Baby 4 is HERE!!!

I am lying here in this hospital bed with my heart utterly full of love.

This week has been less than comfortable, the 3 days leading up to this birth were full of pain and emotions. I was in the triage Wednesday night in horrible pain only to be sent home at 3am (great night of sleep, the 3 boys were raring to go as normal bright and early that morning), the pain followed up until Friday when I was induced. My emotions were holy insane. I cried at the dinner table over my fear of birth and just all my emotions over the labor. I have had great natural labors thus far and I am not sure what it was about this one that had me on edge. The fear factor was how long it would be, if you have been following me for awhile Jude, our third came within 45 minutes of my first pain. It was full force pain but so quick it was easy so this time I was very hesitant on what would happen. We were also inducing due to the fact that Jude was so quick, I wanted to be sure we had our other 3 kids covered and be able to make it to the hospital. So it was our choice to go into labor, that part of course is scary. The what if.  I was dreading laboring. Our 1st son was about a 10 hour labor from when waters broke then our second son was a 3 hour labor from waters breaking so I had my eyes wishfully set on a 4 hour number. I was freaking out all yesterday morning and even the minutes right up until my midwife broke my waters. The risky thing is that is labor does not progress you have the risk of pitocin and in my eyes pitocin is a slippery slope for someone wanting to go drug free, so that is always lingering. Luckily I know God was on my side through this labor, so here we go with the labor story.

I had been 3cm for the past 2 weeks, when we broke waters I was 3-4cm and the head was still semi higher up in my cervix. Well we broke waters around 230pm, the start was slow. VERY slow. I could feel the words pitocin in my mind. I was freaking out. We walked, rolled on the ball and tried to get things full force contractions. My doctor mentioned nipple stimulation. Not the fanciest of things to be doing to yourself but what the hell, if it meant no pitocin you better believe I will try it! Well it worked. Holy hell, a little too much. Back to more rolling on the ball and walking to get them stronger. I did not want to be checked too soon for changes in dilation because I did not want to be discouraged if I was not making progress, so I rocked out the nipple thing and moving and got contractions more steady, strong and timely. During this time my husband was entertaining me dancing like Shakira. I am not joking either, we have video. My sister in law was here the entire time so those two had me cracking up in between contractions, the nurses totally loved us. Speaking of contractions, I think 2-3 minutes apart finally. It was starting to get dark outside so I knew I was passing my 4 hour wish mark pretty darn quick. When she finally checked me I was at 6 but the head was still up higher. Then we got in the tub for a change of action. That warm water really helped me to gain strength and take real control. I think leading up to it the pain was so annoying and I was semi fighting the pain and my body. The water let me breath and accept the pain as part of the process. It also brought pressure in all areas down there. I stayed in the water for a good hour or so working through contractions until I got nervous about the pressure, so back to the bed we went. I was having horrible back pain with the pressure so I decided to be checked. I was at a 7, not as far as I wanted but I was fine with it, only 3 more centimeters to go.

Through the contractions I was literally saying Hail Mary's along with trying to breathe and it worked so freaking well. We decided half way through to switch the girls name to Catherine and I was actually going to switch the middle name to Marie for Mary because I know she was there through every pain. Anyways you will see we did not have to make a girl choice in name here soon....haha

The pain really started to suck, but I tried to keep telling myself it was temporary and every contraction was getting us closer. I moved as much as humanly possible to get in different positions to ease some pain. Jordan is such an amazing coach. He really is. Holding his hands was all I needed. This labor was totally different than others, I wanted silence, pure silence. Barely anyone talked. I had music lighting playing in the background and it was as peaceful as you could get.

Contractions got worse and worse and the pressure kept coming. She checked me again and I was 8-9 and we tried pushing a tad while she checked me but I just wasn't fully there. Talk about the most annoying thing in America. The worst pain ever and no where to go. Stuck. I forget when the topic came up but during contractions we realized all the women in the room had 3 boys. My midwife, me and the 2 nurses and ALL had stopped at 3 boys, it was so funny, but surely that funniness left the minute the next contraction roared its ugly head. The next part is a little blur but somehow I felt the real deal of pain and decided it was over. No more silent breathing to get my through, this baby needed OUT. AND FAST. She said I could push and boy did I push. It was full blown insanity the last few minutes. We got the mirror in position so I could watch and see where the head was and thankfully he came down pretty speedily. I think 3-4 pushes and he was crowning. Still so insane, I watched him come into the world. I watched Jordan's face full of excitement, so amazing, and heard him say "Oh honey, its a BOY!" I did not even care if it was a boy, girl or alien, I was so in love. They placed him on my chest and he opened his eyes instantly to me. He has hair, our first baby to actually have a good amount of hair. Our babies are typically bald, so any hair is good to me.

We welcomed Samuel Clarence into the world at 9:24 pm, he was 7lbs 6oz and 21 inches long. He was our second lightest baby but the longest thus far. He looks EXACTLY like Vincent, which is funny because I was hoping for another Vincent look alike because Luke and Jude are practically twins!! 

My sister in law took pictures of the whole labor and birth and I teared up scrolling through them, I am hoping to make a video montage of them at some point. Tomorrow I will be in full mama paparazzi mode but for now all we have is cell phone pics!:)
He has been a gem all night, latched on perfect too!!! Of course I have been staring at him all night while he sleeps, haha!! So there you have it, baby Sam's birth story in a nutshell. The pain sucked, no doubt about it but it was so worth it for the pure bliss of them laying him on my chest!! Thanks for all your amazing well wishes and prayers, you are all so FABULOUS!!! I felt so much love during the labor process from everyone. xoxo                                                                                                                     

How Many???

No for once I am not talking about how many kids we want.
Even though I think 4 could be it! haha!
I am talking about Christmas, and the gifts we give our kids and each other.

When I was growing up my parents divorced. Which means one thing for a kid.
MORE PRESENTS at the holidays and parents trying to out do each other at times.
I was just stuck in the middle, haha I say that like it bothered me but let's face it, I sadly loved every minute of the gift giving goodness from both sides of my family. It was like the freaking jack pot every year.
I would make a list for my dads side and my moms side, and somehow they never failed to have every present under the tree. I will say I was a tad spoiled. It was just me and my brother and of course he never wanted anything but video games so that left plenty of room for them to shower their only girl with gifts.

Gag me, it pains me to even say that.

When I look back I want to not only punch myself in the face but also tell my parents not to have showered me so heavily or given into my every wish for gifts. I will say it was not super out of control, there was always a limit but it was still more than any girl needed for Christmas. Especially when Christmas is NOT about me or any of us for that matter. Yet we shower and shower each other and our kids with gifts like there is no tomorrow.

I walk through the stores and see piled up carts of gifts out the wazoo and mothers being rude in check out lines or snarky to others looking for gifts. I was just buying wipes the other day and the tension in the store was so high I wanted to suffocate. Another reason why I am an online shopper. Bah Hum Bug is all I could think on these people's faces. I literally cannot handle going any where near the mall or shopping areas at Christmas. Everyone seems so bitter and crazy. This is not how it is supposed to be. There are people spending way more than they can afford, "because it's Christmas" is their excuse. "It's only once a year", "My son or daughter NEED this".  People are maxing out credit cards and for what?? I can't stand the excuses. In my eyes you should not be buying something just because. Christmas is about Christ, about Jesus, about the birth of Jesus and to reflect on what we have, our family, our life. The gift of life and love. That is what it is about in my eyes.

I never grew up very religious so obviously Christmas to me was just a gift giving holiday and Jesus's birthday, but my eyes were more on the gifts. I don't want that for my kids. I don't want that at all. I see the spoiled mess of teenagers and adults that mindset has created. Luckily for me my parents still made me work hard and have jobs to teach me responsibility but some children are just catered to every day of the year.

Vincent's first Christmas he was showered with more gifts than one can imagine, Jordan and I both come from divorced parents so you see how quickly the gifts can multiply and add up. At first I was okay with the whole spoiling my son, because I was so in love with him that I wanted him to have it all. I mean duh, he was one, he needed it all. IDIOT, IDIOT, IDIOT (palm to face). Vincent was 8 months old at the time, homeboy had no idea what day it even was, let alone what all these "gifts" were. I am pretty sure he just played with the wrapping paper and boxes and cried a little. He probably cried because he was overwhelmed by the madness that Christmas has become.
I think back to each of my kids births, the pure bliss that comes in the moments they enter the world (insert teary eyes because I am hormonal) and it's the kind of joy you can't ever BUY. It is happiness to the highest and it's all about the love we share with those moments. No one is unwrapping boxes in the delivery room, no one is making long drawn out lists of what they "need", its true raw love. It's loving the gift of life that God has given us. Family, and sharing a beautiful moment together. I just think that is how Christmas should be. Family, spending precious moments together, not worrying about what's hidden inside the box. Real love is shown through actions, not gifts. 

I was talking with a mom at the boys school book fair a few months ago and somehow we got on the topic of gift giving and birthdays and Christmas and how outrageous it has become. She said it magically, she said I cannot stand "the exchange of money", that is all it is. You are pretty much exchanging money with people. My brother and I exchanged gifts for a few years. I would tell him what I wanted and he would tell me what he wanted and we would buy and exchange. There was literally not much meaning behind it, it was more a "here is what you wanted" and vice versa. How MAGICAL is that?? It's just silly. Silly. Silly. Silly.

For our boys we buy one gift, and the funny thing is we had a hard time even thinking of one for Vincent and Jude. I let Vincent look through a toy ad and of course he said he wanted every thing, not even KNOWING what the heck some of the things were. I am pretty sure he said he wanted a trash can also. Obviously if you show your kids a ton of toys they will say they want them all. I love my kids, I really do but there is no way in God's green earth that I will ever give into their "wants". We have to know hands down that they will need and want the item or else it's not worth buying because guess what, it goes unused and just gets donated. After a month or so we finally pin pointed an item for each that they will LOVE. I think we spent a rocking $75 on all 3 and they will LOVE the things we got. When they get older, we will do one gift each kid and then also a family gift that they can all use together. But from us you will only see one gift for each kid under the tree.

As far as grandparents go I seriously try to regulate the gifts. Mainly because I want their gifts to be used and cherished and not just thrown to collect dust in the toyroom. I try to coordinate them so they can all get the most bang for the buck and most play. I found this stand from Land of Nod that I knew would get tons of use over the years. Instead of my parents buying each kid a gift they got this one. Then I let the other grandparents know and we coordinated things to go with the stand, like puppets and a cash register and grocery items. Therefore, we limit the number of gifts and they have tons of possibilities all stemming from one stand. I feel like grouping toys and items together helps. The toys the boys always end up playing with are ones that are alike. So like Thomas the train sets, kitchen and food and Imaginext toys, if they are random odds and ends they get pushed to the side and forgotten about.

I guess that is just my two cents for the holidays and the craziness of gift giving. Focusing on spending time with our loved ones and EATING yummy food is what it's all about. We are doing all the days of advent along with Elf on the Shelf and are having so much fun with all the fun activities, way cooler than gifts in my eyes! We have made cookies, decorated the tree, dressed the dog as a reindeer, made homemade ornaments, made hot cocoa and had fun as a family creating memories. 
You may wonder if Jordan and I exchange gifts and I think you can guess, we don't. If Jordan ever wants something he just buys it on Amazon without even blinking and same goes for me.We do try to take a vacation and weekend trip alone during the year so that is a huge gift in itself. But other than that this family is very minimal on the gifts.

I will add, the one thing we do yearly, that I love and that has little cost is we make our families a calendar on Shutterfly. We give them to our parents and grandparents and they LOVE them. Its something useful and needed every year and they are FILLED with pictures of the boys and our family. It's like a scrapbook and calendar in one. Hands down the best gift. Jordan heard about this idea on the radio and we will never stop giving these bad boys out as a gift. It's meaningful and used every day by our loved ones.

There you have it, a lot of people wonder why we do our gifts the way we do and there it is. I am not offended by the way others do it. Each family is different and has different ways they celebrate holidays, same with any other holiday, we are all different! 

I am excited to give the boys a huge gift this week of their new sibling, that is the ultimate thing they wanted so I am so excited to introduce them to him or her in a few days!!! 

Merry Christmas friends! 

BEST Cutout Cookies...

I have always wanted a go-to recipe to use every year as cut out cookies.
I tried a few years back to find one and didn't find the perfect one.
So with my "nesting" for my last week of pregnancy it was a must to find that darn recipe.
I seeked out facebook friends and of course pinterest!
Jordan and I decided that the best cut outs are thick, soft with lots of fluffy icing.
I picked 4 recipes to try and made half a batch of each then compared.
My kitchen looked like a train wreck, seriously.
All of them turned out thick and soft because I rolled the dough thicker and always bake the lowest time, always, that is totally the secret to soft cookies. Never fails.
Jordan tried to bring his baking "expertise" in and tell me they looked under baked when I pulled them out of the oven and they are perfect, they always set up just right, I swear if you take them out later and they look perfect they always harden up, so as long as they are coming off the sheet with a spatula you are good to go! Jordan is the master griller, so he needs to leave the baking up to me!:)
It was enjoyable to try all of them, obviously, says the lady about to give birth in a few days.
But there was ONE winner that has stolen my heart for our new family go to recipe for cut outs.
I found it on pinterest, Cream Cheese cut out cookies!

Here is the recipe as well. Very easy.
1 cup butter
1 8oz package of cream cheese
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder

There was something about these ones that just was RIGHT on the money.
I made two frostings, very basic, one cream cheese and one buttercream and didn't fully love either, so in true Allie fashion I made my own mixture with both and it was PERFECT! The cream cheese frosting alone did not taste like what goes on a sugar cookie. It was more for a carrot cake. The buttercream was good but just needed a little something to kick it up a notch!
Cut Out Frosting
3/4 cup butter
3 1/2 cup powdered sugar
3-4 TBS Heavy Cream
1 tsp Vanilla
3-4 oz cream cheese (varies to what you like)
So there you have it.
This is from my search high and low of the best cut out recipe.
Hopefully you will agree when you make them.
If not check my "Yum Yum" board and see the others I also tried.
Happy Baking Friends....
And in baby baking news....Baby #4 will be here Friday!:):):):):)

Fall pics...

This year I completely slacked and didn't get any fall family pics done.
It might have a lot to do with the fact that I was busy as all get out every weekend with taking my clients pictures, but man I love capturing their families and kiddos so its an even trade.
 We had pictures done on vacation in July and if you know my husband or MOST husbands you only get one shot at family pictures per calendar year!! haha 

Anyways, I needed some new shots of the boys so I just ran them outside and took a few of each. Sadly Jude was sleeping when I did Vincent and Luke's but I just made cards with 3-4 pics so I could mix and match the pics. Here are a few of my favorites.
I could not get a smile from Jude at all. You would think that I tortured the kid by the next picture. We were outside MAYBE 5 minutes. Oye. 
Luke did by far the best. My little ham! 
Then the two best buds. 
Vincent was not offering up very many GENUINE smiles but we will work with it! 
So there you have it, our fall pics in a nutshell. Took a good 20 minutes all together to knock these out.
Next year I am streamlining my photography business and shooting less so hopefully I can fit in our own fall pictures, I already know exactly what I want us to wear and be doing in the pics. Yes, I am crazy haha!
Happy Fall....almost winter! :)