Friday, September 27, 2013

my birthday do-over

Yesterday I had a birthday do-over, of sorts.

It involved using the new dishes I bought with my birthday money (thanks, Mama, Daddy, Mom and Dad!)...

...a couple games with a newly-minted 8-year-old...

...a delicious Prime Rib dinner...

...and time stepping out with my beautiful family.  Priceless!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

and now he is 8

Our dearest Kyle is turning 8 today!  In honor of the event (though actually he's felt even older than 8 for awhile now...), I thought I'd post his birth story here on the blog.  I promise that I won't do it for every child's birthday, every year, but sometimes it's a sweet way to mark the occasion.

We love you, Kyle!  You are a wonderful kid, smart, loyal, honest, and an amazing big brother.  Have a brilliant birthday!


Kyle Warren
September 26, 2005
5:15 A.M.

On Sunday, my contractions began to feel more like powerful menstrual
cramps than the tightening sensations they had been before By 10 P.M. my husband
and I were pretty certain that this was It. We called our midwife and the
birth team headed right over. We also called our parents. By 11 P.M. or so
the team was assembled, and at around 11:45 my in-laws arrived.

Around 12:15 or so I requested a vaginal exam. The suspense was killing
me! I was 5 cm and 100% effaced, and my midwife said I was far enough along
that I could get into the tub whenever I wanted. (My husband had started filling
it after we made our phone calls at 10.) I relaxed through a few more
contractions, then decided to get in. My husband joined me after a few minutes,
and we labored together through most of the night. We were doing so well
as a unit that the birth team mostly hung out in the other room. Every
30 minutes someone came to check baby's heart tones, both during
contractions and not. During contractions I let my whole body float on
top of the water. It really helped, especially with the imagery of
"floating over a contraction."

I think it was maybe around 3:45 or 4:00 A.M. that the contractions started
to feel pretty overwhelming. Between that and my oh-so-lovely vomiting
episode (thank goodness we were prepared for that, having remembered
what happened in my last labor), my husband & I were pretty sure were hitting
transition. When I would be working through a contraction, I would think
"This is so hard, I don't know if I can do this," but after the
contractions would end, I would remember that was classic transition.

A little while later, I could literally feel myself opening up, and soon
I said "I feel like pushing." My husband was surprised (I never felt the urge my
my last labor) but kept his cool and called the birth team. I decided to
try getting on my knees and leaning my arms and forehead on the edge of
the tub. The pushing stage seemed like an eternity-- so I was shocked later,
when I found out that I only pushed about 25 minutes. Quite a change
from my last labor, where the pushing stage lasted almost 2 hours!!

The time came. We could feel the baby's head. Even though I nearly
panicked a few times, I remembered to use low tones pretty consistently.
Soon the baby's head was born, and then the rest of him came slipping
out too.

We had someone wake our 2 1/2-year-old son, so he could come and meet his
baby brother. He was pretty sleepy, but I'm glad we included him in the

Kyle began nursing like it's what he was born to do with his life(a huge
relief considering the bumpy start I got off to with our first baby) and was ruddy and healthy. He weighed 8 lb 2 oz, and was 21 inches long. He is
such a joy to our family!


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

a new start

Aprons and I have a checkered past.  I wear them a lot.  A lot.  Primarily because:  (1) I am an extraordinarily messy cook, and (2) I spend a lot of time working in the kitchen.  So in order to protect my clothes, an apron is definitely in order.  

Plus, I've found that during my clumsy pregnancies, an apron doubles nicely as a bib.

Back to my history with aprons.  I've had some very cute ones in the past, but for unknown reasons, they always seem to end up getting ripped.  Yes, ripped.  I don't even know how it happens.  I just discover holds, tears...rips.  My last apron didn't even last two months before it looked like it ought to be made into rags.


After my last attempt (an adorable red number with white polka dots) I waited awhile, but then I started shopping around again.  I'm a little bit particular about aprons, but I found a few that I really liked and put them on my wishlist.

Lo and behold, I received one as a birthday gift!

Isn't it cute?!

The material is a bit heavier than the aprons I've had in the past, so I have reason to believe that this will be a bit more sturdy, a bit more durable.  Maybe it will stand the test of time...I sure hope so!

So here I am beginning again with another apron, ready to take on a myriad of kitchen projects.  Birthdays, fall goodies, Christmastime.  May the "citrus stripes" protect my wardrobe and bring cheer to those around me!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

a milestone

(photo courtesy of my almost-8-year-old)

Well hello there, 3rd trimester!  So nice to see you!

Monday, September 23, 2013

worst. birthday. ever.

This year, my birthday started off with a great deal of promise.  It was a crisp (almost) autumn day, and the sun was shining.  We didn't have to go anywhere - always a bonus for this homebody - although we were planning to go out for dinner in the evening.

But then, I had a child who was coughing.  Actually there were two of them.  One whose job it was to set the table for breakfast, and he apparently felt so badly that I let him lay on the couch and rest.  The other cough-er was my toddler, who is almost always difficult as I'm prepping breakfast anyway.  And so, I found myself doing extra chores with a fussy toddler on my hip.  Then I noticed that my back was hurting.

But things didn't really get bad until just after lunchtime. Suddenly I was coping with horrible muscle spasms in my back.  This was a nearly paralyzing pain, which rendered me pretty much incapable of doing...anything.  I'll spare you the details, but it wasn't pretty.  In fact, it was all fairly ugly.  I'm pretty sure I put up more of a fuss than I do during labor - first stage, anyway. (*wink*)

Still, it was terrible pain.  I could do very little for myself, and it took Jeff and I a good 20 minutes to figure out how to get me off the just hurt so much.  

And that's how the day went.  Gone were our plans to go out for a celebratory dinner.  My only goal at that point was to avoid or minimize the pain as much as possible.

So obviously, that aspect of my birthday stank.

But there were sweet moments, too.

My oldest son was very concerned.  He stayed very close to me during the afternoon, calling his dad (who was coming home early, but didn't get home for a few hours after my distress began) and helping me as much as he could.  At one point in the afternoon, he asked if he could pray for me.  So precious!

My daughter patted my arm, smiled reassuringly, and said, "It will be okay, Mama.  It will be okay."  I wonder how she might do as a sort of child-doula...?

And then there is my sweet husband.

I cannot even begin to tell all the selfless things he did during my time of back trouble.  He helped me use the bathroom.  He convinced me that moving (off of the couch...onto the bed...) would be a good thing, even if it did hurt to bend myself.  He helped me maneuver in and out of the bathtub, which was torturous.  He served us all meals and took care of the kids.   Time after time, he blew me away.

And that's just Thursday.  There was so much more that he did over the next few days.  He was amazing.  A rock star.

He brought me flowers.  And then moved them to where I was throughout the weekend, so I could enjoy them even while stranded on the couch.

There was a lot of time to read and watch "Call the Midwife" on Netflix.  So there was that....silver linings and all.

But yeah...not the best birthday.  In fact, it may actually be my worst, though the one when I turned 19 was pretty lousy too.

(I haven't even mentioned the fact that I couldn't have a real birthday cake this year, although there are certainly worse things to endure.)

I lived through one of those "worse things," though, and I came out on the other side.  With the grace of God and the love of my family, I survived.

Next year, it will be different.  Lord willing, it will be different!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

this is telling

I must really love these kids... set up yet another art project (that makes three in the last three school days), when I am such a craftaphobic mama.  

But you've gotta go with what speaks to them, right?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


My grandparents and I on my 1st birthday

Today is my grandma's birthday.   I woke up thinking about her.  Our birthdays are very close, and sometimes we would celebrate them together.

My grandmother died quite a few years ago, a month before I turned 13.  She has been with Jesus for awhile now, and the sadness of missing her has mellowed into sweet memories.  I still remember her smile, her voice.  Eating toast with strawberry jam.  Roast beef with mashed potatoes, carrots, and creamed corn after church on Sunday.  How she used to pinch my brother's cheek and grin and call him her "boyfriend."  The way my dad's loud sneezes would always startle her and make her jump.

It wasn't until later in the day that I realized something: today marks 100 years since my grandma was born.  One. Hundred. Years.  I wonder what the weather was like, what the birth was like. What life was like for their family. I wonder if her parents chose her name, Viola Pearl, after much discussion,,, or if the decision was simple, as they sometimes are.

I wish I had known her longer, into my adult years.  I wish she could have met my husband, my children.

But she will someday.  Maybe she's been privy to the events of my life from her everlasting home in heaven...or maybe we'll simply have a lot to catch up on once I get there.

Regardless, here's a Happy 100th Birthday to you, Grandma. Enjoy your celebration; I'm sure the parties up there are absolutely breathtaking!

Until we meet again,

Monday, September 16, 2013

my first rodeo

 Yes, it was my very first.  I don't know how I had lived this long without ever attending a rodeo before, but there it is.  Last week we loaded up the family and headed for the Pendleton Round-Up, a well-known annual event held in eastern Oregon.

We hauled my in-laws' travel trailer along for a place to stay, and they joined us the next day.  My husband's grandparents also came along.

And how was it?  It was exciting!  There were cowboys, cowgirls, Indians, horses...

...bulls, steers, and much more.

 I prefer him to any cowboy, thankyouverymuch.

Our gang (or most of it).

It was a long afternoon for some of the younger kids, but our older boys absolutely loved it!  I'm thankful for the chance to have had this adventure.

I'll leave you with this image of an Indian (they called them Indians at the rodeo, not Native Americans...don't blame me!) bearing the beautiful American flag.  I found it a touching sight.

God bless America!

Monday, September 9, 2013

we did it!

This morning, we did it.  We kicked off our first day of the homeschool year.

"To the new school year!"

There were candles and smiles...

There were homemade cinnamon donuts.

There was apple cider.

And, of course, there were children.  What would homeschool be without children, after all?

Gabriel, tot school

Elise, preschool

Owen, kindergarten

Kyle, 3rd grade

Ben, 5th grade

Of course, there were other things.  Not-quite-so happy things...there was poop on the floor and there was interrupting.  There was an assignment that needed to be re-done, and there was (just a little) whining.

And of course, there was a toddler.  'Nough said about that.

But those are not the memories I want to carry away from this day.  So here is my back-to-school post, with the happy photos (you wouldn't want a picture of poop on the floor anyway, wouldya?), along with hopes for a happy, healthy, richly fulfilling school year.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Friday, September 6, 2013

"This pregnancy is going by fast!"

I know - you're waiting for a "...said no pregnant lady, ever."

But actually, it's true.

This pregnancy is, for me (the pregnant lady in question, it must be noted) flying by as none other has.   Perhaps it's because we've had a fairly busy summer.  Perhaps it's because I still have so much to do to be ready for Christmas, with two birthdays (three including my mother-in-law) and a birth in December as well. (Don't think I'm an overachiever; I suspect that in the years to come I shall need to have Christmas prep pretty well finished by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, just for the sake of my sanity.)

Perhaps it's because of this complicated undertaking I've taken on, to reclaim my health as much as possible before the wee one is born.  And I'm still very much "in process."   And I'd really like to be able to eat a blueberry or two by the time I go into labor.

It could be the fact that we've had quite a difficult time choosing a boy's name this time around (hey, we've already picked four!), so it seems like we've come to the decision reeeeeeeeeally late in the pregnancy - even though I'm only 5 months along.

Or perhaps it's just because I have to make another dad blame Christmas stocking, and I haven't even started yet. (*wink*)  You recall, don't you, that I Am Not Crafty?

Regardless of the reason (or reasons), this pregnancy seems to be sailing along at a frightening pace.  Giving birth a few months into the school year is a little intimidating, although I've done it before.  Oh, it'll be fine - it'll all be fine - but right now it feels like there are a lot of details yet to fall into place.

When I start to feel overwhelmed by all the ground we'll have covered by the time this little one arrives, I'm going to just take a deep breath, and...think of the babymoon.  And that moment when I get to hold my sweet baby for the first time.  The opportunity to mother another precious child, to experience the unspeakable blessing of a new soul - it's amazing. Astounding.  And it does bring peace.

Now to tackle that Christmas shopping.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

for the love of a story

So you guys know about my fascination with "Les Miserables."  During the time that it came into full bloom (late December and January), my older boys became interested in the story, too.  We listened to the music a lot on Pandora radio, and the lads asked many questions about what this or that song was about.  In fact, my 7-year-old asked to read my copy of the adapted novel; he made it through the entire volume in a handful of days... and spent the next few weeks talking about it.  

The fervor waned a bit as the months went on, but we'd still listen to the music on Pandora, and later on the soundtrack CD I purchased (we always skipped "Lovely Ladies," though!).  The boys can sing pretty much all of the songs from the score.  My husband and I eventually viewed the film with them, from the security of our living room couch - where we could leave out the less savory parts.  They loved it.   

When I learned of a stage production of the glorious musical in the city in early August, I gave it a lot of thought.  Jeff and I talked it over and decided not to jump at it - tickets were not cheap, and there were no discounted child rates.    We didn't tell the boys about it...why get them excited if we didn't go, right?

But then one of them built this.

The barricade from "Les Miserables"
A few days later, his younger brother made this.

Bridge, site of Javert's suicide
How can a mama resist this kind of passion?  Jeff and I talked it over again and decided to make it work.  In the interest of the budget, it would be a mama date with my two biggest boys.  They were extremely excited when we told them!

And so, at last the day arrived.

The stage before Act 1

Kyle, myself, and Ben

Please forgive the poor quality of these photos; cell phones and theater lighting are not friends.  

The performance was wonderful!   Afterward, I wondered if they might be "Les Miz"ed-out, but when we got back into the car, I had a request to play the soundtrack...and after we got home, someone put the CD in our stereo to listen to it yet again.  I think it's safe to say it was an experience they will remember fondly for many years to come.

And I just may have loved it, too...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

5 reasons I haven't been posting

Here I am, still kicking.  Still breathing...and yet, not posting.  Why on earth has my little blog been so silent of late?  I have a few reasons...

1)  Fatigue has kicked in.
After enjoying plenty of energy for more than the first half of my pregnancy, the last few weeks I've been fighting weariness.  Is it because I didn't drink my raw coconut kefir for a while?  Am I not combining foods properly in this crazy diet?  Or is it simply because I am just a handful of weeks away from that notorious 3rd trimester?  (I'm drinking the kefir again now, so I guess we'll see.)

2)  My toddler isn't sleeping much.
That is so say, he's up early in the morning and then not napping for long.  He's doing alright at night, and I'm incredibly thankful, but the days when I could squeeze in 20 quiet minutes to write at the computer before he woke up seem to be over.  At least, for the time being they are.  Believe me, if he would agree to sleep longer, I would be thrilled.

3)  Technical difficulties.
There are a couple of post ideas kicking around in my head, but I need to include photos, and...well, let's just say that the computer I can use most easily is not cooperating, photo-wise.  But never fear, they're coming.

4)  Busy, busy, busy.
I know, everybody's busy.  And honestly, compared to a lot of people I am not very busy.  We've guarded our time pretty well.  It's just that for the past month or so, I feel that I'm always either packing suitcases, doing laundry, unpacking suitcases, working in the kitchen (diet-specific fare, anyone?), or putting food by.  And I haven't even put that much food by, much to my regret.  Still, these things add up.  Combine that with getting ready to start school (next week!) and regular mama stuff, there hasn't been much extra time this past month, even if it is summer.

5)  I've got to be a mama first.
Because as you might imagine, mothering my brood has to come first.  I don't want to look back in five, ten, 15 years and think of all the conversations and moments I missed out on with my kids.  They have to be my priority right now...over blogging, that is.  I chose to make the Lord and my husband priorities 1 and 2.  Yet when it comes to blogging, it's a ways down there on the priority list.  That, my friends, is why this blog will never be more than the occasional ramblings of a busy mama.

And you know what?  I'm alright with that.