Monday, October 27, 2014

Kids Unplugged

When we first got to Utah my kids went into vacation mode.  They were at Grandma's!   In addition to all their favorite Grandma's house toys, they wanted to watch all their favorite Grandma's house movies.  For a couple of weeks, while the Badger and I were busy trying to get settled, they watched a lot of videos (Grandma still has a lot of old VHS cassettes!) and DVDs.  The most popular by far is and always has been the set of Zorro episodes: the black and white TV show that Disney made in the 50's.  They can (and did, a few times) watch it for untold hours on end. 
My children will stay glued to the TV for hours, totally out of our hair.  But the minute the TV goes off they turn into little beasts.  So after awhile all four adults in the house were pretty fed up.   Sometime in early October the Badger packed up the VRC/DVD players and hid them.  We get no TV coverage,  so this put a stop to the viewing of electronic media by the children.  
It surprised me how quickly it happened.  There was a little bit of withdrawal (mostly the Rabbit) and then they rapidly settled into a happy life of being creative and imaginative.  Oh, and reading lots of books (I'll take begging for library trips over begging for one more viewing of Mulan any day!)  So much of our art stuff has been packed away that they don't even have very many coloring implements:  they mostly just have plain pencils and blank paper.  But that hasn't slowed them down. 
Bean loves to read and write stories.  He also loves audio books.  We think he reads/listens to a little too much fantasy but he also loves many classics.   He especially loves Louisa May Alcott and Mark Twain.  When he has access to videos or video games he forgets this, but take them away and he becomes a young man of culture.   On a related note, my sister took him to a production of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro recently and he came home on cloud nine because he loved it so much.  I was on cloud nine because I had a thirteen year old boy who loved a Mozart opera.  I must be doing something right. 
Fish has been spending hours drawing comic strips.   He puts a lot of careful detail into them, closely copying the style of Bill Watterson but inventing his own characters and storylines.  He is  exceedingly talented.   I have been very aware of his art talent for a long time but now I am excited to see his emerging writing talent as well.  He has started writing stories and I am tickled to find he has a real way with words.  He also writes intricate letters to his friend he left behind: he writes, draws, folds, tapes on little flaps, burns edges, and generally makes them fascinating. 
Roo mostly draws, with some writing.  She can lose herself in creative land for hours.  I love this.  Right now she is making a Christmas book with lots of intricate drawings, many copied or traced from books she loves like Mary Englebreit's Fairy Tales.  She even wrote a lovely poem for it.  She is going to send it to her dear friend next door to our old house when she's done. 
The Rabbit loves to write stories and embellish them with drawings and decorations.  She also loves to read and reads far ahead of what she's assigned in her school reader.  Grandma also has some old school readers around her house that are a good level for the Rabbit and she reads those a lot too. 
Come to think of it, Roo and Fish spend a ton of time reading as well. 
The two littlest are the only ones whose creativity isn't always channeled in a way that thrills me.  Peanut sometimes draws on paper, but she is definitely the worst wall scribbler I have ever had and I hope I can magic eraser Grandma's walls back to normal.   She also loves to play elaborate and sonewhat messy games with cups of water and leaves off of Grandma's indoor plants.  Prince Charming alternates between being Peanut's sidekick and her arch enemy.   Those two are a lot easier when a movie's on, but I have learned that it's really not worth it in the long run to keep them entertained by electronics.   They are better off following the examples of creativity and imagination shown them by their older siblings, even if it's hard right now sometimes.  
I am not totally anti-media.  This last couple of weeks we have brought the VCRs back out but we are trying to make movies something infrequent and special.   There are times when it is incredibly helpful to have a movie on for the kiddos, and of course it is enjoyable for them as well.   But I must say that I enjoy my children much much more when they are unplugged.  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

32 Weeks

Today I am going to attempt to be brutally honest without being too whiny or gloomy. 

I feel like I am already a week overdue and when I think that I still have several weeks left I have a hard time staying positive sometimes, especially when I am feeling unusually yucky. 

If it was just feeling incredibly big and awkward and ungainly that wouldn't be so bad.  I can handle that pretty well by itself (though twins takes it to a new level.)  Throw fatigue, nausea (every afternoon and evening), and insomnia on top of that and it gets a bit more challenging.  But the icing on the cake is the problem I have had this entire pregnancy with feeling light-headed and like I can't even stand up or even sit up for lengthy periods of time.  Not only do I feel lousy, but most of the time I am pretty much useless, and I hate that.  And the smallest things can be so overwhelming.  

I am doing a lot of things that help, like the A to B Calm I mentioned before.  I still can't sleep, but it's not because of restless legs, and as a bonus I don't get leg cramps.  Also, when I found out my iron was low a few weeks ago I picked up some Floradix and that really helped with one particular aspect of the fatigue: that feeling where I am drained down to my very bones and can barely lift my arms.   Thanks to Floradix I am now just regular old tired, and that's a big improvement.   I am experimenting to see if various forms of magnesium might help with the afternoon nausea. 

And I have so many people to help me.  My in-laws have been very understanding.  My Badger is great.   And the older kids can be helpful with fetching and carrying.  I really don't know what I would do if I had to take care of and feed the kids on my own... I really couldn't do it.  So I know it is such a blessing to have all this help and I am incredibly grateful. 

I'm also grateful for excellent medical care and that the babies look healthy and my blood pressure has come back down (it was starting to creep up.)  I may act like I am on bed rest much of the time but I am not actually on bed rest so when I do feel okay I can get up and do things and go places (though I seriously need to start using those electric wheelchair carts when I go to the store.) 

I am grateful for the beautiful autum  weather we've been having and how wonderful it has been to watch the leaves change first on the mountains and now down in the valley.  It has done my soul good. 

I am grateful that when I can't sleep at night I can get up and sit at the computer and work on digital scrapbooking.  I am a little behind on our family chronicles and I know once the twins come it will be a long time before I can do much of that stuff.  I enjoy it so much and I know it is valuable to our family. 

This will pass.  I like what my friend Shelley says: "Remember in the Book of Mormon everything came to pass.  It didn't come to stay."  These few weeks I have left seem like a long time, but they're really not.   In fact, I had a conversation with my mother-in-law yesterday about how close it's getting and how we need to make sure we have diapers and clothes and stuff ready.  It was fun to think about that.  I bought a package of size newborn diapers at Walmart and it makes it all seem so much more real.  The babies are coming.  They will be here soon, and this trial will be over for me.  I daresay there will be many new trials taking care of two infants, probably moving sometime fairly soon, etc. but I don't want to borrow trouble.   Whatever the future holds, it is going to be a relief to have this stage behind us. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Mild Fall Weather

We are sure enjoying October.  Look at these darling pictures of my four littler ones with their cousin in my sister's backyard!  I think they are reading stories together.  


Prince Charming always seems to sense when the camera is pointed at him:


He also is at that adorable age where pumpkins make perfect chairs:


Friday, October 17, 2014

Golden Road

Yet another mountain outing: this time it was just me and my sister Pineapple and Prince Charming.  And what an amazing experience we had....






Being able to spend time with my family in such stunning scenery as this is going a long way towards helping me get over the shock and trauma of our sudden move.  I am so grateful.  Thank You, God, for making aspen trees, especially for making them so that they turn golden in the fall.  And Thank You for sisters that love me and do nice things for me and that I love to be with and talk to.  Amen.

Another Happy Canyon Outing

Oh, it has been so wonderful to spend time up in the beautiful autumn canyons with my family!

For this picnic we had a lovely fire pit and it was easy to roast many tasty things.  


Here is my beautiful sister Pineapple.


Here is Prince Charming in his adorable bomber jacket eating wheat thins shortly after eating a red popsicle.  


Here are two cousins that are best friends.


Here are a bunch of crazy boys lighting marshmallows on fire as it gets dark.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Missing Items

It happens every time you move: things turn up that you haven't seen for years and things disappear that you really need.

The disappearing part is especially true when most of your stuff is going in a storage unit.  Because of my limited health and the way everything happened, quite a lot of things got misplaced.  The Badger was able to take a huge load of stuff to storage that ended up here at the house when it wasn't supposed to, and bring back a huge load of stuff that might be what we're looking for here.  We went through all that, found a few things we needed, and took most of it back to storage.  Now our storage unit is absolutely jam-packed and the Badger tells me it will be hard to look for stuff in it.  We're on a waiting list for a bigger unit, or we could get a second unit, but in the meantime we are mostly okay.

There have been a couple of notable missing items.  The first is the dough hook for our Kitchenaid mixer.  Since we make a lot of homemade bread, this item gets used all the time.  We made sure to pack the Kitchenaid on the trailer for our first trip down here.  When we went to pack it, we couldn't find the hook-- even though it is always in an obvious place in our kitchen since it is used so much.  We figured the Badger would find it when he came back to pack the rest of the house but he never did and even though we figured one of our nice helpers stuck it in one of the kitchen boxes we have been through those and still can't find that dough hook.

Finally, this evening the Badger went to a kitchen specialty store in the area and bought a replacement.  Then he got right to work with it.  I am sitting here smelling homemade bread baking.  It smells wonderful.  I know a lot of people who knead their bread by hand, including my mother-in-law, but we go through a lot of bread and the time we save with the Kitchenaid makes a big difference.  And so does the money we save: I've been buying store bread for the last few weeks and it's not cheap for our family!

The other missing item might be a little more problematic.  As we were packing to leave, I put a big cardboard box in the middle of the living room floor.  In it I put every pair of shoes my family currently wears.  The day we left I made sure everyone had a good pair of shoes to wear on the trip and that every other pair of shoes they use was in this box.  It was supposed to go on the trailer, being a very high-priority item, but we ran out of room.  So I labeled it well, with a big neon green sticker directing it to the house and not the storage unit.  And I haven't seen it since.

So we're going to have to pick up a few pairs of shoes this fall.  Everyone is okay for now, but that will change as the weather gets cold.  I am the worst off in this situation: the only pair of my shoes I currently have access to are my Birkenstock sandals.  They are pretty much all I wear in warm weather, but they are also all I like to wear when I am pregnant, so even with the weather cooling down I am okay in them for awhile.  With two little nuclear furnaces in my tummy, it's going to have to get pretty cold before I am wishing for different footwear.

In time there will be more things we will have to go hunting for, I am sure.  Naturally, I hope that it will not be a long time that we will have to keep so much of our stuff in storage.  In the meantime, however, I am grateful to be here and I have received impressions that the Lord has set up this situation for me to teach me some certain things which I need to learn, so He doesn't want me wishing it away too quickly.  I have no idea what the future holds, but I do have faith that He does and that He has a plan for us.  And someday I will be unpacking all that storage stuff into a home of our own again and I will open a random box and there will be that silly dough hook.  And the shoe box will turn up and I will be able to wear my favorite brown boots again.  It will all be okay in the end.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Wish List

Knowing I was going to be having more babies, I saved all my baby gear and a bunch of baby clothes through the last two moves.  I have a baby tub and a swing and a Boppy pillow and an infant car seat. Etc.  

However,  I did not know that I was going to be having twins.  And so I have been thinking about what I need for two babies.  Luckily, there's not that much I really need, at least that I can think of right now.  Which is good, because for all the fun I have had picking out beautiful high-end items on Amazon, the fact is in our current situation we will be making do, borrowing, or buying used.  And that's fine: babies don't care.  They just throw up on everything anyway.  

Here is my wish list so far:

  • Twin nursing pillow-- everyone says this is essential for feeding two babies at the same time.  A regular Boppy pillow just isn't going to be big enough, they all say.  I am thinking I want one like this and it will be one of the few things I actually buy for these kiddos.
  • 2nd car seat-- this is kind of a must.  This one looks an awful lot like the one I already have, which would be nice.  
  • 2nd wrap carrier (Moby wrap or similar brand)  I think when they are teeny tiny I can put both of them in one wrap, but when they get a bit bigger and we go places if we have two wraps I can wear one baby and have the Badger or Bean wear the other baby
  • 2nd soothing/containment apparatus: either another swing or another bouncy seat for when they're tiny and either another exersaucer or Bumbo seat when they're a bit bigger.  I know some people I can probably borrow these things from, so this shouldn't be a big deal.
  • Double stroller-- I love my Joovy Caboose, but it's designed for a baby and an older child.  I will need something that can handle two infants.  Honestly, I could probably get by without it by having two single strollers since I have so many helpers that love to push strollers.  In any case, I won't need it until next spring at the soonest.  
  • Some clothes-- I have a bunch saved, but it probably won't be enough for two babies.  Luckily, hand-me-down baby clothes are usually pretty easy to come by.
  • Newborn photography session-- okay, this is not a need, but it would mean a lot to me to get some professional photos of my twins when they are tiny.  I wasn't sure how this was going to work before we moved, but happily I have a friend here in Utah that does newborn portraits and I am getting things set up with her.  I even have another friend that is going to make me some cute elf hats for them to wear in the photos.  I am very grateful!
  • And last but far from least, we are going to need a bigger vehicle to fit our entire family into.  But that's a subject for another post.  



Thursday, October 9, 2014

Getting Good Medical Care

If you have been with me for awhile you know that my preference when it comes to childbirth is for things to be as natural as possible.   I have found birth to be a very empowering and spiritual experience, and for me that is best created in a calm, peaceful environment with minimal medical staff and few tubes, wires, and beeping machines.  Thus far, I have had three natural hospital births with nurse midwives, two home births with lay midwives, and one birth at a freestanding birth center (also with a lay midwife).  

At the beginning of this pregnancy, the first person I called was the nearest home birth midwife that I could find.  She serviced my area, but she lived more than two hours away, and we determined that given my history of fast labors and the fact that I was due in December when the weather can be iffy she wasn't the best choice for me.  But home birth midwives always have good advice on the best hospitals and doctors in the area to go to if you are seeking a more evidence-based experience.  

Not that I had a lot of options in the boonies.  My town had one group of OBs that delivered at the local hospital and that was it.  If you were pregnant, you saw them.  Period.  And I had heard a lot of mixed things about them.  However, there was one other town within reasonable driving distance that had a hospital.  It was even smaller, but the midwife told me that I would get more flexible and personal care there.  

So that's where I started out, with one of the family practitioners there who had delivery privileges.  It was a woman (I vastly prefer women practitioners for childbirth) and she was really wonderful.  She felt almost midwife-y and I was happy.  

But then the whole twins thing came up and that changed everything.  She was happy to deliver twins, but her lack of resources in the small town plus the low volume of twins she had delivered in her rural career meant I was much more likely to end up with a c-section.  

Now, I am all for c-sections when they are truly needed, and I accept the fact that with twins this is a big possibility, but if at all possible I would really like to adjust to life with two newborns without also having to recover from major abdominal surgery.  

The biggest thing was that she was not willing to deliver the second baby breech.  I had several friends in larger cities who had delivered twins with the second one breech, so I knew it was an acceptable scenario in many larger hospitals, and given that I have given birth to 9 and 10 lb babies I have confidence in my body's ability to deliver a breech baby safely under appropriate circumstances.  
I called the OB office in my town and talked to one of the docs there.  She said that a breech delivery for Baby B was a possibility with them.  So I switched providers after my 20 week appointment.  

I only had 2 appointments there before we moved, both with one of the male doctors.  I liked him better than I thought I would, but it was still not as good of a scenario as I was hoping for.  ("If you come in during Thanksgiving weekend we will probably give you a c-section because we won't have enough staff on hand."  Blah.)  

I was just praying that things would work out for the babies' and my best good, whatever that was.  

Then, this move.  One of the wonderful things about coming to Utah is that boy, do I ever have choices when it comes to childbirth!  I have my pick of several different hospitals and dozens of doctors.  And, if we need it, we can get top-quality care without having to be airlifted to the big city far away.

But first I called a nearby practice of nurse-midwives and asked if, by chance, they could possibly take on a client with twins.  The nurse asked me a little bit about my history and then said yes, in my case, they could.  I was pretty excited to have an appointment with a midwife.  

However, when I saw her, it turned out that the nurse I had talked to was wrong.  The nurse midwives in my area do not have delivery privileges for twins.  I was disappointed, but not really surprised (it had seemed too good to be true).  We talked about my desires for low-intervention and she told me that she knew the OBs in her practice would work with me on keeping things as natural as possible.  She got me set up to see one of the women OBs and assured me that she's fabulous and I will really like her.  That will be next week.  I am looking forward to it.

Meanwhile, she set me up with another ultrasound at the perinatology office associated with the nearest big hospital.  (It's pretty standard procedure with twins to do a thorough ultrasound every month to check growth.)  I had that appointment yesterday and it went really well.  They looked at everything on both babies very carefully (and this is an office that is used to seeing abnormalities so they really know what to look for.)  Everything looks great: in fact, the babies are both measuring ahead of schedule.  My girls are both currently head down (in fact, they are facing each other, so they must be having some deep conversations about life after birth.)  Baby B is curled up in a ball and Baby A is wrapped around her.  

I really liked the perinatologist.  He was great.  I hope I don't need to see him again but if something goes wrong and I do, I will feel comfortable with him (which is one of the reasons they sent me to perinatology for the ultrasound in the first place.)  

I hit 30 weeks a couple days ago, which means 10 weeks left of a normal pregnancy.  That sounded SO long and far away.  I kept hearing "twins come early" but I couldn't wrap my brain around that idea because I have always gone full term.  So I had been hanging on to my due date in my mind to prepare myself psychologically for the longest possible wait.  But when every day is a struggle even 3/4 of the way done just sounds like a very long stretch left to go.  

Well, the perinatologist told me that most women with twins truly do go into spontaneous labor between 35 and 37 weeks.  I guess just hearing that from a specialist made me believe it more.  He said that 38 weeks was considered full-term with twins and that the doctors weren't going to want to let me go past that.  (I might, under certain conditions, fight them on that, but without going into all the details I will just say that even slightly crunchy hands-off-my-birth Birrd will probably accept an induction at 38 weeks.)  

38 weeks is December 1st.  That means these are very likely going to be November babies.  And November is NEXT MONTH.  

Also, with twins they start you on non-stress tests weekly at 32 weeks.  That means you're in the home stretch.  My first appointment for that is less that 2 weeks away.  

All of the sudden this feels like we're getting really close.  It's exciting!  It won't be very long before we're meeting these little people!  It's going to be so wonderful!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Prince Charming Overload

Prince Charming was so happy to be outside amongst leaves and trees and grass that he had no end of cute faces for my camera.  So you get a bunch.  Enjoy!








Four Takes on Rabbit





Autumn Portraits

I snapped some cute pictures of the kids up the canyon last night.  I think I shall make autumn portraits amongst the leaves a tradition.  

Fish:


Roo-- I love this girl's eyes:


Bean, sporting a nice scratch on his face from a wrestling match with Prince Charming, who needs his nails trimmed:


A very happy Peanut:


Rabbit and Prince Charming get their own posts because I have several good pictures of each.

October Mountain Picnic

This evening we went up the canyon with my parents and my sister Crocodile and had dinner.  Croc, my folks, and all the supplies were running a bit late and we knew daylight was limited, so the Badger decided to try and get a fire going in the grate with the limited items he had on hand.  He was able to get a wonderful fire going and when they arrived with the hotdogs and marshmallows we all had a yummy dinner.  We all enjoyed the fresh air and the kids loved romping in the leaves.  It was a delightful evening.  

I was going to delete this first picture because the second one is much better composition-wise, but then I saw Prince Charming's face.  He was pretty excited about the fire.



I really love it when the Badger wears his glasses.  I think they look so good on him.  


Meanwhile, the kids had fun playing in the trees and dumping leaves on each other....

Monday, October 6, 2014

Autumn in the Mountains

These pictures are from a drive I took with my sisters last week.  The colors hadn't peaked yet, but they were gorgeous, especially with the snow on the tops of the mountains.  






Saturday, October 4, 2014

Reawakening

I often get insomnia lately.  Tonight I am up in the middle of the night and I feel like blogging.  

I don't often speak of my faith directly, but it is the bedrock of my life.  Since I was a child, I have developed a pattern of living a life of faith in Jesus Christ.  For me, that means for starters I pray and read the scriptures daily, both by myself and with my family.  I try to center my life on Jesus, to follow His commandments.  The more I do this, the more I feel the guidance of the Holy Spirit in my life, and the more I feel comfort and peace and protection, especially during difficult times.  

This last summer was a challenge.  I was so ill early in this pregnancy that not only could I barely get out of bed but I was also mentally exhausted and I could not handle trying to process anything that took much brain power.  For the first time in my life, I rarely read my scriptures for months on end.  I wanted to, but I just couldn't.  I tried to pray as much as I could, but there were many days when I was such a mess that all I could do was whisper sincerely "God.... help me."  I wasn't getting to church much (though I had some beautiful experiences there when I did go that I should write about in a separate post.)  I wasn't nurturing my children's spiritual development.  Our home fell more and more into a state of chaos and contention as our spiritual moorings were thrown off and it pained me to see that, but there wasn't much I could do about it.  

(I have to say, though, that even though some things were falling apart, there was evidence that God was hearing my simple, heartfelt prayers and that He was watching over us... offhand I can think of three very dramatic instances where He stepped in when it was a serious matter of safety and it was clear that everything came out fine because of heavenly help.)

During this last month I have struggled both physically with my pregnancy and emotionally with the move and stuff, but I have had a spiritual reawakening.  The mental block I had when I was so nauseated is gone and during my stretches throughout the day when I have to lie down I have been reading my scriptures and the words of modern Prophets.  It has been so wonderful, like a light going on in a darkened room.  I am seeking answers to questions I have been wrestling with and I am finding them.  I am able to pray more specifically, and to pray for others, and to pray prayers of gratitude.  It feels so good.  

Last week I attended our church's women's broadcast, where the leaders of our women's organizations speak to the women of our church all over the world.  For me it was a spiritual feast.  For the first time in my life I went with specific, earnest questions in my heart and I got answers.  It was powerful.  The Spirit spoke to my heart and I knew what I needed to do to improve my spiritual health.  I also knew what I needed to do for my family.  I love the scripture that says "Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come"  (Doctrine and Covenants 87:8.)  We have been counseled to make our homes holy places.  I realized that lately my home had lost of a lot of the holy feeling it had had in the past, and I was inspired as to what I needed to do about that.  In contrast, sitting there in the chapel watching the broadcast, I felt that I was in a holy place and it felt wonderful.  I want our home to feel like that: it has in the past and I know it will again.  

Yesterday I attended the Temple with my two sisters.  Again, it was an experience of tremendous spiritual healing and renewal.  I felt the love and care of my ancestors who have gone on before me, specifically one of my grandmothers.  I felt very close to heaven.  

Oh so many times in the past I have taken all these things for granted: the scriptures, prayer, attending Sunday meetings and church conferences, and attending the Temple.  They have seemed so routine.  Perhaps I have sometimes found them tedious or occasionally found fault with them.  But after having a famine of these things, I realized how much I have been fed, nourished, and sustained by these small and simple acts of spiritual devotion over the years.  

This weekend is our church's General Conference, a time twice a year when we hear messages of guidance and inspiration from our living Prophet and the Apostles of Jesus Christ on the earth today.  I am very much looking forward to it and I know that I will receive more comfort and renewal and direction as the Holy Spirit confirms their messages to my heart.  

I'd say things are definitely looking up.  

Big Hug

Right after the Badger arrived with the big moving truck, after being gone for a week, he scooped up Prince Charming and they hugged each other long and hard.  


I am so grateful for cameras that can capture moments like these.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Favorite Toys

Here are a couple of pictures of the kids with their favorite toys at Grandma's house.  The game "Loopin' Louie" is beloved by all the grandchildren (Louie the crop duster flies around and you have to bat him away from your chickens so he doesn't knock them over.)  Somehow after all these years it still works and hasn't been broken.... but it might be soon if I don't keep a careful eye on it because Prince Charming is absolutely in love with it and one-year-olds are notorious for breaking things.  But don't worry, all you extended family that read this: I will keep a careful eye on it when I do let them play with it.


And then they spend hours on the marble race.  They have begged me for years to buy them one of these but I won't because even though it is exactly the sort of brain-building toy I approve of if we owned one ourselves then the novelty of it being a special Grandma's House Toy would be gone.  It really is a fantastic activity though and I am glad they get to spend so much time with it lately.