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.

Getting Ready

This last week I went through the three plastic storage tubs I had that said "baby girl" on them, stuff I saved after I had Peanut and knew I'd have more girls someday.  I pulled out size Newborn and size 0-3 Months clothes as well as burp cloths, receiving blankets, and other newborn must-haves.  I washed it all and put it away in the babies' dresser.  (Yes, that was a lot of work for me!)  

This dresser... it's the only dresser we have that has made it through all our moves since Idaho.  There are two reasons.  The first is that it is the perfect size and shape for a changing table and the drawers are configured wonderfully for baby gear.  The other reason is that it's something like 80 or 90 years old and a family heirloom.  It shows its age, doesn't it?  It's way beat-up, but in kind of a shabby chic way,  I think.  




When we had Bean my brother gave us their old changing table, which was one of those particle board/laminate things you buy at Walmart.  It did fine until we moved and it fell apart, so when we were expecting Fish we were looking for something.  My sweet aunt, whom we lived near to while we lived in Idaho, offered us this dresser.  Not only did all five of her daughters use it growing up, but she, the youngest in her family, used it growing up after inheriting it from all her older sisters, who all used it growing up back in the 1930's and maybe the 1920's.  They build furniture to last back then.  Anyway, Aunt Diane was happy to let us have it, but because of her sentimental attachment she asked us to please take care of it and eventually someday get it back to either her or one of her daughters.  I intend to do that eventually but in the mean time it has been so perfect as a baby dresser and I am very glad that I still have it at this point.  

So anyway, I've got the dresser (we just have to figure out somewhere else to put the Badger's stuff he's been keeping on top of it.)  And it looks to me like I have enough clothes for newborns, though I might be underestimating how many clothes two babies will go through.  But there's a lot in there, more than I realized I had kept.  I have plenty of burp cloths, receiving blankets, flannel blankets, hooded towels, socks, hats, swaddle wraps, etc.  I think we'll do just fine keeping them dressed and warm for the first little while at least.

The Badger went down to the storage unit and found our infant car seat, so my next job is to disassemble it and clean it well.  We ordered another carseat from Amazon which will be here soon.  The Badger and others around here seem to think (or just really really hope) that I will deliver sooner rather than later and there is kind of an anxious feeling of "we need to be ready because Birrd could pop at any moment!"  The car seats were the most critical matter since they won't let you leave the hospital without one (or two, in this case!) so it's good we're getting that taken care of right away.  The rest of the stuff we can figure out later if we need to.  

Though I think we'll have plenty of time before they come.  Yes, I do look and feel like I am about to burst open at any moment, but I have never been one to go early with my babies, so just because I am about to hit 35 weeks does not mean that labor is imminent.  Though I must say that I wish it was... 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

School

It was my intention to enroll the kids in school as soon as we got here to Utah.   There were two big reasons.  The first was that my health and energy are minimal for the next few weeks after which I will be taking care of twins.   The second reason was a courtesy to my in-laws.   They are being so kind to let us live here even though it's not easy for them.  Having all the children home all day just seemed like an extra burden they shouldn't have to deal with. 
When we got here, I started looking into school enrollment.   There was a charter school to investigate as well as the local public school, which friends said was very good.  But every time I tried to get the school thing going it just didn't feel good.  It was like a dark cloud came over every time I tried to fill out paperwork or anything. 
I persisted-- homeschool was unthinkable.  I explored every option: online school through the public schools,  sending some to school and keeping some home, etc.  But nothing felt right. 
So I started thinking "how can I pull off homeschooling?"  I decided that if I pared things down to the basics and cut out the secondary subjects I could handle that.  My sister, a Humanities professor, agreed to do some field trips and enrichment activities for our history curriculum.   My mom agreed to do some craft projects with the girls. 
I realized too, that even though I am pretty much non-functional when it comes to getting up and doing things, I can direct homeschool efforts while sitting or lying in bed.  I'm going to be lying in bed anyway, I might as well be teaching the children.  
And honestly,  it's a ton of work having kids in public school.  Getting them up, fed and dressed appropriately,  and out the door on time is no small task and it doesn't back off for a mom who might be having an extra bad morning and can't pull it off.  Every evening is filled up with a flurry of homework and reading logs and permission slips.   It's truly easier for me to not have to keep up with an institution right now. 
When I finally decided for sure to homeschool them, there was this beautiful peace that came over me.  I am so grateful to have them near me all day.  It just feels right at this time, though it isn't always easy.  And I do worry about the extra burden on my in-laws... I hope they are not going to snap one one of these days and end up in the loony bin. 
Thanks, Mom and Dad, for putting up with this.  I don't exactly understand why, but it's the right thing to do right now. 
 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Hail, November!

I am so glad that November is here!  It is one of my favorite months of the year.  There will be chilly weather and golden sunlight and fires in the fireplace and Thanksgiving (my favorite!) and by the end of the month I will probably be snuggling two little babies!

I had a bad cold over the weekend.  It was hard to know where the misery from the cold ended and the misery from the pregnancy began.  But since I am already down resting most of the time life wasn't that different.   The cold is going away now but I am still uncomfortable and struggling physically.  

However, I finally feel like the end is in sight!   34 weeks today.  At the rural hospital I was being seen at before we moved, 35 weeks was the cutoff point for not having to transfer me to the city, meaning that the babies would probably not need a serious NICU after 35 weeks.  36 weeks was what the perinatologist said was average for twins.  37 weeks is what's considered full-term for singletons.   38 weeks is what they don't really want me to go past.  All these milestones just around the corner!  I can  do this!  It will end soon!

It's funny how just a few months ago I was so busy my head was spinning.  Every day was go go go from early until late, and I was concerned about the things I wasn't getting done.  Pretty normal for a mother of a large family, I'd say.  And now so often I watch the days just drag by... is it over yet?  Especially days like yesterday where we all stayed home from church sick and there was nothing going on all day.  The kids got stir-crazy and three of the four adults in the house were too sick to do much.  Thanks to my mother-in-law the kids were fed.  Mom Badger has already earned her sainthood and the fun is just beginning.   I hope she survives this ordeal.   I hope we all do. 

But the promise of crackling fires on cold nights and maybe some cinnamon-y baking is sure doing a lot to lift my spirits!  Happy November,  everyone!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Lovely Autumn


Oh, it's been a lovely autumn down here in the valley:  beautiful leaves and mild weather.  Now that November is here it is going to cool down but we still have a bit of fall color left to enjoy for a few more days.

Costumes 2014

The bucket of Halloween costumes ended up here at the house somehow, and we had a pretty good selection to work with when it was time to dress up for the church party.  Bean wore the medieval woodsman costume I made for the Badger 3 years ago (how does it fit him?) along with a nice cape borrowed from Aunt Crocodile.  Fish, who scuttled off before we could take pictures, put together his own ninja costume.  Roo borrowed a nifty outfit from her cousin.  The Rabbit wore the poodle skirt I made her last year for school.  Peanut wore the Austrian dirndl I made for the Rabbit three years ago when she was so obsessed with The Sound of Music.   We had several cute options for Prince Charming: a bee costume, a penguin chick costume, a frog costume... but he would howl and thrash and pull at the hoods when I tired to dress him.  Finally we coaxed him into the lion costume he wore last year, which was brilliantly hand-made by my sister-in-law years ago and has been a toddler stand-by for us for years.  It's always a hit.  

And me... I wasn't going to wear anything.  I wasn't even going to go.  But I was looking through the costume bucket and there was this pumpkin outfit  (also made by my sister-in-law years ago) and I put it on just to be silly.  It fit just right over my belly.  Then I decided that if I was going to be miserable and uncomfortable at home I might as well go be miserable and uncomfortable at the party.  So I went, and we all had a lovely time.  It was a fun event with very little creep factor and a nice sense of community.  Plus, the weather was absolutely perfect for having everything outside.  



(And I took the pumpkin hood off after this picture was taken because it was pretty silly!)