Friday, April 30, 2010

Twins

Allison came to me the other day with a great idea: "Mommy, how 'bout Eliza doesn't have a birthday this year and Harmony does and then they can be twins just like me and Sarah!"

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sunday, April 25, 2010

38 Weeks (and other reasons to celebrate)!


And just to compare -- here's that 32 week picture again:
Reason #1: I'm getting excited to have this baby! DH and Lillian come home at midnight tonight, so it looks like this little gal is going to at least wait for her daddy to be there before she arrives. It has actually been nice to have him gone, to have a reason to not be so desperate this week. Usually, I'm extra anxious, hoping for an early baby, timing contractions and crossing my fingers. But it's been nice to just relax and be patient. I see my doctor tomorrow and may even schedule an induction.

Reason #2: My friend Alexis came over on Friday and cut everyone's hair -- she comes every couple of months. I've been feeling so tired of my hair and wanting a change. The last times I've felt like that, I've cut my hair short. I've always liked it, but DH hasn't. So this time, I had my hair straightened and got bangs! It's a big change for me -- I haven't had bangs since I was 12 years old. That was back when big poofs were in fashion -- see how lovely I look?

Um, yeah . . . pictures like this are probably why I've steered clear of the whole "bangs" thing for twenty years.

But, to Alexis' credit, I think I turned out MUCH less scary this time around:

Reason #3: Today's my anniversary! And though I'm spending it apart from DH, I did pick these flowers for myself, then took a picture with my fun new camera lens that arrived in the mail this week, a present from DH. And though I wish DH was here to pick the flowers for me, I'm very happy with my new lens -- I'd pointed it out to him months ago as the next thing I wanted, and he remembered and had it sent just in time, without me even hinting about it. Isn't he great? Happy 13th Anniversary!
Reason #4: On Tuesday, I celebrate 11 years of being a mom! Lillian has always been the perfect oldest child, and I'm so grateful that she was the one who eased me into this adventure called motherhood!

Lillian at one month old, with her cousins:
At age 3:
at age 5:


At age 6:

at age 8:
and almost 11:
Happy Birthday Lillian!


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

An hour and ten minutes later


And I still hadn't seen the doctor this morning. To be fair, he is not my regular doctor, who is out of town. He's covering both his own patients and hers as well this week, and I think there was probably a delivery going on. But still, as the time went on and on, I started to wonder if I would be out in time to pick up Allison and Sarah from kindergarten. Finally, at 11:05 (my appointment was at 10:00), I asked what my chances were of getting out of there by 11:30. The nurses checked and came back and told me there were still five people to be seen before me, but that I could come back later and see the nurse practitioner, who by the way couldn't do a full exam. Or I could wait and see my regular doctor in a week. So I took that last option and left, feeling a bit disappointed I'd wasted so much time just waiting.

As for the exam, I guess I really don't need one. I'm sure I'm more dilated and effaced than last week, when I was 2.5 cm and 50% effaced, but knowing exactly how much isn't really going to change whether I go into labor or not. But part of me really likes to know what's going on with my body, to know if all these contractions are doing anything other than making me catch my breath and tightening my stomach.

But perhaps it's best that I skip the exam. Last week, I was sore for a few hours after my exam, something I never am with my regular doctor. And DH is out of town until Sunday and I don't want to have the baby without him. I'm not likely to; in fact, though I walk around ready to go into labor at any moment, enjoy plenty of contractions, and always have a cervix that is ripe (I hate that word; makes me feel like a piece of fruit!) well before my due date, I have usually needed a bit of help to really get things going. My water has never broken on its own and my earliest baby -- Michael at 3 weeks -- came that early only after my membranes were stripped (hasn't worked any other time), Pitocin was given to strengthen the contractions, and my water was broken for me.

So I probably have two or three more weeks of waiting and except for those moments I cry with exhaustion, I'm only in a state of semi-misery, so I think I can handle this! Baby Katie isn't moving as much as she was a few weeks ago. I think she's wedged in so tight even she's anxious to get out and get a bit more room. However, my uterus has moved up into my ribs and is constantly sore unless I arch my back, which makes for some fun upper back pain.

***

But enough about me. Let's talk about something more exciting, like SPRING! It has been glorious weather here, which means it's the perfect time for catching bugs, which is all my little girls want to do these days -- yes, I did say GIRLS -- these two are the main culprits; don't let those sweet smiles fool you!

They spend hours with buckets, turning over bricks and rocks and putting every creepy crawly they can find into their own little habitats, which they enhance with bark and dirt. They're very generous, too, and will gladly share their bugs with Harmony, who squeals with delight and pours her roly-polies from a cup to a bucket then back to the cup again. She got distressed the other day when she picked one up a little too hard and he stopped moving. A minute later, I noticed she put him in her mouth. I assured her that he was "bleah!" and she spit him out.

Eliza loves her bugs too and keeps trying to sneak them inside. This afternoon, we had a few battles during what was supposed to be quiet time. First she had a couple of bugs in her hands she was holding while she watched a show. Later, it was a whole container of bugs, then finally, somehow she dumped out a bunch of dirt and roly-polies on the carpet. Allison came up and told me with wide eyes, "You need to see something RIGHT NOW!" She wouldn't tell me what it was, so I followed her downstairs to find a pile of dirt on the carpet and roly-polies scattering all corners of our house. I got the vacuum and sucked those babies right up, but I'm sure there's still a few lurking somewhere.

In general, the bugs don't bother me and I think there's nothing better for little ones than to explore whatever their interests are. I do TRY to enforce a "bugs stay outside" rule, but you can see that today's efforts were not too successful!

***
In other news, I heard from DH tonight. He and Lillian flew to New York last night and enjoyed a huge day of sight-seeing. They saw the public library, the Chrysler Building and went to the top of the Empire State Building before seeing Phantom of the Opera tonight. I'm a teensy bit jealous, but so excited that Lillian gets such an opportunity. DH's conference starts tomorrow, so she'll have lots of hours to read and play Brickbreaker on my cell phone, but there are plenty of long breaks and their hotel is only a block from Central Park, so I'm sure they'll have plenty of fun!

***
I had a fun, creative weekend that included three photoshoots! Two fun families and one amazingly beautiful engaged couple. I think I'm hooked on doing engagement photos -- it was so much fun! And my word, there are SO many great beautiful backgrounds around now that it's spring. Check out my photo blog for more great pictures.






Friday, April 16, 2010

Marriage Improvement Ideas

For our mother's group this morning, we invited an older woman, Lois Jarman, to lead a discussion on strengthening marriages. Lois is one of those women who just glows and I was inspired by the ideas she brought and the things she discussed. I love being able to learn from women who are further along in life than I am. She's been married 57 years (I think that's what she said) and her husband is also wonderful.

From my memory, here are the things she discussed:

* Find things that you enjoy doing together as a couple. For her and her husband, they loved music and tennis. Her husband played basketball for BYU and she enjoyed attending his games. They sang a lot during their courtship, because she was taking piano lessons and he'd meet her at her practice room. They continued singing as a family every Sunday together and even today when the family gathers, they sing. She brought copies of their two favorite songs, Desert Pete and Let's Go Fly a Kite.

* Pray together morning and night.

* Make Family Dinner Time a priority. They would make sure the kids were home to eat together and they'd have lots of conversation, whether about what the kids were learning at school or about current events. As her children have grown up, they've continued to have family dinners, only now its on Sunday nights. Instead of having all 4 of the 6 kids who live nearby over all at once, they decided it was better to have more individual time with each family, so each family has one Sunday a month that they come over for dinner. They eat and sing Desert Pete and enjoy each other.

* Family Home Evening should be a priority. They had charts they used for assignments. Every three months, her husband would take a night and interview each child individually. Once a month they'd have a family council and discuss their budget and get the kids on board for the things they were saving for.

* Lois Jarman said she asked her husband what had helped their marriage the most and he told her that she had always been very positive about the things that bothered her. When she had a problem or something that offended her, she wouldn't let it fester, but would approach him lovingly and positively about it and work it out. He never felt criticized. She said she used the same approach with her children. She tried always to use positive statements rather than negative ones -- instead of "Don't do that," she'd try to say, "I would like it if you would . . . "

* Pray about your concerns for your children and the decisions you make as a family.

I loved listening to Lois Jarman talk about her life and family and I was impressed with both the simplicity of her advice and how profound it was. I felt inspired to make some changes in our family and marriage as a result of what she said. I realized I need to be more positive and less critical and that my husband and I need to get back to doing our nightly meetings. I also need to make more of an effort to jump start conversation at dinner. We eat together every night, but no one talks much.

What have you done to make your marriage a priority? What do you and your husband like to do together?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

From Six Years Ago (Wordless Wednesday)

From April 2004. Lillian is almost 5, Joey 3.5, Michael almost 2 and twins due to be born in two more months. When I saw this photo this morning, I thought, "Wait, shouldn't there be more kids in this picture?"



And isn't Lillian's dress adorable? I made it; that was back pre-twins when I sewed A LOT!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Can't go over it, can't go under it, we have to go through it!

I'm tired of being pregnant. It's hard to get around. I'm uncomfortable, exhausted, easily irritated, and ready to be finished. I don't feel like doing anything but I still have a house to run, meals to cook, chores to do and supervise, children to nurture and read to and take places. It's tempting to just lie down until the baby comes, but, well, I can't -- you know, seven kids and everything!

I've often thought that life is like that book, "Going on a Bear Hunt." In it, the kids go on hunt for bears and encounter obstacle after obstacle. Each time they meet one, they say, "Can't go over it, can't go under it, we'll have to go through it." It's like that with life; so many times we don't get to choose the troubles and trials that come and often, there's no way around but through.

For Family Home Evening last night, patience was the subject of our lesson. I loved reading President Dieter Uchtdorf's talk on patience given at last conference and I drew from it for the lesson.

He begins like this:

In the 1960s, a professor at Stanford University began a modest experiment testing the willpower of four-year-old children. He placed before them a large marshmallow and then told them they could eat it right away or, if they waited for 15 minutes, they could have two marshmallows.

He then left the children alone and watched what happened behind a two-way mirror. Some of the children ate the marshmallow immediately; some could wait only a few minutes before giving in to temptation. Only 30 percent were able to wait.

It was a mildly interesting experiment, and the professor moved on to other areas of research, for, in his own words, “there are only so many things you can do with kids trying not to eat marshmallows.” But as time went on, he kept track of the children and began to notice an interesting correlation: the children who could not wait struggled later in life and had more behavioral problems, while those who waited tended to be more positive and better motivated, have higher grades and incomes, and have healthier relationships.

I put an M&M in front of each child and told them they could eat it if they wanted, or if they waited until later in the lesson, I would give them more M&Ms. Everyone was pretty good at waiting, except Harmony, who ate her own and then tried to eat everyone else's too. Then we discussed the talk, which includes wisdom like this:

Every one of us is called to wait in our own way. We wait for answers to prayers. We wait for things which at the time may appear so right and so good to us that we can’t possibly imagine why Heavenly Father would delay the answer.

One of the benefits of having a large family is that there are plenty of opportunities to wait and to learn patience. It's really easy to see that there are others whose needs are as important as your own, and part of growing and living just naturally includes considering others, taking turns, and yes, being asked to wait. It's one of the adjustments that comes when you have more than one child. I remember a day years ago when I was nursing my second child while simultaneously making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for my toddler. At the time, I congratulated myself on multi-tasking, but later, I realized that it was okay to have my toddler wait a few minutes for her sandwich; she wasn't going to resent me or her brother; it was going to build her character.

From the talk:

Impatience, on the other hand, is a symptom of selfishness. It is a trait of the self-absorbed. It arises from the all-too-prevalent condition called “center of the universe” syndrome, which leads people to believe that the world revolves around them and that all others are just supporting cast in the grand theater of mortality in which only they have the starring role.

My sister used to sing a song to her boys when they were being especially selfish: "Me, me, the world's about me," she'd tease as she tried to cajole them out of their greed. There are times I see my kids being selfish too, but by and large, they are good at sharing and accommodating. My three little girls, for instance, often get read three stories at bedtime, one chosen by each of them. They learn to wait their turn for their book and they learn to appreciate that others get to choose too.

I'd asked Joey earlier to share an experience where he learned patience. He talked about learning to read and how it took him a lot of time and effort, but by first grade, he was reading really well. President Uchtdorf shared an experience from when he was a refugee (he has an amazing life story) and trying to learn English, then he says:
From that experience, I learned that patience was far more than simply waiting for something to happen—patience required actively working toward worthwhile goals and not getting discouraged when results didn’t appear instantly or without effort.

There is an important concept here: patience is not passive resignation, nor is it failing to act because of our fears. Patience means active waiting and enduring. It means staying with something and doing all that we can—working, hoping, and exercising faith; bearing hardship with fortitude, even when the desires of our hearts are delayed. Patience is not simply enduring; it is enduring well!

I've been thinking a lot about patience lately, as I endure these last weeks of pregnancy and have had other opportunities to endure hard things. Last week, for instance, Harmony threw up for three days straight. She was cranky and tired and I spent hours each day holding her.

On Friday, when she finally started keeping food down, I was the one throwing up all day and feeling weak and sick. Ironically, it was also the day DH took the kids down to Southern Utah for an overnight adventure. All but Lillian and Harmony went, and I'd hoped to get some projects done. I didn't. Instead, I lay on the couch barely able move and tried to rest as much as possible. Though I would rather have been able to function, it was a great blessing to be sick on that day, when I really could take it easy and rest without the house falling to pieces and the kids demanding attention.

My kids had a great time visiting Moab. They hiked to Delicate Arch ("It was a really dangerous hike, and it never went straight" says Michael), visited a rock shop ("Daddy bought me fool's gold!" says Allison), went swimming ("I'm a good swimmer!" says Eliza), and went out to Denneys (Michael's favorite).


I'm thankful my husband's so willing to take our kids on adventures and that he loves to travel and spend time with them. In so many ways, I'm blessed. It makes that "enduring well" thing just a bit easier.

What experiences in your life have taught you patience?

Monday, April 05, 2010

Still Pregnant!

Just in case you didn't read my comment on my April Fools post, I'm still here and still pregnant. No baby just yet, though her head dropped two weeks ago so I'm really feeling all these contractions.

I'm now 35 weeks and feeling a little impatient. Luckily, I've got some busy things on the calendar between now and my due date, so I have something to look forward to -- nothing's worse than just sitting around with nothing to do but wait for a baby. This next week is spring break. Next week, we have a normal week, then the week after my husband and Lillian are going to New York for a week. DH has a conference and we were able to get Lillian a ticket for $99. I'm a little bit jealous, as they plan to go to the Phantom of the Opera, hang out in Central Park, and eat delicious food. But even though I've only been really early once (3.5 weeks with Michael), it's probably best I don't get too far from the hospital. They'll get back when I'm 38 weeks along.

On April 29th, nine days before my due date, I get to go to Women's Conference at BYU -- Want to come along? I'm thrilled to go, even if I only get to go on Thursday and not Friday (DH couldn't get off work on Friday). And it gives me a reason NOT to feel so anxious about the baby coming.

The Monday after, May 3rd, is the day I may or may not decide to be induced on. I'd rather not be induced, but I'm leaving open the possibility just because I know how miserable those last weeks can be. After giving it some thought and reading several books, I've decided I AM going to try for a natural, epidural-free delivery this time. The clincher for me was this morning when I talked to my doctor about it and she said the magic words: no IV necessary.

See, I have this thing about getting IVs. I hate them with a passion. I don't mind being pricked, poked, prodded, cut or even stitched, but please, don't put a needle in my veins and leave it there for several hours! I've always felt it a bit silly that the biggest complaint I have about giving birth has always been that mandatory IV, but there you go.

But though I'm going to try for a natural delivery, I'm not a masochist. Knowing my history, I've decided I'll give myself two hours of labor after my water breaks. If the baby hasn't arrived by then, then I'll ask for an epidural. With the exception of my second birth, when Joey's head was transverse, every child of mine has arrived within two hours after my water is broken, so I'm pretty confident this birth will go quickly and probably painfully. Wish me luck!

In other news:

* We loved listening to General Conference this weekend! So many talks geared towards parenting and families. I really needed the ideas and the motivation and I look forward to listening even more closely in the next few weeks while I do housework.

* Happy Easter! I took my four little girls to meet the Easter Bunny and do a fun hunt at our local grocery store on Friday, then on Saturday, we had a little hunt in our family room, thanks to the work of Joey and Lillian (I love having older kids!)

* We ran out of homemade strawberry freezer jam about a month ago and have been watching for strawberries to go on sale every since. DH bought five flats this weekend (FIVE!) and we've used up all our containers and pectin processing just two of those flats. I either need to get to the store and buy more containers and pectin, or I need to figure out how to use three flats of strawberries up quick. Harmony's addicted to strawberries, though, and she'd probably eat a whole flat in one sitting if we let her.


* I think the weather is playing its own April Fool's joke on us. What happened to my warm beautiful spring?



* I've been taking some lovely photos lately of some beautiful newborns and cute families! Check out more on my photo blog! I have an opening on Saturday the 17th if anyone wants some family or individual photos taken.




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