Saturday, December 29, 2012

Baby Cheeks


She took to the Captain like she's known him all along.

Boy do we love her!

Home and Whole

The Captain returned at last!  Our family has been whole for 25 days now.  His return home has been surprisingly smooth. I was worried, but I feel so blessed that he came home without so many of the issues others have dealt with (PTSD, moodiness, being overwhelmed, power struggles-- that was my concern for myself). It is as if he never left. I'm most grateful that he came back the same Jay who left.  And I'm so grateful to have my sweetheart back.  I missed his hands and his hugs and so many other things.

These are just random pictures, but they give you the idea.

There has been a little skeleton or dragon living with us sometimes.  He's wearing these costumes out.

Christmas day was simple and fun.

 Rhoda, too, didn't even need to adjust to him.  It was as if she knew him all along.
We all laugh a little easier these days.

Oh, and yes, the help with the kids is great! I've loved getting out of the house alone.  It's so much different from leaving them with a sitter or a friend. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

And it's almost over

Captain's deployment is nearing its end.  I will say that it's actually gone by really, really quickly. . .for me.  For him, it's been miserably slow.  He's stayed quite safe on a main base there in Afghanistan, and much of his time has been on a computer.  We've been in consistent contact most mornings and evenings.  I've spent a lot of time chatting with him.  (We use good ol' MSN Messenger.  Skyping is a rare treat.)  However, he's been working 12+ hour days--every day.  He takes time most Sundays for church, and of course he eats lunch and dinner, but he hasn't had a lot of down time or physical training time otherwise. 

And how have I handled it?  Well, pretty well, I think.  Like I said, it's gone by fast for me.  When we started out on this deployment, I looked at my children and realized that if I wished this time gone, they would be nine months older, so I made a point to enjoy them every minute I could. 

I also credit my upbringing and bloodline.  From my mother, I inherit my introversion and my ability to be a homebody.  As a child, I was six and seven years younger than my two brothers.  I was also wierd.  I spent much of my childhood playing by myself, outside and with my pets.  Being alone does not bother me.    From my father, I inherit. . . how do I put this? . . . being a chief.  And by that, I mean I like to be in charge.  I also learned from both my parents independence and handyman skills.

So I've done okay, I think.  I haven't lost my temper too many times, although I haven't gotten a lot done, either.  I've adjusted to having the kids around all the time.  The first couple months of the deployment, I absolutely got the kids in bed by 7:30pm, give or take.  I NEEDED that time at night to refresh myself.   Now I'm much more relaxed about bedtime.  Our nighttime routine has absolutely changed, too, which was a huge adjustment at first.  I used to leave all my kids in their room with Daddy's Songs and they would fall asleep.  Once Marshall learned to crawl out of his crib, though, I had to teach him to stay in bed, so I started reading to them until he falls asleep.   Now I can tolerate my kids much later than I usedtocould.  Part of it is that it's easier to let them stay up late until they're tired and easy to put to bed than it is to try putting them to bed earlier and spend two hours doing it.  Did that make sense?

Having a fourth baby has been a bit of an adjustment.  Those first few weeks, Rhoda had a rough time.  She was a great eater, but she gulped down air, so I spent more time burping her than feeding her, and she would SCREAM.  Ouch.  But by the time she hit four or five weeks old, that pretty well faded, and now she's just a delightful baby!  I spoil her as much as I can.  The kids give her quite a bit of attention, too.  I wish I could hold her all day and stare into her eyes, but I can't.  I do carry her around in my wrap, though.  We both love that.

And homeschooling through all of this?  Well, some days we don't get to it, but the days we do are really fun.  And of course there are days we barely scratch by.  Liesl is trying to read more and more, and Mira, too, is learning to read-- with her there is definitely no vision problem. 

One of my methods of coping is to just not think about stuff.  I try to keep my not-thinking limited to things regarding Jay, but sometimes it bleeds into other things like meal-planning and social skills.  I don't think about how much I miss him or what I miss.  If it does come to mind, I push it away.  The initial pain of him leaving was deadly sharp.  I couldn't function if I felt that degree of pain every day.  So I made sure to live my life and enjoy my time with my kids.  I didn't forget about him, of course, but I made it a point not to miss him.

But now it's coming to an end, I've allowed myself to look forward to his homecoming.  There will be an adjustment when he gets back, but I believe that life will get better.  It will be so nice to have a male presence in the home-- one who has honorably kept his covenants and who brings with him the Priesthood power.  It will be nice to have warm hands to hold.  And it will be nice to kiss again, too. 

And now for some random pictures.

We have fun together.

I love her soft face.

15 weeks old
Having some one-on-one time with Daddy. 
This is her new haircut after she cut a chunk of hair for probably the 20th time.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hospital gowns and oxygen tubes are soooo sexy.
I just had my 4th vein annihilation surgery this week.  They only took care of one vein this time around, although they went through my jugular.  In June of 2011, they embollized my left gonadal veins (which is now just one, as it's supposed to be), but this time they embollized my right gonadal vein.  It was really big, apparently.  I'm hoping this takes care of the pelvic congestion I experience at certain times.  It's been five days since my surgery, but I am really dizzy.  Doctors tell me to drink more fluid.  More and more and more. 

Captain gets home in a few weeks.  It's gone by so fast.  Little Rhoda is 14 weeks old now.  I wish she would stop growing up-- I just love her.  My other kids are being knot heads during my recovery.  Thank goodness Nana is here to help me.  I just love her.

We've stayed healthy and happy during his deployment, but I'm excited to have husband back.  I can't wait for him to meet our little Punkin!  And for us to find a new normal with his return.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pumpkin Patch

She's 8 weeks old now.  How time flies.

Showing off her missing front tooth, while doing her favorite thing: riding the ponies.  (I never thought I would have to pay to have my children experience this.)

Riding the farm train.

My sunflowers

I had to throw in another one of her. 

Where's Marshall?

A labor story

Pregnancies are a challenge for me.  The first half of this one was very trying, and while I felt well the second half, I had to deal with the discomfort of wearing six layers to manage my vein pain.  The last month of my pregnancy was, surprisingly, very comfortable, considering how hard it is to move at that stage.

Thursday the 9th of August, I had my membranes stripped, which with Marshall and Liesl, put me in labor within a day.  This time, however, for as painful as the stripping was, it did not work.  I had nary a contraction for two days, no matter how long I walked and worked and waited.

Walking around the lake the day I went into labor;
 I'm framed by blackberry bushes.
Saturday, I was fed up.  We walked around the lake, picking tart blackberries and watching the girls ride their new bikes.  After a lazy afternoon, I was fed up and did something I'd been dying to do for months: I jumped on the trampoline.

My sweet, concerned mother watched anxiously as I bumbled around the trampoline.  I only jumped for a few minutes.  Then I decided to make the most of my time and play with my kids.  I built a "hain hack" (train track) for my son, and then we all played hide and seek. 

We probably played for close to an hour, and during that time, I started having a pain in my guts.  I told my mom about it.  Around dinner time, those pains turned into a single contraction.  I ignored it, but my mom noticed, because I was obviously is some discomfort.

My first four contractions came 30 minutes apart.  Around 8pm, I settled down and watched National Geographic's Life in a Day.  By 9pm, the contractions took my breath away, but they were soooo irregular.  Through the coming hours, they came 10, 5, 15, 20, or 40 (!) minutes apart. I still texted my babysitter to let her know what was up. At 10:40-ish, my contractions changed. They were still inconsistent (though not longer than 15 minutes apart anymore), but they started double peaking.  At 11pm, I texted my sitter again to ask her to come.  By the time she got here, every movement caused a never-ending contraction.

But they were still erratic!  If I sat still, I didn't have one.   Between contractions, I had a brief reprieve when I could rush to grab some last-minute things, or run to the van, or rush into the ER.  The nurse, when she saw me and asked what number baby this was, would not let me walk to labor and delivery.  I tried telling her they were just going to make me walk anyway because my contractions were irregular, but I could barely get that out, so two male nurses rushed me to L&D instead.

Having a contraction while being checked into traige.
As soon as my midwife walked in (coincidentally, she was the same one who delivered Marshall), I told her I wanted an epidural, but when she checked me, I was surprised to find I was dilated to an 8!  I said, "Well, I can go the last two centimeters without medication." (They applauded my decision, of course.)

They wheeled me into their last L&D room, the antenatal room, where a friend of mine stayed for a month once.  They told me to let them know when I felt like pushing.  When I moved from the triage bed into the delivery bed, I had one really big contraction (my only one since being checked), and I said, "I feel like pushing, but I can't dilate two centimeters in one contraction!"  Both the nurse and my midwife said, at the same time, "OH, YES YOU CAN!"  It was funny.

Sure enough, I was fully dilated and my water was ready to break.  I broke that by pushing through my next contraction and that was . . .an experience.  Imagine throwing a water balloon.  Anyway, then, I pushed as hard as I could because I just wanted this baby out!! (And you'd better believe I wanted to find out if it was a boy or a girl!)
Rhoda, brand new.  I pushed her out so quickly, her face bruised.

At 12:21, barely 30 minutes after entering the hospital, I delivered my third baby girl. They tossed her up on my chest just as soon as she was out, and I got to be the first to discover that it was a girl!  Yay!  She weighed 8 pounds even and was 20 inches long. 

Snuggling skin-to-skin.

Because I didn't recieve any antibiotics during my labor (I didn't even get an IV--- totally awesome!)  I had to stay at the hospital for 48 hours.  I've done that before with my first two, but I didn't have to share a room.  I hate sharing a room, and this time I had two indifferent roommates throughout my stay (they didn't even ask me for advice-- crazy ladies), and we had different doctors and nurses, meaning neither of us slept well because they just had to come check our stats at 3am or give our baby her first bath at 5am.  Seriously.  Or as I like to say, Srsly.

My biggest annoyance was that they kept trying to tell me what I needed to do when.  It's like, HELLO, THIS IS MY FOURTH BABY!  I kinda know what I'm doing, ya know?  I slept with her at night, skin-to-skin, even though they told me not to. And I ignored their direction to tell them when I'm nursing her so they can cut her little heel for a stupid blood sample to check her blood sugar level.  I've decided if I ever have another baby, I'm doing it at home or at a midwifery, because I really just want to be left alone.  All I want is someone else to cook for me.  That's all I want anyway, but it's especially handy after having a baby.

Her going-home outfit, at two-days-old.
So, yeah, she's a great baby.  She hardly cries. When she does, it's ear-splitting.  I just love having her around, and I spoil her lots and lots.

Nana and babe.
I missed having Jay around.  My mom was really nervous filling in for him as a "birthing coach", but she held my hand, and it was quick.  She really enjoyed it.  Honestly, I try not to think about him missing this, because it was scary going into it, and it's sad looking back.  I try to make the best of my time-- I'm determined to enjoy every moment I can, because I have this time with our kids, and he doesn't.  I try to document things a little more.  It's blasted hard writing to him now, though.  Four kids exhaust me.

The General took to our new little Cricket quickly.
  Here, he's making a duck face.
Here, I celebrate shredding one of the more annoying layers, a prenatal cradle.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Briar Rose needs vision therapy, and other updates

A trip to Mt. St. Helens (no, it's not in the background)
I've totally went on a blogging freeze lately.  I've been on the computer more than ever in my life.  Jay and I chat morning and night most days (the old fashioned way-- on MSN Messenger).  And if we're not chatting, I'm writing him an email that's essentially journaling my day and every single detail I can remember about the kids.  So why blog? 

So, I'm three weeks away from having this baby, barring an early labor.  I had a dear friend pass away the day before my 32 week appointment, and thanks to that and the stress that occasionally surfaces with deployments, I was a sobbing mess when I talked to my midwife.  When I asked to schedule the induction date, the midwife kindly said OK, like she was patting me on the head.  Only now, after speaking to so many other soldiers' wives who've wanted inductions but have been refused them, do I know how lucky I am to have a date.  Maybe it's my very swollen veins and the pain they cause, maybe it's that I asked two months in advance, maybe it's that I need to have a date confirmed so my mom could schedule her flight up here, maybe it's because they felt bad for me because I was a sobbing mess.  I don't know, but I got lucky.  I'll take it.

I homeschool, and I love it, and it's the hardest thing I could ever do.  I am NOT a teacher by nature, and I've been really kicking myself because Liesl has not learned to read.  We'll start first grade this fall, and she is behind with reading and writing.  Sure, I'm to blame for some of it (we did buy a house and move, I got pregnant and sick, and Daddy did get deployed; that's an adventurous year), but for a while now, I've wanted to know if there was something else the matter.

I attended a homeschooling conference in mid-June and was there venting to someone about how Liesl can add three numbers in her head, listen to me read to her for hours, and recall information I've told her about bugs, but she refuses, refuses, refuses to try to read herself.  She complains that it's too hard.  She knows phonograms and can sound out words, but she refuses to practice.  She's had a hard time learning to write.  Etc. etc.  The lady I was speaking to teaches a how-to-homeschool course, and, having encountered this problem before, asked me, "Does she ever skip words or lines?" Yes.  "Can she remember what she's read about?"  No.  "Can she remember words she read on previous lines?" No. "Is she uncoordinated?" (I hate admitting this because Liesl loves being physically active...) Yes; she falls off chairs and can't catch balls.  There are other indicators that I can answer yes to: Does she put her head close to the page, tilt her head, or squint?  Does she take time to sound things out? Does she rub her eyes a lot?  Does she love being read to but hate trying to read?  (Keep in mind that she was seen by an opthamologist last September, and he declared her vision was perfect.)

The lady then referred me to a vision clinic, who gave us a free screening, and they said that Yep, she has a vision tracking problem.  I found a second, more affordable clinic to get a second opinion, and they verified it.  We start vision therapy in October (after she gets used to the reading glasses she also needs).  I'm very excited to start that up, and I can't wait to see the results!

Learn from me: take it as a sign that there's a problem when your otherwise intelligent child can spend an hour looking through a book she enjoys (an animal encyclopedia is just one example) and never try to sound out a single word. Looking back, it's obvious she's had a problem, but like I said,  I was going off of his opinion this entire year. It wasn't until we had her functional vision checked with an OPTOMETRIST that we discovered the problem.

Vision tracking has to do with how well eyes follow something together-- words along a page, a thrown ball, a moving light.  It's an eye-muscle thing, not an acuity thing.  If the eyes can't work together, it takes more work to get words to focus, and if the brain is working too hard to focus, it cannot retain any information.  Hence, she couldn't remember the word LOOK from one line to the next in a Dick and Jane book, nor could she remember what even happened in the story.  It's very frustrating as a parent when you don't know something's wrong.

Playing peek-a-boo

My baby belly makes a good pillow.
Marshall turned two in May and is still the sweetest, most tender-hearted little boy on the planet.  He's discovered a love/obsession for all things automobile (bikes, trucks, tractors, diggers, planes, trains, etc.), and a distaste for all things loud such as thunder, my power tools, and air shows.  He is learning to speak and doing it so cutely.  When the planes were flying over our house during the air shows, he would beg me to come inside.  He even fell asleep on my lap, waiting for the noise to subside.

We sing a lot, and he has a repertoire of over a dozen songs he can sing near pitch-perfect.  He's not actually singing here, so much as singing along, but you get the idea.


Playing with the new Gears! toy.
Mira turned four earlier this month, and she's also grown an inch since Daddy left.  I'm always sad to encounter yet another of my kids' birthdays, and having a fun little girl leave the age of three (my very favorite age) is a bittersweet occurrance. She promised me, however, that she would still be my silly girl. That's true so far, and she still gives me lots of hugs and kisses.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The oldest gets her own post

On kindness . . . .
When Mira wasn't quite well enough for church, and thus didn't get to bring home anything fun from Primary, Liesl drew and cut out this giant person for her.

On risque self portraits . . . .
Okay, I probably shouldn't find this funny, but I do.  That's a shot of the V in her collar.
And her leg.  Va va voom!

On keeping herself quiet for bedtime . . . .

Seriously, she did this to herself and then slept like this.
On losing two teeth. . . .
This was right after having two cavities filled. . . the lucky girl didn't even have a lopsided smile. Anyway, she's lost both of her front, bottom teeth, but she's never had a gap to show for it because those permanent teeth were already grown in.

On hair and problem-solving . . . .

This one actually deserves a little more explanation.  But first, she's started doing her own hair, and she takes great pains getting her bangs to curl just so around her eye:

I'm all about independence around here.  Anyway, on to the problem. . .

She got a simple squirt toy a few weeks back, but while she loved it, she left it in the front yard not four feet from the street (next to a bus stop, no less) for a number of days.  I reminded her once or twice it was there, but she ignored me.  Then one day last week, I pointed out that the toy was gone. Of course, she cried and was mad, but I told her there was nothing to do about it.  And no, I had nothing to do with the disappearance.

Then she came up with the idea of making a sign.  Since she came up with the idea, I thought we may as well go for it.  She dictated some long sentence to me, but I summarized it and wrote it on a slip of paper for her to copy onto a sign.  It ties in to the hair picture because she drew the stick figures of herself with a very careful curl just around the eye.  It looks like a nose.

You're probably asking whether the sign worked.  It did!  Two full school days later, we found the squirt toy thrown onto the grass.  While I think it would've been a valuable lesson to have had a neglected toy stolen, there's nothing quite like the satisfaction she got from solving her own problem.  Good job!

And other things, too . . . .

Hey, if the hat fits. . . !

She wanted to cut flowers with this baby, but when I pointed out how big it was (by showing her this picture), she agreed it wasn't safe to use.

Parachuting off our front terrace.  I like my camera.