Monday, July 17, 2017

Scratch and Sniff

We all do it. The internet and cooking shows and cookbooks and Pinterest have made it so easy to find recipes that look amazing, so we bookmark or print or pin or save them somehow and then never. look. at. them. again. I've got dozens and dozens of recipes like that, most of them that call for ingredients I tend to keep on hand. And then we make the same things over and over because it's easy and we know the recipe by heart and our kids will actually eat it.

I do bulk cooking to save a bit of money and hassle and usually have a freezer full of the same meals that we can just pull and heat and eat. I'm tired of those. I'm tired of our usual recipes. But I'm also stupid picky so trying new stuff almost always involves some kind of recipe editing.

So, in an effort to shake things up a little, save some money by using what we already have and only have to buy a few things to finish off, and to eat maybe a little healthier (ok, so not too much but at least without lots of unpronounceable ingredients) I've been cooking dinner from "scratch" at least once a week for the past month or so using some of the many recipes I've got stashed all over.

We've had mixed results.

Asher is even pickier than I am. He eats zero vegetables willingly. I eat like 6 so I can't fault him too much. He hasn't liked much of what we've had that's new, so I make sure to throw in an old standby periodically so we know he's eating at least once a week.

I've messed up a couple things. I've underseasoned (I weirdly HATE tasting what I'm cooking. I can't explain it, I just don't want to do it. If Austin's around, he's my taster.). I've over cooked. I've had to cut meat in half to get the middle done in time to serve it with the rest of the meal because the rest was cooked to the point that it was almost mush.

We're all surviving. And we're saving a lot on food.

We buy gift cards through the church for restaurants then we end up eating at other restaurants and buying tons of groceries and snacks and wondering why we have spent $1000 on food this month. Now, when we want to eat out, we try to use those cards. It's pre-paid for food, and we pre-paid so long ago it feels like free food.

I quit buying lots of snack foods and chips so now the kids are actually hungry at dinner and typically eat an actual meal instead of 20 packages of fruit snacks or 15 cheese sticks or half a bag of chips. I do still buy cheese sticks because that's an easy quick snack for me while breastfeeding, but since none of them can open the packages by themselves, I can control how many they get. This backfires because I get snacky late at night and toast gets real old, as do cereal bars, granola bars, and cheese sticks. Sometimes I just want a handful of chips or Oreos or something.

Tonight we had tacos and met with mixed reactions. Asher didn't like them at all. Eden wanted to eat the meat out of the shell with her fork, then when we tried to dump the meat on the plate for easier access, flung the shell around so now there's meat chunks on the floor. Elijah ate 2. Austin had 4 1/2 and I had 3 1/2. Most of it we had on hand. $1 for some shells and a couple bucks for sour cream (which I'll use the rest of for something later next week) and some veggies from the farmer's market and we had a nice meal.

For dessert, we're making a cinnamon roll cake that I had all the ingredients to on hand and have been wanting to make for a while. I just hadn't gotten to it because buying a cake or some cupcakes or whatever is so much easier, but it usually doesn't taste as good. We'll see how this tastes. We did edit the recipe a bit: it called for plain icing and we made cream cheese frosting, because cream cheese frosting makes pretty much anything better.

A benefit of this method of feeding my family, besides the whole saving money thing, is that Elijah wants to help. He wants to learn how to make things, specifically cake. He wants to pour the eggs in and watch it mix up. He wants to watch me spread frosting on cake. He wants to know how to make his favorite things. He's slowly getting interested in making dinner, too. I'd love to raise kids who know how to cook and cook well and cook more than one dish well. Or at the very least, kids who know how to follow a recipe and adapt it as needed.

The cinnamon roll cake is now out of the oven and the house smells amazing: cinnamon and cream cheese and sugar. We're going to let it cool a little before digging in and it'll be another thing that brings us all back together around a table, enjoying each other and our food.

At the end of the day, that's the best part. We sit together and eat. It doesn't matter if I made it from scratch or if Austin picked up a $6 hot and ready from Little Caesar's on the way home. Eating together with my family is my favorite part of any meal. Except when food goes flying and wails of anguish rise up because I'm making someone eat something they don't like. Life is hard, y'all. Especially when you're 6.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A circle's round

Asher had some testing last week to evaluate for sensory issues. It was a long day, starting a 9am and going until nearly 5pm. We had an hour of phone calls with the insurance company, then an hour of discussion between me and the doctor and a half hour of paperwork (because the packet that was literally 10 pages long they mailed home beforehand wasn't enough...). Rebekah and I just hung out at the office since I had to take Asher at lunch time for an hour. She did ok, I managed to get some reading and a bit of cross-stitching done. She did get a bit fussy because the office was very bright and she needs it a little darker to sleep. Asher did well, taking a couple of breaks to run around and work on a cross-word puzzle.

One of the questions on one of the forms I filled out asked if I worried about Asher's relationships with other kids his age (or something along those lines) and it got me thinking.

Austin pointed out that he's not really in touch with many of his high school friends, and even fewer than before. Really, the childhood people he's in touch with are all from boy scouts. The friends that we have kept up with more are the college friends and people we met after we moved to Abilene. And even then, we're extremely homebody people so we don't have lots of friends (loads of acquaintances, but that's different). He didn't see the fact that Asher doesn't have any friends as an issue because he's not still friends with anyone he was friends with at 6. He doesn't even keep in touch with them on facebook. It concerns me because I AM still friends and keep up with people I was friends with at that age.

Kristen and I met when we were about 5. I assume. That's when we were in kindergarten and when I started piano lessons. I don't really remember NOT knowing her. We went to church together, school together from Kindergarten through high school, we had plans to live together and be in each others weddings, raising our children side by side.

We definitely have had our ups and downs as any 27 year relationship will. We've argued, we've disagreed, we've hurt each other's feelings, we've been distant for years at a time, but we've always managed to come back to each other after a while. I wrote a post about it a few years ago, lamenting the fact that it had been so long wince we'd been back that maybe it was over. Kristen saw it and we had a lot of talks and are back, though being in our 30's with families we'll never be back to where we were as teens or even 20 somethings. Kids and families can really get in the

In spite of the years apart, we, I feel, easily slip back into the comfort of our relationship. We know what we did before that hurt the other, so we try to avoid those mistakes. We cook for each other, we are an ear for each other when our families are driving us nuts or when something exciting is happening, we're a shoulder when something terrible is happening. We get together with our mess of kids and husbands and eat big meals then shoo the kids away to play card games.

Things can still be rough. Scheduling is a nightmare, since we both have lots of extended family in town and there are other obligations we have to church and work. When we do get together, there's the whole trial of "oh lord, what do we cook to feed this mob of people we're in charge of that everyone will eat and isn't too hard to make?"

Relationships change as we age, we both get that, and we do grieve the relationship we had as teens. We'd get together and cook or bake something, then sit on the roof of the carriage house and eat and talk for hours. Our biggest worries were tests and classmates and siblings. Our worries and locations have changed, but our main activities haven't. I have to make myself leave sometimes because I could sit and talk for hours. The funny part is I'll wonder what we'll talk about before we get together and then we're standing at the door for 20 minutes talking 5 hours later as one of us is trying to leave. Everything and nothing, that's what we talk about.

I'm looking forward to raising our children together. So far, they're all still young, so we're in the trenches together. Coming soon is school aged kids together, then teens together (lord help us), then empty nesting together. Maybe someday a vacation together (with or without kids, I'm flexible).

That's what I want for my children: relationships to last their whole lives. Relationships with ups and downs, sure, but with love at the heart of them. Relationships where it doesn't matter what you might disagree on or where you might end up, you still gravitate back towards each other. I want my kids to have friends who they can raise their babies with, friends who will pick up the wrapping paper at their kids birthday party while they dish up dessert in the kitchen, friends they can call on when they're moving or need help for whatever, friends who will come to their house and not judge them for the grease spatters on the stove, the dirty dishes in the sink, or the dirty floors and children. Friends who will just show up to eat good food and play games and ignore the kids in the other room screaming (mostly happily) and playing. Friends for a lifetime.

It doesn't hurt to have a lifelong friend with a pool who's happy for you to invite yourself over once in a while. Or who's a fabulous baker and willing to "share" the extra/messed up cupcakes with you. Or who gets the silly thrill of saying Streusel Berry Apple Bars. ;-)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day not my favorite day. My dad is gone, as are both of my grandfathers. We've never spent Father's Day weekend with Austin's dad, but we try to remember to send a card (Allen, they're in the mail, I promise). I try to make sure that Austin has a good day, but he's not all that into making a big deal of things unless I tell him to, so he's content with a quiet weekend. We spent this weekend at the splash pad, eating Chili's (his favorite), and going to see a movie. He got some cards we all forgot to sign (so we can give them to him next year!) and two ties and I remembered to get the kids to write and draw in his notebook. I even gave him the last 1/3 of my molten chocolate lava cake from Chili's, prompting him to say "this is the best day ever!" I questioned that yesterday was a better day than the day he proposed or the day we got married or THE DAYS HIS CHILDREN WERE BORN. Apparently 1.5 chocolate lava cakes in one day is pretty hard to beat.

When my dad died, Mom gave each of us something of his. My brother John got a Father's Devotional book of some kind and when he flipped through it, he found a list of ten things a dad should do. I have a scanned pdf of it, but I don't know how to convert to a jpg, so I'll just transcribe it below. I'm not sure if he came up with it himself or if it’s part of the devotional book, but these were words he lived by and I think it made him an excellent father....but then I might be biased. 

Top 10 Things a Dad Ought to Do: 

10. Hug her & Hug her to the very end. Be crazy in love with your wife. Your children will follow your example. - Eccl 9:9

9. Leave the back door open and the light on. A lifelong commitment to being a dad. Be sure they are welcome home. - Luke 15:20

8. Cry when you leave home. Don't be afraid to show your emotions. - Gen 45:1,2; 46

7. Teach your kids to work hard. Lead by example. II Thess 3:10

6. Marry off your kids many times. Be actively concerned about your kids' future spouses, no matter what age. - Gen 24:3

5. Never be too busy for your kids. Let your children interrupt. (BBC dad anyone?)

4. Be a man of your word. Let your yes be yes and your no be no.

3. Treat your family as if the preacher was there. Be a true man of God, and practice holiness at home. - Eph 5:4

2. Build your wife a phone book holder. Fill your life with loving deeds. - 1 John 3:18

1. Wear a cowboy hat. Be yourself within God’s freedom.

I think those are the references. Some are hard to read on the pdf. I feel like Dad managed to exemplify these traits. 

Dad liked chocolate a lot, but I think he would have rated his children higher than two pieces of cake in one day. He loved us and our spouses and our children tremendously. More than that, though, he loved our mom. He made sure we saw that in a lot of little things he did for her, the courtesies he extended to her, the affection he felt for her. It was so much a part of our daily lives, I can't think of many specific examples other than him squeezing oranges for fresh orange juice for her periodically. He wrote her some pretty mushy letters when they were dating and engaged and some sappy (though not too terrible) poetry after they were married. 

That was a good thing for a father to do. It gave all of us an example of what to look for and be in the future. He may not have consciously done it thinking about the example he was setting, but just because hey, he loved this woman he'd married and had all these kids with and why WOULDN'T he want to show her how he felt about her? That is the best example, the one where it's not a pre-planned thing, just a natural, instinctual part of life. 

So to all the dads in my life, raising your own children, raising someone else's, stepping in to help out adults who aren't your kids but are kids to someone you love, doing it with a partner or doing it alone, Happy Father's Day. It’s a pretty thankless job sometimes, so I'll say it today: Thank you for loving us, your wives and the mothers of your children and your children. Have a neck tie and a beverage of your choice. And maybe a piece of chocolate lava cake. Or two. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

I'm gonna carry that load

A frequent topic of conversation around our house for the last month or so has been the "burden of thought." It's changed a bit how we do things, though it is a tricky change to make.

The burden of thought, very basically, is the fact that women know/do everything in the home. We know when the doctor's appointments are, we know how much toilet paper we have and where it is, we know what's in the pantry, we know who the teacher is and what kind of drink she likes from Sonic, or if she prefers Starbucks instead, we know what's going on with our kids and what time of day is their best. We know everything and do everything. Men don't for the pure reason of not being there when things are scheduled or purchased or revealed.

This has led to the social view of men being helpless dolts around the house and women being the frazzled "how does she do it all" mature one of the relationship. Men are children and women are the long suffering adults who got suckered into spending their lives raising their children and cleaning their homes.

This is wrong. Men are not HELPING around the house when they pick up their laundry or wash dishes or put children to bed. They are being a part of the household. I don't care if he works all day and she stays home or vice versa. The house has to be cleaned periodically, the children have to be tended, the food cooked, the laundry washed. It all has to be done and just because he works outside the home and provides the finances to keep the family going does not give him a free pass to do nothing.

Austin read an article about the burden of thought and asked me about it. It hadn't occurred to me that he just didn't know these things and that he might want to. We keep our communication lines pretty open but we still have times when we miss something, like all couples. We talked about how I'm the one who's always making lists of what we need to take when we go on a trip, I'm the one making all the plans for the weekends when we do something (like CALF...that weekend was planned out weeks in advance, then altered slightly Thursday night and again Friday night....all by me), I'm the one planning all our meals and shopping for everything. Austin never hesitates to run to the store when I've forgotten something or to pick something up whenever I'm just wiped out and too tired to cook. He's not "helping" exactly, he's being a member of the family. He and his children need to eat and if I wasn't there, he'd have to do it on his own.

For a couple of years now, I've sent Austin a weekly email with our schedule for the upcoming week so he knows what's going on while he's working. Sometimes it's packed full of school and doctor's appointments and outings around town. Sometimes there's nothing but praise team practice. He likes knowing what's going on so if there's a day that's going to be particularly busy for me and the kids, he knows that maybe that's a day he can take over and "help" me. Since things have been changing on short notice recently we got the Cozi app and started using that. Austin can pull up the calendar and see what's up that day at a glance. It has a place for grocery lists, too, if I need him to hit the store so I don't have to go with 1-4 children in tow.

Writing this I've had to stop myself from typing "help" a lot. It's so ingrained in our heads as women that men are helping us it's hard to get away from that. It's even Biblical that we are helpmates to our husbands, though it seems that women have had some pretty difficult tasks historically, what with raising children, keeping vegetable gardens, cooking, cleaning, making clothes, etc. Almost always in long skirts and long sleeves. God bless the women before me. I'd not survive without my leggings and tank tops and a/c in this Texas heat. My generation hasn't seen it much in the previous generations. I remember my dad reading to us and occasionally cooking breakfast (always on Mother's Day, though) but that's about it. He wasn't even a grill kind of dad. He worked a lot of long hours so he just wasn't there for that kind of thing, but he was there for us in other ways. It seems that most dads of my peers were like that.

I'm getting off track.

The main purpose of this is to say: I'm trying to relinquish some of the load, but it's tricky. For 9 years of marriage, my "job" has been to run our household. And Austin was my assistant. When kids came into the picture, he stepped up, almost eagerly, to do more. He has always taken the diaper changes when he's home and most of the feedings in the evenings once they're on bottles. He does bath time and bedtime and playtime and clean up time. He's really the parent in charge in the evenings. I'm the back up then. He's in charge of dinner on weekend nights when we don't have something planned. He gets that I need time away from my kids to be a good mom so he doesn't mind when I run away to play with my friends at 8pm and don't come home until midnight. I don't ask his permission, but I check to make sure he's got the energy to parent solo for the evening or that he didn't have plans  or a thing he wanted us to do as a family. He's taking over more with the boys when it comes to travel plans. We sit down and discuss day by day what we'll be doing and eating and he takes on some of the tasks. I'm apparently too much of a control freak (who knew?) that I can't give up complete control of things, but he's ok with that. Sometimes he needs a reminder or a little push.

We're both learning how to share the load and it's trickier than you might think, but we'll get there.

Disclaimer: this is not to say ALL men are clueless at home. Some are very hands on and stand shoulder to shoulder with their wives or partners in the trenches of young childhood. I'm just speaking in general and personal terms. 😊

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

I remember...

This is super long (probably 7 pages printed) and it's something I've posted before. There's a bit added at the bottom, so if you want to scroll down to the bolded part, that's where it begins. 

Written in 2009: 

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 Cari 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 at Abilene High 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 Charles knew anything about anything he’d bring me an orchid. Dad was so proud when Charles 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 Mullins but that next year would be with the Walkes 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 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 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 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 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 in 2017: 

I remember how exhausted and sore and overwhelmed I was with Asher as a newborn and how much I wished my Daddy was there to give me a helping hand. 

I remember how that happened again when I was overwhelmed with two little boys and one of them needed hospitalization when his little brother was only 3 months old. 

I remember when we got Eden's diagnosis wishing he was there to hold my hand while Mom held the other one. 

I remember each birth feeling all over again that he would have been so excited to be there. 

I remember how much he loved learning whenever Asher asks a "question about life."

I remember how he brushed my hair when I was younger whenever I try to wrestle Eden into letting me brush hers (it's not easy). 

I remember the way he sat and read when I see Asher sitting with his legs crossed reading a magazine. 

I remember how loving he was whenever Elijah spontaneously gives me a hug and says "I just love you."

I remember how much he loved chocolate whenever Eden brings me a box of chocolate cookies, or Elijah asks for chocolate milk. 

I remember how much he enjoyed family dinners whenever Rebekah smiles or even laughs during nursing sessions. 

I remember how much he loved to read to his grandkids every time I see Papa read to them or hear them demanding at least 3 books from Austin every night.

I remember how helpful he was to my brothers with their kids whenever Papa Bob is just as helpful with mine. 

I remember how much I loved him and how much he meant to me when I see how my kids "other" grandfathers have stepped in to fill the void he left behind.  

I've finally gotten to the point where it's more bittersweet than bitter. Yes, there are still tears. Yes, there is still that ache and that dismay and even sometimes that anger, but it's better. It helps that Allen is SUCH a present grandfather. Eden changed his name to PopPop and he's going with it. It may have just been for Memorial Day weekend, but if it's a permanent change, he's fine with it, just like Dad would have been. It also helps that Bob is so eager to be helpful and useful he's almost TOO much at times (and I mean that in a good way). Picking up Asher from school, taking the boys to McDonald's so I can get a break, rewarding them when they've done well and giving them a talking to when they haven't. He's relaxed into his role as their grandfather on my side of the family, and I'm thankful for that. 

Some days are hard. Some days are easy. It's just the way life goes. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017


Eight years. It's been eight years since I talked to my dad. Eight years since I heard him tell me he loves me. Eight years since I've hugged him. Eight years since he said something that made me roll my eyes. Eight years since he butt dialed me while driving around and left me a 20 minute voicemail of car noises and NPR. Eight years since he called me to see how far out we were on a trip to Abilene from Carrollton (he always managed to call us when we were along the same stretch of highway, like he just couldn't wait any longer). Eight years since I bought his last birthday card that I never got to send. Eight years since anyone asked him how he was and got the response "Better than I deserve."

In those eight years I've missed him tremendously. I've missed him when I moved. I've missed him when I was sick. I've missed him when I was pregnant and birthing babies. I've missed him when I needed help. I've missed him when I've eaten chocolate ice cream. I've missed him when I drive past McDonald's. I've missed him when I see the constellation Orion. I've missed him every time I've seen an elephant or an owl. I've missed him when I've wrapped up in the last Christmas gift he gave me, a woven blanket usually on the back of my red chair.

I miss him in the big moments and in the small ones, like hearing Rebekah laugh for the first time, or Elijah reading a word seemingly out of nowhere to ask what it means. I really missed him with all of Eden's medical stuff.

Here's two secrets in relation to Dad that I don't tell people often:

1. I know most babies do it, but whenever my babies stare at seemingly nothing and grin, especially when they're little, I pretend it's Dad making faces at them. It makes me feel a little better about him missing out on their lives.

2. Rebekah's middle name, Joy, is in his honor. He named me Joy, and she's named after me AND him.

Eight years down and (hopefully) fifty to go.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Back in December, you may remember, I had a fetal echo to check the development of Rebekah's heart and our cardiologist, Dr. S, discovered that she has a small intra-muscular VSD (hole in the muscle tissue between her ventricles, the lower chambers of the heart). Dr. S wanted to see her after she was born to check the status of it and get a better look at it. That appointment was this past Thursday, the 20th.

She still has the hole, but it's not anything anyone is concerned about. Mom and the midwives listened for it very carefully the night Rebekah was born and didn't hear anything. When I mentioned that to Dr S, she said its because the pressure in the lungs and the ventricles hadn't evened out (or something along those lines) so that makes this type of VSD very hard to hear at the beginning. It's apparently there, but faint. Not like Eden's.

We're going back in a year to check in on it. I'm not sure how long it should take to close, but Dr. S fully expects it to close on its own without needing any surgery, which we like to hear. It will get louder as it closes (think of a water hose when you put your thumb over the opening) but that'll be a good sign.

So it was a relatively pain free appointment. I say relatively because our part we had to pay was nearly $3500. We get reimbursement from Austin's work but still. Gah. Plus two hours at the hospital for an appointment is never fun. All the staff at the cardiac clinic were asking about Eden and were both bummed and excited that they don't get to see her until December.

It looks like we'll have two girls with annual cardiac appointments for a while. It's not too terrible. Everyone loves Eden, so that makes it a little easier. I'm sure over time they'll come to love Rebekah, too. Because she's just adorable. But I may be biased.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

My kid's a smart really.

A few people have inquired about Asher's status in the evaluation process and we wanted to wait until we'd heard everything before posting anything. We aren't at the end of this journey, far from it, but we've got a more definite picture of where we're going.

Asher is NOT autistic, but he is at risk for depression, anxiety, and emotional disturbance. He's been having behavioral issues in school because he's so far advanced beyond his classmates and he's not being challenged at all. He needs a more structured classroom situation and a stricter teacher (nothing against his current teacher, we love her and she's worked with us to get Asher what he needs).

Also...his IQ is 134. So there's that.

The reason people went into the evaluation process thinking he might be autistic is that he shows several tendencies in the way he interacts with people and situations. The recommendation is to move him to 2nd grade next year and if he's still exhibiting these tendencies, to reevaluate him and see if maybe it IS autism after all.

He's been doing 2nd grade work in pretty much every aspect of class work except reading. There, he's on a 5th grade level. His vocabulary is extremely high for a kindergartener. Not just the fact that he knows the words, but can use the correctly. And even spell some of them.

The areas where he's "normal" are his writing, which is very much a kindergartener (all caps, no spaces) and that's not anything to be too concerned about. He's below average on his social interactions with others. He doesn't do well socially, so the recommendation there was to get him into day camps and activities this summer where he'll be in a structured environment with other kids. They also think that being in a class with his intellectual peers will help a lot with that. No longer being the smartest kid in the room will be a good thing for him.

We've got him signed up for a couple of art camps at the Grace and we're working on getting him enrolled in a G&T program through HSU called Threshold. They do science type stuff with other kids and it's just a half day for two weeks in July. I think he'll enjoy it and there's a two hour seminar for parents of gifted children that Austin's looking forward to (it's during the day on Tuesday and Thursday during Asher's program so I can't go).

This past Monday we had an ARD (which I forget what that stands for, sorry) with the psychologist, the principal, Asher's teacher, and another woman who's position at TLCA I missed and talked for over an hour about what the results were and what our next step should be. Definitely skipping 1st, since he knows 99% of it already and the 1% he doesn't is the stuff they're learning right now. It doesn't make sense to move him to 1st for the last 4 weeks of school, so we're going to work on those things with him over the summer. Those things are learning to read an analog clock and the decimals that go with money. He understands the value of coins and adding them up, but if you ask him to subtract from a dollar, he gets confused. I think we'll have that figured out pretty quickly.

All throughout the meeting, they kept saying "he's like a man in a little boy's body: he's confused as to why he's grouped with all these kids who aren't as smart as he is." He lacks a filter, so he sometimes says things he shouldn't, but that's typical for a kid his age. He hasn't learned that even if you really think the people around you are idiots, it's not nice to point it out to them. We'll be working on that, too.

The TLCA administrators were sure to point out that they don't have a G&T program, and one woman was honest and said she thought he might actually do better in public school where he can take advantage of a G&T program. We told them we have a friend who has a private school she's in charge of and she wants him to come to her and we're going to be exploring that as well.

We know that she would be great for him. She could create a curriculum tailor made for him and she will NOT take his sass. She will love him, and teach him, and guide him extremely well. Plus, she's my second mother and I've known her my literal entire life. I trust her 100%. So that's a huge huge selling point. The only reservation I personally have is the social aspect.

Yes, academics are hugely important....but so are social skills. A class of 6 or 10 is intimate and close knit (I had 9 years of those from K-8), but I worry about him not getting enough exposure to other kids in a school that small. We could sign him up for other activities, but then that's more for us to deal with as far as scheduling and finances goes.

In a perfect world, we'd get the teacher we want with the socialization that we want.

So that's where we are. We're going to do what we feel is best for him. We're kicking off the summer by signing him up for all kinds of camps and VBS's (when they're available) but still letting him have a summer. We're going to keep him enrolled at TLCA until we make a final decision about where he'll go next fall. We may double enroll him to make sure we have a spot at our school of choice.

We have an interesting road ahead of us with this one. Because of course.

Sunday, April 16, 2017


Having so many kids can be expensive, and one way we save money is by storing clothes. I buy things in sizes they haven't grown into when they're on sale, I shop at resale shops and consignment sales whenever possible, I happily accept clothes that friends' children have outgrown, keep what I like and pass on the rest. As a result, I have tubs and boxes FULL of clothes for my kids in the attic an on some shelves in the upstairs room. It's all actually pretty organized, a result of hours of work on my part. I've passed on stuff to friends, sold things online, donated stuff...and I still have a small mountain of children's clothes.

I rotate my own clothes, too. I have a tub of maternity clothes, a tub of out of season clothes (summer and winter). I even have a smaller box of nursing tops, but that box is currently empty since all those items are being utilized. I rotate everything around with the changing of seasons and sizes for the kids. It's a lot of work, hauling tubs around, making sure everything is in the proper place, that sets are together and that everything is clean and the boxes are labeled. I even have boxes of clothes that were mine as a child that my mom saved for me to give my own daughters. They're pretty little dresses with smocking that my aunts made me. Very 80's styles, so I've only pulled a couple out for Eden and Rebekah to wear, but it's still really cool to have those mementos. I've got bags with special items for each kid, though each subsequent child's bag is a little less full that the older

Recently, I've put away the maternity clothes and pulled out some summer stuff and made sure I had all the nursing stuff. The kids have been switched from winter to summer. And Rebekah is moving out of newborn and into the 0-3 month size.

When I put away the newborn clothes for Eden, I cried. Her early infancy was so tainted by her diagnosis that we didn't know anything. We thought she was probably our last child, but her future was so ambiguous it was hard to completely accept that fact. I cried each time she outgrew a size for the first few months because who knew what would happen next.

I'm not the only mom to be sentimental like that, but I wasn't that way with either of the boys. Maybe because I knew neither of them was the last?

Unless something unexpected happens, Rebekah is my last baby. She's outgrowing her newborn clothes. She's starting to sleep through the night...sort of (4 hour stretches almost counts). She's not nursing as much and she's able to be awake and pleasant for stretches. She smiles at me every day.

I started packing up her newborn clothes today. And I didn't cry a single tear.

There's some relief in knowing that the newborn phase is almost behind me for good. It's exhausting. My body is sore from holding her in certain positions for long periods of time and from feeding her seemingly constantly at times. I wake up a couple times to feed her, though Austin helps tremendously by giving her a bottle at night when I'm tapped out, both milk wise and energy wise. They spend times together snuggled on the couch so I can get some rest without a fussing hungry baby nearby. He does better on less sleep than I do, but I think he'll be just as happy to leave this phase behind.

There's so many phases ahead of us, not just with Rebekah but with all four of our kids. School, dating, adulthood, teen years, driving, etc. The newborn phase has its sweet spots, like those first unintentional smiles and the midnight snuffling to mama's breast, the deep sleep laughter (this girl laughs in her sleep a few times a week and it's my favorite thing ever...I WILL miss that). So for now, I'll pack away the newborn clothes until such a time as someone else needs them. And with so many people in my life having babies, that time will come sooner rather than later.

Friday, April 7, 2017

A different kind of April Shower

Well, it's been five weeks and all six of us are still alive. Hallelujah! There were times it was iffy.

Breastfeeding got off to a sort of rough start. I hate pretty much everything about it, but soldiered on and Rebekah nursed like a crazy woman for, oh, about 4.5 weeks. She ate like she was starving all. the. time. so we supplemented with some formula in the first week or so but our periodic weight checks showed she was packing on the ounces like nobody's business, so we kept up with what we were doing.

She's currently about 9#7, a good increase from her birth weight of 8# even. She lost a few ounces in the first few days so overall she's gained over a pound and a half since her birth. She spits up a lot and as any mother can attest, that means I get very short time spans when I don't have a spot or dribble or smear or pool of spit up on me somewhere. I sleep on a towel when she's against me in the night to cut down on linen laundry.

She sleeps pretty well, several hours a day. She's starting to figure out that she can be awake and not eating, though she seems confused by the concept. She enjoys being cuddled and sleeping with my bare breast as her pillow and easy access to the nipple in case she needs a little midnight snack.

The older kids all seem a little obsessed with her. She's the first one they want to see when they come home from school or church or when they wake up. Elijah is constantly trying to pick her up, sometimes to her terror and our annoyance. He means well, but he's just not big enough yet to carry her around like he wants to. Eden is always trying to kiss her face and mouth, but will settle for her head and knees and elbows. Asher likes to put his face right up in hers and make faces at her.

She does annoy them at times. Asher doesn't like it when she cries loudly due to a diaper change or delay in eating or other mild baby annoyance. Eden used her head as a foot rest the other day (I put a quick stop to that) and Elijah thinks she takes up too much room when she's on her little pillow on our bed.

Asher's already put in a request that the next time I have a baby it be twins. I have NO idea where he got that idea. When I told him that we were done having babies he asked when we were going to adopt a kid, then. Again, not sure where that concept came from. I told him we had no plans to adopt and asked if he didn't think 4 kids was enough. He shrugged and said he didn't know.

That kid.

We've generally gotten back into the swing of things. Spring Break was rough and the next week was hard, too, so Austin did a work-from-home thing for a few days last week so he could help out and it was great. He was able to keep the Es out of my hair so I could rest and nurse almost exclusively. This week was better and I'm hoping we're on an upward trend. Her nursing constantly has been the toughest part of our adapting.

When a baby wants to nurse for 45 minutes of every hour, it's hard to get anything done. She seems to be getting a little better at lasting a while between feedings, but every evening she spends a few hours constantly nursing. Occasionally I let her cry for a few minutes just so I can have a break to, you know, go to the bathroom or fix something to eat.

I've been able to pump some so that when she's inconsolable in the middle of the night and I'm just not cutting it, Austin can help out by giving her a bottle. Because of this I've been able to get a few "full" night's sleep this past week. We keep a couple bottles in the fridge and we have some in the freezer, too. It's great. I'm excited to be able to wear real clothes for church and grown up occasions or have the option to go out in the evenings without her if I want. I'm hoarding the milk, though, for when I'm not able to nurse anymore so she can have milk as long as possible. I really think that's a big factor in Eden's health the past two years. She's had a couple of ear infections and croup but hardly ever really acted like she felt bad. I'd like to think that the months of pumping breast milk and doing the measuring and storage and everything we went though for her first year were worth it.

So yeah. It's been an up and down few weeks around here. Everyone is enamored of the baby (except maybe the cats) and she looks a little less horrified with her lot in life every day. She's started to give me big gummy smiles and she laughs in her sleep, sometimes so hard she snorts (the most adorable thing EVER). She's got a tiny bit of congestion so she occasionally snores, surprisingly loud for such a tiny baby.

I'm looking forward to how her personality develops and what our family dynamic will change when she's mobile and active and can fight back against being a foot rest or a pillow.

Saturday, March 18, 2017


I've heard from several different sources that once you have three, and can handle it, you can pretty much have as many kids as you want because at that point, what's one more? far, that's only partly true. It's been a rough transition in just a couple ways. And they're not terrible, really.

The church and our friends really stepped up this birth and we didn't have to cook any dinners for nearly two full weeks, which was so nice. That meant we didn't need much in the way of groceries, either, and what little we did need Austin could grab in just a few minutes in the store. We'd stocked up on snack type stuff and we had our own freezer meals so we're still sitting pretty food wise.

The tricky part was the fact that spring break started on Austin's second day back to work. It's always a little rough trying to keep them entertained when I have low energy, but throw in a newborn who I don't really want to take to many places and it's harder. Then add in that she feels like she should be nursing on a nearly constant basis and it's basically impossible. We watched a lot of Netflix (did you know that you can watch the entire series of Sarah and Duck on Netflix in one day? I do. We did it nearly every day this past week) and took naps in Mommy's bed and ate lots of Cheez-its and goldfish and leftovers and toast. We went to a doctor's appointment for Rebekah on Tuesday (she was at 8#3 at 12 days old) and a midwife check up for both of us (she was at 8#6 then), got lunch and cookies from McKay's and had a picnic on Thursday. Aunt Cari came back to help out on Friday and its definitely nice to have her here, she is for sure helping by getting the kids out of the house periodically so I can focus on Rebekah, but at this point, I have a slightly better handle on things. Slightly.

I'm definitely looking forward to Monday when the Es go back to CCF and Asher goes back to school and I can just be alone with Squishy and sleep as much as she'll let me (which isn't much).

Breastfeeding is going well, as her weight gain will attest to. She nurses seemingly around the clock. Overnight, she'll nurse for the majority of a two hour span every hour or so, which means I'm not getting much sleep at night. And since I've got other kids to keep alive during the day I can't nap very much then. I'm giving her a little longer to kind of get a schedule or get over a growth spurt but if she's going to keep up with this constant nursing all day every day, we're stopping. I can't do it. I seriously will nurse her for 30 minutes on each side and she'll be asleep so I'll take the opportunity to go to the bathroom, grab a quick bite to eat (toast or maybe a piece of fruit or something) and she'll wake up and be wanting to nurse again. Another 30 minutes on each side and she'll be asleep again but as soon as I lay her down or readjust my clothes, she wakes up and wants to nurse. She will literally nurse until she overflows. We've had some explosive spit ups where it comes out her nose and mouth simultaneously. She nurses through them. Austin will occasionally give her a bottle of formula to give me a break overnight and she'll sleep a few more hours that way, but then she wakes up and we start all over again.

It's just too much. I've never enjoyed breastfeeding to begin with, I do it because it's cheaper than formula and I do believe that breastmilk is better for babies than formula, though I think formula is fantastic, too. But with three other small children to take care of, I can't spend 6 or 7 hours a day tied to one small infant. It's a shame because she's my last, but it'll be ok, no matter what.

So next up is figuring out our summer and how we're going to survive that. I know things will be easier with Rebekah by then, but I still have to keep in mind the needs of the others. Finding things that aren't going to be super difficult for me to do solo with a 6, 4, 2, and 3 month old gang will be interesting. At least this summer we'll have MDO to help out and give me breaks during the week (weekends are easier since Austin's around). Should be an interesting summer.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

And baby makes 6

Every birth and pregnancy are different, and for sure that's true for us.

Asher's pregnancy was stressful because of moving and a new job and his labor and delivery were fast and intense for a first time. Recovery was rough and breast feeding was basically a disaster.

Elijah's pregnancy was much more relaxed and easy, though his labor and delivery were insane. Recovery wasn't too bad, just a little tricky because there was an older kid in the mix.

Eden's pregnancy was a little hard because three pregnancies in 5 years is a lot for a body to take, or at least my body. Two active little boys, lots of discomfort, I spent a lot of time in bed at the beginning during the morning sickness phase and at the end during the "oh god when will this end?!" phase. Her delivery was just nuts and the recovery was so weird because of her diagnosis. My body shut a lot of stuff down for a time.

So along comes baby #4 and we really just have a general idea of what to expect. It wasn't hard in the beginning, just pretty typical, but the aches and pains were awful. At the end I was getting massages every two weeks just to be able to walk and sleep comfortably for a couple of days. We really thought she'd be early since two out of the previous three had been, so we had the freezer stocked in January and everything ready to go for birth by the beginning of February. And then we waited.

The first time I felt contractions was in the middle of the night on Valentine's Day. We got excited. We got ready. We let certain people know. Then they stopped. Then it happened again on the 16th. And then a few days later. For two weeks. I walked miles around downtown, even in the misty rain. I ate pineapple. I ate slightly spicy foods. I got a pressure point massage. I tried so many things to get her moving. She shifted down a bit but was pretty content to stay where she was. Physical exams didn't show much change in my body, which is always frustrating (even though I know it doesn't really mean anything).

So this past Thursday, the 2nd, at my appointment I was checked and things were actually a little more advanced. She was super low and things were opening but not super fast, so the midwife went ahead and swept my membranes. It's not a super comfortable procedure, but if it gets things going I'm all for it.

We got home around 9.30 and settled in to wait. Around noon, I realized I was having actual contractions that probably needed to be tracked. They were consistently about 10-15 minutes apart, but the previous two weeks had me on guard so I waited until about 3 to start letting people know. I was able to take a short nap through them, so I was a little skeptical they'd keep going. But thank goodness they did.

At school pickup, I told Asher to get dressed after changing out of his school uniform instead of hanging out in his underwear like he usually does since the baby was coming and there'd be people around. He said "Finally! It's been days and days!" A couple hours later I was getting a snack for Eden and Elijah came running into the kitchen and stopped when he saw me and said "Where's the baby?" I told him she was taking a little while and it would probably be after dark when he was in bed when she came out. He grinned and said "Oh yeah. It'll be dark and I'll be in bed and you'll have your baaaaabeeeee!" Then he ran back to his previous activities. Eden just wanted to lay in bed with me and watch tv.

Mom came and checked me around 8 (the midwife had run home to De Leon and was on her way back) and her findings were so different from the midwife's that when she got back in town, we asked her to come check, too. She put me at about a 6 and nearly 85% effaced (I think...its a little hazy). So we still had a couple hours to go, but I was promised a baby by dawn. So we called people and let them know what was up.

My best friend, Kristen, showed up around 9:30 and climbed in bed with me to time contractions and watch The Great British Baking Competition on Netflix for a few hours (until 2am), my sister showed up around midnight and settled into my recliner to try to get some rest since she'd been up since 4:30am, and Austin kind of floated around the house. The kids were crazy because things were changing around the house, so they didn't get to bed until around 10.

At 2 am the contractions were hard enough that I was having trouble thinking coherently during them. So Austin started calling people. And since no one had very far to go, they all showed up seemingly within about 15 minutes. We were all kind of expecting a repeat of before, super fast and intense and back to bed in a couple hours.

Nope. I was checked again and there was improvement but it was still moving slowly.

We all sat around and chatted for hours. Kristen, Cari, Austin and I were so tired we were all fighting sleep. Everyone else had had at least a few hours, though they were sleepy, too. Kristen cleaned my kitchen up for me (sink full of dirty dishes) and then she and Rosetta baked some cookies. We had coffee for those that wanted it.

I was on the bed and everyone else was in chairs around me, so whenever I had a hard contraction people stopped talking and looked at me, like maybe this was it. It was kind of amusing after a bit. Another check showed a little more improvement but still not a ton. Around 4:45 or so I asked about breaking my water. I tried to push during a contraction to break it myself but no go. So the midwife broke it for me while I was standing in the tub. That was a different experience for both of us.

Breaking the water definitely increases the intensity of the contractions. I'm not sure how long those lasted but it felt like a really long time. The contractions got harder and harder and more fluid came flooding out. I soaked through three towels and an incontinence pad or two. I was sitting on the edge of the bed and Austin climbed behind me so I could lean on him and that helped some but not much. Those were the kind of contractions where I just wanted to leave my body behind and let someone else do it.

A little before 5:15, my body decided to push. I had no strength to move myself, so Austin and the midwife moved me. I was on an old crib mattress we have on all fours and my body was pushing for me. It felt like I was having one long lasting contraction and so I just pushed. And it felt like she was refusing to come out. I asked a few times if it was out yet (her head) because I could feel it bulging and retreating and when I kept getting nos, I felt like I wouldn't be able to do it. I don't remember it taking that long once the baby crowned to get any of the others out. Asher took an hour of pushing, but once he crowned, it was over pretty quickly (they ended up having to use a vacuum on him because his heart rate dropped drastically).

Finally her head was out and shortly after her body. I pushed for 9 minutes, though it felt like forever at the time. My arms started to give out so they gave me a birthing ball to hug and that helped tremendously for the last few pushes. My arms still hurt.

Austin caught her at 5:22 am, my brother John got some pictures (I haven't gotten them yet but I'll post some when I do), and Bob valiantly took a video of the birth and then some afterwards. Kristen got an audio I haven't gotten around to listening to yet, and Cari got to cut the cord after it stopped pulsing and the placenta was delivered. It was definitely a group effort.

Rebekah curled up against me and just kind of lay there, stunned. She nursed for a while on both sides, then we got her measurements and she got checked out. Mom and the midwives listened for her VSD and none of them heard anything, so we're intrigued to see what her echo next month shows. Uncle John got to hold her for a bit and she snuggled right in and went to sleep around 6:30 or so. She didn't wake up until 1:30 that afternoon and at that point, she was hungry again.

Bob and Cari generously went out and got everyone breakfast from Grandy's, which was definitely welcome. Other than a snack with Eden around 5 and a piece of toast around 2am, I hadn't eaten much since dinner on Wednesday.

Everyone started clearing out fairly quickly to give us some rest and get a start on their day. Asher got off to school and Eden and Elijah were left to run amok a bit in the house. They all three came in to see their new sister and had mixed reactions. Eden is a little dismayed by the upheaval in the house and spent most of the day crabby and fussy. Asher glanced at her then went back to bed when we got him up at 5:45 to see her, and Elijah excitedly proclaimed his love for her before running off to watch videos on youtube. By 8am, we were alone in the house with our three youngest.

Austin's parents showed up around 10:30 or so and agreed to keep Eden and Elijah out of our hair for a while so we could rest. They did pretty well, though Eden did come in to check on us a couple of times and Austin finally put her down for a nap around 12 or 1 or so because she'd been up since 6:30 and was super tired. Since she went down when BB and Papa took Elijah to Sonic, she missed out on lunch so was starving and crabby again by dinner time.

She nursed around 1:30, then we went back to sleep for a few hours. Finally around 5 we felt like we should probably get up and let her grandparents meet her. Mom, Bob, and Cari arrived about then and shortly after, we ordered dinner from Arrowhead. After dinner, Mom, Bob, and Cari took Eden and Elijah to their house for the night and Beth and Allen cleared out as well. Austin, Asher, and I took showers, then settled down for the night.

Because she nurses for so long, I had nothing for her by about midnight last night. She was nursing for 30 minutes per side and still fussing and rooting, so we pulled out a bottle of ready mixed formula and gave her that. She sucked down half then passed out. She has not given hardly any of it back to us. She's filling diapers regularly and still spitting up some mucous but she's also sleeping well and seems pretty content.

So there you go. Maybe more than you wanted, but this is also a personal family record, so I try to put as many details in as I can while I can remember them. At 8 lbs even, she's my biggest baby. She was born on her due date, which I guess was considerate in a way? but also super annoying. She's 20 1/4 inches long and just generally pretty perfect. She looks at everything with a confused frown, which I suppose makes sense. She hates having clothes pulled over her head, and that's really the only reason she's really cried. She fusses a bit when she's hungry and she grunts and whimpers in her sleep. Even if the kids are pretty nonchalant about her, Austin and I are pleased.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March has arrived

Yes. I'm still pregnant. You don't have to call or text me. I can guarantee that if you're on our list, you'll be notified when that status begins to change. You're excited to see pictures and hold her? Get in line, bub.

No, I'm not happy about it. I'm hurting all the time. I can't hardly walk without discomfort from the bowling ball resting in my pelvis and pushing my hips out of alignment. I can't sleep because even with a pillow under my belly, it sags and the skin is stretched so tight it feels like it's going to rip. I have Braxton Hicks contractions pretty much non stop, so my belly is firm all the time, which means there's no comfortable position ever.

I can't reach the kitchen sink faucet unless I turn sideways, which makes filling pots or washing my hands tricky. I can't reach the bottom of the washer or the back of the dryer without some serious maneuvering. I can't wear a seat belt normally because it either cuts across my neck or cuts into my arm if I tuck it under so I can breath. I can't lift Eden up to change her diaper or hold her in my lap or put her in the car without pain. I've got a step stool in my room so she can climb on the bed on her own, which she thinks is the greatest.

At times, I can't breath super great unless I arch my back and stick my stomach out, which then means my lower back hurts even more. To ease that, I take warm baths but then I have trouble getting into and out of the tub.

I've been having light to moderate contractions for over two weeks, feeling pressure in my pelvis from her pushing down for a few days (and yes, I've pushed down on her, too, just because why not at this point?) and still nothing. I've had so many false starts that the one person I alert every time is probably getting less and less excited every time ( I didn't even mention the last time to her.

So yes. I'm grumpy. I'm able to hide it fairly well in company, but home alone by myself...not a terribly happy sight. I know it'll end. I know I don't have it the worst of anyone ever. I know there are women who would love to be in my position. I know I know I know. At the moment, I don't care. When you've been uncomfortable for so long with no real lasting relief, it actually drives you a little crazy.

No, there's nothing you can do to help. Like I said, I'm grumpy and will likely continue to be so until she's born and I've been able to get some restful sleep. The last few weeks of pregnancy are the pits and when you go over your due date (which YES I KNOW IT'S JUST AN ESTIMATE; I HAVE THREE DUE DATES) it gets worse.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

I'm the worst

I'm seriously awful at updating the blog. Not like there's tons going on, but still.

Asher is still having a rough time at school. His anger issues got worse to the point that he was sent home three times and suspended for one day in the first three weeks of school. That's gotta be a record somewhere. We're in the process of having him evaluated for sensory disorders, emotional disorders, and autism, hoping that some diagnosis will lead us in a direction of coping mechanisms and different tactics we can take to help him.

He's been doing 2nd grade math and reading this semester and it seems to be pretty easy for him. He complained one night that the math was hard and a few days later we got home a math worksheet with everything done correctly. It was basically analyzing simplified bar graphs. It's a good thing Austin's good at math because this kid is going to surpass my abilities in a couple years. If not sooner.

During this evaluation period, he's being taken out of PE and music, the two classes he struggles in the most. Instead, he'll run on the track at the school and spend some time in the library. He's bored after reading a couple books, so maybe they can find him some worksheets or something? I dunno. We'll see when this is all done.

We should get results around the end of February, which is when HoneyBee is due, so....we'll see how that all works out. Could be an interesting time.

Elijah and Eden are doing pretty well. Eden is sassy and has started acting 2, so that's super fun. She gets into everything, even five minutes after getting a swat for getting into it. She's opinionated and likes things her way. Elijah still has his rage moments, but they seem to be fewer and farther between. Most of the time, he's pleasant and sweet.

HoneyBee and I are doing great, too. She's growing (so I'm growing, ugh) and seems to be in the right position. We're officially "term" on Friday, the 10th, so we're hoping she'll come fairly soon. I keep telling myself it's just a couple more weeks, because I'm so uncomfortable and ready to have my body back. That first night after the baby is born, I sleep SO WELL. Even waking up to nurse a time or two (I figured out very quickly how to sleep nurse. It's the best thing ever). Probably has something to do with having spent time pushing a large object out of my body but still. I'm looking forward to that first night's sleep.

And that's about it, really. The freezer is full, but not terribly organized and I hate to eat on it while I'm still pregnant but I have no energy to cook right now. So every week, I restock a little. The baby supplies are in place, as are the birth supplies and the back up plans are known by all. (Midwife is in DeLeon, so there's a chance she won't make it.) Since one of my due dates (based on her size so I ignore it) is March 6 and Mom's leaving the country on March 8, I even have a back up plan for my back up plan. That trip is a huge factor in me hoping she comes sooner rather than later.

So if you think of us, wish on stars or at 11:11 or whatever, tossing an occasional "Hey, let the HoneyBee hatch soon" wouldn't hurt my feelings.