May 30, 2009

Has it really been a year?

One year ago today, my family woke up in sleeping bags. We'd just spent our last night in the empty rooms of our Beaverton home. On the agenda that day was something really hard: driving away from that home and into the great Colorado unknown.

I cannot believe a year has passed already. I still can't read my last Oregon blog post without crying a bit.

Happy and settled as we are in Colorado Springs, I get a little misty when I think about the fabulous people and places we left behind. Just last night I was chatting online with a dear friend I visit taught in Beaverton. Our conversation brought back fond memories, as well as a few sad twinges. I miss so many people, the luscious green trees everywhere, the rain, the coast. I thought I'd grow old in Oregon. My plans don't always work out.

But sometimes (well, most of the time, I'm finding) life isn't about what I want or what I think I need. And I have to say that I'm very happy with this particular not-what-I-wanted step in my eternal journey. This move has helped me grow in ways I couldn't have grown if I had been rooted in the familiar and the comfortable. I have seen with greater clarity the hand of a loving Heavenly Father directing and sometimes clearing my path. He knows what I need. He knows what my family needs.

I never could have imagined that after just a year in this place, I would feel so at home or have friends so dear to my heart, but I do! And in my wildest dreams, I could not have pictured marking this anniversary with a baby girl in my arms, but I am! It's funny how life turns out. Funny, and kind of great.

May 29, 2009


Last night I realized that my house looks like an infant merchandising store threw up on it.

As I picked up a {very} little before bed {at 8:00 p.m.}, I found no fewer than six burp cloths strewn about the house. Three hair bows, five blankets. A million binkies. Several tiny dirty diapers {the kind that don't stink}. A car seat here, a bouncy chair there...all mixed in with a healthy dose of dirty dishes, socks, towels, and sneakers. The house definitely has the lived-in look.

Normally, this sort of thing would drive me insane. But I've decided to go into the business of celebrating life's little victories. I'm embracing the chaos, trying to do what I can, and letting the rest go. I have a tiny baby, a bigger baby, and two active boys. Instead of shlumping around in survival mode, I'm choosing to be happy with this stage. It will pass, and along with it, Lexi's infanthood. She's too cute to miss out on.

So here's the plan. {This is a plan without a theme, a chart, a plastic bin, and an idea jar. It's just your basic, garden-variety plan. Please don't make Superwoman comments. They just won't be true.}

Showering every day garners me one giant pat on the back. {Making sure everyone else gets clean: two pats.} Weathering a full-blown toddler tantrum over goldfish crackers -- without breaking a sweat -- earns a gold star for my forehead. Not completely losing my composure over unimportant things as I ride the hormonal roller coaster: chocolate.

And so it goes from hour to hour. There are plenty of ups and downs as this fatigue-ridden Mommy learns to navigate parental waters with four children {even when Daddy's home for a week}. But I'm finding that focusing on the good things helps me.

This afternoon one victory made me especially happy: the Littles and I completed a lovely walk around the neighborhood.

It was a spur-of-the-moment thing; five minutes after the idea entered my head, we hit the road. Unlike the Series of Unfortunate Events that ruled our last walking experience, this excursion was awesome. It wasn't completely hassle-free, but the fresh air, brisk pace, and storm-is-comin' breeze helped blow away a few of the day's frustrations. Don't let this sunshiny post deceive you; this day had many frustrations.

But as I sit here tonight, at the end of this long, long day, I'm thinking of the things that went well instead of those that went badly. I swept the floor, survived two medical appointments, made an important decision, organized the purse-formerly-known-as-the-black-hole, and washed and dried four loads of laundry. I played with my babies, mostly didn't yell at the kids, enjoyed the sunshine, and tried hard to nap. Maybe mopping the floor and folding all that laundry can be tomorrow's victories, but if they aren't, I'll find something else to celebrate.

May 28, 2009

Here comes summer

Zachary closed the school year with a bang. We're proud of our soon-to-be second grader! He earned accolades from his teachers in science, math, and P.E. Each little presentation at the awards assembly began with some iteration of, "This young man is new to our school..." What a great fourth quarter it has been.

When Zach got ready for the last day of school, I noticed that he donned the same outfit he wore on the last day of kindergarten in Oregon almost exactly one year ago. Why I remembered this nugget of information is beyond me, but the blog archive backed me up! Here's a photo. I also thought it would be fun to compare these shots with the first day of school in 2008.

And now summer begins.

The weather is fantastic (read my gushing on the previous post), there are neighbors to play with, and we have a big yard to enjoy. At our house, though, when kids wake up before six o'clock, summer days are mighty long. I had ample time in April to contemplate this reality, so I devised a plan. Because I am me, it took shape in the form of a theme, a chart, a plastic bin, and an idea jar. I know I have OCD, and I'm sure I'm passing it on to my children.

The theme:
(There's nothing like a scripture to validate my personality quirks.)

The chart:
(The boys have three daily jobs in four categories: mind, body, spirit, and home.
Each job is listed on a card in the color-coded category pouch.
The purple pouch says "done!" Gotta love that "checked-off" feeling.)

The plastic bin:
(Here we have a collection of books and workbooks--only two of which were purchased for this purpose--that will help the boys complete their tasks throughout the week.)

The idea jar:
(Summer boredom is inevitable, so I put about 50 activity ideas in this jar.
The only catch is this: if a boy draws a slip, he must complete the activity
whether he thinks it's fun or not!)

We used a similar system last year that was pretty successful, but this is definitely an expanded and refined version. The kids are a year older, and I figure it's a fun-ish way to keep them occupied for a couple of hours each morning. I guess we'll see how it goes!

May 27, 2009

Nature walk

While cleaning up after dinner this evening, I determined to take an evening stroll. The fantastic spring weather was calling to me. "Come bask in my goodness!" it cried. I couldn't help but answer the call.

With Daddy and the big boys at t-ball practice, I set about preparing the Littles for our walk. A fairly simple task, no? I knew their bellies were full and their bums were clean, so I just had to load them in the stroller, change my shoes, and grab the house keys. No biggie.

This is when the comedy of errors began.

First, I removed the double jogger from its hanging spot on the garage wall and discovered the front tire was missing. I quickly located it, mounted it, and loaded Gavin, who was super anxious to begin this adventure. Lexi was next. It quickly became apparent that a side-by-side stroller may not have been the best purchase, Craigslist "steal" notwithstanding. Gavin set about poking his sister in the face. I distracted him with his stuffed bear and a cup of water. (Even as I handed him the water, however, I wondered if it could be turned into a weapon, so I let him have a sip and took the cup away).

Then we were off.

Except that we had three flat tires. Not to worry...the pump was in the garage and I knew how to use it. Gavin helped.

I opted to text Garry so he'd know why we wouldn't be home when he returned with Zach and Tyler. (They were due back in ten minutes.) He suggested I wait for the big boys, who would surely love to come. So we did a few laps around the cul-de-sac and waited.

Once home, Zach bolted for his scooter. Tyler had to change his shoes. Lexi started to scream.

I asked Zach to walk with me instead of ride. He threw a fit. Tyler was taking
for-ev-er finding shoes. Lexi continued to scream. I took her inside to see if a diaper change would calm her down. Zach stayed outside with Gavin.

As I changed the diaper, Tyler came running into Lexi's bedroom in a panic. He blurted out that Zach had tipped the stroller backwards, causing Gavin to hit his head, hold his breath, and pass out (this is his oh-so-stressful reaction to freaks us all out). By the time I got outside, Gavin was screaming and Zach was looking guilty. I assessed Gavin for damage, Zach was uninvited, and Lexi continued to scream.

I gave up. No walk tonight.

But then Garry intervened. He took the baby and ushered Tyler, Gavin, and I down the driveway. He knew the walk would do me good. And so we went.

We got to the end of our street when Tyler started to complain. He didn't want to carry his water bottle, but he hadn't brought the lid, so I wouldn't let him put it in the stroller. I invited him to return to the house. He declined.

A block later, Gavin, who had somehow retrieved his cup in the earlier melee, threw it on the ground. It sprouted a giant crack and spilled everywhere. Excellent. It was brand new.

I set a brisk pace at first (my natural instinct) and Tyler struggled to keep up. I slowed down to accommodate his little legs, but he complained about walking and about holding his water the entire time. He wanted to take Lexi's spot in the stroller.

I was so frustrated at this point that steam was probably coming out of my ears in great, billowing clouds. Was an outing
really worth all this hassle? I decided to focus on the thing that had compelled me to start this ridiculous journey in the first place: the gorgeous Colorado evening. The bright blue sky, the vividly green trees, the colorful flowers, the snow-capped mountains, the fresh, light was truly breathtaking. With every step, it was easier to tune out the whining five-year-old, the jabbering toddler, my aching foot, the frustrating hour. Blue trees...tulips...mountains...breeze...yes, this was good therapy.

Eventually, the three of us rounded the last corner and we were home. I was refreshed. I started hatching a plan to walk again tomorrow. But guess what? I'm going alone.

May 26, 2009

Fun weekend photos

It was Memorial Day weekend, but it felt like a regular string of days at our house. Things are getting a little fuzzy with the parents all sleep-deprived and stuff. Garry and I have hit the "omigosh...we have four kids" phase. It's good, but it's exhausting. I'm glad Garry decided to take the week off.

Here are some silly photos from our weekend. More than anything, they prove that Alexis isn't the only child in our household these days.

Our boys have a thing with blankets...and the middle boy is obsessed with his bear.

Lexi is officially NOT a fan of bath time, but isn't her new belly button cute?

Here is Gavin watching his baby sister take her first real bath. He gets very concerned when she screams. Fortunately for all, she doesn't scream very often.

Gavin and I went to a two-year-old birthday party on Saturday. Gavin didn't really get into all the finger painting and artsy activities, but he managed to spill a goodly portion of paint, smear it everywhere, and have a great time doing it! Mostly I think he was just glad to have a one-on-one outing with Mommy.

Zachary was bored on Monday so Garry "let" him help with mowing the lawn. Zach grumbled about the work, but it was obvious he had a great time. Garry kept a close watch on our little landscaper while Tyler played with the neighbor kids in the background.

This is a classic shot from our little photo op with Granny before she left. She and Gavin developed a sweet relationship during her stay. Gavin called her "Gookie."

Tyler is such a silly boy. He loves dancing to the music this guitar plays. In this shot he is jamming with the guitar behind his back...apparently so everyone can still see his "awesome clothes." He is very excited about the outfits that came out of the hand-me-down box this season. Every day is a fashion show.

Another day, another bow...we're loving this little girl thing!

May 24, 2009

Come back soon!

Dear Granny,

It's hard to believe you've been here nine days.
The time absolutely flew by!

Thank you for all of your love and service.
We will be forever grateful....

...especially because your presence was all Lexi needed to join us!

We are so glad you are coming back so soon. We can't wait!


Garry, Heidi, Zachary, Tyler, Gavin and Lexi

May 23, 2009

Big brother is watching

Life with our new baby has been pretty great so far. Tiring, of course, but with lots of Granny help things are running fairly smoothly.

Gavin is the wild card.

He's a sweet boy, but becoming a big brother sorta turned his world upside down. Happily, he's gone from furious to curious in a week's time. He's not hitting Lexi (or those associated with her) nearly as often. His inquisitive and exuberant pokes are just as dangerous, but we can appreciate the more tender motives he now has.

It seems part of Gavin's upset stemmed from missing me while I was at the hospital. While he has done remarkably well (i.e., been happy) in Granny's care, he is now overly concerned regarding my whereabouts. If I leave the room, he follows. If I return, he runs up for a hug. If I'm missing, he calls for me. If I use the bathroom, he sits by the door and waits. I'm trying to give him more attention and indulge his need for Mommy time when I can, and this appears to be helping.

The latest transformation occurred yesterday when Gavin discovered he can open Lexi's bedroom door despite the "child-proof" doorknob cover. Now if he hears Lexi cry, he literally runs to her rescue. While calling "Baby, baby!" he trots off to her room, opens the door, climbs up on the crib rails, and peeks over to check her out.

We can't blame him...Lexi is pretty cute.

We just prefer to supervise Gavin's interactions.

We're still not sure how Lexi feels about her big brother...

May 21, 2009

What did you learn today?

We're learning a lot about our little girl (and some other stuff) this week, such as...

Bath time can occur at 2 a.m.

Adorable half-smiles can infinitely improve a tired mommy's day.

Tiny babies satisfied after nursing make everything right with the world.
And it is possible for tiny babies to gain four ounces in two days because of moments like this.

Alexis likes sleeping on her right side while wrapped up tight.
And you're right...she looks like she has black eyes.
Apparently going from in-utero to ex-utero in a matter of seconds is a little traumatic.

One non-baby lesson learned this week:
Tricycles can be transported 30 feet high and nestled in tree branches
(presumably by random teenagers looking for a prank...).

And another: vegetable oil has many uses, as seen here.

May 19, 2009

Of toddlers and tubs

Tonight I'm feeling pretty grateful for my mom.

When I had a complete emotional breakdown last Wednesday, she arranged her life, booked a flight, and pledged to come help me, baby or no baby, for ten days.

She made life as smooth and wonderful as possible for my kids while we were in the hospital for Lexi's birth. Among other things, she handled a toddler with separation anxiety and a seven-year-old with the pukes.

Just today, she did all my laundry and dishes, took Tyler and Gavin to the preschool field trip, picked up Zachary from school, let me rest, and made dinner.

And then, as if her status wasn't unbelievably high, she proved herself as the mother of the year.

I was running a bath for Gavin and stepped out of the bathroom just long enough to tell my mom that Garry had called. In addition to his baseball coach meeting this evening, he had been summoned to work to deal with an emergency and would likely be late. I told her, "I'm glad you're here," thinking of how she could help with bathing and bedding down my four children.

Then I returned to the bathroom and experienced a parenting first.

Gavin had climbed into the tub...and pooped. Actually, it looked like about five people had pooped in that water. It was everywhere. The stench was overwhelming, as was the image of Gavin happily playing with all of his bath toys, obviously oblivious to the sewage floating around him.

I gagged and moaned, "Oh no!"

With Lexi in her arms, Granny came in to assess the situation, the nature of which she correctly guessed without a visual. I pulled Gavin out of the tub and turned on the fan. She let the water start to drain. And then we both backed away and started laughing. And gagging. But mostly laughing.

My stomach, still very prone to nausea, was rolling. As I hid in another room, I heard water sloshing around. A toilet flushed. My mom emerged from the bathroom taking deep breaths, and then she asked for cleaning supplies.

"You know why I'm going to clean this up for you, right?" she asked, rag in hand.
"Because you are a saint?" I said.
"No. Because someday, you just might have to clean up after me!"

We both roared with laughter, and the giggles didn't stop for a long time. (Neither did the smell, but even that made us laugh.)

So thanks, Mom, for being great. And hilarious. And one very talented tub-scrubber. I owe you one {million}.

Pretty in pink

When we got home from the hospital yesterday, this was waiting for us:

Granny took care of announcing our news to the neighborhood. Perfect!
While she and the boys were anxiously awaiting our arrival
(my doc took her sweet time with the discharge paperwork),
we were playing dress-up with Alexis.

This pink thing is fun already.
{Excuse me while I cuddle her some more.}

Birth Day

It's hard to believe our sweet baby is finally here. Quite honestly, I'm still in shock. But sleepless nights and tantrumming toddlers will jolt me to reality soon enough.

Garry edited all these photos for blog postage -- thanks, honey!

Lexi's birthday time line went like this:

6:30 a.m. OK, baby girl. Today would be perfect. Hey...was that a contraction? I better take a shower.
9:00 a.m. Maybe I ought to start paying attention to these twinges.
9:57 a.m. Garry, get a pen. Where's your watch? These are different than Tuesday.
11:00 a.m. Really? Every three minutes? Sixty seconds each? Hm. Where's the pain? It can't be the real deal without hardcore pain.
12:00 p.m. I actually have to breathe through some of these. I wonder...
12:30 p.m. Garry, get your stuff ready.
12:45 p.m. Are you ready yet? I think it's time.
1:00 p.m. Let's pose by the door and record the fact that I'm wearing pajamas.

1:10 p.m. Hey, receptionist. Just because I'm calm doesn't mean you can ignore me.
1:20 p.m. Nurse, please don't send me home. Tell me this is real.
1:27 p.m. Nurse Tammy: Um, HELLO! Seven centimeters, girl! Hang on while I admit you.
1:35 p.m. Garry, will you madly text everyone with my cervical status? Give me a high five while you're at it. This rocks.
1:45 p.m. Isn't this gown fabulous? Where's the anesthesiologist?
1:55 p.m. Is the IV insertion supposed to hurt more than the contractions? I think not.
2:00 p.m. Hey, Dr. Fox. You're my best friend. Let the numbing begin.

2:20 p.m.
Hey, Dr. Christenson. Is that cat hair all over your shirt? Please put on a gown before you break my water.
2:30 p.m. Garry, will you madly text everyone again?
2:40 p.m. I think this baby is coming very soon. Like soon.
2:47 p.m. Dr. Christenson: I think you've got four or five pushes. Nurse Tammy: I think this is a one-push girl.
2:48 p.m. I'm with Tammy - here she comes!
2:49 p.m. Welcome to the world, baby girl! Is it possible that you're really here?


3:00 p.m. So, Baby, what's your name?


5:30 p.m. Hey, Granny! Hey, boys! Come meet your little sister! No, she doesn't have a name yet. What do you think it should be?

5:45 p.m. Thank you for rubbing my feet, Tyler. That is very sweet. And yes, I'm feeling o.k.
6:15 p.m. See you tomorrow, kiddos. Love you. Thanks, Granny.


8:00 p.m. So, Baby, what's your name?


11:30 p.m. How about Alexis, honey? Alexis Paige it is. Happy Birthday, Lexi.

pass it on!

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