Friday, December 6, 2013

Hug hug. Kiss kiss.

I have been trying to cherish the good moments that occur in the long hours, days, and weeks of raising three young children - two of which are extremely strong willed.  I know that all too soon they will be grown, their tantrums forgotten, and these small moments treasured.  

Moments like how this one always wants to wear his PJ tops all day long.

Or how he always needs a hug and a kiss before I leave - Even if I am just going to get the mail.

I left tonight to go see a movie with a friend.  I was in a rush to hand off my kids so I didn't remember to give Carsten a proper send off.  As the garage door was closing, my baby boy burst through the door with tears welling in his eyes and a frantic voice pleading "Mommy!  Mommy!  Gimme a kiss and a hug."

He ran back inside with a spring in his step after the requested signs if affection.

I thank
 God for these beautiful moments.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Nine for Nine

This little darling turned nine months the end of October.  Her life has been a blur to me - I love every moment with her but am horrible at documenting it.  

1.  Our super baby.   She is super easy going, super happy and super, super busy.  Not a moment do I set her down then she is off exploring.

2.  Our foodie baby.  True to Smemoe genes, she loves food.  Her little feet kick excitedly as soon as we drop peas on her tray, spoon baby food into her mouth, and give her apple slices to chew on.  So far we have only discovered one thing she doesn't like - grown up oatmeal.  That and antibiotics that she has to take for a horrific ear infection she got this past week.

3.  Our book worm.  Also true to Smemoe fashion, she loves when we read her books.  The touch and feel ones are her favorite.

4.  Our one with few words.  She just learned how to say "mama" and "papa" and babbles with dadadada quite a bit.  She refuses to do baby signs.  Even though it has been at least two months that we have had her do the signs for "more,"  "all done," and "milk."  She just laughs at us as we do them for her.

5.  Our early riser.  She still wakes up for a feeding at 5:00 am every day.  I know I should sleep train her so that she sleeps all night but honestly . . . I don't want to.  I love the snuggle time we have in the wee hours of the morning.

6.  Our tiniest baby.  She is in the 85th percentile for height and only the 50th percentile for weight.  Compared to the 98th percentiles our other kids were in for weight, she is a teeny thing to us.

7.  Our tough baby.  Her brother is rough.  50% of the time when he isn't "gentle-ing" her.  And she puts up with it like a champ.  You can't help but love her even more when she still grins from ear to ear when he comes into the room.  Like she instantly forgives him and can't wait to see him.  She knows it's a phase.

At the Zoomars petting zoo with her brother.  Right before he pushed her off the bench.
Oh the love hate relationship here.

8.  Her mama's twin. Well - almost.  Glad to say that I have one that looks a lot like me.

9.  Our sweet blue-eyed dolly.  Her wide, bright blue eyes are striking and people comment on them where ever we go.

My cup runneth over.  So grateful this blessing and miracle baby came into our home and stole our hearts.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Back to blogging: First day of school

So I took a four month hiatus from the blogosphere.  How embarrassing. This is supposed to be a record of my life and my poor daughter Laura Jane has about four posts about her.  My reason?  My life with three kids.  a.k.a. "The Game Changer" (which is a blog post in itself.)  Suffice it to say I am spending all my energies on raising three little kids and keeping up a home.  I can honestly say working part-time with two children was much easier than not working with three children.  Another post to elaborate on that one later.

So it has arrived.  The milestone of sending my dear babes into the public school system.  I have grown to adore this little love bug and her wisdom, wit, helpfulness and love of life.  Sending her off to be taught by a stranger has been something I have dreaded all summer. 

As I shed a few tears the night before her first day of school she said the following:

"Don't be sad.  I need to go to kindergarten to learn and make friends.  I'll come home for dinner.  You'll be okay Mom." 

How could I not smile when I heard that?  So I sent her off today to early bird kindergarten to one of the best K teachers in the history of our school with a hug, a kiss and a wave.  She beamed at her teacher, excited for her day.  She was ready for this day.  

And I was ready to set her free without shedding a tear.  Especially since she was home back with me well before dinner.

School is a beautiful place to this girl.  So happy to learn.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A doll. . .

and her stuffed animals.  Three months has gone by so quickly.  I am in love with this baby who only wakes once a night, goes to sleep on her own, smiles with her whole face, loves to be held and is my first baby to show major signs of stranger anxiety because she truly is a Mama's girl.

My Nirvana

In the past two weeks my life has gotten busier than normal due to the following things:

  • I was giving a new calling at church - teaching Sunday School the 14-15 year old kids every week.
  • I am in charge of our ward (congregation) Visiting Teaching Conference on Mother's Day which includes a luncheon for all the women, a lesson on ministering as the Savior did and a musical number.  I get to teach the lesson.
  • I was also asked to help teach at a youth event where all the 16-18 year olds at church who want to go on a mission come for a mini "missionary training experience."
One thing you will learn about me (if you didn't know already) is that nothing, save being at home with my family, gives me greater joy than serving in my church.  Especially if it involves teaching.

A close friend told me that church service is my nirvana.  

Nirvana is defined as "an ideal condition of rest, harmony, stability, or joy."

I have to admit that though this weekend is going to be CRAZY, I feel happier than I have for many weeks.  Nothing brings me greater joy than serving others and trying to emulate the Savior.  Probably because when I do, I feel the Spirit and have peace in my life. I have had family members and friends who tell me I do too much with three little ones at home and that I need to not volunteer at church.  I agree with them that I do need to put my family first.  HOWEVER, I need my nirvana (regardless if it adds one more thing to my plate) to balance life out.

Now if I was going to get rid of something this week it would be the laundry.  Boy, do I hate doing laundry.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Long Days, Short Years

After an exceptional rough week last month, my friend texted me the following insight on motherhood:

"The days are long but the years are short."

I'm gonna be brutally honest.    I read blogs lately that highlight how wonderful it is to be a mom.  Post after post about how wonderful their kids are, how blissful life is, blah, blah, blah.  I keep thinking to myself "Let's be REAL here people!"  Am I the only one that has kids that are a little bit naughty and a little bit nice?  Is there something wrong with posting the reality of the challenges of raising them without also recognizing they are wonderful, sweet, lovely blessings from heaven?

Here is my reality.

This happy, adorable, blue-eyed stud has entered the stage that makes me wonder if I want more kids.  I mean he says the cutest things (Like "Mama - She smiled at you!" (meaning the baby smiled at him) and does adorable things like walk his stuffed dog through the mall.  He is very observant of the world around him and belts out the lyrics to Train songs like nobody's business.  He is also exceptionally intelligent.  His vocabulary is extensive and his knowledge of colors and the alphabet quite astounding.

But then there is this side to him.

Yes.  He is about to punch his baby sister here.  Then there is the screaming, picking up the baby by her ankles and dropping her on her head, tantrums and did I mention hurting his baby sister and the constant screaming?  Need I allude to the door slamming, item throwing and breaking of things in our house?

I know it's a stage. I know he is gonna turn out great. I know it will pass.  But man does it try my patience.  And make me a little anxious and a tad down.  Prayer is my only sanity and I spend time locked into my room from the "little Hulk" each day on my knees with the baby on my side to preserve her life. Everyone says it will get easier.  Waiting on that.

I do LOVE being a mom.  I believe the work I do in the home is the greatest work I will do.  Don't get me wrong.  It's just that. . . 

Well the days are long.  And I try to remember the years are short.  Because we never know how many long days or short years we have here on this earth.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Lowest and Highest Points

The lowest point:
I brought EB to preschool for the first time last week since LJ arrived.  We were late, I was still bra-less in my PJs with bed head, and I didn't have time to hunt down my shoes.  I threw my three kids into the car and off we sped.  I just figured I would pull into the driveway of her preschool and have her run in while I waved from the car window.  My newborn started to cry and I started to lactate immediately, leaving my PJ top soaked in embarrassing locations.  As luck would have it, my dear sweet daughter REFUSED to go into preschool without me.  Flat. Out. Refused.  I figured I could just sneak in and out without being noticed, right?

As if the universe had a cruel sense of humor, two dads who were late themselves met me on my way back to my car.  The tell-tale blush that creeped up on their faces and how quickly they averted their eyes to the ground confirmed my fears that I was truly a mess.  I laughed and cried simultaneously on the drive home.   Probably the lowest point in my life as a mom.

The highest point:
Life has turned upside down for me since this baby arrived and has not always brought out the best in me.  Ok - Let's not sugar coat it.  Three kids are ROCKING my world.  But admist the fog in my brain that consists of a life of chaos, sleepless nights, exhaustion, crying, stress, a messy house, piles of laundry undone, kids fighting, me shouting - you name it - I have moments of clarity when I realize that this is what I was born to do.  Heavenly moments that testify I belong at home, being a mom, and raising a family.  Moments when my sweet baby snuggles into me and looks into my eyes and smiles, acknowledging that I am the most important person in the world to her right now.  Or when my two year old and I go for a walk on a Sunday and I listen to him ask questions about the world around him.  Or when I snuggle up in bed with my four year old for a story and we talk about her dreams for the future.  

I will never be a perfect mom.  I may never have it "all together" again.  My house will probably never be really clean and my laundry will never be done.  I will probably have to work on keeping my temper in check and my patience on hand for the rest of my life.  I will continue to make mistakes on a daily basis.  I am assuming I will have many more low moments like the one described above.  

But I have three beautiful children whom our Father in Heaven sent to me.  I am supposed to be their mother and He trusts me to raise them in a house of faith and a house of love.  Definitely the best and highest point in my life. 

Laura Jane instantly recognized her brother's voice the day she was born.
One truly precious moment.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Birth Story: Third Addition

Here is the unabridged version of how our third child, Laura Jane, entered the world for anyone who is interested in the reading the tale.  It's a good one!  But then again I am completely biased.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

It all started with a jog.  Well, it was more like a jog, walk, jog, walk, jog walk but it was the most I had run since I was 26 weeks.  I had absolutely no signs of labor at 40 weeks, 4 days pregnant but after spending the afternoon helping someone look for an apartment and a enjoying a pleasant dinner at El Cholo (at which we have been regulars with all three of my pregnancies) with my family, I had an unusual burst of energy.  I decided I was going to go for a jog.

Lance laughed, told me to have fun and went to bed.   I am sure my neighbors did a double take as they watched the huge pregnant lady slogging down the street with her dog in tow at 9 pm at night.  Is she crazy?  Yes.  Yes I am.

10 pm - an hour after the most painful "run" of my whole life ( imagine 20 plus lbs and a baby's head pushing down on my cervix with every step), my contractions started. They weren't painful but were every 5 mins apart. I proceeded to watch the Thurs night TV line-up (thanks to DVR), do two loads of laundry, shower, and pack my hospital bag.

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Midnight - I woke Lance up, told him I thought I might be in labor, put on my Hypnobabies CD and went to sleep while he got up to pack.

1:30 pm - My real labor started. My contractions were three minutes apart but only lasting 20-30 secs. Lance called our doula (Grandma Becky - who is a saint) and our childcare, guessing I would be ready to leave in 30 mins. Even though the pressure was more noticeable, especially in my lower back, I laughed and told him we had at least 2-3 more hours before we needed to leave.  Becky came over immediately and labored with us at home. Lance gave me a priesthood blessing that everything would go well with the birth of our little girl.  As long as I was standing and using my Hypnobabies techniques, I felt great.

 (A shout out for Lance here. He is the absolute best labor support you could ask for. He was there for every contraction, with gentle and loving support. I am so blessed to have him by my side.)

3:00 am - My neighbor and dear friend Heidi came over. I tearfully kissed my other babies goodbye. I am not sure why but I was so sad we were leaving before they woke up.  Heidi later texted Lance she was a little worried we were going to have our baby in the car on the way there since I was having so many hard contractions while she was there. The car ride was torturous as sitting made every contraction unbearable. Thinking I was only at 5 cm or so, I told Lance I might opt for drugs this time because if the contractions were so tense and close together for another few hours I was not going to last.  Little did I know that my time at the hospital would be shorter than anyone imagined.

3:43 am - We checked in at the ER (only after I had five contractions or so just on the way from the car to the building.) The clerk asked if they were expecting me in labor in delivery.

This guy obviously had never seen a woman in labor before!  Even though my contractions were coming now every minute or so, apparently I was so calm and collected he wasn't sure I was supposed to be there yet.  Luckily an ER nurse came out, saw me and offered to take me up. I refused the wheelchair. Walking and standing were my only way I was going to make it upstairs.

Still calm, thanks to hypnobabies, the nurses brought me into triage not thinking I was in hard labor yet.  While changing into my hospital gown in the bathroom, I lost it. I couldn't stop crying and all I wanted was my mom. Moms make everything all better.

 The following dialogue ensued when I emerged from the bathroom:

Nurse:  "I need to monitor your baby and check how far along you are."
Me:  "Sure. As long as I can keep standing."
Nurse:  "Well, let's just check you - see where you are at. Can you lay down for a minute?"
Me: "Sure. But I am feeling a lot of pressure."  All quite calmly.  Remember - no one thought I was really that progressed in labor.  Hypnobabies is a dream.  I promise.
Nurse:  (With absolute shock) "Whoah sweetheart! You are at a nine!"

Sweet. Relief.  That explained the crying in the bathroom. I should have guesses I was in transition!

Me:  "Great! Can I stand up again?!?" Obviously this nurse was not getting that the only way I was having this baby was standing up.

Nurse:  "Awww. . . No dear. You are having a baby. You won't be standing up again because I don't want your baby to fall out and need a cat scan."

The rest of events were something like out of a TV show or the movies.  My recollection is based mainly on Lance's memory here since I was not focusing on anything but my contractions at this point.  A group of nurses ran while pushing my bed down the hallway. An emergency code must have been given because a whole swarm of nurses followed and were rushing to get everything ready. One was frantically dressing the doctor in scrubs.

Lance told them I had a doula in the waiting room. One of the nurses laughed. "Well, you aren't gonna need a doula anymore!"

Angry that they wouldn't let me stand, I plead for drugs. No one was understanding that the only comfortable position for me and this baby was standing up. Not that I wanted to have the baby standing up, mind you.  I just wanted to stand until it was time to push.  Due to the chaos around me I was slowly losing the grasp on my Hypnobabies techniques and was starting to panic a little. By then I was a 10 and it was time to push. When I was denied drugs, I yelled "Well I am gonna start pushing. Now!!!" And possibly an explicit or two. I can't quite remember.

A chorus of nurses yelled for me to wait as the doctor wasn't ready. However, my body had other plans.  I didn't listen and started pushing.

4:08 - With lots of prayer and four pushes my dear girl was born - wailing with the beautiful set of lungs God gave her and into the arms of a doctor who was indeed ready by the time she came . They laid her right on my chest and all I could say was "I love you. I love you" over and over again.  Her hair - a lot of it and so very blonde. Her nose - her father's. Her mouth - mine. She is our miracle who arrived after only 2 1/2 hours of labor, 25 minutes after we checked into the ER and after only 8 contractions in the delivery room.

Meeting Laura Jane right after she was born.

To me there is something so beautiful about giving birth naturally. The way the body just knows what to do, the way you get a break between contractions to rest, the intensity of transition, the relief that comes with the hard work of pushing, anticipating meeting your baby for the first time and how all the pain is instantly forgotten when the baby YOU birthed is laid in your arms. It is all miraculous and strengthens my belief that there is a God in Heaven who beautifully orchestrates our lives.   And that I am a strong and amazing woman who can do hard things with Him on my side.

First photo with Mama and Papa
I love having babies. I love being pregnant. I love the whole labor and delivery process. Three weeks later I am still in a natural high of her birth and honestly hope to do it at least one more time. Just in case she is my last, though, I am loving every moment with her as if she was.

Sweet newborn snuggles.

And then there were five. . .

Only three weeks behind but. . . .

Announcing the newest perfect addition to our family

Laura Jane Beverly

Laura Jane Beverly

Born January 25th, 2013 @ 4:08 a.m.
7 lbs 4 oz
19 1/2 inches

And looks much like her big sister.

Elisabeth Dorothy

And a little like her big brother.

Carsten John 

Yup.  She definitely belongs to our family.

Birth story to follow.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Guess when you are ready, you're ready

What do you do after you use the potty the first time?
 Put the potty seat on your head.  Naturally.
Carsten has shown great interest when we go potty.  And even wants to sit on his potty seat daily and laughs and giggles the whole time, like it is some novelty.  However, he has never really shown interest in actually doing it himself.

So when he said to me this morning "Mama!  I go potty!  Now!"  I thought I was just going to "amuse" him and put him on his seat.  He requested I bring his favorite book and a chair so I left him there.

I went to round up a chair and his favorite book only to come back into the bathroom to find him going #1 in the potty.  He thought it was so fun he did it three times.

He has gone twice more today, each time announcing it beforehand.

Hmmm. . . .Guess when you are ready, you're ready.  Too bad his timing couldn't have been a month ago or a month from now when we aren't about to have our world upturned by Baby Sissy.  Oh well.  Take what you can get.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The art of waiting for baby

Well, I have officially gone past my "estimated due date" by two days.  I can't tell you how many people have asked me questions like the following:  "When is your induction date?"  "Had your baby yet?"  "Are you going to schedule a C-section?"  "When are you going to get this baby out?

I know everyone is well meaning but for the lady who is very great with child, these questions are not the most helpful.

Figure I would just throw my views on childbirth out there.

1.  "Over due" - One is not technically "overdue" until they are two weeks past their estimated due date.  The reason it is called an EDD is because doctors are just making a guess when the baby will be 40 weeks based on last menstrual cycle and size of the baby.  Babies are considered full-term any time between 37 and 42 weeks.  It is not a magical date when the baby will automatically appear.  So, this baby can still cook for another two weeks.  I know pregnant moms don't like to hear this but it is the truth.   I don't want to hear it either.  But it is what it is.

2.  Inductions - I am not for them, personally, unless there is medical problem with either me or the baby.  Sure I am miserable, not sleeping well, and feel as big as a whale BUT with inductions often comes three things I don't want - an epidural, medical interventions and sometimes, emergency c-sections.  I figure if I want a natural, vaginal childbirth, I need to let the baby come when both my body and the baby is ready.  Luckily, my doctor feels the same way and has told me over and over that she does not like to induce unless there is a medical necessity.  She insists that births seem to go much better when they start on their own.  Many doctors and moms don't follow this mantra.   Which is completely fine.  We all have to decide what works best for us.  I side with my doctor.

So, how do I deal with the unknown arrival of this baby?

I accept it.  Give it to God.  Keep telling myself she will come when she comes.  Why stress about things we can't control.

Then I continue my normal life routine.  Going to the gym, walking a lot, cleaning my house, playing with my kids, etc.  I also start a fun project.  This time around I am decorating our guest room to be Carsten's room, getting ready to move him into a "big boy bed" after grandma and grandpa leave the beginning of Feb. The bed in that room is a queen bed so it becomes a little trickier to find sheets/bed rails.

So far I have found him these sheets:

And this growth chart:

And these prints (with colors that are similar to his sheets) for his wall:

I can't wait to move him in to his room!!!  He is already carrying around a pillow case of his new sheets.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The terrible (and actually quite adorable) twos

Carsten insisted on wearing two ties to Christmas dinner.

Elisabeth's dance teacher asked her two weeks ago how old Carsten was.  Elisabeth replied with an enthusiastic "Terrible twos!"  I couldn't agree more with that statement.  Some how the happy-go-lucky boy who slept well, ate well, and was a joy to be around disappeared not a week or so after his 2nd birthday.  Just in time for his baby sister to arrive.  

Despite the challenges of raising the boy we have nicknamed "The Hulk," he is quite endearing and still Mama's favorite little boy.  Here are just a few fun facts about "brother":

  • His favorite sayings: 
    •  "I knee know!" (I don't know.)
    •  "It not working!"
    • "Where sissy go?"
    • "Cars 2 please!"
    • "GIMME.  THAT.  RIGHT.  NOW."
    • "I wanna back scratch please!"
  • Favorite word:  No.  For everything you ask him.  Want ice cream?  No.  Want to read Goodnight, goodnight construction site?  No. 
  • Favorite book:  Good Night, Good Night Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker
  • Favorite toys:  Cars, trucks, planes, trains.  You get the picture.
  • Favorite trait:  Very friendly.  Goes up to complete strangers and asks them to pick him up or 
  • Favorite comfort item:  His "chocolate blanket" (a brown and blue minky blanket.)
  • Nicknames:  Carstie, Little man, The Hulk, "that baby" (courtesy of his loving sister)
  • Carsten-isms:  
    • Throws things whenever he is mad.  When we see the "green" coming on we know to remove anything he can chuck along with any person he can hurt from his vicinity.  
    • Puts himself in time out, calms himself down and then comes out happy.
    • Loves treats.  Of all kinds.  Veggies and meat?  Not so much.
    • Face is constantly dirty.  No matter how many times I try to keep it clean.
    • Takes off his shoes and socks constantly.  And hates having his hair brushed.

All he wanted for his birthday was "car cake."  My first attempt at decorating cakes.

 Cheering for himself after he sang "Happy-da Birthday" along with everyone else.

 Blowing out candles with Papa.

"Cheese!"  All he cared about were his cars and bus.  Forget the other gifts.  

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Dear Mom - It's Been Eight Years

Dear Mom,

Aunt Gwen included a bunch of pictures of you in our Christmas card this year.  Most of them I had already seen but as I was clearing off my counter and looking at them again, I broke down into tears.  You were a beautiful woman and these pictures represent a part of your life that I know little about.  And now you are gone I am unable to ask you about each picture and the memories that go along with them.

I remember all too well the night before you died eight years ago.  I had decided to sleep next to your hospital bed so you didn't have to be alone your last night on earth.  I talked to you, prayed with you, sang hymns to you (mostly in Finnish since I didn't know many hymns in English) and held your hand.  We talked a little.  You nodded to answer some of my questions, sometimes showing you understood what was about to happen and other times showing you weren't entirely aware.  I never left your side once and honestly, those last few hours hours with you were the most precious and sacred of anything I have experienced so far.  When I asked you if I could go the bathroom and leave you alone, you reached for my hand, shook your head no and pleaded with your eyes for me to remain by your side.   I did.  This reminded me of the many times I lay sick with the flu as a child and you sat on the edge of my bed, smoothing my hair when I just didn't want to be left alone.  I am selfishly glad we had those last few hours together - just you and me.  Us girls had to stick together with all of these boys in our family, even until the very end.

We are about to have our third baby - a girl.  I am sure you already know this.  Maybe you are even laughing at me with a knowing laugh of the joys and challenges that lay ahead of raising this girl.  I can hear you saying "I hope you have a daughter some day JUST LIKE YOU.  Then you will understand what I had to go through."  Whether she is like me, her father or most likely, her own self, I wish you could be here to enjoy her along with your other grand kids.  You would adore each of them.

I miss you mom.  I hope you know how much I love you and all you ever did for me as a mother.  You had the hardest and sometimes, most thankless, job in the world.  I wish you would have written a book on advice.  I would read it daily if you had.