Monday, October 20, 2014

Nathan's Birth Story

This has been in my drafts forever.  Months, if not a year.  Oh and this has a LOT of detail.  Just to warn you.  Well, not as much detail as some birth stories I've read but still a lot.  Just to let you know.  That means it's long and has many words.  I'm sleepy.


I was talking to Shannon the other day and mentioned that I'd written down Nathan's birth story but never put it on the blog, since I started it when he was a toddler.  I figured now's as good a time as any to share it, so I'm typing it up for you to enjoy or ignore at your leisure.  I added a couple of things and comments, though, as I was typing.

Also, it's addressed to Nathan, since it's in a journal I started as sort of letters to him but unfortunately never kept up.  Story of my life.  Moving on.  (but would I ever let him read this? I probably should have even edited it for the blog, but that would have been more work and I figure most people who read it have been through this before, and if you haven't, I apologize if it freaks you out or anything - although I really don't think it's that bad, it just makes me feel weird to think of my son reading it as is)  Ok, now really moving on.

You were born on August 13, a Sunday, at 11:21 pm in a hospital.  I did not realize that I was in labor from about 3 am that morning, but later decided that must have been the case.  I started having slightly painful contractions about 4 to 6 times an hour at around that point.  All day long they kept up at about that rate.  I remember tensing up my legs and concentrating during contractions while we were sitting in Sunday school.  At around 7 or 8 that evening, after we'd been at your great-grandparents' house for a couple of hours playing games, they started to get a lot more painful and closer together.  We were playing Pit when I realized I was getting a contraction every round.  I put my phone on the table so I could watch the time to keep track of them.  After a bit we stopped playing pit and played Continental Rummy instead (we'd somehow got it into our heads that the stress of pit was making me have contractions).  I watched my phone for nearly an hour but they were still coming like clockwork: every 3 to 4 minutes.  I really should have called the doctor hours before, but as a first-time mom at only 31 weeks and change, it didn't even occur to me that something was wrong until that evening.  At some point while we were playing I told Jared how close the contractions were to each other and he said I should probably lie down (I didn't know you're supposed to walk around to see if they stop, but fortunately I didn't because later whenever I got up the contractions only got worse) and see if they slowed down any.  This is actually something we had been told four days earlier at our first Lamaze class.  Anyway, I called your grandma (my mom) and talked to her for a little bit.  The contractions did slow down, but some of them were more painful than before.  I was having them every 5 to 6 minutes.  When I told your grandma this, she said I should probably call the doctor and ask him what I should do - if I would need to get to the hospital.  After I hung up with her, I called the doctor.  However, when I was in the middle of answering his questions, intense worry combined with another contraction made me start crying so I handed the phone over to your dad.  He answered the rest of the routine questions and hung up.  I had no spotting and my water hadn't broken, plus you were still moving a little between contractions.  I still didn't actually think I was in labor (modern day me here, I can't believe I still didn't think I was in labor.  Holy cow what does it take?) and I knew that you, at least, were fine.  We were about to go into the hospital (which we hadn't had time to visit yet, just to find out where labor and delivery was) when my grandpa asked if I wanted a blessing.  I said that that would probably be a good idea.  Your daddy gave me the blessing and said that whatever happened that night, you and I would be fine and that it was Heavenly Father's will.  Your dad later told me that he had actually been prompted to say, "if he comes tonight, everything will be fine... etc." but he thought that might freak me out.  He definitely got the distinct impression that you were probably coming that night.

Anyway, after that, we got in the car and drove down to the hospital.  At that point, the contractions were getting even more painful and closer together and the pain was definitely making me cry.  You would think that this would have tipped me off to what was happening, but I guess I was in denial, and the pain was too distracting for me to think clearly, anyway.  As we got near the hospital, your daddy pulled into the closest parking lot only to find that we had to get to the other side of the medical campus.  I may have yelled at him, or just yelled at the universe, but we eventually got to the right part of the hospital and while he went to park, I slowly walked inside and up to the security desk.  I don't remember clearly everything that was said, but I clearly looked like I was pregnant and in pain so the security guard asked me if I was in labor.  I felt so confused I wasn't sure what to say (again, what does it take?? Also, those of you who know me well know I hate to answer questions if the answer isn't cut and dry - which is a stupid habit, I know, especially in cases like these.  Whatevs, I wasn't even 21 yet.) so I said I didn't know and almost started crying again.  I turned around to see if your daddy was coming yet and there he was.  Somehow we ended up in the elevator and went up to the labor and delivery floor.  We were allowed in pretty quickly (there's a security camera and phone so they can beep you in, but I don't remember if they made us jump through that hoop or not - your dad thinks maybe the security guard called up while we were in the elevator, but we might remember that wrong).  Anyway, we got checked in and I changed into the hospital gown.  I sat in the bed and a couple of nurses came in, one to check to see how dilated I was, and another to ask your daddy about my medical history and about our insurance and stuff.  The nurse checking me said in a slightly surprised voice that I was at 8 1/2 centimeters and that the baby was coming tonight!  I felt so worried but was still pretty distracted by the pain.  I remember I hated lying down (it hurt worse than sitting) and would have preferred to squat but they needed to monitor your heart rate.  At some point they hooked me up to an I.V. (in my right hand, I still have a tiny scar from it) and I think that's when they told me if I wanted an epidural I had to decide NOW.  I said I didn't know because I had wanted to try having you come without medication but it was also very painful.  And as I had mentioned before, we had only been to one Lamaze class and I had no training on how to deal with labor pains so I could focus through them instead of just being blindsided by contractions.  Anyway, your dad said I probably should (he has said several times since then that from what he can tell labor looks incredibly painful and why would you choose to feel that?) and that everything would be fine if I had an epidural (as in that nothing would go wrong like I thought it might).  I think he was just very worried and wanted me to feel better.  So I told them I wanted the epidural and they sent for the anesthesiologist.  At some point before the guy came they asked me to lie down on my back, but when he did come, they wanted me to turn onto my side so he could get to my spine.  I remember thinking that I wished they would make up their minds.  They told me to hold very still for the shot but I was shaking too badly (a symptom of late labor, which I didn't know at the time).  Your daddy and a nurse (or two?) tried to hold me still so the anesthesiologist could give me the spinal shot.  I remember he said "little mosquito bite" before sticking me and then when he did it I said, "that was a mosquito bite?"  It was a lot worse than he said but I didn't care anymore after a bit.  It started kicking in shortly after.

Almost immediately after (seemed longer since everything still hurt) they wheeled me into a delivery room and had me get into the delivery "bed".  I remember it being difficult to move because I was still in pain.  With some help, however, I was able to get onto the bed and put my feet up.  As soon as I was in the right position, Dr. Jacob(s?) broke my water.  I was starting to get pretty numb.  At first, your daddy was holding my hand, but then I had to start pushing (fully numb at that point - I remember thinking I felt too numb) and so they wanted me to pull my legs up and towards my chest.  I remember thinking it felt like an unnatural-feeling position to give birth in, lying on one's back with one's feet in the air.  But since I wasn't in pain anymore, I didn't mind so much.  I do remember that when the pain left, however, I started to feel how exhausted I was.  Anyway, Dr. Jacob(s) said it was going fast and that your head was going to appear soon so your daddy went around to see.  Before you came out, though, the doctor gave me a quick episiotomy (FYI don't google that... lol).  Your dad said he had to look away because it freaked him out.  I didn't even feel it though.  Anyway, I only had to push a few times before your head came out.  I remember feeling a little regret that I couldn't feel a thing except a lot of pressure when you came out.  I was able to sit up a little and look down at your head before having to put my head back again to push out the rest of your body.  I remember the nurse kept saying I was doing great and me replying that I'd have to take her word for it.  Anyway, the rest of your body came out quickly and they cut the umbilical cord, held you up long enough for them to say, "here he is," and then they took you into another room.  They didn't ask your dad if he wanted to cut the cord because of how early you were but he was allowed to go into the next room with you.  It was all over so quickly.  Your daddy said that when he went with you they checked your vitals, including your Apgar score and cleaned you up.  He said they may have also hooked you up to a ventilator at that point he can't remember for sure.  I do remember you crying a little when you were born though, so I knew you were breathing.  They said you couldn't get enough oxygen at first, but you were really only on a ventilator for about 6 hours.  Anyway, after you left, the doctor helped me deliver the placenta, stitched me back up and cleaned me up.  After that is even more of a blur because I was so exhausted and still kind of in shock about you coming so early and so quickly.  The time between when we arrived at the hospital and when you were born was less than 45 minutes.  I think what happened was that they took me down to the next floor where the mothers recover and gave me clean things to change into so I was able to get some rest.  I didn't go to sleep for a little while though, because your daddy and I talked for a while and called our families to let them know things were fine and that you had come early!  They were worried, but happy to hear that we were okay.  Anyway, after that, a nurse brought Jared a blanket and pillow so he could sleep on the convertible chair/bed and also brought me some water and juice.  Also, later that night, Dr. Jacob or a nurse (I said I was tired!) came and told us that you were in the NICU and on a ventilator but that you were doing fine.  I wasn't worried at this point, just kind of in shock and feeling tired.  After that we went to sleep, although a nurse came in a couple of times during the night to massage my uterus to make sure it kept contracting and go back to its original size (eventually).  That was painful.

Earlyish the next morning (probably around 6 or 7) they came and told us we could come see you.  I got in a wheelchair (my legs were still like jelly) and your dad and I went up to the next floor where the NICU was.  You were in the more intensive care part of the NICU (there are two parts: more intensive care, where the incubators and special plastic "beds" are, and the less intensive care, with metal cribs) but you didn't have to be in an enclosed incubator because you were strangely fat for your age (5 pounds, 1 ounce, and possibly around 18 inches!) and thus better able to keep yourself warm.  You still had a warming lamp thing though.  When we first saw you, you were already off the ventilator.  I'm guessing pretty soon after you were off it they let us know we could come see you.  Because of that, I guess, we were able to hold you for a little while.  You didn't have the I.V. in your head yet at that point.  I remember feeling so awkward at first because I didn't know how to hold a baby, period, let alone a premature one.  I thought I was going to hurt you, but the nurse there helped me and soon you were snuggled up to my chest (in kangaroo care/skin to skin, which helps little babies grow, especially when they're premature).  I felt so many emotions at that point.  Some sad, like worry and regret that I had possibly done something to cause you to be born early (I had been at work at the bookstore only two days before), fears that you wouldn't ever be completely healthy; but there were happy ones too: giddiness and a feeling of surreality about finally meeting you, definitely contentment just to hold you and kiss you.  I remember that holding you felt like the most important thing I had to do in the entire world.  I may have been taking the kangaroo care thing too seriously, but since I didn't know you yet or how to take care of you, I think I latched onto that one thing.  After that your daddy held you too, but I accidentally hogged you to myself for most of the time.  I realized later I should have shared you with your daddy more but it didn't even occur to me at first.  Of course, I didn't realize at that point that there was a time limit of about 15 or 20 minutes, but there was.  After that the nurse told us you needed to rest, so we had to leave you and go back downstairs again.  I was sad to give you back but I was also still pretty numb from shock so I didn't cry or anything.  When we went back down to the room, your daddy decided that he would go home and shower, eat and come back.  I stayed and showered also, and then they brought me some breakfast.  I remember it felt nice to be served like that.  Not too long after that, they asked me if I planned to breastfeed.  I told them yes, so they brought in an electrical pump.  I had to pump as frequently as a newborn eats, and I tried to get every last drop.  That was fine at first, but I wish someone had told me I didn't have to keep it up the entire time he was in the NICU.  I ended up storing more than double the milk that I could possibly store and didn't know at the time that you can donate leftover milk so we ended up throwing a lot away.  Anyway, they stored the milk in a freezer in the NICU so you could be fed through a tube.  They mixed it with some kind of formula so that you could get extra calories.  The only thing is, the electrical pump HURT!  The first time or two wasn't bad, but after that it just made me so sore.  I didn't want to quit, though, because I wanted to be able to nurse you when you got stronger.

So that first day, I pumped, watched the hospital TV, drank lots of fluids and ate some, and talked to a few people who visited.  Your dad came back soon and brought some stuff I needed (like toothpaste!) and some things I didn't need but still wanted and proved useful, like VHS movies (there was only a VCR) for when I got bored of watching the hospital programs over and over.  We also named you so we could complete your birth certificate.  Your daddy had suggested "Nathan" a month or two before, and I liked the name "Rivers", so when we made that your middle name we liked the sound of it.  There wasn't any real meaning behind choosing those names, we just liked them.  I did like that Nathan meant "gift from God" though.  We still probably would have named you Nathan if it had meant something else, though, as long as it wasn't something like "booger face" or "he who took the hill by force".  Actually I kinda like that second one.  Anyway, sometime that afternoon, they brought us a binder that was supposed to serve as some kind of guide to the NICU and premature infants.  It was supposed to stay at the hospital for your entire stay and then we could take it home when you were released.

As I mentioned, I received some visitors.  Your aunt Adrien and uncle Eric came (they didn't get married until December that year, but I'm still calling him your uncle Eric), my old roommates Rochelle and Jessica came with my cousin Katie, and my cousin Kelly and her boyfriend (now husband) Zach came also.  Later, your grandparents (Tom and Beth Swinford) came with Aubrie!  That was one thing that was kind of a funny coincidence.  They were already coming into town to visit.  We all decided that you must have come early so that you could see them before January (when we were planning to visit daddy's family in Indiana).  Also that morning your daddy and I called our places of work to say we wouldn't be in (although daddy went in a couple of times for a little while).  That week was supposed to have been my last at the bookstore since getting around and lifting things was becoming pronouncedly more difficult - and I did feel kind of bad since they'd been relying on me to come in that week (most of the others were sick or on vacation).  It did make it kind of intense for the couple of people left, and I was glad that the ones left were able to take care of things when I couldn't come in.  I actually did think about going in at first, since I didn't have a baby to take care of, but I really couldn't have worked for a week or two, and then only handling a few light things, so I didn't bring it up.

Anyway, that day or the next your grandma (my mom) came up from California, and she came in to visit you with my grandparents.  Even though you weren't out of the hospital yet, she wanted to help me with things, especially with getting things you needed since all we had so far was a pair of pajamas and maybe a couple of onesies (plus the hospital pump we'd rented).  At some point while you stayed in the hospital we bought a carseat, a glider, a crib, a few clothes, a couple of blankets and a baby monitor.  We also borrowed some clothes, blankets, a bathtub, a swinging bassinet and a couple of toys from my aunt Lanee.  Your grandma Spees also sent some clothes later.  It wasn't long before you were well provided for!

Tuesday evening I was released from the hospital and I think that's when it finally hit me that we were going to have to leave you there.  It was hard but your daddy had thought to develop a few pictures of you that afternoon so we could put them in frames around the apartment.  When we were at the store I stayed in the car while your dad picked up the pictures, prescriptions, and other things.  A couple of strangers came to my door and asked if they could get a ride somewhere and I was in a thick haze of pain, emotional numbness/rawness, and tiredness so I just told them to ask your dad.  He told them he might be able to come back after he took me home but they declined.  It was just kind of a weird, random thing.  The next 6 weeks were a blur of getting the apartment ready for you to come home, pumping every three hours, visiting you twice a day (the maximum allowed at that point - after a few weeks or so they had me come in to try feeding you more often) and trying to eat and drink enough.  I didn't realize producing milk could make me feel so hungry all the time!

There's so much I could write about your experience in the hospital, and our side of it as well, but I'll summarize with this:  After almost 6 weeks of an emotional roller coaster (I never understood that metaphor till then), jaundice, weight loss and gains, learning how to take care of you and learning things like what a canula is, and hearing several "maybe he'll be able to go home this week"s, they said you were ready for the carseat test (when they put you in a carseat for an hour or something and make sure your oxygen levels don't get too low) and then the 24 hour (maybe it was less?) on-demand feeding test.  That basically meant I stayed in a room during the night and they would wake me up when you wanted to be fed.  I don't remember if you had to take the carseat test twice or just one time... Anyway, we still had to do supplemental bottles twice a day and I almost always used a nipple shield at first, but I was able to nurse you (up until around 6 months, when you decided you preferred the bottles).  Anyway, exactly 6 weeks later, on a Sunday afternoon, they told us we could take you home.  We couldn't believe it was really happening.  It didn't feel real.  So we got the carseat (and that was when we picked up some things from my aunt, including the bassinet you slept in for a few months) and gathered up all your things you'd gotten in the hospital (some very kind people had made blankets and boppy-type pillows for the babies in the NICU) and they escorted us out of the hospital.  I remember the nurses being very nice and cheering for you for finally being able to go home.  When we drove home I sat in the back with you because I was afraid of your head flopping down.  Then we got home, put you on a blanket on the floor of your room and just sat there watching you and talking for a while.  Your aunt Aubrie came by to visit that day, also.  I think it took at least a week before it really hit me that you were here to stay and that we didn't have to take you back to the hospital (as long as you didn't get sick - and speaking of which, they recommended you didn't go out in public for about 6 months and you also qualified for insurance to cover your RSV shots - synagis, I think).

Holy cats there's more I could say and that I skipped but I've got to stop this novel in its wordy tracks.  Anyway, if you've read this in its entirety, I congratulate you.  I'd give you a cookie if you were sitting here in my kitchen, but since you're not, you'll have to accept my congratulations as well as my sympathies.


I kind of had a wake up call tonight, when I was looking through our pictures from the last year or so.  I realized I didn't remember as many details as I felt I should.  Not as many details as I remembered from when I used to blog about the kids, for sure.  I don't have a journal, either, at least not one I write in with any regularity.  I use my current journal for taking notes at stake and general conferences these days, and that's pretty much it.  I usually just take notes on my phone or ipad about something funny one of the kids did or said, and once in a while post those things to instagram.  I post milestones to instagram a little more faithfully, when they occur.  But I wish things weren't so fuzzy.  I think there's another aspect to that, as well.  I honestly spend too much time on some screen or other, and I think it's frying my brain.  I hesitate to say fry... since I think it would be about the same result if I'd spent this much time reading books instead.  I guess I just mean I wish I'd spent more time with the kids and less time giving in to feeling bored.  I wish I could go back in time and tell myself to suck it up and play with the kids for half an hour instead of reading about something online that I might find more interesting at that moment.  Yes, there's a lot in the world worth knowing - but nothing more important than knowing my kids.  I've been given kids who entertain themselves well from a fairly young age, and the two older and two younger are pretty close in age to each other.  They entertain one another well and sometimes the three oldest play well together, too.  But I used that to justify myself.  I still wish I had played with them more.  Engaged with them on their terms as well as my own.  Looking back it seems particularly selfish of me to only associate with them when I'm ready; to read to them or teach them about something I find interesting.  I need to slog through the boredom and listen to them talk about the things they find interesting - even if I don't agree - because I really, truly, do love them.  They are very important to me, and I need to show it more.  It's too late to go back.  But I can do better going forward.  I'm not naive.  I know that right from the get-go tomorrow morning I'm just going to want to relax and read about something unimportant after breakfast instead of playing with them but I will remind myself to suck it up and follow them upstairs.  I'll see if they want me to play with them, not just read to them.  But even that - I can read to them more, if that's what they want.  I just have to take it gradually and then I'll get better at it.  I'm not good at interacting with little kids, but that's really no excuse.  Especially since now I have four little kids.  I'm okay at interacting with my own kids, at least, and I can do even better.

Another for instance:  this late morning to early afternoon I was scrubbing the blinds in one of our living room windows.  It took at least two hours because of the constant interruptions from Maya and Juliet.  I had an errant thought that if we just had sturdy, washable curtains (thick enough to provide privacy at night, of course) then I wouldn't have to waste so much time washing the blinds by hand.  I probably should have just paused what I was doing to play with them instead of telling them to please leave me alone, and then finished the blinds after they went down for quiet time.  Instead I thought to myself, "I need to finish these as quickly as possible so I can relax when they have quiet time."  Looking back I think I was looking at it from the wrong angle.  Especially since it took me so long. 

Anyway, that was kind of a two-pronged thought.  Moral of the story:  I want to be a better mom, and I want to record more, because I'm almost positive it helps me remember more.  I'm not saying that kids shouldn't have the ability to play on their own - I'm huge believer in that.  I definitely think kids should learn independence and self-sufficiency from an early age if they possibly can (gradually, of course - I don't mean throwing them in a room on their own, I just mean helping them learn to depend on themselves for amusement and contentment instead of relying on devices or parents to constantly entertain them.  This is, of course, a long process that takes years, and I'm now completely sidetracked...)

So I guess I'm saying I'm going to try and blog here more.  I really couldn't care less if anyone reads it.  Honestly I'd prefer if no one does but family.  I've contemplated starting up blogging again after switching to private, and I think I will, soon.  If anyone sees this and wants to be on an email list for posts, just let me know here or text me or something.  I think as the kids get older I'll start asking them more if it's okay to share certain stories and that kind of thing.

I'm also going to start digging through our old photos and printing out a select few (that sounds more uptight than I meant it to be - I just mean we have a ton of photos and I need to whittle them way, way down) and putting them in albums.  I'd like to have a couple of iconic ones printed and framed for our stairwell or someplace, as well, just to have a little bit of our short history together out in the open on display.  Nothing fancy, and honestly it's somewhat inspired by my grandparent's wall of progeny.  I want the kids to feel like they're important to us and I feel that's a good way to symbolize their mark on our family and home (aside from the actual marks they've made on our home, of course).

So tomorrow I'll get up, pray really, really hard that I can have the patience I'll need to get through the first part of the morning, and the second phase of the morning, and the third, and then lunchtime.  I'll pray that I can be truly present and not wishing I was doing something else.  That I can look at a moment from all angles and see what the best options are before choosing one of those options.  That I will be honest with myself:  Yes, I will get bored again.  That's just how it is.  But I know I can get past that in order to do what's best for the kids.  Yes, my interests and dreams are important, since one of my dreams is to be the best mother I know how to be for my kids, that's what I need to focus on right now when they're young and need so much interaction.  And when quiet time is over and it's time for the kids to do their slightly ridiculous homework, I will suck it up and do it with them.  Because that's the best we can do right now.  If I felt qualified to do homeschool with them, that's what I would do.  But I think, at least at this point, that they're getting a better education from public school than they would here at home from just me.  So we do what we have to do.  When there's time, we do extra things.  Fun things that teach them.  I resolve to make that a priority when we have free time.  We need to get rid of the extraneous stuff that takes up so much of our time (cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, always picking up toys and clothes) so that we can spend more time actually doing things we want and need to do.  Less in the home will be less on our mind.

Enough of my midnight ramblings.  I've been straight with myself and now I have an actual plan for moving forward.  Less of me just taking things as they come and reacting and a little bit more of me making contingency plans and having productive options.  It hurt to be honest with myself tonight - but I think I do best when I'm blunt with myself.  Why beat around the bush?  I live in my head, I know the truth.  I think my goal for this week is to write about Juliet's birth.  It sometimes occurs to me that I still haven't done that.  So now that she's nearly a year and a half old, I'm going to do that.  If I get around to writing about anything else, great.  If not, it wasn't part of my weekly recording goals, so no fussing over it.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

My little sister is 24!

So I never really got a chance to talk to Shannon on her birthday, and we tried to make it work for pretty much every day for the rest of that week before giving up and admitting we are both way too busy.  Or at least I admitted it to myself.  Is it admitting when I say it to myself several times a day?  Maybe that's complaining.  Aaaanyway, since I didn't get a chance to say it and I forgot to say it when I saw you two weeks later, happy birthday Shannon!  I love you!  You're beautiful.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Wild Heart

It's been a loooong weekend... And we're not out of the woods yet.

In the meantime, I really enjoyed this video of a live demo of "Wild Heart". I hope you do too.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Nathan's Answers

And here are Nathan's answers. Names have been changed.

What do you like to dream about?
I like to dream about animals.

What is your best memory from this school year?
All kinds of math. When we do math timings I can always beat the timer before it goes off.

Who is your hero? Why?
Bruce, George, and Samson, because they help me do stuff.

How would you describe your family?
Funny, nice, and cheerful.

If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?
To be a painter.

What are you most proud of yourself for?
Getting my math right.

Who is the kindest person you know? Why?
Bruce, because he taught some steps to help me know how to keep my balance while riding my bike.

What do you like most about your best friend?
Bruce and George are my best friends. Bruce lives close to me. George is funny.

What is one thing you would like to learn to do well?

If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
I would want to be a sheep, because it's my favorite animal. They don't make loud noises and loud noises give me a headache.

When is the last time someone hurt your feelings? How did you react?
Bruce said he wasn't my friend. I was sad and told you (me). I was kind of nervous to tell you. But that hasn't happened for a while now.

What is the scariest thing that has happened this year?
Learning how to ride my bike. It was pretty scary at first because I was like, "I hope I don't fall over!"

If you could only keep one thing to of everything that you have, what would it be?
My blue bear.

Who do you think is really successful? Why?
You, because you have to have a baby in your tummy right now.

What is the best thing about your teacher this year?
I liked when she came into the classroom to visit us a few days ago because we missed her (she's on maternity leave). Also she lets us have a notebook for our reading journal and lets us read chapter books in our reading groups. I didn't know we were going to get to read chapter books.

When do you feel misunderstood by grow ups?
When I am trying to talk about something that happened at school or a game but don't know how to explain it in the best way (he makes up games, I think this is what he was trying to say).

What three words best describe you?
Funny, nice, and happy.

What's something that makes you angry?
When somebody rips one of my projects.

What's the best compliment you ever received?
When a teacher told me I did a good job when I did the monkey bars for the first time.

Rylie's Answers

I had Rylie take a little survey I found online. Names have been changed to protect the innocent. Sometimes I left her grammar as is. Sometimes the grammatical mistakes are my own.

Ok here we go!

What do you like to dream about?
I don't know. Let's just say a bear in a cave.

What is your best school memory from this year?
That we got to do some activities. And what I thought it was fun about was building a zoo with rice. And there was zoo animals in the colored rice.

Who is your hero? Why?
Myself. Because I juggle so much.

Describe your family.
Mommy has a baby in her tummy. Daddy takes me to the park. Nathan lets me play sometimes princesses with him. And now Maya. Maya's funny. And that I can watch movies. I love movies. I love I love movies. I love it I love it.

If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?

What are you most proud of yourself for?
Watching movies. (Besides that.) Proud of myself for going to the park. (Then I explained what proud means) That I cut better than other people.

Who is the kindest person you know? Why?
Sarah. Oh just because. Because she lets me play with her nice kind of toys.

What do you like best about your best friend?
Sarah and Saoirse, because that they let me play with them.

What is one thing that you would like to learn to do well?
I would like to learn to sing really well.

What animal would you be and why?
I would want to be a bee, so that I can sting people. Actually I would want to be a wasp. I wouldn't sting my friends. Only bad guys. Not good guys. But if I couldn't see with my eyes I would sting a good guy.

When is the last time someone hurt your feelings? How did you react?
When I was at preschool and Winifred said she didn't want to be my friend. That was not very nice. I said I will make you play with me. I really said that.

What is the scariest thing that has happened this year?
The volcano because it blasted up. (When did it blast up?). Anytime.

If you could only keep one thing out of everything you have, what would it be?
Baby Rachel.

What is the best thing a teacher did this year?
That you read us some books.

When do you feel misunderstood by grownups?
I don't know.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Pretty, slow, and tree branch.

What's something that makes you angry?
When Nathan doesn't share his toys.
And that I'm weary. (Do you know what weary means?) no. (It means tired.) I'm always tired.

What is the best compliment you've ever received?
When someone says, "oh you're so pretty."

Today Rylie told me she can't wait for the baby to come. You and me both, girl. You and me both. I can barely muster enough bother to go upstairs, let alone to the store.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

I don't know!

I'm going to do pretty lengthy updates on the kids in this post, so if you're not me, Jared, or maybe a grandparent, you may want to skip this one.

So, Nathan. He is growing more and more and it freaks me out once in a while. He gets in trouble sometimes for things like forgetting to wear his helmet, forgetting his lunchbox at school, being late for the bus, whining/throwing tantrums, and stuff like that. Nothing too serious most of the time. Once in a while he'll get in trouble for hitting or lying, though. He seems to be doing great in school. His teacher is on maternity leave (she just had a baby girl a couple of weeks ago) and they've got a few subs. He seems to get along well enough with them. One of them is a former visiting teaching companion and old friend of mine from before our ward split and I'm glad she's one of the subs. Nathan is on the level N in reading right now (it seems to be the same as level M, but whatever) and I guess that mostly means easy chapter books (think Magic Tree House), sometimes lengthy picture books, and children's information books (like All About Spiders or whatever). He does really well in everything and seems to be doing a lot better with not talking when he's supposed to be quiet in class. The only thing is I wish he were being challenged more. I'm not really qualified to help him in most areas but I try to make sure he's reading at a higher level at home. He loves to read, but he also loves to play with his friends and toys and stuff so sometimes getting him to read for more than half an hour can be challenging. He also loves to read and reread his favorite picture books, even though they are way below his level. I'm fine with him reading those because I want him to still think reading is fun, but I've also asked him to read some harder things with a notebook, pencil, and a dictionary so he can write down his questions and look up words he doesn't know. The last time I had him do this was a couple of months ago with Farmer Boy, but I'm going to have him take time doing that pretty much every day during the summer, for at least 20 minutes or so. Lately he's been reading a lot of the Paddington series. I'm trying to think of math, science, history and cultural things to teach him at home since he's fully capable and willing to learn, but isn't always getting into at school. He loves playing Monopoly and Phase 10 dice, which are sort of math-related, but I'd like to stretch him a little more and honestly, I know this is pathetic, but we're just about reaching the limits of my math skills. It won't be a couple more years before I'm going to have to either catch up or send him to his dad. :( Anyway, as for history/culture, I tend to tell the kids random stories either alone or in tandem with things we read in the scriptures and I think I'd like to help them be able to put things together chronologically in their minds more. We might do a timeline project this summer or something. I'm just wondering which region and time of the world we should pick. I was thinking either America or more recent European history, but I think there are valid points in choosing so many other parts of history. Maybe we'll do one American history one and one Book of Mormon one. I don't know... Anyway. At least we have all that butcher paper from my parents! :) Ok wow super long tangents, back to the Nathan update. So he's going to do coach pitch this summer (we had to sign up late because I almost didn't want to do it with a newborn). I told him he could pick one sport, and between that and soccer, he wanted to do that. This will be his last chance to play sports with one of his friends, who is going to be moving soon. I tried to prepare him for the fact that he may not actually be on the same team as any of his friends, but that he would still have fun and make new friends on his team. I hope he has fun. He told me he's not very good at hitting the ball when it's thrown to him but he didn't seem to brought down by that fact so I'm hoping he'll get into it more with practice. Honestly my greatest hope for him with all this is that he will develop good sportsmanship and be able to have fun even if he's not doing well. He can have such a great attitude sometimes, but then others he will start pouting and not want to try. Pretty normal, honestly, but I'm hoping this will help him. We'll see. Nathan also loves going to church but sometimes has trouble sitting still in sacrament meeting if he's not allowed to do a certain activity that he had in mind. That's pretty true of any time in his life, actually. He does great when he's prepared ahead of time, so I just need to do better about warning him about what's ahead and making sure there are one or two activities in my bag that he wants to do that day. I've told him he's old enough now to not need snacks, but I'd like to try a few different methods of getting him to listen to the speakers in sacrament meeting for at least part of the time. I'm not really sure how to go about that, honestly, but maybe I could start out with just having him listen for key words and drawing pictures to go with them or something (he loves to draw - that's actually what he and his sisters have chosen to do during sacrament meeting for the past monthish). What else about Nate? Oh, his teeth... He's going to need braces, I'm pretty sure. He's had numerous instances where his adult teeth have grown in either behind or in front of the baby teeth, and he's already got some crowding on the bottom. No surprise there, since Jared and I both have that. Obviously mine is less obvious now since I had braces, but since my retainers broke I do have one tooth that got pushed out if alignment. I had major buck teeth though, and I'm hoping none of my kids have to deal with that. But it didn't kill me so it probably wouldn't knock them off either. Kids are just mean sometimes though. Obviously I don't want that for my kids, but at least my teeth and braces weren't the worst things I got made fun of for. I guess I don't know if that's the same for everyone. Anyway, Nathan is still funny, and can be so thoughtful at times. He loves to play outside with his friends (and also loves video games but I won't hold that against him ;) and he loves to create projects and lists for activities to do with his friends or grandparents when they come to visit. He loves his building toys, like Legos, K'Nex, car tracks and Lincoln Logs. He loves balloons (lately blowing them up and watching them fly around when he lets them go) and was pretty sad when his balloon from a friend's party popped today. He still loves his blue bear and striped blanket and is pretty upset when he can't sleep with them (like because of negative consequences to his actions or something) although I think he's less so than he was, say, a year ago. Nathan also likes playing with Rylie and they seem to have fun together most of the time. Having them share a room for the past 2 1/2 ish years has been great for their relationship, I think. Lately they've had more conflicts over the closet (it's a small walk-in and I put both their dressers inside so they'd have more space to play in their room so they have to take turns getting their clothes out) but I think they're learning that they have to compromise and take turns. Oh like the plate with the hand that I drew when I was like 13 or 14... For some reason they love it and have to take turns with that one as well. Anyway, I know this was super long but I that's all I can think of for Nathan right now. Except that he's pretty good at being independent except for showers, which he takes *forever* to do. I guess that's just karma or something, since I'm sure I drove my family crazy with my long showers.

Ok! Rylie! She's in joy school right now (a neighborhood co-op preschool thing) and loves it most of the time. She will have moods once in a while where she's feeling antisocial or whatever, though not as often as before. I can't blame her though, since I'm pretty sure she got that from me. She knows most of her letters, or all of them most of the time, and her numbers, and can usually count to at least 20. She writes a lot, but it's mostly gibberish. She thinks it's hilarious to have me try and read it out loud. She sings all the time and often makes up songs when playing by herself. I want to try recording it sometime but it's hard to catch her at it without her realizing you're watching/listening and turning all silly. She likes to be read to and memorizes books so she can "read" them to herself. I'm trying to be better about teaching her sounds and how to read, but I'm also trying to keep it fun for her and not frustrate or tire her out and right now that's walking a fine line. I honestly don't know if I'm any good at it because I didn't have to try this hard with Nathan and I think that made me lazy. He knew his alphabet and several numbers by the time he was 2, and could read fairly well at 4 1/2. I don't think Rylie is behind, just more average which means I need to actually know what I'm doing. I'm going to try working with her gradually on some things this summer so she'll be more ready for kindergarten. She usually knows right from left though, and her fine motor skills are great. She colors inside the lines and cuts well. She also holds a pencil correctly, which Nathan still doesn't always do all the time, so they both have their different strengths. What else... Rylie is very helpful and sweet most of the time. Sometimes she gets in trouble for having a sort of "I don't care" kind of attitude (I don't really know how to describe it) though. She loves babies and talks about being excited for her youngest sister to be born (Nathan does too, I forgot to say, but not as often). She was excited when I told her her cousin Ellie was born, and wanted to see her. I had to explain it would probably be at least a few weeks before she would be able to. By extension, she was pretty crushed when we couldn't find her baby doll, Rachel, for a few months. It turned up in stuffed animal storage that we'd sorted last Christmas, but even a few days ago, a day before we found it, actually, she sat on my lap and cried about not being able to find her. There were several times during those months when I tried to help her cheer up by imagining what her baby Rachel could be doing out there in the world, and Rylie seemed to think it was funny to imagine her living in the mountains, but mostly she just missed her and talked about that. She also seemed to remember she was gone whenever she was sad about something else. We'd prayed for those months to find her doll but after a couple of months decided to stop since it seemed to rub it in that Rylie still didn't have her. Anyway, when I eventually did find the doll, Rylie was understandably very excited. We said a prayer to thank Heavenly Father for helping us find it and for a day or two she and the baby doll were practically inseparable. Now she will occasionally leave her on the floor while she plays with other things but still seems to come back to her often. Anyway, I thought that was pretty interesting, and definitely a learning experience for me and probably for Rylie. So yeah, Rylie can be very nice and helpful at times, but other times she just isn't interested in doing something, like picking up her toys or finishing her food, even when dessert or the privilege of having those toys is at stake. She will just say, "I don't care, you can take them." Or whatever. And she doesn't. Even days later. I just wonder if I'm doing the wrong consequences. She's content to play with something (or someone) else or read instead. It occurs to me that I could take away everything, so she can't find alternatives, but that doesn't seem to correlate closely enough to the offense of not picking up her toys or what have you. I don't know. What else about Rylie... She still loves pink, but also really, really loves purple and sometimes also blue. She surprises me with her color choices sometimes. She still loves princesses, Barbies, etc., but also loves using Nathan's Legos, Lincoln Logs and train set. She loves wearing her hair down and will rarely let me do anything to it beyond brushing it out. Which is easier for me, I guess! She loves to play with her friends but is still at the age where conflicts sometimes arise with them. She is looking forward to playing soccer this summer and going to kindergarten later. I think she's looking forward to going on the bus but it wouldn't surprise me if she changes her mind later. Perhaps it will be easier knowing that Nathan will be there on the ride home. She is definitely NOT looking forward to her pre-kindergarten doctor's visit, since she has to get a few vaccines before being admitted to school. She wishes she would never have to get shots. I told her she wouldn't have to worry about shots again for several years but she's still not swayed. I'm worried about how her appointment will go. It's in the beginning of May and I may just have to make sure I go alone with her. I can see it going badly. Not that I'm Ietting her know that! Maybe if she can get through it without throwing a fit I'll promise ice cream? Anybody think that's a bad idea? There has been an occasion or two where she didn't hold up her end and she didn't get the reward and a tantrum ensued that eerily reminded me of Nathan back in the day. Anyway...

I'm getting tired so that's all I can think of for Rylie right now. As for Maya, I don't know... Gosh I'm so sleepy now. She's hilarious, intentionally and unintentionally. She's at an adorable age, but also at the beginning of the terrible twos (which is sort of a pointless name, really, since it seems to start before age 2 and extends well into 3 and sometimes 4, at least with my kids so far). This means tantrums (mild so far, in comparison to her older siblings' current ones) and screeching when someone takes her toys or offends her in some way. I've obviously tried to discourage the screeching, and she's toned it way down in nursery (fortunately! there were a couple of times she made another kid cry) but not always so much at home. It's probably hard, with two adults and two older kids telling her what to do (I try to tell the kids not to boss her around, but obviously that's difficult, especially when she walks off with pieces from their games or something). But anyway... She loves doing hand motions for songs, and once in a while I've heard her possibly singing to herself, but I don't think she does it as much as Rylie did at this age. Perhaps it's still too soon to tell if she'll like singing later on, though. She gets attached to certain songs and wants to hear them over and over. In the past month that has included, "If I Had Words", "Rock-a-bye Baby", "Five Little Ducks", "Book of Mormon Stories", "There Was a Little House" and whatever that one primary song is called that starts out with, "Whenever I hear the song of a bird". She knows lots of words and seems to learn more every day. For months she could say Rylie's name (pronounced "Ryee") but couldn't say Nathan or Nate. That always seemed kind of backwards to me, but today she finally started saying Nate with more consistency. She pronounces it "Nake". She also started saying her own name, Maya or My-My (since Rylie will call her that once in a while) today more. We also call her My or Mize (don't know how to spell that) but she hasn't picked that up. We started calling her Mize or whatever because when she was a couple of months old or so, for some reason I got this line into my head from the 1995 Pride and Prejudice where Sir ... Oh what's his name... Charlotte's father? Anyway, he sees Elizabeth Bennet walking by as he's having a stilted conversation with Mr. Darcy and decides to try and do a good thing by setting them up to dance. He gets her attention by saying, "Oh - Miss Eliza!" So for whatever reason, I started saying, "Oh - Miss Emiza!" - probably just because I'm a dork. Anyway somehow it got shortened to Mize and the others picked it up. Now not as many of us say it, and honestly it wouldn't surprise me if Rylie calls her that the most. So what else... Maya seems to have a very similar brand of humor to Rylie, and is very goofy. She has been doing what she can for a laugh since she was only months old (6 months, maybe?). The kids often thank Heavenly Father in their prayers for her funniness. Of course that, in and of itself, is funny to me. Hmm... Oh, recently, she seems to have learned at least one color - pink. It's easy for her to say, and she seems to usually get it right when identifying it. She can (sort of) pronounce a couple of other colors, like blue, green, and purple but doesn't often identify them properly yet. I love the way she says certain words, like "glasses" (klasses, with as much tongue and spit as possible in the "kl" sound) and "balloon" (bloo, usually with much emphasis and often with a tone of question)... There was one other word but I can't think of it now.

Ok I think that's all I can think of for now, not that that wasn't a ton. At this point my back is killing me and the youngest won't leave my internal organs alone so I'm going to call it a night. Oh plus it's midnight. So there you go.

I'm putting some random pictures of the kids playing from a month or two ago to make this all worth your while.