Thursday, July 31, 2008

It's fun to be a boy

In gathering together the educational materials to send back to K12 I found a magnifying glass and paused the packing with a devious look in my eye. I called the boys over and showed them how the magnifying glass could be used to focus the sun with tremendous heat.

We took our experiment into the driveway with a metal pan to contain the piece of paper held in place with a rock. We had a cup of water close by to extinguish any flames if needed.

The spot of sun was surprisingly bright, even projected onto the paper. I gave the boys UV glasses to help subdue the brightness. We got some smoke and burned some holes in the paper. I don't think we ever got a good flame because the wind kept putting it out.

Later on, Andrew brought his 4x4 over to show off the articulation. He's headed for college this next year. He's a wonderful example for the boys (i.e. Eagle scout, strong testimony, smart and talented) and we've had him babysit on occasion. We're really going to miss him.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Cabin Fever

Having regular outings has one disadvantage for me in that when the children don't get out of the house after too long they go into distructo mode (due to overwhelming boredom) and the house gets torn apart. We got out of the house today to the Central Park in San Ramon. It is FANTASTIC!!!

There is a large mushroom shaped fountain in the middle of the children's area with a shallow pool that the children can play in. This is the head of a cement river that flows down to a beautiful man-made pond. The water comes out fairly cold, but on hot days it's rather refreshing!

All around the water play area are play equipment structures with swings, slides, things to climb on and sand pits. After a while the boys discovered that they could get sopping wet, go roll in the sand and then rinse off in the mushroom. They thought that was great fun and did it over and over. It wasn't until we got home that we realized they had worn the sun block off their shoulders with that little trick and they had a slight, yet uncomfortable sunburn.
Having Garrett join in our fun meant that our usual convoy of STUFF nearly tripled. Our steak out spot was quite impressive with all the bags and folding chairs...beach towels strewn about and the stroller decked out for the little prince.

I just sat and watched the children, which was great for Garrett and I. The one snag came when Elle, who is potty training came to tell me that she had to go to the bathroom. On the one hand I was thrilled that she was willing to go to the bathroom at the park and that I didn't have a raging mess to clean up...YUCK, but what do I do with all this STUFF and the baby? I couldn't haul everything to the bathroom. I put Garrett in the front pack and then had Ethan sit with our things while I walked her to the potty.

Sure enough, she pooped in the toilet. HURRAY!!! We called Daddy at work to share the excitement.

The next major attraction for Hunter and Ethan was a big sloppy mud pit, which ironically enough had a sign (covered in mud, of course) that said "Please no mud or sand in the water". Seeing as how the patrons of this particular area are mostly five and under and are most likely still illiterate, I'll have to assume that the sign was there as a matter of principle.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Welcome to the Family!

So, just as a matter of record...I have the BEST BABY EVER! Garrett sleeps soundly from about 10pm till 7am. On top of my Angel Baby we figured out that if Michael sleeps with an extra pillow under his arm his unnatural, unholy, gosh awful bring-down-the-house snoring has been all but eliminated. (The neighbors are sending us gift baskets and thank-you cards). I'm sleeping SO well now!

Garrett likes to be close to me so his favorite place to be is in the front pack. I've discovered that the true purpose of cleavage is to provide babies a air channel for breathing while simultaneously being as close as possible to mom.

We're still not sure what color his hair is going to be. Sometimes it looks brown, sometimes blond and sometimes red. Only time will tell.

He's a very sleepy, snuggly baby. Brothers and sister think he's too cute to leave alone so as I'm feeling more energy and getting around I'll put the baby down for a nap and somebody will go pet him, poke him, "snuggle" him and inevitably wake him the put the baby to sleep process starts all over and very little is getting done.

Elle is having moments of insecurity realizing she has been permanently displaced as the baby. I'm taking Dr. Laura's advice on the matter and making her help and input an important part of our day. She helps me do the chores and we've started potty training with pretty princess panties because she's a big girl now.

Mikey is in town on his way to Idaho. He's making the trip from LA in three parts.... all on a motorcycle. NUTS! He's spending a week with us. The kids are thrilled to play with him.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

He's here! Garrett Dale

For the first time EVER I started labor on my own . Not being used to the natural process (as opposed to being induced three times before) I was totally surprised with the speed at which everything progressed.

I've been working on getting everything ready and just planned on being induced on Wednesday. Our brand new washer broke down last Saturday just in time for everybody to run out of clean clothes. I called Sears and they told me the soonest they could have anyone out would be Wednesday. I tried to explain that I was pregnant, overdue and scheduled to be induced on Wednesday could they PLEASE come any sooner? No sympathy.

I called again on Monday morning just to see if I could get it bumped up. I dealt entirely with the computerized operator, who surprisingly enough got someone out that afternoon! HURAY!!!

Later that evening I felt strangely nauseous after dinner and after I put the kids to be I started having tightness every 7 to 10 minutes for about an hour and a half. They never got to be painful and they stopped after we went to bed. That was OK with me because the next morning I had finally gotten a cancellation opening to see the dentist. I've been waiting a spot to open the last two weeks. I know most of the staff from church. They were surprised to see me and weren't sure I was going to make it.

I took the kids to the library for story-time afterwards where my mom and her Grandma friend (a retired midwife from England) pounced on me and tried to talk me out of inducement saying that I would surely go on my own this weekend since it was the full moon. Ironically enough I started having labor pains again...probably from the anxiety of actually contemplating waiting another five days till the full moon.

By the time we got home they were coming closer and I was having to breathe through them.

The boys both thought the Lamaze breathing was funny and started doing it too.
I figured this was just another false start, but felt like I should farm the kids out just to be sure. I called Jeremy who is still home after his daughter was born last week to see if he could drive the kids to their various destinations. Since my labors have always taken 20+ hours I just planned on laboring on my own until Michael got home from work at about 5:30 before letting him know. Contrary to my "well conceived" plan, Jeremy called Michael to tell him that I was in labor and then took me to the hospital anyway. I told him he could just drive up to the curb and kick me out, but he walked with me all the way in with me and waited until Michael arrived before leaving.

From the registration desk you could hear another mom in labor screaming. That's always what you want to hear walking into Labor and Delivery. [...shudder....]

The contractions slowed down once I got hooked up to the monitors (figures). Jeremy called Denee from the hospital. She asked how I was doing and his response was, "Oh, she's just teasing everybody. She's fine and every once in a while she'll go 'he he he he', but she's not really in labor." I knew he was teasing, but I could have kicked him.

One of the nurses asked if I had called before coming in. No. "Well, all our beds are full at the moment, we would have directed you to another hospital." I thought perhaps we could still go somewhere else, but by then I lost my plug...probably not a good idea.

There was another girl right next to me. We could hear her behind the curtain. I realized she was an unwed teenager when the nurse came in to talk to her. A contraction would hit and she would whine through it. I don't think she learned any kind of breathing technique beforehand. After one contraction she said out loud to herself, "Oh, d**n. I can't do this." The father wasn't there with her. How tragic.
Michael stopped by the house to pick up all of his gear for the expected long haul labor. In the past he's been able to watch one or two movies, had time to get something to eat and generally just waited through the lengthy process of labor.

Jeremy and I arrived at the hospital at about 1:30. When they checked me I was almost dilated to a 4. Another mom delivered and so I was put in her room at 3:30. For the next hour the nurses tried to put in the IV line. I didn't feel particularly dehydrated, but my veins were NOT cooperating.
My nurse called in two other nurses to try to get it in. Nobody had success. The contractions were coming much faster by then and my nurse felt an urgency to get the IV line in so I could get the epidural. She called an anesthesiologist to come place the line. By then it felt like the contractions were coming one right after another. They were much stronger and I really had to psych myself through them. "I'm stronger than this. I can do this. FOCUS!" My breathing sounded angry, but I got through. As the intensity increased I broke and cried for one or two.
My nurse checked me again. I had dilated to an 8. At that point I wondered if they would even let me have the epidural since I was so advanced. The doctor was starting to think that they would have to bring an ultrasound in to find a vein. However, on the third try he got the IV line in and then stayed to do the epidural while they still had a chance.
Between getting the IV and the epidural the baby's heart rate dropped from 145 to 95. It may have been because I was sitting up. My nurse had me lay back down and then switch sides until the baby's heart rate came back up.
Given my history of bad experiences with epidurals (the nurse that did the one with Elle just about killed me) I was glad that the anesthesiologist was first a doctor, and second one with plenty of experience doing epidurals. He got it in... all the while I prayed silently that my contractions would hold off just until he could finish.

The epidural went beautifully! Oh, sweet relief! I could still feel the pressure, but the pain was reduced almost entirely. My nurse emphasized that I was the luckiest lady on the floor because everybody started asking for an epidural about the same time and there was only one doctor doing them for L&D...and she was in the middle of one already. So, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise that my veins were so difficult. I probably wouldn't have gotten one at all otherwise considering how fast I progressed.

During the pressure of a following contraction I felt a swell and then burst and a gush. Again, the first time that my water has broken naturally. Kind of like a soft warm water balloon getting stepped on.
I only had about an hour of respite before the urge to push came. Michael had just come back into the room after the epidural being placed and I told him to go get the nurses...he's coming!

My nurse noticed meconium in the water and without telling me about it (probably so as not to worry us) quietly called in a Pediatric team for the baby's delivery. Thinking back on it now, he probably passed the meconium when his heart rate dropped before the epidural.

His head was perfectly round and pushing posed a larger task than it was for Elle, who I got out in two pushes (one for the head and one for the body). Despite the hurt. It got to the point I just wanted it to be over and it didn't feel like I was making any progress but everybody kept telling me to push. Easy for you to don't feel like you're splitting open.
The nurses said that he looked like a C-section baby because his head looked so perfect.

Once he was out the doctor asked Michael, "So, what's his name?"


"You don't sound so sure. Are we not totally in agreement about that?"

No, no. It's Garrett. His name is Garrett...Garrett Dale.
I felt a sudden rush of emotion at a final confirmation on the name. Michael has been hemming and hawing and until that moment hadn't made up his mind one way or the other. Some of his potential candidates were Aaron, Carl, or Lars.

Garrett did experience some complications with breathing...probably due to the meconium. The pediatric doctor had to assist his breathing and then took him down to the nursery for observation. I only got to hold him for a moment before they took him away.

I called my mom who was completely blindsided by the news that he was already born. Like me, she was expecting a lengthy labor and last she heard I was at a 2. That night a friend of ours from church who is a nurse in Labor and Delivery saw that I had been in and went to my nurse to ask how eveything went. My nurse told her, "It was like Mr. Toad's WILD RIDE!"
Well put.

The first day in recovery Garrett was (for lack of a better word) squeaky and snorty. His breathing sounded so labored. I kept him close to me instead of in his bassinet just so I could help him in case anything happened.

The second day his Pediatric doctor performed the circumcision and while he was away I took the opportunity to get a shower. I doubled my hospital gowns front to back and walked down to the nursery where Hunter had his done. He wasn't there, so I walked back and met my nurse in the hall who was confused where I had gone.

As soon as I got back into our room Garrett started struggling to breathe. I could see him trying to take a breath, but nothing was going in. I watched in horror as he turned blue right in front of me. I picked him up and started hitting his back and chest. I pushed the call button for the nurses, "MY BABY'S BLUE!!!" The nurse on the intercom instructed me to turn him face down over my arm and hit him on the back. I heard the emergency call go out over the speakers in the hall and three nurses came running in to the room and took over.

He pinked up again and they checked his vitals. I stood watching...shaking, with tears in my eyes. What if I had been asleep when this had happened? I would have lost my baby.
Garrett's pediatric doctor came to check on him after the circumcision and I told him what had happened. He checked him over and then said that it was acid reflux from the sugar water they gave during the circumcision to help calm him. It was strictly a post circumcision event and would not likely happen again. That was a relief...

I experienced exactly what I saw Garrett do a few weeks ago. I woke up and couldn't breathe. Michael heard me, but figured I was just coughing and went back to sleep. It took a while but with deliberate breaths I worked myself through the blockage and a horrible bile in my windpipe. It was scary because at the time I didn't know what had happened or why. It was 2 o'clock in the morning and after I got everything clear I went and sat on the couch to check if the baby was still OK.
Michael brought the kids in to meet their new brother the next morning after Garrett was born. They were all very excited and were impatient for their turn holding him. Elle was the most exuberant and when it was her turn she hugged him really tight.

We went home the third day. Garrett is breathing much better, which is a big relief. The boys spent the second night at a sleepover at Grandma's with all their cousins who are still in town. After Michael picked us up from the hospital we drove up to Gram's house to retrieve the boys and to show off the baby.
As for me, I'm still in the process of recovery. Every day is a little better, but you forget the overwhelming exhaustion and hurt from the waist down as everything tries to go back to "normal".

After each of our other children, Michael and I have always talked about the next one. This time I'm about 95% sure we're done. Four is good. Between Michael and I we can still hold everybody's hand. One thing is for sure, however...we're not having any more until we get a bigger house.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Family Reunion

Top row left to right: Hunter, Jared, Conner, Ashlyn, Danika, Elle
Bottom row left to right: Tyler, Andrew, Adam, Mathew, Maquelle, Ethan

Michael's sister and all her kids came into town and so we got to have a family reunion. The brunettes belong to Michael's sister, the curlies are all ours and the rest of the blonds are Michael's brother's boys.

Elle wasn't sure what to make of all of it and was quite shy at first but she got into it with the rest of them by the end. Out of a current 13 grandchildren, only four are girls. It was quite rowdy with lots of yelling and running and a good time had by all. We had a few camera shy grown-ups, but I did sneak a few good pictures of them anyway.

My mother-in-law's neighbor's and long time friends were having a birthday party for their twin girls and she volunteered to cook ribs for both parties. It was....AWESOME! She cooked them at 300 for 3 hrs and then barbequed them on the grill. I've always boiled them first, but these turned out super tender. Wow!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Last day out before four

In the summer time the Chabot Space and Science center has a children's Discovery Lab open during the week. We've gone during the regular school year and been disappointed that the hours for the Discovery Lab were open on weekends only. Since nothing has been happening on my end, I decided to get the kids out one last time before the baby decided to come. We saw a really great movie about all the planets made especially for kids. I learned something new!

We spent the rest of the morning in the Discovery Lab. The art project table was the biggest draw, but also the source of the most whining from both Ethan and Hunter who felt a creative block in creating what exactly they had in mind.

They also had a light table for tracing images. Since we had just seen the Cardboard Rocketship movie they were drawn more to the space images rather than the dinosaur tracings. Hunter found the children's microscope and looked at various slides. Ethan played with the in house computer.

Ethan has said for some time that he wants to be an astronaut when he grows up. We encourage him as much as possible. He's told me that when he goes to the moon he's going to bring me back a moon rock. Cool! The only thing he says that he really doesn't like is that astronauts have to wear diapers.

We explored the astronaut exhibit which had on display a few examples of space food. Before we left we got some astronaut ice-cream which I've never had before and have always wanted to try. It tasted the same, but the temperature and texture were different. Ethan said he didn't like it. Elle and Hunter liked it well enough, probably because they didn't have any ice-cream like expectations. It was sugar. It was good enough for them.

The children got in line for a taste of getting around in space. The person was supposed to lie down and maneuver using only the levers on the walls or above them. There was an inner city summer group ahead of us. One of the little boys looked at Elle and then asked me, "Why did you dye her hair?" I didn't. "You mean it grows that way?!?" Yup. "Do you have a son?" I pointed to Ethan. "Oh."

The favorite exhibit by far was the ball vortex where you take wooden or metal balls and spin them around in a funnel. As they get closer to the bottom they go faster and faster. If they're high enough up someone is likely to grab your ball and wreck the pattern. The best part was getting the balls out of the bottom and starting them again.

As we were leaving Ethan saw an experiment in the yard where you could launch your own water rockets. He was very excited at the prospect. You had to put a nose on and cut out fins. Ethan and Hunter did theirs all on their own. I helped Elle with hers despite plenty of "do it myself" proclamations. The rockets were launched via pressurized air. It was simple, yet spectacular for the children. It was a great thing to end our day on.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Waldorf Picnic

The children and our neighbor's children love to play together and will frequently run back and forth between our two houses. Today they set up a right proper little picnic complete with table cloth (makeshift from a kitchen towel) and a china set from a little basket picnic set. They got little cherries for everyone, an opened bag of chips, filled the tea pot with water for each little cup and used the tiny little silverware for a front yard picnic. They all sat together so nicely and used their manners, saying "please" and "thank-you". As much as I would like to take credit for the exuberant cuteness they did it all on their own. Afterwards they each helped clean up. Ethan even ran back to the house to get a Clorox wipe to clean the little picnic table as he's seen me do with the kitchen table. I'm not sure they actually cleaned the dishes off themselves, but they put everything away and then set up for some front yard T-ball.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Helping Momma nest

Yesterday the wall in the kitchen finally got to me. I pulled everything away from that one wall in preparation to paint it. The children were very excited at the prospect of PAINT. I told them to get dressed in things they didn't care about. So at the beginning of this week's heat wave, both boys put on long pants and long sleeve shirts. Brilliant.

They helped first by washing the walls with me. I told them to scrub hard and it didn't matter if the paint came off. The enthusiasm waned quickly.

I taped and then for the rest of the morning I primed the wall. I couldn't find a roller so I did the whole thing with a paint brush. I didn't least it was getting done!

In the meantime, my friend Denee who is due the 10th had her baby yesterday at about 4:30 pm. A baby girl, Jenna (officially Genniveve) , weighing 6 pounds 9 ounces. Our husbands are best friends and we are constantly hanging out together. Our boys and their boys are about the same age. When we got pregnant at the same time people must have thought we planned it that way. What is completely hilarious is that our due dates were a day apart. In any case we were belly buddies.

So this morning at about 1 am I woke up thinking, "It feels like 5...I should get up and paint before the kids get up so it'll be dry" I looked at the clock and was completely surprised how off I was.

4 am rolled around and I was even more full of energy. I decided to get up and just get it over with. Michael got up shortly after and provided me with a roller, which helped considerably. Ethan was up shortly thereafter, so I had him help me paint in his pajamas. We got finished up at about 5:30 am.

It's nice to suddenly have energy. It feels kind of like a crazy squirrel energy: bright eyed, bushy tailed....twitchy, and perhaps not thinking quite clearly. Michael has been very patient through all of this. He didn't even tell me to go back to bed, which I appreciated. He probably figured it would be a waste of breath.

The walls look SOOOO much better. That one dirty spot right above the garbage can is gone. Good riddance!

Today is my due date. I don't go into labor on my own usually. Maybe I should go do some aerobics, or take the kids for a walk to Vegas (kidding!) SOMETHING!!!

Michael's father's name is Dale. My Grandma's middle name is Dale. Their birthday's are both July 9th. This baby is going to have the middle name of Dale for both of them. It would be SO cool if he shared their birthday too.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Uncle Daniel came over before the parade to give the kids a private performance in his Jack Sparrow Pirate costume. He parked in the parking lot next door and came over for a dramatic entrance. Elle got scared because she didn't recognize him and slammed the door shut on him and then peeked out the window.

I came down and let Daniel in. Once he took the hair off, Elle knew who he was and was OK with it.

The kids had made a fort in the living room, which to the untrained eye looks very much like a tornado passed through. Uncle Daniel had to leave shortly thereafter to get his makeup done and get lined up for the parade.

People in town set up their chairs and claimed "spots" a full day in advance of the parade...despite signs saying not to do exactly that. Michael was doubtful that we would find anywhere to sit and didn't want me walking too far. He dropped us off at the end of first street (the end of the parade route) where the crowd was thickest. Hunter and Elle were with me. Ethan was participating as a Tiger Scout in the parade.

Amazingly enough there was a little section of bench that was open and perfect for us to sit. I felt very blessed! So big and pregnant and THERE'S A SPOT FOR ME!!!

Uncle Daniel was the first to come by. Hunter was very excited to see him. Daniel looked right at the camera for the picture, but later told me he never saw me in the crowd. It just worked out that way.

Denee came by next doing the Jazzercize routine. She became an instructor and taught classes right up to the end. Durring the length of the pregnancy she didn't put on any weight until the very end when she finally gained 10 pounds. It was amazing to watch her get slimmer everywhere else and her belly just started popping out. The judges on the bandstand commented over the microphone, "Look at all those ladies with those slim waists...except for that ONE." The other guy jumped in with "Leave her alone, she's pregnant!" Then over the loud speaker the first guys says, "Where's the Daddy!?!?" Denee said later that it distracted her to have them talking about her so she felt like she messed up. I didn't notice.
Ethan came through next. He looked sheepish waving to the crowd. By then we were ready to go, so we met up with him and Grandma and called Michael to come pick us up.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Girls night out ....SURPRISE!

My friend Denee wanted to have a girls night out before the babies came. She's already had two false labors, so we weren't sure if she was going to make it. It was me, Denee and Mindi. We all went to Applebee's for dinner. Before too long Mindi was getting regular phone calls from her family who, it seemed, couldn't function without her.

We started at 5:30 and headed back into town by 7:30. I was disappointed that we were ending so early, but grateful that we could at least get out. When we got back to Mindi's house we were going to go in and see her new bathroom, but when we pulled up my mom's car was in front of the house.

What's my MOM doing here?

So we went inside and mom was sitting on the couch playing with Emma. "What are you babysitting or something?"

"Ya, something like that"

I looked over and there were gifts on the table...I looked closer and saw that my name was on them. Then it dawned on me...they're throwing me a surprise shower! More and more people started arriving...I wonder what I would have thought if I hadn't seen the gifts on the table, or when I would have realized.

I had just given Denee and Jenny (both pregnant with girls) about 9 big bags full of all of Elle's old clothes. My closets were bursting and I just didn't have the room. So, Denee made it an essentials only shower, because she knew I basically had everything for a boy. I got lots of diapers, wash and lotion, some sippy-cups a calender to remember firsts, hooded towels....lots of stuff. There were a few new outfits, but for the most part it was all stuff I would have had to buy myself anyway.

We were at Mindi's house, ALL the girls, until 10:30 just talking and laughing and sharing birth and baby stories. It was GREAT!!!

I have such good friends!