Friday, September 18, 2020

On My List

August 2020

June 2015

Same couch set.
Same boys.
Same activity.
Same close proximity.
5 years later, this scene is still on a constant repeat.

Today after school I asked Wesley, "Do you want me to read Harry Potter to you?"
He said, "It's on my list!"
It wasn't until later that I discovered his literal "list" on the kitchen counter...
-get up
-big 5
-after school snack
-bike ride
-reading log
-Harry Potter

Wesley is so good at proactively accomplishing tasks in the morning, afternoon, and evening, without being asked. His cute little check list (complete with boxes filled in with check marks) brought a smile to my face. I love the way he was methodically working through it--even the fun elements.
Right now he is out riding his bike ("I'll try to be about 10 or 15 minutes!"), and I better wrap up this blog post so I am ready to read Harry Potter when he comes in for the last item on his list!
Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 17, 2020

37 Weeks

 Today I had a doctor's appointment.
They did an ultrasound to verify that the baby is head down, check the fluid level, and get a feel for the baby's size. According to the ultrasound measurements, she is currently 7 lbs, 4 oz and I am 36 weeks, 5 days along. The funny thing is that Lincoln was measuring 7 lbs, 4 oz as well when I was 37 weeks along with him! He was 9 lbs, 3 oz at birth (1 day past due date), so it's looking like she'll probably be somewhere in the neighborhood of 9 lbs when she is born.
Maxwell accompanied me to my appointment today and when I was wrapped in the sheet in the exam room, he laughed and said, "You kind of look like an Egyptian!"
I am 3 cm dilated, but that probably doesn't really mean much. I tend to dilate early and still go late.

Last week I got to go in and help test some new software at the ultrasound company my neighbor works for. They caught a couple of 3D images of baby girl's face, which were really fun to see! 
As we picked apart her facial features, we were laughing about how much information we were trying to glean from these pictures and Sam joked that we could even tell her blood type and the name of the person she would marry from these pictures.
In all seriousness, we pored over the pictures for a good 15 or 20 minutes, comparing them to the 3D images I have of Lincoln at 37 weeks and comparing them to newborn pictures of the others.
We concluded that she probably looks the most like Maxwell (those cute, big lips!), but maybe with a nose that is more similar to Wesley's. So if she comes out looking like an Olmec statue like Maxwell did, we don't need to be alarmed...I think a girl version of Maxwell would be adorable. :)

This picture amazes me, because her foot nestled up into her chin looks so real!
That foot has given me a lot of grief. She pokes it into my side SO hard and then slides it up or down my side, causing me to visibly jump and press her foot back in. Now I understand looks like it's giving her a bit of grief, too. I'm sure it doesn't feel great to have your foot tucked under your chin in the womb.

Lincoln refuses to look at those pictures. Due to the orange coloring they used, he thinks they look really gross and, in his words, "they look like a pile of Bagel Bites!"
Hopefully no one is too grossed out by them!

I also saw a hematologist on Tuesday. After my last CBC at my OB/GYN, they saw that my hemoglobin was getting higher but not as fast as they hoped it would for delivery and also that my platelet count had abruptly dropped. So I was referred to a hematologist to talk about a possible iron infusion and/or platelet transfusion.
I switched the iron supplements I was taking to a plant-based supplement called "Gentle Iron," which I had taken in the past. It doesn't cause the same GI issues standard iron supplements cause and it is supposedly absorbed better. Amazingly, after just 2 weeks on Gentle Iron my hemoglobin had risen so much that I am barely anemic anymore! So the only remaining issue was the platelets.
To make a long story short, the hematologist recommended that I be induced as early as they were willing to do it (as platelet levels tend to drop further as pregnancy goes on) and get a platelet transfusion beforehand (it only boosts your platelets for 12 hours).
But after discussing the reasoning behind it with him, it didn't seem it was medically necessary at all. He said that the ability of the blood to clot didn't really become affected unless I drop below 50 (I am currently 112) and that I couldn't get an epidural if I drop below 70 (I am hoping and planning for another unmedicated birth). But they are going to be doing weekly blood draws to monitor the level, so I feel we can avoid early induction unless my platelets are dropping a lot, which seems unlikely--I also had this issue with Maxwell and my platelet count leveled off, and they also haven't dropped at all in 2 weeks.

In other news, the boys are SO excited.
They gush about the way I am setting up the nursery (they have learned very well from their Daddy how to properly gush over my projects!). They fawn over her clothes and other baby supplies. They talk about how excited they are to hold her and to have another baby in the house with a binky...somehow the binky is extra adorable to some of them! Maxwell sorts through her hair bows (which he calls bowties) and exclaims over them in the cutest ways: "Ohh, Mom, this one is SO beautiful. Oh, look how tiny this one is! Wow, how did the sparkles get on this one??"
They love hugging and rubbing my tummy and feeling her hiccup. They often ask me how the baby is doing and whether she is moving. The older boys try to do what they can to get me to rest and help me feel comfortable. And their prayers for the baby are adorable.
Tonight Maxwell prayed, "Thank thee that it will be so cute when the baby has a binky in her mouth that will not make her cry. And thank thee that I will get the color binky that she wants. And thank thee that she has a brand new cute white lamb towel."
Seeing how much these boys already adore their baby sister just melts my heart.
She is going to be one lucky girl with all these doting big brothers.
And possibly really, really spoiled...

My doctor was doing a delivery today, so I saw a nurse practitioner I hadn't seen before instead. When she walked in she asked sincerely, "Are you in any pain?" I kind of laughed and said, "Well, this is the third trimester with my sixth baby, so...I'm in a lot of pain! But nothing unusual..." There has definitely been a lot of pain over the past couple of months, especially. It is a constant companion, except when I am in warm water. But last night I told Sam, "My body is screaming at me that this is our last baby, but then I see our other kids' baby pictures and I think, 'How can I ever willingly leave this stage behind?!?'"
Goodness, I just love babies SO so much.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The Crazy and the Calm

Life has simultaneously slowed down and sped up.
With school starting, our mornings begin early and are filled with packing lunches, loading up backpacks, doing chores, making and eating breakfast, taking temperatures, distributing masks, and navigating school drop-off...all before 8 am.

But then I come home with Maxwell and Benson and everything is calm.
I clean up the house and we do our morning chores and then we have time to read countless stories, play outside, play games, do puzzles, organize toys, and run errands at a leisurely pace.
The house stays clean and everything is relatively quiet and peaceful until the afternoon rush begins again with school pick-up, after school snacks, chores, homework, piano practicing, dinner preparations, family time, and bedtime routines.

I appreciate both phases for different reasons, but it has been a joy to spend this past month or so largely engaged in focused activities with Maxwell and Benson.
Some glimpses of life with the two of them:

Maxwell loves building with these magnets--and doing most anything methodical.

We have a few wipe-away tracing books and he will literally spend hours meticulously tracing over the lines and erasing over and over. On this day we went to the picnic area by the temple for lunch and he insisted on bringing his book in the car and then working on it while we had our picnic.

Benson can be very cuddly and affectionate, but is also incredibly silly. He is still our little class clown and he loves to needle his way under Maxwell's skin. Observing our boys at times enjoying tormenting each other is always a bit perplexing to me, because I despise the thought of bothering or annoying anyone and I go to great lengths to not do so. But sometimes they think it's hilarious to get each other mad. Benson seems so young to exhibit this behavior, but he does it nonetheless. Maxwell is so detail-oriented and likes everything to be in order, so Benson delights in messing it up. Last night I was reading to the boys after they were tucked into bed and Benson would get out of bed, mosey on over to Maxwell's bed, and then quickly grab his blanket or one of his animals and bolt back to his own bed. Maxwell would, of course, yell and Benson would flash the biggest cheesy grins as he watched him in distress. The two of them are such a funny pair.

They are just such peaceful little angels when they are napping. Maxwell now has 5 different stuffed animals he always wants to sleep with.

For a while, Benson would don this hat and grab a sword and come running out of the playroom with this look on his face saying with all the 2-year-old menace he could muster, "I'm a bad guy!!"

Maxwell doesn't enjoy most "real" food, preferring snacks, smoothies, and breakfast foods instead, but he does have quite a fondness for corndogs.

And Benson enjoys re-distributing the things that belong in this cupboard into other cupboards and then climbing in and pretending it's his car.
It's been so great to have these calm, happy days with these two before their baby sister arrives.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020


A group of friends threw the sweetest baby shower for me and another woman in our ward (due with a baby girl 10 days after me) this past Saturday.
They initially planned an outdoor shower with a garden tea party theme, so that people could either drive up and drop off gifts or stay and chat, depending on what they felt comfortable with.
Unfortunately, at the last minute the rain started and they had to move everything inside.
They hustled and put everything together beautifully in spite of the abrupt change of plans!

My friend who was in charge of the decorations and favors is a creative genius. She seems to excel at ANYTHING artistic, from cake decorating to painting to home decorating to party planning to graphic design and on and on. Anything she touches becomes instantly beautiful and, as a result, she gets asked to help with way more than her share of events.
I felt guilty that she once again was doing so much to help with this shower, but also amazed and grateful for all she did to make it such a beautiful day!

The favors were ranunculus bulbs, packaged in beautiful papers she designed.

Everything was tied in to the theme...even the water bottle labels!

Other friends pitched in to create a gorgeous array of food for lunch:
-grape chicken salad croissants
-fruit cups
-pesto pasta salad
-pumpkin white chocolate chip scones
-coconut macaroons
-shortbread cookies
-orange madelines
-water with flavor add-ins

They arranged the cutest set-up for us to sit in, including a gorgeous backdrop with an arrangement of real flowers in the corner (currently adorning my kitchen table!).
My sweet friend even brought her vintage tea cart to stack gifts on!
I came home with a wide array of beautiful gifts and feeling so grateful for the friendships I have here and the kindness that was shown to us!

Thursday, September 10, 2020


Today at school, Talmage's teacher asked what it means to have self-respect.
Talmage raised his hand and shared with the class something I tell them when someone has been unkind:
"I am a child of God. My worth is not dependent upon the words or actions of someone else, but is a result of my divine nature. I can choose to forgive and remember my infinite worth."

It made me smile to think of him sharing that piece of our family with his school class.
It also made me smile to think that the message had sunk in with him.
I started saying that to our kids, on occasion, after a lot of thought and conversations about the importance of learning to not take offense and how to teach that concept--and, quite frankly, how to develop it in myself because I still have a long way to go.

I am way too sensitive when it comes to what others think of me!
I finally came to a realization that when someone is unkind, I need to ask myself a question.
"Does my behavior need to change?"
If the answer is yes, then I need to do what I can to repent and change based on their criticism while forgiving any unkindness on their part.
If the answer is no, then I need to forgive the person and move forward without another thought of their criticism.

A couple of years ago, I had a powerful impression that teaching our children the principle of AGENCY is vitally important. They are not victims of their circumstances. They get to choose the course of their lives! They don't have to engage in certain behaviors just because it's their natural tendency. They don't have to act the way society expects them to. They don't have to take offense when others are unkind. THEY GET TO CHOOSE!

I don't always choose wisely.
Sometimes I choose to be offended.
Sometimes I choose to be lazy.
Sometimes I choose to lose my temper.
But always, I recognize that I am choosing, and that knowledge is incredibly empowering.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Happy Birthday, Lincoln!

Sweet, happy, enthusiastic Lincoln turned 7 on the 5th!
The day before his birthday, he found out he was chosen for the character value of the month at school (Respect). My neighbor is the one in charge of taking the kids' pictures for the board at the school, so she texted me this picture. That ear-to-ear smile is SO Lincoln!

Since Sam was going to be in Louisiana for Lincoln's birthday, we celebrated the evening of the 3rd.
Lincoln randomly requested a green eggs & ham cake.
I thought and thought about how to do it and finally decided to keep the design simple, but to finally try using fondant.
It was my first time working with fondant and there are definitely a lot of imperfections. I learned some valuable things along the way. But overall, I think it turned out pretty cute and he was thrilled with it. Someone was borrowing my camera, so these phone pictures will have to do.
Underneath the marshmallow fondant (yuck) were two layers of dense chocolate cake with a hefty layer of cookie dough in between, all covered with chocolate frosting. So it was pretty easy to peel off the fondant and eat the tasty stuff underneath! Some of the kids liked the fondant, but it was way too sweet for me.

Once again, his requested birthday dinner was super easy to put together. Their simple requests have been so appreciated by this very pregnant mama!
He asked for hot dogs, bunny pasta, and chocolate protein shakes. I threw some watermelon on the table, too. 

He elected to play the hot-cold game to find his presents rather than having them wrapped. He was SO, so, so happy to get this minky blanket! He has been so enamored with the one Sam got me for Mother's Day and is constantly begging to sleep with it or grabbing it from our bedroom to cuddle with. After he slept with it, he came downstairs declaring he'd had the best sleep ever! He is still sooo happy about his new blanket.

He was also SUPER happy about the BeyBlade Talmage and Wesley picked out for him. He threw his arms around both of them when he found it. It performs pretty well in competition with some of the better ones the boys have!

He picked a cool LED-lit kaleidoscope from the Grandma store, and he is excited to put together cars from the STEM car-making kit Grandma Sue gave him!

I still wanted to make his actual birthday special in spite of Sam's absence, so I made a number of plans for the day (which was a Saturday). We first headed to a nearby park. Playgrounds in our city are still blocked off with caution tape, but we brought scooters and the boys loved scootering around the long path that surrounds the park!
Next, we went to the library. Unfortunately, I was unaware that the library system has changed their hours so that they are now closed on Saturday (presumably due to COVID). That was a major disappointment for the boys.
But not to worry! I had another exciting plan in store. Breanne had given me a coupon for buy a dozen donuts, get a dozen free from Krispy Kreme and I had seen that they had just come out with an assortment of Fall flavors that looked so fun (like pumpkin cinnamon roll stuffed with cream cheese frosting). I thought it would be fun to pick up some donuts for a sweet birthday lunch and drop off the extra dozen with our neighbors as a way to celebrate Lincoln. BUT, Krispy Kreme had a buy a dozen, get another dozen for $1 deal going that day and apparently word about the deal raced around our town. When I pulled up, the drive-thru line wrapped all the way around the store, through the parking lot, and down the busiest street in town!
I asked the boys what they wanted to do, and they agreed to brave the line. So we waited in line for about an HOUR, crawling forward at a snail's pace. When we finally got up to order, we were told that they were out of almost every kind of donut due to the promotion. So we scraped together what we could, got our free dozen, and headed for home with 5 extremely hungry boys. We did drop donuts off with our neighbors on the way home, and the boys loved that.
Our last plan of the day was to have a friend and her little boy over for dinner that night (as her husband had also gone to Louisiana). She offered to put together and bring glow-in-the-dark bowling where glow sticks are put in water bottles. Unfortunately, the boys had been sick with colds through the week and Benson still had a residual runny nose, so they decided to play it safe and stay home.
I felt bad that my well-laid plans had fizzled out, but as the boys described their day to Sam when he called that night, it was clear that they didn't see it as a complete flop.
"We got to ride our scooters around the park!"
"We went and got donuts and piled them up to make another birthday cake for Lincoln!"
"The (neighbors) had a hummingbird stuck in their garage and they couldn't get it out!"
Etc. Etc.
Thankfully they usually tend to look on the bright side in the midst of disappointment.
All in all, Lincoln loved his birthday celebrations, and I loved seeing his giant grins repeated so many times through it all!

Monday, September 7, 2020


Sam spent the weekend in Louisiana with some members of our ward, helping with hurricane relief.
It would be fascinating to me to know the administrative details in how the Church assesses the need for help, assigns congregations to specific areas (in this case, we are 5 hours away from where he was working), provides meals for volunteers (and of course bright yellow T-Shirts!), distributes volunteers throughout the city, and gets the job done.
He wasn't privy to all those details, but he had a good time working like crazy for a couple of days, cutting up a number of massive trees that had fallen throughout the city.
Unfortunately, he brought home some pretty nasty souvenirs.
In addition to large cuts all over his legs from tree branches, he has a horrible, blistering poison ivy rash around one ankle. His ankle is hugely swollen and he came home in a lot of pain.
He says it's worth the risk to wear shorts while working in the heat.

(I begged a selfie out of him and he obliged in spite of the fact that taking pictures is very, very low on his priority list when there is a job to get done.)

I'm always struck, when Sam is away, by the effect he has on me.
When he's away, it's not the physical demands of taking care of 5 kids on my own that is overwhelming to me.
But somehow there is this intangible, emotional hole that instantly develops when he leaves to go out of town.
I was reminded of this video my sister took this summer. It's just the boys having a dance party, but as I watched myself in the background, I was amazed to see the change that came over me when Sam sat down next to me. Before, my face was filled with tension and I was distracted. Immediately after he sits next to me, my entire body relaxes and I am all smiles, focused on enjoying the kids with him.
That is what he does to me on a daily basis. He grounds me, relaxes me, eases my burdens, highlights the joy in my life, and increases my appreciation for the kids.
Needless to say, we're all incredibly glad he's home!
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