Thursday, March 16, 2017

T -10 weeks

It's been awhile since I've written publicly about our pregnancy with Katherine.  Each week in my planner, I journal a little pregnancy update.  I write about how I'm feeling, my fears, and any doctors concerns or notes.  But I realized today, that I should blog again.  The great thing about the blog is it gives me a place to save her pictures and the pictures of me pregnant all together.

3-7, The bubble by her mouth is her umbilical cord.
 After getting past the approximate point where Abigail died and the gestational age of her stillbirth.  I slowly started to feel a little better, and less anxious.  Gary and I sat down together and went through the baby stuff from the other kids, and made a registry so that we'd have a list of what needs to be purchased this time around.  We even went online and price hunted for the best price for a new infant carseat.  After 3 kids and 8 years, something just wear out.  Or in the case of the cradle mattress, almost 32 years and 8 kids.  As I began to feel more regular movement, I also felt alot better.
1-29, Me at 23 weeks
Unfortunately that feeling doesn't seem to stay around permanently. We've had two other scares. The first was at 26 weeks, when they called to give me the results of my 1 hour gestational diabetes test. I failed it pretty badly, for the first time in 5 pregnancies. They proceeded to call me back every day for the next three days. One to tell me when my 3 hour test was scheduled for. One to tell me they were so sure I'd fail the three hour there was no point in taking it, unless I really wanted to. And one to tell me they wanted to check for keytones that I had to drive into town the next day. Of course, during all this, I did the one thing you shouldn't do - I googled GD and started reading. Apparently the condition isn't really well understood. It responds differently throughout pregnancy depending on certain hormone levels in different weeks of pregnancy. Also, doctors don't even agree on what the numbers should be. On top of this, the diet isn't a regular diabetes type of diet, because baby needs carbs to properly grow, especially toward the end of pregnancy. So you end up eating more meat and more often. Also, they recommend eating more fats to help delay the release of sugar - for example ice cream. All I could see was a total revamp of the way we eat and my budgeting for meals, along with the headache of daily counting carbs, and detailed meal journaling.
Taking the 3 hour Gestational Diabetes test.
Gary wanted me to go ahead with the 3 hour test, so I did.  The lab tech (I nice lady who has gotten to know us real well in the last year, as often as I am in there) told me that I could expect results probably noon the next day.  So, I called the OB at 1 pm that Friday.  They called me back and I only failed one number, but I had several that were close.  They cleared me for the gestational diabetes.  I cannot tell you what a relief it was.  Along with all the uncertainty about GD, studies show an increase in poor labor conditions and in stillbirths.  The numbers are even higher for those who have previously had a stillbirth.  There's also some speculation whether the current recommendations even do any good, because of how little is understood about the interplay of hormones and GD.  I thanked God profusely and I was able to go and enjoy the Strawberry Festival on Monday.  And while that's a subject for another post, it was about the best night me and Gary have had together in a long while.

1-30, She was rubbing her feet together, which is funny
because that's something I do when I'm falling asleep.
 Then last Tuesday at 28 weeks, after Britt asked for them to double check that it wasn't a boy, I talked with the doctor with MFM (Maternal Fetal Medicine) and asked him about my kick counts that I'm suppose to keep.  I told him that Kate is far less active that my first three were.  That it takes me a good 40 minutes on average to get 10 kicks, not the normal 10 to 25.  I also told him that she moves almost none during the day, that movement starts to pick up around 4 pm and she's fairly active till bedtime.  He told me that some babies weren't as active, but if she dropped to less than 10 in an hour, to drink and eat something, then try again.  If they still didn't come up to head up to the ER.

1-30, Her face, they look so skeletal in the ultrasound.  I'm hoping
maybe next appointment they will try another 3D shot.
The MFS (Maternal Fetal Specialist) also sat down with me after my ultrasound, and wanted to go over alot of things in depth that we need to be aware of, so that our pediatrician can watch for after Kate is born.  He told us that there wasn't sufficient testing done after we lost Abigail, and that somethings that should have been done as a mater of routine weren't done.  That made me mad with the doctors in PA all over again.  According to him there just isn't enough to conclusively say that it was my thyroid issues that caused her death.  He said that it would be preferable to pinpoint an exact cause, because that would almost put us out of the danger zone for a repeat loss, at least it would make our odds of another loss no greater than 1 in 100, just like everyone else.

He told me because of my prior loss, and our suspicions of thyroid being related that we would do a detailed fetal echo-cardiogram at my next appointment.  As they have told me before, the most common problem with babies who have hypothyroid moms, is heart problems.  He also said, as we progress we will want to watch her heart rate and see that it doesn't get too low, that can be another problem in hypothyroid pregnancies.  Last Monday her heart rate was 123, and they want it anywhere between 120 and 170.  He told us that after pregnancy we will need to watch out for a few things.  First off all, my TPO numbers (that indicate my thyroid antibodies) are always incredibly high.  There is no real way to treat this.  Those antibodies can cross over the placenta so Katherine will need to be monitored over the first 6 to 8 weeks to insure that her thyroid numbers go back to normal.  They had told me that much before.  However, the specialist also told me that my numbers are probably an indicator that I am a carrier for Congenital Hypothyroidism.  It is a condition that is one of many tested for at birth with the heel prick blood test they do, however, he said it can often give a false negative in cases such as me where the mother is already on levothyroxine.  He said that it must be caught within the first 2 weeks, to have the best outcome.  But that babies often don't show signs until week 3 or 4.  He said that it is the result of a child with little to no thyroid or one that doesn't work properly.  So, they aren't able to produce all the hormones a growing child needs.  He said, if it isn't caught until they are close to 2 (which apparently use to be the norm), among other problems they will have significant irreversible mental damage because of the lack of hormones.  He also reminded me to pay close attention to her hearing, as the second most common complication for children of hypothyroid moms, is deafness.

He did say though since we had an unexplained loss, he was going to note in the file a recommendation that we be allowed to induce at 38 weeks if we wanted.  That would be on my birthday, which I'm not interested in sharing.  I already share it with Mother's Day quite often.  (Of course as I joked with Sis. Lydia the other day, maybe if I was sharing a birthday with her, Gary would have to remember to do something for my birthday too, hahaha.)  Due to Gary's work schedule the last week of May at 39 weeks would be better, if we get to chose an induction date.  Either way, sooner is better now in my mind.  Though, I also know there are more risk to inducing early than a baby that comes on their own.
3-7, She pulled her arm up by her face.
3-7, Then she moved her umbilical cord with her hand from by her mouth.

I came home, and Gary talked with our family doctor, who will be seeing Kate just like the rest of us.  They said, that they can go over the results with us and help us watch things.  But after talking together, I told Gary that I feel like even after she gets here I won't be able to completely relax.  All this time, I've just been telling myself to manage the anxiety for 40 weeks, and we are done.  I feel like she'll be so much safer after she gets here than she is in there cooking.  But now I'm not so sure.  Of course, while every pregnancy brings really weird dreams, lately I've been having nightmares about labor.  Which of course, doesn't make my state of mind any better during the day.

3-7, I love seeing little baby feet.
The good news though is that the idea of bringing her home is becoming more and more real to me.  I have washed up all the newborn and 0-3 clothes.  I have plans to sort through some more clothes in the next week to determine what we might still need.  Staying busy this week, particularly with Ruth's beautiful faerie garden (pictures to come soon, I promise) has helped keep my mind off things.  I of course, take the matter to God over and over in prayer, it's just an ever continuing process.  However, despite all my reservations, I'm feeling like we can really celebrate this pregnancy.  I feel like we are far enough along that we can think about life after birth, that we can enjoy her little life, that we could even have a shower and it not feel presumptuous and weird.  She'll be here in 10 weeks or less at this point, and that is exciting.

Monday, February 27, 2017

4 Years with Rebecca


Happy 4th Birthday, Rebecca!  Yesterday, we had the last of your birthday celebrations, by getting your ears pierced and having a doughnut afterward.  You were such a big girl about it - picking out some, crying only a second, and then being cheery and proud for the rest of the day.  You turned four last week, but for the last few months, I have caught myself telling people that you are already 4.  In some ways you seem so old, though in other ways, you are still the baby of the house.  Many of the things I observed about your personality last year, have not changed over the past year.  You are still fiercely independent, unless it's something you don't want to do.  You still don't like to be told that you aren't as big as everyone else.

About half way through the year last year, we decided to give you a few simple jobs, and begin paying you, like Britt and Ruth.  That was an abysmal failure.  You wanted money, but not enough to work.  Unlike the others I have not done a good job in training you from an early age to help. Some of that has been the fact that I had them to help, and they were already trained.  Some of that has been that I've been very absorbed in schooling them, and not spent enough time training you to work with me.  Some of that is that unlike the others, you have been a real pain to try to work with, and it's often been easier to just do it myself.  And some undoubtedly has been the fact that I have slacked off in alot of areas since we lost your little sister.  However, we began rectifying that this month.  In your revised chore list, you have to wash dishes every day.  The first week, you loved it and thought it was great fun.  Since then you have complained about not liking this chore.  One day you either sat on your stool or stood at the sink for about 2 hours before washing the last 6 dishes.  You are willful, and ornery much like your brother.  And both of you unfortunately get it from me.

This year you decided that you wanted to do school.  It completely caught me off guard I was planning to wait probably two more years before we started you.  I did a little scrambling, and found a few pre-K books that we had never used with Britt or Ruth.  You quickly in a month or two completed them, and declared that you had finished school.  It was cute.  I have another book in the cabinet whenever you get the urge to do more, but I'm not looking to start you yet.  You can tell me most of your letter sounds, but not their names.  You also are getting pretty good at shaping most of your letters on the ipad or drawing them in sand.  You aren't too bad with a pencil for your age, but you aren't quite there yet.  Sometimes you can count to ten in order, but most of the time you skip 5, have the time the numbers after 6 or 7 are out of order.  Then you think you are funny when you goof them up and we can't get you to do them right.  You do love to listen to history when the kids are studying Egypt.  And have asked me to make you a history passport too.

We haven't done much science this year.  We've done things as we have come across them in history.  We've also done a few hands on things here and there - pulling out the microscope and telescope for example.  We are also starting on some yard work projects here at the new house, which I count as nature study.  You have expressed some interest in planting flowers, and perhaps having your own butterfly faerie garden.  We'll see how interested you are before we pursue that project.

Perhaps the biggest event for you in the last few months, is that you are playing t-ball this year.  As the youngest on the team, you are by far the most difficult child to coach, teach, work with.  You really enjoy hitting, and are pretty good at it.  You have needed almost no coaching in that area.  It was only a matter of finding a light enough bat for you.  But oh, you don't like to throw and catch, and oh do you tell us about it.  So dramatic.

We are also looking forward to bringing home a new baby sister in a few months.  It has been interesting to watch you interact with her this pregnancy.  You have enjoyed looking at babies of the same age in books, and think comparing her size to the size of different foods is really funny.  You like to feel her move, something you were never able to experience with Abigail.  You come to my bed first thing many mornings, to cuddle and like to talk to her, and then fuss at her when she kicks you.  Unlike the others you have never asked what if Kate dies.  I don't know if you just have more faith than the rest of us, or if this pregnancy is more real to you than the last was, or if you just aren't as affected by the memories of the past.  I often wonder how you will react to the change that she will bring.

Starshine, you can be the most frustrating child or the most delightful child full of laughter.  Life with you is always an unpredictable affair, a real surprise.  Of all of our children, you are the one that I think will scale the most mountains and do the most unimaginable things, and I look forward to seeing where you go in life.

We love you,

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Ruth's Baptism

Ruth on Sunday 1-29-12 and Sunday 1-29-17. Hard to believe what a difference 5 years makes.
Ruth was baptized a few weeks ago. I'm not sure I have ever seen her quite so happy and giddy with excitement. But she is most always so happy it's hard to be sure. She out of nowhere Christmas day, while sitting in Church asked me if she could be baptized. I told her that we could talk about it after Church. But I was really surprised. Unlike Britt, which we saw coming from a mile away, we didn't see this coming. If anything Ruth who loves the people she sees at Church and the lunch she eats ever week there, has never cared for anything more than that. She has always been impatient for Church to be over, and gets this giddy little voice when she would tell me that it says "11:50, that means it's almost time for preaching to be over!"

However, I mentioned it to Gary that evening, but it was Friday night before the three of us could sit down and really talk about it together.  Like with Britt we told her that what she wanted to do was two parts, first it was telling everyone that she knew what God had done for her and second she was promising to be faithful to the Church living a life of service.  I didn't think she was ready, but Gary said it couldn't hurt to let her talk with Bro. Chris.  So we mentioned it to him, and he spoke to her at the New Year's Eve picnic.  When I asked her what they talked about, all she said was alot of stuff, but to pray to know when it was time for her to join.  Gary and I decided to sit on it, hoping she'd wait a while longer, after all it's a big commitment, especially when you are 6.5.  We thought maybe we'd revisit the issue in a few months after the Fellowship Meeting.  But she kept bringing the topic up.

In the meantime the Sunday of Christmas she had also asked me for paper to make notes like I do.  So I gave her a notebook and she had been listening and keeping notes for several weeks.  She quit napping during services.  At home, her biggest failing had been having a whiny attitude about clothes and her younger sister.  But we saw an abrupt change in that, a very noticeable decrease in that behavior in the weeks leading up to Christmas.  Don't get me wrong, they still fight I caught them at it just this afternoon, but it isn't near as frequent, and her attitude in general has improved.  When she began insisting again, I thought perhaps it was time.

We asked her if she wanted to be baptized that day to do communion that night, or wait a Sunday so Grumps and Ahna could come.  She decided to wait a Sunday if that was ok.  I told her I thought it was ok to wait, that if she lived to 70 and on average sat in communion twice a year, she could wash feet a total of 128 times in her life; but she'd only ever be baptized once.  It ended up being two weeks before we could have her baptism.  But she was so eager.  We initially planned to do it the following Sunday, but it looked like it would be impossible for Grumps and Ahna to come down.  When we asked her if she could wait one more Sunday, her reply was "It would be easier to remember that I was baptized on Britt's 8th birthday, but next Sunday is ok."

We asked her if she wanted to be baptized that day to do communion that night, or wait a Sunday so Grumps and Ahna could come.  She decided to wait a Sunday if that was ok.  I told her I thought it was ok to wait, that if she lived to 70 and on average sat in communion twice a year, she could wash feet a total of 128 times in her life; but she'd only ever be baptized once.  It ended up being two weeks before we could have her baptism.  But she was so eager.  We initially planned to do it the following Sunday, but it looked like it would be impossible for Grumps and Ahna to come down.  When we asked her if she could wait one more Sunday, her reply was "It would be easier to remember that I was baptized on Britt's 8th birthday, but next Sunday is ok."

For her baptism, she called out her favorite song, "I'll Fly Away" 363 in the number 12.  She asked me to make two braids and had picked out the prettiest pink dress with butterflies on it.  It was a little long, but I told her it would be ok.  Right before hand, she said she was a little nervous, and sat on the step and held her breath as long as she could.  Then asked if that would be long enough.  I told her Bro. Chris wouldn't hold her under even that long.  So up the steps she went.  She had the biggest smile, the kind that makes her eyes squish up almost until they disappear.  When she went in the baptistery to Bro. Chris, the water was up to her chest, and if she'd slipped we joked later, she would have baptized herself.  Afterward, on the way home Ruth couldn't quit saying how happy she was, and Rebecca told her, "I don't wanna get bab-i-tized."  I told her good that she was too little anyway, but that she should be happy for Ruth.  Rebecca said "Me like it when Roof is happy, but me not getting bab-i-tized."

I wish we could have gotten a picture with both sets of Grandparents, but Mister
was on turn around at work, and left before we could get a picture with them.
Ruth has been the happiest little girl and we are so happy for her.  We hope that she always finds such happiness in God's house and in His service.  I hope she can always remember this day.  She has always had the most giving heart, she took her own money this year to buy Britt a birthday present, and she was more excited about giving it to him, than he was about getting it.  She almost never complains when I ask her to do something around the house, and even offers to help out with things before I ask.  I hope she always uses that desire to help others and give to others and do for others in a way that will glorify God.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Happy 8th Birthday, Britt


It is so hard for me to believe that you could be eight.  The years seem to have gone by so quickly, even though the days sometimes seem to drag on and on.

You have grown so much this year.  You have gotten so tall, and I can sometimes see the man that you one day will become in your face.  You are anxious for more privileges that come with age, and yet you don't want any more work.  You wanted a big boy room and the big bed back, but you still want to cuddle with me in the bed on early mornings and have me read to you in your bed alone at night.

You love to play Mario.  Your favorite part of school is science.  You love your free time to build and explore whether that's outside in nature, or tinkering with your inventions.  Your imagination seems to be endless.  You love your sisters, and include them in everything you do.  Perhaps the biggest surprise to me this year is that you've found your first love.  She's smart as a whip, feisty and funny, and she's a red head.  You talk about how much fun she is, and how pretty she is.  And you've asked so many questions in the last several months about when you can get married and how to pick the right job when you are grown up.  Thankfully, there are still the questions about your elves and superheros.  After all, I'm not in a hurry to see you too grown up.

You still struggle with defiance, and being honest with me.  You are persistent and determined, and when you direct those traits you are amazing to watch, you can accomplish so very much.  When you dig in those heels and won't be directed though, law you are a terror.  You haven't grown to the point that you understand it is better to fess up to your mistakes than to hide it and be punished twice.  You still like to run the gamble that no one will find out.  It's something that you are working at.

Last night we had your cake after supper, we opened your presents, and you were so happy to be turning 8, even though I insisted you wouldn't be 8 until your birthday minute.  You were so excited.  You were so much fun to watch.  The best news may have been telling you that Daddy is going to build a new nature table, and you are going to get to help.  You want to do everything he does and enjoy when he lets you be a part of things with him.  You were also so excited to get the big transformer fat head style stickers from Grandmother and Granddaddy.  You were so disappointed when I told you that the wall was too textured for them to work.  But now you have some that fit your closet doors, and you couldn't wait to have me hang them up.

Little boy watching you sleep last night in one of your many strange positions, it struck me all over again, just how blessed we have been to have been your parents.  We love you, more than you know, and always pray that God will guide you and that you will grow to be a loving and honorable man.


Monday, January 16, 2017

21 weeks and 5 days

Twenty one weeks and five days, that was the point in pregnancy that we found out that Abigail was gone.  Presumably lost sometime around 19 weeks, as that's when I'm last sure I felt her.  Today marks 21 weeks and 5 days with Kate.  Everyday we make it past this, is more time than we had with Abigail.

I haven't written about Abigail in a while.  I think some people have made the mistake of assuming that somehow this pregnancy erases or at least completely negates the last one.  As if a new baby somehow replaces the child we lost.  Don't get me wrong, we are very happy to be pregnant again.  We tried for what felt like a long time.  We very much want this child, but it is a complicated thing to be pregnant again after loss.  In someways the time between pregnancies was a blessing, though it was gut wrenching to wonder if somehow in our loss if I could even get pregnant again.  Just as I read alot of Still Standing after our loss, and found much of it comforting and reassuring; I now find myself reading alot of their sister site, Pregnant After Loss.  I have also relied alot on some women online who have also experienced loss, a few of us were able to get pregnant about the same time, and that too has been an encouragement.  Even though a few of those women have already lost these new pregnancies.  Through these women, I have learned that having a year to grieve before we become pregnant again has helped me in alot of ways to deal with this pregnancy.  I did have the time to work out alot of my feelings about our loss, and to come to terms with it.  I don't know how long it will take to get over my anger toward the doctors who should have been managing my care with Abigail.  I don't know how long it will take to get where I can completely trust medical professionals again.

I'm not entirely sure if I will ever get over this feeling of "waiting for the shoe to drop" as Gary describes it.  He said the other night, it's almost this foreboding feeling in the back of our minds, as if we are just waiting for the inevitable bad news that is coming.  It doesn't mean that we aren't happy about this pregnancy, or that we aren't doing our best to enjoy this pregnancy, but we are also no longer naive.  Babies do die.  71 babies were stillborn a day last year in this country alone.  1 in 100 births will be a stillbirth.  That is more than 10 times the number of children that die a year from SIDS.  So why do we act like it doesn't happen?  And what's even worse, so little of why and how to prevent it is even known.  There are some correlations, such as having one still birth increases your odds of having another, but no real answers.

It is all this uncertainty combined with our very real life experience, that makes a new pregnancy so difficult.  As much as we want this child, it is normal to steel ourselves against the very big what if.  However, I feel like we have done a really great job in managing our anxiety.  We have tried to find understanding and knowledgable doctors.  We have researched and watched my thyroid, which remains our best guess at what happened to Abigail.  We talk about our fears and try to mentally check them logically.  And when even that doesn't help, there is always crying together and prayer.  While many families can only cope with the possibility of another loss by acting like there is no pregnancy until the baby is born and is ok, we have tried to enjoy as many things that we did with the others as we can with this baby.  We have taken pictures, picked out a name, and talked with the kids about what they might do with their sister.  However, when they ask if this baby will die too, we are honest.  We tell them we hope not.  We tell them we are doing everything we can to make sure it doesn't happen again.  Just this weekend we had a scare and had a rushed appointment today.  An appointment that scared me to death, one that ironically enough was on the same gestational day.  You better believe I was not only reliving the last time I made it to 21 weeks and 5 days, but seeing the horror of what this 21 weeks and 5 days could be.

There is alot of joy over a new baby.  We got all of our family photos hung, and optimistically I had Gary hang an empty one for Katherine.  However, it co-exists with grief and longing.  I miss Abigail every day and all she might have been.  I see her around our home in my mind's eye.  One day in heaven all of that will be resolved, but for now I am here. We are here. To share that you can be both joyful and sorrowful and that it doesn't make us anything less, but is a testament to both our incredible journey and our strength.  This pregnancy may not look like the others.  I didn't announce it the second the test said positive.  I'm not positively giddy.  I'm waiting on making big decisions like registries, baby showers, and setting up a nursery until after we reach 26 weeks and the age of viability.  Even then, I may not be 100% comfortable until Kate is born and I'm holding a child that is ok in my arms.  And you know what, that's ok.  If there is anything that I have learned from Abigail it's that I do the best I can with what I know, with what I have at the time.  And I can't spend my time beating myself up for what I think I should have known or should have done.  Just like I can't flay myself for what I should have known about my thyroid, about how I should have never blindly trusted a doctor, and for just not knowing.  This baby is loved, and we'll get through this pregnancy no matter the outcome.  I'm not going to fake what I'm not or regret what is different, because I can't beat myself up for being where I am, I'll just continue doing the best I can with where I'm at.  Hoping for the best, preparing for the worst, and enjoying each day that we get.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Living Room

This space has turned out to be my favorite in the house.  Have a look.

The blue grey in here was the first thing we painted.  I worried a little at first that it would be too dark, and then I was surprised that it was more blue and less grey than I expected it to be, but I absolutely loved it.  With the white trim it has such a classic feel to it.  It's so neat and clean.  I love the back of our front door.  It's got this beautiful red-oak finish, and all this carving.  For some reason though, no one carved the front and they painted it this flat confederate blue.  So sad.  I'd kinda like to move it to our room at some point, and repaint the outside, since the door at the office opens to the outside on the side of the house.  And get a door with a big glass piece in it, to let more light into the living room area.  Again down the road.  The only other thing I would change about the space is at some point, we do want to change the tile floor out for wood, and we can't decide if we'd prefer the red oak finish or the dark wood finish.



When it came to setting up the room though, it took me a little longer to figure out what to do here.  Since we weren't able to pull down the wall before we moved in due to the delay in closing, it left me scrambling to try to figure out where things would go.  Dad and Gary have this move things once policy.  And since I was trying to do the bare minimum of lifting this pregnancy, I needed to make decisions as much as possible while Gary had help there.  Turns out the furniture fits the space even better than I had thought it might.



With the front door and screened porch lined up with the french doors and the back porch (which is also screened in), I can get a great cross breeze during the day, and even with the porches we are getting a surprising amount of light.  The front of the house faces almost due South, a little Southwest-ish maybe, and of course all the white trim helps brighten up the room.

I have all of our favorite pictures hung up in here.  Nearly everything in this room has been a gift.  there is the Bible verse from the Mizells that Sis. Lori Gowens made.  There is another Bible verse from my Secret Sister, Sis. Carol Rowel.  There is the verse from Be Still My Soul that Sis. Lydia Crouse got for us.  And the three pictures on the other side of the tv, were all gifts when we got married.  One of them Sis. Kelly Spezzano made for me.  Right by the door is a small plaque about family that Old Carrol gave us (I believe Sis. Wanda picked it out).  There is also the bird picture that use to hang above my parents couch when I was small, a picture I learned to count with.  This is where all the pottery Aunt Cindy made for me sits.  And during Christmas I had my manger scene out here.  Everything just feels so comfy about the space.

It's also more in the middle of our floor plan.  The kids rooms to one side, the dining and kitchen to the other, guest room sort off the side of it along with the big screened in back porch.  I can have the kids doing school at the dining room table while I work.  I can read in my big chair while they play on the back porch.  They can watch Netflix while I work in the kitchen.  It's just a really great spot.  I have mentioned several times now, but I absolutely love how the layout works for us in this house.

The living room is currently L shaped as long as the wall remains in place.  I was at a real loss what to do with the smaller leg of the L.  For Christmas at least I decided I wanted to keep the fireplace.  It was a real eyesore before, several different color schemes going on - pink inside, the greys and browns on the outside stone, that off white/pale cream on the top and the hearth.  Alot of places where the finish was completely knocked off, dingy, and full of cat fur.  Memaw even accidentally vacuumed up a dead mouse out of the fireplace.  It seemed to fit really well on the smaller wall, so Dad and Gary with alot of effort and some piano rollers moved it across the room for me.  I decided if it was going to sit there for Christmas pictures that I at least wanted to try to clean it up and touch up the paint.  After I was finished, it looked so much better that I've decided to keep it.  That wall is where we are hanging all of the really nice family pictures we had made back in the fall.  And I even have a frame set aside and saved for Kate.

On the opposite wall for now, I have the last two book cases.  One has some fun books as the kids get older, and the board books for Kate.  The rest of their school stuff that didn't fit in the big cabinet is in the other bookshelf.  I had school stuff at the last house on the two small shelves that Britt has in his room, and they were really too cramped.  So, this works better.  I also have the rockers in here, and have spent alot of time reading to Rebecca since the move.  The others like for me to read, but she can't get enough of it.  She often wakes me up in the morning with a book in her hand.  She reminds me of myself more and more each day, and not only in the worst way.

This wall, currently has the tiniest good for nothing closet, and the AC thermostat, so taking it out will be a little more work.  But again, this will do for now.