Wednesday, October 19, 2011

so glad i didn't miss this

Lately I see things that I didn't before.  Or maybe it's the way I see them that has changed.

I suppose the difference is this:  Before I saw my family with my eyes, and now I see them with my heart.  It's very different, you know.   Now that I'm using my heart to see, I stop what I am doing.  I use all my senses.  For that little space in time, I truly see.  I enjoy.  And I revel in that moment.  I delight in the experience, and in that person that I love so much.

Now?  I notice how Emmy's eyebrows raise when she is telling me something she is excited about.  Or the way she shakes her head up and down to make her point.  I've realized that when Emmy speaks, she speaks with every fiber of her being!  Like the other day when she told me, "Mom, I had the asthma this morning, uh-huh I did (eyebrows raised, head bobbing up and down.)!"  When I asked her how she knew, she told me "because I coughed, and then out came the asthma."

I capture the sparkle in Claire's eyes when we are playing a game of pretend.  (Most often she is barking orders at me.  That makes any three-year-old's eyes sparkle, I suppose.)  I delight in the touch of her hand while we walk from place to place.  I like to look at her wispy blond hair and the little freckles that scatter across her nose.  Her little body is at that in-between stage:  not anymore a baby, but not yet a big kid.  Soon the last little bit of the chubbiness will be gone.  This stage of adoringly-cute but maddeningly-independent will too soon be over, and I'm so glad I'm not missing it.

I secretly smile to myself when I see the sly grin on Kate's face when she is ignoring me.  She is the expert on ignoring people: She stares straight into her book, being ever so careful to not turn her head.   Her quest:  to in no way acknowledge the speaker.  Absolutely no response at all.  But if I say something silly instead of getting angry in order to get her attention?  She still ignores me like a champ, except I can see a silly grin sneak onto her face.  I like that cute little sly grin, especially if I am responsible for make it happen.  Or how about the utter excitement I witnessed the other night as she tried on her Halloween costume?  She is to be a queen, and she couldn't be happier about it.  My heart was thrilled to hear her squeal "This is the best! dress! ever!"

Last night I laid in bed and loved having Courtney sleeping next to me.  His hand was around my waist and I didn't want to move an inch because it made me feel happy and cozy.  There is nothing better than hearing him laugh at something I say.  I like sharing secrets with him.  And I love the way his whiskers feel on my cheek after work. 

I love the hundreds of little faces that Samuel pulls.  And the way he smells.  And the way he cuddles into my shoulder.  His first grins. Or the way the girls squeal "He is sooooo cute!" when they look at him.  What if I had missed all of that?

I'm seeing Ryenne grow up.  This year is a different world for her.  Sixth grade!  I love listening to her excitement as she talks about her new friends, plans her clothes (a week ahead!), and practices her flute.  Last week she turned off all the lights for us and we sat in the dark while she played her "spooky song".  And last night, when Courtney told her Grandma wanted her to come up today to climb the apple tree and pick apples for her, do you know the first thing she said?  "Okay.  I'll want to wear my hair down then."  Huh?  At our confused expressions, she quickly explained, "Oh, you  know.  So the branches don't mess it up."  I love that I'm here for those funny growing up moments. (except maybe the foot stomping, irrational, slamming the door moments.  although they are sometimes funny too.)

Oh, and the fifteen pumpkin chocolate chip cookies I've eaten today.  Glad I didn't miss those either.

I would be so sad if I had missed Emmy's discovery and adoption of "Junior", her pet fuzzy caterpillar.  And the way she takes such responsibility in changing his leaves every day.  Or the look of delight I saw on Claire's face the other day as she sat on the middle of our kitchen table with the sunlight on her hair and inspected Junior (with Emmy looking on to ensure his safety, of course).  Best of all?  The other day I found Emmy and Kate sitting in Samuel's room, surrounded by sewing supplies and piles of fabric.  What were they doing?  Making a Halloween costume for Junior, of course.  Silly me.  I've chuckled about that ever since.

I'm discovering that every day holds hundreds of little moments that I am ever so grateful to be here to experience.  The other day a friend stopped by with a little note that included this statement, "It seems we never appreciate the little things until they become the BIG things."  I read and reread that a few times trying to understand her meaning. 

This afternoon, I thought about how I am finding such joy in my family right now.  I enjoyed them before, but now I joy in them.  They have truly become the biggest thing in my life. 

Six or so weeks ago, I faced the very real possibility that I wouldn't be coming home again.  I wondered if I'd have to watch my children grow from heaven (at least I hoped I'd be there!)  As Courtney and I have talked, I have told him that it wasn't that I was afraid to die.  That really wasn't it at all.  It's just that I didn't want to.  I looked at the possibilities and knew in an instant that the place I wanted to be the very most was right here.  In my home.

Doing all the BIG things.

What are the big moments you've enjoyed with your family today?  Take a day and watch for those little moments. . .see them with your heart.  I'm pretty sure you'll agree with my friend and I.  The best days are those in which the little things become the big things.

"An open heart isn't really as much a matter of time
as it is a matter of being present, available, and open to whomever is in my physical space at any given moment."
Virginia H. Pierce

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Last week was a terrific week.  I'm starting to be able to walk without having to think about every step.  Even better?  For the most part, I've kicked the walker.  And a few days this past week I didn't even have a nap and I was still kicking by the end of the day (that's a fancy way of saying I was still awake and sitting upright, but hey!).  Today, I made breakfast, got myself, Samuel, and the girls ready for church and we all made it to sacrament meeting.  On time!  In fact, just yesterday, I told Courtney that I can actually see myself being normal again someday.  He said he never doubted, but I did.  I'll be honest.

Most exciting of all?  Yesterday morning I walked the length of two fields (maybe a quarter mile. . .almost?).  I'll admit, it was pretty slow but I did it without a walker, mind you. 

What does all of this mean?  I'm thinkin' it means I'll probably be training for a marathon again in no time at all.  Or something like that.  Hey, I gotta start somewhere.  Right? 

Just being sunshiney, that's all.  Things are definitely looking up.

looking back. . .samuel's birth

Phew.  Samuel is almost two months old.  In a way it seems like forever ago, but another part of me can't believe he's that old.   I keep telling Courtney that I feel like I kind of got jipped out of his first three weeks.  For most of the first week, he was in the NICU and so I couldn't hold him much.  Then, when we got home and I actually had him all to myself, I went and landed myself back in the hospital and spent the next week and half without him again.  Shouldn't I get that time back?  Darn it, I guess that's not the way it works.  Anyway, I'm so, so glad he's here.  And what a ride it's been! 

Samuel was born on Courtney's birthday, which made for a pretty special day.  I usually have my c-sections scheduled first thing in the morning and so our birth days start bright and early.  This time around, they couldn't schedule surgery until noon, and so we had a pretty laid back morning.  In fact, it was also the day of the lamb show at the county fair, so Courtney woke the girls up early to take them for his traditional daddy-daughter breakfast that he does the morning of the big show.  I helped them get all dolled up for the judges, and then grandma and grandpa took over the reins.  (That was kind of mean of me to pass off the whole lamb thing this year, but to be honest, Grandma and Grandpa do most of the work every year anyway.)

With girls and lambs taken care of, it was off to the hospital!  . . .Let's have this baby I say!

Not the best picture.  The anesthesia always makes me so, so sick.

The first peek.  I think we were both holding our breaths to hear those words. . ."It's a boy!"  It was kinda one of those 'I'll believe it when I see it' kind of things.  They had a pretty tough time getting him outta there.  Usually I can't feel much of anything, but this time around I felt an awful lot of tugging and twisting.  Courtney said both doctors were up on their tippy toes, with one of the doctors actually laying across me, straining to get him out.  I remember my OB laughing and saying, "What a chunk!"

(I always cry when I hear that first unhappy baby sound.  Such a miracle, isn't it?)

8 lbs, 10 oz.  (Two weeks early, too!)

After Claire's scary delivery, I was so nervous.  Our OB and pediatrician both suggested we do steroid shots during pregnancy for Samuel's lungs in light of Claire's history.  Everyone reassured me that if we did the shots as a precaution, we would be pretty safe.  So although I was nervous, I kept telling myself everything would be fine.  I feel so selfish for writing this, (and I think I've put off writing about his birth because I didn't know how to explain how emotional it was for me).  It seems selfish to me because so many families have really hard experiences and I know ours was so easy in comparison, but I really, really wanted an uncomplicated delivery for Samuel.  Maybe it was because things were so touch and go with Claire for a few days and I didn't want to feel so scared again.  Again, this sounds selfish and silly, but I knew this might be our last baby and I just wanted those quiet days in my hospital room, cuddling my baby.  There, I said it.  Watching them whisk him away to the NICU was disappointing and scary. 

After a day or so, Samuel's lungs were strong enough to get rid of the c-pap, which meant we were able to hold him for longer periods at a time and I could try nursing him.  I took every chance I got!  Too much stimulation stressed him out a little and made his oxygen levels decrease, and so we tried to make the most out of those chances to cuddle him. 

The nurses would joke with us that he was such an easy patient until he got hungry!  They would tell us that he could go from zero to a hundred in .2 seconds!  He's still the same way!  He's such an easy, calm baby. . .until he decides it's time to eat!  Then it's business time for sure!  I would ask the nurses to call me in my room when he was ready to eat (day or night) so I could go down to the NICU and have a chance to hold him.  When my phone rang, I could hear the urgency in his nurse's voice, hoping I would hurry!  And always I would hear him in the background- mad, mad, mad! 

The girls were so anxious to see their long awaited baby brother.  After what seemed like an eternity to them, they were finally able to see him through the window of the NICU when he was three days old!  It was pretty exciting!

After only five days in the NICU, we were all happy to get Mr. Samuel home.  Armed with an oxygen tank and a monitor, we made the trek home- a little nervous because the nurses admitted they cheated a little bit on his oxygen test in order for him to pass!  His monitor went off almost constantly the whole way home, making for a not so fun thirty minute drive!  Luckily, we were a lot more at ease this time, after having had Claire on oxygen for several months. 

A funny side story:  After we'd been home a day or two, Samuel's monitor was going off constantly.  It had been that way for the first 24 hours or so at home, but his lungs were improving daily and so I was a little discouraged because on the third day it seemed we were losing ground.  It wasn't til the end of the day that I realized that Claire had turned his oxygen down early that morning!  I remembered seeing her over by the condensor, and even shouted "Claire!" to keep her from messing with the dials (or so I thought!).  When I asked her if she touched anything, she'd backed away, reassuring me "I didn't touch anything!" over and over.  However, I was busy getting hte girls off to school and soon forgot all about it.  (A heck of a good nurse I'd make, huh?)  Well, when Courtney got home from work he quickly figured out what was wrong.  Once we fixed the problem, he was back on track, and the monitor was a whole lot quieter too!

Samuel's lungs were champs (or maybe it was the grandmother's touch since they stepped into my shoes for weeks two and three!).  When he was almost three weeks old (just a day or two after I got home from the hospital)  we were able to kick the oxygen and the monitor.  Yippee!  We laugh about it because they actually picked up his equipment and delivered my walker at the same time.  Talk about a pair!

Oh Little guy, we are so, so happy to have you in our family.  Your big sisters adore you.  Since your arrival, our family feels complete.  In fact, after my big adventure, your daddy teased you one day, telling you that you would need to apologize to me every day of your life for what I went through in getting you here.  And you know what I told him?  I'd do it again in a heartbeat.  Cross my heart- I wouldn't even have to think it over.  For almost three years, I knew you were waiting.  (That's a long time to feel like a part of me was missing, mister.)  For so long I dreamed, prayed, and waited.  Now you're finally here and already, I love you a gazillion. 

So glad you came to join us, baby brother. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

funny girl

Claire makes me laugh.

She is quite spunky as of late, but doing remarkably well in light of all the upside-down-ness of her life in the past month.  First, she spent the week of Samuel's birth being carted around to different grandparents, who fortunately, she adores.  Then a few days later, just as we were getting into a rhythm of sorts with new baby brother, she was back in suitcase mode when I went into the hospital.  Thank goodness for two super fun aunts, Jodi and Haylee, she was cared for and loved  (lucky for her, by all those boy cousins!) and spoiled  for almost three weeks until things were calm enough for her to come back home.  Toward the end of her stay at Aunt Haylee's house, she asked "When will I go back to my green house?  What color is your house?"  I'm sure she was beginning to wonder if her "green house" still existed.  All things considered, I think she's been quite a trooper. 

Lately, she is in a pretend world about 99% of her days.  Since there is almost always a grandma here with me, they often get roped into "the game" of the minute with her.  Our days are filled with leotards, tutus, and imagined dance lessons/recitals, trips to 'school', and superbly acted out princess/prince/dragon role plays.  (A word to the wise:  If you are involved, you'd better get your lines right.)  The other morning Courtney was rushing around trying to help get the girls ready for school and make it out the door for work.  As usual, she was right on his tail, filling him in on the details of the game.  "Dad!  Do you want to be Prince Julian or Prince Dominic?"  Much to her dismay, he teased her with his answer.  "Prince Phillip."  This immediately brought tears from Claire, who replied in exasperation, "No!!!  That's for the next game." 

Those of us who know her understand that her name is rarely Claire.  We have become accustomed to calling her 'Jenna', or 'Brooklyn', or 'Annaleise', depending on 'the game'.  However, this can be quite confusing for those who aren't used to her imagination.  For instance, during her stay with the Stosich cousins, she confused her four-year-old cousin Cooper the first morning when she announced to Jodi that her name was 'Jenna'.  Seeing Cooper's confused reaction, Jodi smiled and asked him, "And who are you?  Fred or George?"  He quickly replied, "No!  I'm Cooper!"  A day or two later, Jodi took Claire, Cooper, and his cousin Landon to the aquarium.  When Landon was climbing into the car (meeting Claire for the first time), she looked at him and immediately asked, "Who are you?  Are you my boyfriend?"  In a panic, he promptly responded, "No!  I'm Landon!"  After a while, it seems Cooper got used to all of her pretending, and the two became quite a pair.  However, finally enough was enough.  My mom laughed one afternoon when she heard him announce, "I'm not the prince!  And I'm not playing this game anymore!"

Despite all of his teasing, her daddy remains her favorite.  The other morning she made her daily entrance into our bedroom, attempting to rouse him our of bed for her early morning rock-a-by.  I was awake, just having fed Samuel, and so it was I who held her hand as she led me into the family room to the rocking chair.  When I cuddled her close and whispered "I love you Claire,"  she looked at me with her serious face, pausing a minute before she said matter-of-factly, "I love Dad".  That was it, end of story.

Yesterday she was full of it.  First, every time she spotted my mug of water, she'd bring it to me and say, "Here's your beer, mom."  And when she jumped off a chair (she jumps off everything), she stood up and said, "Whew.  I threw my back out, almost." 

She loves to say things that shock us.  Especially the word "b-u-t-t".  Because she knows she shouldn't say it, she finds every way to possibly say it without really saying it.  For instance, she'll ask, "Mom, I shouldn't say the word 'butt', huh?", or "Mom, 'butt' is a bad word, huh?" and "If I say the word 'butt' I'll go to time out, huh?".  What's more, she was thrilled when she heard someone say the term "buck-naked".  To her three year old ear, the phrase was interpreted as "butt naked".  You can bet she takes advantage of every opportunity to mention being "butt naked", constantly asking various family members, "Are you butt naked?"  And for some reason (really, we are fairly responsible parents) she came up with a replacement for the term "cheese!"  You know, the "cheese!" that is typically shouted by every other normal human being when getting their picture taken.  Not Claire.  When someone asks her to pose for a picture, she grins and she shouts, "Butt crack!" 

Honestly, I don't know where she gets it.

While we can laugh at all of her antics, we're getting a little worried about sending her out into the big world.  At Jodi's house, she attended church with them, going to the Sunbeam class with cousin Cooper.  After class had ended, Jodi asked the teacher how things had gone.  The teacher replied that she had done just fine, except there was one thing she "might want to talk to Claire's parents about".  Apparently, the lesson was about friends.  When she asked the children what they liked to do with their friends, Claire quickly raised her hand and told the class, "I like to roll around butt naked in blankets with my friends." 

Being a social worker, I can imagine what that teacher was thinking.  Jodi, knowing Claire, tried to stifle her laughter as she reassured the teacher about our home life.  Courtney and I were mortified, of course and for days Courtney asked aloud, "Where did she come up with that!"

This brings me to the next story.  A week or two later, she attended church with Grandma and Grandpa Jones.  When they dropped her off at nursery, she was delighted to find Aunt Kelsey was one of the nursery leaders.  She went right in!  But later, during the lesson, Claire raised her hand and asked the teacher, "Do you have big specials?"  (Because I always refer to the girls private body parts as being "special", Claire has taken to calling hers and everyone else's chests "specials".)  Thus, when the teacher didn't understand her question, she matter-of-factly repeated her question, "Do you have big specials?"  Of course, still no one understood what she was talking about.  At this, cute Aunt Kelsey prompted her, "Sweetie, we don't know what are you talking about."  So.  You can bet Claire stood and pointed at the teacher's you-know-what's with both index fingers.  I'm pretty sure we shouldn't ever send her to church with anyone else.


Oh Claire.  You make us laugh, every day.  You love your little brother with all your heart.  Often, we find you close by him, reassuring him, "Don't be afraid, big sister is here!"  Or, "Hi!  I'm Claire, I'm your big sister!"  You love to make him 'warm and cozy' and give him lots of hugs and kisses.  Thank goodness you are such a kind big sister.  Every day I try to reassure you that you haven't been replaced.  You are still our little girl. . .our baby.  Even more, you're a big sister, too!  Big sisters are so important, and isn't Samuel so lucky to have such a good big sister?  Four big sisters, in fact!  You and your sisters each have a special spot in our hearts reserved just for you. 

We love you, funny girl.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

quote of the day

Today I was with Kate when she gave me one of her quizzical looks and a bit of her classic one-of-a-kind-kate honesty, 

"Mom,  I know you're looking better, but you're still kinda green."