Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Who says labor isn't fun?

It's all fun and games 'til the Pitocin kicks in.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Mystery Boy is here!

Our little boy still has no name, but he arrived last night, December 28th, at 9:09pm. He was 9 days early. He weighed 7 pounds 1 ounce and measured 21.5 inches long, although we're a little skeptical about the length and are going to have him remeasured.

Upon first inspection, Dan and I both thought he looked a lot like his cousin Alexander (Don and Lora's son born in April). He has great big cheeks and is an excellent latcher. The final stage of labor went super fast, going from 6cm dilated to "I have to push right now" in less than 30 minutes. Unfortunately, the epidural didn't kick in until after he was born, so I now know how excruciating natural childbirth is. But the fabulous news is I have NO BAD HEMORRHOIDS! Hallelujah! I will do another post with the play-by-play of the labor, pics and video of the girls meeting their brother and other fun stuff in the next day or so.

A name is still eluding us. It seems much harder to pick a boy's name for some reason. How will it sound for his professional future? Will it make him subject to mockery as he gets older? Does it have any personal significance to us or should we just pick a name we like the sound of? Here are some of the contenders for a first name:

  • Luke
  • Oliver
  • Nathaniel
  • Mack or Max
  • Ian
  • Miles
  • Jonah
  • Eli
  • Samuel
  • Graham
  • Jake
  • Henry (Hank)
  • and Dan's personal favorite, Filson, which if you're not familiar with fine outdoor clothing, go here and check out the object of his affection.

What does he look like to you?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus

I am overcome with gratitude and humility for the kindness and generosity that has been shown to us this Christmas season. I have never experienced anything like it in all my life. Maybe it's this town, or maybe it's just God pouring out His blessings on us for trying to what's right with our finances. Whatever it is, we are so thankful and look forward to the time when we can pay it forward.

Just in the last couple of days we have received an anonymous delivery of meat, an unmarked bag full of 5 wrapped gifts, and a couple very generous financial contributions. Each time I have discovered these gifts, I am just flabbergasted at the charity, the pure love of Christ, that people have flowing through them.

One of the Christmas books the girls and I have read is called Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus.

In 1897 a little girl wrote a letter to the New York Sun newspaper.

Dear Editor:

I am eight years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa
Claus. Papa says if you see it in
The Sun it's so. Please tell me the truth; is
there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O'Hanlon

The Sun's response perfectly expresses how I feel:

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the
skepticism of a skeptical age...

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and
generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to our
life its highest beauty and joy...

The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men
can see. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the

No Santa Claus! Thank God he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand
years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand
years from now,
he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

10 ways to have a low stress Christmas

In no particular order, these are things that have made this Christmas season much more enjoyable for us than in years past:

  1. Decide on a Christmas budget before you spend a bunch of money. Get it all in cash, and when the money is gone, you're done Christmas shopping. This will save you stress and remorse at the end of January when the credit card bill shows up.
  2. Be realistic about your list of people to buy for. Stop succumbing to an unreasonable sense of obligation to buy a gift for everyone you know. Even within the family draw names and if the budget is really tight, just buy for the kids. 'Cause let's be realistic, if there's something an adult really wants or needs, they just go buy it for themselves anyway.
  3. Shop early and plan your purchases. Don't just show up at the store and browse. That just leads to frustration and overspending. Especially watch out for the stocking stuffers, which can really bust your budget if you're not careful. Ever read Little House on the Prairie? Those girls were beside themselves with pleasure just to get a stick of candy and a pretty cake in their stocking.
  4. Try to remind yourself everyday that Christmas is about the gift of the Savior. Repeating this mantra while you're in Walmart for the 5th time trying to refrain from buying that thing that "is perfect for so and so", even though it's not in your budget, will help you spend less and cut your stress level.
  5. Avoid working in retail if you can. Christmas shoppers are among the crankiest people around. Who wants to be around that all day? For me, not having a ton of photo orders hanging over my head the whole month of December has been awesome.
  6. Bake some treats. You don't have to make "neighbor treats" for 50 of your closest friends, just enjoy the smells and the memories the treats bring for you. Let your kids help, snitch some of the dough, eat the spoils till you make yourself sick. Only then, if there are some left and you can refrain from thinking, "if I give some to so and so, then I better give some to these other people", put a few goodie bags together for those you love the best. If you find yourself making 4 batches of 6 different kinds of treats and worrying if it'll be enough, let me refer you to the beginning of this post by Dan's friend Doug, author of Open Mic Day.
  7. Listen to Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song" CD. His voice is so warm and smooth and the classic carols will make you smile. Reminds you of what Christmas is all about. Plus he sings "O Tannenbaum" in German, how can you resist that?
  8. Sit and watch the Christmas tree in the dark. Dan maintains that you can't "watch" the Christmas tree if you don't have blinking lights, but I still love to sit in the dark and reflect on Christmases past and think of how glorious it must have been to see the star and the angels on the night of Christ's birth.
  9. Limit your social commitments. A lot of holiday stress is caused by all the parties and plays and performances we "have" to go to. Choose just a couple things to attend, using the question, "will this bring my family together and help me feel the Christmas spirit" as your guide.
  10. If your kids are Santa obsessed and have present lust, don't put the gifts under the tree until a day or two before Christmas. Jesus doesn't stand a chance of being the center of Christmas for little kids when there's a pile of presents taunting and tempting them from under the tree for 3 or 4 weeks straight.
  11. Read LOTS of Christmas books with your kids. We solved our "no presents under the tree" dilemma (let's face it, wrapped packages under the tree are festive) by starting a new tradition two years ago. I get a bunch of Christmas books, mostly from the library, that primarily center on the Christmas story or on kindness and giving, wrap them all up and put them under the tree. Then each night in December the girls get to open one book to read before bed. They love it and it has really helped to keep us all centered on the reason for the season.
  12. If at all possible, try to have a baby (or a grandchild) born around Christmas. It alters the nature of your anticipation and shifts your focus from commercialism and "stuff" to the miracle of new life. And that is what Christmas celebrates. The new life that Jesus Christ has made available to all of us.

OK, that's more than 10, but brevity has never been one of my finer qualities. If your Christmas season is going well, tell us why. If you can't wait until it's over, tell us what you'd like to do different next year to make it more enjoyable.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Holy Baby Clothes, Batman!

I finally started going through all the baby boy clothes everyone has given me, and Holy Mackerel! There's enough for 3 kids!

This kid is set until he's a year and a half old! From left to right:
  1. burp rags, bibs and blankets
  2. 0-3 months
  3. 3-6 months
  4. 6-12 months
  5. 12-18 months

I'll have to fine tune the selection after Mystery Boy gets here and I can see how big he is and what outfits will be season appropriate. A HUGE thanks to all the donors: My sister-in-law Lora (who has hooked me up with tons of maternity clothes and sweet hand-me-downs for Amelia), sister Becky, cousin Jenn and friend Esther. Dan insists that this kid will be better outfitted than his two sisters!

Here's how we're cookin' along:

Mystery Boy is the wiggliest of my kids. He is the most active in the evening and when I lay down for bed (naturally). I can feel and often see pokey lumps where he's jabbing me with his feet or fists. He's head down, so I'll be trying for a VBAC delivery (vaginal birth after cesarean) like I did with Amelia. My next OB appointment is on Monday, so we'll see how I'm progressing.

This is me at 36 weeks with a very cranky Amelia at the family Christmas party last weekend.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Baby Brother Bear

Meet the newest addition to Grammie's grandkid bear collection:

For now he goes by Baby Brother Bear. I think he's perfect because of his long, gangly legs; he jabs me with his feet and shoulders more than the girls ever did.

My Mom started a tradition with her first grandchild to choose a bear to represent each kid. She's (almost) up to 15 bears (really 14 because Gilian is Buzz Lightyear) and they sit lining her front window. The girls love to go through the bears whenever we're there and try to guess who each one is.

This is Lily's bear (chosen for the candies and little rick-rack ribbon on the arms that remind Grammie that Lily's Mama is the treat queen in the family), Baby Brother Bear, and Amelia bear (pink and sweet). Several of the bears were chosen for a specific reason, beyond being cute and just "feeling" right. Like Aimee bear, my brother David's daughter, is yellow because that's the color of roses David sent to my mom when they found out they finally had a little girl to adopt. Connor bear, my sister Becky's son, is made of Scottish tartan because his middle name is MacGregor. Luke, my brother Don's son, isn't a bear, but a frog, because his Daddy called him "Froggie" from the time he was a little baby.

Lily wanted to be sure and get a picture with Mama bear and Grammie's 2 bears. My bear (left, holding Baby Brother) has been around I think since I was 11 or so. It had a name, but I have long since forgotten it. Grammie's bears were chosen because of the Tartan ribbon (Mom's a Scottish fanatic, in case you didn't know) and the little one because it is an original Steiff bear from Germany where she spent a big chunk of time as an Army wife.

Aren't we a cute bunch?

Good Trade

You know on Dances With Wolves when one of the Indians says to the White Guy, "Good Trade"? That's what we've been scoring here in Cokeville.

Dan has helped a local friend with a bunch of computer stuff, most recently helping him set up the computer management part of a windmill he just bought for his ranch, as well as helping with moving cows and such. The last time Dan was out there, they gave us a bunch of meat in appreciation for all the help. We have real fresh bacon, ham steaks, pork roasts, ground beef and beef roasts.

That's a serious chunk of change sitting in our freezer! We can't wait to try out the bacon, especially Lily.

The local grocery store recently changed ownership. Dan's office is just a couple doors down from Mindy's Market and he goes in there a couple times a day to grab a soda and what not. He's talked quite a bit with the new owners about the new improvements they're making. One day they mentioned that they were going to have a grand opening and Dan told them I could help them with a flyer. I went down to the store (a whole one minute drive) and snapped a few photos, then designed this flyer:

It was actually pretty fun doing the flyer and rather than pay me for the design and printing, we traded for store credit. Not only did we get a bunch of free groceries, but we got a waffle maker (which we've been missing ever since we moved from Mom's house- it's a necessity on "I don't wanna cook" nights), a big outdoor extension cord, and a jar of Redken Water Wax pomade (my hair product of choice). I was floored when I saw the Water Wax on the shelf- way to go Cokeville! Mindy is also a hairdresser, so she has the inside connection.

Lovin' this small town!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The AssMan Cometh

I am officially miserable. You may think it's the constant trips to the bathroom or the stretching of my uterine ligaments or back pain from leaning over the sink to wash dishes. While those things are certainly annoying, they are a minor inconvenience compared to my real problem. I've got hemorrhoids. BAD.

I know what you're thinking: I can't believe Sue is talking about hemorrhoids on her blog. Oh stop it, yes you can.

Once you have knelt at the altar of the colorectal surgeon and said to yourself, "Oh my gosh, he totally just taped my butt cheeks open" there's really not much left in this world that can embarrass you. Except, I guess, when you have to go back a second time because the surgery failed, and the surgeon takes one look and says, "Oh my gosh! Oh wow, yep I've never seen that happen before." Really the only way to respond in that situation is with humor: "Well, I'm glad I could be your first."

Not too familiar with hemorrhoids? First, thank your lucky stars, then go to this link (not to worry, there are no visual aids). My body seems to have a built in weakness for hemorrhoids during pregnancy. The weight of the baby just puts too much pressure on my butt. I had hemorrhoids with Lily, but thankfully they were mostly internal and never got really bad. I suspect it's because I never went into labor with her or had to push her out because she was a scheduled C-section. Plus she was my first so my body wasn't ruined yet.

I got hemorrhoids with Amelia, was pretty uncomfortable for the last few weeks and had to give up on my hopes of having an unmedicated labor because I couldn't sit or lay comfortably in between contractions. The strain of pushing the baby out was more than my tooshy could handle and one of the hemorrhoids ballooned out and developed a clot (thrombosis). Despite the myriad of people that took a peek at my butt while I was in the post-pardum maternity ward (the hazards of delivering at a university hospital), they told me just to wait for it to clear up on its own.

It didn't. After just a couple days home with Amelia, I went to the colorectal surgeon who stayed late on a Friday afternoon to help relieve my misery. The thing is, as mortified as you are to drop your drawers and let someone go after your butt with a scalpel, you're so desperate for the pain to go away that all you want to do is turn around and hug the guy!

That experience and the aftermath was by far the worst physical pain I'd endured. I still maintain that I would rather give birth 10 times over than have to get another hemorrhoid surgically removed.

Fast forward a couple of years. I've tried to be vigilant in taking my stool softener and Metamucil with this pregnancy. There have been a few minor incidents, but things have cleared up within a couple of days. Then last week Mystery Boy started moving down and putting a ton of pressure on everything south of the uterus. Within three days I had a thrombosed hemorrhoid. Having been there before and knowing it was not going to just "go away", I called the butt doctor Friday morning and got in for another late afternoon appointment just in time before the weekend. The procedure was quick and Mom met me at the hospital to watch the girls, followed by a sleepover with Grammie.

I had a miserable night and by the morning I discovered that a new clot had formed by the stitches. Un-freakin-believable! Mom had a funeral to go to, so I sent the girls to play with some neighbors and called upon my Aunt Liz to drive me back up to the University of Utah hospital because I couldn't bear to stop taking my pain meds long enough to be a safe driver.

If you have to choose someone to accompany you to butt surgery, make sure it's someone with a sense of humor, and preferably a nursey type. Aunt Liz and I had a great time cracking (pun intended) butt jokes and she threatened to take pictures of the butt doctor working on my backside. Fortunately she restrained herself enough to only photograph me fully clothed.

Thank my lucky stars, the colorectal surgeon and his intern who had done the procedure on Friday afternoon were both in the hospital on Saturday as the attending surgeon and resident surgeon on call, so I had the experts fix me up again instead of some ER hack. When it comes to your anus, you only want the best!

When I had the thrombosed hemorrhoid removed after Amelia's birth and then again on Friday, the doctors completed the procedure with sutures. I was really concerned about the hemorrhoids recurring since I've still got 4 weeks to go until delivery. Dr. Peche said that sometimes a clot will come back, pooling under the sutures, but he'd never seen it happen. Leave it to me to broaden his medical horizons!

The solution was to remove the sutures, clean things up and just leave the wound open to heal. The recovery will take longer, but the risk of another thrombosis is lower. Dr. Peche said I should be healed up right about the time I deliver. Great, just in time to push a baby out and pop a few more ass grapes.

Here's the "after" picture. And the only reason I'm feeling so sassy is because my butt is still numb from the local anesthetic.

And yes, I did ask the doctor if his licence plate said ASSMAN. He said, "No, it says NAMSSA so that when people see it in their rearview mirror, it says assman." Nice.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A 6-year-old's guide to decorating a Christmas tree

  1. Have your Mom put the tree together.
  2. Dance around the room and help occasionally with the fluffing.
  3. If the lights don't work, let your Dad fix them.
  4. If you don't have any ornaments, just let your favorite doll sit in the tree.

We had to buy a new Christmas tree this year because our other one is way too big for this little house. My sister Becky and cousin Katy braved the Black Friday sale at Walmart and pounced on a $25.00 doorbuster tree for me while I played the "tired pregnant lady" card and stayed home in bed. Thanks, girlies!

We (meaning the girls, Dan boycotted tree assembly duty this year) put the tree together on Sunday night. I spent at least 30 minutes bending and fluffing to make the tree look good. When I plugged the lights in, nothing happened. Instead of cussing, I just headed to the bathroom for yet another potty break and when I got back Dan had gotten them working. Amelia was chanting, "Daddy did it! Daddy did it!" Oh sure, I put the whole tree together and he gets all the credit!

This tree is the first pre-lit tree we've had and I gotta tell you- I ain't ever goin' back! It is SO nice not to string lights! Dan gave me a hard time for robbing the girls of that Christmas tradition, but I figure they'll have plenty of fun putting on the ornaments.

We planned to put the ornaments on for Family Home Evening on Monday, but upon further investigation we discovered that our Christmas box is still in my Mom's garage. (My Mom has this magnet on her fridge that says, "It's not an empty nest until all their stuff is moved out of your garage." Ha!) Thankfully the tree is pre-lit so at least we have lights, but the ornaments will have to wait until we go down for the family Christmas party on the 13th.

Tonight when I came home, I discovered Lily's favorite doll Ella burrowed into the branches. You gotta love the ingenuity of children.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Kids aren't cookie cutters

About a week ago, this post started out with me ranting and raving about what a "Terrible Two" Amelia has become and how her sister was comparatively a saint at this age. But after a long prayer and a good night's rest, I realized I was being crusty and unreasonable and that I could do a lot to improve how Amelia and I were getting along.

One major change I made was limiting Amelia's movie time to one movie a day instead of letting her brain rot for hours at a time. She's a very busy and inquisitive child and all that passive time in front of the DVD player makes her irritable. So I've been trying to do more reading with her, letting her help me with chores, and bringing out more toys for her to play with.

Another thing that has helped, especially when it's bedtime, is the elimination of Amelia's nap. This was done with MUCH reluctance on my part because I usually took a nap at the same time. But we'd been spending about 45 minutes a night putting up with her getting out of bed, throwing fits because she didn't want to go to sleep, demanding to sleep in Mommy and Daddy's bed, etc. I'll tell you what, by the end of the night I was about ready to send her outside to sleep in the wood pile! Lily has always been a champion sleeper so it's been a challenge for me. In talking about managing the stress of motherhood, someone recently told me, "No one is a good mother after 8:00 at night." That is so true for me. My patience and energy are completely shot by then, so I turn into a total crankpot at night. I've been trying to make getting the girls bathed and teeth brushed by 8:00 a priority.

While Amelia is strong-willed and obstinate at times, she has a built-in defense mechanism to keep her parents from beating her: she's just so dang cute!

It's hard to stay mad at that face!

Amelia has some of the most endearing quirks. When she wants something she says "Meees" (please) while hunching her shoulders up and tilting her head to the side. Despite the four year age difference between Amelia and Lily, Amelia just adores her sister. Several times during the day while Lily is at school, Amelia will say," I miss Bee" (Biggie). She always gives her a big hug when she comes home from school. When Dan is gone to Salt Lake, she says, "I miss Daddy" and we call him on the phone and she giggles and smiles. Another thing I love to hear Amelia say is "yes". She says it in two distinctive ways. If she's perky and enthusiastic, like when she does something by herself and I ask, "Did you do it?" she'll speak very clearly, with good alliteration on each letter, and her little eyes light up. When she's sad or she's talking about her animals or a baby or something small, she says it in a small, pitiful voice with her lips poking out and her brow furrowed.

I've been so absorbed with Amelia's challenging behavior lately that I've really short-changed Lily with all my crabbiness. That kid is just sweet to the core and she gets nothing but nagging from her mother. Being the oldest child sucks because you're expected to be ultra-obedient and set the perfect example or else your parents freak out. OK, not all parents, but that's how I've been.

But Lily is one of the sweetest kids you'll ever meet. She has such a tender heart and loves to express affection. Every morning when she leaves for the bus (she started this when we lived in American Fork and she'd leave to go play with her friends) she waves and says, "Bye Mama, I love you". She's always giving me hugs and kisses, talking to Mystery Boy, and making all kinds of love notes for me and her Dad. Dan went to Parent-Teacher Conference a couple weeks ago and Lily's teacher said she was one of the kindest kids in class, got along with everyone and was always leaving notes to cheer up her friends.

Lily has always been eager to please and is super easy-going. Sometimes we've worried about her lack of attention span or willingness to really concentrate on something and/or be competitive. Whenever she's been in sports, she's more interested in just having fun with her friends than trying to master a skill. But I'll gladly trade athletic prowess for a girl with a kind heart.

It's been interesting watching our girls grow and realizing that kids really come with built-in personalities. We used to be all proud of our great parenting skills because Lily was such a mild-mannered obedient child. Turns out that's just her personality.

I wonder what Mystery Boy will be like...