Wednesday was my 24½ birthday. I took Declan to the pediatrician that morning while Sam and my mom took the boys to their Chinese class. When I got home, Alex was jumping around about something they got for me. Sam took the boys downstairs and then brought them back up with half of their clothes off and they were waving around pictures.

Sam is awesome. He knows how much I love half birthdays and so he helped me celebrate it. The boys love any reason to party!

My half-dressed boys each gave me half of a homemade birthday card and a half-eaten bag of my favorite candy. I think they particularly enjoyed making the bag of candy only a half present. They ate most of the second half, too.

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Paternity Leave

Sam has been on paternity leave for the last week. He didn't get this luxury after Alex and Edison's birth because he was in graduate school. It has been really nice to have him around so much. I am going to  miss him when he heads back to work in the morning. It will mean less sleep for me and less fun for the boys.

We haven't had a stay-cation in years. Normally, if Sam takes vacation days then we go somewhere. It was a little strange for him to be off work and us just hanging out at home. Alex said to him, "Why don't ever day you go to work?!" It was confusing to him to have Sam home so many days in a row.

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Sam leaves for Texas on Monday for a work trip and will be gone for nine days. I am hoping I can keep things together while he's gone. I have been trying to stockpile the happy feelings from having him home all day so we can make it through the time without him. He is such a great dad. We are all big fans of having him around. Hopefully I am not totally frazzled by the time he gets home!

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Announcing the arrival of...

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Declan Neil Merkley!
Born April 18th, 2013 at 8:15pm
8 pounds, 3 ounces
21 inches


Pregnancy Reflection

The end is near. Very near. My due date is only two days away. I feel like this whole pregnancy has gone quickly. But other times I think about how I got pregnant two weeks after moving to North Dakota. And I feel like we have lived here for years.

Emily: Do I look pregnant?
Sam: Yes. You are pregnant.
Emily: Well, there used to be a point where I didn't look pregnant.
Sam: I hate to break it to you, but you are passed that point.

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- Since 36 weeks, I have been dilated to 2 cm.
- At 39 weeks, I was 50% effaced, -3 station.
- I can't see my feet.
- I didn't get a linea nigra this pregnancy. That was a staple of my last two pregnancies so I am not sure why I don't have one this time.
- My belly button did something really funky. With the first two pregnancies, it flattened out but this time, the skin on top has been folding over. I think it looks like a nose and I am pretty sure it looks worse than the normal popping out belly buttons. So strange.
- At 38 weeks, the doctor offered to strip my membranes. I said, "Today?!" She said, "Spoken like a mom who has other things to do." Yeah, I've got time. She offered again at my 39 week appointment.
- Every time I feel a slight pain, I freeze to see what kind of pain it is. Labor is coming so soon!
- We talk about the baby by name when we are at home. It is really difficult to not say it to people on the phone or in person. Sam and I have both struggled with our words as we try to avoid saying his name. It will be nice to finally birth the baby so we can give him the name and then tell everyone. The middle name is finally decided, as of our date on Friday night. Sam made the decision for the middle name and it took me a while to come around, but now I am more comfortable with it.

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Workout Routine:
Is this a joke? I didn't workout at all. I chased two toddlers around, but I did not formally workout. Ever.

Most surprising symptom:
It is more like a lack of symptoms. I have had very little swelling. I am still wearing my wedding rings! I plan to leave them home when I go to the hospital, but it has been nice to wear them the whole pregnancy.

Favorite part:
Talking to the boys about the baby and hearing their thoughts about it. Alex is especially entertaining. Just a few days ago he said, "I don't want to go back in your belly! It is too dark in there!"

Alex: Can we get a sister instead?
Sam: No, we ordered a boy this time.
Emily, thinking: Excuse me. Ordered?
Alex: I don't want another brother. I want a sister to play with at home. Can we please get a sister?! (Fake whining)

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Most terrifying part:
Waiting for six weeks to find out if he had Trisomy 18. It was definitely a trial of my faith as I waited to learn if I would get to meet my baby boy or see him reach any milestones.

Most frequent craving:
Food. It was hard to avoid eating. I craved root beer floats, grapefruit, apples, french fries, macaroni and cheese, goldfish, and popcorn.

Most annoying symptom:
I am so tempted to say the weight gain but the groin pain I have had for about eight weeks far outweighs (haha, get it?) the fact that I am getting fat. The pain is almost debilitating.

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Weirdest symptom:
The dreams about labor. This didn't happen with Alex but it did with Edison. It started a few nights ago and now every night I dream that I am in labor. By the time it actually happens, I will have experienced it in my dreams multiple times.

Funniest memory:
I told my sister the first initial of the baby's name and she started trying to guess. She was guessing names that would be a better match for a black woman. It was hysterical. Then we told our friends the first letter and they guessed even worse names. Yikes.

Weight gain:
I don't really want to talk about it. Even though I started 10 pounds lighter than I did with Alex and Edison, I have managed to gain the most weight this pregnancy. I only gained 25 pounds with Alex and 37 with Edison. However, I would like to attribute the weight gain this pregnancy to not losing any weight during the first trimester. I was gaining weight from the very beginning.
 Starting weight - 120 pounds
First trimester - No weight loss
Current weight - 160 pounds

Ten freezer meals:
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 Every morning I wake up and wonder if the baby will have a birthday on that day. So far, no luck. But I have learned: this baby will come out eventually. I am so excited to snuggle him!


Last Weekend

Sam and I went on our final date last Friday. The boys went to play with Madisyn and Alexa while during our date. We went to a restaurant that is for people 21 and older. It was pretty good but the serving sizes were giant. It was insane. It was nice to have time to talk to Sam with no interruptions. Exclusively breastfeeding makes it really hard to go out without kids so I am not sure when our next date will be. We finished dinner really fast and then went to get frozen yogurt. But we were both so full so we brought it home and stuck it in the freezer. We still had about 15 minutes before it was time to get the boys so we just sat around our house. Super hot date. We are party animals. Then we walked over to pick up the boys. They had been having a great time.

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The next day, Williston State College had an open house. I hadn't told the boys anything about it because I didn't know what to expect. We got there and there were so many things to do: bounce houses, face painting, lunch, booths, and candy! They had a blast running around for two hours.

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The boys' friend Camden turned six years old. We went to his birthday party at the bowling alley. The kids didn't really seem to care about bowling. They were more interested in running around. It took almost two hours to get through one game. I totally got hit in the arm by the birthday boy who was already blindfolded and started swinging away at the pinata while I was trying to get kids lined up. It really hurt. Then the birthday boy got nailed in the head by another blindfolded kid. Pinatas are dangerous!

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The boys were getting cranky on Sunday night because of Edison's early nap and Alex's lack of a nap, so they got to watch part of a movie with Daddy.

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We are currently experiencing a storm. April. Snow. Hate.

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My mom arrived on Saturday night. I am so happy she is here! First order of business this morning: sew everything for her clueless daughter.

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Now it is time for the baby. Any day, baby!



It seems like I skip over pictures sometimes. Not for any reason except that they don't really fit in with whatever I happen to be posting about. Over four months, that ends up being hundreds of pictures. So it is time for another miscellaneous post. The only theme is that my kids are darn cute.

I was at a church activity and Sam found a way to get the boys to eat their dinner: Baby Einstein on their own personal screens. This never happens when Mommy's home!

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Alex: Daddy, what are you doing?
Sam: Playing a game with Mommy.
Alex: What are you playing?
Sam: Yahtzee.
Alex: I want to play Nazi!

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I don't know the dates of these pictures, but they are in order. I guess I need to remember to not complain next winter because it just keeps getting worse. Williston is an interesting place. When we tell people how long we have lived her (nine months!) they react like it is a long time! Notice: -22 degrees, feels like -40.

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Sam watched a lot of March Madness this year and Alex and Edison would occasionally watch with him. Alex filled out a bracket. Sam would ask him to choose between two teams. After he completed filling his bracket, Alex asked, "Did I win?" The picture on the right is how he reacted when we told him the team he had winning the championship had actually been eliminated early on in the rounds.

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Sam built this Bobcat puzzle toy for the boys and they are allowed to carefully play with it for a few minutes at a time. It was the highlight of their day when we had a Bobcat right outside our windows!

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Alex is amazing about letting us brush and floss his teeth. Edison puts up with it occasionally.

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We got a nail in our tire one day. I called emergency roadside assistance to have someone come change it even though it was parked outside of our apartment. It was cold. I am pregnant. It was free.

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The boys really love each other. In the last few days, Alex has been smothering Edison with kisses.

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Alex: Mom, will you close the windows so I don't get bright eyes?

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I love my little chefs.

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Some friends in our ward own a Mexican restaurant in Noonan. It is an hour and a half away (and they are in our ward!). A group of us made the trip there on a Friday night for dinner. It was really fun!

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Alex: What is this one?
Emily: I don't know.
Alex: I think it's a coyote. I ate its head off.

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When it's freezing cold outside, what better way to pass time than to eat popsicles?

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Alex is so funny. I guess he would rather build towers with his food than eat it.

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Alex was totally potty trained (day and night) and then suddenly started wetting the bed every night so we put him back in a diaper at bedtime. The other day, I walked by the bathroom and saw him standing up just like daddy. Neither of us knew he had figured that out. We didn't teach him. He just saw Sam doing it.

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Edison loves shoes. I want to smooch his lips every time they pucker up to say, "Shoes."

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Edison is finally old enough for his carseat to be forward-facing. He loves it and is so happy to be the right way now.

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The boys usually love when I take them to gymnastics but they were tired and hungry this time. They played for a little and then both decided to take naps.

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We go to this frozen yogurt place as often as possible.

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Our good friends Tanner and Carissa invited us over for dinner. After dinner, the boys needed to burn some calories on the rowing machine. Edison sticking out his little tongue makes me laugh.

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I don't know when Alex became so smart. I told him what letters to write and he wrote Happy Birthday to his cousin Nora. It pained me a little to mail it away. People make comments to us all the time about how Alex talks like an adult. We have very entertaining conversations with him...
Daddy: Did you know you have a dinosaur on your shirt? It's a stegosaurus.
Alex: Nooo! It's a triceratops.
Daddy: So it is.
Alex: Yeah. Stegosaurus has plates on its tail. This one has a three-horned face.
Emily: Whaaaaa?!

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Silly Nuggie.

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One day Edison and I were giving each other funny faces and then this happened...
Alex: How does he look?
Emily: He's giving me a stink face.
Alex: Then give him a diaper change.

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Edison has learned how to open the fridge by himself. Bad news.

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Tanner and Carissa got a new fishtank. The boys were so excited to see all the fishies and Alex still talks about going over to see their crabs. I haven't had the heart to tell him that the crabs died.

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Right around noon, Edison starts getting sleepy. If he finishes lunch early, sometimes he will disappear while I wait for Alex to finish lunch. Then I will find Edison snuggled with his blanket and pacifier (no pacifier anymore!) on the floor somewhere.

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Ever since Edison has put away his pacifier, he stays awake for a lot longer after we put him in bed. That makes for some entertaining conversations between Alex and Edison.
Alex: Are you still awake?
Edison: No.
Alex: But your eyes are still open.
Edison: Oh.

Or this one...
Alex: What are we going to do after we take naps, Nuggie?
Edison: Ummm. Ball.

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Usually he wakes up happy. Sometimes he is not so happy.

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I had to take them to the doctor with me one week. When we walked in, they squealed and ran over to the fire. Then I noticed they were trying to blow it out. Good luck, boys.

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Edison is a sensitive kid. He has watched Finding Nemo so many times but one day it really got to him and he started crying when "Mo" got hurt.

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Their first wishbone. Edison's wish, whatever that little boy wishes for, is going to come true.

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Come on, North Dakota. Just when I was starting to think I could handle you, I see this sign.

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Cute boy in the pillows. Always.

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Alex's first time drawing a car.
"Mommy, you vacuum right now! I'll color."

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We went bowling for Family Home Evening this week. Alex bowled a strike in the first frame. He was devastated when we told him he wouldn't get to bowl his second ball. He thought he was being gypped. We only played one game, and he got three strikes!

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I was so awkward. It is hard to throw a bowling ball when you have a bowling ball attached to your body. I saw a woman at the bowling alley stuff a ball up her shirt to make fun of me. So that was cool.

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We went to gymnastics again this week. The boys have decided to like it again.

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Fake sleeping.

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Edison wants to grow up so fast. No! Slow down! Every time he asks to wear underwear, it ends in a puddle. No potty training anytime soon.

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February was a little gloomy so I made a little sunshine for my friends.

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Edison really loves reading books but he doesn't like me to read to him because I don't let him skip pages. I guess he decided to sit in a bucket and do his own thing.

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Sam took this picture. I am not sure what is going on. Helping with dishes?

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Alex doesn't take a nap on Sundays because of the time we go to church. He didn't quite make it through dinner one week.

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Cute boys.

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Carissa is so good with the boys.
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Edison is a weirdo.

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Yes, the boys are cute, but mostly our cars are so dirty!

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When Alex watches Cars, he has to line up some Cars characters for the show.

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Alex has started telling long, elaborate stories about "when [he] was a baby/little." These are mostly things that have never happened. One day he told us a story about Carissa and a yellow sucker. So she brought him one. Now it's a true story!

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Family grocery shopping trips!

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Sam hid a toy for the boys in his drawer. We planned to save it for a while until there was a reason that warranted a gift. Edison decided that it would be a good time to pile up the pillows and open a drawer. He had never done that before!

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Edison has finally stopped eating and/or breaking crayons. It has made coloring time so much better.

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We went to visit a friend and the boys jumped in the toy box. So odd.

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We went on a walk on Sunday after watching the final session of General Conference. It was not as warm as we thought it was. We definitely still needed coats! The boys were just happy to be out though.

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Other things:
- Edison cries if we even pretend to pull on his toes. One day, I was pretending to pull on his toes and Alex said, "Daddy does this sometimes to my piggies."
- We have been talking to Alex a lot about telling the truth and choosing the right. One day, he said, "I hit Edison! Did I choose the right?" I think something got confused.
- I might be a little too long-winded. I had to split our 2012 blog book into two books because it was over 440 pages. Way over.
- Edison gets a rash around his mouth after eating ranch dressing. Not sure what he is allergic to in it. Maybe soy?
- The boys play well together most of the time but they play the best when they are building towers with Duplos. They will play together in silence and in one spot for an hour.
- Edison was telling us he was two years old for months. The day after his second birthday, I asked him how old he was and he responded, "Three." Punk.
- Alex acts like he is hard of hearing. Some days I just can't handle it anymore.
Emily: All you do is complain, complain, complain.
Alex: I only do three complains.
Emily: I only said three.
Alex: Oh. I don't do that.
 - Edison is really scared about sharks eating him. If we say, "Then the sharks eat the Nuggie" he will start tearing up. It is so sad. And funny. We like to tease him by saying it sometimes. We also have varied it to the sharks eating different people or saying, "Then the Mommy kisses the Nuggie." Alex came up with his own.
Alex: The sharks are going to eat Mommy and then we will be all alone here.
Emily: That's how you like it?
Alex: Yeah, we will just take a nap and eat something.

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