Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Wesley's Birth

I guess I would have to start off the story of Wesley's birth at the beginning, when I found out I was pregnant. In the past, I have always had an early ultrasound due to various reasons to tell me when my due date was. Those are usually the most accurate. With this one, I happened to know the date of my last period, but since my cycle is longer than normal and since I always go past my due date, I wanted to get an early ultrasound to find out what the due date actually was. The result of that was moving my due date from Mar. 2nd to Mar. 8th. I know people thought I was crazy for wanting a later due date, but psychologically speaking, I needed the later date. Oh, I still went crazy in the last few weeks, but I wasn't expecting him until after the 8th.

Fast forward to Mar. 9th. I went in to my appointment where the midwife asked if I wanted to have my membranes stripped. YES, anything to get this labor going! Evidently, this is a pretty great way for many women to go into labor. She even called the midwife on call at the hospital to make sure they'd have room for me that day. Ha! I got excited for a little bit, but to no avail. That didn't work for me at all.

Two days later, on Wednesday, I got a stomach bug and felt horrible all day. This was also the day that my neighbor down the street was having her baby, a week before her due date. I always hate it when that happens. But that day, because I was feeling so sick, I couldn't even imagine trying to have a baby in that state. I went to bed and felt much better the next day, even though I was still pregnant.

I had another appointment on Thursday. As I was pushing the button for the elevator, I felt a little trickle (which I now know was my water breaking). But it was the tiniest trickle, so I just chalked it up to the baby pressing against my bladder and me peeing a little. Hey, these things happen. Luckily this was the first day I decided to slap on a panty liner for whatever reason before I left. I went though my whole NST (which I'd been getting weekly) and appointment like normal. At this point I had progressed to 3 1/2 cm and about 70% effaced, which was good progress in my mind. But, I was still only 4 days past my due date. My other babies were 4 days, 8 days, 9 days (induced) and 10 days past my due date. I thought I still could have a ways to go.

After my appointment, I stopped at Wal-Mart for some last minute necessary items, like razor refills, eye make-up remover and a king sized Twix. It was while I was debating over which eye brow pencil to buy when I felt the water dribbling out quite a bit. It wasn't a gush, which was good, but it was definitely more than a little pee, I was pretty sure of that. But my water had never broken before on its own so it was an unusual phenomenon. Since I was in the toiletries section anyway, I thought it would be a good time to grab some pads, make a quick decision about the make up and get going to the checkout and then the bathroom.

The funny thing about my water breaking at Wal-Mart is what happened the Saturday before. I was returning something when the clerk asked when my due date was. I told her it was tomorrow and then she said, "What are you doing here? I'm always afraid you pregnant women are going to have your water break at my check stand or in one of the aisles of the store when you come in here." I told her that would be great because it would mean I'd actually be going into labor. Of course, I never assumed my water would actually break on its own... but that's exactly what happened just days later, in one of the aisles at Wal-Mart. Funny.

I called the midwife on call and told her that I might sound like a total airhead seeing as this was my sixth child, but that I kind of thought my water may have broken. She said that labor usually starts pretty soon after that happens and to give her a call in a few hours to let her know of any progress. But no regular contractions ever began. She called me back later and we discussed our options. Since there is a risk of infection when you go too long with your water broken, we knew something would have to happen pretty soon. She didn't want me to have to come in at midnight to start labor because I'd probably be too tired at that time, so she told me to come in whenever I could that afternoon. I also didn't really like the midwife on call for the next day, but I loved this midwife (she was the same one that delivered Hallie). I told her it would be great to have the baby on the 12th, if possible, since I didn't want Friday the 13th. I thought I would get there at 5 and be able to have the baby before midnight, since my last induction only took 4 hours from beginning to end.



That's not exactly what happened though. By the time I got all settled in the room, it was 5:45. They had to ask me all sorts of questions and stuff, and then they finally checked to see if indeed my water had broken. They have a piece of paper they can stick in it to tell whether it is or isn't amniotic fluid. But, of course, by the time I got to the hospital, it had completely stopped dribbling out and so it showed no amniotic fluid. Nice. I felt really stupid at this point. But, I knew it was happening before. I am not that crazy. I realized that every time I sat down, it stopped, but when I walked around, it would start coming out again. That's when they had me walk around and do some squats, and that's when it finally started leaking out again. Phew. I could not have imagined getting sent home after all that. So at this point, they knew they had to induce with pitocin since I still wasn't having contractions. But, since I was a VBAC patient, the midwife had to get the induction approved by the attending doctor. That took a long time as well. By the time they finally started me on the pitocin, it was almost 8:00. The pressure was on to have the baby before midnight.

I began having contractions every two minutes, but they were definitely contractions that I could talk through. My midwife, Claudia, was really fun to talk to the whole time. She, and HGTV, helped pass the time quickly. Even though the contractions were consistent, I was only progressing 1/2-1 cm per hour. I definitely think they needed to pump up the pitocin faster than they did (it was on a 4 for a long time, and then 8 for a long while), but again, because of the whole VBAC thing, they didn't want to give me more. I do think it's kind of dumb to think that my uterus could have ruptured after I'd already done 4 VBAC's before, including an induction, but protocol dictates sometimes.

At some point, it was clear that I would not have the baby on the 12th. My midwife even left from 11:00-11:40 to help with a C-section because I wasn't that close (I was maybe 5 cm at this point). I could still talk through all the contractions, but I was getting tired. I think it was around 1:00 that they decided to pump up the pitocin past 10. But in order to do this, they had to put an internal monitor next to the uterus to make sure things weren't too strong. Once they pumped it up to 18, that's when things really started getting hard. I rolled over to my side as I entered transition. Here's my philosophy about labor (for me anyway). Nothing is ever hard until transition, and transition only lasts for half an hour. I figure I can handle 30 minutes of pain, and then it's over.

I looked at the clock just after transition started and it was 10 minutes to 2:00. I told myself that I could do 30 minutes. The problem was that it lasted way more than 30 minutes. It just kept going and going and going. I kept expecting each contraction to be the last one, but then it wasn't. I had never experienced transition this bad before. I had never wanted an epidural more.

The midwife began pushing on my knees while Jared pushed on my lower back during the height of the contractions. This was actually sweet relief, kind of. The real relief didn't come until 3:00 after an hour and 15 minutes of transition. I'm convinced that this baby just wanted to be born on an odd hour as well as an odd month, day and year. He had to wait until 3:00. I was so relieved to have pushing contractions instead of transition ones. I pushed 3 or 4 times and he was born at 3:05 am. Jared got to catch the baby for the first time, and he said it was really awesome to do that.

As I was pushing, the midwife realized that the amniotic sac was still stretched over the baby's head. Evidently, the sac had broken up higher and it had to be broken again at the bottom. Kind of weird.

So, despite my weird obsession with even numbers and the fact that all of our other kids have been born on even months, days and years (with one month as an exception), sweet Wesley Owen Daniels was born on March 13, 2015 at 3:05 am... all odds. I guess he's our little oddball. But, I'm pretty sure he has turned Friday the 13th into something lucky.





I think because transition was so long, Wesley's whole head was bruised when he came out. They had to put a little sign on his basinet that said, "I'm bruised" so that the nurses wouldn't think was purple because he had stopped breathing. He was 8 lbs. 12 oz. and 18 1/2 in. long, our second biggest baby. I immediately noticed his chunky thighs and biceps. So cute and squishy. He had some trouble breathing at the beginning so they called one of the nurses up to do some suction. After snuggling with me, he did a lot better. He has a quiet little cry and loves to be held. He seems like such a calm and content baby.




Apparently, there were a lot of babies born in the days before me so there were no rooms for us downstairs. They moved me into a labor and delivery room that night that was hardly ever used. The clock was out of batteries, the computer didn't work, the TV didn't work and the phone didn't work (so no ordering food). Plus, the bed was super uncomfortable. Luckily, they gave me a big foam mattress to put on top. Oh, after I delivered I was starving, but wouldn't you know it... there was no food left for me either. I ate some little graham cracker packets but was still so hungry. They found some cereal and pudding, which I also scarfed down. Right after that they found a real meal, but I wasn't hungry anymore. Since he was born in the middle of the night, I only slept for maybe an hour and a half. So that was the first night.

They had some people leaving the next day so I was able to move down to a regular maternity room. We had our kids visit that afternoon (they had just lifted the restrictions for kids 14 and under the day before--yay!) Everyone just loved little Wes!







Because of the visits, we didn't get any sleep that day either. After dinner, I started feeling kind of sick to my stomach. I kept burping up my salmon dinner and it was so gross. I tried to sleep as much as I could, but feeling sick just kept waking me up. I finally realized that I needed to get whatever was making me sick out of me. I really, really hate throwing up so I prayed for it to come out the other way if possible. Right then, I felt my intestines start gurgling... and I spent the rest of the night and a good part of the next day in the bathroom. I felt so awful! Usually being in the hospital is so great because you can order as much food as you want, but all I could eat was toast, applesauce and Sprite. I let Jared order whatever he wanted instead of me. I just wanted to get home. We broke out of there on Saturday afternoon.


The dumb thing about it was that Wesley slept almost all night and I got no sleep. Then he was up almost every hour the next night when I had hardly had any sleep in a few days. I guess it was nice that I didn't have to deal with feeding him and being really sick at the same time. 

Because Wesley was bruised, they told us he would probably be at a greater risk for Jaundice. We took him into the hospital the next day to get his blood drawn and measure his bilirubin. They told us that he would either need to be under the lights or get some real milk in him. Since my milk hadn't come in yet, we fed him some formula to try to get some liquids in him. We had to go in the next day, and the day after and two days after that to repeat the blood draws. Luckily, he was always on the border of needing lights but never actually required them. And finally on Thursday, we verified that his bilirubin levels were going down and not up. No more hospital visits... (at least for two days. But that is another post).

So it definitely wasn't my easiest birth, or recovery for that matter. But we are all so glad little Wesley is here and love him so much!

I was so tired, but nothing beats newborn snuggles!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Waste of Space

I am sitting here in a quiet house in the middle of the day. That never happens, and when it does, I scramble to do whatever I can without interruptions. But not today. Connor and Hallie went across the street to play and I have already taken a pretty substantial nap. It's only 2:00. Thing is, I cannot get myself to do anything today (or for the past week). This pregnancy has been so very good, up until a few weeks ago. Now it just feels like I am in constant pain. Lots of pressure, back pain, etc. And if my past pregnancies give me any indication of when this one will come, I still have a good 4 weeks left. Ugh. I told Jared to put me in a coma for a month, but he just laughed. He could have at least looked into it for my sake. I feel like such a waste of space right now. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know 4 weeks is a relatively short time to have to be pregnant and this is my last time and I won't even remember how bad it was and look how good it was at the beginning and blah, blah, blah. But, my last month is miserable!

Where is that nesting instinct anyway? Here's what I've done to prepare: went downstairs and brought up a box of baby boy clothes, then left the box right by my bed, made a short list of meals I want to freeze, then bought some aluminum pans for the eventuality that I might ever make the said meals--that I don't have ingredients for anyway. And that's it. This is the point where I should be tearing apart and organizing every nook and cranny of my home because every pregnant woman knows that you can't bring a baby home if the linen closet is a bit messy, not to mention the baseboards or the inside of the oven. But here I sit alone in a house full of to do's and have no desire to do any of it.

The good news is that I fulfilled my only two New Year's Resolutions (I thought I'd be realistic this year): nail down the baby's name and buy a new car that would fit our family. The name part was fairly simple because we had already kind of decided on one when we found out it was a boy. But come New Year's, Jared said he wasn't quite sure about the name so we went through the top 500 boy names eliminating them for our various reasons and ended up with the exact name that we had before. I always feel like our babies kind of name themselves, like even though we'd never thought of the name before, we just know that's what the name should be.

The car issue was a bit more challenging. I began really searching at the beginning of January. I know there are plenty of 8 passenger cars out there, but I also know that there are a few 9 passenger cars as well. Even though we aren't planning on more kids, I just thought it would be nice to have one extra seat for a friend or family member, I mean as long as we were getting a new car anyway. Every time I went back to thinking about an 8 passenger mini-van or SUV, I just couldn't see us in it. And so many of them have no space at the back. Sure, I wouldn't take my whole family to Costco (I'm not that crazy), but I also didn't want to have to fold down the seats and move car seats just to fit a box of diapers in the back. A lot of them wouldn't even fit my single stroller, let alone the double one. So that left me with the Yukon XL or the Suburban. Originally I was searching for the Yukon, but just so you know, you can't do a search for "9 passenger vehicles" because it doesn't work that way. You have to click on each car's picture to see if it has the 9th seat (the bench in the front). I would say for every 50 cars I clicked on, only 1 would have the 9th seat. So frustrating. Finally, I started looking at Suburbans and found a few more 9 seaters than with the Yukons.

Once we began going to look at them, I felt like I was dating. Some of them just didn't feel right and some of them got sold before we even got to look at them. We called on what seemed like the perfect car and as we were getting off the freeway, they called back and said that someone just bought it. That dashed our hopes. And the guy who bought it was a smoker (ruining our car!--even though Jared tells me it was never actually ours). Then there was the one where the salesman acted so desperate. We were obviously not interested (because it just didn't feel right) when he said, "I'll take $500 off... What can I do to the car to make you buy it?" Um... take off 80,000 miles? He even called back to tell me that I shouldn't buy this other car that we were thinking about because he had looked at the Carfax for it and found some issues, that we already knew about. Seriously! This other salesman asked us to pay half of a repair that the car needed. So pay for something that we haven't even bought yet? No thanks. Where do these people come from anyway?

It was a very frustrating ordeal. I was a bit like a part time job doing this car search. I couldn't think of anything else. I would get online multiple times a day to see if anything new popped up. Finally, I found a Suburban on Thursday night and called to see if it was available. Jared and I went down right then and liked it. It was clean, had the 9th seat and even had a DVD player (something that wasn't on our list but that we knew our kids would love). It needed a small repair so the next day when it was done, we went down to buy it. It was stressful because there were other people on their way to look at it and one guy even offered to buy it over the phone. Sheesh. We traded in our van that night, for a very small trade in value. But, I was so happy to get rid of it. It was a great van, but it had been leaking steering fluid on our garage floor for years, even though we'd tried to get it fixed in the past. I did not want to sell it privately so I was overjoyed to have someone just take it off our hands for $1000.

The day after we bought the Burb, the check engine light went on. We called the dealer back and he said he would take care of it, which he did (catalytic converter?). The day after we got it back, the engine light went on again. The dealer was so nice to continue to work with us and not charge us anything. This time, they had it for over a week so they gave us a loaner car. I hated it! It was a Honda Pilot and it was just not the car for us. They fixed that problem (some timing issue?) and two days after that, guess what? The check engine light went on again. This time all that it required was a new gas cap. Even though all those issues kept popping up right after we bought it, I never felt bad about our decision. You know that kind of sick feeling you get when you know you've made the wrong choice? I never felt that way. Now I feel so grateful that the problems happened so soon after we got the car so that the dealer could just take care of it. And we do love our new (well, 2007) car. Our only problem now is that we can't fit both the Suburban and the truck in the garage at the same time (major first world problem). But, we can fit all of our kids, a stroller and a load of groceries in the car at the same time... and a friend, which is exactly what I wanted. So glad that process is over!

Now I just gotta get through this pregnancy...

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Halloween, Park City and a Bit of Christmas

I'm pretty sure "Blog" has showed up on my To Do list more than a few times in the last couple of months. Shows how much of my list I get done. Well first up, Halloween happened. We didn't carve pumpkins and I didn't go out of my way with the costumes. That is probably apparent by Hallie's way too small ladybug costume that she wore last year (I think it's a 12 month size). It basically consisted of a trunk or treat, a piano recital that Erin and Alex dressed up for, dressing up for school and then going out Halloween night to replenish their stash that was majorly dwindling after the trunk or treat.
Erin and Alex used the Mr. and Mrs. potato head costumes that I made several years ago. Glad those are coming in handy again.
I thought it was cute that Marissa and Connor also ended up matching, Batman and Bat-girl. This was only because all the Elsa costumes were sold out and this was the best I could do for her. I actually think it's a pretty cute costume.
 Hallie wearing Marissa's costume
We did take a really fun little trip to Park City in October. When I was at the parade of homes last summer, I signed up for one of those time share deals where you pay $99 for two nights/three days, have to listen to their schpeel and then they give you $100 on a Visa card. I normally don't go for those types of things, but I also seem to never get away so I decided to do it. The place was so nice. We had a huge, luxury bathroom and enough beds for everyone. On the morning of the presentation, there were a million people there. When Jared and I told them what time our presentation was, they told us that they had us scheduled for the next morning, but I had written confirmation that it was that day. After a few minutes with the manager, they told us not to worry about the presentation and that we should just go pick up our $100 Visa card. What could be better? So it ended up being a free stay with no time share presentation. Coolest. Thing. Ever.

We did some fun things while we were there, but we also got to just relax. We were all about to go to the pool when we realized Connor had a fever. I volunteered to stay in the condo with him while everyone else went swimming (did I mention that I actually don't like swimming?) and I got to watch three hours of HGTV while Connor slept. What could be a better vacation? And we had two TV's so I got to watch much more of it while the kids watched whatever they wanted, stuff I usually can't sit through.

Here we are taking a little hike and poor Connor feels so sick.
One day Jared, Erin, Alex and Marissa did the Alpine Slide. While we were waiting for them to come down, a bigger man got to the bottom. Connor yelled, "Mommy, I see a fat man!" and yes, everyone around me heard. Oh, to be four.

 The next day we went up to Olympic Park. Jared and the three older kids did a rope's course that they had there. They had a lot of fun on that, especially the zip line at the end. Overall it was just a nice little get away for the family. We should probably do stuff like that more often.
November was a really busy month. Not sure why except I know that I had one thing after another. Thanksgiving was spent at a church with Jared's side of the family. That was great. I somehow managed to convince Jared that we should set up the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. Hey, all he had to do was get the tree down and set it up. The kids pretty much did all the decorating after that, which is why all the ornaments are bunched together near the bottom. It makes me smile. Oh, and I didn't have to do it. That also makes me smile.

When Dec. 1st came we began doing our advent calendar. It's basically a scripture a day (that we may have only read a few times), a piece of candy and a daily activity. Some of them were pretty simple and some were more effort, and sometimes we just didn't get around to doing the daily activity--which I was perfectly okay with. Sure, we don't have to make the holidays harder than they already are with this advent calendar, but at the same time, we did a lot of things that we never would have gotten around to doing (since we are actually kind of boring people). Jared even mentioned that we should have some sort of advent calendar like this throughout the year. It would force us to do more fun stuff I suppose.

We saw someone do an ice sculpture, we went to see cool Christmas lights set to music, we wrote to our missionaries, we went to see Elf at the theater (a big treat for our kids), we made up Christmas skits, we delivered gifts to the neighbors and even caroled for them, we made a fun Christmas craft, we decorated cookies, we made a gingerbread house (which by the way, the kids are still eating a month later--ew!) and we took a trip to temple square to see the lights. We had such a warm December that we actually had an enjoyable time walking around to see all the lights. Usually we are too cold to see anything (but we still go, dang-it). We even ran into Santa in the hall at City Creek and he asked if we wanted to take a picture with him. Uh, yes! That just saved us two hours of standing in line to see him. I thought the activities were really some fun times with the family.
This was our craft. We put our names in glitter on lights and hung them up, just like an elementary school classroom. We're classy like that.
 The gingerbread house
Decorating cookies
Here are the kids sitting on Santa's lap at our ward Christmas party (pajama party). It's safe to say that everyone was excited about it...
 
 ...except Hallie. I love the whole sliding off Santa's lap business...
...followed by the crying. Since then she talks about sitting on "Santa's Yap" all the time, and how much she loved it. Go figure.
 Dec. 1st also brought the start of my homemade Christmas. I'd been planning it for a long time, but I really didn't start until December. I don't know why I have this insane idea every 3 or 4 years, but this was the year I decided to make all the presents. The kids even got on board making presents for each other. The boys made bows and headbands for the girls and the girls made marshmallow guns for the boys. Erin and Alex made these bead geckos for everyone and the younger kids drew pictures for the older kids. I thought it was great.

I made three different doll beds for the girls and I think they turned out so cute. I love the bedding too. I feel like these types of gifts are so much more meaningful than some plastic thing I could buy and then be rid of in a year. I hope they feel the same way.
We made a checkerboard for Alex. Overall I think it is cool, but I wish I had used a different type of wood for the lighter color. It was birch plywood and because I had to sand it down so much, you can see through to the lower layers. Oh well. Jared made the checkers out of a pine block and a lathe. Way cool.
Jared made two catapults for Connor. They were fun until they broke on Christmas day. So they may need to be tweaked a bit, but whatever.
Jared also made a tether ball stand for the boys. I think all the kids & neighbors will have fun playing with that once it warms up a bit.
 I designed a doll house and had a lot of help from Jared putting it together. It is huge and sturdy, 4 feet wide and 4 feet high. I wanted to do more on it, but I kind of didn't have time. We were painting and assembling on Christmas Eve. I thought it would be fun to make furniture and put on the shingles with the kids after Christmas, not that I've done any of that yet. I seriously think it is amazing that all the kids play with it all the time, even without furniture. They each got two people for Christmas so I guess that is really all they needed. I remember getting a doll house for Christmas one year that my parents put carpet and wallpaper in. I loved it and played with it far longer than I should have. I really wanted to make one for my kids before they got too old to play with it.

Monday, November 17, 2014

School, Calling, Baby and More

I feel like ever since school began, life has not really slowed down. Oh, did I mention that school started? In August. It's November so I'm just a bit behind. Here are the kids' first day pictures.
SCHOOL
Erin got the teacher she wanted. She is fun and young and loves Erin. Funny story about how young she is. When it was 9/11 she told the kids that she was in school when it happened. I was thinking like college or high school at the very least. Then Erin said she was in 4th grade! Jared and I just started laughing because it doesn't seem like it was that long ago, yet I was graduated from college at the time. So yeah, she is a reminder of how old we are getting and how young 23 actually is.
I'm still not quite sure about Alex's teacher. I think he likes her fine, but he doesn't say a whole lot. She is very strict about behavior and academics. I know a bunch of students are struggling with her and I talked to a mom whose son hates school this year because of the teacher. I guess I am lucky that Alex is so good at school and well behaved. It just doesn't seem like the best year for him either. Just a hard one for me to figure out.
Marissa got a great teacher. She is new this year, but she is really nice and friendly to the kids and parents. Marissa does really well in school and is on her fourth chapter book at home. I know this because every time she starts a chapter, finishes a chapter or is part way through a chapter she tells me, and likes to give running updates on the plot. She is good at making lots of friends, probably because she is not afraid at all to talk. When I was helping at her Halloween party she would just ask the teacher things in front of everyone without a second thought. So different from when I was a kid. The other day she came home and said that three boys were in love with her. Oh boy.
Connor is doing two preschools this year. One is Upstart, a free online preschool that he does for 15-20 minutes a day five days a week. It is helping him so much to learn to read. I am very impressed with the program, especially since he couldn't string any words together in the summer and now he is reading short, easy books. His other preschool is a joy school that I'm doing with him and two other families. I originally wanted to get more people, but everyone else was already doing some sort of preschool. I was a bit concerned about having to teach so often, but with only three kids, it makes it a lot easier. We decided to do one week at each of our homes and then the fourth week go on a field trip. So we're only teaching one week a month. I don't know why, but I really like doing it. We do a letter a week. I think it's fun and fulfilling to think of creative ways to teach different things or make different crafts. The kids get along so well too and they love free play. Anyway, it's a good year for Connor getting ready for kindergarten, and though it makes my life a bit busier, I am glad I'm doing it.
 This was Apple Art for the letter A.
A is also for Airplane

 This was the day we made Green Goo for the letter G. It was also the day before Halloween, which is why they're dressed up.
 This was the field trip I planned where we got to take a tour of the fire station. It was awesome! I'd been wanting to do it for a long time. We also went to story time and had a picnic in the park.
 This was our next field trip to the planetarium. I'd never been there either and it was pretty cool.
Hallie is liking being involved in preschool with Connor, though she can't do everything that the older kids can. She is just a sweet, cute little girl. (Notice the two different shoes in this picture?)
CALLING
I've also been busy with my calling as the relief society weekday activity leader. The one in September was so much work for me. It was a craft night where we did holiday wood block decor. I took all the orders, made some spreadsheets to keep track of it all, cut all of the wood and put them together in little kits for people to pick up at the activity. We had lots of people sign up for two crafts each, so about 600 pieces of wood. I also got vinyl cut, bought other supplies and paint... it was a lot of work! I tried to delegate as much as I could, but in the end, I wanted to make sure that people had everything they needed when they got there so I made sure of it myself. It was a huge success. We'd had an average of about 20 people at previous activities and this one brought 65, including a bunch of non-members. So apparently when you say "craft" and "free" then people start coming out of the woodwork.
I told the RS president that after the November activity I would be happy to be released. We had a huge dinner and bingo night this week and it was also a big hit. This time I delegated so much to my committee that all I had to do was bring two things and show up (I couldn't even help set up because Erin had a performance right before). It is so nice to have such a great, reliable committee now. They've called some new people and it is such a relief to me. Everything got done so smoothly. Anyway, they had already told me the Sunday before that I would be released the Sunday after and gave me a new calling. It's Activity Days. I've done it before and I loved it. Erin is actually really excited to have me as her leader, which kind of baffles me. It feels kind of like the same calling as RS activities, except that the girls will actually come and be excited no matter what I decide to do.

I've been doing the RS activities for almost three years and definitely had my ups and downs with it. When I first moved here, I was going through a really bad depression and had a hard time making friends, like good close friends, which is what I needed. That made the calling a bit challenging. I remember having to hold back my tears going to meetings in the beginning. The committee was really great back then and had been doing it for a long time together, so that made things easier. Our ward split the day Hallie was born and I immediately got called to the RS activities committee. That was such a good calling because I could do whatever I was asked but I wasn't ultimately responsible. A year later, our ward split again and I got called as the leader again. Since our ward was so small, we had an almost non-existent committee. Those first activities were a bit rough. I remember feeling like such a failure because no matter what I did, it seemed like very few people would come (our ward was small at that time). There was one big one we did in March where we made freezer meals to take to anyone in need in the ward. That took a lot of coordination and preparation, and there was some miscommunication between me and the counselor I was working with. We both bought ingredients for the same recipes! Ugh. But even though I was so frustrated, I felt prompted to start talking to her and she really opened up to me. Now we are good friends. (One reason to be grateful for this calling)

There was another time when a new girl got called who was really struggling at the time. I wanted to get released a few months before, but the bishop said he thought I should keep doing it. I tried to reach out to this girl and help her feel welcome, but it wasn't until after one activity that I began talking to her and realized that we had been through some of the same things. I just really felt like she needed to hear some of my experiences, things that I don't tell very many people. I feel like those experiences were why I had to be in this calling for so long, and I'm glad I didn't quit.

At the beginning, someone's husband was making all the posters & flyers. At some point, he couldn't do it anymore so I reluctantly said I could do it. I got so many compliments on the first few posters I did, even though I was not at all confident about doing it. After a while, I realized that I liked making them and was pretty good at it. I don't know why I was so reluctant because I had put together a lot of layouts in architecture school, but it took doing it month after month to bring me the confidence I needed. I've even made them for the whole stake. Here are some of them:
BABY
Today I am 24 weeks pregnant, so less than 4 months to go. I have been really excited and happy about this one, probably because I feel like it is our last one. I have also been feeling pretty good, physically and emotionally, which I am so grateful for. I felt like it was going to be a girl since before I got pregnant (and yes, this one was very much planned in advance). Everyone else thought it would be a boy, especially my kids because we just couldn't break the pattern--but really, how can you keep up this pattern with so many kids? I was so amazed that it actually was a boy when we found out a few weeks ago. Our midwife was too and said that girl, boy, girl, boy, girl, boy just doesn't happen. I love that it evens everything out. I always have liked balance and even numbers. This is how I announced it to people. And I've always liked the Brady Bunch! Now if only we could get ourselves a maid.
The day we got the ultrasound, our kids wanted us to do something creative to tell them if it was a boy or girl. We kind of wanted to trick them, so when they came home, we had a bunch of pink balloons that they could see when they walked in hanging from one blue balloon that they couldn't see. They immediately thought it was a girl until they saw the blue balloon. Then I told them they could find out when they bit into the cupcakes that I had made... only half of them were pink and half were blue. Next, we had them go into the pantry where it was completely dark and we gave them each a glow stick to break. Two were pink and two were blue. Finally, we told them that they could go outside and spray some silly string that we had taken the caps off of. If it all came out the same color, that's what it was. It finally came out all blue and everyone was so excited (including our neighbors who were there). It was really fun!

CO-OP
Another thing that I've been doing that I love is the babysitting co-op. It is a bunch of people in our neighborhood that each have a regular daytime shift and then we rotate for Friday and Saturday night shifts. We pay in popsicle sticks, one stick per kid per half hour. I absolutely love the freedom it gives me. I can go to doctor's appointments or run errands kid free anytime I need to. We haven't needed to pay a babysitter for a long time either because of the weekend co-op. We usually leave Erin and Alex home and drop the other three kids off at the co-op. The older kids love being home alone (without having to watch younger kids) and we don't have to pay as many sticks. I love it!

My shift is Friday morning and it has been super busy every week. I always have tons of sticks, more than I can usually use in a week. I used the co-op 4 times last week alone and I still have 25 sticks left. I really don't mind watching kids once a week for a few reasons. One is that my kids have other kids to play with, thus canceling each other out. Another is that I get enough sticks to leave my kids when I need to. And the last reason is that it forces me to clean my house at least once a week. I mean, you can't have people coming over to leave their kids in a pigsty. It's a win-win. I also love teaching preschool for the same reason, I get a clean house out of it.

PRIMARY PROGRAM
One more thing, last Sunday was our ward's primary program. There are almost 100 kids in our primary so they were all squished onto boards that they laid over the seats. All the kids did really well and sang great. Erin, Alex and Marissa all had their parts memorized. Connor needed some help. After Connor said his part, he ended up sitting next to Hunter, who is his best friend and who was purposely not supposed to be sitting next to him. All of a sudden, we noticed that Connor was doing some really crazy things like making funny faces and pretending to sing like a crazy person. Then Hunter started pulling on his tie and pretending to punch him. There was some sliding up and down the bench and squishing each other. It was utterly hilarious! There were some adult teachers up there, but they didn't do anything to try to stop them. I was waiting for one of them to get hurt, but luckily there were no incidents... that is besides being the worst behaved kids in the entire primary program! We were laughing so hard. I have never had a child act that way in a primary program before. I asked Connor why he was doing those faces and he said that he was just trying to make Hunter laugh. Anyway, it was really awesome.