26 December 2010

Lessons from "Little Women"


I didn't grow up with cable, so Christmas never included 24 hours straight of "The Christmas Story" or any other countless holiday movies. But it is certainly one aspect of Christmas that I enjoy now. So when I laid down one night and saw that Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women" was on, I was thrilled. I remember really liking the movie when I was younger, but I seemed to get so much more out of it this time. There were a few things that really struck me this time. I don't know if it is because I am getting old, or if it the phase of life I am in, but I wanted to share.

1- Simplicity - I loved all the Christmas decorations: the hand-tied garland that flanked every entryway, the bows tied from left-over red scraps. I am so often ashamed by my ridiculous amount of possessions, purchased for a ridiculous amount of money at some store, or from some garage sale. After watching the movie, I was inspired to make my own wreath. Something I have always wanted to do. It wasn't crazy hard, it didn't take forever, but it certainly took time. It took energy, and I ended up with something I was proud to put on my door. But what if I had to make everything I used? Every article of clothing that had to be cut and sewn? Every grain of wheat that had to be harvested, dried and ground? Would I think twice about my "needs"? Something as simple as chicken stock, bread, pasta, butter - what if I had to make these things everytime you wanted it? Perhaps I would be more cautious of the things I use.

2- Simple Food - The March family has fallen on hard times during the war, as has the whole community. On Christmas morning they lay a breakfast spread that each girl marvels at. The main delight? Bread with butter. Later, Joe is in New York and has meet Prof. Bear. At one point he hands her a gift - a simple orange. Later that night she writes by candlelight while eating her pealed orange. Would I be satisfied with a simple orange as my bedtime snack? I think about my options each night for a snack. The food in my fridge, freezer and pantry could probably feed my family for weeks, maybe months. I work hard to make simple, unprocessed foods for my family. Yet thinking about this made me realize just how far from "simple" I live.

3- Some things don't change - I never liked Amy, in the book or the movie. I still remember reading the book as a child, and throwing the book across the room when Amy marries Laurie. And I was so upset when she waisted a whole months rag money on limes. What a silly desire. But don't we all do that, buy into something simple that every one else wants? I do it. The "all natural" looking toys I like my children to have, trendy clothes, a well-designed home. These are my 26 limes that cost my family a whole months rag money.

4- I am old - I remember watching this movie when I was in highschool, and I was not satisfied at all when Joe ended up with Prof. Bear. Why? Because Laurie was a young, energetic character while Prof. Bear was old. What happened when I watched it this time? Somehow Prof Bear wasn't so old. He was charming, intelligent, and sophisticated. The movie certainly didn't change, it must be me. I must be getting old, because the ending was so much more satisfying this time.

I watched the movie with Annalia this time. I know it was silly, to think that she would enjoy it at her age. She didn't. She kept asking if we could watch "An American Tale" instead. I really hope I didn't ruin it for her. At the end, she said "I didn't like that movie." Probably had something to do with Joe (a boy's name) ending up with the old guy.

23 September 2010

Moon Festival


Remember the beginning of the summer when I shared about our disastrous journey to the National Zoo in DC? (I'm not a true blogger, so I don't know how to link to past stories - sorry). I won't bore you with the details, but it involved a long drive, traffic, no parking, vomiting, and ultimately an early end to the day.

I have learned my lesson.

Last February my girls discovered NiHao KaiLan, a Nick Jr. show that is basically Dora The Explorer, but for Chinese culture. I hate to admit it, but I kind of like the show and its eastern, "think of the group" way of solving problems.

Anyway,
They learned about the Chinese Moon Festival, where you eat dinner under the full moon and eat moon cakes. So of course, me with my love for anything that has to do with a culture other than my own, decided to enlighten my children and make moon cakes with them. I got some pretty weird looks at the Asian market when I was asking for the ingredients. Apparently no one eats moon cakes in the winter - as the festival is in the fall. I guess it is kind of like looking for Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes in August.

So we waited - all summer - looking forward to the Moon Festival. Looking back, it is kind of silly. It isn't like there is some cool meaning behind the festival that we could focus on. Just another one of those "turning of the seasons" kind of holiday that is part of most cultures.

Silly or not, I planned an elaborate family outing to Chinatown in DC. And by elaborate, I mean we had no other plan than to just go downtown and eat at a Chinese restaurant. Yup, I drove to the metro, paid the parking and the train fare, dragged the double stroller and my baby in a sling through the DC Metro - just to eat at a Chinese Restaurant in Chinatown.

And it was totally worth it. Only you and I know that what we did wasn't a big deal. My girls had no clue. According to them, we had taken them to China itself, with roasted ducks hanging in the windows and signs written in unreadable (for us) Chinese characters. We went to the "Wok 'n' Roll" (corny, huh?) where the girls had bubble tea, dumplings and ramen. The servers were impressed with Annalia's Chinese words (Thank you KaiLan), and they were thrilled with Xander.

I love going places that are so influenced by another culture that the workers barely speak English. It makes you think you are getting the real thing, not just take-out General Tso's Chicken. I knew I was in one of those places when a waitress came up to me and offered to hold Xander while I ate. I can't even imagine that happening at a "Friday"s or "Chili"s. So I happily handed him off and devoured my Chow Mein. Justin just stared at me in shock.
After our yummie and uneventful meal, we packed the kids back up into the stroller and sling, and I handed the girls their mooncakes. (purchased, I learned that no one makes their own moon cakes). I had thought of taking them into a little store to buy a souvenir. You know, something else to make the trip all that way worth it. But they were ready to go home, and I didn't argue.

13 September 2010

purposeful disappointment

Nobody wants their child to be spoiled, but it isn't always an easy thing to do. I look around our house, filled to capacity of things we think we "need". I only buy toys for the kids for birthdays and Christmas, yet there always seems to be more than we can handle.

Annalia has been looking forward to her birthday for quite a while now. I guess she is finally old enough to understand that it is a day all about her, she gets things she wants, and of course, she gets to request whatever cake she wants.

She made it very clear that she wanted 3 things. A little sewing machine, a pink pillow pet, and a pink cake with blue butterflies. So simple, so little. Yet I didn't want to start a precedence that would eventually lead to extravagant birthdays with lots of expensive gifts. I prepared her for the idea that she MAY not get everything she asked for. Lucky me, she was eventually ok with it. She told me all she wanted was the little sewing machine and she would make her own pillow pet. (Can you tell she is my child?)

Now, I knew that a little sewing machine was not the most practical gift. She is a little to young to REALLY use it. But it was all she talked about, all she wanted. Did I "give in" to this one desire, or purposefully disappoint her that she won't always get whats she wants? Well, like so many other things, I let circumstances decide for me. I happened to be in Joann's without the girls and saw that the little tiny sewing machines were on clearance, and only 1 was left.

So I got it.

And I didn't get the pillow pet - but I am not sure that should count, because I did let the grandparents know that was what she wanted. And, come on, what grandparent is going to pass up the opportunity to get the prized gift?

And of course I was going to make her a special cake - that is just what I do.

Then, the day before her birthday, I get mega-sick. Could barely get up, was in no shape to make a pink cake with blue butterflies. The next morning I was feeling a little better, but not even close to good. She was disappointed, but didn't really understand that there was no way I was going to be able to make her cake. On the way to church, I have a great idea. I will swing through Dunkin Donuts and get her a donut with pink frosting. She is thrilled, and all seems to be well. Until I get to the window and realize that I left my wallet at home.

So much for worrying about getting her everything she wanted. It seems I was able to disappoint her without even trying. And of course I felt so bad. Who wants to make their beautiful 4-year-old cry on her birthday?

All in all, it was a great day, and she loved (almost) every moment of it. You should see the way her face lit up when she opened the sewing machine, and then the PINK pillow pet. That girl was in high heaven. And to top it off, I had Justin pick up a dozen donuts as her "cake", and you would have had no idea that just hours earlier she was crying over the loss of her pink cake with blue butterflies.
video

09 September 2010

A Green One

I recently made a batch of trail mix for the girls. Which, of course, included m&m's. And I fully expected the girls to eat that first (Come on - who wouldn't?) It was especially cute watching Naomi. She would pick up each piece of candy-coated chocolate and declare, "I found a red one!!" or "I found a blue one!!" It was as if each new discovery was another reason to celebrate.

Later, I was at the grocery store and Naomi was in the front seat - an uncommon occurrence, as she prefers to walk the isles with her big sister. I was mostly focusing on the grocery list, but every once in a while I would hear Naomi exclaim, "I found a green one!!" I didn't think much about it. I figured she was finding colors in the store and making a game of it. In fact, I was even a little proud of my cute little 2-year-old as she showed off her color skills.

Then I happened to look at her right before one of these little bursts of color excitement. She digs her finger into her nose, pulls out a nice, big boogie, and shouts - "I found a green one!!"

27 August 2010

Eat Your Words


Isn't it so rewarding to prove someone wrong after they have said something not-so-nice about you. Perhaps you overheard so-and-so mention your less than stellar housekeeping skills, and then the next time they visit your house happens to be in impeccable order. Those are always good days.

Monday was not one of those days. Someone recently asked me what the biggest challenge has been with adding a 3rd child. My answer was immediate and definite - going out. It is a juggling act to get myself and 3 kids ready, into the car, with everything we need for the outing, into the store, around the store, through the check-out, and then back home. And since Xander is only 3 months old, I am still in the trial and error stage.

Oh the choices - keep Xander in that awful infant seat, only to have something else to drag around after he has woken up and is crying because he hates the thing. Or put him in the sling, knowing that at some point I will probably have to carry a kicking and screaming Naomi because I didn't let her run wild (as her heart so desires.)

I know now that the first time to a new place should be thought of as "training" and I shouldn't go with the expectation of actually accomplishing what you would expect to accomplish at said place. But knowing this and doing this are 2 different things. We took a trip to the library on Monday. We have gone often enough that the girls now know what is expected of them. However, we hadn't been in a few weeks - just enough time for them to forget. To top it off, I had forgotten the sling, which means I was down an arm at all times.

It all started out decent enough. I held Xander as my 2 darling daughters held each others hands and walked gracefully into the library. On our way in an older woman looked at me and said, "How sweet, we could all learn a thing or 2 from you." I told her she may want to reserve her praise until the end of the trip. And boy was I right. I spent the entire time chasing Naomi, putting her into time-out, telling Annalia to stay in the kid's section and not follow me as I stop Naomi from pulling every book off the shelves. I don't think we were in the building for more than 5 minutes before I decided we needed to leave. Of course, that meant dragging a very resistant Naomi through the checkout line (where of course I had fines to pay, because it was just that sort of day) and out the door.

I don't know if that nice lady was still in the building, witnessing my desperate attempt to discipline a 2 year old in public, but I am sure she was ready to eat her words.

25 August 2010

A Coffee Can of buttons


You know how you have these memories from your childhood that seem so simple, yet so beautiful. Climbing a certain tree in your backyard? That one place on the playground that you and your friends always hung out at during recess?

One of mine is a coffee can of buttons. I know it sounds silly, but my mom had a coffee can filled with random buttons under her sewing table that I loved to play with. I loved the feeling of digging my hands deep into the can. How all the buttons were so smooth. I loved looking at all the different types of buttons there were, sorting them out. Does this make sense to anyone else besides me? I don't know what the draw was, but I loved it.

But how do you get a ton of buttons? Have you ever checked the price on them? It is ridiculous. You can spend over 1 dollar for 2 buttons. At that price, it would cost a pretty penny to fill up a whole bucket.

So when I say my friend's tub of buttons at sewing camp, I went a little bizerk. All those same childhood feelings came rushing back as I dug my hands into the buttons. I guess Andrea pitied the look she saw on my face, because she let me take them home.

And of course, as soon as I get home, I want to share my childhood memory with my girls, and let them play in this big ol' bucket of buttons.

WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS I THINKING? Buttons - EVERYWHERE. It was a nice memory - but now I feel bad for my mom having to pick up after me all those years ago. Although, it is cool to see that Naomi seems to have the same fascination with a bucket of buttons as I did. And I can already see her, 28 years old, chasing down rolling buttons as her 2 year old indulges in her mommy's impractical, nostalgic whim.

15 August 2010

Never a Dull Moment

Sometimes a long day can lead to tired kids, an early bedtime, and some much needed R&R for Mommy. But more often than not, a long day leads to exhausted children, a chaotic night, and a mommy wishing her glass of wine was a stiff drink.
Anyone wanna guess which night I had tonight?

Justin and I knew it was going to be a long day for us and for the kids, so we planned accordingly. And amazingly things went very much according to plan. We didn't forget
anything at church, we got in and out of a sit-down lunch in less than 45 minutes, and Naomi even took a nap in the church nursery during the whole memorial service.

I finally took the kids home to feed them supper and put them to bed. Justin, unfortunately, had to stay at church for a meeting. So it was all up to me. The kids needed a bath, so - silly me - I decided to give them one. Not that big of a deal, now that Xander is old enough to be in the big tub (in his little infant sling, of course.) As I am sudsing up Little Man, Annalia is in the tub helping me. I had already stripped Naomi down, all ready to toss her in once I got Xander out.

All is going well, even though I seem to be smelling Naomi's previously poopy diaper quite strongly. I make a mental note to take out the diaper pail - I figured it must be pretty full and that is why I am still smelling her dirty diaper. Until I look over, and see that Naomi apparently wasn't finished filling her diaper. She had taken a nice-sized dump on the floor. And since I was so intent on making sure my 3 month old didn't sink below the water, she had enough time to step in it multiple times, and then try to wipe it off of her foot on various things.

Poor Xander had no idea why he was left to scream on my bed, wrapped only in a towel (I sure hope he didn't pee and I just don't know) while I hastily got Naomi clean enough to dump her in the tub. Eventually, I got everyone clean and in bed (well, almost. Annalia is still going potty - in the toilet, thank goodness, and not on the floor.)

On the plus side - my bathroom floor is now spic-n-span.

07 July 2010

Just go for it

Brave. Adventurous. Crazy. However you want to label me, it all comes out the same. I have always been the kind of person that does what I want, even when it isn't very convenient to do so. And having a 3rd child hasn't exactly changed that.
Earlier this year, Justin found out he would be going to a computer conference in Denver in June. And since that just happens to be the city that my best friend was moving to, naturally I planned on taking the whole family. Never mind the fact that my 3 baby was due the end of May. I figured I had taken a 6 week old on a plane before - what could be different. Mmm, maybe the 3 year old and 2 year old that would also be tagging along?
I used to be able to just go somewhere without much planning or thought. Boy am I glad I took some time to prepare for this trip. Our carry-ons were filled with books, crafts, and of course, the computer and mp3 player with all their favorite songs. Clearly the music helped them both take a good nap on that first flight.
As we were planning the trip, I kept reminding my friend that I have 3 kids. I repeat, 3 kids. There were others visiting as well. Each couple with their 1, very manageable, child. Everything is complicated when you have multiple children. Going out to eat (thank you Jesus for booths!), getting around (that $110 upgrade to the minivan was SO worth it,) and sightseeing (Mmm, unless that Museum has the word "Children's" in front of it, I think we'll pass.)
But really, I had a great time. I may have spent a lot of my time chasing kids around, feeding children, telling stories and initiating new activities to keep everyone entertained, but I also learned that the best times are often had when all the other plans go to pot. Like when we had to duck out early while the other checked out downtown Denver, we stumbled upon a Butterfly Pavilion on our way home (score!). Or when Miriam came to pick us up from the airport and we somehow shoved 2 large suitcases, 3 kids and us (me holding another carseat on my lap) into her 94 Toyota Carolla. And, of course, there are the things you do despite having children, like going to the 12:01am opening of Eclipse, praying that Xander will take the bottle (first time) with formula (because I forgot my pump.)
There have been plenty of activities over the past few years that I have opted out of because I thought it would be too much of a hassle dragging my kids along. And I am sorry for missing almost every one of them. Last night I took Annalia and Naomi to the carnival. At the last minute, I decided to take Xander too. (Justin had a lot of work so I felt bad leaving him with a crying baby.) I admit, I started with a bad attitude - I knew it would be a disaster. And for the most part, it was. It was packed, we had to park a half a mile down the street (beyond the end of the sidewalk.) When we finally arrived, I learned that both girls were too small for any of the rides. So we spent $10 for them to throw a dart and pick up a ducky, and finished off our trip with an ice cream cone for each girl.
But as they held hands and licked their melting ice cream on the hike back to our car, I was glad I took them. Not because it was a "successful" trip, but simply because we did it. Call me crazy, but I LIKE it when things aren't perfect. Probably because it makes for a better story :)

Next crazy adventure - planning on taking my 3 kids (probably by myself) to Dutch Wonderland to meet up with my friend and her 3 kids. Watch out!

22 June 2010

2 hands, 3 kids


I have heard the sentiment before. Sometimes with understanding and camaraderie. Other times it is with a cynical tone. Either way, the fact remains that I now have more children than I can hold on to myself.
I will admit, I am a little intimidated by the idea of raising 3 children - at the same time. Not just the emotional and social stuff, but even the logistics of it. You can't fit 3 carseats across the backseat of a typical car. We won't all fit on the 3-seat side of the airplane anymore, we could take up a whole row now (if we wanted to pay for the little one's ticket.) Everything just takes a little extra time.

Well, I have begun my journey into the land of 3 kids. It has been a peaceful first month. With lots of help from Justin, and my MIL, I haven't had to take all 3 kids on an outing by myself yet. That is, until yesterday. We are headed on a trip, and I needed to get a bunch of stuff. The idea of 2 hours wandering around Super Walmart, chasing after my 2-year-old had me sweating. Thankfully, there is a really nice Target nearby that just added fresh produce (and I needed some fruit.) So I packed us all up - said a prayer - and headed out.

As I pulled into the parking lot, I saw a space open next to the cart corral (thank you God.) and in that corral was one of those mega-carts that has 2 seats attached for the older kids. I thought this would be perfect for my first outing. All 3 kids contained sounded like a good idea. (All you seasoned moms can laugh at my naivety - I give you permission.)
I needed to exchange an item, so we started at the Customer Service Desk. She informed me that I needed to go and get the other size I needed, and come back. So I start pushing that monster of a cart around the infant section, looking for what I needed. As I am bumping into everything, Naomi is already begging to get out and walk. Annalia is repeatedly telling me she needs to go to the bathroom. And Xander wakes up - unhappy to be in his carseat - and probably just a little hungry. Great.

Thank God for the Family Restroom. One big room where we can all regroup. (not to mention no one can hear me as I reprimand Naomi for sticking her hand in the toilet water.) It is here that I decide the mega-cart is not for me. I am going to just going to suck it up and teach Naomi how to stay next to me. (insert lots of prayers here.) I put Xander in the sling, get him latched on and covered up (nothing stresses me out more than listening to my crying baby while I try to shop.) and we head back out into Target.

I am happy to say, that this story has a happy ending. With my nursing baby in the sling, I marveled at my oldest take care of her little sister. Although Naomi started in the cart, she soon wanted to be walking with Annalia. You need to know, that this has NEVER worked out before. But this time, she stayed in the same isle as me, and always returned when I called her. She did remove quite a few items from the lower shelves, but always put them back when I told her to. I was shocked - completely amazed. Naomi, who is usually one to test every boundary, over and over again, behaved beautifully under the example of her older sister.
As we left the store, I almost teared up when I saw Annalia take Naomi's hand to walk her across the parking lot. It made me think that I even though I have more kids that I can hang on to myself, I do have enough hands. They just may not all be my own.

11 June 2010

Learning my own lessons


Well, I am now the proud mother of not 1 or 2, but 3 children. And now that Xander is 3 weeks old and has finally woken up, the real fun begins. The last few weeks have been a wonderful blur of the perfect, sleeping infant while I continue with the job of raising the 2 older girls. I am thankful God made it that way. It gave me 3 weeks to reinforce the rules with Annalia and Naomi, assuring them that Mommy still loves (and disciplines) the same, even with the new addition in the house.I had prepared myself for the girls to have a bit of a difficult time when Xander finally joined our family. Remembering Annalia's reaction to Naomi (which was great) I completely expected Annalia to transition beautifully. And I thought that my introverted little Naomi would be the one to struggle. Boy, was I ever wrong. Somehow, the presence of Xander in the house has brought Naomi out of her shell. When guest come over, she is the center of attention, talking, laughing, and just having a great time. Not to mention she is IN LOVE with her brother. Really, she can't keep her hands off him.
Annalia, on the other hand, is having a more difficult time. Don't get me wrong, she loves her brother just as much as Naomi does. She loves to hold him, get things for him, talks to him. It is adorable. But she is having a hard time adjusting to the ramifications of a 3rd kid in the house. I like to think that I am a fairly good mom, but I certainly have my faults and shortcomings. The main one being that I tend to take the path of least resistance. When Annalia wanted something, or wanted me to do something, if I could do it, I often did. I really only said no if it was going to hurt her, or if I really couldn't accommodate. I am still that same way, however the amount I can do has just decreased. She is having a hard time with this. Often throwing fits when things don't go the way she wants. I have repeatedly had to tell her "Sometimes things don't always go our way, and we just have to learn how to deal with it."
Well, she must be learning something, because just yesterday she was able to apply that lesson in a very humbling way (humbling for myself.) For the past 3 weeks, I have been very blessed to have all 3 kids down for an afternoon nap at the same time. I know - I should be on my knees thanking God right now. However, yesterday it was not to be. Naomi - who ALWAYS takes a nap - who has ALWAYS been a great sleeper - hardly ever gives me trouble in that area, decided not to take a nap. And if Naomi doesn't sleep, there is no way Annalia is going to go down. It didn't really help that I was already a little tired. I took them all downstairs, hoping they would watch a show and I could rest on the couch with Xander for 26 minutes. Lucky me, though, Naomi decides this is the perfect time to test just how much she can get away with before I drag myself off the couch to punish her.

Needless to say, I was soon in tears. I tend to throw myself a pity party when the girls miss naptime (and I miss "me-time"). Don't get me wrong, I had every right to cry and be disappointed, but I was then reminded that I could chose a better reaction. Soon, my 3-year-old is at my side, stroking my hair, saying, "Remember Mommy, sometimes things don't go the way we want, and we just have to learn how to deal with it."

From the mouth of babes - words of wisdom. And it was just what I needed.

22 May 2010

Xander's Birth Story

For those of you who love the play-by-play labor story- read on. You know me, I don't mince words. If you are the type who likes the Sport's Center version, well - you can ask Justin :)

To start, I had been having contractions every night the entire month of May. Now, I know that this can happen with any labor. Although I am glad that it got me a head start on the whole dilating process, it also served to make me very anxious. Seeing as how I didn't know my EXACT due date, and knowing that Naomi was 2 weeks early, I spent all of May wondering if tonight would be the night. By the time the weekend of the 15th rolled around (a weekend I thought I would be taking care of a newborn) I was ready for him to come.

So, I took the advice of my midwives. I sent the girls to Nana's, and Justin and I had a relaxing date night, with all that a date night entails. I guess it did the trick, because by 4am, my body was emptying itself of all contents (beginning with my stomach and intestines.) When the contractions continued to get stronger and closer together, we were pretty confident that we would have the baby that day. Since the girls were next door, Justin and I had a relaxing morning together. Although I knew that I was still in early labor, at 9:30am we decided to head to Annapolis to see how things were going. (With Naomi's pregnancy, I went from "I think we have lots of time" to "Oh My Goodness, I Have To Push!" in less than an hour.)

We went to the Birthing Center, and I was only 4cm (I had been 3 the week before). So we decided to go for a walk, and since I was feeling better, we went for breakfast. It was a BEAUTIFUL day, and I actually enjoyed a morning just walking (and laboring) with Justin. After walking for a couple hours, the contractions were getting more intense, but still manageable. So, we headed back, just to check things out again. This time I was 5cm, so we went for a walk around the hospital grounds. It was interested seeing the different reactions between the people at the hospital ("Are you ok?!? Do you need us to rush you to labor and delivery?!?") compared to the people at the birthing center ("All right, you look like you are in early/active labor, and doing great - want to go for another walk?") After an hour of walking the hospital grounds and stopping every so often to assure people that I was ok, I was getting a bit tired, and the contractions were getting more intense. So, the midwives officially admitted me to the Birthing Center around 12:30pm.

I thought now would be a nice time to try out this whole "jacuzzi laboring" thing. So they filled up the big tub and I hopped in. Justin - remember, he has been aimlessly walking this whole time with me - sat down next to the tub and promptly feel asleep. The warm water felt good. Too good. After 10 minutes, and only 1 contraction, I was afraid I had just slowed down my progress. As nice as it felt, the last thing I wanted to do was prolong the inevitable. So I got out, got dressed, and started pacing. Praying that the contractions would come back. (I know, sounds a little insane, but hey, I wanted to get that baby out.)

I decided to go for another walk. Let me just take this moment to say that I LOVED my time with the Birthing Center. It was so wonderful to just labor in a way that felt comfortable and productive. So, around the hospital grounds I went again. Only this time, I was a little more motivated - practically powerwalking. The contractions returned to the same intensity and consistency as before, and I was glad that I hadn't completely stopped the process. But I was also getting pretty tired. By now, I had been walking for about 3 hours. I decided to head back and labor in bed for a bit.

I got into the room, and all of the sudden, my water broke. That was kind of cool. I have never experienced that before, and I kept thinking that I wouldn't notice it if it happened. But, it was just like everyone described. I felt a pop, and then a gush of water. My excitement was short lived, as with the breaking of the water, often comes the "strong stuff." The midwives checked me, and I was only 6cm, so I decided now might be a nice time for the tub.

I assume this is the time I hit transition, because my thoughts went from, "Oh good, he is definitely coming today," to "What in the world was I thinking!?! Why did I think I wanted to do this again!?!" Pretty soon, I was telling them I needed to push. Now, Justin and I had talked about the whole water birth thing. I was ok going either way, but Justin was pretty sure he thought it would be too "Discovery Channel." So, I told him that when it came time to push, he was going to have to get me out of the water, because I knew that I would not be in any state of mind to move myself. And, turns out I was right. We didn't expect me to be ready to push so soon, and when Justin asked if I wanted to get out of the water, I told him there was no way I was moving any more than necessary. (Ok, it probably came out more as a whimpering, "I can't move.") Suffice it to say, I stayed in the tub - and pushed.

By this time, I was pretty tired. And for some reason, I was only half-heartedly pushing. Later, Justin and the midwives said that I had great control during the pushing portion. Little did they know it was just exhaustion. Finally, a sane thought pushed its way through, reminding me that if I pushed, he would come out, and then the pain would be over. Ahh, now that was motivation. I got serious then, and he was out. That was at 3:33pm, Thursday, May 20th.

Words can not express the emotions of that exact moment. He barely cried (just enough to count on the Apgar) and was purple all over. Apparently I did better with my breathing this time. I think it had something to do with the fact that I allowed myself to make noise. I was pretty noisy. As a friend said earlier, "Some woman scream their babies out." I figured screaming was way better than holding my breath. He pinked up pretty quickly, and he was perfect. We moved to the bed to deal with the rest.

No one warned me that the contractions to release the placenta get more intense with each subsequent labor. I was a little surprised at the intensity of these contractions. I guess it makes sense, and all in all, I should be thankful that my body did what it needed to do to prevent hemorrhaging. Soon, that part was over too, and my little Xander was latched on and eating like a champ.

Although I was tired, I felt really great, and was looking forward to going home so introduce Xander to his sisters. I ate a little food, my blood pressure was good, and my uterus was contracting as needed. I was cleared for release at 7pm. The girls came over, were both enamored by their little brother. After a couple hours, they were getting a little overwhelmed, and went back to Nana and PopPop's for bed. It was nice, just me, Justin and Xander for that first night. It was wonderful to be in our own bed. To not be woken up every couple hours to have my vitals checked, or to make sure the baby was eating enough, or all the other million things the nurses have to make sure they do when you are a patient. And just as importantly, Justin was able to get a full nights sleep, making him rested and useful the next day, when I knew I would need him.

All in all, it has been great. I mean, don't get me wrong. I just went through 12 hours of labor, and now I have 3 young kids running around. It isn't all roses. But, when I step back for a second, and just enjoy my amazing family, I feel blessed. I have an amazingly supportive husband, (who made delicious waffles, from scratch, this morning.), a beautiful 3 year old, who has been so helpful, throwing away diapers, putting toys away. I am amazed at Naomi's gentleness with her brother. She really does love him. And I have a beautiful, perfect little boy, who I look forward to getting to know more and more.

21 May 2010

20 May 2010

Getting Ready for Baby Brother

Well, it is May 20th, the official due date for this little guy, and I must admit, we are all getting pretty excited to meet him. I can hardly believe I am about to give birth to my 3rd child. There is something special about it, being a 3rd child myself. Something I have always been secretly proud of. I like my "middle child" qualities, the fact that I grew up with others always around, that I have never really had my own room and things. I like that I don't view material things as "mine," but rather "stuff that I use." This had effected how I have prepared for each child. When pregnant with Annalia, we were careful to register for all gender neutral items (the big stuff, at least.) With Naomi, I think the only new thing I bought to prepare for her was a coming home outfit. She didn't seem to mind all the hand-me downs. Now, because this is a boy, a few new things were necessary. Justin probably didn't want me to bring him home from the hospital wrapped in pink flowers.
So, lately I have been having fun with boyish fabrics, and decided to make him a few special things.

We haven't moved Naomi out of the nursery yet, so I purchased a used changing table to put in the corner of our room to hold his daily needs. Annalia insisted on organizing the blankets. I thought it was sweet of her.

Justin is going to kill me for this, because I didn't tell him what he was putting on, or that I was taking a picture, or that I was going to post it. But I decided to make a nursing cover up this time. I have always used a blanket before. But, knowing that I will be out and about more often, I thought I would try it out.

Last year, I designed a carseat/stroller bunting that I sold. So, I thought I should make one for my own child. So, we have the carseat all set up and ready to go. And if he comes on a rainy day, he will be protected. If he comes on a hot, sunny day, we can just leave it unzipped. Either way, we'll be ready.

My boppy cover wasn't really girl (in fact, it was less girly than this fabric looks in the picture.) But it was made of velour, which is quite hot. So, I wanted a cool, cotton cover. However, Annalia has decided that this is her new favorite pillow. She has slept with it every night for the past week, wrapping it around herself. I have warned her that she will need to share it with Baby Brother. We will see how that goes. Here she is nursing her little Aslan.

06 May 2010

Curse of the Creative

When Annalia told me that she wanted a mermaid costume, of course the first thing out of my mouth was, "Sure, we could make one." In fact, Annalia hears this so much that when we are in the store, she no longer asks for things, but asks if we can make it. (It is actually a good way to avoid the "I wants" in a store.)

I would love to say that my impulse to make, rather than buy, is based on the honorable desire to create something beautiful. But no - it is really about some warped rules that I have made for myself. I am not sure when I decided that commercialism was the root of all evil and should be avoided at all cost when raising my children. It probably has something to do with my desire to be different, and not have just another Disney-Princess-tee-shirt wearing girl running around. It is a pride thing (which, ironically, I am not proud of). I don't want to have to say, "Yes, I bought that Ariel mermaid costume because she wanted it." Somehow, in my head, it sounds better if I can say, "Oh, well, she wanted a mermaid costume, so I just whipped one up."

But that isn't exactly the case. She has been asking for this costume for weeks. Finally, we picked out some fabric, and another 2 weeks later, I started. It soon became a chore that I needed to finish before the baby came, and so I hurriedly finished this afternoon. Not exactly worrying about quality or perfection.
There are a couple things about this project that I am proud of though. For one, it only cost $1.50. I try to be frugal in my spending, and aware of the resources that I use in my daily life. One of the ways I achieve that, while still doing the crafts and projects I love, is by using the things I have. I did purchase a yard of fabric at Walmart, but everything else is scraps I had laying around. This is something I want to pass on to my children, using what you already have before purchasing something new.

The other pride, that I am truly proud of, is the joy this costume brought for Annalia. As soon as I put it on her, she exclaimed, "Look Mommy, I am a real mermaid now." And she swayed her hips, twirled around, and then ran outside to show her Nana. Knowing kids, and what happens to even the most beloved toys, I know that this outfit will eventually be shoved to the bottom of the dress-up box, and forgotten for months. But for now, she is blissfully happy to pretend that she is a real mermaid. And I am glad that my part in it was more than just an impulse buy, but rather a thought out, time consuming project that I endured for this moment of childhood joy.

12 April 2010

Pieces of Me

Growing up, I remember quite a few times hearing my mother say, "Karlene, I hope you get a little girl JUST LIKE YOU!" It was usually following one of my antics that often left my mother exasperated. But when Annalia was born, and as I got to know her personality, I was so thankful that my mother's wish came true. Annalia is very much like me. Which is actually great, because I understand her. She is 100% a people person; slow to judge and quick to forgive. She doesn't harbor secrets and will tell you exactly what is on her mind if you ask her (and sometimes even when you don't.) Because I understand why she does what she does, it makes it so much easier to discipline and guide her. I already know how these characteristics can be a good thing, but more importantly, how they can be bad. I can start teaching her now that not everyone is so transparent, and how to deal with that. I can start teaching her how to hold on to her passion and enthusiasm for more than 3 minutes. And I will be ready when her open heart gets broken, reminding her that it is still ok to love freely.
And now I have my beautiful Naomi, whom I originally thought was almost the complete opposite. Naomi guards her feelings in and very judicious about who she opens up to. (After a year and a half, she finally started opening up to the nursery workers at church.) Not because she is shy - I have figured that out now. She is just careful with her heart. Something I very much do not understand. And I think here is where I think the intent of my Mom's declaration may actually come true. Now it is my challenge to appreciate this quality in Naomi, and encourage her as she makes deep, lasting friendships (as I know she will.) To admire her perseverance, and acknowledge her quiet, heartfelt actions.
Now of course, Annalia isn't EXACTLY like me, and Naomi isn't my COMPLETE opposite. It has been so fun to see Naomi's carefree personality come through these past few months. Although Annalia is very open to meeting new people, she is not as open to doing new things. This girl is just now learning how to slide down the slide on her own. I don't know what I was like as a toddler, but most people who know me, know that I am often the first to jump into some crazy adventure. And this is where I see myself in Naomi. She may not always tell me what she is thinking or how she feels, but I can see her sense of adventure coming through. On a recent trip to the beach, while Annalia was safe on the sand, making new friends, Naomi and I were down by the water's edge, feeling the roll of the waves over our feet. I recognized the look in her eyes as she gazed across the vast water. She longed to be out there, to know what was on the other side. And I did something I didn't even know was possible, I loved her even more.

Here - both girls in their outfit of choice. I just couldn't resist the contrast :)



06 April 2010

The journey or the Destination

We knew it was going to be a winner of a day when it took us over 2 hours to go 25 miles to the National Zoo. Then upon arriving, the parking lots were full, so we had to find a garage in walking distance, and to top it off, I lost my breakfast in said parking lot. Grand start to our little "Family Day Trip."

It is Justin's spring break, and we thought it would be fun to take the girls places while we had the time off. It was supposed to be a nice day, so we thought, "Hey, how about a nice day at the zoo." How soon we forget that 85 degrees in Maryland is not a nice day when you are outside, walking, with 2 young kids. It didn't take long for both girls to start complaining.
And I was extra excited, because I had finally found the battery charger for our camera, and I was wanting to get all sorts of great pictures with the girls looking at the animals, having a grand ol' time. However, you won't find any of those shots in this post. I think they each actually saw about 2 animals each (and that is being generous on Naomi's part).
After a feeble attempt to see the animals, we decided to go out of the zoo for a quick street lunch of hotdogs and gatorade (which I passed on, per my episode earlier that morning.) For a few peaceful minutes we sat in the grass, ate lunch, and didn't have to discipline either girl for a whole 15 minutes.
Needless to say, we were ready to go home. (which took another 2 hours).
As we exited the zoo, Justin was commenting on the failure of our trip. Funny though, I didn't think it was. I think I have had enough experience traveling and doing things with my children that I have learned to adjust my goals. If my goal was to have a fun day at the zoo, looking at animals with 2 happy children, I would be setting myself up for disappointment. But if my goal is to get this kids out of the house, and do something unique and fun together as a family, then I think we still accomplished that. It may not have the been the photo-op I was hoping for, or
even really that enjoyable. But we went out together as a family.

And you know what? The first book Annalia wanted to read for bed tonight was the Library book about zebras. Because, you know she saw them today at the zoo.
The girls ended the day with a good, energy-busting, jump on the bed.

04 March 2010

Unrestricted Self-expression

For all of you who live in the area and see Annalia on a regular basis, you have probably noticed that she is not one for wearing pants. In fact, the only time getting her into pants is NOT a fight, is when we have a jammie day. (Apparently pj pants are ok - I haven't introduced her to nightgowns yet.)
When I had girls, I was actually pretty excited at the chance to dress them up in cute/trendy outfits while I take them for outings and people say "oh, look at those adorable girls, aren't they just so cute." Actually, I have noticed that people are nicer to you when your kids look presentable.

Well, now that Annalia likes to have a say in what she wears, I have had to decide just what is important. Do I want to argue over whether her legs and arms are covered, or whether the shirt under her "cold" dress matches the tights she is wearing (let alone the dress.) Often I am able to suggest or manipulate her into at least a decent combination.

Last week, I decided to let her have at it. I told her that she could pick out whatever she wanted to wear (the rule of covering shoulders and legs still applied - it is cold out there!) and that I wouldn't suggest or change anything. Enjoy.
I think this was day 2 of Self-Expression Week. I had great intentions of taking pictures and blogging each day. But really, who are we kidding. I am lucky if I post a blog once a month.
(I told her to smile, I guess it was opposite day.) I was so glad when she picked out this dress. It was the first time she has worn it and I thought "Oh, yes! A simple black dress. How could she possible find a shirt that DOESN'T match?" Well, leave it to Annalia.
She also likes to pick out Naomi's clothes. But, since I had made no promises regarding Naomi's wardrobe, I vetoed the red sweatpants she had picked out for under this "dress".
She was thrilled with the rules this week. Normally, this is an "at home only" dress. But, she tested me, and I did say she could wear anything. So, this is what she wore to preschool. At least the shirt matched this time :) (Notice the ribbon around the head? Yeah, that was her idea too.)

19 February 2010

Jesus has a big lap

I have learned a great many useful things from my friend Kimberly, but one little rhyme that I have loved, and the girls do it, is a little game called "This is the way the ladies ride." Both Annalia and Naomi love to sit on their Daddy's lap, while he bounces them up and down. It starts slow with the ladies riding. Speeds up a bit for the gentleman. It gets a little wild as they ride like cowboys. And then they go crazy fast as the cowgirls ride. (very feminist, I know, but it is a lot of fun.) video

In Bible Study, we are going through the book of John, and Annalia has been learning so much. Of course, with her learning and understanding, comes lots and lots of questions. She knows that Jesus lives in her heart, and she knows that when she dies, she will get to go to heaven to be with Jesus. She also knows that Jesus loves children, and has heard the story many times of how Jesus invited all the children to come sit on his lap.

Now, as we wait for baby number 3 to come, Annalia and Naomi have noticed that my lap is starting to disappear. There is not longer enough room for both of them to sit comfortably for a story. I think this is a little upsetting to the both of them.

While in the car the other day, Annalia was asking her many, many questions. She told me that Jesus must have a really big lap, since he let all the kids come up on it. Then she told me that when she went to heaven to see Jesus, she was going to get up on his lap with all the other kids, and he would do "This is the way the Ladies ride." I thought it was pretty sweet.