Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015!: Prison, Sharks, and Drunken Santas

This Christmas photo I took of the girls was just too good not to share...I feel like the four girls each represent one of the four Christmas moods I alternate between: Excited, ambivalent, trying to act happy, grouchy.

Miss Sassafras Sam and Cindy Lou-Who Cici. 

Austin and I got away for a quick day trip to San Francisco on Saturday. The weather was gorgeous and we packed in the sight-seeing. We flew in at 7, walked along the Embarcadero and stopped by the farmer's market for an Italian donut, took a ferry over to Alcatraz, came back and got lunch, walked to Coit Tower, went to Ghiradelli square, rode the streetcar, got Chinese foot massages, ate omakasi-style at our favorite sushi place in San Fran, (which involved more raw seafood than I've ever eaten in my life), and then took a 9 p.m. flight back home, finally reaching our beds around 1 a.m. 

We were there the day of SantaCon, an event which involves hundreds (thousands?) of people dressing up like Santa, gathering in the middle of the city at noon, dropping off a toy for needy kids so they feel good about themselves, then bar hopping the rest of the day. We spent a lot of our afternoon sightseeing elbowing our way through plastered Santas, who tended to congregate in large packs, usually in front of liquor establishments. They seemed to be having a good time though, and it's difficult to get mad at someone dressed like Santa, no matter how annoying.

More Christmas fun yet to come! I can't wait!

Cici and Sober Santa. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Lament for Little Gray

I was over having supper at my parents' house, and somehow the topic of chickens came up.

     "I'll miss the chickens," Dad said, a note of regret in his voice.
     "Chickens? What do you mean?" I asked. My parents have put a lot of work into taking care of their flock, with frequent updates in the family email about their status. I was confused.
     "It's too bad about Little Gray," Dad continued to muse. "She was the only one with any personality." His voice grew soft as his mind wandered over his past memories with the chickens.
     "Sometimes when I was working on the coop, she would wander over and peck around by me, just to see what I was doing."
     "Dad, dad!" I broke in on his reverie. "What happened to Little Gray?"
     "Let's just say she's in a better place now."

Apparently "personality" does not qualify a chicken for "alive" status. Somehow my father neglected to mention in the last family email that he and Mom have gotten rid of all their chickens this past week. Events such as this are usually a big happening in my parents' lives. However, the omission does make sense when you consider that advertising the fact that you just massacred 4 chickens, (the last dregs of the flock, excluding Little Gray) is generally not something you bring up in a cheery family update. In any case, I think I've come to terms with it now. My parents are simply trying to simplify their lives...with a little help from Mr. Ax.

I can only hope that some day far in the future, when my father steps out under the endless stars to listen to the quiet sounds of a soft summer night, he will pause a moment, and shed a tear for Little Gray, the Hen That Wouldn't Lay.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Problem of Audience

I haven't been writing too much on the blog recently. I've been doing lots of interesting things. I took a month long emergency prep class and heard lots of crazy things. I took an 8 week behind-the-scenes look at the city I live in, hosted by the mayor's office. I took a family trip to Southern Utah filled with throw up and hiking and fun stories. I've had personal drama, I've had family drama. I have plenty to write about, and I have been writing, just not on the blog. The problem is, I don't know who's reading it.

It's fun to take a peek into people's lives through their blogs and Facebook. However, the most pressing topics on my mind have to do with religion, culture, family, and basically just conflict in general. Those are the things I think deeply about, and want to write about to try and figure them out. But the people closest to me are uncomfortable discussing those things, and I'd like to preserve my relationships with them, since they are very important to me. In addition, the older I get the more I don't want to share my deepest personal thoughts with people I don't know very well, who are also reading my blog.

Every once in a while, I'll pick up this hilariously cynical book I own called "The 48 Laws of Power," and suffice it to say, giving personal information to people is definitely discouraged by this book. Yeah, I'll save it for the journal.

About the only thing that isn't potentially offensive is trip recaps and cute pictures of kids. And I even worry about that. Some of my beloved family members want kids so badly and can't have them. I'm not one for gushing and displays of emotion, (thanks, parents) but some days I just want to post picture after picture of my precious angel baby who I love more than anything in the world, who melts me with her beautiful smiles and loves to talk to her bottle with little coos and caws and explore each little crumb on the floor, and crawl onto my feet when I'm busy so I absolutely cannot ignore her and her precious precious face.

Okay, sounding a little too Gollum-like in my obsession here. 

What I'm saying, is that I just want to write things of general interest on my blog, but I start questioning what is of general interest and start posting nothing at all. Does anyone really care that I'm potty training Charlotte this week while Austin is in Hawaii with the older girls? Or do I just have an obsession with myself and want the Internet to validate me? (Facebook, anyone?)

Here are my little fairy girls. It was hilarious watching them ring the doorbell then swarm whoever was passing out candy. 
Fairy Invasion!

See, you felt good after reading that. And I felt good, because I made you feel good.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

All Things Bright and Beautiful

I like to think that in heaven, our white robes will be saved for special occasions only...the rest of the time we will be dressed uniquely in glorious hues and patterns, in every sparkle and sheen.

Last night I found a free hour and used it to run to the fabric store. I told myself I would just spend an hour there, but somehow I found myself lost in a maze of rainbow cloth and sequins, trying to find just the right color combinations for three little fairy costumes. With Halloween around the corner and my baby sleeping through the night, my creative side had finally woken up, and yards and yards of creative possibilities awaited. If only I had boys...they might have taken more kindly to the prospect of being the three blind mice, the three little pigs, or the three musketeers. (Little Kate would be d'Artagnan of course). Three fairies aren't as clever, but hold the advantage when it comes to making costumes--I can swirl beautiful, bright cloth around the girls and it will look wonderful no matter what. Tulle is very forgiving.

Monday, June 8, 2015

"A Sure Recipe for a Delightful Time"

This past weekend I had the opportunity to go to the 50th anniversary Mormon History Association conference. I filled my brain with interesting ideas and new knowledge, bought some good books, and caught up with my old boss from BYU. Most of all I just enjoyed diving back into the academic world for a couple days. You know the feeling of being around people who you identify with and who believe a lot of the same things as you and it's just fun and comfortable? (Like your family or your church, hopefully.) These were my people.... Plus, I sat next to Claudia Bushman!!! Laurel Thatcher Ulrich wandered past me in the halls! In the words of the Newcastle Relief Society sisters, (they used the phrase to describe the process of writing their RS history together) it was "A sure recipe for a delightful time!"

I may have mentioned this before, but in my short time at BYU finishing my degree, I got a job at the library and went underground to the secret archives to work on the 19th Century Mormon Article Newspaper Index. This process involved going down to the archives, filling a cart with boxes of old newspapers from the 19th century, then taking them upstairs. There I would measure each article that mentioned Mormons, type up a short synopsis and some info about it, then return it to the box, repeat., etc. I now know a lot more about the Godbeites and the Edmunds-Tucker Act than your average Joe Mormon. I confess though it was pretty slow work other than finding the occasional (fictional) serial story about evil Danites capturing innocent young maidens and trying to marry them off to creepy old polygamists.

I think my first love will always be literature, but thanks to this library experience I realize in part how much work goes into the documentation and research work of historians. A lot of the papers presented didn't have much of a point or broad application, but you could tell the presenter found something interesting, researched the heck out of it, and just wanted to share this cool thing with other people.

I don't really have time to go into the details of what I learned about, and most of the insights I gained were specific to my life and my interests. To be honest, I think the most important knowledge gained during my conference was by Austin while I was off at my classes...he revealed to me that it is impossible to get anything done when you're taking care of small children and holding a little baby all day. Who knew?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Gentle Parent

Summer is upon us--Sammy's last day of school was today! Summer TV does not have much to recommend it, so I'm revisiting old favorites this week. The last couple days I've been watching Pride and Prejudice, (the BBC version of course), because I'm a little sick and I need something relaxing to watch in the evenings. Great dialogue, lots of dancing, and graceful, buxom, English women. I can't wait until the girls are old enough to enjoy watching it with me.

Along with being sick, I have lost my voice, and consequently the ability to speak to my girls with the parental voice of authority. I try not to yell at my kids, but often I do speak in strident authoritative tones that convey to my children that I expect them to listen to what I say. This is a real thing, known as the "Voice of Authority," i.e., using a voice that conveys to the listener that you know what you're talking about and should be listened to. (Commonly used by people who in fact know nothing. Also parents). In fact, if you say something with enough confidence most people will just accept what you say without question. For example: "The BBC version of Pride and Prejudice is the most historically accurate out of all the film versions out there." Is this true? I don't know. I say it confidently though, therefore you should trust me.
Sadly, with my voice gone, I now speak in the low dulcet tones of a refined lady of quality, the sort that pops up frequently on Pride and Prejudice. I say sadly, because with the loss of my "Mom" voice, my kids have decided it's okay to ignore most of what I say. Apparently whispering "Kids, go to bed!" does not lend itself to one getting taken seriously.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Baby Owl; or, the Story of Cannonball Kate

This is a picture of Baby Kate Adelaide, she is one month old today! Sometimes I call her my baby owl because of the silly wide-eyed baby faces she makes. I've written her birth story in epic long form in my journal, but I just don't have time to write it here. Why don't I have time when I've only left the house a few times in the past month? Because most of the time I am holding a baby and taking care of 3 other kids or trying to get some sleep. Blogging has slid to the bottom of the to-do list in my quest for survival. Fortunately at 4 weeks I am beginning to see my way out of the baby blur that constitutes this first little while. Baby Kate gives me a fairly consistent chunk of sleep from 9:30p.m.--2:30a.m. and breastfeeding, which has been really rough this time, has finally gotten better. Anyway, without further ado, here are the highlights of her birth story!

I was 13 days past my estimated due date and stressed because 14 days was my mental deadline for how long I could be pregnant without doing some testing to make sure the baby was okay. Because I do natural birth, I believe I should also let labor start when the baby is ready, but I was desperate so I did some epic walking with Austin, bounced on the exercise ball, and played "Let's Dance" on the XBox to try and get something started. My sister-in-law texted me that in their nightly family prayer they prayed that the baby would be born that night, so I was super hopeful as I went to bed that night that I would go into labor during the night. I woke up multiple times to use the bathroom and hopefully see some signs of labor starting, but nothing was going on. My final waking was around 5:30 and still nothing...I clung to the hope though of that family prayer said for me...the night wasn't quite over yet, since I was still in bed trying to sleep, right?

As I lay there in the early morning trying to go back to sleep I felt a couple uncomfortable contractions and rolled over to my other side so they would go away. Another contraction, and the familiar little hope that THIS COULD BE THE START OF SOMETHING! But I probably was just contracting because I had to use the bathroom again. I got up and took my book into the bathroom. I'd been reading my way through the Harry Potter series to kill time until the baby came, and I was halfway through book #5.  Another contraction in the bathroom and I totally could not concentrate on my book. That's when my little hope got serious; Did the prayer work? I decided to get my phone and start timing contractions on my app. A couple days before I had had a series of serious contractions and alerted the midwives but after a while they stopped. I wanted to make sure I was really in labor before I told anyone things were happening.

So I started timing after what was probably my 5th contraction, looking at my app record this was at 6:11 a.m. It was 1 minute 45 seconds long, followed by a 30 second contraction a few minutes later, a pattern which repeated itself a couple times. Hmm, I noted. This was how long they were last time when I stopped timing them, called the midwives, and got in the birth tub. I decided to get Austin up to fill up the tub. Announcing to him that I'm in labor is always a lot more anti-climactic than I think it will be. Maybe because the past couple of times he's been asleep and it takes a minute for it to sink in. Anyway, he leaped into action admirably to get the pool ready, (although I'm pretty sure when he was getting dressed he stopped to ask me what color of shirt he should wear for the birth) I called my mom to come over, and put on my swim top. I'd been looking forward to sinking into a giant pool of hot water for quite some time and was super excited. Contractions were uncomfortable, but just crampy not painful...Austin asked me if I'd told the midwives to come but I just wanted to wait one more contraction.

I realized after that contraction that I'd better get the midwives ASAP so I texted Melissa and she was on her way. This was at 6:35 after 7 contractions. The nice thing about child number 4 is that you can compare your labor with past labors. I knew I was going to have a fast birth, but I was slightly shocked as right after that text and the next slightly uncomfortable contraction I felt the top of a little noggin hanging out!  The top of the baby's head was still protected by her water sac, (That iron bag of waters is probably what sent me 14 days overdue) so it felt super cool. I was stoked because I wasn't in any pain but there was a head! I think thanks to all my contractions that never turned into full-blown labor and the extra womb time for baby, my body had been slowly moving the baby down.

I think I yelled for Austin and told him to get Melissa on speakerphone. She definitely wasn't going to make it in time. Everything was moving fast and it was really exciting...I jumped into the birth tub--I wasn't going to be denied my hot tub experience after waiting so long, even if it wasn't quite full! Austin and Mom were rushing around boiling water and dumping it into the tub to help get it warm enough and I was just chilling in the tub with this baby head, but not uncomfortable at all since I was in between contractions. It was so surreal. I couldn't get in a comfortable position for the next couple contractions, and then I felt a pushing one coming. (Again, it was nice to have past labors to compare with.) I recall Austin had run to the kitchen to get some more boiling water for the tub and yelling for him so he wouldn't miss the birth. I had a long pushing contraction, (actually painful!) a little breather, and then one more push and the baby was out! I had a hand ready to catch her to keep her from landing on the tub floor and then my mom handed her to me to hold. Wow! She was very calm and so cute!

Mom grabbed the suction bulb and was ready to suction out the baby if needed, but it was quickly apparent that this was quite a healthy baby. When we weighed her later she was an ounce shy of 10 lbs, by far our biggest baby--and fastest. Melissa was listening in on the birth and told us Kate was born at 6:54, so it was a super fast labor and delivery, about an hour from start to finish. I lounged with my cute new baby until Melissa showed up about 15 minutes later to take care of the rest of the birth stuff and settle us into bed. Sammy woke up a little after 6 and was watching TV while the baby was born, but the other two girls just stayed asleep, so that part worked out really well. They were excited to see the new baby but it wasn't a huge deal for them. To be fair, new babies are super cute but don't do much.

To sum up, it was a really awesome birth: fun, exciting, and very easy. I don't think there's one right way to give birth, but I wish every woman could have a birth as great as mine, I know it would be a treasured experience. Would I do it again? Yes, for sure...but only if I could skip the pregnancy and newborn part again. Is there a way to make that happen? Until then, the story of Cannonball Kate seems like a good story to end on.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Passing the Time

I paid our contractor for the final time this week! Also I'm now four days past the official due date, which I know is an educated guess at best, but still...waiting for things you want is hard sometimes. I've spent quite some time playing this awesome puzzle game and sadly finished it, which means I'll have to resort to my old-school 1000 piece cupcake puzzle I haven't had time to open yet:

With this pregnancy I decided to count renovating our house as the ridiculous labor project, so I haven't bothered making crafts or blankets or anything like that. But then Austin wanted to do a belly cast, (which I've always thought are a bit silly, because what do you do with it once you make one?) so now that has definitely turned into the ridiculous labor project. Not just because I felt so ridiculous making a plaster cast of my very pregnant belly, but then it needed plaster touch up and spray paint and decoration, so it's a very high-maintenance useless item. No picture. Not happening.
Last but not least, I have some pictures of our house now that we are done with it for a little while. For a quick look back you can go to New House Renovating.
We finally got the front doors switched out, I can't wait to get going with the landscaping in a couple months.
Master bedroom with birth pool waiting in corner...

Master bath, note small bonsai tree, which means I'm committing to this house for a while! 

Front room with completed fireplace

Kitchen, all done!

Kitchen, looking into dining area
Next on the list, working on a yard overhaul. Austin has already started chain sawing trees; I have to keep an eye on what he's cutting because it's just way too fun for him.

Also hoping for a baby soon. I'm not a huge fan of February so I could wait for March. Then again I would be happy to go into labor right now.  
Charlotte on her Birth Day. I need another one!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Looking Back

So it's been less than two years and we've taken on two intensive renovations during that time...we have to stay busy somehow! This week our realtor finally got me the pictures he took right before our cute old colonial house sold and I wanted to share them before I shared the "after" pictures of our current mid-century modern house. Just so we can all get some closure.

For a refresh, here are a few old posts about the renovation process: Destroying a Very Large Purchase, Little House on the Prairie, and Kitchen Reveal No. 1!

Here's what we accomplished in a year of living in the house. It was a lot of stress and a lot of hard work. We didn't have time to do everything we wanted to with the house, but I feel good about what we accomplished in the little time we had.

Cut down a tree attacking our water line, put up new fencing, put in new landscaping

Re-plastered a large amount of wall in the main living area, painted trim, added charm/d├ęcor

Put in new kitchen and laundry room and new floors in kitchen and dining room

 Transformed yucky storage area into kids' playroom
Refinished original hardwood floors throughout whole house, put in new lighting and painted

Repaired and refinished stairs and updated upstairs bathroom with new vanity, mirror, and lighting

Repainted the upstairs and made it cute

Fixed large sections of fence that were falling down and chopped down multiple dead and overgrown trees
We also let the lawn turn brown, but we won't talk about that. Coming up next, more renovation pics and hopefully a new baby. My due date's February 23, but I'm guessing I'll go into March.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Disappearing Year

In 2014, we started off our year by finishing up the renovation projects we had let sit over the winter. Then we travelled a bit, then fixed up our cute old house some more, then decided to fix up a gutted 70s house, then sell our old house, then we went on more trips and kept working on houses until....hey! It's 2015 already! I'm supposed to be having a baby in 46 days! Where did the last year go?

On the bright side, I spent a large portion of 2014 thinking I was 28 years old, when in fact I'm only 27, so it's kind of like I get a do-over.

We just got back from 3 weeks of Christmas travelling last week, and this week we're getting our house appraised, so my mind has definitely been on unpacking and getting sorted. You know those puzzles where you have to slide pieces around to finally make the right picture? I'm not sure I've ever successfully completed one, but that's what unpacking feels like. I keep moving things around until it all ends up in the right area.

Starting with Austin and I's week vacation to Hawaii over Christmas break, I've also tried to start concentrating on Baby #4 coming. I'm planning on doing home water birth again, and I really feel like planning for a natural birth is like planning for a marathon--you want to train hard and peak physically, emotionally, and mentally at the same time as you are supposed to run the marathon. With the added aspect of bringing a human soul into the world, I would add being spiritually prepared as an important component to being ready for natural birth.

So how am I doing? Embarrassingly bad. With all our moving and travels and three small kids I've had fun but also been treading water most of the year, trying to meet my family and I's basic needs and keep it together. Keep it together! Keep it together! Time to train. Having Charlotte was a wonderful experience, but wonderful experiences usually take effort and work. I think it would be unrealistic to expect another great birth without working to prepare physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

Here's to 2015. May it be a wonderful year to prepare for your dreams coming true.