Oct 31, 2011

Playing dress-up

I bet you are all expecting Halloween photos.  They will come.  Aside from all the holiday hubbub, this is what has me smiling today:

Yep.  I started sewing doll clothes today.  So far Baby Claire has cloth diapers, pajamas, and this cute little dress, which is my favorite.  I am re-learning to read/follow a pattern and just used elastic for the first time ever.  I'm glad I started Lexi's Christmas present early.  The next few weeks are going to be a lot of fun!

P.S.  If you're local and want to donate your fabric scraps to the cause, give me a call.  :)

Oct 30, 2011

Kate update

Digesting Kate's new feeding situation (haha...pun intended) has taken me a few days.  I have really struggled with feelings of guilt (for not recognizing her needs) and feelings of frustration (for the extra demands of our new routine).  I have consulted a few experts and given the whole situation a lot of thought.  And of course I have been feeding Kate a lot more and watching anxiously for her response.

The lactation consultant said Kate is most likely a baby who is "content to starve," or will only eat enough to stop feeling hungry.  She is so content that she probably doesn't know what true hunger is, except maybe at night.  To give her extra calories, and to help her little tummy expand, Kate is now nursing every 1.5-2.5 hours.  I'm trying to keep her nursing as long as possible during each session.  After some feedings, I also supplement with an ounce or two of pumped breast milk in a bottle.  Kate has gobbled up the extra milk.  Tomorrow I will start taking some herbs to increase my milk production. 

Since we started the new routine, I have noted a few changes.

*Kate is much more alert and is spending more time awake and engaged every day.
*She is fussier and more vocal in general.
*She smiles more easily, especially for me.  She used smile for everyone BUT me.
*She sleeps less.
*She spits up more.
*She seems hungry more frequently.

What does it all mean?  Who knows.  As for me, I devote at least twice as much time per day to Kate's feedings.  I thought I was limited before!  Even though I am quite sore and very tired, I am starting to hope that we might not have to live this way forever.  I hope that Kate's increasing demand will help with my supply (which has never been a problem before), and that we can eliminate the bottle supplements after a few weeks.  I am hoping she can be an exclusively breastfed baby, but we'll see.  Kate's growth is very important, but so is my sanity.

That said, how can I help but love this little girl?  She and Lexi were an adorable pair this morning.

Joys since my last post:

*Sending Zach on his first hike with the Webelos
*Rewarding Tyler with an ice cream date for good behavior at school
*Seeing Gavin play with a basketball team for the first time
*Going on our first post-baby date to the adult session of stake conference
*Having success with a new babysitter
*Enjoying warmer temperatures and sunshine
*Finishing an entire laundry cycle (wash, dry, fold, iron, put away) in 24 hours
*Cutting out doll clothes patterns for Christmas
*Attending the ward fall festival with five costume-clad kids
*Having a clean house on Saturday night

Oct 27, 2011

I didn't know....

Dearest Kate,

I found out at the doctor's office this morning that you are starving.  In the last month you didn't even gain a pound.  You're almost ten weeks old and only weigh 8 pounds, 5 ounces.  I knew you were little, but I actually gasped when I saw the reading on the scale.  I even asked the nurse to weigh you again.  The same numbers stared back.  Not even a pound in a month.  That's bad, little girl!

I guess I'm so busy with everything going on at our house that I didn't pay enough attention to your growth.  You're so content, and besides your weight, your developmental benchmarks are right on track.  You can hold up your head, move your arms and legs, and smile all the time.  You are awake more often and sleeping well at night.  In my estimation, your nursing has been great from the start.  It really never occurred to me that you were hungry.

But apparently my notion of the status quo is way off kilter.  You're falling off the growth charts.  You aren't getting enough calories.  Your improved sleep has likely come because you're too exhausted to do anything else.  Your doctor couldn't have been nicer about the whole thing, but I'm pretty devastated that I've let you down...and that I've been totally ignorant of the shortfall.

It turns out all my excitement for giving you a bottle has turned into a prescription.  You are supposed to take a bottle after every nursing session in order to boost your calorie intake.  You need to gain weight; you need to catch up.  I'm not sure how we'll manage the new regimen. It will require a lot more time and effort! But I look forward to watching you grow...



Oct 26, 2011

One magical moment

I haven't showered yet today.
I didn't exercise.
I forgot it was our day for preschool snack.
I haven't made my bed.
I can't figure out why Kate is so sad.
I don't know what to make for dinner.
I can't find my favorite socks.
I am actively ignoring my dirty kitchen floor.

But in the middle of all I should have been doing but wouldn't/couldn't/didn't, I played in the snow with Lexi.  A few laps around the back yard on the sled and two tongues trying to catch snowflakes just might turn out to be the best part of my day.  I'm so glad I shared that with her.


Today's joys:

*Miss Alexis in the snow
*Garry reminding me about the snack
*Actually having a preschool-appropriate snack in the house
*Nap time

Oct 25, 2011

Fall chore

After school today, the kids helped me bag all of the fallen leaves in our yard.  In about an hour we filled sixteen 30-gallon bags.  We also pulled up all the sunflowers (sniff, sniff). After work, Garry winterized the sprinkler system, put away the hose, and covered all the outdoor spigots.

The sky is supposedly going to dump six inches of snow in this part of the country tomorrow.  I'm not ready for winter yet, but at least our yard is braced for snow.

Today's joys:

*Working outside with my kids
*Recording Zach and Tyler doing the first installment of "Science Fair Weekly Report"
  (posts to come)
*Doing Hink Pinks during dinner

Oct 24, 2011

Late summer experiment

Sometime in late summer (we can't remember exactly when, but it was definitely before Kate was born), Garry and the boys planted sunflower seeds in the backyard flower bed. It had been on our summer bucket list, but somehow the simple activity never materialized. Garry just decided one day that we'd see how they grew during what remained of the warm weather.  We were all pleasantly surprised!

Zach was the most excited about this project, and he took responsibility for watering them nearly every day.  The sunflowers grew really fast!  This is a photo from September 4.

We haven't grown much in that flower bed, but the sunflowers showed a real pattern that had never been apparent before: one side of the bed gets a lot more sunlight than the other half!  It was funny to see how much taller the plants were on the west side versus the east side.  The discrepancy grew more pronounced over time.  On October 7, this was their status.  They grew a lot in a month, and were so healthy and lush at this point.  They were just on the cusp of blooming, too.

The next day, this happened:

SNOW!  What a bummer!  We were so sad for our pretty flowers!  The snow came two days before Kate's blessing.  While our family was here, we watched as the snow melted and wondered how the flowers would fare.  By Monday the weather was warming up nicely, so my mom and brother and I organized a rescue mission.  We used some string to help the flowers stand up again, hoping that the extra support would help the battered plants regain their strength.

The sunflowers definitely rebounded, but they were never quite the same.  Over the last few weeks we have had several overnight temperatures at or below freezing, and the poor plants have suffered.  Even though it was about 75 degrees today, we are expecting more snow on Wednesday.  This afternoon I took pictures of the happy blooms, since this is probably the height of their glory.

Overall, growing sunflowers was lots of fun!  We all enjoying seeing their rapid growth and transformation during the last couple of months.  Next summer we'll have to plant them earlier so we can enjoy them even longer!

Today's joys:

*Finally meeting with an attorney to set up a will and trust (a task that has been nagging
  me for years)
*Remembering with fondness my college roommate, Jennifer Jayne, who died 11 years
  ago today
*Coaxing smiles and belly laughs from my darling baby
*Enjoying an unexpected phone call from a dear friend
*Taking a nap

Oct 23, 2011

The everyday

October is always a busy month for us.  Between fall festivities, Zach's birthday, Halloween, and the inevitable school projects, we always have lots of event-type posts on the old blog.  That's fine and good, but some of the everyday stuff gets lost in the shuffle.  It's the everyday stuff I want to remember most!

For example, this image should be recorded in the annals in our family history:

Zach found his wall-washing chore rather unpleasant, so he spent a little while as a Storm Trooper.  Note: this did not help him accomplish the work more quickly.

And then there was the day that I actually captured some of Kate's fabulous smiles on camera!  Even better was the song and dance from Dad going on behind the camera.

Kate goes to sleep between 7:00 and 8:00 every night.  If she happens to fall asleep in our arms, she's almost impossible to wake.  One night when I laid her on the couch in order to fashion her nighttime burrito, this is what she did:

On Friday Garry and I used our remaining Groupon and took the Littles to the pumpkin patch again.  With an earlier start, smaller crowds, and a much more advantageous adult:child ratio, we had a great time!

Lexi got a new hair-do the other day.  It was completely darling until she tore it out.

Part of being identified with the TAG (Talented and Gifted) program at school is setting academic goals in line with the students' interests.  Both Zach and Tyler made goals to complete extra science projects this fall.  Zach built a terrarium and aquarium at home to mirror those he built at school.  Instead of giving his plants water every other day, he will give them milk.  It will be interesting to compare the results to his class project!

Tyler's class will do science fair projects in the spring.  Tyler is going to be the class prototype, doing his project this fall.  He will give weekly presentations (maybe on video!) to his class on the various steps required for a science fair project.  For a couple of weeks he has been reading science fair books and has finally picked a project.  He has begun researching his topic, as well.  He's doing a great job so far!  

Tonight Garry went home teaching at 7:00.  We finished dinner and Family Home Evening at 6:55, so I was left to run the bedtime routine alone.  The boys, in particular, were really wound up from an afternoon of silly play.  Sure enough, as I went about cleaning the kitchen, I heard giddy shrieks of laughter in the basement.  I went downstairs several times to turn off lights and tuck in giggling boys.  On about my fourth trip downstairs, I found all the lights on (again!) and Gavin jumping on his bed.  He was wearing Buzz Lightyear wings...and every single sock he owned.  His feet were giant.  I laughed and laughed and then took a picture.  Then I tucked the boys in again and went back upstairs.  Ten minutes later, at 8:25, the boys were at it again.  This time I found THREE boys with giant sock feet.  They were laughing hysterically.  Garry came home during this time and came downstairs to locate the source of laughter.  Then HE finally got the boys to go to sleep.

When they took off their socks, Garry found that Gavin was wearing 16 pairs; Zach, 12; and Tyler, 11.  Wow!  Those kids definitely made a memory tonight!

Today's joys:

*Remembering past Primary programs, including the way Zach used to hide under chairs, stand silently at the mic, and make a spectacle
*Singing my favorite hymn (#85) in Relief Society
*Giggling about huge sock feet instead of yelling
*Making a bowl of caramel popcorn just for myself
*Thinking about Mesa High's homecoming queen
*Feeling grateful for the people who really "get me"
*Finishing The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Oct 21, 2011

Kate: Two months

Sweet Kate is two months old!  It's hard to imagine life without her.  Looking at her and holding her brings me great joy, not only because she's my beautiful daughter, but because she a great, miraculous blessing at the end of a difficult journey.  I'm so glad she is here!

Kate is still very much a newborn baby.  She's tiny, for one thing.  She still easily fits in newborn diapers and is in the small end of 0-3 months clothes.  I estimate she weighs between eight and nine pounds, but her two-month check-up isn't until next week, so I don't know for sure.  Kate is generally very happy and content, especially when snugly swaddled and cuddled against an adult's chest.  She loves her binky and burrito-style wraps, which are the two best soothing devices we've got.

This week Kate took a bottle of my milk for the first time.  I waited too long to introduce Lexi to a bottle, and then we had a serious battle of wills, so I felt motivated to make a better effort this time.  Kate took to the bottle like a champ.  She has had two or three since then with no problem at all.  I'm thrilled with her progress, since it will afford me a little more freedom.  Kate has been with two babysitters this week (just a couple hours at a time), which has given me more confidence that I could leave her long enough to go to the temple (a five-hour round-trip).  I'm excited!

Another great milestone we are enjoying is Kate's improved sleeping habits.  We can count on a six-to-seven-hour stretch every night.  It usually begins between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m., so I have to retire early to reap the greatest benefit.  One night this week she slept eight solid hours, and one night she slept 10!  It's a wonderful blessing that our best infant sleeper came last.  Since I currently require lots and lots of sleep, I am very grateful for Kate's temperament.

Kate has had a few adventures this month.  Of course, her blessing day was a great event, as was meeting some of her faraway relatives.  She went to many, many soccer games, a few park trips, Garden of the Gods, and the pumpkin patch (twice!).  Kate has been to church and out to eat with the family.  She also attended my study group a couple of times.  Yep, this baby is a travelin' baby.  Ironically, she doesn't really like her car seat....

Kate's smiles have delighted us as they have come more frequently over the last couple of weeks.   And sometimes, Kate even adds her voice to her smiles.  Hearing her happy gurgles and coos is just about my favorite thing in the world.Garry and Zach are the best at soliciting her grins.  She almost always rewards them with dazzling smiles.  Sadly, they weren't home when Kate's two-month photo shoot took place, so this post shows her more somber side.  The photo below captures sort of a half-smile, but it's a great shot of her dimples! 

Gavin and Lexi might be Kate's biggest fans.  They love to try to entertain her, soothe her, hold her, and make her smile.  Gavin thinks he is big enough to carry Kate around.  Sometimes he will unbuckle her from her swing or bouncy seat and bring her to me.  That always stops my heart for a few seconds.  Thankfully, she has never been hurt!

We love our sweet baby Kate.

Oct 20, 2011

Messy, explosive, and FUN

Zach's turn for an every-other-year party came around with his 10th birthday.  We planned the theme back in June, when I hosted two rounds of Mom Camp: Science Edition.  I think Zach was a little worried that a science party wouldn't be cool enough for his friends, who all seem to have their parties at gymnastics gyms, indoor theme parks, and laser tag venues.  Happily, the party did not disappoint.  It's nice to have a few points in the parental "win" column.

We thought it would be fun to have Zach's party on his actual birthday.  We circulated these invitations to a few neighborhood friends, a few church friends, and a few school friends (sadly, there is no overlap in these groups).

I lined up a few key elements that ultimately contributed to the party's amazing success.  First, Garry took a half day off work and helped with final preparations and the party execution.  Second, a sweet friend watched Kate at her house during the party.  And third, I did tons of prep work beforehand.

I love all of the "before" pictures Garry took.  The neat rows of jars and the uniformly-filled cups and the tucked in chairs and the decorated table bring order and peace to my soul.

At 4:00, the guests began to arrive, and order flew out the window!  With one no-show, we had 11 boys plus Gavin and Lexi (who were full party participants).  Can you say, "Full house?"

The kids first constructed marshmallow-and-toothpick towers.  Everyone thought this would be super easy, but it proved to be a trickier venture than expected!  Tommy won the prize for tallest tower with a 13.5-inch free-standing structure.  Second place went to Jacob, whose tower was 10 inches tall.

While I led the kids in making Gak (recipe here), Garry ran to Little Caesar's to get pizza.  [Note to self: sending the help away during a very messy project is a bad choice.]  Despite my logistical error, making Gak may have been the highlight of the party.  The recipe worked perfectly and the boys were thrilled with the results.  Once they mixed their goop into malleable blobs, they enjoyed throwing them into the air.  And at each other.

Then it was time for dinner and some free play in the back yard.  Having glorious afternoon weather at the end of October was certainly a blessing from heaven!  The kids took their pizza and root beer to the playground and had a marvelous time.

I took advantage of the empty house and cleaned up a bit.  The mess was rather extreme.

After dinner, Garry helped the boys play with fire, which was also very exciting.  During Mom Camp this experiment largely failed, but Garry played around with a few combustibles this week and determined that cotton balls produce the perfect flame.  Twelve out of 13 eggs were sucked into the boys' jars.  The kids' reactions were priceless.

We released the energetic crowd into the back yard again, this time because we had lots of time left to fill.  The kids found all kinds of crazy implements with which to start a friendly war. I laughed at Nathan, who chose a unique form of camouflage in the wagon.

Garry and I quickly prepared a last-minute activity (one we initially nixed from the agenda).   Water+oil+alka seltzer = lava lamps!

Zachary had a blast opening gifts from his friends.  Wow!  They were quite generous gifts, too.  Zach is a lucky boy.

Our final "experiments" of the evening were outdoors.  First the boys played with film canister rockets (vinegar and alka seltzer), and then, the grand finale was Coke and Mentos geysers.  We launched four of those.  Several of the boys soaked themselves in the Coke spray.  I'm sure their mothers loved me for that!

Finally, as it was dark and getting pretty chilly outside, we dried off the kids and went inside for cake and ice cream.  Somehow we didn't get an aerial shot of the birthday cake, which had a black radioactive symbol on the top.  Simple design, lopsided cake....not my finest work, but good enough for the birthday boy!  He blew out his candles with gusto.

The party ended at 7:00 p.m.  Our children were in bed 45 minutes later.  It took Garry and I another hour or so to clean up the party rooms.  I haven't looked in the back yard yet, but I'm sure it, too, is littered with remnants of Zach's raucous, loud, crazy, messy, and super FUN birthday party.

Now that we've got the science party all figured out, I think each of our kids has to have one.  But not for a while.  I need to catch up on my sleep first.

Today's joys:
*Having the health, strength, and energy to host a party.
*Having a big enough space to host a party.
*Playing with my kids and other people's kids.
*Watching eggs get sucked into bottles.
*Watching 10-year-old boys watch eggs get sucked into bottles.
*Seeing Gavin and Lexi revel in a "big kid" event.
*Having a husband who happily helps me with all my hare-brained ideas.

pass it on!

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