Thursday, October 27, 2011

Happy Fall!

First, the good news... we have seasons! Look at these amazing colors.
I have been practicing with the different settings on my camera. I definitely know a lot more about photography than I did four weeks ago, but it made me want to take another class and get a better lens. You hear that Santa?
Now for the bad news... we have seasons. I told myself that I wouldn't complain about the cold when I got to Utah because I was so sick of the humid Florida summers, but I have since changed my mind. Holy flippin' heck! It is so cold!!! I woke up this morning and it was 30 degrees outside. Our thin Florida blood is not adjusting very well. I am wearing the only sweater I can find, am wrapped up in a blanket and I still have this uncomfortable feeling of never completely being able to warm up. It's the same feeling I had when I arrived in southern Argentina in the dead of winter, made worse coming from summer here. Our heater had to be turned off at night so we woke up to a frozen, tiled apartment at 6:30 every morning. I honestly never thought I would thaw out. I did though, in Florida.

I went out last night and bought everyone a coat. It had to be done. And I'm realizing that this is only the beginning. We all need new clothes for winter. Alex had one pair of pants (which isn't actually that much of a problem because he wears the same thing every day whether he has a drawer full or not). I seem to recall a box of winter clothes that we used for our visits to Utah, but it is safely tucked away somewhere in the storage unit. As well as one of my brown shoes that were going to be my winter shoes. Yeah, I have just one. These flip flops aren't cutting it anymore. Ugh, I am no good at buying clothes. Will someone be my personal shopper?

I can't wait to get into our new house. I am so grateful to have this basement apartment to live in and for the cheap rent, but we just don't feel quite settled here either. It will be so nice to have a garage so we don't freeze on the way to the car. Looking forward to that. You would think that if you were able to live 5 months without all the things in the storage unit, that probably means you don't actually need all that stuff. That may be true with some of it, but if I had a nickel for every time I said, "Oh, it's in the storage unit", I'd have at least enough money to pay for all the teeth my daughter keeps losing. (Lousy tooth fairy... apparently she's having trouble finding our new location.)

Anyway, last week was beautiful. It was warm for fall but there was also a crispness in the air. Just perfect. We went up the canyon to take pictures of the leaves. I didn't want to go in the morning because I hadn't done laundry in a while and couldn't find anything for the kids to wear (don't look too closely at Connor's attire--I pulled it from the dirty clothes). But my brother's family wanted us to take their pictures, so we went. We found this beautiful spot. Aren't the leaves amazing?My brother's family's pictures turned out great. They are like models. Ours? It is impossible to get one of everyone looking good. They sort of reflected our day and life a little. Erin threw up just minutes before from being car sick, which is why she is wearing the gray bands (only we put them on too late), Alex was mad about something, like not getting a pancake right then, Marissa was just being a stinker in most of the pictures and not smiling, and Connor was just plain tired.
I love Connor in this one. Okay, so I photoshopped Marissa's face in the first family picture because I wanted one where everyone looked good (ha--don't look too close).This is what Marissa really looked like. Stone faced.This one makes me laugh. Mad Alex, squirmy Connor, Marissa completing the circuit (thumb in mouth, finger on belly button). So typical!Cute Erin. And feeling much better here.The best one of Alex.Marissa being silly but refusing to smile......and here, smiling but refusing to look at meThis is what Connor looked like up the canyon. Tired child.My solution, photoshop a picture we took later that day into the fall background.This is the original. We decided to go through the drive through and eat at our new house. Looking back, it was a dumb idea. There was white dust all over the place and no place to sit. Go figure.Oh, I forgot to mention... Jared and I are actually models too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


For the last week we have been sick on and off. Some sort of stomach bug (for the second time since we got to Utah and third time this year!). Some of us have thrown up and all of us have experienced it in the other direction. I know, this blog has some quality content. Alex was on his death bed last Thursday. He only moved once all day, and that was when I carried him to the bathroom. I'll spare you all the other disgusting details. I am hoping we are on the end of this one.

But even in our sickened state, we have been blessed with many tender mercies. Jared was in a racquetball tournament last week and he won his first two games. This meant that he was gone the next night as well. Even though I would have liked to see him win, it was a blessing to our family that he didn't so that he could be there for us the next day when we really needed him. Since it has not been continuous, I have noticed that we have felt perfectly fine when we really needed to, like when we sang in the choir and during my photography class, and probably most importantly, the day we had to do stuff for our new house.

They finished the framing last week and gave us a couple of days to do whatever we wanted within the walls before they put the drywall up. This only left us Friday night and Saturday all day. We spent hours over there wiring for an intercom system, surround sound system, some extra cable and cat5 wires, and installing a pipe from the attic to the basement for future wires. We also added some extra insulation around the laundry room and master bedroom and put extra bracing behind towel racks, toilet paper roll holders and behind doorknobs--'cause you know, we have kids. We tried to think of everything since this was our only chance to do anything. We also put some bracing in the ceilings of the kids' bedrooms to add swings. Yep, I'm really going to do it.

The point is, none of us were at all sick those two days. The other point is that the drywall is just about finished now so don't try to tell us we should have done something else, because we can't now. One more point... they did our 4 point inspection last week (framing, plumbing, electrical and HVAC) and only two minor things needed to be corrected: one bolt in the garage and one staple that didn't make it into the stud. The guy told me it was the best inspection he's had on any house he's ever built. So that makes me feel good. Especially since they did a bunch of stuff in the pouring rain. Just a bit disconcerting, I tell you. But it's looking good now and the sun is shining.

Okay, so the truth is, Jared did the majority of the work, with the help of his brother. I am grateful that he is so handy and that we aren't doing the rest of the work to build the house. I was attempting to help and watch our kids. Totally not a fun day. It was a construction zone, so there were hazards all over the place. The only fun place was the big pile of dirt in front of the house where they got so completely filthy! I'm sure we left a great impression on our new neighbors by leaving four small children alone out front in a pile of construction debris and dirt. At one point I came out and Connor was face down on the pile eating the dirt and Marissa was all the way to the top of our neighbors' scaffolding! So glad that day is over.

How I miss our friends and babysitters in Florida. I am so excited to get into our new ward and make some friends. The ward we are in now is a good ward, but it is hard to get to know people when you live in a basement and when we all know we won't be here for long. Less than two months now!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Alex turns 5!

My due date for Alex fell right smack in the middle of the semester, October 2nd (2006). I had a big midterm on the 5th and my teacher was anything but lenient. It was a stressful class (and the only one of architecture school that I ever got a B in--still bitter about that) and I had to make it to that midterm. It made the fact that I was overdue much more bearable, despite the fact that I was fat and uncomfortable. After my midterm I was ready to have the baby, but he didn't come.

The Sunday after your due date is not the best day to go to church pregnant, but I did anyway. Somehow I made it through all the inquiries. Believe you me, I wanted to have him more than anyone else, and I was getting frustrated. Because Erin was a c-section and I wanted to have a VBAC, I was going to the Miami Maternity Center to have my baby. I loved their approach to having babies--midwives, no drugs, a bedroom type environment but with modern medicine at their fingertips if needed. Because I was going there, I had to wait for my body to go into labor naturally. I did everything I could think of to have the baby, but I sincerely don't think anything worked. The next Monday I took Castor oil, which left me feeling very sick, but gave me no contractions. I picked my mom up from the airport, mowed the lawn and then went to our friends' Canadian Thanksgiving dinner as pregnant and frustrated as could be.

That night (Oct. 10th) around 2:30 I woke up with contractions. The first two were kind of uncomfortable, but then I remembered to breath and things got better. I went into the birthing center around 6:00 am and had contractions all day. It was even kind of fun hanging out with Jared, the midwives and my friend Jen who was there to give me support. I was fine between contractions. I sat in the tub for a while and then my contractions stopped. I got out and they got going a little but then I stalled again when I was at 8 cm. They broke my water, but I still didn't progress, for two hours. It was so frustrating and I was so tired. I was sure I would have to be taken to the hospital to have another c-section, and I was about ready to give up and go. The midwife even said that this was the point that the hospital would tell me I needed one. Dumb Florida hospitals. I owe a successful VBAC to my midwife, Sheri. Upon her examination, she found that even though the water had been broken, the bag was too strong and was not allowing the baby to descend any further. She worked with all her might to get the bag around his head (she even broke a sweat doing it). Once she did that, I went from an 8 to a 10 in less than 30 minutes and was ready to push.

I felt so much better at this point. I got in the birthing jacuzzi and pushed for 30 minutes. When he finally came out I laid him on my chest and he snuggled right up to me. I will never forget that moment because he was so cuddly and calm, and he didn't cry at all. I felt like I bonded with him as soon as he was born, an experience that I did not have with all of my children. It was a mixture of amazement that I had actually had a successful VBAC without drugs, and pure joy to meet this special child. That unforgettable moment was interrupted by the tub filling up with blood because I began to hemorrhage and both the baby and me being whisked out as quickly as possible.

The next thing I remember about Alex was his weighing on the other side of the room. "9 pound 6 ounces!" the midwife announced, to which my friend immediately said, "Holy cow, Laura!" Nobody expected him to be that big. He only wore newborn clothes for a week, and that was because I squished him into them. He looked like a 3 month old from the start. A sturdy, healthy baby boy. Alex was born.

Now I can hardly believe that he is turning five! He is a quiet child, sweet and gentle. He brings a special calmness to our home. He genuinely cares about other people. I will often see him helping his sister onto the swing or getting her shoes out. He will always be the one to come to me if someone is in trouble and needs my help. He is not mean or mischievous, but kind and honest by nature.

He has a special relationship with Erin. He loves her and she loves him. They are always buddies. My friend commented that it was interesting when they shared the front seat of an airplane ride instead of fighting over it. But this is how it's always been. They are always together, and prefer it that way. Whenever he gets a treat, he always gets one for Erin too. I'm not sure how he thinks of it, but he always does. They have shared a room for almost four years and have loved being together. He loves Marissa and Connor too, but you can just see something special between Erin and him.Alex is a deep thinker. He will take time to process what he has heard and then never forgets it. You can tell that the wheels are turning in his head a lot. He is a smart kid. A few weeks ago we were talking about singing the alphabet backwards, and so he just busted out with half of it right then and there. Now he has the backwards alphabet mastered (you try, it's harder than you think). I think it would be so funny next year when he goes to kindergarten if he sang that when they ask if he knows the alphabet.

He is still cuddly and sweet, just like the day he was born. I cannot imagine our family without him in the middle.

For his birthday he wanted a crayon cake, and this would be my professional cake making at its finest. I find that if you squint it actually looks pretty good.Here they are "helping".He wanted to go to Trafalga where we rode the merry go round, rocked climbed and played laser tag. Alex loved the laser tag and did it twice. Erin hated it! Apparently people kept shooting her. The poor girl had to hide in a corner until the warfare was done. Rock climbing was a big hit too. Erin, Alex and Marissa made it to the very top a couple of times. Yes, Marissa too. All these people were staring at this tiny child climb up a few stories with no fear. Amazing!
Ha, ha... can you tell I am taking a photography class? This was after one class and I had not figured anything out yet. That's why it's all fuzzy. Hopefully I can learn something.

All day Alex kept saying that it was his birthday so he didn't have to do any jobs, or it was his birthday so people had to be nice to him. As it turns out, he actually does help out a lot around here and I sure noticed when he had a day off.
We had cake and presents at 8:30 pm, which is always a good time to pump kids full of sugar. Grandma and grandpa came, as well as the upstairs cousins. He totally cleaned out on the presents this year, partly because his primary teacher gave him some awesome stuff, Zoobmobiles and art supplies. He also got Lego's, a puzzle, a boat and a dog money bank. Lucky kid!
I love my boy Alex and can't wait to see what this next year brings for him. Happy Birthday!