Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas 2014

We had such a nice Christmas this year.  Money being super tight, I wasn't sure how it would go.  Then a kind family member gave us some cash, and with some little bits of money from things like credit card rewards and car insurance rebates we had enough to get everyone a couple of modestly priced presents.  I was worried that the kids would be disappointed since the presents weren't as fancy as usual, but I needn't have worried.  They were thrilled with everything and Christmas was just as magical and wonderful as it always has been.  

Christmas Eve the Badger cooked a turkey and we had a nice family dinner.  


There were several traditional expenditures that I cut out this year since money was limited, such as Schleich plastic figures in everyone's stockings.  New pajamas was something I considered cutting out, but most of the kids needed new pajamas anyway.  I got really lucky: on the one brief shopping trip I was able to go on in between twin feedings I was able to find really nice pajamas for all the kids for a really good price.  I made a quick stop at Gymboree because I like their quality and styles but they are usually too expensive.  I just thought I would look-- maybe they had something on clearance-- and they had all their pajamas on sale for $10, which was my budgeted amount.  So my little kids got adorable Gymboree pajamas, which made me so happy.  I love kids in cute new pajamas on Christmas Eve:


Christmas morning brought many surprises.  My sister Pineapple had our name from my extended family (we take turns) and she found all these adorable plush dolls and animals at Ikea for everyone, including a badger for the Badger!  It was his favorite present.   


Peanut got a Little Red Riding Hood doll from Ikea.


This was one of the sweetest moments Christmas morning.  I had bought Peanut a ballerina doll, which is not something she had ever seen before or even been aware of to my knowledge.  When she opened it, she said softly, "ohhhh... it's my ballet doll!  I dreamed about my ballet doll."  She was so happy with her ballet doll and I was happy too.


Bean got the book he wanted (thanks, Pineapple!)


Here's happy Roo.


Here's happy Prince Charming.  You can see we had a lot of food items-- we evened wrapped a box of cold cereal for each kid so they would have more to open.



Here's Fish with all his presents except his Nerf gun.


Both boys got Nerf guns.  They have been wanting them for years, so they forgot all about the expensive electronic items they had been wanting and were just happy.  They have been having a great time with those guns.


And the last present to appear was the dollhouses.  I bought these used--cheap-- from ksl.com's online classifieds.  


Six years ago, when we were living in Kansas, a friend of mine gave me all her daughter's old Fisher Price dollhouse stuff: two big dollhouses and a huge box of dolls and furniture.  We gave it to Roo for Christmas that year.  For years afterwards it was the girls' favorite toy-- they played dollhouse for untold hours.  When we left Oklahoma two years ago we had to get rid of the two big dollhouses because we didn't have room and they were pretty beat up at that point.  We kept all the dolls and furniture, but it just wasn't the same.  So I was very happy to find these dollhouses, one of which is just like one of the old ones we had.  And the kids were pretty happy too.  


Oh, and in the corner of that last picture you can see the beautiful blue and white blanket that my sister found for me.  I was utterly delighted with it.  My other two presents were blue as well:  a pair of socks from my in-laws and a blue stoneware casserole dish from the Badger.  I was thrilled with all of my Christmas presents-- I wasn't really expecting much for myself, so I was surprised and pleased.  

It really was a wonderful Christmas.  

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Self Improvement

A few years ago my mom and dad wrote extensive personal histories, which they then printed and gave to us children for Christmas.   What a treasure these have been to me.  I learned so much as I read about what the years of my young life were like from their experience.   So much was going on that as a child I had no idea of-- for instance there was a great deal of stress for my dad at his job that I was not aware of and could not have understood as a child.  Reading about it as an adult really helped me understand my dad better and put things in perspective.   
The biggest epiphany I had while reading these histories was about my mother.  She wrote about how during her 30's she had an interest in self-improvement.   She made a list of 12 qualities she wanted to develop, with some details about how she wanted them to manifest in her life as well as specific goals for how to work on them.  I loved that she put all this in her personal history!
What blew me away though was that as  I read this list I said to myself,  "this totally describes my mom!"  I was born when my mom was 39, so my memories of her are when she was in her 40's and 50's.  And she was practically perfect.  It had never occurred to me that the reason she was practically perfect was that she had deliberately worked on her character before I came along, setting goals and achieving them.  I had been looking at myself and saying "I am nowhere near the caliber of mother to my children that my mom was to me," well, when my mom was my age she was probably a lot more like me.  But she made herself better.  I can do that too.
Here's the odd thing:  one day five years ago when we were living here at my inlaws I told my visiting teachers this little story about my mom.  It really left an impression on one of them, Heidi.   Two years later we were visiting Utah and the one Sunday we happened to be at church here Heidi happened to be speaking in Sacrament Meeting and she told about my mom and her self-improvement and the effect it had on me and on her.  I thought that was a pretty amazing (not) coincidence that I just happened to be there when she gave that talk.  I am sure God had some reason for that, though I am not sure I fully understand it.  Maybe it was just to see more clearly the ripple effect our positive actions have.  And maybe it was also to keep this all more often on my mind. 
I do think about it a lot, especially at this goal-focused time of year. 
I am especially excited about goals and self-improvement this year because for most of last year I was just trying to survive.  I am so excited to be able to be proactive about my life again.  I am working on a vision statement,  some positive affirmations,  and some goals to start with.   I've got a lot to work on, but I am my mother's daughter,  so I have a lot of hope!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Leaf and Twig


The twins now have official blog nicknames.  I would like to introduce you to Leaf (on the right, formerly Baby A) and Twig (on the left, formerly Baby B.)  

Thanks to my sister Pineapple for coming up with what I think are the perfect names.  

Double Snuggles



Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Eight

My sister took this picture in the hospital the day after the twins were born.  I cried the first time I saw it; a picture of all eight of my children together.  


I worked so hard to get them here, completely losing myself in the process, and now I have all of them with me at last.  

This is why I have had a hard time wrapping my brain around the details of Christmas this year: because presents and decorations and stuff don't hold a candle to the precious gift of my beautiful family.  They are my dream come true-- what else could I possibly want?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Weight Check

I am pleased to report the results of the twins' weight check at the doctor today:

Little A weighed in at 2 oz over her birth weight.  Yaaaay!

Little B came up just one ounce short of birth weight, but that was close enough that the doctor says we don't need to do any more weight checks.  Yaaaaaay!

I have been supplementing them with some of my own milk I froze early this year.  They started out taking an extra 5-6 oz a day (both together) but are now down to maybe 2-3 oz extra each day, which isn't much.  Just a little boost in the evening when they get really hungry before bedtime and I don't seem to have quite enough.  The frozen milk is just about gone now, and as soon as it is I am hoping we can just stop supplementing.  I bought a can of formula but maybe I won't even have to open it.

Before they were born I never doubted at all that I would be able to produce enough milk to feed two babies.  Then at their 2 week check when they had lost so much weight I seriously doubted myself.  I'd like to thank all the people who have been encouraging me during these last few weeks, especially Aunt Tofu and my lactation expert friend Michele.  It's amazing what a lifeline it can be when you hear someone say "you're doing fine, you can do this, don't worry."

And taking fenugreek capsules makes you smell like maple syrup.  Who knew?


Rocking Babies

We had to get rid of a lot of things when we moved, but I requested we bring both glider rockers.  It seemed a bit of an extravagance at the time, but it has been so wonderful with the twins.  Two people can rock two babies in two chairs.  And there are plenty of potential baby-rockers around here.






Rabbit Braids


This is how Grandma does the girls' hair (and I sure appreciate it!)  Isn't my little Rabbit darling?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

First Bath

It's time to try to get caught up on pictures.

It is our family tradition that Dad gives the babies their first bath.  And as our family has grown, every baby bath attracts a crowd of adoring onlookers.  I don't know what it is, but there's just something about watching a little one get a bath.  (Please make special note of Prince Charming in these pictures.)  This is Baby B's first bath, which she seemed to rather enjoy.  



So then I took Baby B to get her dressed while the Badger started on Baby A.  But I wanted to weigh her first and I was having trouble with the scale.  Finally I was done and I came over to take a picture of Baby A in the tub, but the Badger had just barely taken her out and wrapped her in a towel.  

Well, I could just see her at about age 11:  "how come we have pictures of everyone's first bath except mine?  Don't you loooooove me as much as the others?"  That's the kind of silly thing I said when I was 11.  I am sure you and every other normal person never said things like that, but kids tend to take after their parents so I have to think of these things.  So I asked the Badger to please put her back in the tub long enough for a photograph.  

She was not very excited about that.  



Sorry, A.  But now I do have first bath pictures of everyone.  You'll thank me in about 11 years.  

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Changing Faces

The babies' faces seem to change a little every day.  They look more and more different from each other as well.  And they also get more alert all the time, which is very cute.  I have resolved to take more pictures of them.  However, with twins, one tends to want to take pictures of the two of them together, and it is rare that they are both in the mood to be photographed.  

Today when I got out my camera after a feeding session baby A was was happy and alert, but B decided it was time to suck on her binky and doze off.  


I told B she could be binky-less and make a pleasant face for me for just a few moments but she didn't believe me.  


So I gave her back the binky, but those big green binkies really detract from a photo, you know?


So I decided to take some pictures of just A.  Isn't she beautiful?  She really does have quite a bit more hair than B, just like the ultrasound tech predicted.  It didn't look like it when they were first born, for some reason, but it sure is obvious now.  



Then B decided maybe she was game for a couple of photos, so we tried again.



And here is a picture I took of B by herself later.  


(I have not yet come up with good nicknames for them... so they will have to be A and B for awhile.)

Postpartum Homeschool

My kids were lucky-- they got two weeks off school for Thanksgiving because of the twins being born.  However, to make up for that they aren't going to get much of a Christmas break. 

After two weeks I knew we needed to get back into homeschool, but I haven't been up to carrying the full load, or even anywhere near it.  So I decided we would start very small and then add things as we could. 

The first week all I asked them to do was math, scriptures, and reading.  Reading wasn't a big deal because they all read all the time anyway.  For scriptures, we are using the Discover the Scriptures curricula and although I like to be involved, they can do it completely independently.  And same with math: there is very little I need to do with math. 

Bean and Fish have been using Teaching Textbooks levels 7 and 5 respectively.  I love Teaching Textbooks.  It is done on the computer, but they also have a paper workbook to be able to write in.  The computer teaches them the lessons and then they enter their answers and it does all the grading.  All I have to do is log in and check their grades... I require at least 80% on every assignment, so if they got less than that I can reassign problems and easily change their grade when they correct them.  Both the boys understand math really well, and the computer lessons have been sufficient for them to understand the concepts.  Fish almost never needs to bring his scores up.  Bean understands the concepts but because details do not come easy to him he tends to make little mistakes with the numbers.  But he has improved drastically in his ability to focus and follow through on the corrections so we can usually get his scores where I want them with minimal fuss.  (Well do I remember the days when requiring correction of a math problem brought on a screaming fit that sometimes lasted for hours...we've come so far!)  All in all there is minimum effort required for me with the boys' math.  

Roo is doing Horizons math.  I did not buy the full curriculum, just the workbook.  Roo is very good at math, though, in addition to being a diligent and independent worker, so this has not been a problem.  Horizons is known for being rigorous and somewhat advanced, but at the same time the workbooks are colorful and interesting.  Each assignment has problems of many different types (a spiral approach, in homeschool lingo) which review and gradually build on past concepts learned.  So most of it Roo can do on her own, but if there's something new she can bring it to me and I will teach her how to do it.  It suits Roo perfectly.  I used to check all her assignments, but she does so well that now I just grade her tests. 

I was also going to do Horizons with the Rabbit, but I decided to try the Critical Thinking Company's Mathematical Reasoning workbook instead.  It is similar in that it is colorful and interesting, with a spiral approach.  It's been a good choice for the Rabbit.  She needs more instruction than the others though, because she is just learning basic concepts, so I have to pretty much sit with her while she does her math.  So if I am having a bad day, math with the Rabbit doesn't happen.  But she is only six years old and I don't think there is any need to be on a strict educational schedule at that age.  When we do math we enjoy it and she is learning a lot. 

Math, scriptures, and reading was perfect at first since it covered the basics yet they could work almost completely independently.  Now I have added in their language/grammar workbooks.  This requires a little bit more from me but I am starting to get some sleep so it hasn't been overwhelming.  We will probably leave it at that until after Christmas.

Maybe it sounds kind of insane to be homeschooling with newborn twins, but right now I am so grateful I don't have to be dealing with a school schedule.  I don't have to worry about making sure the kids are properly dressed and out the door on time every morning with all the right papers in their backpack.  I don't have to worry about homework or reading logs or special projects.  All that would be far more difficult for me to handle right now than homeschooling. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Full Term

Yesterday was my original due date and today the twins are three weeks old.  (Okay, technically one is three weeks old today and one is three weeks old tomorrow...)

Most of my other babies were born more or less on their due dates, so three weeks early was definitely different for me.  I didn't think it was going to matter so much since 37 weeks is considered "term."  However, during those first few days when I was a nearly hysterical from having two babies that wouldn't eat or sleep well,  I had a conversation with my sister in law Aunt Lovely and she said something that really intrigued me.   Most of her babies were born by scheduled c-section at 39 weeks and she said she noticed a difference in them about a week later when they reached "full term:" they ate and slept better. 

So I began hoping that at three weeks old we would see an improvement with the twins (I also hoped fervently that I would survive until then...)  And I am happy to report that not only am I still alive, but that my sweet babies are getting easier to manage.  They are now behaving like my other newborns and I am beginning to get some sleep! 

However, we still have one big concern: their weight.  I realized last week that they were looking kind of scrawny and at their two week checkup last Thursday their weight was way down: one of them was down nearly a whole pound. 

I have been worried and obsessing about my milk supply.  I spent all weekend trying to both fatten them up and increase my supply.  We went in yesterday and they had both gained some but we are not out of the woods yet.  I have seen some evidence of supply increase, but not as much as I would like.  

So things are getting easier in some ways, but the twins are still taking most of my time and attention.   I am so grateful for the support I have which has allowed me to focus on them.  And I enjoy having such cute, sweet little people to monopolize my time!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas is Coming

I am still in a post-partum sleep-deprived fog.  Every once in awhile it occurs to me that Christmas is coming.  It's hard for me to wrap my brain around that, especially with my own Christmas decorations in storage.  But luckily there are others around to help my children have a joyful Christmas season.  The other night Grandma Badger helped the kids decorate the tree.  They had such a good time!




I am also very grateful to my sister and others who have taken my kids to some Christmas concerts and things recently.  I am glad that even though I am mostly home-bound they don't have to be, and that they are having some fun this December.  

Monday, December 8, 2014

Middle Big Siblings


Two

Prince Charming is now officially Two.  We had ice cream and cookies to celebrate.  We gave him a jack in the box.  We actually had one of these for years and years up until a couple of years ago-- they are well-made and practically indestructible, but someone decided to try to take it apart at one point and that did it in.  And we have missed it.  So we bought a new one for Prince Charming.  You should have seen him jump the first time it popped!  He loves it.  And we love our charming little boy!


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A Walk

A few days ago I went on a walk. 

This may sound like a very mundane thing, but I had not been On A Walk since July.  And I have hardly been able to walk for quite some time. 

It was a beautiful mild sunny afternoon.   First I meandered around the yard for a little bit while I waited for the Badger to put his shoes on.  My in-laws have a beautiful, beautiful yard and since I got here in September I have hardly been out in it at all. 

Now it was like I was seeing everything for the first time.  Everything was achingly beautiful: the brown grass, the bare trees, the backdrop of snow-capped mountains, the gibbous moon rising in the December-blue sky. 

We started down the street.  I was sore, but I could walk.  I didn't feel faint or nauseous.  There weren't two babies pressing down on my hips.  There was just me and I was overwhelmed with how it felt to be myself again, with a body that could do what I wanted it to do.  

I began to think about how this was how it would be from here on out, about all the things that I was going to be able to do again in time, starting with simply caring for my family and working my way up to physical recreation like hiking and biking and snowshoeing.  I will be getting stronger and stronger every day instead of weaker.  

I cried all the way down to the end of the road.  I felt like I had finally come alive again and it felt so overwhelmingly marvelous.  Just to be me-- Birrd-- with a body that is rapidly becoming whole and well is such a glorious and amazing gift and one which I will cherish from here on out in a way I never have before. 

But I do not regret for an instant what I went through, hard as it was.  We needed and wanted these sweet girls in our family.  We chose to bring them here.  We knew it would be really tough, though it was far tougher than we imagined.  But there is absolutely no question of it being worth every sacrifice. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Birth Story

On Tuesday afternoon, November 25, I went for a routine non-stress test at the maternal fetal medicine office at the hospital.   At this visit my blood pressure was still up and Baby B's heart rate indicated possible distress.  The specialist talked to the Badger and I and recommended I be induced that evening.  My OB and I had decided the day before that we could probably put off induction another week, but as the specialist was talking to us the Badger and I looked at each other and both felt strongly that this was what we needed to do. 

We checked into the hospital about an hour and a half later.  I had been holding out a little hope that I could somehow go through this whole process in my usual unmedicated way, but at this point I realized it was all or nothing and it was time to let the hospital team's well-oiled machine do their thing for the best good of both myself and the twins.  So at 7:45 they started pitocin and shortly after that I got my first ever epidural.   At 10:15 the doctor came and broke my water. 

At 11:45 they were wheeling me into the operating room... babies were imminent.   (It is standard procedure most places to deliver twins in the OR just in case an emergency c-section is needed, especially with Baby B, who is usually trickier and often does have problems.  This is also why they really really like you to have an epidural when you deliver twins.  I got this same story from both the clinics I was with before I moved, as well.)

My doctor was someone who really had a lot of upbeat,  positive vibes.  And there was an almost festive feeling among the medical team.   So when I said "I wonder if I could deliver one before and one after midnight so they have different birthdays" he and the entire team of nurses etc. latched on to this idea and said "I bet we can do that!"

So, Baby A was born smoothly at 11:54 pm.  Baby B moved right into place.  The nurses watched the clock and the doctor held off breaking B's water and having me push until just before midnight.  She was born at 12:01 am.  Everyone was tickled that we pulled it off. 

Baby B did need a little bit of help from the respiratory specialist, but they quickly got her all fixed up.  We can't help but wonder if she was running out of time.  Perhaps if we had waited longer to induce she might have had significant difficulties.   We will never know for sure, but we do know that we felt the hand of the Lord guiding all of us and we are so grateful for how everything turned out!

Angel Coaching

The first few days with the twins were not easy.  Their first few nights I got little to no sleep, and I am not someone who deals with sleep deprivation well.  (In fact, just the thought of sleep deprivation makes me panic, and I am rarely prone to panic.)  Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights the girls took turns fussing all night long, in between having difficulty feeding.  Just when I would get one settled and start to doze, the other one would stir and a shot of adrenaline would go through me to prepare me to be up for probably at least another hour trying to get a proper meal into my little one.  All my experienced mom tricks for getting some sleep with a newborn didn't work.  I felt like a first-time mom again.

During those long nights, however, I had some help. 

I have found that the veil that separates heaven and earth is very thin when a new baby comes.  Angels seem very close, and sometimes sweet messages are received in your heart that could only have come from heaven. 

As I sat up hour after hour with my fussy babies, I would start to have thoughts of frustration or despair or other negative emotions.  But then would come other thoughts into my mind.   Peaceful, encouraging thoughts.  "It's okay.  You're okay right now.  I know you thought you'd for sure be asleep by 4 am and now you're not, but you are okay and you can handle this one step at a time.  You're doing fine.  Just look at those sweet, beautiful babies and enjoy them.  Don't worry.  It won't always be this hard."   

It was really like I had a personal coach sitting next to me talking me through the whole ordeal.  Those thoughts were definitely not coming from me.  I am so grateful for whatever heavenly being was talking me through those long nights.  I am sure the help was a result of many prayers on my behalf.   Thank you to all of you who have been praying for me.   I believe in prayer. 

Still, things were getting worse and not better.  It was a downward spiral.  Here I was trying to establish a good milk supply and good feeding patterns.   The more I didn't sleep the harder that was.  The harder that was, the less I slept.  

Sunday was the low point.  I had a plan worked out so I could take a long nap that morning with the babies out of the room.  Everything worked out, but I could not sleep.   There was so much adrenaline in me I felt like I was on fire.  So now I couldn't even sleep when I had a rare, precious chance.  I did not know how I was going to get through this.   I was going to crash and burn. 

Often, when I pray for the help of angels, someone close to me in this mortal world feels inspired to step in and help.  Such was the case on Sunday.  My sister in law, Aunt Tofu, heard of my plight and volunteered to drive down and spend all night with me.  I told her she would be up all night and she came anyway.

It ended up being the pivotal thing for me and the babies.   When she arrived late in the evening we had a long talk and she helped me see how tense and worried I was and how it wasn't helping the babies with their feeding problems.  So I started working on relaxing, which helped immensely.  Meanwhile Aunt Tofu walked the floor all night long with either one or two fussy infants so I could try to sleep when I didn't have to be feeding.   It took the whole night for the adrenaline to gradually leave my body but somewhere near morning we all slept for a couple of hours.   When I woke up Monday morning I felt hope. 

Along the way, there were many more bits of help and inspiration from other seen and unseen angels.  When I hit that wall on Sunday and my prayers were a desperate, sobbing "what can I do?" answers came bit by bit.  Conversations with and encouragement from family members such as Aunt Meadow gave me ideas and insight.  As I have implemented these ideas things have gradually gotten better and better. 

Now it's Friday night and I would say things are going well.  I still am not getting a lot of sleep but I am getting some.  The girls are eating better and they don't fuss much at night.  I am enjoying them so much.  And I am healing and recovering bit by bit, hopeful that soon I can start pulling a little more of the load around here. 

I am so grateful for the angel coaching I have had to help me through those first rough days. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

More Before and After

This is me (and my awesome cousin Michelle) at my Aunt's funeral at 35 weeks pregnant:


This is me at 37 weeks right before I went in to be induced:


Here are the 14 lbs 6 oz of baby that were hanging out in there:


Baby A was 7 lbs 4 oz and Baby B was 7 lbs 2 oz.  Both were 18 inches long.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Before and After

Before:


After:


That's all I can share right now, except just to say that all is well and they are so sweet and beautiful.  I am in a sleep-deprived fog, so it might be awhile before I get more on here.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Connections

I have had several deep thoughts on my mind lately that I have wanted to blog about, but I wasn't sure I could put them into words given my current mental state.  But I have decided to try, so I hope you will be patient with me and overlook my shortcomings.  And if they are way too wordy and boring feel free to skip them.  I think I am mostly writing these things down for myself.

A few weeks ago I went to Sacrament Meeting (Sunday worship) with my parents.   My parents live very close by, in the same neighborhood they moved into when I was fifteen.   However, they have only recently moved back to this neighborhood after living elsewhere for several years. 

I moved into this particular ward (church congregation) as a sullen fifteen-year-old.  I did not think I fit in at first.  My leaders in the Young Women's program were very kind to me, and so was my Bishop.  Also, the neighborhood my parents had moved into was mostly a retirement community and many of the senior citizens there were very sweet to me.  I was a bit too self-absorbed to thoroughly appreciate their love and service.  I missed my friends in Minnesota and had a hard time making new friends my age.  Eventually I did, though, and by the time I graduated from high school I felt very connected to the ward. 

When the Badger and I got married, we had our wedding reception at this chapel and all these dear people came and gave generously to the setting up of our housekeeping, which was a huge help to two newlyweds starting out with almost nothing. 

It wasn't much later that my parents moved, and it was only very recently that they moved back to the ward, so it has been years since I have had the chance to visit the ward.  Oh, the memories that washed over me as I walked into that church building!   I did not realize how powerful and poignant the experience would be for me. 

I made it to the meeting just as it was starting and the chapel was already full as I slipped into the pew next to my parents.   I looked around and saw many people I knew, even after all these years. 

I quickly realized that there were two categories of people I recognized.   There were many people I had known but hadn't really interacted much with.   When I would see them I would think something like "oh, look.  There's the Joneses.  They haven't changed much.  How interesting to see them."  There was recognition, but not connection.  And then there were the people who were my former leaders and teachers, people who I had served and who had served me.  When I saw them, there was this welling up of emotion inside me, this feeling of love and gratitude.  I had not seen these people for years, or hardly even thought about them.  But all those years ago a bond had been created between us through love and service and it was still there.  It was such a beautiful and tender experience to realize how those acts of kindness and encouragement had not just drifted away as life went on but had remained as a permanent link between souls. 

The most tender moment for me was when I looked over and saw my old Bishop and his wife.  My sophomore year of high school I used to walk to their house every morning and then they would give me a ride to school.  During those few minutes sitting on their living room couch every day they performed many small acts of kindness for me-- many as small as just a positive, encouraging word or two.  On my sixteenth birthday I was feeling gloomy because my dad was in the hospital after a near-death scare and I still didn't feel like I really had any friends at school to make a fuss over me on such a monumental occasion.   That morning at the Bishop's their entire family burst out of the kitchen and sang a loud and enthusiastic happy birthday song to me.  Such a small thing,  and yet it meant the world to me and I have never forgotten it.  So, when I saw them sitting there in the chapel I was overwhelmed with emotion and love.  It was so wonderful to give them a hug after the meeting and visit with them a little bit. 

And as I left the chapel that day, I thought a lot about those bonds of love and service and the joy of being reunited with those we have those connections with.   We have lived so many places over the years and there are so many people in so many places that I love so much. 

I saw some more of those people yesterday, when we attended Jim's funeral.   Jim and Becky were our adopted grandparents when we lived in Oklahoma, and their kindnesses made such a difference to us while we lived there.   They left Oklahoma not long after we did, and this fall found us living about an hour away from them.  A couple of weeks ago, they came down to visit us and we enjoyed an afternoon together.   We knew Jim was fighting cancer, but it ended up that that trip to see us was his last road trip.  We are so glad we got to see him, and we felt very privileged to be able to attend his funeral yesterday.  

We know we will see Jim again in heaven.   And the bonds of love will still be there.  That is what will make heaven wonderful.   As we look around and see all these people that we loved and served on earth, we realize the bonds that we have with them and we will embrace and weep and be filled with the most beautiful love. 

If I never make it back to visit Kansas or Oregon or any of the other places I have lived, I know the day will come when I will be able to reunite with all the dear people I have known who have helped and encouraged and loved me on my mortal journey.  I believe as I embrace them in heaven we will both know completely how much the love and service that we gave each other mattered.  We will be able to see our lives clearly and every act of goodness and kindness will bring us great joy.  That is what will make heaven so wonderful.   And how much we could miss out on if we chose to live a self-interested life where we didn't create these bonds with others. 

These are the ideas that are bouncing around in my head lately and if I were really with it I would throw in several scriptures and quotes to clarify and reinforce these musings of mine (like the C. S. Lewis quotes my sister and I were discussing the other night which go perfectly here.)  But all I can do right now is share these little experiences I have had lately and how powerfully they engrained it in a deeper level in my heart that:

Every act of love, kindness and service matters.  No matter how small.  No matter how ungrateful the recipient.   Reaching out to others is what really matters in this life.  It creates a connection on a spiritual level that never goes away.  It means far, far more than we know, than we can see from our limited perspective.   I know I don't fully understand how this all works, but I am grateful for these glimpses of understanding that I have had. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Little Bit of Raw Footage

People tell me I look great.   Big, yes, but not as big as I should with twins at 36 1/2 weeks.   They say I have a glow about me, some sort of maternal aura.

I really don't know if they are just trying to be nice, but if they are sincere I will take it.  I am grateful I look good. 

I hate to say this, but I feel awful.  Every day is a struggle.   Just having a big awkward watermelon tummy and the accompanying aches and pains actually sounds manageable to me right now.   Throw on nausea, exhaustion, and the inability to stand up for very long much of the time, sit up for more than an hour, and walk any distance and you have my current condition.  I have never been through anything this physically debilitating before. 

I was reading my old pregnancy journal.   At the end of my last pregnancy I was pretty uncomfortable.   Baby was large, I was tired, and I did have some nausea.  I said "I can only be on my feet for half the day." 

Oh, to be able to be on my feet for half a day!  That would be wonderful!   Lately it's a good day if I am able to be on my feet for an hour cumulatively.   And it seems like I shut down a little more each day.  Things that were hard but possible when we first moved here, like running a bunch of errands, are now beyond me.  I can't even make mac and cheese for the kids anymore (thank goodness Fish has become the mac and cheese master!) 

I feel like I am in this fog and every day things disappear a little more, or maybe I disappear a little more.   Like one of those characters in a fantasy story who is gradually fading into nothing until the hero can retrieve the magic object that will revive her. 

Everyone keeps telling me I am almost there.   Yes, but every hour between now and then is hard-- not just for me but for everyone in this household.  (I am keenly aware of the burden placed on others because of my limitations and I don't like it.)  And there is a whole lot of unknown between now and when I am finally holding those babies.  That is always hard for me to process.  It's hard for me not to obsess over when I will go into labor and how long the labor will last and how difficult it will be, but this time with twins it is a lot more complicated, with a bunch of extra factors to consider, and that just makes my brain feel extra scrambled.   And usually at this point I am going on long walks to help me get ready, but this time I am not able to, and that worries me. 

The babies are doing well.  They are now monitored twice a week (non-stress tests) and they always pass with flying colors.  They are growing; in fact, they are large for their gestational age, which means I probably have fourteen or so pounds of baby in me at this point.   The last big ultrasound I had the tech pointed out that Baby A clearly had a lot of hair, while Baby B did not.  I didn't know you could tell that on ultrasound... pretty cool.  They also have very different body proportions,  so it's pretty clear that they are fraternal,  which is what I have been assuming all along. 

My blood pressure has been a concern again, which is part of why they are watching me so close.  I am officially diagnosed with gestational hypertension but I do not have preeclampsia at this point.  There is still a lot of discussion about induction though.   I have such mixed feelings about this.  I will spare you all the details of why I want and yet do not want to be induced.  

I am trying to have a more positive attitude, but I must admit it has been a struggle.   I would like to get some better vibes flowing and some optimism about the future.   I am trying. 

One thing that does come easy for me is gratitude.   I have a lot to be grateful for and it's not hard for me to think of these things, and to pray and thank God for them.  I am grateful I am getting good medical care, and a good outcome for me and the babies is expected,  however it occurs.  I am grateful for the help I have with my other children right now, hard at it is to watch others have to deal with them.  I am grateful they are all healthy and well and here with me.  I am grateful for my loving and supportive husband, who is working very hard to take care of all of us.  I am grateful that I have homeschooling to take my mind off of things-- I think it helps me be not too self-absorbed and depressed.   I am grateful for all the comforts I enjoy: my comfy bed and soft pillows, as well as things like running water and indoor plumbing.  I am well-fed.  I have vitamins and supplements that, while I wish they made me feel better, I know are helping and if I wasn't taking them things would be even worse.  There is a very beautiful world outside to look at.  I am here among my family and I have people like my sisters who come over now and then to cheer me up.  And they are all so excited to meet these babies. 

We all are excited.   Babies, please please come out soon! 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Wee Little Man

I am lying here snuggling Prince Charming, who has one of those viruses where they're mostly fine during the day-- maybe a little runny nose-- and then at night it flares up bad.  He was coughing terribly and tossing and turning so the Badger and I got up a few minutes ago and pulled out all the natural supportive care we have on hand.  We've got cut onions in bowls near him, essential oils both being diffused and applied topically, and we gave him a bit of diluted apple cider vinegar mixed with honey.  His coughing is easing up now, he is settling down, and my poor tired Badger is sleeping deeply.  

I can't sleep anyway at the moment, so I will take this chance to blog.  I have been meaning to write a post about Prince Charming, who is still my youngest baby at the moment but soon won't be.  That is always a bittersweet thing. 

He will turn two in a couple of weeks and while he has grown a lot lately (both physically and developmentally) he is still very much my snuggly little baby boy.   Oh, how tightly he hugs me and clutches at my neck and hair with his chubby little hands. 

I have never had an almost-two-year-old like Prince Charming.  He is very observant, has a sense of how things should be, and likes to put things to rights.  If he sees the bathroom door open he will usually shut it.  He will put an entire set of toys (say, a bucket of blocks) away by himself.  And he is the first kid I have had at this age who actually wants me to put his shoes and socks on him and then leaves them on.  All my other toddlers were constantly ripping off their shoes and socks and throwing them.  He did a bit of that too when he was younger but now he loves to have them on.  He also will bring me a diaper and the wipes container when he thinks he needs a change.   Sometimes he will bring me fresh clothes too and indicate to me that he wants those changed as well. 

His verbal skills are developing rapidly and it is so fun to hear him say new words (or old words more clearly) every day.  My mother in law points out that he is a very vocal child who likes to make his voice heard.  She's right and I honestly did not notice because I am so used to so many noisy little voices around me all the time.  But he does love to sing and jabber, especially when others are talking,  as if he wants to be a part of the conversation too.  Whenever we have prayers he kneels and folds his arms and says his own prayer right along with whoever is saying the prayer. 

In a new situation he will be very quiet and still and just hang back and watch for as much as an hour, especially if he's tired.  My father thinks he is the best-behaved tot in the world because the one Sunday I went to Sacrament Meeting with them Prince Charming sat perfectly still and quiet on whoever's lap for the entire 70-minute meeting.  It was just that he was processing the new surroundings and next time we go I am sure he will squirm some and make some noise.

You get him going in a place where he is comfortable and he is a normal active, noisy, and playful toddler.  He often fights with Peanut over toys and he can be messy and destructive just like any little kid.  He gets into things and climbs on things and all that at times.  But he is not hyperactive or really high-maintenance or terribly difficult to handle.  He is usually good-natured and fairly tractable-- often when you tell him no he will actually stop, which never happened with some of my toddlers.

I enjoy him so much and I love watching his fuzzy little blond head toddling about the house and hearing his little giggle.  I love watching how much he loves and cares about the other members of the family.  I love hearing the Badger call him "buddy" and seeing how happily he goes to his dad (often lately he prefers him to me.)  I love it that he and Bean are best friends.  I love it that even though he and Peanut fight a lot I can tell he cares about her. 

I just can't believe how blessed we were to get such a sweet, fun, happy little boy.  And even though I will soon have both arms full of babies he will still be my baby boy. 

He is sleeping peacefully now and he hasn't coughed in a long time.  All that stuff we did worked, and I'm glad.  I am grateful to have the ability to be able to take care of my wee little man. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Blankets

When I had Prince Charming, my friend Becky brought over a lovely blue and white crib-sized quilt she had made for him.  Somewhere along the line, though, Peanut decided it was hers, which was fine since Prince Charming had other blankets and was too young to care.  Peanut named it her "Specially Blanket."  


Since we moved, the Specially Blanket has become an absolutely critical item.  Peanut has had a difficult time adjusting, and part of this has manifest itself in a death-grip on the Specially Blanket.  You don't get between Peanut and her Specially Blanket.  

Meanwhile, remember the Rabbit's Dwee-Dwee Blanket?  After I threw it away she would ask about it from time to time.  But she wasn't really upset.  Well, right after we got here to Utah I went to Target to get a few things and I remembered why I love Target.  They just have things that Walmart doesn't.  Including a much, much better selection of bedding.  And they had a sale on nice white microfiber comforters.  They also had some cute kids' bedding with horses and fairies and stuff on it.  And the Rabbit kind of needed a new blanket.  So I asked her if she'd rather have a colorful fun blanket or a plain white blanket she could dwee-dwee on.  There was no question in her mind.  


It's twin-sized, so it's not as cumbersome as the original, and it seems well-made so it should last us awhile.  In fact, it's incredibly soft and comfortable and the few times I have borrowed it I have wished for one of my own.  

Meanwhile, Roo still has and loves her "dress blankie," made by my mother and so named by Roo as a very small child because the little fairies on it (now too faded to really see) have beautiful dresses on.  


She says she's going to keep it forever.   Having the right blanket is important.  I am glad my three girls have blankets they love.