Happy 8th Anniversary, Babe!

Monday, May 31, 2010 11 Comments A+ a-

This is the slideshow that we showed during our wedding on May 31, 2002. I was finally able to convert it to a movie format and we have had a blast viewing it, especially with the kids. They can't get over watching Mama and Daddy as babies.

Happy Anniversary Babe! These eight years have been quite the adventure, and I'm so thankful to have you by my side during these times. Thank you for choosing me to be your partner in this life. I love you!

Long Time Break

Thursday, May 27, 2010 0 Comments A+ a-

Whew! I never intended to take that long of a break, actually, I never intended a break at all. But life happens and the next thing I knew, it’s been over a week since I’d posted last. This will be one of the most random of posts, so bear with me.

We had out-of-state visitors during this past week, an aunt and her children. It was great having them here, and involved visits to Panera Bread, Chik-Fil-A, and Butter Cream Cupcakery. (Oh my word, the red velvet cupcake was to.die.for!) The kiddos disappeared for hours at a time and we watched hours of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and we swear it has magic powers as it is the only thing that can get her 1-year-old to sit still for longer than 5 minutes.

Tonight we purchased 3 out of the 5 wedding apparel needed for Brock and Holly’s wedding in September. We now have a size 3 tuxedo and two flower girl dresses on their way to our house. I am attempting David’s Bridal this weekend to get my bridesmaid dress ordered. I cannot believe that the wedding will be here in a little over three months! Craziness!

Everyone has asked what I think of being a stay-at-home mom and truth be told, now is not a good time to ask. With being as sick as I’ve been, I have not even attempted to tackle my to-do list. A list that includes everything from organizing closets, packing up and properly marking containers of kids clothes, creating new schedules, organizing this house, getting out and having play dates, etc. I’m sure once I can pick myself up off the couch, I’ll enjoy it so much more.

I have registered Devyn, Hudson, and Reagan for swimming lessons this summer and let me tell you, it was HARD getting all three scheduled at the same time so I can be with Reagan in the pool without worrying where Hudson and Devyn had disappeared and what trouble they were getting in. I know they’re going to love their lessons! And Devyn has also been signed-up for ballet lessons, which start a week from tomorrow. I can’t wait to see her all dressed up in her ballet finery and I wonder how she’ll take to dance.

Munchkin #4 has a heart rate that hovers around the 120-130 range. Devyn’s heart rate was always in the 150-160 range, Hudson was in the 140 range, and Reagan was in the 140 range. Based on this old wives tale, it makes me wonder if Munchkin #4 might be a boy. And the Chinese Calendar seems to agree with the boy prediction. Only time will tell, hmmmm?

We have a busy weekend ahead of us that includes a BBQ, a end-of-year party for Devyn and her classmates, a birthday celebration, a wedding, and an anniversary for Jon and I to celebrate. (8 years, really?!) It would be really, really great if my body decided to start behaving and I could enjoy all those fun events, huh?

Pregnancy Brain Has Begun

Monday, May 17, 2010 6 Comments A+ a-

How do I know that pregnancy brain has officially set in? 

Example #1:

Twice I wrote about the Beco baby carrier.  Twice I spelled it wrong.  It went from Bebo to Beko, and still it was wrong.  By the third time, I just threw my hands in the air and said heck with it. 

Example #2:

We’re working with Reagan on using the word “please” instead of pointing at something and grunting.  Last night I was saying the word, as well as using baby sign language too.  However, when a friend asked me which sign I was using and I showed her, I flushed a deep purple as she pointed out I was using the sign for “more”.  I knew that!  Of course I know the different signs for “more” and “please”!  What on earth was I thinking?!

Example #3:

I’m so very excited for my upcoming trip to Washington to see this beautiful lady.  The night I bought my ticket, she and I texted back and forth over the dates all night, just to make sure they’d work for both us.  Yet it didn’t occur to either of us until last night that I’d be out there over Father’s Day weekend.  Whoops!  My Mother’s Day is going to equal single-parenthood for Jon’s Father’s Day.  So, so sorry, Babe!

And I guarantee these moments are only going to get worse before they get better.  Tune in for a fun ride between now and November.

Odds and Ends

Thursday, May 13, 2010 8 Comments A+ a-

** Boy! Do I feel like an idiot!! I've received a few emails regarding the baby carrier. Its not a Bebo, but a Beko. Here's a direct link for those that are interested.

I have a number of heavy posts on my mind lately. Posts dealing with identity, some stay-at-home-mom thoughts, some thoughts regarding this growing babe, you get the idea. Some heavy stuff. But since I’m in no mood to tackle any of those today, I’m just going to keep this as light as possible.

Devyn had her first field trip to the Denver Children’s Museum yesterday. It was the farthest she’s been from us, without any family members. It was a surreal experience sending my baby on a bus to Denver. But she had a blast, and came home with a wonderful surprise for the whole family. A free, year-long membership to the Children’s Museum!! I can’t wait to redeem this, as I know its a membership that will be used often. What a blessing.

Jon and I are in the throes of Open Enrollment and gritting our teeth as we deal with the choice between non-expensive, not-great insurance vs. expensive, not-awesome insurance. I’m not a fan of our choices, but c'est la vie. An evil necessity in this life.

Most know that I’m a huge fan of slings, and used mine incessantly when Reagan was a baby. It was wonderful to have free arms to tend to Devyn and Hudson’s needs, get things done around the house, all while Rea was tucked in close to me. However, as she got bigger and heavier, the harder it got on my back. Enter Jon’s cousin and the Bebo** (see above) carrier. We all went to the zoo together last summer and Jessica introduced me to the wonders of the Bebo carrier, even letting me borrow it for a few weeks. I.fell.in.love! But had to give it back.

Imagine my surprise and delight when weeks after finding out about Baby #4, I received a text message from Jessica saying she wanted to gift me with a Bebo carrier. Um, yes, please! It arrived this week and is so pretty! (See pattern above.) Now my biggest dilemma is whether or not I want to wait until Ashlynn or Carson arrives to use it, or break it in with Reagan now. Decisions, decisions. (And Jessica, thank you again, dear friend. You have blessed me far more than with tangible gifts, your presence in my life is a saving grace!)

My Mother’s Day present is a doozy, in fact, it might as well be Mother’s Day and my birthday all rolled into one. This beautiful lady has twice visited my beautiful state, once for a family vacation that involved getting to meet face-to-face for the first time and the second for a quick getaway and another opportunity to visit. Since she has been out here twice, I thought it only fair that I return the favor and on Mother’s Day booked my round-trip ticket to head out the beautiful state of Washington for a visit with one of my favorite blogging ladies and the opportunity to hold her newest, delish bundle of joy. Reagan will be going with me, and we’re still working out babysitting arrangements with family for Devyn and Hudson while we’re gone. If you think of it, say a prayer for Jon as he’ll be a single parent for those six days.

Last night was Devyn's awards ceremony for Awanas. I just adore seeing her up there on stage, singing the Cubbies theme song with all her heart. We've been pretty lacadaisal in how often she went, but she wants so badly to finish her book that I'm sure next year we'll be a little more diligent in getting her there every week.

Right now they’re all currently playing under a fort we built this morning but I can feel the tide turning from nice, peaceful play to brewing arguments. Time to get off and intercede before it gets really ugly.

Houston, We Have Some Names

Tuesday, May 11, 2010 16 Comments A+ a-

Finally! And yes, I understand that we have PLENTY of time before we really got to crunch time. Heck I have friends and coworkers (former) that took laptops and baby name books with them to the hospital while in labor. But you know me… I like names, I like throwing around names, I like playing the name game. And for whatever reason, I just don’t feel connected until I have a name to call them by.

And we’ve never used the same name for more than one pregnancy. For instance, had Devyn been a boy, she would have been Blake Jonathan. If Hudson had been a girl, he would have been Avery Rose. If Reagan had been a boy, she would have been Gavin Jonathan. So for whatever reason, we just don’t recycle names.

We came up with the girl name almost instantly, it just instantly fell in place. And yes, I still have a sister (ahem!) who is not a fan and still throws girl names at us. But nothing seems to fit as well as the girl name we’ve chosen. Again, the boy name was harder this time around as both Jon and I have some definitive and strong opinions when it comes to boy names. We had a few good strong contenders, but nothing screamed “This is it!” Until last night. And I’m breathing a sigh of relief.

Without further ado…

If Baby #4 is a girl, we will be naming her Ashlynn Rose.

I fell in love with the name Aislinn but knew no one would know how to pronounce the Irish spelling. So we decided to spell it phonetically, which also happens to include my middle name at the end of it. Rose is after my dad’s mother, my grandma Rose, who also had the very Irish maiden name of McGrath. Seems appropriate.

If Baby #4* is a boy, we will be naming him Carson Jonathan.

We both liked the name Callen but I wasn’t sure it was THE name, much to Jon’s annoyance. I liked the names Corbin and Gideon but Jon couldn’t be convinced. So when Jon texted me the name Carson yesterday after reading the name in a newspaper article, I don’t think he expected me to be so excited. But its it, that’s the one. Jonathan is obviously after his dad, and again, its a family tradition that all boys share the dad’s first name as their middle name.

Its amazing to think that we have about 8 more weeks until our BIG ultrasound, the one where we could find out if Baby is a boy or a girl. But instead we’ll be focusing on the health of Baby #4, as we’ve decided to wait to find out again. We really loved that experience with Reagan and can’t wait for that moment when we get to meet him/her at birth.

And now that we have names, I’ll spend the rest of this pregnancy wondering if its sweet Ashlynn Rose or little man Carson Jonathan joining our family.

*Yes, I edited it to say #4, instead of #5, because I am not tempting fate in any way. I'm perfectly content with four; five might just send me over the edge. =)

Mother’s Day 2010

Sunday, May 09, 2010 4 Comments A+ a-

Mother’s Day 2010 entails the following:

Its waking to the sound of Jon tapping on the washing machine, trying to get the dern machine to work again.

Its waking to a child on either side of me, one with his legs flung sideways over my middle, the other cuddled in deep against my side.

Its opening my eyes and knowing that I’m going to have to make a trip to the bathroom right away.  A brief reminder that a year from now I’ll be celebrating with not just three children, but four.

Its making my way to the kitchen after a retching session in the bathroom, to cook up some bacon.

Its an opened gift from Devyn who proudly proclaims, “Its empty.  It had chocolates in it, but since you’re sick from the baby, I ate it for you.”

Its a hug and a whispered “Happy Mother’s Day” from Hudson.

Its a sleepy Reagan who just wants to cuddle with her nauseous Mommy on the couch.

Its a teary confession from Devyn that she broke the glass in Hudson’s baby picture, and a relieved smile when I assure her that it’s ok, Mommy actually did it last night by stepping on it.

Its a plate of bacon and toast handed to me when Jon realizes I’m probably not going to be able to leave the couch.

Its watching my three children sit side-by-side at the kitchen table, loving their interactions, and awed that they’re mine.

Its the every day sounds of life in this small house, sounds of life being lived, siblings being tolerated, washing machines being brought back to life, and a growing bump to make this Mama realize just how very blessed her life is. 

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!  May you stop and relish these moments that make you a mother, today and every day.

Bragging on Her for a Bit

Thursday, May 06, 2010 7 Comments A+ a-

Breakfast as been eaten, Devyn and Hudson are playing beautifully together, something involving watching Hudson play hockey and Devyn visiting with his friends, and Reagan is snuggled up against my side while I write this on the laptop.  Life is good this morning!

Yesterday was quite the “Mom” day in which I felt like such a Mama with doctor appointments and parent-teacher conferences.  On days like those I keep looking around me, wondering whose life this is and how I came to be "The Mama” of this brood.  Its a very surreal feeling, one you’d think I’d be used to by now.

Reagan had her 15-month-old check-up yesterday, a month late, and while she’s still in the 1st percentile for everything, she is growing on her curve.  In fact, she’s staying on her curve better than Hudson has.  She grew 2 1/2 inches in three months and gained almost 2 pounds in that same time frame.  For those keeping track, yes, she still weighs less than 18 pounds and is still in a rear-facing car seat.  Poor girl.  She just wants to be a big kid like her brother and sister, you can see the envy on her face.

But the thing that brought the greatest smile to my face was the thing I was dreading the most.  Yesterday I met with Devyn’s preschool teacher and speech therapist to go over her progress from the year, and I left that meeting with a smile from ear-to-ear.  She blossomed this year.  I couldn’t pinpoint exactly when it happened, nor could her teacher, but something happened this year and my Devyn just came into her own.

In regards to the speech therapy, she has progressed SO much this year.  It hardly seems like she’s the same girl that started school just eight months ago.  She is a huge talker now, so much so that we can’t get her to stop talking.  But what a problem to have now!  She talks in big exaggerated motions, with a big loud voice, and has big stories to tell.  We often have to tell Miss Paige to slow down, to take a deep breath, and start over again but what she wants to tell us is so important, so exciting, and she speeds through her stories.  I had to laugh when the therapist said that she has to do the same with her at school.

She will continue her speech therapy through Kindergarten as she is still struggling with mixed sounds like sm and sp words, and struggles with the the middle L words.  But the therapist said she’d be truly surprised if Devyn needs any more help after Kindergarten.  We were sent home with some worksheets and ideas on how to work with Devyn through summer break, and with the promise to keep it fun.  Yes, Ma’am!

Then it was Devyn’s teacher’s turn and I can honestly say that I’ve never been as proud of our Devyn Paige as I was in that meeting.  Allow me to brag for a bit…

Devyn is one of the most compassionate, kind, and helpful students in the class.  She’s the first to help classmates with zippers, coats, or boots; the first to stop and ask someone if they’re ok after a head bonk or trip on the playground.  She is a friend to everyone, not singling any one child out and always willing to include everyone in play time.  She is quick to lay out ground rules for play time, doling out play roles for house, etc. but never in a bossy way.  (According to her teacher, at home she can be a little bossy with her brother.  Its an oldest sibling thing.) 

And while she loves playing with others, Devyn has a confidence that allows her to do things with or without friends.  If she wants to run over to the Science Table or the Writing Center, she’ll invite others to join her but even if no one wants to, she heads over to those tables anyway.  I LOVE that about my Devyn, and I pray that confidence stays with her in the years ahead!

We’ve known these things about Devyn, but its always wonderful to have them reiterated from those outside our family.  While we will always strive for excellence in scholastic skills, it is far more important to us that our children have a strong, Godly character.  Its their job to be a light in this world, to their classmates, and their teachers, and I have no doubts that Devyn is a light in her classroom.  Especially when her teacher thanks us for the job we’re doing in raising Devyn, that she is an absolute joy to have in class and a delight to teach.  She is to us too!

Sleep Evades Me

Wednesday, May 05, 2010 7 Comments A+ a-

I should be sleeping, in fact, I WANT to be sleeping. But since my brain refuses to shut off, and I refuse to give voice to the lies that want to overwhelm me, I decided to jump over here instead. Just to get some thoughts written out. Bear with me as its after midnight and I can't be sure any of this is coherent.
  • I was determined to start potty-training Hudson this week. I've been waiting for him to show interest, since that's what we did with Devyn. And sure enough, the girl trained herself in a week! But Hudson has been a little slow on the uptake and I decided now was the time. However, 7 pairs of underwear later and he's back in diapers again. Personally, I don't think he's ready. He gets the concept, but the timing is off. And quite frankly, when its at the point where he's content to sit around in wet pants and underwear, then we've kind of defeated the purpose somewhere, haven't we? Sigh. It'll happen, someday, it'll happen.
  • I am sick. Truly sick. Every morning starts off with a visit to the toilet, and Hudson running up to say with a wagging finger, "Bad, Baby, bad!" Which is then usually followed with, "Ewwww! Gross, Mama." And then I'm trying to keep Reagan and Hudson's heads and hands out of the way, while I continue to wretch into the toilet. Its all very glamorous in our house at the moment. The magic white pills do seem to work, but I try to hold off as much as possible before taking them. A good protein-filled snack here, some mint tea there, etc, etc. But I've forgotten how miserable the 1st trimester is, and truly, its always been bad for me. Oh well, I have some time to go still before things start looking up. I didn't start feeling better until 14 weeks with both girls and it was 20 weeks with Hudson. I just passed the 10 week mark on Monday.
  • Reagan has decided that she no longer cares to have her pizza cut up. As I put the plate with bite-sized pieces of pizza in front of her for lunch, she politely handed it back to me and pointed at Hudson's plate with full slices. I tried again, putting it on the table in front of her this time. Again, she picked it up and handed it back to me. This time she was a little more emphatic with her pointing at Hudson's plate. I tried a third and final time, only I had to rescue the plate as this time I swear she was going to spike it to the floor. I finally gave her some full slices and all was well in her world again. Need I remind anyone that the girl is only 16-months-old?!
  • I don't expect to see Jon much this weekend. Between his brothers coming to visit, Jon also has his hands full trying to fix Christine's car and our washing machine. She has a broken timing belt, and our pump took a dump. We're waiting for the part to arrive, but our dirty clothes are piling up like you wouldn't believe. I even went to my parents house on Monday to wash 7 loads there. Seriously, we have a mini-mountain range going through our bedroom, which of course puts a serious dent on this SAHM euphoria I was on. But like Jon reminded me, there is one who'd like nothing better than to convince us that this can't work. And he's not above trying every little trick in the book, like a broken washing machine.
  • Devyn is coming home with new opinions, ideas, and sayings all the time now. Some of my favorites include the following:

    "Did you know Tess and Katie have boyfriends?! But they're only 4 years old and that is too young!" Praise the Lord we've drilled that into her head already.

    Shaking her head while watching DWTS, "That dress shows too much skin! She should save that dress for a date with her husband." Amen, child!

    "Mama, when I turn six, I want makeup, shoes, dresses, and necklaces. But the kid-kind, ok?! And then I want all my friends to come over and we'll put on a concert for the mommies and daddies and brothers and sisters, ok?" Sure, Love, I'll have Daddy get to work on that stage right away.

    "I have a lot of friends, Mama, a lot! I have friends at bible study, church, school, Awanas, and RIBS [side note: she means MOPS, I have no idea why she started calling it RIBS]. I have 196 friends! That's a lot of friends." Now if we can only work on that humbleness a little.

    She keeps us cracking up and I truly just adore hanging out with her. We even had a lunch date after church on Sunday, just she and I. It was a special time.

And I think I've finally hit my wall, so I'm going to publish this bad boy and get some sleep. Morning is coming way too early for this Mama.

An Emotional Day

Saturday, May 01, 2010 11 Comments A+ a-

It was an emotional day, far more emotional than I’d prepared myself for. As I was looking through the various cards at Walmart, looking for just the perfect card for the department as a whole and for individual coworkers, I felt the tears pricking my eyes. The day hadn’t even started yet, and I was already crying in a Walmart aisle. I smiled to myself and through the tears, picked cards that weren’t perfect but would have to do.

I thought a lot about my first day yesterday, a young girl at 19 years old, dressed up in a dress suit I’d purchased during one of my retail jobs. It was probably a smidge too short for a professional work environment, but it was the closest thing I had anything representative of an office assistant. I’d been picked by a local temp agency to head to our local government HR’s office and assist their office with whatever duties they wanted to give me.

I was shaking in my black high heels and too-short skirt, took a deep breath, and opened the door. The lady behind the front desk was old enough to be my grandmother and I knew instantly what her first impression of me was, “A baby, wet behind the ears. They sent me someone to babysit.” All of which she later confirmed that yes, those were her first impressions. But I was determined to see it through, to prove that I was capable of what I’d been sent to do. That was in August of 1999.

I never imagined that I’d stay 10+ years, moving from position to position, from Secretary to Department Specialist to Senior Department Specialist, back to Department Specialist again. They gave me opportunities to grow and learn, to try out new programs and master skills I already possessed. They had faith in my abilities when I did not, and gave encouragement and support when I felt overwhelmed or in over my head. I was put on committees and projects, many things unheard of for a women in her twenties with no college degree. Yet they had no doubt that I was capable of things outside of my comfort zone. They sent me to trainings and also had me play the role of trainer.

I started that job as a young, wet-behind-the-ears, barely-out-of-highschool girl and they saw me transition from living at my parents house to moving in with girlfriends. They were there to celebrate my engagement to Jon and came to our wedding. They commiserated with me during the trials of newlywed life, and laughed during my stories of apartment life. They called me crazy when we added our first baby, our dog Jackson and certifiable when we added a second dog. I met one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever known, and wonder how I got so lucky in one of my closest friends, Mandy. They cheered when I announced my first pregnancy, and my second, and my third. They smiled and offered support when I announced my fourth. They have been flexible and understanding during every maternity leave, every time I’ve called in because of another sick child. They were willing to work with me as I moved from full-time to part-time back to full-time, even allowing me to take a voluntary demotion to make part-time work again.

I was there for staff changes, for director changes. I was there for our move from downtown to the middle of nowhere. I was there for department restructures and tough times. We struggled through deaths of coworkers, and cancers and surgeries and deaths of loved ones. We complained about each other and dealt with different working styles and opposite personalites. And even though we have as much dysfunction as a normal family, underneath it all, each one is a good person and I’m going to miss each and every one.

Yes, it was hard yesterday. From the ones that I was closet to, from the random people in other departments who stopped to say that I’ll be missed, each goodbye was hard and bittersweet. I truly didn’t expect to spend my whole last day in tears. And to add to my emotional state? I was given a “going away” present that took my breath away, it was completely unexpected.

Isn’t it beautiful? This was beyond anything I’d ever imagined but once again, it just goes to show the giving nature of my coworkers and how well they truly know me.

It was hard, probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. And I know that as hard as it was, it was a step that needed to be taken. I will not forget how many women have come up to me in the last few weeks to tell me that mine is a decision I will not regret, that they wish they could have done things over and decided to stay home with their children when they were young.

And so, I close the door on one chapter, just to begin another. One I know I will never regret beginning…