CLICK HERE FOR FREE BLOGGER TEMPLATES, LINK BUTTONS AND MORE! »

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Look-alikes





With our first three kids, it has always been kind of hard for me to say definitively who looks like who. To me, each of the kids really has his/her own look, and I can't say that I think any of them look exactly like Steve or me. (Others sometimes disagree...this has just been my own observation). I do think Travis favors Steve, and Jayna favors me, and Evan always reminds me of my brothers pictures from that age. But Audrey? I really think the girl looks like me. The hair (as a baby), eyes, cheeks, smile...she's definitely my daughter! I remember before Travis was born, wondering what our kids would look like, what kinds of personalities they'd have - it really is fun to watch these things develop. Anyway, here are some side-by-sides of me as a baby, and Audrey. In the first set, Audrey is wearing the same outfit I wore, both taken at 2 months.









 








Sunday, July 15, 2012

Our zoo

video

2 months later...


Audrey is two months old today. Such a sweet little girl she is. And while I absolutely love this stage of babyhood (along with the whole first year, really), I still wish I could rewind. She has already changed so much since her newborn days! Can I still call her a newborn? I'm afraid that label becomes less accurate by the day...

The truth is, I'm having a hard time right now. Not in ways that one might expect, with four kids and all. Actually, I'm surprised at how adding her to our family seems to have added very little to my work load. What I'm struggling with is the fact that Audrey is our last. I knew this would be a hard thing for me to accept, and I knew post-partum hormones wouldn't make it any easier, but now that the hormonal craziness has subsided, I'm finding that this isn't just a feeling that will easily fade. 

The moment it first really hit me was coming home from the hospital. Steve had gone to pick up Travis from baseball practice, and then the two of them came to the hospital to bring Audrey and me home. I might also add I was assigned to the very same post-partum room for Audrey as I was for Travis (all four of our kids were born in the same FABULOUS hospital). As the nurse wheeled me to the hospital entrance, with Audrey in my arms and my now 7-year-old Travis walking beside me, I thought, "How could this be?!" It was very bittersweet. The memory of bringing Travis home from the hospital was absolutely fresh in my memory...and here I was bringing home our fourth and last baby. It all happened so fast! It made me so sad that I would never get to bring another baby home.

I will say, as I have thought a whole lot about all of this, that the difficulty doesn't just come from the fact that kids grow so quickly. That in itself is hard! I think a big part of why this is bothering me is that it is something I have looked forward to my entire life. Literally, for as long as I can remember, I have wanted more than anything to be a mom. I looked forward to all stages of motherhood, but I especially looked forward to pregnancy, birth, and caring for my babies. But what happens when something you have dreamed of your whole life is over? I feel sad, but I also feel a bit panicky, wanting desperately to hang on to something that is slipping away. The weeks and months go by so quickly, and Audrey will be one...and then two....before I know it. Every milestone she hits will be the last time I experience it. Already I'm beginning to set aside clothing that she is growing out of, and she will soon solidly be in the 3-6 month size. Boo.

Part of me thinks, so maybe this means we aren't ready to be done having kids. But really, I think that whether we stop now or have a couple more, I will have to face this time in my life sooner or later. It doesn't make sense to keep having kids just to avoid this hurdle. Steve is definitely ready to be done having kids, and my own head tells me that I do want to be done. I want there to be enough of me to go around. I want to look back and know that I enjoyed being a mom and wasn't too stressed all the time, and more importantly, I want my kids to look back and KNOW that I loved being a mom. And I really think that if we keep going, the potential for stress could skyrocket. I also think about when they are older and involved in various activities...I really want to be there for each of my kids. And let's face it - there are only 24 hours in a day. Not to mention that kids cost a whole lot of money, especially as they get older. And lastly, I really do love our family as it is, and I feel like it is complete. So my head as made up it's mind....now I just need my heart to follow suit. (Then again, until Steve gets the ol' snip-snip, I may be holding out hope.....:)

I realize I may be sounding a bit dramatic in all of this. Am I? After all, I still have so very much to look forward to, and I know that. SO much. The majority of my hands-on mothering years - including the majority of Audrey's babyhood - is still ahead of me. But truly, I feel like a part of me is grieving and trying to figure out how to accept the (current and impending) passing of this season.

So help me, fellow moms. Letting go is most definitely one of the hardest parts of parenting. So how do you do it? Are there any tricks? Because really, I am only at the beginning of needing to let go. I know one of the goals of parenting is to grow your kids to be independent, but each step in that process involves letting go. Some of those steps are harder than others (and different for everyone)...this particular step just seems to be a harder one for me. So those of you with more mothering experience than I, was there any particular transition that was more difficult than others? What helped you move toward acceptance? Impart your wisdom to this floundering soul :) 

Until then and after, I definitely treasure daily moments with ALL of my kids! It may sound cliche, but each of them is an absolute blessing from God.

(To inspire you, enjoy some pictures of Audrey - taken by my friend Nora when Audrey was...14 days old? Nora does not have an official photography business yet, but she will someday! I'm so glad I asked her to take these, as Audrey has changed so much since then, and these beautifully capture her sweetness and newborn-ness.)





Monday, July 9, 2012

Grace....sometimes

Driving home from swimming lessons today, I agreed that since the kids had been making such great progress at swimming, we would drive through somewhere and get them a treat. But within a minute of that conversation, Travis and Jayna started arguing. I told them once they needed to stop fighting and start speaking kindly to one another...but it started again a few minutes later. So I told them that kids who behaved that way did not get treats, and we would not be driving through anywhere. Silence....then Travis said, "But mommy (sly giggle), this is a time when you could practice showing grace to us." 


Part of me was surprised that he knew exactly what it meant to extend grace to someone, and part of me was surprised that he would know how to use God's teachings against me :) I couldn't help but laugh, and yes, they still got a treat. (Travis was quite tickled with himself, and Jayna said with a thumbs-up, "Nice one, Trav!")

Then tonight, after Jayna threw a royal fit over something minor, I told her she would be going straight to bed instead of staying up a bit late. Picture this: Jayna, with hands out to the side as if asking a question, a look of panic/confusion/hope on her face - wailing, "But mommy.....grace???!!"

I see a discussion on grace AND consequences in our future...but nice try, girlie.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Happenings

Warning: lots of pictures! But that's the easiest way to show what we've been up to the last few weeks...

On June 17th, Jayna turned 5! We originally were going to just have a small gathering with a few friends, but she REALLY wanted a party at Pump It Up. Since Travis had a party there last year and it was what she really wanted, we went for it. It actually turned out to be a great plan, considering Audrey was still very new and a party there requires very little work/planning on my part. She invited several friends from church and one from preschool and had a blast! She greatly increased her My Little Pony collection that day, and has played with them almost every day since. We sure do love this girl. I already miss her when I think of her going to kindergarten in the fall.



Jayna's actual birthday fell on Father's Day. It just so happened that a group of families from Travis' baseball team was going to a Mariners game that day, so Steve took Travis and Jayna. Travis sat next to his "bff" from school, and Jayna apparently took advantage of the fact that it was her birthday and asked Daddy for every treat imaginable :) When they got home we sang and had brownies.
Audrey around 5 weeks. This girl brings so much joy to my every day.
Travis and Jayna can really butt heads, but more and more often, I hear them playing and laughing  and pretending together. It does my heart good! I don't even remember what they were talking about at this particular moment, only that it made me smile.
One of our Friday family movie nights! The kids are so sweet with Audrey.  I really couldn't have asked for a smoother transition in bringing her in to our family. 
A new baseball bat from us!
Travis turned 7 (???!!!) on June 29th. We invited a few families from church, along with  lots of family, and it turned out to be quite the gathering. Travis wanted an obstacle course (which Steve made from various items in our garage) and ice cream sundaes, so that is what he got! Though I must say - planning and getting ready for this party was stressful for me. Steve and I have decided that future birthday parties are going to be much more laidback affairs. Not any less special or memorable for the kids, just....less. Actually, I think "less" will probably end up being MORE special and memorable....  Anyway, we sure do adore our Travis! 
Travis at one of his games, getting ready to field the ball. To say that Travis loves baseball would be the understatement of the year. Both playing it and watching it (go ahead....ask him anything you'd like about the Mariners!) It really is very cute.
Cousin love. My sister and her family came down for T's birthday, and we went to Northwest Trek the next day. We came to this spot and Travis said, "We have to take a picture here!" Okay, then. 
She had been giving us random and short smiles for a couple of weeks leading up to this, but at 7 weeks, she is most definitely smiling! 


For the 4th of July this year, Steve worked, so my original thought - considering we now have FOUR young kids including a newborn - was to stay home. We actually get quite a nice show from Jayna's bedroom. But one of my friends invited us over to another friends' house, and I am so glad she convinced me to come! There were many kids for my kids to play with, great food, and fireworks, of course. We all had a really great time. 
Audrey loooooves the front pack. And I love holding her close, so it all works out :)
Jayna helping me make gobs of raspberry jam.
Almost 8 weeks (taken yesterday)

We have some raspberry bushes in our backyard, and the kids are out there daily picking berries.  It's one of their favorite things to do, actually, though they seem to think that new raspberries magically ripen every hour :)
And taken just today - our three goofballs, playing baseball together.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Audrey Beth

Audrey Beth
May 14th, 2012, 7:05 pm
8 lb. 12 oz., 20 1/2 in.
Isn't she just beautiful? There are no words to describe the depth of my love for this little girl.

Audrey's birth story...

My due date of May 7th came and went. I didn't necessarily expect to deliver before my due date, but I will admit that every day afterward felt like an eternity. I had done some serious nesting in the weeks prior, had childcare for every possible scenario lined up, and had not made any extra commitments for the week after my due date, so all that was left to do was wait.

My doctor and I had decided that we would give this baby an extra week to come on his/her own before we would induce. If it weren't for the fact that I had had three very large babies (and consequently, very difficult recoveries), we would have taken even more time, but given my history, I was very much on board with my doctor's recommendation of induction at 41 weeks. However, I really didn't expect or want it to come to that.

My mom and Steve's mom arrived on Saturday, the 12th, but still no baby. On Mother's Day, the 13th, I had yet another (at least the third) episode of steady and increasingly uncomfortable contractions that led me to believe I was in labor. I really thought that was it, and that I would avoid induction by just hours. But no, after a couple of hours the contractions dwindled, and Steve and I headed to the hospital at 6am the following morning. I was disappointed it had come to an induction, but also very anxious to meet our baby!

I'll say here that this birth surprised me in several ways. First, I really thought that, given I was at 41 weeks with my fourth child (as opposed to my first), it wouldn't take much for my body to kick into labor. Wrong! I was started on the lowest level of pitocin (at "2) around 7am. I expected this level - or maybe just a level or two higher - to do the trick, but it didn't do a ton. I was having contractions, just not as intense as they needed to be. So, every half hour or so, they increased the pitocin - and I ended up having to go to the MAXIMUM ("20") level they use. I was at that level by 4:45 or so, and stayed at that level until my dr. checked me (again) at 5:45.

So it was a long day, but I had Steve and my friend (and doula) Julie to help distract me. I rotated mainly between standing/rocking, the exercise ball, and the rocking chair, and I didn't really start getting uncomfortable until 2:00 or 3:00. Even then, the contractions were manageable.

Going into the hospital that morning, I was hoping to be able to make it through without an epidural. (I've had epidurals with all three of the others, though with Evan, I didn't get it until I was already nearly fully dilated, so I knew I could do it). However, once I realized how high the pitocin was, I decided to go ahead with the epidural. I knew from past experience that once the doctor broke my water, my pain level would skyrocket, and since pitocin increases the pain/intensity of contractions (and I was on the maximum level, which I've never experienced before), I knew it would be wise to go ahead with it. My only regret now is that I didn't insist on getting it BEFORE she broke my water!

At 5:45, my doctor checked me and I was at 5cm, and baby was FINALLY low enough that she felt comfortable breaking my water. Here's where everything went kind of crazy. After she broke my water, I went immediately from 5cm to 7cm. And as expected, my pain went from about a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10 to about a 20. It was instantaneous and awful. But I think Steve and Julie would confirm that I handled it well. I just kept breathing and focusing on the fact that every contraction was bringing my baby down. But wow, it was hard. Meanwhile, the nurses were prepping me for the epidural and the anesthesiologist came in and gave me the run-down on risks, etc.....it was an exruciating 45 minutes before the epidural was done. From about 6:30-6:45, the epidural starting kicking in, and when my doctor checked me at 6:50, I was fully dilated! She told me the baby was right there and it was time to start pushing. And here was another surprise....with the first three babies, I never pushed for less than and hour and a half. Even with Jayna and Evan, it took way more pushing than it does for most people. This time - just 15 minutes! Even through the epidural, I could feel a ton of pressure and where the baby was, and I was just shocked that the baby was moving down so quickly! Everyone in the room was so encouraging, and at 7:05, I gave one final push, and out came....a GIRL!! I can't describe my joy in that moment of meeting her, just as with meeting each of our other kids. They laid her on my stomach right away, and I just cried and couldn't take my eyes off her. I was vaguely aware of things going on around me, but all I could do was take her in and hold on tight. I wish I could live those first minutes over again.

The final (and very welcome) surprise was that my tearing had been minimal...much less than with my other kids. My recovery with my other kids was really, really hard, so I had been anxious about how it would be this time around. I was so thankful when my dr. told me I only needed a few stitches. This may have been due to the fact that Audrey was "only" 8lb. 12 oz. - our smallest baby.

Overall, I am so happy with how the birth went. Steve was an amazing support, Julie was fabulous as always, I loved my doctor (that day and throughout my whole care), and the nurses were great, too. I am thankful for each of them.

I know it is partly post-partum hormones, but just looking at this girl makes me cry. I am just so thankful for four healthy babies, four beautiful births. God has been so good to us. I will admit that I am having a very hard time with the fact that this is our last....but more on that later.

Audrey, you will read this one day. Know this: you are loved. From the very moment you came into this world, your daddy and I loved you deeply and intensely. It is my joy and honor to be your mother, and I will always, always be here for you.
















Sunday, May 6, 2012

Easter

Our annual Easter/rocking chair family picture

Giving the grass a "haircut"

Friday: Jesus is buried

Sunday: He is alive!






Easter was a joy this year. The kids are finally getting old enough to where they really understand what Easter is all about. Even though we do have fun with the idea of "Santa Claus" at Christmas, and we may or may not go with the notion of a Tooth Fairy, we've never introduced them to the "Easter Bunny". I suppose this is partly because my parents didn't do it with me/my siblings when we were kids, and I always thought it was strange that other kids would get Easter baskets filled with treasures every year. But really, we just want the focus of Easter to be completely on celebrating Christ's resurrection - the center of our faith and reason for our salvation. They still get their fair share of candy from Easter egg hunts, but hopefully that will just be one thing about Easter that they love.

Anyway, not doing Easter baskets doesn't mean we don't have fun! This year, I found a project on Pinterest that I just loved and wanted to with the kids (despite several "pins", this is the only project I've done thus far and probably the only one I'll do for awhile:). A week or so before Easter, we collected rocks, dirt, a small flower pot, sticks for the crosses and some grass seed and created a crucifixion scene. The grass grew more quickly than I had thought it would, and we had to give it a couple of haircuts in order to see the crosses - the kids loved that part. On Friday, we covered up the tomb, and on Sunday, we got to take the stone away and see the empty tomb! I think it is hard - even for adults - to really comprehend the details and intensity and importance of this crucial event, but hopefully this visual gave the kids a little bit of a greater understanding of it all.

After a great morning at church, we had a small Easter egg hunt at home....Travis decided he wanted to help Steve hide the eggs, leaving Evan and Jayna to find them. After naps/rest time, we went over to our friends' house for a fabulous dinner, fellowship, and another Easter egg hunt with TONS of eggs. The weather was gorgeous, adding to our truly great afternoon and evening (especially since it is pretty much ALWAYS raining on Easter around here). Oh, and Steve, who had thought he was going to be working all afternoon at Best Buy doing some overtime work, ended up going there only to find out that BB closed for Easter Sunday! Not many stores do that anymore. So Steve got to join us at our friends' house - an unexpected but very welcome surprise :)

Still thankful for such a great day!