Monday, November 22, 2010

Not Thora

This is not Thora. Not at all. This is, in fact, Thora's husband Avram, of whom you may have heard tell. I have commandeered this 'blog in order to praise my darling Thora. You may have noticed that my dear Lady does not 'blog near as often as she used to. You may even have lamented this fact, and you are right to do so, for my wife's writing can be a joy to read. The simple fact of the matter is that Thora does not have the kind of uninterrupted time which is most conducive to 'blogging. Know, however, that she does miss it, and that she will liably return to it some day. Life moves in troughs and valleys, and Thora is quite busy right now, finding her feet after a third child, a major illness and a move. She is doing a very good job of it, too.

I actually didn't hijack Thora's 'blog for the purpose of explaining the relative paucity of her posts, however. Rather, I took over here, as I have done in previous times to praise my lovely and beloved wife. She does so much for our family, and our household, and like most stay-at-home mothers, rarely gets the positive feedback and validation which is by justice hers. This is my (public) way of demonstrating how important her private acts are. Thora is a wonder with all three of our girls--from Lydia's dynamism to Elisheva's giving stubbornness to little Guinevere's emergent personality; Thora is able to handle it all. She deals all day, every day with bodily fluids of every kind imaginable, and does with a smile. Out of financial and environmental concerns, Thora recently switched us over to cloth diapering--the brunt of which she bears on her own, for I am not home near as often as she. This is but one example of the great service she does for the family. As another, in order to more fully illustrate the depth of my Lady's largesse: just yesterday my wife made pumpkin bread for a youth fireside, for me to take, while I was still at a presidency meeting. Her support of me in my calling is help and strength to me.

Indeed, all of Thora's support of me is a help and a strength. I do not forget, if indeed I could, that Thora chose to marry me when she had other choices, and I am grateful to Father for her every day. To paraphrase Mark Twain's Eve: "I am not so necessary to her as she is to me." She is indeed "necessary" to me. I cannot imagine life without Thora, nor indeed would I wish to. Whenever I speak of Thora, I find myself struggling to express with mere words, what my heart feels, which is why so often I go to poets and other authors, whose command of English surpasses my own feeble skills. There are no good words to express how important Thora is to me--I love her smile, her laugh. Even her frown. There is no doubt that Thora is more than I deserve, and more than I could have hoped for. She indeed, "almost makes the day begin" for me (the actual privilege of making my day begin goes to Lydia and her inability to sleep past about 6:45--but far be it from me to ruin a splendid metaphor through simple reality).

I must close this, wholly inadequate, praise of my wife, for I have a paper to write, and I reckon that my wife would much rather I work on that than spend more time weaving her praises. She is, of course, right. So, I will end merely by observing "how much I ardently love and admire her, " and a final paraphrase from Twain to end things: "Wherever she is, there is Eden."

I love you, Lady.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Yesterday was a good day. The kind of day where I feel like we are busy, and not just lazing around, doing nothing. Avram had Church Leadership Training in the morning at Church, so I got up and cleaned the house. Exciting, I know. But it was nice to have a nice, running house. Then Avram came home and had the young men over to do a Star Wars Roleplaying game. I went grocery shopping just with Elisheva, and it was fun to only have one child in the grocery store, and to spend some time with my poor middle child.

In the afternoon we walked with Samuel and Aleatha to the local, huge Oakland Park Nursery, where we wandered for an hour. I dreamed big thoughts of beautiful gardens, with a bounty of flowers and beautiful - not staunchy - bushes and trees, like the Japanese Maple. I settled with some bulbs - hyacinth, crocus, and Dutch Iris, some lilies, and a Wild Rose bush that was 75 % off - it's the "Bubble-icious" variety. We then planted everything, with Avram being a trooper and doing most of the digging, while Samuel and Aleatha went and got us frozen pizza. We had pizza, and then Aleatha and I went to a Girl's Night out of Window Shopping and cheesecake. It was fun. And I visited a bunch of stores I've never been to before, like Anthropologie and Pottery Barn. Mostly I was amazed at how expensive everything was.

Here's hoping that my yard comes up all flowers next spring :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Halloween and Health Update

Aleatha made halloween costumes for the girls, and instead of posting about it, I'm going to direct you to her post, because she is just that good (and links are a beautiful thing.) So go here to see Aleatha's handiwork and my cutie-patooties. What she doesn't tell you in her post is that while I was sick, we were also moving in a week, and she came over EVERY day, and packed and cleaned my house, plus keeping her own house clean and fixing dinner for two families half of the time. My mother in law basically packed and cleaned and parented the rest. I....didn't. But I am very grateful for families who help us when we are super-lame-o. And now we're moved and I love our new house (except for the kitchen storage, but I have come to terms with that), and we have a basement and three bedrooms.

Also, I am feeling myself again - after two months, I feel great, and healthy. And they only have me on one medicine right now, a beta-blocker, because they are thinking that it is probably only Post-partum thyroiditis, and not Grave's disease. This also means that it should subside on its own in a few months, which is quite exciting (although still likely to slide into hypothyroidism because the thyroid wears itself out). But, thanks to my disease, I lost all my baby weight. As Pa Ingalls says in the Little House on the Prairie (which we just finished reading with Lydia and Elisheva last week. Now we're reading On the Banks of Plum Creek) there is no cloud that doesn't have a silver lining.

Friday, October 8, 2010

I've always thought of myself as a healthy person - I took pride in it....

I've had some health thing come out in my life, but instead of taking time to write it all out, which I really can't do, because I don't feel too well, I'm going to cut and past the story from other sources:

July 7th:

Late in my pregnancy I started to have a racing heart beat on occasion. I would just be sitting down or something, and I would get short of breath, like I'd been running, and if I measured my pulse it was between 100-120 beats a minute (by the end of my pregnancy it would get to 130 bpm). So I told my midwives about this, and after it had gone on for a couple of weeks they recommended me to a cardiologist. I didn't have my appointment with him until almost a week after Guinevere was born, and after her birth I hadn't had this happen again that I had noticed, but he still wanted to check things out.

So the heart doctor ordered an echocardiogram, which is an ultrasound of your heart, basically. According to it, my heart pump flow is on the very low end of normal, and the Doctor thinks that I might have pregnancy induced Cardiomyopathy. Most of the time after pregnancy the condition resolves itself, but just to check and make sure, I have another echocardiogram scheduled for september. Hopefully at that point everything will be honky dory. If not, I don't know - because the doctor didn't say anything.

Anyway, so this will probably all come to nothing - although I read up on Google Health, and if it happens in one pregnancy, it'll often happen in subsequent ones, and you can be advised to not have anymore children, to avoid triggering worse peripartum cardiomyopathy. Although I didn't have very bad symptoms at all, I am worried that if I have another child, at that point they would get worse. I've always wanted a large family, so for me only having four children would be difficult. But...having a working heart is much more important that a larger family. Anyway, maybe I won't develop it again in a subsequent pregnancy. But, the possibility is there.

So there is my completely not conclusive status of my health.

Sept. 9th:

So, I had my second echocardiogram. Normal Heart Pump flow is 55%-65% (percent of what, I actually don't know). Back in June when they did one, mine was as 45%-50%. This time it was up to 50-55%, so still low, but not worrisomely low, really. So....Basically they scheduled another echocardiogram in a year, to see how I'm doing then. Plus, I asked the doctor about having more children, and he first asked me if I was planning on having any more, and then how long we were planning on waiting, and thought about it for a minute, and finally said, yes, he thinks I'll probably be fine getting pregnant again. Basically, if there is a problem with another pregnancy, then I'd probably be done, but they don't know if there would be a problem again.

Good news, really. As good as I hoped for.

Anyway I got sick over the weekend, and additionally have had a cough for a month, and through a series of events (higher heart rates again, among others), ended up at the Urgent Care on Wednesday, and that doctor then told me to go to the ER. So we did, and after being there for five hours, they did a CT scan, and found out that I had both Pneumonia and hyperthyroidism.

Here are the updates from facebook after this: There is a chance of Grave's Disease, which is a more serious complaint, but they caught it pretty early.

I'm home from the hospital now. Thank you all for your prayers and comments. I'm feeling better than I was - I'm on a beta-blocker that lowers my heartbeat from resting at 120s-130s (up to 150s, 160s and above with any movement) to resting at about 96 bpm. It actually allowed me to sleep last night, which was wonderful.

I'm also on an antiobiotic for the pneumonia and an anti-thyroid medication for the hyperthyroidism. But in good news, the underlying thyroid problem (as soon as the thyroid medicine sufficiently lowers my heart-rate, I'll be weaned off of... the beta-blocker) is easily treatable with medicine - although, I have an 80% of it turning into hypothyroidism after a year or so. Aleatha cleaned my house today, and took care of my kids, while I rested and slept all day today. Avram's mom is coming tomorrow, and taking care of me and the family for two weeks, until I get better from the pneumonia and we move (by the way, we're moving to a house in two weeks.)

I'm still able to nurse Guinevere, after a day of her getting bottles of formula (I couldn't nurse her for a day after my CT scan that showed them my diagnosis), and she took to bottles with no problem at all, thank God. In about a month they'll test me for Grave's disease, and then I won't be able to nurse her for a month (because the radioactive dye has to decay sufficently). I have an electric pump now, thanks to my insurance, so the plan is to pump for a month, and have her drink formula for that time, and then continue nursing afterwards. I don't know if it will work, but I'm going to try.

If I do have Graves' they've cought it early enough that they should be able to manage it very well. (It's an auto-immune disease, so they can't cure it, they can only treat the symtoms).
And compared to cardiomyopathy, which every doctor prior to my CT scan thought I had, it's a much, much better diagnosis.

Over all, I'm home and feeling much better, because my heart isn't racing continuously, like it did on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Although I have to basically not move or do anything, because then I won't recover from the pnemonia (it's not really related to the other disease, it just happened at the same time).

My favorite part of conference wasn't any of the actual talks, it was between them, when they played a dramatization of Elder Holland's talk about trials, and his story of his car that kept dying in the middle of no where, and how we'll all have trials, be we will get through them, and things will get better, if not in this life, in the next. I guess it was good timing for me in my life, it turned out.

Oh, and a post script on the whole children thing - I can have more children with this difficulties - they'll just have to moniter me closely to adjust my thyroid medication. Can I be honest and shallow for a moment? The one thing I knew about hypothyroidism before yesterday is that you gain weight on it, and it's almost impossible to lose because your thyroid affects your metabolism. And so now I'm sad, knowing most likely if I have any more children, I'll have a very, very difficult time losing the baby weight. I know it's somewhat shallow, but there you go.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The post that took a month to write (and has nothing to show for it).

Avram blessed Guinevere on Sunday, and to come and participate came almost the whole Shannon clan (just missing Joshua's wife Missy.) We went to a flea market, Kirtland, and then today the Zoo. Also one Tuesday the boys went to see Ironman II and the Women (all except Aleatha, who stayed home with a sleeping Abraham) went to How to Train Your Dragon, which we all really enjoyed. We also celebrated Avram's 29th birthday, which is coming up this Friday, but we'll be camping then.

So...this was written only a month or so ago. Not bad, huh? My sister Camilla was laughing at me the other day, because she said after she had her third kid and stopped posting, and I would give her a hard time. And now I have a third kid, and have stopped posting. I feel overall very balanced with our Guinevere, but I admit I have yet to figure out have to have any me time, including posting yet.

Speaking of Guinevere, she is now 14 lbs 4 oz - but has hovered at 14 pounds for a few weeks, so I think she (for the moment) has balanced out in her weight. Also, she's 21 1/2 inches long, and most importantly, she learned how to roll over this past Monday. At first I thought it was a fluke, but she has done it every day since then, and has taken to rolling on to her stomach to sleep, and has even rolled over twice in a row. She won't even be three months for over a week; Lydia and Elisheva both learned how to roll at four months, but this is by and away much sooner. Unfortunately, now I have to re-arrange sleeping arrangements. Guinevere currently sleeps with us, but now that she can roll, it makes me nervous to have her nap on our bed. We can set up her crib, but we only have two crib mattresses, which are currently in use as toddler bed mattresses for Lydia and Elisheva. So, I need to get a twin mattress for Lydia to use, and get rid of her tacky (but free- we got it out of our parking lot. It's also in perfect shape) Disney Princess toddler bed.

We're all done traveling now - we went to Virginia after the picture part of this post was written, and then came home, and a week and a half later went to Tennessee to visit Avram's grandparents and Aunt and Uncle. Now we can just stay in the greater Columbus area for the next three months, until December, when we'll be making what we call our "Yikers Family Vacation" where we'll be driving to Utah, staying for a week, driving to Washington, staying for a week (for a Shannon family reunion), driving to Idaho and visiting my dad and step-mom and staying for two days, and then driving back to Columbus. This trip will take three weeks, six days of which will be spent driving 12 plus hours each day. Condolences are welcome.

I won't promise that I'll write again soon. Who knows, really? But I will promise that I'll want to write again soon.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

So cute it's worth it.

Look, her first (on film) smile that's remotely in focus!

My baby - already six weeks old. I can't handle her cuteness - her soft baby knees and jowly cheeks. I can't believe that she actually came from inside of me. If I didn't so vividly remember my three natural labors myself, I think I could totally buy the stork brings babies story. Because they just grow so quickly - in Guinevere's case, very quickly indeed. She's already about 11 1/2 lbs and 23 inches long. My sister-in-law Aleatha made the sleep sacque that Guinevere is wearing. It's repurposed from a shirt, and it's cute, and she's going to sell them on Etsy soon. Guinevere got to be her model for sizing.
Sometimes, really cute pictures of my girls helps me forget that they are a lot of work, too. Like our sink that has been blocked for weeks, and four bottles worth of draino has gone down, and finally, today they came and fixed it, and the blockage was a princess spoon.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A New Dining Wall

At long last, my dining wall is complete - and it's much better than the old, boring, wall. This is a relatively simple house project, but seeing that I conceived it while heavy laden with Child means it took months to come together. The whole project cost about $35; this included seven mattes from Joannes, Frames all bought for 50% off from Goodwill, spray paint and primer, and of course printing the pictures. Normally I'm a fairly haphazard person, who looks at the wall, pounds in a nail willy-nilly, hangs the picture, and then see how it looks. If it's too high or low or whatnot, I pull out the nail, take another guess, and then repound it in. This high inefficency only works for me because most of the time I let the first inaccurate hole stand, regardless of the overall effects on my wall.

For this many pictures, I decided to actually utilize something called measuring - a foreign concept for myself, I know. So I first did a free hand drawing of a bunch of picture frames - which ended up being twelve, of various sizes. Then I printed off graph paper from the Internet, and cut out little picture frames to scale and saw the result. I measured my dining room wall (do you like how I call one half of my eat in kitchen my dining room? It makes me feel expansive, and designer), and it turns out my mind's eye was very confused - I then cut down the design by about a third, and planned it accordingly on the graph paper.

I bought new mattes, because I didn't want a 'DIY' look to the project, but rather a put together look. Although they cost the most of any part of the project, clocking in at $18, it was completely worth it, and much better looking than pasting the pictures to white paper in the frames, which was my first uninspired cheap idea. I laid out the mattes on the floor, but by this point (weeks from the origin of the whole project) I had lost the graph paper ideas, so I just free handed the layout until I came up with one I liked.I ended up added four extra pictures, but I didn't have any mattes for them, so I used scriptures as fill ins. I bought spray paint at Home Depot, which was my first experience with spray paint. This all happened this last spring, and here the project languished until about two weeks ago, when I felt recovered enough from Confinement to accomplish a project.

Then over two visits to Goodwill I bought the picture frames and painted them (with Avram picking up an extra can of spray paint in the process). I put my favorite photos in a separate folder, and then narrowed them down, made a collage of the finalists, and then was able to check for composition and groupings of subject matter. I ordered the pictures online and had them delivered to my door (the cheapest option, and easiest.) and finally, voila, hung them! First though I checked for the final effect by laying them all out on my floor. Avram did the actual measuring and hanging - not because I'm not capable of it (I only say this, because some woman tire me when they talk about their DIY projects they do, and then it turns out they mostly just order their husbands around while the husband slaves over the project), but because he would rather measure than be the one who stands back and says yay or nay on how the pictures are hanging. I am very happy with the finished project. The hunter green - my favorite color - adds something to the boring not-quite-white,-but-not-really-any-other-color-wall-color. And my new cabinets I bought used for $40 at the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore completes my new and improved dining room makeover. Before we had ugly open plastic shelving, with our food storage spilling out in all its canned glory. Now I have this svelte shelving, which hides food storage, and my Mortars and Pestles I love so dearly are out on display. Also, the ugly shelving went into the Utility room, where it turned pile of mess into an organized display of storage water, camping gear and cleaning supplies.My sister in law Aleatha introduced me to the ReStore - it has lots of used housing items like shelves and sinks and whatnot. I had been looking for a baker's rack for forever, but never saw one with closed shelving. This is great because it is sturdy, and short enough to fit under the ugly built in lighting unit on the wall (you can see it in the previous picture). Now I'm motivated to both learn more about Photography (to put better pictures on the wall - since I'm planning to periodically update the pictures), and to tackle my next big project - painting a bedroom chest of drawers.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I can't quite remember....

So cute, the loss of my mind is worth it.
I don't like to define myself by cliches about motherhood or being a stay at home mom. I even call myself a homemaker, to differentiate myself from the image I get when I say stay at home mom - which latter phrase makes me sound like I'm a frumpy woman old for her time, who stays in stretch clothes all day and stays at home, never leaving the house, and stares at her walls for hours on end, while her children roam the house as wild packs, intent on the hunt (of destruction). Now, homemaker make bring to mind a 1950s housewife, who applies liberal red lipstick and carefully coiffures her hair, wears a small waisted dress with an apron and vacuumes her already immaculate house while waiting for her husband to come home and sample her cooking.

The truth of the matter is that I do stay at home almost all the time as a mom, but I get dressed (usually in skirts) every day - although I leave off the make-up, and the hairdo, and the apron. But at least I don't stare at the walls for hours - I leave my staring for books.

Regardless, another cliche I like to avoid is the "mommy brain."

Early this morning, at 4:40 am, I woke up convinced that we had never been mailed our water bill, and it would be late in two days. I'd had a vague nagging feeling for weeks that we should have another bill to pay, and had been waiting impatiently to receive it, convinced it must have been lost in the mail. We only pay our water ever three months or so, so it's easy for me to lose track periodically when the next bill is due. I knew that I had paid the last water bill in March, so I felt very overdue for another payment. I tried telling myself that I could pay it in the morning, and that it wouldn't be late a mere four hours later, but to no avail. I tossed and turned, and finally went downstairs, dug through our file box, and found the phone number for our automatic pay utilities. Unfortunately, although you can pay your bill over the phone, they don't tell you how much you owe. So I got on the computer, got into my account, and discovered that I had paid a bill in June, and the next one wasn't due until September. That's great for our budget, but sadly, I don't remember paying a bill in June. And due to the antiquated Columbus Water Facilities, I always mail in our water bill physically, because they charge fees to pay online or over the phone - which means that this wasn't a simple automatic deduction, or a simple click of the mouse I forgot. I forgot writing checks, and mailing letters.

Combine this with the fact that yesterday I twice told people that I was going to a Ladies Luncheon that someone in my ward organizes for stay at home moms (homemakers? Ladies of the Day?) today, when really in my day planner it was scheduled for next week. Understandable mistake, but less understandable when you realize that I had forgotten about the luncheon, and only remembered it yesterday when I checked my day planner. Apparently I can't remember to look at the number of the day, and July 29 doesn't really look anything like August 5th anyway.

All I can conclude is I'm losing, or have already lost, my short and long term memory. It galls me (mostly just because I love to use the word gall in a sentence) that I'm falling prey to this disease of motherhood. I'm one of those people that used to, in a firmer and younger reincarnation, remember every date and number, every social occasion and responsibility in firmly engraved tablets on my brain. I never forgot them, even when I would rather have so I could skip out on something, and then claim I merely forgot. It turns out when you don't get to selectively choose what to forget, it's a lot less useful. I already mix up my children's names, so the only step left is dementia.

Well, in case I forget I have a blog next - it's been a good life, world. Even if I can't remember it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

She of the Golden Locks

Shortly after Guinevere was born, Lydia would talk to Guinevere, and then lean in real close as Guinevere whispered (so Lydia told us) in her ear. One time while doing this, I asked Lydia what Guinevere was telling her.

Lydia, "Guinevere is telling me about my baby brother!"

Me, "Oh, what's his name?" - Thinking maybe that children really do have a connection to the other side - maybe we'll have a boy next.

Lydia, after consulting with Guinevere, "Sharon."

On second thought, maybe not.
Lydia dressed up as a Fairy Princess - her favorite pretend, next to being Toph from Avatar: The Last Airbender. She's going to go as Toph for Halloween.

Also, twice in the last week Lydia has introduced herself to little girls at the park as "Goldilocks." She thinks Avram and I are Papa and Mama Bear, Elisheva is Baby Bear, and Guinevere is Curly Bear (this name derives from a character on modern Sesame Street - Guinevere's hair isn't curly at all). She's told us before that her real parents moved to Utah for forever, and so she's come to live with us, the Bear family.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I would have rather had nice pictures than a blog post.

A while ago I lamented about my boring Dining wall. I appreciated your comments, particularly the idea to paint my own picture (thanks Sarah - I do want to do that sometime!), but I ended up going in a slightly different direction. I've also for a while wanted to have more pictures of our family up and about, that date from more recently than my wedding day, seeing as we've added three members to our family since then. Also, I like to pretend that I take half-way decent point-and-shoot pictures, and wanted to display them in more areas than the hard drive of my computer.

I came up with a design for a collage of photographs - eleven in total, that will hang on the empty wall. I have the mats bought, and now just need to buy the frames and pick the pictures. The frames will be from thrift stores, which I'll then paint green. I knew I wanted to include Guinevere with the pictures, though, and so wanted to wait and take some cute pictures after she was born. Months ago I decided that the last day my Mom would be here and visiting would be the best time, since Guinevere would be the oldest then, and my Mom could help corral the kids. Avram doesn't enjoy doing photo shoots, so this would let him get out of it as well.

There seems to be some weird glitch in me, so that I can't abide the thought of taking my kids to a store and paying for someone to take their pictures. It's not the money, per se, since I can imagine paying my sister who does pictures to do the same thing. Regardless, the last real formal pictures taken of my kids was when I only had one kid, and she was a year old (by that same sister. Number of times we've been to 'professionals' equals zero.) So to me, because I'm weird, these pictures are the official newborn pictures of Guinevere, and the girls yearly four and two year old photos all rolled into one.

I've spent months thinking about, in the spare corners of my life, how great these pictures would be. I knew we'd got to a local garden park here in Columbus, where there are always a nice picture background. I knew what I would dress the girls in, and how I would do their hair. This last Monday dawned cloudy and not too hot - perfect for picture taking (although it was massively humid, but you can't have everything.) We spent the morning leisurely getting ready with clothing and hair, and finally headed out there close to lunch time.

First, there were gnats everywhere, who seemed to be particularly attracted to Elisheva. As well ants were running amok on the stone wall the girls were sitting on, and the girls were back-lit and appeared in shadow.

The black dot underneath Elisheva's eye is no beauty mark.

As well, there was the usual assortment of "huh?" expression from the girls.
So then we moved to a bench, where the girls wouldn't settle down from weird expressions.

Then, only ten minutes into the photo shoot, when we hadn't even pulled out Guinevere's clothes yet, nor dressed her (she was feeling rather urpy that morning, and we didn't want spit up all over the pictures), the heavens opened, and the rain came pouring down.
I only managed three photos of Guinevere, and they all about looked like this one
(The nice black section is my camera's lens cover, which got stuck from the rain, and couldn't open all the way on its own. Thankfully once it dried out, all was good again). Guinevere never did even make it into her outfits planned for the photo shoot. After the rain had stopped, we gave up and went home. The girls were starving, and although we'd brought sandwiches for lunch, all of the benches were soaked, and so there was no real place to eat.

I guess some things just weren't meant to be - like classy photos of my family. So, if you're ever wondering what to get me for Christmas, please, give me some pictures of my kids. But, don't just give me money, or a coupon or whatnot. I think you'll have to secretly kidnap them, cutify them yourself, and then go and get a professional to take their pictures. Otherwise, we're going to have photos like this one our wall the rest of our lives.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The New Normal

Although I would like to spend my time doing nothing but hold Guinevere and stare at her perfection in what Avram likes to call the Madonna complex, life here in the Shannon household currently looks a lot more like this.

Elisheva likes the baby - she just isn't sure what to make of this baby coming and never seeming to leave. Not to mention that sometimes, no matter what - ie, when I'm nursing , I won't put down Guinevere to hold just Elisheva, no matter how desperate she is (and she thinks it's a desperate situation all of the time). Notice the state of the living room - classy joint I live in, huh?

Meanwhile Lydia is in danger of loving this child too much. I'm sure if Guinevere does have any conscious thoughts, they revolve around why I keep letting this small blond monster maul her.
Guinevere herself spends her time growing. Every day amazes me with how much bigger she's looking. I wish that the precious newborn stage didn't also have to happen at the same time as the crazy adjusting-to-another-child-in-the-family-stage. With Lydia I just spent hours watching her sweet little face while my Mom took care of everything else. For the last week that my Mom has been here, I've spent some time staring lovingly at Guinevere, but I've spent a lot more time juggling the two other children and their sudden, yet understandable, neediness.

Here's Guinevere throughout her first week (she's 11 days old now, but I'm a little slow on catching up):

Day One

Guinevere at a week old.
Lydia and Elisheva have loved having my mom here. Well, let me qualify that - Elisheva loves doing activities with her Nana, but she does not accept her for comfortings or holdings, to replace her recalcitrant Mama who won't stopping holding that needy baby.
Nana cooked with them.And had a tea party
Not to mention played all sorts of games to introduce Lydia to her distant Stallick cousins, via pictures and maps and such. Now Nana has gone home, and I think we're beginning to get the hang of this whole five person family thing. Ask me again in two days, when Avram goes on a two and a half day campout for scouting, leaving me at home with three girls. Pre-made freezer dinners, here we come.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Guinevere Rebekah Has Arrived

Guinevere Rebekah was born on Friday, June 18th at 6:42 in the morning. She was 7 lbs and 11 oz, and 19.5 inches long. I was waiting to blog until her arrival, because I tired even myself with my one track "I'm pregnant. Really pregnant. I wonder when this baby will come?" and I didn't want to dwell in my inner thoughts as written down in blog form any more than necessary until the baby came out.

But, lo and behold, like every baby throughout history, Guinevere did make her appearance - Hallelujah! Up until she was born, I still held a faint hope it would be a boy, but once she was here, it was eminently apparent that a third girl was what was absolutely perfect for our family. She is perfect to my (highly biased) mind. She sleeps well, and has a darling button nose, like all our girls, and she has a full head of brunette hair. She also has a small wrinkle to better furrow her brow by, just like her mother, as well as having my lack of a defining chin (which ends up looking like a double chin, which on her is darling).

Just as further proof of how great Rebekah (and hence her name as Guinever's middle name) was in the bible, as I previously discussed on here, Sister Julie B. Beck said recently at the BYU Women's Conference (as quoted in the Church News), "Each of us in our day is as important to our generation and our time as Rebekah was in her time. We each are pivotal in our families. The success of the House of Isreal is now dependent on millions of Rebekahs who understand what their place and mission is on the earth." See - Rebekah is the pivotal women that Sister Beck chose, because it's true, Rebekah really is that Awesome.

Lydia and Elisheva both love her - they love holding her, and kissing her, and even getting diapers out for me for changing her. They are also both more needy than normal, but that we expected. Elisheva loves being held like a baby, and being sung to - and needs me to hold her more than normal.

My mom arrived yesterday, and it's heaven having her here to help with the girls, and gush over Guinevere, since nobody but Grandparents gush better than parents do, but the best part is having someone wash dishes and vacuum, so I can sit on the couch and recover, and not feel like my house is falling down around me.

I feel so out of practice writing, but I do plan to pick up the pieces of my fallen life, blogging included, and gradually de-lamify myself. Things like we're getting rid of buying cold cereal a month after Guinevere is born, and moving back to breakfasts that are actually filling. Or as well making homemade bread again, instead of only having store-bought bread. But...that's in the near future. For now, I'm just excited that I can bend over again, and that today I pulled out my non-maternity Summer clothing. I've missed my predominantly skirt-filled wardrobe. (Just to clarify - no I did not lose my maternity weight that quickly - I just find that skirts are much more forgiving to figures than pants are, and so more easily and quickly switched to).

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day, and Weird Pregnancy Thoughts

Time to pop in for now what has become my bi-weekly family update. First off, I had a great Mother's Day. How did this happen? Mostly because during the week before Mother's Day, Avram asked me what I specifically wanted to happen on Mother's Day so I felt special and loved. In previous years, I've never made it clear what I would like before hand, and so basically every time, we ended up with me unhappy at some point in the day, when my visions weren't matching up with reality.

This time, via my instruction, Avram had the kitchen clean, and I had made an effort for the rest of the house to be clean, to start Mother's day with, since for me a clean house is restful in and of itself. Then, he had prepared a breakfast Strata (ok, casserole, but that's what the recipe in Joy of Cooking called it) that we'd picked out together, and I also had a fruit salad that I'd made the day before. I'm the only person in the family who likes fruit salad, so this was an exciting thing for me. Plus our Bishop cancelled all of the meetings besides the three hour block, and so Avram, instead of having a meeting at 8:30 in the morning before church, and then another meeting after church, was home with me all day long. So he got up with the girls, and let me sleep in a little, then we had our great breakfast, and then we moseyed along to church at our slow pace, and still arrived a half hour early (I think because we're so used to being at church for forever, it didn't seem real to only need to be there for three hours).

Lydia stood up with the Primary, and although she didn't exactly sing, as is common for Sunbeams, she didn't cry, or abandon the stand, either. And Avram and I nodded encouragingly at her, and smiled reassuring smiles for all we were worth, and I felt as proud as could be as a mother. Lydia can be very shy sometimes, and so we'd been prepping her all morning for standing with them, to avoid what happened at our ward talent show. This show happened shortly after Lydia entered Primary, early this year, and the Primary stood up and sang a song for the show. Lydia stood up with them, but had never practiced the song before, and within seconds looked like this.
If you click on the picture, you'll see her bright red face, and then she started hyper-ventilating, and came back mid-song, and in tears told us that she didn't know the song they were singing. So you can see our absolute joy in her staying with the Primary - it's a real step forward.

And Lydia made me a card, under Avram's tutelage, although when I woke up, the first thing she asked me was to help her finish the card - flattering, that even in making a present for me, she asks me for help.

Then we spent the afternoon and evening on the phone with various mothers, and Elisheva even sat on her little potty (her idea) for a half hour or so, excited as can be. Nothing happened, not that I thought it would, but still, maybe all this socializing will pay off sooner than later. And Avram told me that for Mother's Day he's getting me (him) a headset for the phone. It's for me, because when he talks on the phone to family, which he does often, he can't multi-task, since he hates the feeling of holding the phone on with his ear. Now, he'll be able to do dishes, and cook, and clean and parent, all while still talking on the phone. I requested this present, actually, and I'm very excited he's getting it.

Otherwise we're doing great. Elisheva got her cast off, and only took three days to start walking, instead of the week or two they said was common for not walking. She also turned two years old, and has started saying words even more often, although no sentences besides "Sit Down" or "Read this" and other imperatives.

I'm 34 1/2 weeks (but who's counting, really?) I spent the last two pregnancies with morbidity abounding in my thoughts, but this pregnancy I've been fine - until recently, when I keep feeling that I might have a premature baby. She's quickly running out of time to be pre-mature, and just like my worries about death with Elisheva or Lydia never materialized, I'm pretty sure this is just another phantasm of pregnancy.

In a weird moment - that will only make sense if you visit the link above - I was telling Avram about how I haven't worried about death this time, except for that one day I was feel a little morbid, and I was holding Elisheva and kissing her, and feeling sentimental, and then at that exact moment IZ's "Over the Rainbow" came on Pandora (Camilla, this is an Internet Radio station place you design yourself, and it's free) that we were listening to, and then I started to cry. The universe should not pull such tricks on me.

Mostly, though, with this pregnancy, I keep having scenarios flash through my mind, especially at night, of going into labor, or my water breaking, and who could we call for the girls, and such. Of course, the average baby weight now is 4 3/4 pounds, and I just looked on baby center to get the weight, and they said 99% of babies born at this point survive. So I'm not worried about the baby's health as much as the surrounding logistics. And I'll be honest, sometimes on a hard pregnancy day, I secretly wish I could just go into labor right now, and get the whole thing over with.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tawaret, Pottery Barn, and The Poisonwood Bible

Shhhhh....I'm hiding in my bedroom/office, where I'm supposed to be editing Avram's paper for the Maxwell (used to be FARMS) Institute conference for this fall. Except I can't access the paper, since his email in encrypted with a crazy password that has more symbols than letters, and although he left me the password, it isn't working. So...I'm hiding from my kids, anyway. Maybe I'll even be able to squeak out a whole blog post. Not that I can completely blame my children for not blogging. The truth is, my best Internet time is in the afternoon, after I've completed my household chores for the day, or otherwise given up on completing those chores. However, with advancing pregnancy, I find that I increasingly nap in the afternoon quiet time instead. We don't do quiet time like many people do - instead of the girls getting quiet time in their room, I shut my door, and I get quiet time (always nap time), while the girls play around the house. I seem to have singularly un-curious children, because this method works very well, and since Lydia can't open either the front or back door - they stick; adults can hardly open them - I never worry about them wandering off into the street. The most damage they do is when Lydia decides to find her own afternoon snack, and rummages through the fridge or cupboards.

But, as today has not even passed the lunch mark yet, I suppose I shall try and crack my hand at the old writing pasttime, instead of sleeping. As regards my pregnancy, I feel increasingly like Tawaret.She is the Egyptian hippopotamus goddess, who is always depicted as pregnant. Just imagine me as a vertical hippo, and you've got it about right. I'm almost 33 weeks, but it feels like every week currently measures a complete revolution of the Earth about the Sun in my life. Looking back over the last two pregnancies, I remember that the second to last month was always the hardest one for me. By the last month, I'm suddenly remembering that when a baby arrives, she's going to need lots of care and midnight feedings and endless diaper changes, not to mention time. Plus my house always needs to be better looking (ahh, nesting), and I have about fifty items to complete before the arrival. Don't forget the whole labor part, as well. But in the seventh month, none of these worries are imminent, and I only remember that I've been pregnant forever, and I may well be pregnant for the coming forever. Imagine, being pregnant for forever - that must be what hell is truly like. Then there would be no anticipation for the coming baby, which means you'd just be stuck forever as Tawaret.

In other thoughts, our local library had a booksale, where you could get a grocery bag's worth of books for five dollars. Of course we loaded right on up, and now our children's shelves are loaded with many books that look as if they've been looted from the library, which they have, except there is no due date attached. I picked up a coffee table sized decorating book from Pottery Barn, since the price was right, and I love decorating books. I do not love, or even like, Pottery Barn, but I figured I could still find plenty to interest me inside. While I have picked up some useful tips, I find myself disgusted while reading the book. Not so disgusted I stop, just enough to feel comfortably self righteous and castigated for being a part of a consumerist nation.

Besides not really liking the actual style of many of the rooms they showcase, I struggle to relate to the luxury based, more is better, and large is best mentality of Pottery Barn. The rooms are all huge, and the houses all full of useless junk, like personal spas with Japanese special soaking tubs, and guest bedrooms complete with all new toiletries, slippers, and bathrobe for your guest to not only try, but take home with them. The amount of glassware and china they espouse makes me embarrassed to be American, and part of a culture where new is best, and remodeling and updating a past-time.

We met last week for the first time as a book group (this is related to the Pottery Barn, just wait), to discuss The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver. The meeting went great - it was everything I hoped for, with great companionship, good conversation, and herbal tea and muffins and fruit that made me feel genteel and lady-like. I thoroughly enjoyed The Poisonwood Bible, despite my mis-givings, and, as I hoped it would, it affected me long past the final page of reading. Although not the main point of the book by any means, I was left pondering a lot my place as a steward of the environment and earth, and how I use, or mis-use, the expansive resources I have available to myself as an American in in a first world country. As a result of these ponderings, I have finally at long last begun recycling here in Ohio, and am amazed at how, only three weeks in, almost half of the waste we produce can be recycled. If I had a back yard, and hence could have compost, I think another quarter of waste, at least, could be reclaimed.

With these thoughts in my mind recently, reading about how a kitchen really ought to have two sinks for better food prep, plus my bathtub should be larger, for more water, and my shower heads can be installed to release more water at once (called the deluge showerhead, meant to imitate a rainshower), not to mention updating my pillows, furniture, storage options for all of this extra junk, plus special wine refrigerators available for my kitchen. So much of the emphasis on this book is in comfort and relaxation, and I can see why - after two adults working overtime to pay off their mortgage on these over-expansive houses, plus cleaning and maintaining a dwelling of this size, I can imagine that all they would want in their lives is relaxation - without any time to do so.

I'll be the first to admit that someday, someday soon, even, I'd love to move to a larger house than a 1000 square foot townhome. I'd love amenities like a separate office/libary for Avram to work in when he's home working, which is often. Or a large enough bathroom to include built in drawers instead of only a pedestal sink. I know that what I have is nicer than what so many people have, and will ever have, in their entire lives. In the Poisonwood Bible (spoiler alert) when Leah and Anatole move to the states while he is a part time instructor at the University, they live in married student housing. Many around them complain about the plywood walls, and the cheap furniture. Meanwhile, they can hardly believe how nice everything in the apartment is (and they are in their thirties and forties at this point, not just young and naive and in love), and how far his stipend from the university goes for them and their children.

This was a very humbling bit to read, because Avram is a part time instructor here at OSU- he recieves a stipend as well. Although we don't directly live in student housing here (we did at BYU), we do live in an apartment of the same size and styling. More often than I'd care to admit, I've coveted having more money, and someday owning a house, where I can paint the walls, and have more space, including beautiful storage space not part of our limited closets. I don't want to decorate in the Pottery Barn style, but I would someday like to decorate my house, with furniture that is more than just what I found in the moment at Goodwill, and with exotics like installing architectural detailing (mouldings! window seats! Dormer windows! Built-in library shelves floor to ceiling! - ok, so the middle two are probably just pipe dreams). I don't want to ever reach the point where my physical belongings become so much that I am chained to their preservation, up-keep, and re decoration when style inevitably change.

I don't think that just because there are people in Africa who live in one room homes, and are consistently going hungry, and live at the mercy of thoroughly corrupt governments means that I should sell all my belongings, and either move to live like them, or feel guilty everytime I turn on my hot water, or wash my clothes in my personal washer and dryer. I do think that being a good steward, however you term it, is appropriate. We've all heard the cry to finish our food, because there are starving children in Africa. Of course, we are not going to then box up our un-eaten food and then ship it to Africa, only to arrive weeks later covered with mold, as a token of goodwill. However, the less that we consume overall, the better our "carbon footprint" if you want to sound trendy, is. In the terms that I like, the better stewards we are of what Heavenly Father gave us, the less food we through away from having eyes larger than our stomachs. And ultimately the less we consume, whether food or plastic or new belongings just to have new things, the more resources there are for others in the world. Now I sound like I'm espousing the trickle down economics as given by Reagan, but you get my idea. I'm not sure exactly the best methods, once we use less, of giving the extras to those in need, but my personal favorite areas of helping (and this is sadly mostly theoretical until Avram makes more than a part-time stipend) are the LDS Humanitarian fund, and the PEF, or Perpetual Education Fund.

I would expound some more, but I now have two children clinging on me - I guess quiet time is over.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

State of Our Family

Wow, I haven't written in a long time. I shall do a bullet format, since I don't feel like writing a cohesive essay.

  • Elisheva returned for an Orthopedic appointment on the Monday following her accident. The five days between the accident, and this appointment were spent mostly with Elisheva deposited squarely in my lap. With the splint Elisheva could not walk, and even crawling was cumbersome - she usually chose scooting if independent transportation was required. Mostly, though, Elisheva used my person as her personal transport. Elisheva, with Avram as her personal Easter egg hunt helper. She found more eggs than Lydia - I guess the extra vantage point helped her.
I was given insight into what a 27 pound newborn would feel like. Heavy, mostly. Thankfully, on Monday they decided that she neither needed surgery or a pin, since she is so young that her bone should naturally straighten out as she grows. Also, thankfully they gave her a cast, which color, pink, Lydia decided on. Lydia insists that when she was a toddler, she fell off of a kitchen chair too, except her cast was red and pink. I love how Lydia can't be left out of anything. The first day Elisheva ever walked, Lydia ran around saying, "I'm walking! I'm walking." Same thing when Elisheva started saying words. The opposite is true as well - if Lydia is doing something, anything, Elisheva wants to be doing it too.
With the cast Elisheva refound her mobility, and although they said she would take a while to walk on it, using the aid of a special "shoe", that very day found her toddling around with hesitant steps.
Elisheva showing off her new walking. Also the first real pregnant shot of me, at almost seven months. The frumpy socks and shoes are only because we went on a long walk, and comfort is paramount over fashion. The frumpy clothes can be excused for the same reason - the outfit was comfortable, even if in pictures the pants remind me of decades' past. They were hand-me-downs, so I'm sure they even came from decades' past.
Now she walks almost as comfortably as normal, and can even half-run as well. I love whoever invented casts with walking shoes. Plus they gave us the tip of buying Glad Press 'n Seal, a fancy self adhesive cling wrap. We use it to cover her cast, and then I hold up her leg while Avram bathes her. It's a miracle; it's easy, and doesn't have the complications of plastic bags and rubber bands that carry the potential complication of a homemade tourniquet. And at this writing, there are only three weeks left of the cast.
  • I'll be 31 weeks tomorrow. Here I am, at almost 7 months. When I transferred over Lydia and Elisheva's winter clothing to spring/summer, I also pulled out the baby girl clothes. My sadness at potentially never having a boy was amply swallowed up in all the darling, teensy girl outfits. Baby girls sure do get cute clothing. Besides moving into the third trimester, everything is going swimmingly with the pregnancy. I don't have anemia this time, which I did with both Lydia and Elisheva, so I have more energy in this pregnancy than I've ever had before. Having said this, I don't find pregnancy so exhilarating that I don't often remind myself that if we have six kids, this pregnancy will mean I'm halfway through with childbearing - Hallelujah!
We've basically decided on a name, although as always we retain the right to change it at the hospital if we so choose. It is Guinevere Rebekah. Guinevere because it's a stately English name, and also after Queen Guinevere, Arthur's wife. Not the adulterous, wimpy Guinevere, formed through the French Romantic Retellings (no thanks to Chretien de Troy and Eleanor of Aquitaine and her accursed Courtly Love), but the Welsh Guinevere of the Mabinogion, who rides around with Arthur, righting wrongs and just generally being awesome. Rebekah is for Rebekah in the Bible, who is also awesome. She is the most active woman in the bible (excepting perhaps Ruth at the promptings of Naomi), and every story with her in it has Rebekah as the main character. The verbs that go with her are active, and it is Rebekah that ensures the blessing given to Abraham and then Isaac is passed on correctly. I'm sure Isaac was a nice man, but for that generation of Patriarchs, Rebekah is the mover and shaker.

  • To end randomly, here's a picture of us taken the week before Easter, which because of Conference was "Easter" for church purposes.
  • Also, here's some more pictures, so my Mother will love me.
The result when Lydia is let outside on a Sunday, and decides to make "chocolate milk" with a water bottle and dirt. The most amazing part? I got it all out, with the help of Oxyclean. I love that stuff.