Our new addition is adapting nicely to life in our family and we are all adapting our routines and expectations to blend with his needs.  He is a flexible, laid back baby and everyone loves him!  

While I did not notice significant differences in myself between having 1 child or 2 children, I have definitely noticed some with the 3rd.  

#1    I am WAY more exhausted.  Waking up 3-4 times a night to nurse is taking a greater toll now that I am also entertaining, teaching and caring for the older two all day long. Not to mention, how out of practice I was at living off severely interrupted sleep.  I didn't have time to get used to sleeping through the night between Aubrey and Jackson.  This time around, I've had a solid 1.5 years to enjoy my sleep. 

#2    I have a greater appreciation for coffee.  We enjoy each others company at least 2-3 times a day!  (See #1 for more info)

#3    I am not pushing myself (or him) to develop a schedule.  I am more confident in my ability to accurately interpret his needs and why he is fussing, particularly in regards to eating and sleeping, and I am enjoying meeting those needs at his demand.  I also have the luxury to be with him all day, every day, so I don't have the pressure of creating a schedule for a caregiver to follow.  We follow a loose routine of eat, play, sleep and I leave it for him to decide when he wants to eat, how long he wants to play, and when he is ready to sleep.  I am finding I really enjoy this on-demand "schedule."

#4   For every outing, its worth weighing the option of staying home against going out (specifically going out without the hubby).  For instance, getting everyone up, fed, dressed and out the door to head to church is worth it because once we get there the kids have a great time, learn valuable lessons, and I get an almost 2 hour break. ;)  Outings to parks or other outdoor venues are good too because the kids are free to run and play in a safe area with boundaries and there are very few ways for them to get into trouble.  A shopping trip to the mall is currently NOT on my list of things worth doing. Three kids, a stroller that seats two, maneuvering through tight stores and keeping everyone happy sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.

Overall, having 3 is great!  Everyone has done so well with the adjustment.  Our days are fun-filled and busy. We are getting back into old routines and creating some new ones.  I love seeing how each child is growing, learning and developing. Life is filled with experiences that stretch and mold us.  It is neat to watch Aubrey grow as a big sister, Jackson learn how to be a big brother, Brandon and I refine our parenting, and Tyler take in this big, new world all around him.  

P.S.  #5  We are still taking tons of pictures (so none of our children should ever feel like, "why are there only pictures of the first child"), but I didn't send a big birth announcement out.  With Aubrey, I feel like we sent a birth announcement to practically everyone we knew.  With Jackson we mailed out about 75 announcements; primarily to family.  For Tyler, I ordered 50 announcements with the intent of sharing the news with family members and friends who were not on Facebook (and worried that was too many).  Can we say, "Third child syndrome meets the technological age?"  Below is your baby announcement. ;)
Photo Card
View the entire collection of cards.
I cannot believe how close we are to seeing a sweet little face sleeping away in this swing again! Now that we have passed the halfway mark, it is an exercise in self-control not to start getting baby gear out and going through the tubs of little clothes in preparation for our new little one.  I know many of our friends are wondering just what clothes will we be sorting through; clothes for girls or clothes for boys. :)

Brandon and I debated on whether to find out the gender at the 20 week ultrasound or wait until delivery.  We enjoyed waiting until delivery with our previous two sweet babies.  Both of us had fun with the 9 months of building anticipation and the excitement pulsing through the air as the doctor made the eyewitness announcement.  This time around, we took into account the fact that we have 2 children who understand to some degree that we are expecting a new baby and how finding out the gender ahead of time might aid in preparing them both.

We chose to have the gender revealed to us because we felt it would help each child in a different way.  Our daughter was certain we were having a little girl and she would be getting a little sister.  After watching a video online of a family revealing their new baby was a boy and watching the 4 year old sister dissolve into tears of devastation and disappointment, we decided that Aubrey might need time to accept and adjust if the baby is a boy.  Jackson didn't seem to be really understanding at all that a new baby was coming and we thought the more details we can provide him, the more prepared he will be.

I wanted a girl and a boy.  Too bad twins aren't in the genes. ;)  I wanted Aubrey to have the sister she desired, to see all those cute little clothes get reused, and know that Brandon and I could easily agree on a girl name.  I wanted Jackson to have a brother who would grow into a buddy he could horse around with, play rough and get dirty with.  I wanted to see those baby baseball caps, rock star clothes and cool shoes get used again (I love all baby clothes. ;) Lol!).

We scheduled the ultrasound for Saturday so we could all go together and not be rushed.  The kids were excited, Brandon was ready, and I was eager to see the little one on screen, hear that everything looked good and the baby was growing and healthy.  The kids were attentive for the first part of the scan, but quickly lost interest.  The technician was the worst I've had and just took the pics and measurements she needed in silence, so there was little to add to what the kids were seeing to help keep them engaged.  She did make the announcement when she checked the gender.  Good thing, because we'd of never guessed that's what we were looking at!  The big news is it's a BOY!  

We are all excited.  Aubrey took the news very well.  She was happy as soon as she heard.  No drama, no tears, no disappointment. :)  Jackson likes to say, "It's a boy like Jackson!"  He makes the cutest face when he says it too. :)  Now the hard part...agreeing on a name.  This is going to be a process.  Brandon and I seem to have very different tastes in boy names and we were lucky to have found one for Jackson.  If we announce in September that we welcomed Baby Boy Gibson into the world, you know why. LOL!

September is always an exciting time around here and this year proves no exception!  Aubrey was born in September 2009.  Then Jackson came along in September 2010.  We enjoyed celebrating their birthdays and the blessings they are in September 2011 and 2012.  This September, we look forward to celebrating with Aubrey and Jackson, AND welcoming a new little one!

We had some bumps along the way, but God has been faithful through it all.  We are so excited and look forward to watching Aubrey administer her mothering skills on a live "doll" while Jackson tests all the baby gear, figures out how to turn the swing into a fun ride, and uses the pack 'n play bassinet as a jumping platform. ;) It's going to be fun!

Hopefully, we will get the big reveal in early May.  We will keep you updated through Facebook and this blog. 


Practicing our scooters.

Reading some good books.

Playing in the snow (not that there was much worth playing in).

Family Game Nights

And just having fun!

But don't worry!  This blog has not been forgotten.  Look for some interesting new posts coming this month. :)
We travel often to visit family and over the years I have found there is a list of tasks and procedures I always complete as I prepare for each trip.

One week before departure, I start washing dirty clothes I might want to pack. Then I move on to any other dirty clothes, followed by towels, bed linens and the final load of laundry the day before leaving consists of any clothes we dirtied during the last few days.  
Goal= Leave no dirty laundry 

I pack each child about 5 days before departure.  I lay everything out organized by day making sure everything is there that they might need (underwear, socks, accessories).  Then I check to see what shoes I need to take based on all the outfits chosen.  I try to pack only 2 pairs of shoes per child (tennis shoes and dressy shoes) so, I try to keep that in mind as I choose outfits.  Finally, I pack their toiletries and bedtime items.
Goal= Kid's suitcases packed and set aside 4-5 days prior to departure

My husband finds it amusing how much cleaning I do in order to LEAVE on a trip.  In truth, it is probably more detailed than when guests are coming over to our house. I cannot stand leaving a dirty house and find it very refreshing to come home to a clean house with fresh linens after traveling for a week or more.  The downside is this preference makes for some mad cleaning for 3 days before a trip.  Floors are swept, mopped, vacuumed in all rooms.  Baseboards are cleaned.  Every surface is dusted.  Kitchen gets a deep cleaning (refrigerator, stove, cabinets, etc.) and all bathrooms are scrubbed.  All the toys and miscellaneous items are organized and put away.  Finally, right before we leave every dirty dish is cleaned and fresh linens are put on every bed.  The added bonus to all this cleaning is that it allows me to relax the day after returning home because there aren't any tasks to be done!  Most of the time, I don't even have laundry to complete upon returning because I wash all our clothes at Nana's house before heading home.
Goal= Leave a clean house; return to a clean house

Travel Bags
Regardless of which side of the family we are going to visit, the drive is long and having plenty of in-car entertainment is vital.  Two to three days before embarking, I put together a bag for each child and and an electronics bag.  The kids' bags have coloring supplies, books, small toys and a few new items as a surprise. We take two Tag Jr reading bags as well.  The electronics bag holds the iPad, nook, chargers, laptop, cameras, etc.  These bags combined with our van's movie screens and dvds help make for a very pleasant trip. :)
Goal= Happy Passengers

More Packing
I wait to pack the suitcase for my husband and I 1-2 days before leaving.  I pack in a similar fashion as when I pack the kids.  Our suitcase isn't completely finished until the morning of departure when the toiletry bag is added.  I also grab our pillows that morning.
Goal= Parent suitcase and ready by morning of departure

Snack Bags/Cooler
The day before leaving, I pack a snack bag for the ride.  I choose things that are not super junky and not messy.  I also make sure and have some special driver snacks like sunflower seeds or peanuts.  My kids rarely eat in their carseats so it is a special treat to have snacks in the car on long trips.  I pack a cooler with drinks and add ice on our way out.
Goal= Occupy kids and buy time between stops; keep the driver awake

Load the Car
Hooray!  The time has come.  All the preparations are finished and we load the car the night before leaving.  If we have multiple stops, we keep that in mind making sure things we need first our last to be packed.  All travel bags and snacks are accessible to the passenger and all that's left is to leave.
Goal= Be prepared to hop in the car and leave bright and early

For me, all of these tasks pay off in the end.  The drive goes well, we enjoy our vacation and I love coming home to my spotless house!

If asked whether or not my kids have a grateful heart, I would have responded with yes.  They are thankful for what they have. They offer up a thank you when served a meal, assisted with a task, offered a compliment or given an item.  You know...basic good manners.  I felt like my husband and I were well on our way to developing grateful children.  

   Then the toy catalogs from all the major stores started arriving at our house (just in time for all the holiday shopping, of course).  Already, at age 2 and 3, they are masters at materialism.  As they perused catalogs or walked through shops, I heard their chorus of "I want that!" and "I can get this!"  I realized as the world unfolds before them and they begin to look beyond our little family, the task of fostering a thankful heart has only just begun.  We have a laid a good foundation, but we must continue to help grow thankfulness through modeling, discussions, expectations and opportunity.

       Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 
                                                                                                                                        Colossians 3:15

   November is a natural time to focus on thankfulness with greater intensity, but it can't stop once the Thanksgiving holiday passes.  We all must learn to meet each day with gratitude that extends beyond the materialistic.  We have just begun the journey of embracing the life God has given us with gratitude.  I can't share every conversation, prayer and object lesson we have with our children, but I will share some of the ways we are building thankful hearts this month.  

   How do you foster thankfulness with your family?

I've crossed the point of no return.  Blogging has been on my mind for a year now.  I started jotting down ideas 6 months ago. Then, a month ago, I opened my account on Weebly and have been working up the courage (and searching for time) to bite the bullet and hit publish. 

My goal is to build a blog that is interesting, practical and encouraging.  Please stop in regularly to see what's new and don't hesitate to leave comments!

Check back soon to read my first full blog entry!
My inspiration for writing, ironically, is the greatest factor in what prevents me from writing. I love my family!