Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Measuring him against a dollar.

Besides making Jell-o and rice pudding and cupcakes on Sunday, I also tried my hand at a photo shoot with Crew. I'm not the world's greatest photographer, that's for certain, but I have to admit that Crew was very cooperative as a subject and made things a bit easier for me than any of his siblings have done in quite some time.
These photos can be enlarged if you click on them- and I type that mainly for my family and friends who haven't got to see him or hold Crew in 'real life' yet. I wanted to give them a sense of how small he is (he's 7 lbs. 8 oz. today) and that's why he's got a dollar bill at his side in the last picture.
So, although the economy is being shaken up a bit right now, I'm happy to say that Crew seems very comfortable next to the dollar and I really doubt that he's to blame for any economic slump we may be in. Now or ever. =)

What we did this weekend...

Wyndham and I worked in the kitchen making food like rice pudding, Jell-o (remember when I was excited that I made Jell-o when I had my first baby? Teagan was 3 weeks old and I was thrilled and called Chip at work to tell him I had made Jell-o...now I do 10 times more work by noon and I have 4 more kids...how does that happen?!) and blue "Welcome to the world, Crew" cupcakes (Wyndham is signing cupcake in the top photo and doing a silly dance/song thing in the other three pictures.) for a cookout we hosted for our neighbors. The men all helped Chip put a shed up in our backyard, and were "watching" the kids at the same time. As you can see, the kids were more than happy at the lack of supervision. But don't worry, at least the dads were wise enough to take the key out of the atv ignition whenever it wasn't in use.
I am finding life with a newborn to be sort of "extreme". While Crew is very mellow, I have bursts of energy countered with long stretches of fatigue. Hence, the blogging is sporadic and when I am tired I find I feel guilty about it. At this point, I am feeling good- which means yesterday was a bit more rough.
You'd think I'd have this 'balance thing' all figured out, but it's not so. It's called 'listen to your body' and at 35 I'm still not keen on that. I like the idea of push yourself and then hit-the-wall for some odd reason. I guess I'm a little bit crazy and yet feeling pretty good at times, so that's when I forget to 'listen' and rest.
Tonight I plan to get to bed early- just like last night and see if I can stay on top of things a bit better. If not, there's always Starbuck's Pumpkin Spice Lattes. =)

Friday, September 26, 2008

What a difference a week makes...

One week ago at this time I was trying to breathe through the peak of contractions that were coming strong and fast as my labor with Crew progressed. I was watching the second hand of a clock trying to figure out how it was that one minute could feel like an eternity! Fortunately I had Chip at one side and a wonderful anesthesiologist at another and it all turned out wondefully just an hour or so later.
It's so incredible to me how one week later [click to see proof here =)] I sit here feeling really great- the swelling has all but disappeared in my feet, the nights are going very smooth, and everyone seems to have just opened their hearts and arms to Crew- as if he's always been a part of our lives and daily activities. I just keep thanking God for how well we have adjusted so far- and I find that a minute now can go by in a blink, as I stare at Crew and just breathe him in, or as I watch his siblings or Chip love on him... it just seems too good to be true. The moments are precious, that's for sure, and I am trying not to take a single one of them for granted. Life is good and I praise God for every minute of each day that we have to celebrate new life, our growing love and the health and well-being we have at this time. It's truly a wonderful gift! The sun has given us record temps for the past few days and we have all been enjoying the outdoors- even baby Crew, in tiny bits.
Chip asked Isabella if she wanted to try her bike with two-wheels yesterday afternoon and we were all surprised and proud of her as she took off and never even once fell to the ground. She was a natural at it and it was yet another moment for me to capture on camera and smile as I watched another milestone be met with such enthusiasm. I am so glad I was home {and had a baby in my arms} as this "little-big" moment unfolded. It's the kind of stuff I really live for as a mom- especially as Teagan and moments like these were cut short for her. I see how God has given our family so much- even opportunities to cherish moments as simple as riding a bike.
Poor Ava though...she was bummed that she couldn't ride with two-wheels. Chip took her training wheels off and gave her a chance- but she's not quite ready. We all promised her she would have her moment when she got a little bigger...and as you can see in the last photo, she had snapped out of her little pity-party in no time and was hugging on Brock and Wyndham seemingly happy that she at least had a try at it.
Crew slept through the whole thing and has been a true joy all week. I don't want to "speak too soon", but have to say that at one week he is so mellow and still so soft and content and hardly squeaks or fusses at all. Life has gone much smoother than I had envisioned and anticipated at this point, and I think I owe it to many of you for your prayers for our family. It's hard to believe the week has gone by so quickly, and yet it's more than I could have hoped for- all wrapped in one.
Happy one-week birthday, baby Crew.
Here's to many more weeks celebrating the ordinary, wonderful moments in life!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A tale of two ladies-

I'm no Charles Dickens and don't intend this post to be a great literary piece, but just had to share this real-life story that played itself out in my life last Thursday morning as I headed to my weekly doctor appointment for a check-up, due to late-stage pregnancy. If you aren't familiar with Dickens' work, his Tale of Two Cities starts out this way, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times".
That's where I draw the title for this post- talk about a contrast in people/conversations within just moments of each other! Here is a bit of those conversations that I think taught me a lot in just a short amount of time.
I stood for just a moment waiting for the elevator door to open and as I stepped inside another 30-something, business-dressed woman walked quickly up to the door and I held it as she stepped inside. She was carrying a pie in a box and smiled at me as the doors shut.
"How long until your baby is born?" she asked me. I said, "one week".
She looked at me with her eyes growing larger and said, "Oh wow! I would have never guessed your due in a week. You look great!"
"Thank you", I replied.
"So", she continued, "Is this your first?"
"No", I said.
"Second?", she asked.
"Nope", I replied.
"This is your third?", she inquired.
"No. This is actually baby number 6 for me", I answered.
We were only up to the second floor at this time and still had one more to go before our elevator stop.
"Good for you!", she said with a big grin on her face, "do you know what you're having?".
"Yes, it's a boy, this will be my second boy".
"Well," she said as the elevator came to a stop, "I am so happy for you and think you look amazing...I really applaud you and wish you the best...how exciting!".
"Thank you", I said again.
Then as we walked down the hallway toward the offices, we talked about baby names for a moment and she smiled and said once more just before we parted ways, "I just think it's wonderful and I really think you look terrific, good luck with everything!", and then I was at my destination.
I was still feeling good after checking in and finding a seat, when a moment or two later, a more elderly woman [I'm guessing her age to be young- 70's, since I have a parent and inlaws in their 60's and I don't want to say "an older woman"- but she was definitely older] =), came and took a seat just two spots from me. I should tell you that the whole waiting room was open at this time; I was the only person there other than her in the room. SO, as soon as that happened I picked up a magazine next to me and hoped I would find something REALLY interesting or at least appear that I was deep into reading about the lastest kids' room decor.
Apparantly I am not a very good actor, because she started right in...
"You'd think they'd at least have a hot pot of coffee for us to grab a cup while we wait this early in the day".
"Hmmmm, I guess they figure we get our own breakfast before we come in", I replied.
I guess I must have said it really nicely, because she wanted to keep talking.
I didn't look up, hoping that was the end of our conversation and I could just savor the one I had previous to this for another moment.
"How do you wear such high heels?", she asked me, as she looked at my crossed legs/feet, "don't those big wedges hurt your feet?"
"Not after the first time I broke them in", I answered, "they're actually one of my more comfortable pair".
"Well,", she went on, "I guess they say that a little heel is good for you, but I've never found anything that works. They all hurt my feet."
I turned the page of my magazine.
"So, how soon until your baby is due", she asked.
"Next week", I replied, still not hardly looking up from my magazine. I felt like the rudest person on the planet, but I knew she would have no problem talking, asking and probing no matter if I looked up or not. So I just kept turning pages thinking she would get bored with me or I would get called back by my nurse.
"From where I'm sitting, I can't even tell you're pregnant...this must be your first baby, huh?!", she stated.
"No", I said.
"So it's your second one, huh?!", she replied.
Again, I replied, "no".
"Well,", she said, both my daughter-in-laws are expecting their second and they're both due later than you and they're both much bigger than you already. So...three kids, huh."
This was the first time in the conversation I actually felt like offering more information, so I replied, "Actually this is my 6th baby and it's a boy".
Her mouth basically dropped open, but unlike the woman I had just had an engaging conversation with in the elevator and through the hall, her face nearly twisted up.
"Six kids! I'm expecting my 5th and 6th grandchildren and I think that's too many", she said.
"I do a lot of laundry, that's for certain," I said looking at her; smiling.
"How many do you plan on having?", she asked me, which personally I didn't feel I needed to answer, but I didn't see the nurse anywhere near the door, so I closed my magazine and said, "We thought we were done three babies ago, but here we are expecting baby #6."
"See?, " she said, "that's the problem; people don't think things through, and I don't think my kids can even handle two...that's where the problems are...people don't think anymore."
I felt like picking up the magazine again, but didn't. I just looked at her for a moment and then reached in my purse to check the time on my cell phone.
I guess it was too much for her, because she suddenly started talking directly at me in a much more "concerned" voice.
"Hmmmph", she started, "Don't people know about the economy these days? Kids aren't cheap and the price of stuff keeps going up...and there are people losing jobs in Michigan every day, and the national unemployment rate is going up every minute! People should think things through."
I thought of a hundred things I could say to her at that moment, but just as I was about to respond, she started in again,
"My own kids can hardly afford two; I don't know how anyone expects to live in this slumping economy with more than that...this country has issues..." and she went on to name a few more.
I liked how she just kept using the term, "people", but clearly she meant "me".
I sort of wished she had stuck to the topic of shoes, and I was thinking it would be a really great thing if the office DID have a coffee pot, because that would have taken a bit of her time and she would be sipping on her cup, rather than blaming me for the fall-out of our nation and it's slowing economy at that point.
I never did respond to her concerns in regards to my pregnancy and contribution to the downfall of our economy, as the nurse opened the door with a big grin and called, "Jody, come on back with me...how are you feeling?", she asked me.
I thought of a hundred things I could say in response, and ended up saying, "About how I'd expect to feel a week before my baby is due...I have a few pains and complaints, but overall, I feel really great".
"Good for you", she said...and I set my things down to step on the scale.
* * * *
I ended up staying for an extended office visit that morning and into the afternoon and also had an ultrasound which eventually led to my induction the next morning. There were concerns with Crew's heartrate and his decreased movements and so it was determined the best plan was to start labor- even though I was a week early.
I just couldn't help but think over the conversations I had with these two women, though, and how their perspectives and opinions were so different toward me- though I had done nothing different. It sort of opened my eyes to how many of us live and respond to the world. We choose our attitudes and make up our minds sometimes, and many times we have no idea what the circumstances are behind the 'stories/people' we encounter. It made me realize I never want to be president, because just as I had done nothing different- I responded to the questions I was asked, and yet I was perceived by one person as practically the next recipient of the Mother-of-the-Year Award, and by the next person I was to blame for our nation's failing economy. =)
It made me realize that you need to know who you are and what you believe and be able to love yourself for that- and not be swayed by 'public opinion'. It made me realize that I have a big job as a mother- to instill in my children the wisdom and understanding of "the world" that sometimes its kind to you and other times it wants to bring you down.
I want them to know that they are loved unconditionally- even if they ARE the cause of a economic fall-out. I wouldn't trade them for the world! I want them to know how to love others gracefully and to respect others' opinions, even when they don't align with theirs, but to always know in their heart that many times there are two sides {or more!} to an issue and the best thing is for them to be grounded in truth and knowledge and love. That way, when someone wants to disagree or try to drag them down, they will already know who they are and what they believe and most importantly, that they are valued and appreciated- just as they are.
There you go.
My literary work of genius. Ha!=)
Not really, but for a sleep-deprived mom of 6, not too shabby either, huh?! I really just wanted to note this story for myself to be able to look back upon it, and really, it has made me smile and laugh this past week too. To think that I was less than 24-hours from giving birth and one woman couldn't have been more proud of me and another was ashamed. It was one of those things where you step back, shake your head and be thankful that you fall somewhere in the middle. I'm just lucky enough to have fallen more and more in the middle of love- with my family, my baby and a little bit more with myself- if that's okay. I think maybe that's what the elderly woman needs to do. She should buy a fancy pair of heels and dance in them in the middle of her house and just love being her. I bet she'd appreciate more things, if she could just loosen up a bit.
I hope I never get so opinonated that I blame someone for an entire nation's economy. I'd rather be the kind of person who applauds people for taking on more than I'd expect from them. And I hope to always compliment people on their shoes. =)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Scenes from around my house...

And yes, Crew is already smiling...do you see that?!
Brock was so proud of an ant project that he did for science class this week. We wanted to make sure the grandmas and grandpas in Minnesota saw his hard work. Wyndham did "homework" alongside of him the other day, and I just had to take a picture because I thought it was so cute. I love how siblings spur each other on sometimes- even when it comes to "work".
Those beautiful flowers are from my friend, Jo who lives in Holland. They are so bright and such a great reminder of how friendships can mean so much- even though there is lots of space and distance between us. I sense that with so many of my friends online- you know who you are, and thanks, Jo-Anne for the flowers that make us think of you!
Ava is still doing puzzles, and thanks to Susan in Florida, she is enjoying some new ones this week. It's so fun to watch her learn and enjoy her alone time around here. She's been a very good helper when it comes to Crew, and yesterday morning I snapped pictures of them 'hanging out together' watching Nick Jr. =) Ava had her bowl of Cocoa Puff Combos nearby, but kept even closer to Crew to stroke his soft hair between bites. There's definitely a special bond happening between these two, and I think that's why Crew smiled in his photos already. He knows that he's loved very much!
We had him to the pediatrician and the reason he is "swimming" in his little clothes is that he weighs just 6 lbs. 5 oz. as of yesterday afternoon. Not to worry though, he is eating very well and expected to start gaining back some weight very soon. I have no doubt that he'll be filling out his outfits faster than I'd like him to soon enough. Thanks again for so many well-wishes and sentiments for our new baby and the transition our family is going through at this time. It's been wonderful so far, and I just hope I'm soaking it in enough to make lasting memories...otherwise I may get baby fever again someday. {wink}
So that's what's happening in my home. Very ordinary, and yet so new and wonderful too!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pink vacuums and cheese souffles...

I was discharged from the hospital along with baby Crew around 8pm on Saturday night. I had the option of staying through Sunday, but just couldn't wait to get home to the rest of the kids and my own bed. It turned out to be a good choice.
We not only made it home in time to help tuck all the kids into bed (those bedtime hugs and kisses always make me feel so good as a mom at the end of a day), but also got to try to get some sleep without being disturbed with blood pressure cuffs and thermomators. Crew apparantly didn't get the memo that this new sleeping arrangement was supposed to include "sleep". He had a few rough hours, but Chip was a real trooper and between him and me, we made it through from 1:40 am to 6:20 am and somehow felt human by the time the girls were up at 6:38 am. I have no idea why they decided to wake up early on a day to sleep-in, but they were very good and kept quiet as we started our day.
Chip whipped up a Cheddar Cheese souffle for breakfast and I ate each delicious, fluffy bite wondering how I again deserved such an amazing man in my life, such an amazing bunch of little kids and now to top it all off, a velvety, soft new baby boy.
Between my new pink vacuum and the reality of Crew on top of everything else that is good in my life, I don't care how much my body aches...I am feeling pretty good. =) It's not that I don't have aches...my feet are very swollen {I've never had that happen in any of my other recoveries!} and my neck hurts, my one arm won't stop itching and I am obviously sleep-deprived- still, I look around me and see nothing but blessing. It's a beautiful thing.
As you can see in the photos, we are home and Brock is thrilled to have a brother. He has said several times, "It's seems like I've known Crew forever; I love him so much!". The girls like to see his tiny fingers and toes and Ava covers her ears when he squeaks and starts to cry. Wyndham signs baby and smiles and we're all just feeling like it's a crazy, wonderful thing to have another family member around. I will admit I take way too many photos, and I promise you that I will "overpost" them too. But that's mostly because our families live so many miles away- and besides, as far as I'm concerned I don't believe there's such a thing as "too many baby pictures".
I hope you enjoy them and I now have to run because Crew is starting to squirm and squeak. It's music to my ears. =)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Crew's debut...

Chip says he promised photos by the end of the first day. Crew is about 20 hours old. I think these photos count as being posted "the first day". We made it through one night too. We're definitely keeping him. =)
Enjoy these photos...and no, I've not taken 1000 photos, but will admit I've taken around 100 already. And even with that high number, we didn't get a 'perfect family' picture. We'll keep working on that. The good news is I have no probably with that- the more photos, the better, if you ask me.
Thanks for all your well-wishes. We are so happy and doing great. At least for the first day. =)