Monday, December 10, 2012

Daylight Saving Time--my regular rant, just two months late

Morning at our house the week after Daylight Saving Time:
5:00- I roll my sorry self out of bed to go for a swim because my knee refuses to heal. I am currently trying to convince myself that once I stop nursing Norah all my problems will be solved. Until then though I am trying to get in some sort of workout that won't hurt the dang knee.
6:45- I arrive home and Mike heads off to work. I have showered at the gym but my hair is wet, so I'm hoping to get it done before it's time to wake up the chinchillas until. . .
6:50--Norah starts crying. Ok. I'll feed you Norah. No screeching. I feed Norah. She uses her recently sharpened nails to pinch every part of me that she can reach. Ahh, the joys of breastfeeding.
7:00-- Ellie, who lives in the cupboard under the stairs, begins crying very loudly. She opens her door and stands in the doorway crying and yelling, "I need to go potty. I need to go potty."  I whisper-yell, "Ellie, it's okay. You can come upstairs. Come and go potty." She cries louder. "Ellie!" I yell, "Come and go potty!" Ellie cries louder. I stand up, still feeding Norah and precariously balance her and walk to the top of the stairs, "Ellie come upstairs. Don't cry. It's okay. You can go potty."  Mike and I have tried to tell her it's okay to just come upstairs and use the bathroom, but she still needs visual and audible confirmation that it's okay to come upstairs every morning. I'm not sure why this is, since when she is supposed to be napping or in time out she has no problem escaping from her room (which is not really a cupboard under the stairs. It is a real room with a window even.)
7:05--Ellie comes upstairs still crying. She is even more upset when I tell her to use the potty by herself while I finish feeding Norah. "No!" She cries. "I need help. I can't. I can't." (She can.)  I sit back down and try to armchair parent by using a convincing voice and saying, "Ellie, you can do it! Be a big girl. I'll give you a marshmallow!" Even my best primary voice is not working to convince her that she is a capable and competent potty-user. She comes in the room and hangs on my knees and cries and cries. Norah eats very slowly, turning her head every few swallows to check out the noisy being trying to grab her head.
7:15--I get fed up with Ellie crying and climbing on me and Norah, and set Norah down for a minute. Norah protests loudly, while I help Ellie use the bathroom. I grumpily set her on the toilet. She's already gone in her pull-up (curse you pull-ups. I will never succumb to your use in potty-training again.)
7:25-- I finish breastfeeding Norah, set her in the high chair with a pile of cheerios, and head down to Kenzie and Hannah's room to wake them up to get ready for school. Ellie follows me begging me to hold her and help her. I rub each girls back gently trying to wake them up. Kenzie responds to my, "How did you sleep last night?" With a tired but agreeable, "Good." She gets up and starts getting dressed. Hannah growls at me "UNNNNNGGGHH! UNGH!" and rolls over to face the wall.
"Hannah, let me help you choose your clothes. Let's get going though. Remember how you didn't get any breakfast yesterday because you laid around in bed? I'm making eggs, let hurry so you can have some."  (I usually stick with cold cereal in the mornings, but I've been trying to branch out.) She stays in her bed, peering over while I pull clothes out of her drawer. She poutily okays an outfit, but doesn't move from the bed. I cajole a little more, and then head upstairs to make breakfast and take care of Norah and Ellie. Hannah cries out, "NO MOM! Don't leave! STAY HERE! STAY HERE! STAY HERE!" She has become an accomplished yeller. I keep walking up the stairs. She cries hysterically.
7:35-- Kenzie is up and dressed, combing her hair. Hannah is nowhere in sight. I help Kenzie straighten her hair while Ellie clings to my legs, crying, "Help me get dressed. Help me. I can't find Snow White. Help me." I use all my powers of patience to not lock Ellie in her room. "Ellie," I say, "I can help you after Kenzie and Hannah go to school. Let's go get some breakfast."
"NO! no, no," she wails.  Norah has started fussing. I throw some more cheerios on her tray. A nutritious and well-balanced baby breakfast. Hannah continues to wail for me to come downstairs. I pour Ellie some cereal that she pushes away, "NO I DON'T WANT IT." I make Norah some rice cereal with applesauce.  Kenzie remembers that she is taking her lunch today. The eggs burn.
7:50- I call down the stairs as I try frantically to pick brown spots out of my scrambled eggs, "Hannah! I will send you to school in your pajamas. Please hurry." I am trying hard not to yell. I mostly succeed. Hannah screams up the stairs, "I AM GETTING DRESSED! DON'T TALK TO ME!" I hear her screetching in frustration.
7:55-- She waltzes up the stairs and comes over to the table to eat. "Go comb your hair first Hannah."
"No." I say firmly. "You know the routine. We comb our hair first. Would you like me to help you?" I am boiling at Hannah, but I figure if I erupt now Hannah doesn't get to school and my ultimate goal is to get her into her carpool and off to school.
"UNGGHH." says Hannah attractively.
I follow her into the bathroom anyway. Ellie follows me saying, "My turn. My turn!" She tries to stand on the stool next to Hannah. Hannah elbows her and pushes her off.
"Hannah! Stop."
"Ellie is bugging me!" This erupts into full-time pushing, shoving and crying. Hannah ends up in her room, hair undone (after I drag her there) until her carpool comes, Ellie ends up crying a lot and I end up eating eggs that are not only full of burned spots, but cold as well and my hair is frizzy because I never did get to do it.
That night everyone starts crying that they are too tired to brush their teeth.
Have I told you yet that I hate Daylight Saving Time? And Fall Daylight Saving is the "easy" one. Seriously congress, stop fighting about the dang fiscal cliff and fix this stupid Daylight Saving crap. 

Repurposing your ugly baby bath chair into an ugly Shampoo Carrier

Repurposing is all the rage--you know diaper boxes into cute bins, cereal boxes into chic magazine holders, toilet paper tubes into avant garde Christmas decorations, milk jugs into lingerie (I made that one up).
Pinterest (motto: Deflating your self-esteem one chic repurposing project at a time) has been making me feel guilty about all the stuff I actually throw away when I could really be using it to beautify my house, organize my life, and save the planet. Imagine my delight when I thought of this handy repurposing project: Bath chair to Shampoo Bottle Holder!
It's not very cute, but is it purposeful. Since my dang knee refuses to cooperate and heal, I am swimming 2-3 times a week, and I needed something to put my shampoo, conditioner (I like to call it cream rinse, but Mike makes fun of me when I do that), and soap in. We were getting ready to throw this baby away:

When the ghost of Cheapskate-ness visited me and I came up with this little design:

I am pretty sure I will soon see this picture all over Pinterest. It's super simple, just sew the bottom shut and you have your own little bit of awesomeness whenever you go swimming. The top part that previously supported my wee one's large head now works as a convenient hanger. It also folds over the bottles like a little envelope to keep them in place, not rolling all over my bag and shampooing things that should not be shampooed. And I can feel all sentimental and weepy everytime I wash my hair when I swim. Awwww.
Now if I could just think of something to use the metal frame for (picture hanger if I add some cute clothes pins? Cute wreath with the addition of large amounts of felt and hot glue?), we'd be in business.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Small Frustrations make me want to disable my ears

I just finished eating my lunch. It's 2 p.m. I started eating lunch at noon, but I swear my children are in some conspiracy to never allow me to sit down and eat again.
My lunch started out with a lovely piece of toast, cooked by my sweet and humming daughter Hannah. Hannah is now downstairs, kicking the wall. It makes me want to scream, but then I'd have to engage her and I've been losing all of my skirmishes and battles with my children lately, so I'm just going to pretend I don't hear that ANNOYING noise and that we didn't just spend months and months re-painting and decorating that room.
Anyway, lunch. It started on the front porch, with toast. No I don't usually eat on my front porch, and I'd love to finish sarcastically relating the harrowing events of my lunch, but the baby is crying. I used up my 20 minutes of free-from-children time eating. EATING. I was planning to blow off a little steam by blogging, but now I'm off to feed the baby. Should I tie Hannah's legs up first, or let her be?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Coping by Buying Socks in Bulk

I am currently overwhelmed. For some reason Norah has decided to grow up. This is very unfortunate, since my plans for taking care of four children always involved her staying little and sleeping a lot. She's so uncooperative. Today she insisted on being fed at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I'm trying to think of ways to simplify so I can fit feeding myself into my schedule. Because I miss eating.
1. Buy 275 pairs of white socks for each child. This way I never have to match tiny socks or pretend that tiny socks match when they really don't. Why 275? Because, silly, during the summer you don't need socks.
2. Never leave home again.
3. Give up showers.
4. Return to cold cereal as a staple dinnertime food.

I always drown a little when I'm trying to incorporate a new baby into our family. It doesn't matter how many times I've done it before (or how cute and excellent the baby is). It's still hard.
The End

Friday, August 24, 2012


The photo evidence from this summer points to a good time had by all.  Lest someday my harried daughter says to me, "Mom, how did you do it?" And I reply smiling wistfully, "You should cherish every moment. They grow up so quickly. We just did what we did and had a good time." --I am hereby recording the true events of this summer.

My Summer Vacation
by Stephanie C.

This summer we spent much of our time in Fightville, a picturesque little town known for its town motto of "She's _________________(fill in the blank with a verb) me."  We got some bruises and a few scratches and hair pulls as we explored the rocky shores of the beaches there.

One day, after the whole family took a community course on YELLING LOUDLY, we all went to our separate rooms and sulked. I might have been heard to say, "This is the worst summer ever." Out loud.

Another day, we visited Fightville's famous Cry Me A River shop where we found all sorts of things to cry about. We visited this shop often.

Fightville also offered side excursions to famous and ever-enjoyable Whineville and Teaseville. Sometimes on our side excursions I looked out the window and saw a sign that pointed to Lost-Your-Mind-ville, but in some strange time-space warp we were already there at the same time we were in Fightville.

The Fightville community center also offered classes in Talking Back (or how to pick a fight about everything from combing your hair to eating an ice cream cone), and Throwing Fits That Will Make Your Parents Wish to be Prisoners in Guantanamo Bay.  They also offered a special class for mothers in Extreme Guilt. I attended that class daily.

We bought souvenir t-shirts that read, "My heart belongs to Fightville." So we can always remember the good time we had there. THE END

Sometimes I pretend to myself that I would like to home school. BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Where can I sign up for year-round school. With no breaks. Ever.?

Okay. It wasn't all that bad. Here's the photo evidence to the contrary. And really, when it comes down to it, I guess I don't want to remember what it was really like. I do, in fact, hope to one day look down the long corridor of years and smile with misty forgetfulness about how wonderful raising children was. So here's some pictures of the things I hope to really remember:

Norah's blessing

Ellie's Bday

The Royal Race

Playing out front after dinner

The Ogden Nature Center

Fourth of July parade

Backyard water slide

Swimming with cousins

The zoo

Swimming with more cousins

Playing with neighbors

The Spudman

Bear Lake

Cutest baby ever

"The moon"

Happy Back to School!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Pictures of the Top Bunk Bed Tent and Paltry Instructions

I'm sorry this is less of a how-to build a top bunk bed tent because I didn't build it, Mike did. I constructed the bottom bunk bed tent ("How to Make a Bottom Bunkbed Tent"). I've been bugging him to do a post about how he built this thing, but he's been busy saving the world and rubbing my feet. So here's what I've got; mostly just some pictures that will hopefully help you if you're interested in building your own top bunk bed tent.

There are five cross-bars that attach to the middle bar, made of PVC. The top and bottom of the bed (lengthwise) are open, to let air and light in. The fabric is duck canvas, but any fabric without too much stretch should work. I don't know, maybe stretchy fabric would be awesome (or more awesome). We wanted it to be pretty heavy-duty though, in case someone decided to try and lean on it.  

Another view of the top of the tent. The dimensions were based on how high our ceiling was above the bunkbed. And we gave it the shape of the top half of an octagon (is that an A-frame?) because we have a fan in the room that would have hit it otherwise. 

Yet another view. 

We attached the fabric to the PVC pipe with heavy-duty snaps. We also reinforced the fabric where we attached the snaps with pellon (fusible interfacing, or for those of you, who like me had no idea, it's thick stuff you can iron on to your fabric to make it more stiff and sturdy.) Mike sewed on ties at eight points--one in each corner and two more on each side. 

Here's a picture of the snaps unsnapped. In the top right corner is a little window that I cut out and sewed, after we took the very top picture. 

The door way was the hardest, Mike said. This is where the ladder comes up. I don't even know how to explain it (I'm sorry). He sewed the fabric so it made a pocket for the pole. The gauzy fabric in the top picture is a "door" that I sewed on later because my daughter wanted to be able to close the door. We chose the see-through stuff because we didn't want to block out all the light.  

I sewed some little pockets on the inside so she could store her things. She also liked to put things in the fold of the fabric on the sides. I say "liked", because since little Norah was born, we've had to switch things up a bit and the bunkbed tent resides in pieces in our garage. :(

Hopefully this will give you some more ideas on how to build your own. Good luck! Feel free to leave a comment, with your email address, if you have any questions and I will respond as best I can. Also, if you make one I'd love to see it, so send me pictures! 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

5 Things I Irrationally Hate

I am all about being irrational. Because logic is far too difficult to wrap my mother-adled brain around.

1. Honey--Oh sure it has nutritional value and is all-natural and delicious, but has anyone ever found a good way to store it? Or get it out of the storage jar? I will wipe off the table, sit down to enjoy a good book and find my elbows sticking to the table. And my shorts sticking to the chair. Arggh. Sticky everywhere.
2. Rice Krispies--Little tiny devils that when soaked in milk and allowed to dry become impossible to clean off the floor. The other morning Ellie, otherwise known as the Messiest Eater in the West, had a bowl of these which she managed to spill all over the table. When I came out from feeding Norah, tiny, wet Rice Krispies were scattered across the whole table. In an attempt to stop them from permanently bonding to my table I tried to wipe them up. They clung and shifted worse than my dress on a hot summer day. It took forever to wipe them up, and they hadn't even performed their superglue feat yet.
3. Joannes-- I already feel extreme stress when I enter this fabric/craft store. I want to sob every time I approach the fabric cutting counter, "No! I don't know how many yards I need. Just sell me the whole bolt." But I am far too cheap for that. Then after I stand in line, sweating about how many yards I need to finish some nursery curtains that I am never going to sew, I have to stand in line again to purchase this fabric. The second line is always at least 20 minutes long and winds through a slot canyon of candy and other junk that I continually tell my children not to touch and no I will not buy them the wooden frog they have always wanted.
4. Plastic Step stools- Specially designed to trip you or scratch your poor feet and legs, especially when wielded by a toddler.

Well, I guess that's it. I have a lot of things that I rationally hate, like war, disease, and broccoli, but I can only think of four irrational things right now. I'll have to add to the list later.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Four Kids is the Bomb

Seriously, the bomb. You know the kind that explodes and leaves detritus, food and clothing strewn randomly around? That kind of bomb. And just to mix metaphors a little bit, let's pretend my house is a submarine that has been hit by this four kid bomb, so then you can know that I feel like I'm drowning. [Insert laughter-- tentative, shaky laughter, bordering on maniacal, in an attempt to let you know that I'm fine. Fine. Everything is just fine.]
While the sleep schedule has vastly improved around here, and the combat nursing has quieted to an uneasy Cold War, I can't seem to get it together. I told Mike that the first line of a mythical book that I'm going to find the time to write will say, "It was the laundry that finally killed her." How does laundry manage to mulitply like rabbits? I swear I leave it alone for one day and the next thing I know it's baby's baby's are having brightly stained babies.
Everything else we own is busy making homes in the middle of the floor, on top of the piano and on the couch where we used to sit. I need my boppy riot shield just to walk through the house without breaking my ankle.
I'm struggling to survive this four-kid thing. And it makes me feel even worse when I think how much I am struggling and this doesn't even count as a real trial. It's supposed to be a blessing. And I'm not allowed to complain about the struggle because it's a blessing, right?  And there are so many wonderful things in my life too. Norah is an angel. She sleeps well, is predictable and smiles sweetly. Ellie is potty training (I have a new idea for ways to convince teens to remain abstinent, or to torture insurgents. Have them potty train a two-year-old without losing their temper, only clapping and dancing happily every time the child manages to make it to the toilet). Hannah is learning to control her temper. Mckenzie is learning independence (this is a euphemism for 'yelling at me all the time and not wanting to do anything but sit around'). So things are good. And now I feel guilty for even complaining.

Dear Mothers who are Happy that it's Summer time and you get to spend every waking hour with your precious children-- What are you doing that makes it so happy? We are having small issues with adjustment to a new schedule of chores and piano practice and "don't-get-stupid-this-summer" worksheets.  Do you just forget the house and chores and worksheets and do fun things all summer long? Do you send them to summer camp all summer? My philosophy has been "Work first, then play." But this has turned into "Work First. Fight Always. Get Grounded and Have No Fun." I would just give up and go sit on the couch, but the couch is currently buried in a pile of laundry.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

What it's like to breastfeed a baby while caring for other children

It's like trying to conduct a symphony with your arms tied behind your back. Sure the violins basically know what's going on, but those dang violas and that percussion line? They need a lot of direction. And don't even get me started on the french horns.

So, it's slightly difficult. I always complicate things by having preconceived notions about how it's going to go. For some reason breastfeeding a baby looks like this in my head:
I am sitting in a comfortable rocking chair, that was whittled out of a maple tree from one of my great-grandparent's farms, bathed in a glow of soft light, quietly suckling my newborn. Quietly. No one is banging out various minor variations of Mary Had a Little Lamb on the Piano. No one is yelling from the other room, "Kenzie! THATS MINE!" while sobbing hysterically; And no one is trying to climb up onto my lap to "Kiss! Kiss!" the baby while simultaneously trying to gouge the baby's eyes out.

In the lower left corner of this picture you can see poor Norah's head. Ellie's favorite activity while I am nursing is to pull over a stool, place its sharp, cutting surface directly on my feet before I have a chance to move them, and then climb up onto the Boppy to give Norah kisses. She also likes to observe intelligently, while pointing to Norah eating, "Belly Button. Belly Button." We're all about correct anatomy at our house. (I did try to explain it once, but gave up when I figured that it was really more socially acceptable to feed the baby from my belly button.)  

Kenzie and Hannah like to make me nervous by hovering close by and making mother-hen noises. "Oh, little baby Norah," they sing-song, pushing the chair I am sitting in into the newly painted walls and stepping on clean blankets and my feet as they trip headlong into Norah in an effort to rub her little head.

"Don't touch the baby while she's eating. No. Seriously. Let her eat. Okay, guys. I'm feeling a little claustrophobic here. Don't touch her. ALRIGHT. EVERYONE OUT!"

So instead of Norah getting this wonderful quiet mother-bonding time, her eating is punctuated with a series of violent blows and resonant yells. I call it combat nursing. The Boppy should come with riot shields.

I try to be discreet about breastfeeding, but while I am no breast-brandishing La Leche League card-carrier, I do think it's ridiculous to have to throw a blanket over my baby's head while I'm in the privacy of my own home. (Privacy is such a funny word for a mother of four.) Here's how that particular scenario goes:  "Mommy, what's under there? Why are you hiding Norah?" says Kenzie peeking under a corner of the blanket, uncomfortably close to my chest. Hannah wanders over and tries to lift up the blanket, which attracts Ellie to the scene. "Peek-a-boo!" She says pulling the blanket off of me and the baby and then throwing it back violently where it somehow manages to catch Norah in the eye.

Shutting the door results in horrible fights, bloodcurdling screams and crashes which I am sure signify certain death. So I don't do that either.I just pretend that breastfeeding is normal and natural. Because, well, IT IS.

While it's easy (okay easier) to distract the seven and five-year old with a movie, or other activities, I don't have a solution for occupying Ellie (21 months) while I feed Norah. I know the experts recommend reading a book to your other kids while you nurse, but these so-called experts must be people who have never tried to shield a newborn's head and her delicate eyes from the paper-cutting, corner-poking potential of a book in the hands of a toddler). Or they recommend setting up a toy or toys that you only get out when you nurse.  Does anyone have an easy to set-up and store toy, that requires no parental intervention and that absorbs their toddler for 40 minutes? Yeah. Me neither. 

Mostly, Ellie wanders around happily as long as I've made sure she's fed and as long as I let her climb up and maul me and kiss Norah's head once in awhile. I'm hoping that if I don't make a big deal out of it, she'll just get bored of the whole situation. In the meantime I'm on a countdown to March 2013. If Norah and I can make it that far, she's sure to be well on her way to winning Survivor Season 354.  

Sunday, April 8, 2012

This is your brain. This is your brain on motherhood.

Normally I am sharp as a tack (snort).  Okay, but I can generally manage to use adverbs correctly and utter socially acceptable responses in polite conversation. Mostly. But when I am waking up twice a night (three if you count 5:30 a.m. as night), blinking dazedly, half awake and half asleep, fumbling groggily to feed a floppy baby with a ginormous head, my brain doesn't function normally.  My already struggling social graces take a dive into, "Is that woman all there? Something seems a little off" terrirtory. I find that nodding and smiling is one of my best defense tactics during these looooooong months that sleep (or a lack thereof) occupies all of my brain cells. But sometimes people want me to respond. To answer coherently. To speak as if I have been processing the conversation and have something to add. They're not asking me to weigh in on the moral and social implications of foreign policy or asking me to solve difficult algorithms, but they might as well be.
"Hey Steph, how are you doing?"  I smile blankly. And then when it becomes painfully obvious that an answer is required, I scan my brain nervously, thinking, "I know I have answered this question correctly before. What is the answer?"
"Nothing!" I blurt. And then I realize that I have mistakenly substituted the answer to the Other question that people ask each other, "What's going on?" Then my milk comes in and I mutter something about "keeping the baby alive" and leave. Or I rush off to rescue Ellie (the toddler) from certain death.

Ellie has become really good at "certain death" activities, or "horribly mutilating" activities. In fact, we started off the second week of new motherhood with Ellie bashing her nose into the bottom cement stair on my parent's porch. It swelled to the size and color of a small plum. After a quick trip to Instacare, where they told us a CAT scan would need to be done if we thought it was broken (no thank you), and that it was rare to break your nose when you are so young, she began recovering nicely. Then, right when the swelling had gone down and the color subsided to a nice yellow, she bashed her eye climbing up onto a chair. It was a small gash, but she has another black eye. Poor thing.

And our cat is shedding a lot.

(Did I mention I have trouble focusing?)

Anyway, please forgive me if I respond like a homeless cat lady. Hopefully when I start sleeping again I'll at least be able to answer simple questions.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Norah's Delivery Story

Warning: Long, boring and possibly gory details about Norah's delivery follow.

"It's a girl Steph!" Mike said, a little tear-ily. I was still leaning over the side of the bed, wondering what the water coming down my back was coming from.
"She's peeing."
"What?" I thought. "I am not. I just had a baby." Then I realized that it was our new little girl, saying hello to her mother with some friendly bodily fluids.

It started on Tuesday night. I caught some sort of flu virus and spent the night moaning about how sick I was and wondering if I was having contractions or if one of my internal organs had somehow crept into my stomach and stuck and knife in it. It was torture. Mike came home early on Wednesday when I threw up and could only manage to stare vacantly at the floor afterward. He let me sleep and moan and took care of me.

Luckily it was torture of the short kind, and that night I was able to sleep again. And when I say "sleep again" I mean I only woke up 6 times to pee instead of being up for 45 minutes of every hour moaning about my stomach. It was very restful. In fact, I think having the flu made me feel grateful for being 9 months pregnant. I appreciated it much more.

Thursday my stomach was still a little queasy so I kept it easy, eating mostly toast and applesauce. I went shopping with Ellie for drape material for the nursery (because I am a totally rocking seamstress who always homemakes her drapes and decorates her nursery. Actually, I blame Pinterest. It's ramped me into this crazy craftin monstress.) and that night I felt a spastic burst of energy that involved moving furniture, vacuuming excessively, shampooing the carpets, and cleaning the fans with a pillowcase (thank you Pinterest for that tip).

Mike had a headache and kept saying groggily, "Steph, will you please come down from there? I can help you with that tomorrow."  or "Steph, don't you realize you're 9 months pregnant?"  or "Steph, why did you move all the furniture? You could have asked me to do that."

I brushed him off with a little cluck of my tongue and told him to go lay back down.

The next morning I even shaved my legs, thinking hopefully, "This might be the last time before I have a baby."

Then it was off to coach a few kids from my neighborhood at the local park. I had them run hill intervals, and while they were off running up the hill, I watched from my vantage point on a little berm by our starting line and I began to think, "Ohhh. I believe that was a contraction." So I started timing my contractions while I timed their intervals. They were probably about 10 minutes apart at that point. So I finished the workout (What else was I supposed to do? Yell at some 13 year olds that I was having a baby and scare them to death as I drove us all home? No. It's much better to pretend everything is fine. And between contractions, it was.), drove them home and went home.

When I got home Mike was outside with the girls, jumping on the tramp. "Hey," I said, trying to be casual about it, because I would hate to be wrong. "I think we're going to have a baby today. Let's go to the hospital."

"Really? Girls, Mom says we're having a baby today!"  This made Kenzie and Hannah giddy and Ellie just copies what they do, so she was giddy too.

"Maybe." I said. Since it was between contractions, everything seemed fine. It didn't seem real that I was going into labor.

Mike started going into worry mode a little. "What should I do? I haven't even showered!" Mike always gets a little flustered when it's time to go to the hospital. I'm glad, because then I get to be the calm one.

I told him to hurry and go shower, I would time another contraction, just to make sure I was in labor. He showered while we waited for Shirley to come over and get the girls, and I gathered up our things and we headed to the hospital.

I called my midwife on the way, since I usually go so fast and she assured me that she would be ready.

We arrived at 11:30 and nicely enough, they believed that I was in labor. My midwife had called ahead and told them to expect me. So they took me right back while Mike checked me in.

Luckily it was our same nurse from when I had Ellie! She was supposed to stay on triage (just check me to see if I really was in labor, I guess), but when she recognized us, she asked to switch and got to be my delivery nurse! Both Mike and I were so glad to have Laurel again.

I was at an 8 when she checked me the first time. Hallelujah!  And then they started running the IV for the Strep B medication right away. (Stupid IVs. It took 3 times to get it in. And it hurt like the dickens.)

When Mari, my midwife, showed up, she had a student with her, who was at my last appointment. She asked if it was okay if she was there too and I think I tried to smile and say yes, but I wasn't really happy about it. I remember thinking at my last appointment that I was glad Mari only had a student for a week and that hopefully she wouldn't be around when I delivered. (Nothing against the student, just I didn't want one more person in the room.)

Mari left for a little bit and I had a few contractions, but wasn't quite ready to push yet. Mike and Laurel helped me through them by putting pressure just below my kneecaps and laughing and talking with me. Then I started to feel like I wanted to stand up.

Mari came back in without the student and told me that she had re-read my birth plan and saw a line about wanting no students. Hooray! I didn't have to be rude, my birth plan did it for me. I always feel kind of funny about handing my plan out and being bossy to my nurse and the hospital staff, but I was really glad I did this time.

My contractions were getting harder and I switched to standing up to help me get through them a little bit. You know, the whole, "Walk it off," thing. I wasn't walking much, but swaying and Laurel showed me how to hold onto Mike shoulders and lean my weight into him while he put pressure on my hips to counteract the contraction. Mari rubbed my lower back and I started feeling a real need to push.

My water broke on the first push, and that in itself felt like an accomplishment. Then suddenly, I was pushing and I could feel the baby coming out. I was still standing (not planned), leaning against the hospital bed. One purple-faced long push and the head was out. As I felt the head come out I thought, "My gosh. This is the biggest baby I have ever delivered." Another push and the shoulders slid out.  It was such a relief. I just leaned over the bed and felt tired. Mike said, "It's a girl Steph. It's a girl!" And they laid her on my back. And she peed on me.

Ahhhh. So sweet. Mike cut the cord (he cried real tears), I got the placenta out, and then I finally sat down. I'm not sure why I didn't sit down earlier, but I guess I didn't know what to do after the baby came out. I didn't plan on delivering standing up. In fact I remember talking about delivery positions with Mari, saying I did not want stirrups, and wanted to be able to move around. She said the only position that was hard for her was standing up. I said, "Oh, I probably won't deliver standing up." But then it just happened. I kind of wish I had turned around a seen them cut the cord and stuff, but oh well. They put that little oxygen breather over her mouth and rubbed her vigorously for a bit, and then they handed her over to me.

As I held her, I felt done. Complete. It wasn't a seismic shift, like when I had Kenzie, and it wasn't an overwhelming emotion. It was just perfect. It was how I felt when I held Mike's hand for the first time--a feeling of being where I was supposed to be, a wholeness.

We debated names for a bit and finally settled on Norah Jean. Our lovely fourth daughter, 7.2 pounds, 20" born at 12:52 on March 16, 2012. The Jean is after my Grandma Bette and Norah because we liked it and it has the same ending as Hannah.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Being Strep B positive while pregnant

No, my throat doesn't hurt. Apparently if you are Strep B positive it has nothing to do with having strep throat. Last week I was the lucky recipient of a Strep B positive result at my now weekly appointments. And by lucky I mean cursed. My vision of my delivery was shattered. Okay, I'm being pregnantly dramatic, but I guess my vision (if you can have a vision of your delivery) was clouded.

See, I envision hanging out at my house until my contractions are about 3 minutes apart, getting a few last minute things done like organizing my sock drawer, and then driving to the hospital to have a baby. I like the au natural sort of delivery, sans drugs. I don't like hanging out at the hospital being prodded and stared at and monitored. But I also don't like the idea of screaming from the bathroom for Mike to call 911 while Kenzie and Hannah stare dumbfounded at their mother delivering a child and Ellie cries hysterically and tries to crawl in my lap while I'm pushing.

This laboring mostly at home but finishing at the hospital is a fine balance that we've managed three times so far. I was hoping for a fourth, but thanks to my Strep B results I'm supposed to be at the hospital 4 hours before I deliver the baby so that they can stick an IV in me and run penicillin through my body. Fabulous. I have never been to the hospital four hours before I've had a baby. I just don't figure out that I'm in labor soon enough to get there that early.

When I expressed displeasure to my midwife at having to have an IV, she said, "Yeah and penicillin is one of the more irritating drugs to the veins." Thank you. She also gave me a little print out that assured me that I did nothing to contract Strep B and that being Strep B positive was just like having freckles, only more dangerous and scary for your baby. The little printout also assured me that most pregnant women do not have any symptoms of Strep B. But when they do it includes frequent or urgent urination.


Well in that case, all my doubts about the validity of the Strep B test are gone. Because I definitely have that. In fact, I've probably had it every pregnancy. I'm surprised they haven't caught it sooner.

P.S. I found the pig! It was tucked into Kenzie's bottom drawer in a tangle of pants, probably courtesy of the Ellinator. I know that if Kenzie knew it was there she would have brought it to me because I offered them a dollar if they found it. Instead I'll be paying that dollar to the library. I think we have financed the purchase of a few new books with the fines we have paid to that place. Sigh.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Look who turned 200,000!

On January 19, 2012 Mike called me from work. 

"Steph, can you drop the girls off at your Mom's and come eat lunch with me? The car's going to turn 200,000!"
Mike wanted to eat a romantic picnic while we drove around the flight line of Hill Air Force Base watching as the odometer turned to 200,000 on our little Chevy Prizm. (We go for broke on our dates these days.)  So I packed Hannah and Ellie up to my mom's and we celebrated our car's mileage birthday with a little reminiscing.

Our car is like our marriage. It just keeps going. Ummm, that doesn't sound right, does it? Well, how about this: It just won't quit! It may have a few breakdowns, but it always makes a comeback. Or, "200,000 miles later and surprisingly it's still going strong." Okay, I give up on the clever slogan comparison. But it is a good car. A great car. And it is a good marriage. A great one.   

One day in October 2001, Mike and I bought a car together. It was $8,000 (the most I had ever spent at one time and Mike too). We bought it from my Uncle Norm. I remember going to his house with Mike to look at it. We weren't engaged yet, but I do think we had secretly set a wedding date for the next June.  The white 2000 Chevy Prizm had about 30,000 (Mike says 20,000) miles on it and seemed to be a good, clean car. 

The day we signed the loan papers we walked across the street from the America First in Ogden and went to a Kmart photo booth to take our picture together, and Mike taped one of them to the dashboard. We both look young and a little clueless (see above, bottom left). We were. 10 years later and we're still a little clueless, but we are older.

When we got our license plate I made up a funny acronym to help us remember it. We'll always be able to remember our license plate number. I would share it here, but it's not really appropriate for viewer consumption. :) Plus I'm sure psychos would somehow find this blog post, use our license plate number for bad and ruin our lives. So, sorry, no slightly off-color license plate acronym for you. 

Until 2010 this was our only car, and we drove it everywhere. It's seen more trips to St. George than we can count; it's carried our bikes all over; we've taken it to Moab; it's been driven to California a few times; and we once drove it up the coast from Cali to Seattle (we were childless at the time). We also forded a small river in it and have driven on many four-wheel-drive-only tracks. 

We've put one major repair into it. When we were living in California for Mike's UCLA internship we had to replace an oxygen sensor. That's it. Oh yeah, and we had to replace a back window and the faceplate on our stereo when some punk broke into it while it was parked in Salt Lake. 

We've added a few upgrades, the radio that played Mp3s (so novel in the early 2000s), a clicker (that Mike wired in to unlock and lock it) and we've (Mike) replaced the door handle once many years ago.  In October of this last year, for safety and emissions, we did have to tape the passenger door handle on. Isn't that how a car should work? The door handles break before the engine.

Here's to another 100,000 miles little Chevy Prizm!

Look at this cute guy. I'm so glad I bought a car with him. 

If you look close, you can see our 200,000 milestone! (And a zit on my cheek. Thank you pregnancy.)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How a Pig Ruined My Day

Today, success was based on whether or not I could find the number two pig from that stupid toy we borrowed from the library.
FAIL. Of course it's due tomorrow (and someone has it on hold) and I have scoured every inch of my house looking for the &*% pig. I have vague memories of the pig in various areas of my house (did I allow Ellie to take it in the van? Why, for the love, would I do that? Didn't I just yell at my children for putting it in their dirty laundry?); but none of these have panned out. And today, that makes me feel like a failure. Let's face it. There were a whole lot of other things that happened today that made me feel like a failure, but the pig--oh that stupid pig--- I think it sent me over the edge.

I'm 8 months pregnant and a pig is unbalancing me. I know I should be sitting here counting my blessings, but that pig, the one with green overalls that built a house of twigs, is ruining my otherwise cheerful recollections of the day. Like the recollection of Ellie sobbing hoarsely ALL MORNING, and wiping snot all over the only clothes I have that cover my belly. Or the fond recollection of having my mother-in-law bring Hannah home from tumbling early because she refused to go. Or the cheery memory of me accusing Kenzie of nefariously ripping the name off of Hannah's new box of crayons so she could steal them (I was wrong).  Or the happy reminiscence of Hannah yelling at the top of her lungs that she was NOT GOING TO! as she kicked at Ellie and Ellie screeched loudly in response and I locked myself in my room. Or the exciting recollection of trying to decide whether moving from the couch caused such pain because either A. The baby has lodged it's adorable head in my pelvis, or B. I kicked a kickball with Hannah two days ago. (I'm going with B since I still have about 5 weeks to go.)

Yeah, that stupid pig. It totally ruined my day.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

We've come a long, long way together

Let's pretend our children are Chinese food. Kenzie is my Sweet and Sour. Just like in the dish, I'm not sure where the sour comes in, because she's been sweet. She's been easy (and I am seriously throwing salt over my shoulder and knocking on wood as I write this, because I know I am cursing myself.), most the time. This is lucky for her, since she's the experimental child. Being a experimental child myself (firstborn), I can pretend that things will turn out alright, even though I make lots of mistakes.

Hannah is Szechuan. I love Szechuan, but sometimes it's a little on the spicy side. It can give me heartburn. Today, it gave me heartburn. But, but, I'm making an effort right now to think about the good things. Because we've come a long, long way.  I think. Sometimes. And then I think maybe we haven't come a long, long way. I think maybe it's not temporary heartburn. Maybe she's so spicy it's not heartburn, it's heartbreak, permanent style. Maybe it's a horrible underlying chronic condition and something is HORRIBLY, HORRIBLY wrong. And then I start hyperventilating and I become convinced that her entire future hinges on my giving in to her wanting one more minute before she does her chore. So I am firm. "No Hannah. No more minutes." And she throws a fit, and I tell myself not to give in because if I do she will end up staggering homeless through an alley, high on some illegal substance and cursing me and God.  All because I gave her one more minute too many times.

Deep breath. Deep breath. I'm just going to have to make a list. Lists always tend to calm me down and give a little perspective to my heartburn induced nightmares.

Bad things: Hannah told me a blatant lie about using soap to wash down the counter. "I didn't," she said furiously wiping soap bubbles from the counter. "It's not soap." (This was the second lie she told me today. The lies, about stupid things, seem to be increasing lately).  Hannah yelled, "I hate you. You're not a good mom," twice.  She refused to have her hair done until I threatened her with toy loss. She refused to go to school until I took her there. She refused to do her chore until I threatened toy loss. She refused to practice her piano until I threatened toy loss. She kicked Ellie. She made Kenzie cry. She had five timeouts for various infractions of our home rules.

Good things: Hannah played nicely with Ellie until quiet time. Hannah had a great time at school and loved telling me all about it and showing me her papers on the letter P. When I came upstairs from putting Ellie down for a nap, Hannah was sitting quietly on the couch, ready to play reading games. While Hannah was in timeout she chose to make me birthday pictures, coloring and cutting out cakes and making them "chocolate," my favorite. Hannah made me a birthday crown. She practiced her piano. She did her chore. She ate her dinner and lots and lots of corn. She helped Kenzie find some of her jewels. When Mike took the girls to his parent's after dinner, she said sweetly, "Mommy, do you just need some alone time?"

See. It was a good day too. That Szechuan is wonderful stuff.

Ellie is Beef and Broccoli on Noodles. With chopsticks. She is slippery and everywhere and wonderful and messy and sometimes frustrating.  She's still mostly mild, but has the potential to be spicy too. And sometimes the beef can be a little tough.

Mike gets to be the fortune cookies, and I'll just keep trying to be the ham fried rice. Actually I think we're both the ham fried rice--- the thing that pulls the meals together, the essence of the meal.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Fashion Philosophy

So far I have three girls. I suppose that some of my motherly responsibility is to teach them things like "dressing yourself" and "personal hygiene."  The problem is that for girls these categories have all sorts of nuances and subcategories. Categories that have always escaped me. Categories like "fashion" and "matching" and "style" and "coordinating jewelry" and "accessorizing."

It used to be that my whole fashion philosophy could be summed up in two words, "blend in." I suppose you could throw in the subcategory of "be comfortable," but mainly my goal has been to not be noticed. That means I try to strike a happy medium between over-done and under-done. Mostly I think I succeed, but sometimes I border on the noticeable spectrum, and not in a "I want to dress like her" manner-- more of in a "Did she look in a mirror before she left the house?" manner.

Occasionally I wish that I could be trendy and fashionable and wear jeggings with fashionable boots, and have my girls in perfectly coordinated outfits with awesomely coiffed hair, but then I remember that this involves shopping, possibly at the mall, and cold shakes envelop my body and I decide that I will just stick to my blend-in tactics.

But as my girls grow and are off to school, I've had to develop another prong to my fashion philosophy. In the interest of teaching them to "blend-in" I have banned some clothing to "play clothes" only status and I drop an occasional, "Go put a different shirt on. Blue stripes do not go well with a pink polka dotted skirt." And I do make them comb their hair every day too.

For a week or two Kenzie was doing her own hair in all sorts of new-fangled fancy styles, some of which went way outside the norm. Mike and I smiled and told her she looked fantastic, because she did. She was bursting with pride at her 5-bow, 3-ponytail creations. This definitely did not fit into my "blend-in" fashion philosophy, but I checked the urge to correct or stymie her style. "Confidence" I told myself. "She's developing her style and needs support and love. She'll build confidence." (Or be crushed by the mean comments of other children, I thought to myself hopelessly.)

So, I keep my critical comments mostly to myself and when I do offer some advice and Kenzie huffs madly at me, folds her arms and says, "No. I like this" when I tell her something doesn't match (one of those subcategories that I do have a nominal knowledge of), then I shrug my shoulders and let her wear it to school.  I pray that despite a sometimes cold, cruel world of other people's opinions, my girls will develop confidence, enough to be able to have their own style and feel good about it--whether it's blending in or standing out.

So now my fashion philosophy is "Blend in. But if not, stand-out with confidence." I am trying to desperately to drum up some confidence since my "blend-in" style is not working out so well these days. With a seven-month pregnant tummy that sticks out and visibly moves, I'm getting a lot more stares. Plus, I'm running out of clothing options. Nothing fits over my protrusions. The only bras I have that fit are pink. And my shoes? I'm having trouble bending over so my brown slip-on boots are about all I wear these days--even with gray and black pants. So when you see me parading about in a flowing white shirt with a pink bra underneath and gray pants with brown boots, one leg tucked in and the other untucked, know that I am employing my second philosophy of fashion---Confidence.   

After all, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye."  (Miss Piggy)

Monday, January 2, 2012

I'm so Excited for the End of the World

Since the world is ending on Dec 21, there's really no sense in making any real resolutions. But, I guess there's always the chance that the Mayan prediction will be as wrong as every other one, so I'm going to hedge my bets and keep trying to beat my laundry into submission. 

#2 (see #1 above): Dominate the Lost Socks. I have a box for lost socks and it is constantly overflowing. I hearby resolve to match (or perhaps just throw away) every sock in that box.
#3: Have a baby. At the hospital. Stay at the hospital as long as possible. 
#4: Finish writing my book. Currently my main character (and the plot) is stuck in a hotel in Idaho. It's kind of depressing.
#5: Don't sign up for any crazy races until next year. Next year. Seriously. I mean it. No, a half marathon in November does not sound good. No. A 5K might be okay. Really. A 5K. In October. Alright.
#6: Organize a closet (shoot for the moon, I say).
#7: Teach Hannah to read, Teach Ellie to pee (in the toilet) and teach Kenzie to run.
#8: Start a family book club.
#9: Study scriptures at least 5 times a week.

The end.