Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Cascade Springs

Forrest Daniel
seven weeks old

Looking back at recent posts, Forrest is usually covered by a blanket or in the background napping in the stroller. Every once in awhile, I can't help but post the latest 'at home' glamor shot. He's such a sweet little boy. We enjoy having him so much; Henry especially. Henry is a nurturer. He and I team up to burp Forrest; I hold the baby while he pats his back. It's very exciting when we get that burp. Henry isn't just a lover of babies. His love extends all the way back to the chicken coop. Yes. It's true. In addition to the previous reports of him singing to them, I've also spied him tenderly rocking the chickens similar to how I rock Forrest.

Eliza is his second Mom. She's my extra pair of hands as she is always willing to hunt down a diaper (among other things) for me. Lucky for her, she sits next to him in the car and has perfected the art of knowing when to soothe his cries with a binki. As for Lottie, when she sees him each day, she acts like it's her first time meeting him.

"It's baby brother, Mom!" She'll cry! "His eyes are open!" and my favorite, "He's sooooooo cuuuuuute! I want to pet his head." Their signature cuddle involves Lottie stroking his head with her hand and then placing her cheek next to his head and letting out a sigh of content. Darn, it's cute.

Anyway, last Saturday our family had the lucky opportunity to catch up with some South Carolina friends; the Tolman family. We met them at Cascade Springs where we enjoyed a stroller friendly hike. It was great to catch up on their life and remember how blessed we were to have had that time in South Carolina. I was reminded how random it was that we found the Utah job that Andrew now has when we did. Easily, things could have worked out differently. We would still be living there. And the feeling that thought brings is, 'you'd still be very happy.' Our friendship with the Tolmans was evidence of this. Proving what a 'stellar' friend I am (not), I didn't even take a picture of their family to add in our collection. I feel terrible about that!

At the beginning of our walk, we met up with the Ranger who gave the kids an information sheet/game to work through. He 'quizzed' them when we met up with him at the end and rewarded their efforts with tattoos, stickers and/or a bookmark. Eliza took it quite seriously. :)

The weather was spot on. We couldn't have asked for a better day; maybe just more time to spend with our friends.

Apparently they have rules against standing/walking through the pure water of the Springs. When the Ranger asked us upon our return what the best part of the trail was, Eliza shamelessly tattled on the lot of us.

"The best part? Oh! Well, there was this big field of rocks with really cold water that we had fun walking through..." The Ranger interrupts her right then while Andrew suddenly pretends that he doesn't know her. He asks no one in particular,

"Whose child is this? Has anyone misplaced their child?" Her innocence combined with our rule breaking proved that awkward situations can most definitely be funny. Rule breaking aside, The Ranger still passed out those bookmarks. 
Lunch, tailgate style, followed. After saying 'Goodbye' to the Tolmans we made our way to Nanna Teresa's for an afternoon of swimming. Bubba and cousin Emilee joined in the fun. Pizza with the Jensens wrapped up a nearly perfect Saturday. Sunday we were in Salt Lake again for dinner at my Mom's. It was a nice weekend.

Castle Park

Here comes another fascinating post demonstrating the thrill that comes from taking your four kids to the park. Not only did you leave the house on time, but you also remembered to pack drinks, snacks, diapers, wipes (among other baby essentials) and sunscreen. Learning from past mistakes, you also remembered to fit your children with appropriate shoes. You feel unstoppable, lady! And finally, something that will please your miserly mister ( you remembered your cup from home to ensure a discounted price for when you stop by your local drink stop for a nice, caffeine-free, beverage.

It's the little outings that make a Mom of a newborn feel like a good parent again.

It was Eliza's first trip to the Castle Park. She's heard so much about it and had expressed deep disappointment when Henry and Lottie were asked to go while she was recovering from her surgery. Her expectations were matched as she had a great morning.

Alright, alright... I confess. I wasn't completely on my own. We met my Mom there. As always, she is my safety net, friend and an additional audience member and playmate for the kids.

"Look at me Nana, watch me!" They'll cry.

 And while we patiently wait for an actual vacation, we'll continue to celebrate the simple joy of running through sprinklers out back, riding bikes in our circle, sharing lunch with our chicken friends (ahem, Henry) and exploring a new neighborhood park.

Fathers day

The fourth day following Eliza's tonsillectomy looked something like this.
As we approach her two week post-op mark, I can say that she's done well. Comparing her experience to other tonsil removal horror stories, I attribute the ease of her recovery to her young age and our close friends: Ibuprofen and Tylenol. I'm happy to say that Eliza is long past needing the help of pain medicine, but as she demonstrated this morning, she is definitely not past requesting a Popsicle for breakfast.

Off topic: At our house, Andrew and I have had to adjust the names of the groupings we use when discussing our children. For example,

"Have the big kids (Eliza, Henry and Lottie) had their teeth brushed yet?" Five minutes later, Lottie will be labeled one of the 'littles' when grouped with Forrest in a different conversation. It wasn't long after Forrest's arrival that I began to refer to Henry and Lottie as 'the middles.' 

"Aunt Ami offered to take the middles to her house tomorrow " (when Eliza was still recovering from surgery). Coming across this scene, the final pairing came to me.
"The bookends are both taking a nap."  I'm sure you're in awe of my cleverness. ;)  Seriously though, it's been hard to wrap my mind around the number FOUR when thinking about our kids. Seven weeks later, it still surprises me when I look in the back of our car and see it that full. I still call Lottie baby in casual conversation; which I've decided is just fine considering she's my baby girl and the fact that my brain can only handle so much transition ;)

Shifting topics once more, I pretty much failed my spouse on Father's day. He took Forrest downstairs Sunday morning so I could sleep. I came downstairs in time to enjoy the delicious breakfast he made all by himself. What a guy. However, he did squeeze in a nap of his own before Church which is when the kids and I made cookies and decorated cards for their Grandpa's and Daddy.

After Church we headed to Salt Lake to celebrate with the Flegals. The Taylors and Uncle Mike were both in town which made the day even better.    

 We love our Bubba. You don't have to look far to understand why my children have the wonderful Father that they do. Andrew has a great example in his Father who taught him what it means to play, teach and serve your family.

I feel a happy sense of satisfaction and gratitude when I watch my kids trail after Andrew in the yard as he tackles a project or as they investigate the garden together. Andrew isn't one to sit and relax (unless he has a stash of otter-pops or bowl of ice cream to occupy himself). He likes to keep busy.
Eliza is a lot like him in that regard. She finds great joy in creating something... the process of working through an idea until her result is deemed a success.

Henry's interests and personality mimic Andrew's.
He looks like his Dad. They are similar thinkers. They share a 'cheetah run' and a passion for poultry.
Lottie, in my opinion, has the tightest grip on his heart. I wouldn't say that she's his favorite (that's not allowed, right?), but they definitely delight in charming one another. She's the family cure for the grumpies and can bring a smile to his face faster than anyone.
And finally there is Forrest, whom Andrew's been patiently waiting for. Driving home from Salt Lake last Sunday I asked him what the best part of his day had been. After sharing one moment, he soon back tracked.

"You know," he began. "that smile Forrest gave me this morning felt pretty great. That was the best part."

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Waiting for normal

 The Recovery Nest

Infamous 'day three' of Eliza's recovery has passed and while I noticed a dip in her mood, I'd say that she's done very well. She spends her time doing art, watching shows, eating popsicles and wandering outside when she feels up to it. Her biggest complaint (and it's a loud one) is that she detests the taste of liquid Lortab. The 'necessary evil' of pain medicine is what's keeping her happy boat afloat.
While we wait for 'Eliza the leader' to return to full health, I thought I'd take a moment to catch up on the happier summertime activities we enjoyed prior to her operation. Forgive the random reporting as I'm basically playing catch-up.
I came home from running errands one night to find Forrest doing yard work with his cute Dad. Lucky for him, that entailed depositing manure into the garden. 

"We start them young." was Andrew's simple explanation. 

 What's up, Henry?!

A few weekends back, Uncle Mike arrived from Georgia and came to meet Forrest. Bubba, Nanna and the twins came too. We met up at the splash pad and then headed to our house for dinner. It was a fun night!
Looking back, it seems that Lottie stole the show at the splash pad. Either that or I was just so concerned by her wanting to drink the recycled water that I didn't take my eye off of her! She's pure fun these days.
The night wouldn't have been complete without a water bottle rocket demonstration. Eliza and Henry were more than happy to assist their Dad.
Impressive, yes? This went on for quite sometime. When a bottle ended up in a neighbor's backyard we decided to call it quits. I should mention that the neighbor I'm referring to, lives across the street and down two houses. Those babies flew. 

A week ago, it happened. I took my four children back to the splash pad by myself. We met some friends, so I wasn't completely on my own, but still! It was a goal I'd been itching to reach. Forrest was ready for a nap by the time we got settled, so lucky for Mom, he took a nice long snooze while the kids played.
Last Saturday, Andrew took the kids to the pool where they met up with Nana Marie and the Chamberlain crew. Speaking of the Chamberlains, Aunt Ami came to the rescue today as she offered to take Henry and Lottie for a few hours. Eliza was sad to miss out on a cousin play-date, but I think she and I equally enjoyed the quiet this morning. I know that Henry and Lottie were thrilled with their escape away from home. Thank you, Ami!  

And since this post has been a random sampling of weeks past, here's a recent one of a cute baby for the road.
 (5 weeks)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Summer Bummer, 2013 edition

Last year, it was a broken arm. This year, after five consecutive months of strep throat, Eliza had a tonsillectomy. The shift from hoping to avoid surgery to wanting to have them quickly removed was sharp. Perhaps it's the 'new Mom' in me, but when the illness finally spread to younger siblings, my sanity snapped.
Here's our sweet girl an hour or so after her operation. When we were allowed to be with her, it was apparent that she was having a rough time with pain and nausea. The nurse arrived with additional meds. And I quote: 

"It's like morphine, but stronger." Well, whatever it was, Eliza's pre-surgery personality returned full force following a short nap. It propelled her through the afternoon. She was acting very close to normal when we returned home. It was repeated to us again and again that days three and four are the most difficult; even so, I'm grateful that 'day one' ended on a positive note.  

Here's a recap of her big day.
The night before, our home teacher came over to help Andrew give her a Priesthood blessing. It settled Mom's nerves, I think, as much as it did hers. Eliza enjoyed a big bowl of ice cream (a preview of her future post-op diet), followed by a story with Mom.

We were discouraged when we received word that Eliza wouldn't be admitted until 10:15 the next morning. She's like a hobbit as she frequently enjoys two breakfasts (and/or snacks). Skipping food all together, as she was required to fast, didn't sit well with her.  It would be close to lunchtime before they'd take her to the operating room. Thankfully she didn't complain very much. At 7:29 a.m. she came in to my room.

"You have one minute to have a drink of water!" I quickly reminded her. Doctor's orders stated that she could have clear liquids until 7:30 a.m. After that, liquids were likewise off limits. She rushed, in dramatic fashion, to find herself a cup. It was cute.

As I went about our preparations this morning, Eliza took care to write a list of important things to bring. Among my favorites was her thought to make a "Thank you" card for her Doctor. Giving it to him this morning was a highlight. He smiled and said he'd be hanging it up in the operating room.
The time finally came. With Nanna Teresa here to care for the kids, we were all set to go (Princess scrubs and all).
 The nurses were great. Finding a hair net for her doll Gracie seemed to be standard procedure. When Eliza woke up from surgery, Gracie had a purple band around her wrist to match the one that was covering Eliza's i.v.
 This is when we said, "Goodbye." I didn't like that part at all. 

 Feeling well enough, she has her first Popsicle.
Five hours later, we were allowed to go home. :) Thanks again to both our Nanas who spent time entertaining and loving on our children today. Strep be gone (fingers crossed) so we can move on to more exciting Summer pastimes.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Sleep Master

A sweet baby named Forrest is taking what I predict will be his 'marathon sized' afternoon nap. Yes, it's true. I have nicknamed his sleep patterns because my life seems to revolve around them (also, being a naturally lame person, I can't resist). As an example, the "He Faked Me Out" nap, usually proceeds the marathon nap. This consists of him easing into a peaceful sleep only to scream himself awake five to ten minutes later. 

(Photos taken at three weeks of age.
As of yesterday, Forrest is four weeks old)

"I got you, Mama!" His scream says. And then we play the game of checking his diaper, topping him off with some milk, finding that burp and swaddling him up tight all over again. There are days when he takes a few of these fake out naps before passing out into his marathon sized nap.

My personal relationship with sleep has understandably been altered. During my first trimester of pregnancy, sleep was the hero as it offered me a brief escape from nausea. The third trimester arrived only to taint that relationship into a frustrating chore; a sad joke that left me craving labor. 

Your precious newborn arrives and it evolves once more into what I've labeled the "Sleeping on Pins and Needles" phase. Mothers everywhere know what I'm talking about. After a nighttime feeding, for example, I return to my bed wondering if he really is sound. With my fingers crossed, I creep back to bed. I debate on whether or not I can answer the call of my heavy eyelids or simply wait for him to call me back. Unable to resist, I settle into the beautiful comfort that is my pillow, and while I force myself to lie as still as possible, I feel that the sound of my stomach will betray me as it is all a flutter. Forrest squeaks! He squirms! My heart begins to beat fast. Does he need to be held another minute? Is he still sucking on his binki? Exhaustion unexpectedly interrupts my train of thought as I'm suddenly rushed back to dreamland.

Will I be pulled from that sweet slumber forty five seconds later or will I be pleasantly surprised when I check the clock a few hours later? Motherhood is such an EXCITING game, right?!?

Lucky for me, I have a dear teammate named Andrew. Unfortunately, he doesn't nurse and since I have a phobia of breast pumps (post traumatic stress, I think), the job of each and every feeding belongs to me. Even so, Andrew is a helper. If I've been up to feed the baby and it's past 5:00 a.m., Andrew will take him downstairs to sleep and cuddle with him on the couch so I can have another hour + to myself where I know for certain that I'm free to sleep.

This morning, Andrew returns Forrest to me. It's nearing 7:00 a.m. And while I'm grateful for each extra minute I was given, I crave more rest. With a restless, yet sleeping, babe next to me, I fall back asleep. It's a painful sleep as he has needs that a binki can only satisfy for a quick moment. In between his grunts and squeaks, I peek open an eye. It feels impossible to open them both. 
At that moment, the stars align. That baby of mine, with his eyes wide open, is looking right at me. Most likely caused by the escape of a giant bubble of gas, he offers me a HUGE smile. Gas or no gas, I will take that smile and cherish it! A feeling of joyful Motherly goo washes through my exhausted body. Whether it's a smile or the perfect placement of his fingers on yours; those tiny moments are the gifts that remind you how worth it this all is.
And as his siblings continually remind me, it passes so fast.