tomorrow!


Erin's Baby Shower

I fully intended to write a post about the beautiful baby shower I attended for my dear friend Erin this weekend...but since she beat me to it -- and did such a beautiful job -- and because I don't really have time to be blogging right now, I'm sure she won't mind you linking over to her blog for a look at the English Tea Party shower (right, Erin?). :)

I'm so happy to be going through this fun stage of life as preggers together!

Click here to see Erin's post.

Parenting + Baby Gender Poll

Yesterday was one of those really CHALLENGING days in parenting. I woke up tired and crabby. It was gray and stormy outside. All I wanted to do was stare out the window with a cup of coffee in my hands and watch the rain fall. It wasn't the kids' fault (Well, except Rosie. She truly was being a monster.); I just didn't feel like being the mom. I simply wanted to be left alone.

But being left alone is not an option when you are a mom. The kids need food and drinks, help with buttons, answers to life's probing questions, potty training assistance, snacks, boogers wiped, help finding lost shoes, rescuing from bugs, and the assurance that you love them all day long. At the end of the day, I was just thankful that the day was done.

Today has been better. The girls helped me complete a whole bunch of chores, we played outside, worked on JP's Father's Day gift, and now I'm waiting for them to fall asleep so I can go weed the garden (if I try to weed while they are awake, Rosie tries to "help" and pulls up my green beans.).

Most days are good. Some days are overwhelmingly wonderful. And some days are just plain hard. Through it all, I love being a mom to my three sweet girls, and I look forward to welcoming our fourth child in 20 more weeks!

That's right, I'm halfway there now! I'm still feeling great, definitely "showing" now (although I haven't had to give up my regular jeans yet), and I'm looking forward to our ultrasound next Wednesday, the 20th. Please pray that this baby cooperates and give us a peek -- I am dying to know if #4 will be a boy.

What do you think? Take the poll on the left hand sidebar. :)


Where the Green Grass Grows

I'm gonna live where the green grass grows

Watch my corn pop up in rows

Every night be tucked in close to you

Raise our kids where the good Lord's blessed

Point our rockin' chairs towards the West

Plant our dreams where the peaceful rivers flow

Where the green grass grows


Potty Training Rosie, Day 1 (TMI included)

At almost 21 months old, Rosie has been showing many signs of readiness for potty training. She's been asking about it and wanting to try it for months now, but I had been putting it off because let's be honest -- even if she was ready, I WASN'T! I am not the best at potty training, and it has definitely been the most difficult part of parenting for me so far. It tests my patience to the max, and I'm not known to stay calm and empathetic when one of my girls struggles though a potty training issue.

I certainly didn't want to start the process before Disney World, and once our KY road trip was finished I felt like I needed to suck it up and give it a go before I came up with another excuse.

So today was day one. And it sucked. Well, mostly.

By dinner time the score card looked like this:

Carpeted Floor: 1
Carpeted Stairs: 1
Dining Room Chair: 1
Nap time diaper: 1
Potty Chair: 0

I was completely discouraged and ready to (already) throw in the towel for now and try again in a few months. That was exactly my plan if nothing happened by the end of the night. The girls and I had prayed that Rosie would have at least one successful "catch" today, so I figured if it didn't happen it was a sign from God, right? :)

And then it happened. Just before bedtime, Rosie peed in the little potty chair! Our prayer had been answered. One success. I was encouraged. The big girls were ecstatic.

Then as we were heading upstairs to put on their pajamas, she started whining "potty" again. I didn't have the little chair with me upstairs, so I set her on the big potty and I couldn't believe it -- she pooped in the big potty! Two successes!

Ok, God, I won't give up. Not yet. We'll keep going with it tomorrow. Who's gonna pray with me for at least two successes? :)

TN/KY Road Trip

We were blessed to spend Memorial Day weekend on the road as we set out on a trip first to Memphis and then to Ft. Campbell, KY to visit family.

Our original plan was to leave early Thursday morning and drive straight through to Memphis, TN. Then at the last minute, we decided to leave the night before and drive through the night while the kids slept in the car. We figured it would make the trip more bearable for them (and for us) if they could spend the first chunk of hours asleep.

We left home around 11 pm and made it as far as Mason City, IA with no problems. Then at about 2 am, a deer jumped out in front of us.

After what we witnessed last year, I was sure I was going to end up with a deer in my lap. My heart stopped as I pulled my blanket up over my head and braced for the worst, but God protected us. The impact wasn't too bad, and the damage was contained to the front end of the van.  The passenger side headlight was dangling down to the ground and the hood was smashed up, but the worst damage was the cracked cap on our radiator. We thought our trip was over before it had even started.

iPhone photo of the car at the time of the accident

Daylight view

Thankfully, I am married to a man who doesn't let a little thing like a broken radiator at 2 am stop him from achieving his goals. He limped the van to the nearest 24-hour Wal-Mart and worked for the next three hours rigging up the radiator cap with epoxy. The kids were awake the whole time (2-5 am), but did very well coloring and eating early morning snacks. After plenty of epoxy and prayers, we once again hit the road, determined to make it to our destination. The van made it all the way to Memphis without overheating or showing signs of any other problems. Great job, JP!

JP fixing the van in the Wal-Mart parking lot

Once in Memphis, we were thankful to have a place to stay with my Aunt Jean (my mom's sister). Sadly, her husband, my uncle Hoyette, lost his battle with cancer just weeks before our arrival. We couldn't make it down for the funeral, so I was thankful to get to see her now and share a cup of coffee. The girls brought a smile to her face, too. 

From there we went to my Mee-Maw's home for brunch. Time with Mee-Maw is always sweet and always way too short for me. She is not the strongest she has ever been, but she seemed to be doing well for a 90-year-old still living independently. We ate together, then JP took the girls down to the pond in her complex to feed the ducks while Mee-Maw and I sat on the porch and drank coffee. The whole time we talked, her eyes were watching the path waiting for her sweet great grand-babies to come back. She couldn't keep her eyes off of them, and they adored her, too. Even Rosie didn't show any signs of being shy or hesitant around a face we rarely get to see. 

I love my Mee-Maw

We were only able to spend a couple hours with Mee-Maw, and then it was time to get back on the road and continue on to Ft. Campbell, KY, where my brother Micah and his family are stationed right now. Once we got there, we realized we didn't have the proper documentation needed to get on base! Security is tight for obvious reasons. Thank God for JP's dad, who kindly drove to our house, found the documents we needed, and faxed them down to the base for us. 

We arrived just after nap time and the kids were all bright-eyed and excited to see their cousins!  

First activity on the agenda: swimming! The temps in KY were in the 90's.

So, stranger, come here often? 

Saturday morning we went on a tour of the Army base. Life on post is something you can't really understand until you've seen it firsthand. We were surprised at how large it was (even though Ft. Campbell is a relatively smaller base) and how Army families had everything they needed within the base walls (stores, food, entertainment, schools, parks, pools & splash parks, daycares, etc.). Micah and Missy live in one of the newest, nicest neighborhoods on base and are blessed with a beautiful 4-bedroom home for their growing family. We got to check out the building where Micah works and get a small taste of what every day life is like for the whole family. 

Later that night, the kids had fun playing around on power wheels. :) 

Ruby and Malachi were so stinkin' cute together. 

This picture cracks me up -- hang on Malachi! 

Rae was slow and steady on the John Deer. 

Sunday was a kick back, relax, and enjoy each other day. That night we went to the bowling alley on base, which is always fun with seven kids under the age of six!

JP helps Ruby bowl a spare

Malachi guarding the bowling balls

 Micah & Jeremiah

This is what bowling with seven kids looks like :)

This is my family's scoreboard. Rosie has the high score...mine is the low one. :) 

The next day was Monday, Memorial Day. It was a really neat experience to be on a military base on a day set apart to honor those who have sacrificed everything for our freedom. We decided to visit the Don F. Pratt Museum on base, a museum dedicated mainly to the history of the 101st Airborne Division, or "Screaming Eagles," who are based out of Ft. Campbell. Across the street from the museum is an outdoor park that displays a bunch of military aircraft and equipment used by the division.
The kids all wanted to wear their shades...and hold hands. How cute could they be? 

JP & Micah in front of a helicopter

Everybody say, "Don't shoot me!"

Shortly after taking this picture I saw the sign that read "DO NOT CLIMB." Oops. 

This is an Iraqi tank that was captured by the 101st Airborne Division during the Persian Gulf War.

There wer little flags all over the park with messages to the soldiers. The one Zach is looking at says, "Thank you for your sacrifices." 

The kids looking at a Memorial to fallen soldiers. It was the perfect opportunity to talk to them about what Memorial Day is all about. 

This is a model of a 5th Group Special Forces soldier within the museum, which is what Micah is. 

I'm thankful for all of the opportunities we had to talk to the kids about the sacrifices these soldiers make every day and the ultimate sacrifice so many have made for our freedom. It also opened up doors to talk about Jesus' sacrifice for our eternal freedom, and the truth, "Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." 

We planned to leave Monday night around the kids' bedtime to drive home through the night, so the kids filled up the little time they had left together with dress up and more swimming. 

Left to right: Anna, Rae, Malachi, Ruby & Zach

Rosie drinking from the sprinkler

Freeze, Jeremiah!

Leaving was extremely difficult for the kids, especially Zachary and Malachi. As we said our goodbyes and handed out hugs, Zach started bawling his little eyes out. He could barely speak to say goodbye. Malachi started crying too, and according to Missy, they cried after we drove away, all the way through brushing their teeth, and were still crying when they went to bed. She gave them little guardian angel coins their grandma had given them when they had to give up their cat to hold as they fell asleep, bless their precious little hearts.

I was surprised that my girls were not more emotional about leaving. They fell asleep about an hour after we left and slept all the way through the night, not even waking up during gas stops. We got home around lunch time on Tuesday.

 I'm extremely grateful that we had the opportunity to make this trip. We never got to visit Micah & Missy when they lived in North Carolina, and I've always regretted it. That's a whole big chunk of their lives that we'll never be able to relate to or picture in our minds. Seeing their life and their home at Ft. Campbell allowed us to get a taste of what everyday life is like for them right now. They are such an amazing family with unbelievably sweet and respectful children. I love them and look up to them in so many ways.