Wednesday, December 10, 2014

33 weeks: You all knew I was a little different, right?

We're firmly entrenched in the last trimester and the last two months of this pregnancy. THANK. GOD. It's been hard physically and I'm ready to feel the relief of birth (yes, I realize that's an oxymoron, but I still feel so much better once the baby is born). I weigh more now than I did at the end of Elijah's pregnancy, which I'm betting is the reason my back and legs hurt so much these days. The majority of that extra weight is in my belly and hips and I've got a fairly small frame, so...ouch. Lots of warm baths and stretches to try to ease the aches and pains and tomorrow, a massage that I've been looking forward to for ages. I haven't had more because we're trying to watch our expenses these days, what with holidays and baby coming right after.

For those of you who DIDN'T realize, we're planning a home birth. We're not your typical home birth people, though, so it's been an interesting journey. We didn't have a horrible experience in the hospital with either delivery (Asher's insane delivery was due to the cord around his neck and who knows how that might have worked out at home), we don't dislike doctors, we vaccinate our kids and believe in modern medicine and science. We have insurance and are financially stable. So why do a home birth?

Why not?

My parents had three of their four biological children at home with no complications. My mom delivered babies at home for a period of time and encouraged other mothers to do the same. They felt that modern medicine, while great, had really taken birth and death away from the home. If you're going to die a natural death, why not be at home where you're comfortable and surrounded by loved ones? If you're going to have a natural birth, why not do it at home where you're comfortable and can have whoever you want present?

Both of my hospital deliveries I had nurses and doctors who I'd never met before that day attending me. Austin was at both and Mom only made it to Asher's. I would have welcomed any family member who wanted to be present into the delivery room but the rule was two people, so Mom and Austin were it. At home, As many close friends and family members as can fit comfortably (and not crowd the action) in my bedroom will be welcome.

I know that I'll sleep better that first night in my own bed as opposed to a hospital bed where the nurses are coming in constantly to check on me and the baby, make sure my blood pressure is good, that I'm peeing, etc. I know that I'll feel better not worrying about getting Asher and Elijah somewhere for the delivery and Austin feeling the strain of wanting to be with me but also maintain some kind of normalcy for them at home. I definitely know the food will be better.

All that said, I'm not opposed to the hospital. If something goes wrong, if there is a need, we will definitely be on our way to the hospital pronto. If I go into labor too early, ARMC will be delivering this child. I don't judge women who have their babies in hospitals or who use pain medicines like epidurals or who induce or schedule c-sections. I sometimes wonder why they induce/schedule if there's no medical need, but every woman has to do what is right for her body and her baby. For me, that's no drugs and at home. I hope.

So here's hoping in just a few weeks time, we have an amazing home birth experience, surrounded by loved ones as we welcome this tiny little girl into our family. At the end of the day, though, if she's healthy and I'm healthy, that's all that really matters, no matter how or where she emerges.

Mom and I moments after I was born

My mom's mom holding me shortly after I was born. She and my grandfather gave me my first bath.


Dad holding me right after my birth. He caught and cut the cord for three of his four children. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

In the home stretch: week 30

Unless you have been through it, I don't think you really fully grasp how physically demanding pregnancy can be. Especially when you have other kids.

Everyone knows pregnant women are tired all the time, that our backs hurt and our feet swell. Not everyone realizes there's muscle and ligament aches and pains as our bodies stretch to accommodate the growing bowling ball resting on our bladders and pelvises. And of course, the more pregnancies you have, the more it all seems to hurt, at least in my experience.

The muscle aches and pains were a little bit of a surprise with Asher. They weren't too bad, more just aches than pains. With Elijah, they were stronger aches. This time, they're outright pains. It hurts to roll over in bed at night, to the point that I'm wide awake for a couple minutes every time and I have to grab something to help haul me over because pulling myself over using my arms is easier and less painful than using my body to roll normally. Getting up from a sitting position after I've been sitting for more than a couple minutes usually means my hips are locked or out of joint or something so I limp for a little bit, usually the distance from my side of the bed to the bathroom. If it's been an especially trying day, I have to hold on to something or I can't walk. Hot baths and stretching seem to help a lot, though so far everything is extremely temporary. I'm getting a massage someday soon to hopefully help more.

All this is made more interesting by having a two year old who really wants me to pick him up and hold him on my disappearing hips. It was so much easier to do that when there wasn't a bowling ball attached to the front of my body. Luckily, he's usually content to snuggle up on the bed with me or sit in my lap if I stupidly sit on the floor. (Getting up off the floor is already really hard, I'm really hoping I won't have to get down there come January.) He needs help with his diaper changes and my options are generally bend over and change him on his bed, sit down and change him on the floor, or lift him up and change him on the changing table. None of those are great. It's both awesome and frustrating that he's decided that he wants to potty train right now: awesome because we've already had a few successes, frustrating because he's still way too young to really potty train, so he gets frustrated and we get frustrated and then he ends up wearing Asher's underwear over his footie pajamas...though that is a cute visual.

Once the baby's born, though, I'll start to get my body back, but there will be weeks of OTHER aches and pains: breastfeeding hurts and is not physically pleasant, at least not for me. Bleeding, tenderness, all stinks. The muscles pains from delivery aren't limited to just your legs and pelvic area, for me they're all over. I seriously felt like my arms were limp rubber bands after Asher was born. Elijah was so fast I didn't have time to strain anything, so that recovery was much quicker. Plus the absence of hemorrhaging didn't hurt. Plus there's the uterine contractions that happen whenever you nurse that are killer. I had a prescription for extra strength ibuprofen with Elijah and you better believe I took those pills.

At the end of it all, though, you do have a wonderful sweet little baby to show for it all. I have very few stretch marks, thanks to good genes and a diligent application of cocoa butter lotion, but those are a result of carrying 2 3/4 babies in my body. My hips are wider from pushing two children through them. My belly will never be flat, my breasts will never be perky (without surgical help anyway) and my life will never be the same. It hurts, and parts of it really suck, but at the end, when you are handed that sticky, puffy squalling mess of a baby that you just delivered, you feel at the same time invincible and like you're foundering in a sea of uncertainty. Invincible because you just went through probably the most traumatic thing ever and survived and lost because you are now responsible for this tiny creature clasped to your chest. Its an awesome feeling. I look forward to it again in January. And most of all to the lack of constant discomfort come March or April.

Elijah 1 minute old. I already feel tons better.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Things we don't tell our kids

It's not that we're terrible people, we just don't tell our boys "good job" anymore. Austin read an article online about how telling your kids good job may lead them to try to do things just to please the adults in their lives, not necessarily because it needs to be done or to please themselves. We want our boys to be independent (which they are) and not having to have the approval of others all the time. We want them to do things for the satisfaction of accomplishing it and doing it well, a sense of satisfaction that can only come from themselves. So, instead, we say something different.

Depending on what's going on, we will say "thank you" or "you're right." If Asher is doing schoolwork (nothing too strenuous, we're learning letters and numbers and how to read) and finishes and looks up for praise, I enthusiastically say "You read all those words! Were they hard? Were there words you didn't know? How did you figure out what they were?" It's all about tone of voice. He'll explain to me, sometimes, how he did it. Usually he says it wasn't hard. If its hard, he doesn't want to do it and tells me "Well, I'm just a little boy and this is hard." To which we typically respond "Yeah, but you're a little boy who knows his letters/can put on his shoes/take off his pants/whatever his current dilemma is." Sometimes that works, sometimes if I ignore his pleas for help, he figures it out on his own.

We don't tell them to do things very often. My family has experienced a bit of rebellion in the past few years as we kids have become adults and still feel like we're being told to do things rather than asked by our family members. So, I've made a conscious effort with my own boys to ask them to do things. Its amazing how much quicker things get done at times if you say "Would you please put the toys away?" instead of "Put the toys away." Of course, sometimes they don't "hear" me and it devolves into me shouting "Put the toys away now or Mommy's going to throw them in the trash!" I've actually followed through on that a couple times. There's a reason they have so few books available to them at this time, and very few of those have pages instead of boards. Even Elijah is getting in on this better behavior. Every morning, he has a Carnation Breakfast Essential and he'll bring me his cup and the packet of powder (kind of like hot cocoa mix for milk) and then wait patiently while I prepare it, throwing away the empty packet and then dancing and saying "shake it mommy!" (you have to shake the milk and powder together) before asking politely for his cup and thanking me for handing it to him.

We don't say "Uh oh!" when they fall, or ask them if they're ok. We TELL them "You're ok. In fact, you're awesome." If WE don't react negatively to a fall, they won't either. Asher used to just jump up and rub the spot that was banged and say "I awesome!" before anyone could react. It's tricky when we're around others who's first instinct is to say "uh oh! Are you ok? Poor baby!" because a lot of the time, the boys will think they're supposed to cry or something instead of just going on about their play.

Once, when Elijah was an infant, I was in the next room changing him or something and Asher fell and I HEARD him hit the floor pretty hard. I couldn't get to him right away but I heard him say "You ok? Yeah, I awesome." He wasn't even 2 yet.

We don't censor what our kids wear that much. I figure, unless there's a REASON they need to be dressed nicely (special occasions, pictures, etc) they can wear whatever they want. That's why Asher's pants and underwear are almost always on backwards. That's why he frequently looks like he got dressed in the dark. Elijah still needs a lot more assistance, but once he's figured out how to put on his own pants and pick out his own clothes, all bets are off. Same with the ladybug, when she gets older. I anticipate some highly entertaining outfits in my future, considering we've already had a camo pants/bright orange shirt/black sandals with socks (shudder) combo from Asher. This past weekend they stayed with their grandparents for a night and when we got them back, Asher was wearing his brother's pants and socks (which Elijah had outgrown months ago and worn the day before) and his shoes were on the wrong feet. At least he had clothes ON, right? And he was fine with his ensemble. I did have to fix the pants, since they were desperately too short, and the shoes got fixed at the same time the pants did, but we left the socks until bedtime. He doesn't care his heel is hanging out of his socks. It makes them easier to take off, gosh Mom.

In spite of the things we don't do with our boys, I feel like we DO do a lot. We read with them. We play with them. I occasionally take them places other than Oma's, school, and church. We watch movies together and practice our letters together. We have wrestlemania in Mommy's bed when Mommy's trying to rest (not such a fan of that one). We go to friends' houses and try not to be too obnoxious, though that can sometimes be hard. We go to the movie theater and trick-or-treating THREE TIMES. We eat their favorite meals and snacks and drink lots of their favorite drinks.

Yes, there are times I yell a lot. There are days where it starts bad and gets worse. There are days when I'd probably trade them for a half a stick of gum. But typically, those days are few and far between. Mostly in August when we don't have FKO and October when Austin's busy most Saturdays and evenings with the BEST Robotics Competition. I try to always tell them I'm sorry and give them hugs and kisses when I have a mean mommy day. And Asher reminds me frequently "Yeah, but you shouldn't yell at us Mommy. It's not nice."

No, it's not. And I'm glad that's something he will tell me.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

For Austin, a few days before his birthday

Every time I'm pregnant, I get this weird paranoia that I'm going to die in childbirth and leave Austin with 1 (or 2 or 3) small children to raise all by himself. I have no doubt that he'll do the best he can, but he works long hours and three small children need a lot of attention. So I go over the worst case scenarios in my head and it's pretty much him giving the children up to someone else to take care of. Hiring a nanny is pretty much out of the picture on his salary, as is full time daycare unless he cuts out a LOT of extra costs, of which there aren't actually that many. We're pretty frugal with our money, so I'm always worried about how he's going to pay for these kids without me around.

I don't actually think I'll die, but, at least for me, in both labors, there was a brief moment where I thought "this is never going to end and this is how I will die." For Asher, it lasted about five minutes, for Elijah it didn't even last as long as it took me to type it out because he came so fast. It's generally when the baby is just about to crown and everything hurts SO MUCH and it has for what feels like forever no matter how long you've been in labor. You KNOW it will end, but part of you can't see that because the pain is so intense you can't see past the here and now.

Austin's a great dad. He's present, which is the biggest thing, and he seems to actually enjoy his kids. So many dads are absent, either physically or emotionally, for various reasons. Maybe they weren't ready to be dads, or never wanted to be in the first place. Maybe they travel for their jobs or are in the military and are sent away for weeks or months at a time. There's lots of reasons for a father to not be around, both good and bad, and luckily, we don't have to deal with any of them. Austin works in another city, but it's only about 45 minutes away, so he's here for dinner every night and does bath time and reads books and plays tag and hide and seek and games with them every night. Or most nights anyway.

Ours is a different type of relationship than you ever see represented on tv or in movies and books. We (or at least I) never had much in the way of that all consuming "gotta have it" passion for each other. Yes, we had that some after he came back from Denmark mostly because he'd been gone the entirety of our dating and we'd only seen each other the equivalent of about 2 weeks in the 10 months we'd been a couple again. I like to say I'm too practical to really allow myself to get caught up in romance and passion and whatnot. I didn't want a guy I couldn't live without, I wanted a guy I could live with and not be devastated if he left.

Austin and I don't remember the first time we met. We were both involved in IVCF (InterVarsity Christian Fellowship) in college and we most likely met at one of the new student mixer type things they had at the beginning of the year. I was aware of who he was because he was in the praise team and played the guitar and had blue eyes (I'm a sucker for blue eyes). He mostly knew who I was because I was new and a girl. He was a sucker for girls.

My first memory of him as an individual was during my spring semester at Tech. I had a class in the math building, which wasn't necessarily all that close to my dorm, but was about midway between our dorms. I was coming out of my class and heading to my room and there he was, just walking down the sidewalk. He recognized me and started walking and talking with me. We got a block or so before I asked if he had a class in my direction. He said no, he had some free time and was going to either study or play the guitar or something (I forget what exactly). I pointed out that as it was broad daylight and I knew my way around campus now, he didn't have to walk me to my room, but thanks for being willing to. He looked so startled and disappointed but said "Oh, ok. Bye." and turned and walked away. I thought that was odd but went on my way and didn't give it much more thought.

I didn't really notice him again for about another year. I lived in a house with three other girls and we called our house the Hen House, mainly because four women lived there and we fancied ourselves nurturing, motherly types (and for the number of teenage boys we seemed to feed maybe we were). We were in charge of the Super Bowl party in 2004 and of course I had a cold. It was exhausting and fun and at the end of the night there was a huge mess to clean up. Which no one really wanted to do. My roommates went to bed and I was debating how much to do before going myself when Austin returned with a car full of the aforementioned teenage boys and they did a pretty decent job of getting most of the mess cleaned up. Trash got taken out, furniture got put back in place, dishes got put into the dishwasher and sink to soak. Afterwards, instead of going to bed, he and I stayed up on AIM to talk for a while before I finally gave in and went to bed. We started dating on February 29, about a month later.

I dumped him in July when I realized he didn't really see me for me, just as some idealized version of woman that he'd made up in his mind. I didn't want to be put on a pedestal, I wanted to be an equal. Two years and three total relationships later, I convinced him over international phone call that now that we'd matured and seen what we didn't like in other relationships, I was what he wanted and needed. He took some convincing, but he eventually came around. A year after that we were engaged and then in May of 2008 we got married.

We've always been somewhat practical people. We're equals (I hope) in most everything in our lives: child rearing, finances, major decisions. He doesn't necessarily care what our house looks like or where we go on vacation or what we do when we get there, but I still get his input. The main reason I think we work? We're friends. We actually like each other most of the time. Which is good, considering we've got a third kid on the way.

We support each other and while he's the dreamer and if I say something about "Maybe I could sell a loaf of bread I made" he starts coming up with business ideas. I'm the realist so when he starts talking about when he wins the lottery, I say "Well, if we did, there's a couple things we need to do first: pay off the car, pay off the house, and set up savings accounts for the kids for whatever. Then we can buy you guitars and whatever." Because he usually wants musical type things and I want books and to fix up the house.

Marriage is a give and take. It's balancing what you want with what they want. It's not holding grudges or constantly bringing up past mistakes. The passion wanes with time and familiarity, but hopefully a friendship will last you a lifetime. To find someone you don't mind sitting across the table from for 50 years, someone you don't mind sharing parental responsibilities with, someone you can laugh with and talk to, that's a gem. Getting to watch your husband fall in love with your child the first time he holds him is better than any romantic novel or movie.

So maybe we don't have a passionate romantic fairy tale relationship, but you know what, I'd rather have our reality, that will hopefully last for a lifetime, than a fairy tale that might wane after a few years of watching each other clipping toenails or wearing old holey underwear or any other manner of gross things you witness in a marriage. Instead, we get the romance of children and family holidays and going to the grocery store and picking up dinner on the way home and date nights. That's the best kind of romance.

Right after we started dating in 2004

Literally minutes before he proposed.

At our wedding, in case the white dress didn't tip you off.

Our current family this past June

Our newest addition, coming soon to a crib near us!

Monday, September 1, 2014

What's in a name?

Naming a kid is hard. Between agreeing with your partner, coming up with a name that doesn't randomly rhyme or sound Seussian, and trying to make your little angel stand out, it's rough going. Not to mention when you throw in the opinions, solicited or not, that you get from anyone who you tell.

I'm a lot like my parents in that I thought ahead. My dad had a name selected for his first son long before he met my mom and she for her first daughter. John Anthony Walke and Carylyn were named before they were born. The only thing that changed was the spelling of Carylyn from Carylynne or something else wackadoo like that. 

The rest of us got saddled with whatever popped into their heads. My next brother's middle name was courtesy of the area they lived in at the time, near the Ethan Allen farm. I'm not sure where my youngest brother's name came from. Either way, any of the boys, had they been girls, would have been Laura Louise. 

Having been gypped out of Laura Louise twice, once my dad realized I was a girl, he thought "ok, Laura Louise it is!" Mom said "Oh, no, I don't like that name right now." So Talitha Jane was picked. Dad rebelled, he didn't like Talitha, said it was too difficult (or something) and they compromised and he picked my middle name, Joy. 

As a kid, I really didn't like Talitha. Joy didn't bother me, it seemed kind of kitschy, but whatever. No one called me that except when I was in trouble. I decided I would give my kids names that people could look at and immediately know how to pronounce. 

I liked E names for a while: Edward (thanks for messing that up, Twilight), Ephraim (or Efram), Elijah, Emma, Elizabeth, Eliott, Esther, on and on. I liked Biblical names: Eve, Rebekah, Matthew, Benjamin, Levi, Gideon. I liked family names: Emma Geneva and Oliver Ashmer. I liked old fashioned names like Margaret. 

When I was about 13, I saw Kenneth Branaugh's Much Ado About Nothing and fell in love with the name Hero. My friends thought it was nuts, but I decided about that time that my first two daughters were going to be named Emma Geneva and/or Hero Elizabeth. I couldn't decide which I liked best so felt like I should have two daughters. A few years later, I changed my top two names to something else. 

Cut to meeting and getting serious with Austin. He had no real preference on names, he just had a family tradition of the first son being named A Moritz Mullins. Since our family has a tradition of John "X" Walke, I was ok with that. I don't particularly like Moritz, but I get traditions. 

Once we found out the first baby was a boy, the hunt for the perfect A name began. I decided I loved Ash. Not anything longer to be shortened into Ash, just straight up Ash. We met resistance. People didn't like Ash once we told them where it was from: a movie called Army of Darkness that I grew up loving. The main character is a badass zombie/deadite killer with a chainsaw for a hand. I KNOW! How cool is that character?!

Anyway...other people in our lives didn't like it. A few did, a few were like "Really? Well, ok." And a few were anti Ash. So we started looking for names we could shorten to Ash. I immediately mentioned Ashmer, the middle name of a grandfather a few generations back. Austin didn't like it. I don't remember exactly who brought up Asher, but I really liked it. So Asher was named before we even fully moved to Abilene. An alternate girl's name was tricky, because Austin was thinking we should stick to the AMM for her initials. Mom suggested Annessa May, which was the only name that was moderately ok. I like May better than Maurissa, Austin's suggestion. Thankfully, we got Asher, and we were very pleased. 

Ash - Housewares

Then there was baby #2. A girl's name was either of my top two picks. A boy's name was harder. I didn't like ANYTHING. Neither did Austin. We pulled out the family trees and started going through them, looking for a cool family name from my family to give the baby. We decided that a first name would be from the Bible, so settled on either Elijah or Ephraim. And then we hit the middle name jackpot: Blackstone. We announced our two names and were again met with "oh I love those!" and "really? Ok." and "No, You're not using that name. It's horrible." which made me want to immediately pick that particular name. We literally decided on Elijah's name about 5 hours before he was born. Since Asher's name was a fandom based name, Elijah's needed to be as well. Elijah is an original vampire on the TV show The Vampire Diaries, a show that I really enjoy. 

Elijah - not a vampire to mess with

And now we've got another baby. I still haven't gotten to use my girl names. I'm dreading having to pick another boy name. I did, however, stumble into a boy name that we both actually really like. It's pretty great, in our opinion. And the number 1 girl's name is also fabulous. But this time, we're not talking. A few people who've paid attention over the past few years will probably guess the girl name and might have a stab at the boy name. But, to avoid the comments about how awful it is, we're not telling anyone our baby's name until he or she is  born. 

Rest assured, though, that both names are
ALSO fandom names of a sort. The boy name is from a book I love and the girl name is from a different book I love and a book Austin and I read together when we were dating. This baby is going to be literary! 

Telling someone you hate the name they have agonized and debated and searched and researched is just hurtful and unnecessary. I know people who have given their children names I personally think are ridiculous. I would never tell them that. "Hey, you know what? X is a terrible name!" No. 

That being said, there are ways of telling a loved one you're not a fan of the name they've chosen. I might MIGHT suggest a more normal spelling for it if they're going with something odd (seriously, how many ways can you spell Amy/Kristen/Ashley/Carolyn/etc?). Think about your kid's future teacher trying to call roll the first few days. Have some pity on them. I got the double whammy with Talitha Walke, so I know that weird spellings and pronunciations and names in general are going to be difficult for the kid their whole life. Think about nicknames (a couple people were certain Asher would be shortened to Ass. Ok.) Think about your child as an adult running for office or being a respected member of society. Is that name going to work for an old person? 

So, come January, our baby will be born and you will know his or her name at that time. Until then, hazard as many guesses as you want. I won't tell you if you're right or not. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Tetris isn't as much fun with frozen blocks.

I don't like to cook. I'm not bad at it, I just don't enjoy the prep, the cooking, or the clean up afterwards. So I don't do it very often. What I do is bulk cooking.

I'll spend a couple of days or so once every few months and cook a ton of our favorite recipes and freeze them to reheat later on. I've been doing it long enough I have my own little binder of freezer tested recipes (and a few that I haven't personally tested but found online). So I go through every time, pick out a few (or way more than a few) and hit the store. It's several long days where we typically eat out because I'm so exhausted I don't want to do anything, but at the end, we have a freezer full of food. If you've got the stamina and the means to do so, I definitely recommend bulk cooking.

This past week, my laptop got broken to the point I couldn't really use it. I was already planning on doing some bulk cooking for the fall and hopefully into the winter after the baby is born, this just took away any reason not to. I like to watch Hulu on my laptop while I'm cooking or cleaning, but luckily my kindle will stream Hulu, so I was all set.

I started off by picking my recipes. I picked:

Pesto Sauce
Alfredo Sauce
Spaghetti Sauce (has meat)
Marinara Sauce
Tomato Basil Sauce
Daddy's Favorite Meatloaf
Parmesan Meatloaf
Meatballs (PM recipe, just balled)
Meatballs in Sour Cream Sauce
Baked Chicken Bacon Alfredo
Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas
Crock-Pot Beef Stroganoff
Beef Chili
Cinnamon Rolls
Baked Lemon Garlic Pepper Chicken
Garlic Rosemary Chicken
Kick'n Chicken
Roasted Garlic and Herb Chicken

Yes. That's a lot of recipes. WAY more than I typically would do, I said, I want it to last us a while. We have a few premade frozen entrees (lasagna, ziti with meatballs, etc). We eat lots of pasta around here, so homemade sauce is great. Plus, I personally think it tastes better than jarred stuff. Since I've been cooking for myself, I've not actually found a good jarred sauce that I like the taste of.

I use spreadsheets for tons of stuff because I'm weird, and bulk cooking is no exception. I created a matrix to calculate how much of each ingredient I needed to buy and to see what I had on hand that I didn't need to buy. Then I created my grocery list by checking prices what I could online at Sam's and did some pre-prep work. That involves pulling everything out of the pantry that I'll be using and putting it somewhere in some kind of organized manner. I also go ahead and put what I've got together. So, for all the seasoned chicken dishes, I put the oil and herbs into bags and put them aside or in the fridge. I did most of this on Wednesday evening, since we had the house cleaned Wednesday morning.

Most of the time, buying in bulk is the best way to go. Sam's has the best prices on meat and produce that I have found, especially when you're buying 20 pounds of meat and 10 pounds of onions. So Wednesday, I headed to HEB. I haven't been to HEB alone with the boys since getting pregnant, so this was an experience. It was crowded but not horrible. We managed to be in and out with just about everything we needed from HEB in about an hour and a half. Considering we spent nearly $200, that's pretty good. That's amazing with two "helpful" little boys. We got compliments on their behavior, and it was good, so I was pleased. Tired when we got home, but pleased. That night, I made pesto and while I intended to make a double batch, I overbought on the fresh basil and ended up with a sextuple batch. Which is fine because it's good and we like it. I should have realized this was an omen for how the rest of my week was going to be.

Thursday morning, I loaded the boys up and we hit Sam's. Since we have a business membership, we can shop early, which is great. Not many other shoppers to contend with, just workers cleaning and setting up. I wasn't feeling great when we left the house, so by the time I had a cart full of 25 pounds of ground beef, 6 pounds of stew meat, 4 rotisserie chickens, and 20 pounds of chicken, plus sundry other items, I was exhausted. I was a little unsure of whether or not I could even get it in the car, let alone home and into the house. I did luck out in that most of the beef was short sale, so I got it at an even greater reduced rate than if I'd bought it at HEB. In and out in about an hour and a half and spent just over $300, though at least half of it wasn't bulk cooking related, but replacement of items we used up and/or needed. Buying in bulk CAN be expensive. Ish. It evens out in the end.

I managed to drag in all the fresh stuff that needed refrigeration and shoved it in the fridge. It was so full I knew I had to start cooking immediately, but I also needed to rest. I accidentally locked Asher on the front porch while taking a little rest and Elijah was trying valiantly to let him in. Neither seemed upset, just more "well, ok. This is our life now. Mom locks us out." In my defense, I didn't realize he'd run outside.

After a rest, I started on the spaghetti sauce and marinara. The marinara cooks in the crock pot, so that was easy. The hard task of the day was chopping the onion. We have an "EZ Onion Chopper" that is not easy. I literally sat on it to get it to chop. Frustrating. But, I got it done and had two large stock pots of spaghetti bubbling away on the stove, filling the house with delicious aromas. While that was going on, I assembled the beef stroganoffs using the pre-prepped bags. Same with some of the Sour Cream Meatballs. I had some meatballs left over from the last time so I threw them into a bag of sour cream sauce and got it ready to go into the freezer.

That night, Mom and Caleb came over for dinner and Mom and Austin ended up prepping all the chicken for me. I hate touching raw chicken so that was nice. Plus it made Friday a lot easier.

Friday through Tuesday I did something every day, not so much that I completely wiped myself out, but enough that I was extremely tired every day. Another trip to HEB was needed when I realized a couple things I thought I had enough of I actually didn't. The dishwasher was running almost constantly and the stove was on for hours every day. Not many big messes were made and my boys were super helpful when they could be: by staying out of the kitchen and only coming in for drinks and when I called them to lunch. Slowly my fridge emptied and my freezer filled. And then my freezer was full and I still had about 3 more recipes to go. So I had to do some freezer tetris.

I also had to do some tweaking in my chili recipe. Got rid of the beer, added some tomato paste, etc. And apparently I put enough chili powder in it that it's spicy enough for Austin, which means it'll blow the top off anyone else in our family. I'll figure that out later. I haven't done the cinnamon rolls in the freezer before, so that's an experiment, too. One pan I par-baked and one I froze before the final rise. Labor Day morning, we'll get them out and finish both off and see if either method worked out to result in delicious home made cinnamon rolls or if it's a bust.

At the end of everything, I've got a massive amount of food. Like, holy cow, it's unfortunate I'm not in the mood for any of it because I've been dealing with it for so long. My cost is a little skewed per entree because I didn't put in costs for items I had on hand (staples for us include olive oil, flour, seasonings, sugars, cheddar cheese, etc). I buy reusable pans and containers to help cut down on the cost a little and while I did have to buy several this time around, they cost about a dollar a piece but those were not included in the cost, either.

My final totals came out to:

6 cups of Pesto Sauce - $2.97/cup
13 pints of Alfredo Sauce - $2.65/pint (4 went into the Chicken Bacon Alfredo Casseroles)
6 quarts of Spaghetti Sauce - $5.43/quart (2 went into the lasagna)
4 quarts of Marinara Sauce - $1.22/quart
5 quarts of Tomato Basil Sauce - $5.76/quart
7 mini tins of Daddy's Favorite Meatloaf - $1.71 each tin
5 mini tins of Parmesan Meatloaf - $3.19 each tin
3 bags of Meatballs - $5.31/bag (1 went into the meatballs in sour cream sauce)
4 bags of Meatballs in Sour Cream Sauce - $1.19/bag (1 bag of meatballs went into 3 bags of sauce)
5 pans of Baked Chicken Bacon Alfredo - $9.57/pan
2 pans of Lasagna - $8.61/pan
5 pans of Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas - $3.20/pan
6 bags of Crock-Pot Beef Stroganoff - $5.35/bag
4 quarts of Beef Chili - $2.93/quart
2 pans of Cinnamon Rolls - $.76/pan (I had everything but eggs and cream cheese for the frosting)
2 bags of Baked Lemon Garlic Pepper Chicken - $3.76/bag
2 bags of Garlic Rosemary Chicken - $3.76/bag
2 bags of Kick'n Chicken - $3.76/bag
2 bags of Roasted Garlic and Herb Chicken - $3.76/bag

Some of this is going to my sister, who will reimburse me plus a little for the time and energy I put into everything. But, my total cost was just under $300 for the ingredients I bought specifcially for cooking and I ended up with something like 73 entrees/sauces. Not bad for a weeks' work and exhaustion like none other.  I feel much better about the coming fall and winter and for after the baby's born. I'll have to replace some of the stuff, I know, before he/she is born in January, but I won't be dumb enough to try another week long cooking spree like this. Unless someone wants to come work with me.

Dry goods I already had plus stuff I got at HEB. 

Different angle

Fresh stuff purchased at HEB plus on hand. 

Meat and miscellaneous purchased at Sam's plus some I already had. 

The only "in process" picture. This is what 12 pounds of tomatoes looks like chopped up. That bowl is massive. It was 8 quarts of tomatoes. 

Frozen dinners and sauces! The white blocks on the right center pile are cream cheese for the beef stroganoff. In my experience, cream cheese freezes and thaws just fine when you're planning on melting it in the crock pot. I've seen on websites not to do it, but since we don't notice a taste or texture difference, I buy the giant block at Sam's, portion it out, and freeze chunks like this for throwing in the crock pot. 

Another angle. Please ignore my dirty kitchen. 

Jammed into the freezer. The top shelf and bottom drawer are older stuff and staples like cheese (also freezes fine. If shredded, thaws just perfectly), butter, frozen fruits and veggies (make sure to lay fruits flat and to par boil veggies that need it. I researched how to freeze certain veggies and have had good experiences so far), etc. 

The door of sauces. It took long enough to get everything in and out and photographed they got frosty. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thoughts at 17 weeks

Again the disclaimer that not every pregnancy is the same, this is just reflections on my own. 

The second trimester is where it's at. No more morning sickness (yay!), not too huge yet (yay!), my appetite has returned so I'm beginning to gain weight again (....yay). I'm still beyond tired most days and if I don't drink enough water, I'll stand up and before I get two feet need to sit down or risk falling over, but those are trivial matters. I solve them by dozing in the same room as the boys (or napping when they're locked in their room and thus less likely to kill themselves) and drinking so much water I feel like I live in the bathroom. 

I was very fortunate with the boys not to have heartburn ever, something a lot of my friends had to deal with. On the flip side, they all seem to have babies who look like they're wearing wigs while mine were cue balls. In my opinion, bald beats heartburn any day. Especially when it starts super early in the pregnancy and just gets worse as time goes on. Other things are going to get worse (like shortness of breath and no comfortable position ever), I'd rather not have reflux on top of them. 

I'm 17 weeks now and not so big that I look pregnant with clothes on, just kind of chubby. Like "is she pregnant or just fat? Is that new baby fat or old baby fat?" Which is ok. Because judging from my previous pregnancies, I'll get there. I'll be the "oh, are you SURE you're not having twins?" pregnant lady...or at least I'll feel like I am. I can already lay on my back and see a mound but I haven't lost sight of my feet quite yet. 

One thing that I have lost is restful sleep. I have to roll over in slow motion at night or it feels like someone is pulling my stomach off, a very unpleasant sensation. So a roll that takes normal people a split second takes me a couple. Its a whole process. But at the end of it I can go back to sleep instead of lay there and wonder in my half awake stupor if I just killed my baby by rolling from my left side to my right side because holy cow does that not feel good. 

The second trimester is good. The aches and pains from ligaments stretching and getting used in ways they haven't in a while, the exhaustion and sleeplessness, the dehydration, it's all easy to handle. I can work through it. I can function as a human being and a mom with them. But I know that the road ahead of me is going to get harder, so I'm bracing myself. It's all good, because at the end, I get a screaming, writhing, messy, vaguely disgusting, beautiful miracle to hold and snuggle and kiss and sometimes dislike. And really, that's the best part of pregnancy: when it ends. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

I don't have a thigh gap and that's (mostly) ok

Here's some shocking information most women won't share: I'm 5'6" and before I got pregnant I weighed about 145 pounds. And I wasn't fat.

Shocking, right?

Today's world is so obsessed with weight loss and gain. Everywhere we look, we're being told we aren't thin enough but yet we need to eat massive portions of food and binge watch tv shows and sit in front of our computers. That's messed up.

I've never been overweight, so this is coming from a perspective of someone who used to be PAINFULLY skinny. Like...people thought I was anorexic, then saw me eat and thought I must be bulimic. In my family, we stay skinny until about puberty, then we put on a bit of weight, then we get married and all hell breaks loose. As a kid, I saw my parents' wedding picture and had no idea who the couple was because 1 Dad didn't have a beard at 23 and was a beanpole (his mother described him as so thin you could see his spine through his stomach once) and 2 my mom was super thin and had long hair. She was more recognizable, so I figured her out after studying it for a bit but they had to tell me it was Dad.

My parents dieted and exercised for years. Mom actually got back down to a slim size after Caleb was born by walking at the Family Life Center and doing Medi-Fast, a supplement meal diet plan she recommended to her patients. Dad would jog every morning and occasionally do Medi-Fast to keep his weight in check. But when his knees gave out and she had a couple issues pop up, the weight piled on. This is probably my future. And I'm ok with that.

I never liked the way my body looked. I think most women are in that boat. Something was either too big or not big enough or just weird looking, so in high school I hid it with clothes that were a couple sizes too large. It worked for me. I wasn't heavy by any stretch of the imagination, but I didn't see that. I saw the small (minuscule in retrospect) pooch of my stomach and thought everyone else was focused on that, too.

In college I put on about 30 pounds in the first semester. Apparently I can be an overachiever about some things. I was so horrified to go to a doctor's appointment in January and hear that I weighed 140 that I immediately decided to control my eating habits. I was hiking all over campus with a heavy backpack, so I knew I was getting exercise and that wasn't the issue. It was the 4 or 5 sodas a day I drank and the two or three helpings of fatty dorm foods or fatty fast foods I was eating. So I cut those things out, started cooking for myself more (and that meant eating a lot less) and by the next year I was back to 120. A reasonable weight for a 20 year old who's 5'6" with my build.

I graduated college like that and started working in a job where I ran up and down the stairs in a 5 and 4 story building in heels every day, ate whenever I could whatever I could and slept crazy hours. At my thinnest, I got down to 105. My friends were a little concerned because I was so skinny. I loved it because I weighed less. I still had that damn stomach pooch, so I still felt like part of me was wrong.

On my wedding day, I weighed 117 and, if I do say so myself, looked pretty good. I wore Mom's wedding dress and it was a tad snug so I had to wear what was basically a girdle to flatten things and squish things. Even then, it wasn't terribly comfortable so I bought another dress for the reception.

I was on birth control, cooking for my husband every night, pretty sedentary since I'd quit my my weight ballooned. To 135. Horrors. I hated the way I looked again. Pooch was bigger, thighs and hips and butt were bigger, I felt awful. I figured "well, once I start having babies, I'll breastfeed and that'll help with weight loss, as will chasing the kids around. I'll be fine once I'm off the pill."

Silly me. I am one of the few "fortunate" people who gains weight while breastfeeding. I weighed around 165 at the end of both pregnancies and immediately after was about 20 pounds lighter. Once breastfeeding was abandoned, I tried dieting by tracking my caloric intake and eating less in a day. I took the baby(ies) on walks and tried to be more active. And my weight went nowhere. I think my bottom line post babies is going to be about 140ish. MAYBE 135 if I really get into the whole weight loss thing.

These days, I don't diet, I just do portion control, usually at home (you better believe if I'm buying it at a restaurant I'm eating as much as I can.) It helps me and I think it would help others if they'd be consistent, but it's hard to do. If there's still food and your stomach is still saying "feed me" and it tastes good...yeah, you want to eat it.

I consistently felt bad about how I looked until one day, I hit me. I was wearing the wrong clothes. When you weigh 140, you can't and shouldn't wear a shirt and pants you wore when you weighed 120. It's just not a smart choice. OF COURSE it doesn't look good on you. It wasn't made for your body. Not your current one anyway. So I went out and bought clothes that fit me now (or before I got pregnant. work with me) and I felt tons better. I buy clothes that fit the body I have not the body I want and I'm much more comfortable in my own skin.

It's probably a maturity thing, or maybe it's a laziness thing, but I've come to accept that this is my body. I've created life with this body, carried it to term and delivered it naturally. It's got dimples in weird places and fat and cellulite and a few light pale stretchmarks and of course I wouldn't mind some things being smaller, but overall, it's a good body. It's done what I've asked it to do (except lose weight) and sometimes things I didn't think it capable of doing (anyone who's had a vaginal birth knows EXACTLY what I'm talking about. ow). It has comforted my children, fed them (somewhat), loved them, sheltered them, and been their jungle gym. It may not look the best to outsiders, but to my little family, it's pretty good.

So yes, after this baby, I'll wish I was back into the 130's weight wise. I'll occasionally hate the way my thighs touch. I'll get frustrated with my big butt. But overall, I'll let it be because it has been through a lot in the past 30 years, especially the last 4.

That's my advice: dress for the body you have, not the body you want. You'll be more confident and comfortable in your own skin if your clothes fit and look good on you. Trust me.

If you were 5 and these were your parents, would you recognize them? lol

I'm also 6 inches taller than that made things interesting. 

Palm Sunday this year with my two body wreckers. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Notes from the belly: Week 10

Disclaimer: Nothing I post about my pregnancy is intended to be a blanket statement about ALL pregnancies. Every pregnancy is different, even my three have been different. So please take no offense.

The more pregnancies you have, the sooner everything happens. You start to show a little sooner, you feel pains a little sooner, since you know what to feel for, you feel baby moving a little sooner. My nausea came within days of being at the exact same time with each one, so that's a nice consistency. I had two colds with each of the boys, one in the first 2/3rds, one in the last trimester.

I'm currently on cold #1 and at 10 weeks pregnant. I've had a little bump since about 9 weeks. I've had muscle/ligament stretching pains for about 3 weeks (sides of your stomach hurt, like being thwapped with a rubber band). I've felt little flutters that COULD be gas, but I think might actually be little baby thumps saying "hey! I'm here!" which is reassuring. After feeling bad or being actually sick since Mother's Day, it's nice to feel a valid reason for all the crud.

After feeling bad for so long, it's hard sometimes to be nice. If what I really want to do is lay down and read a book or take a nap or watch tv and I have to be at work, upright, being polite and helpful to customers, its hard. And sometimes that gets taken out on the kids a bit. Luckily, my kids are awesome and resilient. I always apologize and kiss them once I've calmed down and I do feel bad, but I keep in mind, this is just a short season of our lives. Eventually, they'll get their mom back and I'll get myself back. And life will be better for a while before the stage hits where I feel like a beached whale and I'm wondering when this kid is going to make her appearance.

I'm using "her" because I can, not because I know. So no one get all excited.

Also, the thumps are reassuring because it helps to calm the paranoia that I have every pregnancy that this one won't happen, that I'll be the first in the line going back several to miscarry. I've read that the worse the morning sickness, the less likely for miscarriage, so I cling to that until I start feeling those thumps, and see and hear that heartbeat on a sonogram. This awful nausea and horrible vomiting have to be worth something and hopefully, it's a good sign my baby is alive and kicking...or at least wiggling, if her legs and arms haven't developed yet.

It is getting better, a little bit at a time. One thing will go away but typically within about 24 hours, another thing takes its place. And life keeps happening: the hail storm, Mom's wedding, Elijah swallowing a nail, damage inspections, Elijah swallowing a penny, a leaky ceiling, someone at work quitting, people taking time off at work right after....everything is moving forward, as life should. It shouldn't stop just because I feel terrible. Though sometimes I wish it would.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A few thoughts on the first trimester

In my experience, the first trimester of a pregnancy is about survival. You feel awful because you're tired, you have no energy, and there's nausea and/or vomiting. You just want to lay down in bed and sleep, maybe with an IV drip so you don't have to attempt to feed yourself. The IV drip is appealing because no food items are yet you have to eat SOMETHING so you and the parasite sucking your life forces away don't starve to death.

This is, for me, the trimester when I think "What the hell was I thinking, wanting to do this on purpose?"

All this is compounded when it's a second or third or more pregnancy. You already have a kid, you knew what you were getting yourself into (anyone who says they forgot is a dirty filthy liar...or just a moron) and you STILL subjected yourself to it, intentionally or not. Having to deal with no energy and horrific nausea while taking care of older children is the pits. Especially if those older children aren't TOO much older, but rather just enough older to still need a lot of help, like still in diapers or potty training.

I can definitely understand when women who are pregnant with a small child already deal with terrible depression. It's hard being pregnant for some of us, and when there's a small person holding you hostage with demands for food, bathroom assistance, attention, entertainment, affection, medical care, and more, it feels infinitely harder.

Asher's pregnancy was 10 weeks of nausea over a trip to Europe, a trip to New Braunfels, a move across the state, a home purchase, and a new job. Luckily, I wasn't working too much so I could rest when I needed to and just lay down whenever I felt bad. I had the lovely experience of throwing up in the international terminal of DFW and over the Atlantic on our way to London, then not being able to eat hardly anything while we were in Paris, which was damn near devastating. My companion was eating amazing sandwiches and drinking wine and trying to be respectful of my patheticness by hiding it a little, which made it a little worse. I do have to say, though, the chocolate eclair I had was AMAZING. And one of the few things I ate.

Elijah's pregnancy was so much sooner than we expected I had a baby in diapers for the entirety of it. His morning sickness didn't last nearly as long because life wasn't so stressful, but I was working 20 hours a week so the whole "lay down when I feel bad" thing wasn't an option. I didn't have any international trips or exciting stories about throwing up all over the place, but I did throw up in a box lid since there was literally no place else to go in time. Asher always found it highly amusing and would laugh when I threw up and was in tears after. Little sadistic turkey.

This time, we waited a little longer to get pregnant. I still have a kid in diapers, but only one and if we'd done the same time frame as before, I'd have had two during morning sickness. So there's a silver lining.

I'm 8 weeks in and the morning sickness is awful. I'm spitting a lot because of mucous (weird, I know) and so of course Elijah copies that. It's both adorable and gross. I finally got on some medication called Zofran which is amazing and knocks out the nausea. Still no energy and tons of exhaustion, but no more nausea! I can function as a human being again!

I'm so tired, though. I seriously could have slept through the mani/pedi/waxing on Thursday before the wedding. And I almost dozed off getting my hair done Saturday. Anytime I sit still, I'm in danger of falling asleep. If there's no reason I shouldn't, I just go ahead and get comfortable and do it.

So, yes, building a baby is hard work. And at first, it kind of sucks because there's no real upside to pregnancy yet. But finally, finally, the light at the end of the tunnel will come: the second trimester.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

I remember

I wrote this in October of 2009 but I don't think I've posted it anywhere that many people have seen it. So in honor of Father's Day, some memories of my dad. 

I remember…

I remember being very small and curling up on the couch after church with Dad to read the comics every week, even when I was reading them over his shoulder. He’d fuss at me for reading ahead. Maybe that’s why I hate people reading over my shoulder today. I don't remember a Sunday we didn't read the comics.

I remember him making a valiant effort to be at every school event and piano recital that I participated in. When he wasn’t there, I bragged to the other kids that my dad was off saving lives.

I remember his asking “You know what?” and when I said “What?” he’d always respond with “I love you!” I surprised him once by saying “Chicken butt” but he still said “I love you!”

I remember being excited when Dad would let me drop the tithe check into the collection plate every Sunday.

I remember Dad giving me his coat on Sunday mornings when I’d get cold. I’d go through his pockets and play with the treasures he had in them. Sometimes, I’d just curl up and take a nap on the floor, wrapped up in the warmth and smell of my dad. He still gave me his coat even after I was old enough to remember to bring my own.

I remember one Father's Day a long time ago at ACC where we were instructed to let the father pass around the communion. He was to tell us "This is the blood of Christ" and "This is the body of Christ." Dad liked that so much that he did it for the rest of his life. I have a hard time doing communion without him.

I remember him only having to spank me once. I don’t remember what I did but I was more shocked by the fact that he hit me than by anything. I knew he loved me and that I had earned this punishment and that I never wanted it again.

I remember his reading to me all the time. The only stories I remember specifically were Little Monster’s Bedtime Book and the Chronicles of Narnia. Once a friend came over early for my birthday party and we were reading. She curled up on the other side of Dad and he read to both of us until the party started. She told me later she wished her dad would read to her and I realized I had something special. I was 7.

I remember falling asleep in the car on the way home from anywhere and waking up in his arms as he carried me inside. I loved it so much that I would sometimes pretend to be asleep just so he would carry me. I hated when I got too big for him to carry me anymore.

I remember him getting us up for school in the morning, flipping on the light in my room and telling me it was time to wake up. When I got downstairs, he’d usually have breakfast ready to go, either oatmeal or cereal or if we were really lucky, French toast. He’d go outside to warm up the car when it was cold outside so we didn’t have to shiver on the way to school. We’d listen to NPR and classical music on the way and he’d talk to us about the things going on. When we carpooled with the Kings, we listened to the kids’ station with silly goofy songs and I realized my dad wanted me to learn about the world around me and know about classical music.

I remember him driving us to school and listening to the announcement that Bill Clinton had been elected president and asking if Dad voted for him. He told me it wasn’t generally something a lot of people felt comfortable talking about, but no, he didn’t vote for him. He also pointed out that it didn’t matter that he hadn’t voted for him, he was still our president and thus deserving of our respect.

I remember hating playing the piano, but loving how proud it made Dad to see me playing in recitals and the goofy faces he’d make at me through the doors to the music room.

I remember playing two duets with him: one as an awkward adolescent and the other as a frustrated teenager. I never told him how much I valued that I alone of his children got to do that with him.

I remember as an older teen dreaming of weddings and happily ever afters asking what his favorite song was. We were listening to Natalie Cole’s album “Unforgettable, With Love” and he told me he really loved the song on that cd, Unforgettable and explained how Nat King Cole died and that Natalie had taken old recordings of her dad singing and had turned it into a duet. He thought about it for a bit and told me that his all time favorite, though, was The Way You Look Tonight. We danced to that at my wedding.

I remember when I was about 12 we were home alone, just the two of us, for a weekend. It didn’t happen often, so that was kind of special in itself. We went to bed early on Saturday because he was driving me out to Girl Scout camp in Sweetwater the next day. In the middle of the night, there was a loud crash that shook the whole house and woke us both up. I thought there’d been an earthquake or something but the big tree in the back had fallen over into the courtyard. It was like walking in a tree. Dad was relieved no one else was home because Caleb would have gotten scared and Mom would have been blocked in. I was just relieved it didn’t hit the house.

I remember that he didn’t like to watch movies more than once but he would watch classics again and he loved the movie Chariots of Fire. When I went to Great Britain and walked along the beach where that famous running scene was filmed, I knew what the movie was when no one else in my group had even heard of it.

I remember several times being told I was his favorite. I always teased that my sister was the favorite because she was chosen and he got stuck with the rest of us.

I remember once my dad describing feeling real joy as he held one of his children moments after birth and my mom asking if that’s why he named her Joy. I wondered if secretly I’d been the favorite all along.

I remember that I had to stop going shopping with Dad because I could get him to buy me just about anything I wanted.

I remember being shocked when I saw him lying in a hospital bed all hooked up to wires when he had his brain aneurysms. I couldn’t believe this fragile body belonged to my dad. It never seemed very real to me that he could die. He was dad: he was going to be around forever.

I remember being frustrated that he wasn’t the same after and wishing he’d just go back to normal.

I remember being angry that I could only take two classes my freshman year of high school so that I could take care of Dad after school while Mom worked.

I remember feeling guilty at how relieved I was when other people stepped in and helped and feeling like I let Mom down because I didn’t help enough.

I remember taking racquetball as a PE course for distance learning and Dad doing that with me. I wasn’t very good because I was afraid of getting hit by the ball.

I remember taking physics in high school and absolutely hating it because I didn’t get it. Dad was frustrated with that since he loved physics so much and had advanced degrees in it. He would sit with me for hours and try to explain it and eventually I would get him to do the work for me. He’s the main reason I passed the class.

I remember him taking me on a real date when I was about 15. We went to the Olive Garden, we played putt-putt and we went to a movie. He told me I wasn’t a cheap date and that any guy who didn’t want to spend the money wasn’t worth my time.

I remember getting ready for the few dances I went to in high school and Dad saying ‘Wowwee!” every single time.

I remember how much he loved astronomy and how he tried to teach me about constellations. He would take me star gazing whenever there were meteor showers. We made it a semi-regular date and I’d make grilled cheese sandwiches and hot cocoa and we’d sit on the car and look at the stars and talk. To this day, the only constellation I can find on a consistent basis is Orion.

I remember my senior prom and how excited Dad was that I had an actual date. He told me that if my date knew anything about anything he’d bring me an orchid. Dad was so proud when he showed up with a beautiful purple orchid wrist corsage.

I remember him being proud of me when I graduated from high school, but that pride was tempered by anger at my cousin and my brother disappearing right after, causing us all to be delayed getting home.

I remember him trying to help me with my college math classes and finally accepting that I couldn’t do this advanced stuff, that my brain was better at the social studies than the sciences.

I remember him meeting my first boyfriend and telling Mom he was a fine young man.

I remember his disappointment when I broke up with that boyfriend.

I remember him trying to like the next guy I brought home and not succeeding.

I remember him helping Mom and her siblings pack up their parents’ house and grumbling at the stupid Christmas tree I wanted so much, but bringing it along just because I wanted it.

I remember graduating from college and his pride that I had done it and with some honors.

I remember his frustration when they called me Talitha Jane.

I remember him helping me move to Austin. He grumbled about the tree again. He helped move the furniture out of the house in Lubbock and into the apartment in Austin. I remember dealing with two flat tires and the hurt of my roommates seemingly not caring that I was leaving, but knowing that my dad would always be there for me.

I remember Dad was always there when I moved: into the house in Lubbock, to the apartment in Austin, to the first apartment in Dallas, across the complex to the second Dallas apartment, and to the house in Carrollton. He grumbled about the Christmas tree every time and always offered to throw it away for me.

I remember the kisses that always ended with “Wow! Sweet! Chocolate ice cream! Grandmother’s apple pie!” to which we would sometimes add “With whipped cream and sugar!” and he would go further and add “And nuts!”

I remember the way he would say “Choooclaaate.”

I remember him telling me not to smile or my face would crack into a million pieces and how 99% of the time I smiled.

I remember he called me Tali-poo and Brown Crested Speckled Thumb Sucker.

I remember getting in trouble on our family trip to the four corners and my punishment was having to sit up in the front with Dad overnight and keep him awake. We watched the sunrise over the desert and it was beautiful. He asked me to write him a poem about it and I did. I'm sure there's a copy of it somewhere.

I remember how much he and Tigger hated one another.

I remember him always answering “Better than I deserve” whenever someone asked him how he was.

I remember how excited he was when I told him I was going to marry Austin. So excited, in fact, that he jumped the gun 6 months before Austin even proposed and emailed Pastor Max to ask if he would officiate over the ceremony.

I remember him repeatedly telling me it wasn’t too late to back out, that they loved Austin but they loved me more and I should do what was right for me.

I remember his pride and loving support as we planned the wedding and I struggled with work stuff.

I remember being sick the week before the wedding and him driving to get me milkshakes every day because it was the only thing I wanted and the only thing that tasted good. He frequently got the wrong thing, but I loved it because I knew he did it for me.

I remember his pride as he came to get me to walk down the aisle.

I remember every time I cut my hair for Locks of Love he would frown. He loved my hair long but would always tell me how proud he was of me for donating my hair to others.

I remember one last “Wow!” kiss before getting married.

I remember him asking me if I liked chicken and when I asked why, he stuck out his arm and said “Take a wing.”

I remember writing my Daddy Folio letter and agonizing over it for a couple months, wanting to get the words just right.

I remember him blessing me at my wedding, though I was too emotional to really hear the words.

I remember him holding me tightly as we danced at the reception, like he didn’t want to let me go.

I remember waffling between several songs for our dance and settling on his favorite.

I remember telling him I didn’t have a gift for his birthday, but that I wanted to go bowling with him and him telling me his knees were too far gone for that anymore.

I remember asking what he wanted for Christmas this year and him telling me he just wanted everyone there. I told him this Christmas was with the in-laws but that next year would be with the family and I’d most likely be pregnant. He was indignant that my child’s first Christmas would be with his OTHER grandparents and not him.

I remember our last conversation. He called to check if I knew what was going on with some friends of his and I didn’t know anything. I wanted to talk but he was busy. He did sign off by telling me he loved me. I’m so glad my last words to him were “Love you too.”

I remember my brother asking me if I was sitting down and then telling me our father had died. I didn’t
believe him and he had to repeat it before my mom finally came on, sobbing, and telling me he was gone. It’s still not real.

I remember the last time I saw him, cold and still and looking completely surprised. I lay across his chest and wished that he’d hug me back.

I remember Rosetta holding my hand and telling me how he would talk about me all the time and how proud and excited he was about what I was doing with my life and how when I was little, he’d always tell her to make sure I ate when he dropped me off at her house in the mornings.

I remember being incredibly angry when Luke sat in Dad’s chair that night. He wasn’t family and he was intruding. I honestly don't think I was the only one to feel that way.

I remember agreeing with my sister when she said he was a beautiful man and deserved beautiful flowers.

I remember crying as I realized he would never play Fur Elise again and wanting to play it for him one last time.

I remember being amazed at how I didn’t cry during my eulogy and that I could get through my piano pieces and thinking “I don’t want to play any more after this.”

I remember hugging Boonier, his teddy bear, and making sure to treat it with all the love and respect he would have wanted me to.

I remember being angry that outsiders to the family were taking his belongings. I wanted to rip the owls and everything out of their hands and scream that they didn’t deserve this and they should get the hell out of my father’s house.

I remember the first time it hit me that my father would never see my children and how much I cried that they’d never have their granddad read them a story.

I remember the last time I held him on this earth. I marveled at how greasy the ashes were and how much, and at the same time how little, there were. I cried as I let the last of his ashes be washed from my hands and wished I was hugging him instead.

I remember sitting in his car for the first time after he died. He was so tall, 6’2, and I’m so much shorter, 5’6, that I felt like I was sitting in the back seat. I didn’t want to move it and I cried as I drove to the church for the service.

I remember seeing my niece being born and thinking “She’s late because he wasn’t ready to let her go yet.” I was angry again that she’d never get to know him.

I remember the regret hitting me that I’d never played the Moonlight Sonata for him and that he never knew how much I loved playing for him.

I remember thinking this would make me feel better instead of making me hurt more.

Added today:

I remember not wanting to move from Carrollton to Abilene because I didn't want to live somewhere Dad hadn't seen.

I remember the reason I cried when Asher was born was because Dad wasn't there and he should have been. He would have kidnapped that baby and carried him all over the hospital if he could. It would have taken me hours to get home.

I remember when we had Asher's blessing party on May 21 and he got one of Dad's ties. He knows it's special and actually leaves it alone.

I remember when morning sickness was so bad with Elijah's pregnancy that I cried again because I knew Dad would have come to help me in a heartbeat.

I remember I cried again when Elijah was born for the same reasons.

I remember when Elijah got one of Dad's ties and how he showed as much interest in it as a one year old will.

I remember every time I went to the hospital I asked people if they knew my dad. He's been gone from Hendrick's for so long there's fewer and fewer of them who do.

I know that when my next baby is born, I'll cradle him or her against my chest and wish Dad was there again. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Boys...getting into everything.

Morning sickness wipes me out. Like flat on my back feeling awful all day every day for weeks out. The housework doesn't get done. Austin has to pick up food so we can eat. The boys are already pretty self sufficient for their ages and they become more so when I'm sick.

Morning sickness for this pregnancy hit last week, late on Monday. The nausea, the dizziness, the thoughts of "I knew this was part of the package, why did I want another baby?" My poor sweet boys have been on their own a lot, bringing books and dvds into my room or watching dvds or Netflix in the living room while I rest. I don't let Elijah roam while I'm sleeping, I put the gate up on his room and let him have free range in there. He's still curious and toddler enough that he could do some serious damage if left to his own devices in the entirety of the house.

One of their favorite games the past couple weeks has been to drag big blankets around the house. The comforter off our bed (it's too hot for it these days) and a fleece blanket we have for the living room and trips to the drive-in and those are the favorite to drag. They of course pick up lots of things in their wake (dead bugs that the cats are storing, dirty socks that Austin is storing, my clothes that didn't quite make it to the laundry hamper, etc) and deposit them far from home.

That's all set up for yesterday.

Yesterday, I woke up feeling halfway decent. I didn't immediately want to just lay down and curl up in the fetal position...or I suppose just curl up since I was already laying down. I even BRIEFLY contemplated a grocery store run because I knew we were low on milk. But I knew getting the boys and myself dressed and into the car would probably use up all my energy and then what would I do. So I didn't. I made some breakfast for me, gave the boys what they wanted, and we began our "Mommy's Sick" day. Lots of water and peanut butter crackers for everyone, dvds in the living room (or DVD...Asher wanted to watch Frozen on repeat and I let him), Elijah barricaded in his room to play while I napped. Everything was proceeding as normal.

Then 5pm rolled around. That last hour before Daddy gets home is the hardest for most at-home moms. The kids are a little sick of mommy's face, mommy's a little sick of their faces. I was bracing myself for an evening alone with them since Austin had plans at the church to do some sound system stuff with the praise team. And then Elijah put something in his mouth.

I saw him bend over from across the room, pick something up in his tiny little fingers and pop it in his mouth. I wasn't TOO concerned until I heard the metallic click on his teeth. I called him to the bed and was slightly surprised when he came to me but pulled him up into my lap and started fishing around in his mouth. He laughed and fought my fingers with his tongue, then started biting. I squeezed his little face with my hand to try to get him to stop doing that and that's when I saw it: a shiny metal pointy thing that could only be a nail. Not a big one, mind you, but a nail none-the-less.

I went to grab it since it was sticking out but he sucked it back in, closed his mouth, and swallowed. I screamed and forced his mouth open, making him cry as I frantically fished around in his mouth for it. Nothing. It was gone.

I looked at the clock and realized Austin would be getting to Abilene soon. I let him down and started flipping blankets around, hoping maybe he'd spit it out and I hadn't seen but no luck. Then I had to find my phone. The boys ran off into another room, laughing and playing. Maybe I'm just imagining things.

I called Austin and told him that he should come straight home, not go do the couple errands he had, because we might need to take Elijah to the ER. I called Mom and woke her up from a nap to ask if she'd keep Asher. She said "Oh, it'll probably pass on it's own." I figured she was still asleep because a NAIL is likely to do a bit of damage on it's way out. She agreed to keep him though. We called Dr. Adams and left a message just to confirm that yes, we need to go to the hospital. She responded within about 10 minutes with a confirmation.

So it's now been about 30 minutes since he swallowed the nail. No one is dressed but Austin. So we find some clean clothes for the boys and get them dressed, I get dressed and grab some snacks and water for myself, get some bags ready for the boys and we're out the door. A quick drop off at Oma's house, which Asher is excited about, and we're on to the ER.

Since we have a baby with a nail in  him, they don't make us wait long. We got there around 6.15 or so and we were x-rayed at 6.30 and into an exam room by 7. I'm texting facebook and close friends and family, Austin's texting his parents, Elijah's watching a Tinkerbell movie and fussing to get down and go outside. Not a lot, just a little whine. He threw up a little bit and coughed nearly every time he took a drink of water, so we figured that meant his throat was a little sore. The nurses come and go but it isn't until about 7.20 or so that they tell us yes, there is a nail in his stomach. A little while after that the ER doctor comes in and says "We have to go get it, but we're not sure if we'll do it here."

Apparently, there are two GI doctors on call for the ER and one doesn't do pediatric stuff. So there's a real possibility we'll be airlifting Elijah to Cook's to get this thing out. He's paged the GI doctor and we'll know more when he gets here. In the meantime they do an IV on his foot.

That's the first time Elijah showed any real distress. He has to be held down by three adults while a fourth did the IV. The GI doctor came in while we were doing that and said he was going to get the nail here in a procedure called EGD and that the only possible complication would be if the nail had moved into his bowel before they got to it. If that happened, we'd be going to Cook's. The staff had been called and were on their way.

Elijah fell asleep shortly before 8. He's exhausted at this point. Shortly after that, Kathy, the MDO director, showed up with a giant bag of peppermints for me to help with my nausea and a plush monkey with a blanket for Elijah. She commented she hadn't ever seen him that still. This kid doesn't like to be still unless he's passed out asleep.

We get taken upstairs through the rabbit warren of halls that is Hendrick's to a darkened OR area. Elijah woke up along the way and started pointing out numbers. He knows 2 and 9, so that's what he called out, regardless of what it was. He was cute and chatty with the OR nurses and the anesthesiologist and Dr. Patel, winning admirers left and right. We signed the paperwork then snuck out so he wouldn't get upset when we left. It was now 9, 3 hours and 20 minutes since he swallowed the nail. Dr. Patel told us that he would know within about 5 minutes whether or not he was going to get it out here or we'd be sent to Dallas. Kathy sat with us while we waited and around 9.50, our pastor called and he and his wife were there. So Kathy went to get them, knowing her way around the hospital better than us. Shortly after they got back Dr. Patel came to let us know they were successful and to give us the nail in a jar and some pictures of it in Elijah's stomach. Elijah did very well, had no troubles with anything, and was in recovery where he'd be for a little while, then we were taking him home.

We went to get him and seeing my tiny little boy in such a big bed with tape residue on his face from the breathing tubes and the IV still in his foot and all manner of things to read his vitals stuck to him was hard. He was so drowsy from the anesthesia still, plus the fact that it was 10 at night, that he mostly just stared at us glassy eyed. Austin carried him out while I carried our bags and we left, Don and Carol walking with us. The guy who took us out didn't seem to know exactly how to get us to the ER exit but we got there eventually. The clock on the dash read 10.35 when we pulled out. Elijah again made friends and recited numbers while we left, waving and saying "bye" to people as we walked past them.

Asher was fast asleep at Oma's house when we got there and Elijah was so happy to see Papa Bob and Oma and Asher that he just pingponged between them. I was feeling bad all night and it was really hitting when we got to Mom's so I took him downstairs to wait for Austin and Asher. We got home around 11 and everyone but Austin went to bed. Austin went out to get the milk we needed yesterday.

So now I have a nail in a jar and a toddler with a sore throat and a new paranoia because what if I hadn't seen him swallow the nail? This kid puts EVERYTHING in his mouth. He's just at that age. If I'd been cooking dinner or actually asleep or just not paying attention, what would have happened? I guess it's POSSIBLE he could have passed it on his own with no trouble but highly unlikely.

We had the right doctor on call, the right people who knew what to do, and I saw that nail go into his mouth and down his throat. Friends who offered to bring us food and take Asher. People offering whatever help they could. It's so great having a community like that.

Fingers crossed this doesn't happen again. But heaven help us if the next kid is a boy because each seems more dare devil and active than the last...though I suppose a girl could be a little terror too.

The culprit. Not too big, but way bigger than you want in your child.