Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Gracie as a Three-Year-Old

My oldest angelface turned three at the end of March. I haven't blogged about her (or blogged at all I guess) for a long time, but I want to have a record of what she's like at this point in her life, because ya know time flies.

Probably one of Gracie's biggest defining characteristics is what a sensitive, tender soul she is. If a movie or book has even the slightest moment of intensity, she covers her mouth and screams and watches with a look of utter horror on her face. The waterfall scene in A Goofy Movie? When Family Island collapses on Inside Out? COULD NOT. EVEN. HANDLE. IT. She gets teary if music sounds emotional. There is a YouTube video of the song "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" where a little owl flies around with a star in space and she is wiping her eyes by the end of it every time.

The first time this tenderness really manifested happens in the video below. And this video kills me. She was sobbing at the end of an episode of the BBC documentary Life. (If you've never seen it, it's basically Planet Earth again and it is amazing and both are on Netflix.) To this day I have no idea what caused that reaction; I think it was literally just the stirring music. 😂

If she gets in trouble or is talked to sternly at all, she hides her face and either bursts into tears or just completely shuts down. Recently she's started just running to her room, shutting the door, and diving into her books. If I go in before she's ready to deal, she says "No mom I'm reading!", so I'll leave, and then several minutes later she'll emerge perfectly happy and ready to talk. Which a pretty OK coping mechanism if you ask me. I love that she finds solace in books.


She has always been a cautious kid and is usually pretty hesitant to try new things. (I WONDER WHERE SHE GETS THAT FROM. Here's a hint: it's me.) She's never really been one to get into mischief either, for which I thank her. Even now that she sleeps in a big girl bed, she doesn't usually come out of her room until we come to get her even though I've told her she can, haha.

She potty-trained just before she turned 3, and it was ridiculously easy. I was so nervous to start because she was so resistant to the idea, but then one day I just said "no more diapers" and she basically did it herself and has only had a handful of accidents.

She has started drawing actual pictures and it is THE cutest thing ever. I now totally understand those parents who want to save every single drawing their kid makes. 😂

Gracie is hilarious. Seriously that girl cracks me up every day. She has such a funny little sense of humor.

She is so creative and can make a toy out of anything.

She has discovered Anna and Elsa and princesses in general through Frozen Fever (she still hasn't even seen the actual movie Frozen, haha). The other day she said, "Mommy, I'll be the monster, and you be a princess!" I said, "Oh, does the princess defeat the monster?" She replied, "Yes, she will put the monster in jail!" That's my girl.

It blows my mind how much she understands these days. She listens when I explain things to her and will often bring up something we'd talked about earlier. She tripped and fell once and after she calmed down, she said very matter-of-factly, "It's okay. We all get hurt sometimes." That girl, I swear.

She has always loved nursery until recently, and I think it's because we kept her out for so long after her sister was born. 😔  Esther was a winter baby and winter means sickness and nursery is basically the most disease-ridden place on the planet besides the pediatrician (*shudder*). So it worked, we didn't get sick...buuuuut now we have a child who refuses to go to class. Eh.

Some other random facts about her in no particular order:
  • Her favorite color is white.
  • She's moved on from Curious George to Bubble Guppies and Peppa Pig (which, if you have never seen it, is actually a pretty cute show, plus Gracie starts saying things with a British accent after watching it so it's awesome) and (what can I say, she's watched a lot of TV since Esther was born).
  • She refuses to wear anything but dresses and skirts and sometimes wears both simultaneously.
  • She is very affectionate and often hugs me and says "I love you mom!" She is such a loving (often fiercely) big sister. She can't get enough of her baby and Esther just loves her.
  • She asks for a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch every single day.
  • She is good at puzzles and has such a sharp memory, I am amazed (and also kind of terrified) all the time by what she remembers.
  • She loves to dance and watch people dance. The music video for "Chandelier" by Sia has been one of her favorite videos for over a year now and she loves to watch Cyrus the "Robot Dancer".

And I know she is mine, but man I still can't get over just how dang cute she is to look at. She is leaving toddlerhood and turning into a little girl. With her big blue eyes, dimpled cheeks, and eyelashes for days...her little face just kills me.

She loves riding her bike. She thinks two graham crackers, or one granola bar, or five dark chocolate chips are a dessert (or "something special", as we call it in our house). She still makes a loud swallowing sound when she drinks and she has done so her entire life. She knows her right and left, has known all her letters and numbers since she was a year, and she knows how to use the computer and can navigate YouTube by herself (I know, yikes). She is constantly singing and making up songs. She is obsessed with watching cake tutorials on YouTube. She uses words like "perfect" and "lovely". She still loves to be read to. Every morning when she sees Esther she says, "Hiiiiiiii! I love my baby sister, she's so cute, she's so lovely!" She likes jumping in muddy puddles. She's energetic and opinionated and creative and wonderful. She's just the best and we just love her.

You'll notice that in all these pictures she's wearing a dress...I wasn't kidding about that, haha.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Birthing a Soul 2.0

I did it, you guys! I successfully brought another human being into the world. And this time the experience could not have been more different.

If you'll remember, my labor with Grace was nearly 40 hours long, highly drugged, and extremely traumatic, and the recovery process was equally horrific after 3rd-degree tearing and terrible baby blues.

This time I was in active labor for maybe 10 hours (which I realize might seem long to some of you but compared to my first this was nothing), the only drug in me was the epidural (oh boy do I love modern medicine), and I barely pushed twice and Esther slid right out. I literally did not feel a thing, I didn't tear at all, and I started feeling basically back to normal almost immediately.

But let's start at the beginning shall we?

All day Thursday, December 3rd, I'd been having on and off contractions. They were super irregular and the most painful they ever got was slightly period-crampy, so I wasn't too worried. But I called my mom anyway and we decided she'd take Gracie that evening just in case I went into labor in the middle of the night. So we drop Gracie off, I even do most of the driving, and I'm still not sure whether I'm in actual labor.

By around 10 or 11 p.m., the contractions are getting more painful and slightly more regular. I'm fairly certain this is the real deal by now so we start packing for the hospital and then I go to bed a little past midnight hoping to get some sleep before we have to leave.

Silly me. I'm in bed for maybe half an hour when without warning the contractions intensify from "pretty painful" to "nigh unbearable" and I stumble downstairs feeling like there's a bowling ball between my legs and tell Christian we gotta go NOW.

The drive to the hospital is the worst drive of my life. We get there and get checked into triage and every contraction is a blinding white never-ending stabbing and the nurse checks me and I'm dilated to a 5. We get to my room and they send for my epidural, and this is the only part of this labor that is worse than the first. The first time, my anesthesiologist was probably the only positive part of labor. He was friendly and sympathetic and fast, and he waited till I was between contractions to do anything. But this guy was gruff, insensitive, and he took FOREVER. He made me stay hunched over my huge belly contraction after contraction, which was basically the last position I wanted to be in and it was all I could do to make my body stay still, even though he wasn't doing anything yet.

Maybe I'm just misremembering, but I feel like contractions were way worse this time around! They felt sharper/more intense or something. Christian disagrees though, and his memory is probably a bit more reliable than my drugged-up pain-hazed recollection. I truly have no idea how you ladies who give birth without pain meds do it.

But once my epidural kicked in, all was peachy. I could not feel a thing. That is one thing I'm sure about: for some reason this epidural was way stronger than my first one! It got to the point where I couldn't feel or really move my legs. With Gracie, by the time I was ready to push I was feeling the contractions again, and I was feeling an insane amount of pressure when the baby engaged, AKA I felt the urge to push. This time, I felt NOTHING. I'd try squeezing the muscles down there experimentally, but I couldn't even find them to do it! It was the strangest, most disconcerting feeling. I told the nurse and doctor repeatedly that I didn't think I'd be able to push when the time came, but they assured me that I'd start feeling pressure by then.

By 7:30 a.m. on December 4th, much to my surprise, I was fully dilated and ready to push.
Is this real life.
I still couldn't feel ANYTHING down there! The doctor checked me again and the bag of water was bulging out, fully intact, with the baby's head right behind it. He showed me with a mirror and that crap was the craziest thing I've ever seen. I watched as he broke my water, the nurses bustled around getting everything ready for baby-catching, and then everyone left for 40 minutes or so to give my body a chance to start feeling the urge to push.
When the nurse came back, she got me all stirrup-ed and ready to go, and said we were going to just do some initial pushing until the doctor came back. I still had no idea how I was even going to push since everything south of my belly was totally numb. "But you're pretty close," she said. "The baby's head is right there, so if I say stop, stop."


So she said go, and as I was getting into position, before I could even TRY to squeeze where I approximated my pushing muscles to be, she says, "WHOA stop, stop, she's coming out! We need to get the doctor in here!"

Christian and I exchange a look of disbelief. Doctor comes in, gets set up between my legs, gives the okay, and again I just have to try to bear down where I think the muscles are supposed to be because I am still feeling zero pressure or pain whatsoever. I approxi-squeeze for about 3 seconds and voila: out slides pink and tiny baby Esther.
Gracie was blue when she came out, I assume from being stuck in the birth canal for so long. It was like being constipated times 20,000 and pushing felt like it was accomplishing nothing. I thought the pushing would never end! But Esther was the complete opposite. She came out perfectly pink and I didn't feel like I even did anything to get her out of my body. Like I sat up and whoosh, there she was.
I didn't feel the placenta come out so I have no idea when that happened. And I didn't tear! Hallelujah of hallelujahs!!

Esther so far has been a dreamboat baby. She literally is asleep 90% of the time; she wakes up to eat for 10-15 minutes and then passes right out again. She basically sleeps all night. I nurse her lying down and she goes right back to sleep.

I know you're not supposed to compare your kids but man God knew what I needed this time. And not just with how easy (at least so far) Esther is, but with the entire birth/recovery process in general. The birth was quick, painless, and free of complications, and I felt nearly back to my old self within a couple days. No soreness, no stitches, it was so much better than I ever could've hoped! My first birth/postpartum experience was an absolute hellish nightmare. I was terrified to do it again.
I was less than a week postpartum in that picture! I feel almost totally fine. Yeah, God was definitely looking out for me.

At first Gracie was pretty standoffish towards Esther. When she came to meet her at the hospital, she looked at her a bit and then mostly wanted nothing to do with her, haha.

Since then we've come a long way. One day Esther was awake, alert, and super calm, so I asked Gracie if she wanted to hold her. She said no, as usual, so I told her I wanted to take a picture to send to Grandma and Grandpa...that got her to agree, haha.

But that did the trick! Broke the ice I guess. Because since then Grace asks to hold her all the time, is constantly showering her with kisses and pats and hugs, and is so attentive. I was worried she'd be jealous, but she is always so excited to see Esther in the mornings, and she calls her "Essie" which is so adorable to hear her little 2-year-old voice say.

I still am not a newborn person, but they are little lumps of love, aren't they? I kinda forgot about all the little grunty McSnorts and lip smacks and squeaks they make, and Esther is the queen of tiny goblin sounds. Plus that newborn head smell, can you even get enough of that.

I can't believe I am a mom of two. WHAT.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

All We Really Want Is Girls

Welp, we moved. Here is a crappy panorama of the view from where I currently sit on the living room couch:

We're at that annoying stage of unpacking where the household is entirely functional, but we still have boxes of nonessentials sitting around waiting to be organized into closets or onto bookshelves. My pregnant body will only allow me to do so much before forsaking me, so I have to choose my battles carefully. Plus it is amazing how much harder it is to get anything done with just one small child on the loose. Just one! (I really do not know how I'll survive with two.) All of my energy is expended changing diapers or cooling tantrums or fixing meals or keeping her from making additional messes, so by the time she's down for her nap I don't feel like doing anything but laying on the couch and watching my current jam, Hart of Dixie. But we have company coming next Sunday so hopefully that will be sufficient motivation for me to whip this place into shape.

The struggle is real for my hips this pregnancy. Just walking around the block at a snail's pace will make them ache for days. It hurts to lift up my legs; it is the weirdest thing. I feel so weak all the time! I know exercising consistently would probably help strengthen things but it is HARD to start when I know the consequences of any small amount of physical exertion. Sheesh, growing a baby is ridiculous sometimes. I'm hoping the arrival of fall and cooler weather will inspire me to spend more time outdoors walking our crazy pups.

Speaking of fall, this week I baked pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and pumpkin bread and organized my scarves and boots and painted wine red polish on my toes. Today there is a delicious coolness in the air and leaves are tumbling off the trees and even something about the sunlight is different, it no longer feels scorching or oppressive. FALL I AM SO READY FOR YOU.

Also, in case you missed it, we are indeed expecting another baby girl.

We both were kind of hoping for another girl, because A) that means we won't need a new wardrobe, and B) we think it would be fun for Gracie to have a sister. Neither of us has siblings of the same gender close in age, and I've always been a little jealous of girls who talk about borrowing their sister's clothes or going shopping together, etc., because I never had that. My little sister is nearly 10 years younger than me, and my closest sister in the other direction is 5 years older, which is a big difference when you're a kid. I'm friends with my little sister now, and it's fun that we wear the same size and people are constantly thinking we're twins (when I'm not pregnant, obviously), but I never had that growing up. I was never even in school with my sisters! And it's the same for Christian; there's about a 5 year age gap between him and his closest brothers in either direction. So yeah, we're excited. I suppose Christian will be hopelessly outnumbered with 2 girl dogs and now 2 girl babies, but he's okay with that for now. We do have a male gourami fish, so I guess he's not totally alone. ;)

And before anyone asks, yes we do have a (tentative) name picked out and no, we will not be sharing it. That strategy worked out well the first time around and I liked that the name was just ours for a while. It's nothing personal. :)

The baby just better actually be a girl when it comes out and not just a sneaky boy. ;) I have a nephew who was supposed to be a girl the entire time, but then he was born and surprise! It's a boy! Haha so I know it can happen! Anyway I'm almost 28 weeks now and I can hardly believe it. Glucose test is on Tuesday, so wish me luck.

Hopefully I'll get things more organized this week and I'll be able to get pictures of our new place up here. We shall see.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Catchy Catch-up

A lot has happened since my last post, including but not limited to:

- I had a brief stint as 2nd Counselor in the Primary Presidency (basically I was a leader/teacher for the children ages 3-11 in our congregation) from January to June. It was stressful for many reasons and not at all fun and I'm glad I chose to experience it, but I'm also glad it's over.

- In June, my little brother Wesley got married in Hawaii. The Aloha State was beautiful, always the perfect temperature provided you had access to shade, and also expensive. I loved it. People wore bathing suits like clothing and ran around barefoot and shirtless in stores. I discovered that chocolate-covered macadamia nuts are the shiz. Wild chickens roamed the streets (seriously, they were everywhere), and the contrast between landscapes was constantly blowing my mind. You look one way and there's the beach, turn around and there are gigantic freaking Jurassic Park mountains all around you. It was like nothing I'd ever seen before. I went snorkeling even though I was terrified to and it was awesome. I saw pufferfish and moray eels and my favorite was this beautiful rainbow-colored fish that followed us everywhere (upon further research I'm pretty sure it was a Christmas wrasse)
Someone else's photo of a Christmas wrasse
The first beach we went to; you can see a rainstorm blowing in mid-right.

- My BFF Jessica came to visit for 6 days at the beginning of July and it was pure puppies and sunshine and rainbows, and it was over far too soon. I hadn't seen her since my baby shower in February 2013, so this was her first time meeting Gracie. We stayed up way too late talking the last night of her stay and it was so rejuvenating and uplifting and wonderful. I am very much an introvert, and spending time with people, even people I consider good friends or family, is draining for me. Jess is one of the very few people whose company refreshes rather than exhausts me. Utah is too dang far away. Come back to the east coast Jess! :(
Unintentional matchy matcherson

- Also, news: I am pregnant with Baby #2! I'm due in early December (the 8th I think). I did not want a December baby but I suppose we have little control over these things. I've been a lot sicker this time around. I would always feel totally fine waking up in the morning, and then gradually feel worse all day. From dinnertime on I was pretty much couch-ridden. I still never threw up (thank heavens), and I know lots of women have it a lot worse...so hats off to you ladies. I know I am a wimp.
19-weeks comparison; left is with Gracie, right is this time.
It's weird because I am constantly forgetting how far along I am. With Gracie I always knew how many weeks, down to the very day. But I'm almost 23 weeks now and I feel a lot better, though the nausea did last well into my 2nd trimester. I'm taking better care of myself this time. Last time I gained almost 50 pounds and I felt so heavy and awful. Don't worry, I'm still gaining weight like I'm supposed to! I'm just eating healthier (for the most part) and not letting myself pig out or use the excuse "I'm eating for two" because I'm really not.

Also, more news: We are moving again! We're staying in Lynchburg, but we bought a house that's more centrally located AND: it has an in-ground pool. It's a split-level which I'm not crazy about, but it also has everything we were looking for and was very well taken care of. The interior is nicely updated and I love most of the colors on the walls, and so it will require little to no work on our part, which is what we wanted. Plus the backyard has a privacy fence so we can FINALLY let the dogs out unsupervised again! (Olive is a fence-jumper.)

We close at the end of this week so we'll be moving before the end of August. Let's hope this move goes a lot more smoothly than the last one... We can't wait!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A peek at the new digs if you're into that kinda thing

Nothin' fancy, it's always either too hot or too cold, the bathroom door doesn't latch, and the basement floods every time it rains, but it's in a pretty neighborhood and we're close to everything in town so really I can't complain. Most of these are a little out of date now and things have shifted slightly, but I didn't feel like taking new pictures.

The exterior

And now the interior.

Firstly, I present unto you the upstairs.
Our bedroom 
The dogs' bedroom
Honestly I'm not sure what the point of this room is. It's connected to our room via the door you can see in our room on the far right, and also to the hallway outside the bathroom. You could maybe fit a king-sized mattress (no frame) in there and possibly still have room to open the door. So we just use it for the dogs and our dirty clothes and as Christian's closet. (Also sorry for the open closet, but you can't close the door unless you use baby hangers apparently.)

Our tiny bathroom which I actually really like. I dig the subway tile.
Upstairs hallway
Our room is immediately right, then the attic door, then Gracie's room. The bathroom and dogs' room are behind me.

Gracie's room
I would not have chosen this color and I didn't bother trying to work with it either. Blue is neutral, riiight? ;)

And now for the downstairs.
Living room

Living room from the opposite side
Dining room
Our table looks ridiculously small in this ridiculously huge room, and we had to put the rest of our stuff somewhere, so here's what happened. And I hate, hate, hate the color of the walls in here. Sooo much red...

Weird little nook off the kitchen and dining room (not my curtains)
Please note the lovely salmon-colored tile, especially paired with the blue walls and red curtains.

Kitchen (again not my curtains)

View from the front door

View from the weird kitchen nook

My photo wall which I gaze lovingly at every time I use the stairs

Also we have a basement...

With a cozy bedroom for all our guests, complete with rotted out baseboards and painted a delightful shade of neon green...

...with your very own fully functional bathroom! Please note the claw-foot tub, into which the sink drains, resting in the bed of pebbles encased by a cement landscape border. Charming!

And to top it off, this room of nightmares can be found through a door behind the washing machine, featuring dank smells, rusty metal, a six-foot dirt mountain, and numberless hordes of spider crickets.

Come stay with us! ;)