Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Finally HOME!

We are finally home now after having our sweet baby boy. Nicholas Alma was born on Jan. 21. 2011. His initials are NAC and since his name is Nick we've already started calling him our little Nic-Nac (knick-knack) Hee,hee! Unfortunately, during the C-section he inhaled WAAAAAY too much amniotic fluid which made his lungs sticky and got him a ticket straight to the new NICU at the hospital. They had to intubate him and put a drug called "surfactant" into his lungs to help them clear it all out. This worked beautifully but now that he was in the NICU he had to "graduate" out. Which meant he had to practically behave a hundred times healthier than a normal baby before they'd let him come home! It seemed to take forever, and I HATED coming home without a baby! This was the first time that had happened to us, even with Gabe being a month early, he got to come home with us. Anyway, he got to come home on Thursday and we are SOOOO happy to have him home. I don't think there is a baby in the world more adored by his siblings than this one is. They talk to him in sweet sing-song voices, and beg to hold him. Gabe just stares at him for forever at a time, and then says things like "mom, every time I say 'Baby Nick it's your big brother Gabe', he smiles at me!" Will just laughs at everything he does, and every movement he makes. I think he's told me about 500 hundred times that baby "Nik-kiss" doesn't have any "teef" - which he remembers every time he sees him yawn or open his mouth. :) The big boys were INCREDIBLE while we were going back and forth to the hospital a billion times. I'm so thankful that they are off-track right now and were able to help so much and also to enjoy some time with their baby brother before going back to school! Now that he's home he is doing great, and adjusting to the noise and environment here perfectly. I told Mark that once I got this baby away from all his NICU nurses and home that I didn't plan on putting him down for weeks. I think Nicholas understood that because when we DO put him down, as in once or twice a day, he fusses and squirms like we've just laid him in a cactus tree, then we pick him up and cradle him and he is out like a light and will sleep for HOURS! A little spoiled? Yes. Do I plan on un-spoiling him anytime soon? NO WAY! This is my last baby, and I feel like it's already going too fast. He's 11 days old today!! He's only going to be "fold-in-half" tiny for another week or so. Pretty soon he'll be smiling, laughing, crawling! I really don't want to rush it - so I'm just as happy to sit and hold him as he is to sit and be held.

Mark was absolutely AMAZING as always with this baby. He took a week off and had this house running like a well-oiled machine. He had a laundry day, a vacuuming day, a toilet scrubbing day, floor scrubbing day, etc. The boys were cleaner (maybe not as cutely dressed?) than they've ever been, and so happy and content. He was so patient and loving with them and let them all trade off on sleeping in the big bed while I was gone. I told him they were going to be mad at me when I came home and messed everything up for them! When we brought Nicholas home he waited on the two of us hand and foot until yesterday when he had to go back to work. *sniff* We miss him SO much already!

My mom came in on Sunday, and has been filling the job of new servant very well! She keeps telling me to lay down or take a nap, and has been doing laundry, making beds and fixing lunches. We've also been so blessed with people bringing in meals. My amazing Aunt Ellen even cooked us an entire TURKEY DINNER, and it wasn't even her Sunday to cook dinner for her family! I'm not going to remember how to do anything when all my help goes away! :)

I am feeling great. I think my body was totally prepared for C-section #4. I have been able to take it really easy, and haven't needed anything for pain since the 2nd day at the hospital. I'm so relieved as it would have been even harder to try to take care of a baby in the NICU and feel horrible at the same time. I definitely think it is a tender mercy and am so thankful.

.......And the baby is awake! I will leave you with some pictures of this precious little boy. We love him SO much!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

2010 Wrap-up!

You mean to tell me I still have a blog?! Wow! I'm amazed this is still working!!

Just thought I'd update a little on the family, and try to achieve my goal of staying a little more on top of things in 2011. Goals, goals, goals, right? HOWEVER, I am proud to say I'm still going strong on my - er, Mark's goal of not drinking soda for a month. We're officially 12 days in. I admit, I am totally addicted and it was getting out of control. Especially with the caffeine in the coke I was getting at McDonald's almost every.single.day. CURSE YOU, LARGE DRINKS FOR A DOLLAR! I know what you're thinking.... A MONTH? aren't new years' resolutions supposed to be for the YEAR? Well, yes. But not for us - er, me. I've learned the hard way that long seemingly unreachable goals don't last very long for me, so Mark and I agreed to take it a day, or "month" at a time. Our hope was that we would see the amazing benefits and how great we feel after a month and that would be our motivation to keep on truckin'....Yeah, so far it's not working out so well. Some days are better than others, but this morning it was ALL I COULD DO not to run through McDonald's on my way home from taking Josh to school this morning (early for safety patrol, in the 10* weather - poor, poor adorable, volunteer for everything that comes my way kid). Anyway, my main motivation here is that I am D.E.T.E.R.M.I.N.E.D to nurse this baby, and coke will definitely not help either one of us. I wish nursing came easier to me, or my body I should say. I love it, LOVE the bonding and everything about it. The thing is, my body just slowwwwwly gives up on my milk supply until there is really nothing left - no matter how often I feed or pump. Grr. So, when I say I'm DETERMINED to nurse this baby, it's really no different than the others, I've been determined to nurse EVERY ONE OF THEM, but in the end I have to make the choice of: be stubborn and keep this up, or starve them to death, and so bank-breaking formula it is. Sigh.

WOW, two tangents (goals, and nursing) already started and I didn't even mean to blog about either of those things today!!

ANYWAY..... we are all doing great. I can't believe how big the boys are getting. It kills me really. I hate that they are growing up so fast. My big boys are really turning into fantastic young men, and I love that. They are incredible kids, with amazing spirits. I'm so thankful for their example to their little brothers. The little brothers, aren't so little either. What happened?? I swear I just had Will and now he is heading straight into the big FOUR this year. YIKES! Gabe will be SIX before I blink, then Sam NINE!! and the one that kills me the most, Joshua TWELVE. TWELVE???? GULP!! I want him to be in elementary school with his little brothers forever! No, I don't, but I DO, I really DO! ....sigh.

We had a good year in 2010. Gabe and Sam both had home birthday parties in April. Gabe had an awesome pirate/princess party, complete with a scavenger/treasure hunt with light up swords for the pirates and butterfly wands for the princesses. We took black plastic dollar store table cloths and cut them in strips to make pirate hats (TOTALLY CUTE!) and some of the girls dressed up as little pirates too, and princesses. If I had a girl I would dress her as a pirate for a pirate/princess party. Wait a minute, no I wouldn't. I would totally glam her up as a princess. Wait a minute, I don't have girls. Whew. One less thing.

(that is my new favorite quote from Forrest Gump, which we just caught 5 minutes of on TV the other night - the way he says "one less thing" cracks me up) WOW, I found the video (here)! Except when he says it, it cuts off pretty quick, but anyway - you get the idea: hee,hee.

Holy cats! ANYWAY, the pirate/princess party was awesome, we had a lot of fun, except if I remember correctly I totally underestimated the time for the party and I ended up with all the parents waiting for their kids in my entryway while we finished up the treasure hunt and took a group picture (thank you Melissa!!).
After Gabe's party, we cleaned up and got ready to party all over again for Sam the NEXT DAY! I painted shirts for the boys to wear to school on their birthdays. Sam's had a big number 8 on the front and on the back it said "it's great to be eight" it turned out super cute. I got the idea for the big number on the front from this blog (which I love) that I found while looking up lego party ideas. Sam's party was a lego racing party, and it has been my favorite home party to date. It was SOOO fun, and there are SO many things you can do with the lego theme. We had a ball. We copied the bridge making game from the above blog, and I made a fun bingo game, then they all built their own race cars and we raced them down a track. FUN FUN FUN. Most all of the ideas for decorating and games were found online - I love the never ending source of info and ideas available at our fingertips!
Then came Sam's special baptism day. What a wonderful day!! Mark says when they came out of the water and were getting dry and dressed that Sam was beaming from ear to ear, and said, "Did you feel this way when you were baptized Dad?, I wish we could do this every day!" What a cool kid. We were in charge of the program for his baptism, which has never happened before. So big brother Josh got to give a talk which was INCREDIBLE, man the spirit of that boy never ceases to amaze me. Then Gabe got to recite his memorized scripture Matthew 5:14 and also did an amazing job. We were so thankful to the wonderful family and friends who took time out of their busy schedule to be there for Sam. We all came back to the house and celebrated with pizza and strawberry cake w/whipped cream. YUM! It is a day we don't ever want to forget!

Next up was Joshua's birthday. It was his year to go somewhere fun - though I really need to switch things up a bit, because this year will be Gabe, Sam AND Will's turn for "go somewhere fun" parties, and Josh for the home party, that's a little uneven - don't you think?.....anyway. He took a bunch of friends to a waterpark in town called Cowabunga Bay (you can do that in June!). They had a BLAST. It was a ton of fun. The thing I love about "go somewhere fun" parties, is that the party takes place somewhere else and all the work is practically done for you, then when it's over you can come home to your nice clean house. Ahh. Anyway, it was great, and a wonderful way to celebrate our carefree ELEVEN year old! How is it possible that I don't have a SINGLE picture of his party or actual birthday. ACK!

Joshua earned his Arrow of Light in scouts this year. This is such a great accomplishment, and the arrow of light patch is the only one that gets to follow him from cubs to boy scouts. He is such a great kid and earned every bit of this great honor!
My handsome boy scouts!

Will turned THREE in August, which is just a little too young for a party I think (Lesson learned from Gabe's 3 year old party). SO, he chose to have an outside BBQ with Hamburgers and Hot dogs, and we made him a brownie train cake. He loved it, and still remembers and talks about it 5 months later! Speaking of our Three year old, it was such a big year for him! He potty trained pretty seamlessly - well before his third birthday and learned to talk like crazy. At the beginning of 2010 he was BARELY saying a few words, and by March or so, was speaking in complete sentences. He just exploded. He is so fun and funny. Three is TOTALLY his best age. I no longer have a "favorite" age, like I thought I did once. My boys all have had HARD ages and FANTASTIC ages, and it's been different with every one of them. THREE is Will's FANTASTIC age for sure. He is so good and sweet and has such a tender spirit. We don't know what we'd do without him!
Okay, that covers birthdays. We also got a summer membership to our favorite swimming place and spent most every single day there this summer. Gabe and Will made HUGE strides in the water this year. Gabe went from being too afraid to get in past his ankles, to JUMPING in the deep end (with life-jacket on, but STILL!) by the end of the summer. The bigs all took lessons for the first time too and LOVED them. Will just kind of took after everything he saw his big brothers do and was amazing in the water. I love love watching my children play in the water. There is just something so carefree and happy about it!
In May, Mark and I excitedly booked a cruise to Mexico for September. We were so excited, and decided that we'd "put off" new baby plans until then at least. Imagine our surprise in June when we found out we were expecting! Luckily, I wasn't showing too much yet come September, and I'm not usually very sick so we were able to enjoy our wonderful time together completely. We had so much fun, met some wonderful people, and just enjoyed every minute of it! It is so wonderful to take some time with your best friend, without all the little interruptions, of work, kids, chaos, etc. We also had the chance to visit with Mark's Aunt and Grandfather "Grandpa Morgan" (one of my very most favorite people in the entire world) for a night before our cruise departed and then for the afternoon when our cruise was over and we were headed home. It is time we completely cherished and won't ever forget. We heard some of his amazing war stories and just thoroughly enjoyed being able to visit without trying to keep kids quiet and entertained!
For Halloween this year, the boys all decided on home-made costumes, which was great and crazy at the same time. One of the "nice" things about our track on year round school, is that we are off track during Halloween. I love this, because it means they can just throw on whatever dress up costume they want to wear that day and hit the neighborhood! Well, this year, they ALL had Halloween parties at school before they went off track. SO, after pulling an all-nighter making and getting costumes ready, I spent the entire next day going back and forth a jillion times to help with parties, bring forgotten items, etc. I do remember though, in the midst of the chaos of the day having a very strong and thankful feeling wash over me, that said "you are so lucky, this is what you do, this is what being a mom is all about, and you're doing a good job today". I loved that feeling, I know it was from my Heavenly Father, and it made everything completely worth it. Anyway, come party day we had a Giant Pac-Man, the guy from the game "Operation" (who's actual name is "cavity Sam" - and we REALLY didn't know that, how funny!), and the Cat in the Hat. Fun, Fun, Fun! Will chose to be "Whyatt" from the PBS show Super Why, but come Halloween he actually went trick-or-treating as a Bumblebee. Fine with me, as it is a MUCH warmer costume! The boys had a blast trick-or-treating and came home with loads of loot. This year I didn't ration it, or make them put it in a community "family bowl" that I end up throwing away a month later, as I've done in the past. I gave them free reign, and I was happy to do it. I don't remember having to give up my candy at Halloween, or Easter time or any time when I was growing up, and I think I turned out okay. Plus, they didn't go crazy with it at all. I was super proud of them, even with free reign, we still threw away a TON of uneaten candy a few weeks ago!
Thanksgiving was SO NICE and relaxing. My mom came to visit and spend it with us. We haven't celebrated Thanksgiving with her in a long long time! For Christmas Eve in 2009 I followed Martha Stewarts directions for cooking a flat or "Spatchcocked" turkey. It is a way to flatten out a turkey, put it on a cookie sheet to cook and it cooks in 70 minutes! It was SOOOO good and moist, and was Mark's very favorite turkey of all time. He talked about it all year, so for Thanksgiving this year we did it again. It was even better than I remembered. SO YUM! Directions are here if you want them!
We had a wonderful relaxing day, filled with the scents of my childhood Thanksgivings, thanks to my Mom being here and cooking most all of the side dishes! When it was time to eat we all took a minute to express something we were thankful for, then we dug in and ate like Kings. After our bellies had settled a little we all went to see the new Disney movie Tangled. We ALL loved every minute of it. Seriously, she is my FAVORITE princess now!!! Mark was a little leary of taking the boys to a "princess" movie, but I assured him that it would have plenty in it for the boys to appreciate and they DID. They LOVED Flynn Rider, and the Horse, and Pascal (the little chameleon) and so did Mark. I'm dying to see it again! It was a wonderful end to a perfect day!
Christmas (YAY, ALMOST DONE!) was wonderful too. I wonder how many times I've said wonderful in this post??? Anyway, it was a little too stressed and crazy for my liking, but that is okay. In the past I've had years where I don't corral the chaos well enough, and then years where I'm determined and I do. This was a year where I didn't, so it felt way more busy and stressful. We even decided at the last minute not to do neighbor gifts. We've done neighbor gifts for Christmas every year that we've been in this house, so the decision not to do it didn't come easy, but was very much necessary for us. It didn't help the guilt I felt every time our wonderful neighbors brought something over for us though. HOWEVER, I already HAVE my neighbor gifts for 2011, so how is that for making up for it!! WOOHOO. This year is NOT going to be a chaos year, by golly!! :) ANYWAY, we did manage to quiet things down for the last week or so before the big day, and that really helped us all get into the Christmas spirit. We were able to achieve all of our highly anticipated family traditions, and enjoy the season.

We started it off by taking the kids out to pick up their ornaments for 2010. They had a blast, and loved their picks. Josh chose a star wars one - which thrilled him, as he now has 3 or 4 star wars ornaments in his collection, Sam chose a darling Snoopy with his little camp troop - to remind him that this is the year he started scouts and scout camp, Gabe chose a cool Iron Man guy, that lights up and Will chose a Cars ornament with McQueen and Mater around a Christmas tree. FUN! They loved them. We always write on the box why they chose it and a few other things and they love, love pulling them out year after year and reading about themselves from years past. Mark and I got ourselves a cruise ship ornament while on the cruise for our ornament this year. We try to get one for us, or a "family" one each year, so that we don't end up with a bare tree when our kids are grown and have taken all of their ornaments with them! We love this tradition!

Christmas eve, we welcomed family and feasted on ham, potatoes and lots of sides, and desserts. When everyone left we began our Christmas eve traditions which include giving our first gift of Christmas to Jesus. We have a basket that hangs on our tree, that has a slit in the top, and every year we take a slip of paper and write down something we're going to give Jesus in the coming year. Then we read over what we've done in the past and reflect on the joy of giving and trying. It is a sacred time for us. Then we open new jammies, get all jammied up and watch Luke II. In other years we've included other things here and there, but we always make sure to at least do these three things.

We put out milk and cookies for Santa, and Gabe made some yummy reindeer food at school so we included that, and scooted off to bed. The boys were SO excited for Christmas morning, they were worried they wouldn't be able to sleep at all, but luckily they did! Christmas morning started for us at about 7:30, not too bad, since Sam had been up since 6! Santa brought everyone 3 things this year. I've heard this idea a lot before, but most recently I think from the "design mom" blog, and I really loved the simplicity of it. So wrapped up from Santa was something to Wear, something to Read and something to Play with. The boys LOVED it and after opening Santa's gifts and checking out stockings we took a breakfast break, which always includes cinnamon rolls, lots of fruit, juice and milk. This year, Mark used some of the leftover ham and made us all scrambled eggs and ham, which was SO GOOD, we told him that needs to be added to our breakfast list for every year! After Breakfast we opened a few more presents, then played, a few more presents, then played, and so on. We didn't get done unwrapping until almost 6pm - which was so fun and relaxing. We all had a fantastic day, and got too, too spoiled as usual. It was fun to wake up the next day and go to church and enjoy the rest of the weekend.
I must admit that I don't think I'm the ONLY one in a nesting phase, as Mark was just as eager as I was to clean up and put everything away this year. We got everything put up and away in record time, and didn't even wait until new years day like we've done before. It was so nice to get everything cleaned up and put in it's home and get organized again!

SO, that about does it for 2010. We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of our newest baby brother Nicholas, who could come any day at this point! He finally has itsy bitsy clothes and onesies in his drawers (literally - FINALLY - as in, just washed and put in drawers last week! - talk about cutting it CLOSE!) We are so excited for him, I just can't wait to meet him. Will is maybe even more excited than me (nah, but close!), and hearing him ask about "baby Nik-kiss" is about the cutest thing in the universe. He has said for a long time that if his baby brother cries he will say, "no cry, baby, no cry - Will is here" melt.melt.melt.

I hope to blog again sometime in 2011 - we'll see how that goes. ;) We hope you all have a WONDERFUL (had to squeeze the word in ONE more time!) 2011!

I leave you with the shot of the day: Crazy hair day at school. Actually taken this morning, and actually blogged about on the same day. WOW! Maybe there's hope for me after all!