20 November 2014

iPhoneography: Furry Friends

I was sorting through pictures from my phone this week and came across some images of our furry friends that visited us right before Finn was born.

They came right up to our front door when Blake was dropped off from his school carpool. Crew was in absolute heaven. He usually has a solemn expression on his face, but those pups made him glow with pure excitement. 

Thankfully one of the dogs had a tag with a phone number. After a little back and forth, I got in touch with their owner - from five streets over. She had no idea how they got out and why they went so far.

It was a bit heartbreaking for the boys to return the dogs after a good half hour of fun. But two days later, they got a baby brother to make up for the loss. 
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17 November 2014

Snapshot 2014

It's time once again for our annual family snapshot. The little details of our lives that I haven't documented elsewhere. 

Here are some snippets from our lives (and a few pictures) to document the here and now:


I was recently looking at some photos from our trip to Hawaii last year, and was shocked when I realized that there was a point in 2013 where we only had two kids, and now we have four kids in 2014. That really put it into perspective for me how quickly our family has grown. 

Before Finn was born, I had a lot of people ask me if I wondered what he'd look like. I responded that I had a pretty good idea. We seem to have a mold for blue-eyed, blond-haired boys.

Now that he's here, the question is, "How is life with four?" Some days I feel like I'm drowning, but thankfully that is rare. I think we reached a level of chaos when we added a third child, so what's one more?

And since I spent the first half of this year with debilitating, all-day morning sickness, nothing is as hard in comparison. The best way I can describe the feeling to someone who has never experienced nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is that it is like having food poisoning all the time for months on end. Each day was foggy. Every smell and taste was repulsive. I was unable to walk without crippling dizziness and nausea. I wondered how I would make it through. But eventually the long days turned into weeks and months and here I am with four miserable pregnancies under my belt.

I found out at delivery that I was severely anemic. I didn't have my labs drawn throughout pregnancy so there was no way to know for certain, but I had a pretty good idea that anemia might be within the realm of possibility. I lived on crushed ice during the last trimester which is usually a tell tale sign of iron deficiency. My midwife said she didn't know how I wasn't completely miserable with levels as low as mine, but my body must have adjusted. I attributed any fatigue to being nine months pregnant and besides the ice cravings, didn't notice any other symptoms. Except that my hair wouldn't hold curl, which my hairdresser told me was also an indicator of low iron. I'm now taking an iron supplement to help with the anemia because I just can't stomach a lot of red meat.

Speaking of hair, all the hair that I lost in masses after I had Crew has finally grown back. It is almost long enough to tuck behind my ears. Just in time to start the hair loss and awkward regrowth cycle all over again. 

In our church, we fast every first Sunday of the month. We skip two meals and pray for specific needs and search for needed answers. But when you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you abstain from fasting. I've been either pregnant or breastfeeding for six combined years of my life which means that in the eight years we've been married, I've only fasted for a total of about two of them. 

We only added one person to our family but I swear the laundry has quadrupled. I only wash clothes one day a week. I'd rather pound out seven or eight loads on one day instead of dragging it out. But sometimes the folding and putting away of clothes lingers for a few days now that my snuggling newborn takes priority over all chores.

Troy reads The Count of Monte Cristo every year. It's a whopper of a novel and it is his favorite. He wants to start a charity someday named "Sinbad the Sailor" based on one of the characters from the book.

Troy decided not to do any physical therapy after his knee surgery and recovery. It was partly a time issue and partly because the surgeon was bit anti physical therapy. His knee still hurts though when he runs around with the boys.

The best perk of Troy being down for months was the handicap parking pass we were given. It was a sad day when it expired at the end of August and we had to park far away at the movie theater, restaurants, and the school parking lot again.

Troy paces when he talks on the phone. That made things tricky when he was in a wheelchair and on crutches. He said his words didn't flow as freely. Now that he is mobile again, Crew follows him back and forth when he paces.

Troy is still serving as a counselor to the Bishop at church and I was called to teach the Young Women after four years as the Primary secretary.

Troy gets together with his childhood friends from Boston every spring for a fantasy baseball draft. They usually meet up in NYC or Washington, DC and spend the whole weekend drafting their picks for the season.

In that same vein, we started doing a fantasy draft for the television show "The Bachelor" with our good friends from college. It's completely ridiculous but it's actually a lot of fun. We pick our candidates before the show airs and then receive points for all sorts of things like crying, retelling a tragic backstory, taking a flight, promoting a career, receiving a rose, etc. We plug in the data to a shared Google document and the winning team takes the losing team out to dinner. It keeps us connected to our friends who now live states away from us and keeps our guilty pleasure show more interesting as well.

I have a staging area for my clothes. The key to getting ready efficiently in the mornings (especially since I have five people to get out the door) is being prepared. I like to pick out several outfits in advance and hang them in my staging area. That way, when it’s Tuesday morning and we’re in a hurry, I don’t have to ask myself that all important question, “What am I going to wear today?” I just go right to my staging area and there are options waiting for me. I am far from a fashionista, but I like to utilize the clothes I have in my closet and I like to look somewhat put together. If I don't plan outfits in advance, I end up resorting to the same five shirts that don't need ironing or layering. We don't have a ton of extra space in our closet so I have a rack that hangs on the back of our bedroom door that is my staging area (insert annoyed eye rolls from Troy who often bumps into the staging area). 

I can't wear anything with wool in it. It makes my skin break out in hives. Anything with the word "acrylic" on the tag is off-limits. This is unfortunate during the season of chunky scarves and pea coats.

I could probably write a whole post about this, but the Pepperplate app has changed my life. All of my recipes are now together in one place with no clutter. They are accessible to me from anywhere and I can create instant shopping lists. Here is a great outline of the simple process.

I am a terrible gift buyer. Gift-giving is not my love language. I think I'm too practical to buy things that I deem useless and clutter-promoting. I'm having some serious anxiety about the upcoming holidays and gift-buying expectations.

My boppy makes the best laptop pillow ever. It fits snug around my waist and it's the perfect balance of cushion and firmness. In fact, I never even packed it up in between babies (not that I had much of an intermission).

When Troy and I kiss in front of the boys, Blake exclaims in a sly voice, "Awkward!"

For some unknown reason, the boys think they must take their shirts off when they jump on the trampoline. I really have no idea why they do this. Even Crew joins in the shirtless jumping. We had a gorgeous October this year and they were out there every single night with no shirts on.
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The boys love to come up with riddles while we eat lunch. We take turns giving three clues and guessing what is being described. Nash has a habit of looking directly at the item he has chosen, but Blake and I try to humor him by pretending we have no idea what he is depicting.

Blake and Nash also started a random rhyming game at dinner recently that has become a tradition. They go back and forth forever with words that rhyme and morph into other words that rhyme. It's especially entertaining when they are sitting at opposite ends of the dining room table and we have company. Trying to have a conversation over all that rhyming is a challenge.

Troy loves to take the boys out to breakfast on Saturdays. It's kind of their "thing." Sometimes he sends me blurry pictures of the boys' food choices.
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The boys have learned that the key to getting me to read to them longer and delay bedtime is to play with my hair.

We play the version of war where you only go through the deck of cards once and then compare your piles to see whose is taller.

Blake and Nash are obsessed with Pokemon cards. I'm still trying to figure out what the hype is all about. They don't even know how to play the game. But they bring their card collections to school and trade them with their buddies and think it is the best activity in the world.
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Blake eats apples right down to the core. There is not a morsel of fruit to be seen after he is finished.

The pace has really picked up in first grade. Blake has homework every single night. He attempts to focus on his math and spelling homework while his brothers are climbing onto the dining room table and clamouring for his attention. Whether he completes it efficiently or not is hit or miss. But we always wait until Nash and Crew are in bed to read. He stays up later than the others so he can have my undivided attention while he reads.

I wish I could volunteer in Blake's classroom more but I can't exactly commit with two babies in tow. I was able to go in a few times while my mom was in town and I had so much fun being a fly on the wall in first grade.
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Blake mostly takes homemade lunches to school but he usually has hot lunch once a week. I'm already completely burned out from making lunches and I'm only three months in to the first year of school with my first child. Anything involving prep time in the kitchen is not my favorite.

It's ironic that Nash was the cop and Blake was the robber for Halloween, because Blake is our ultimate rule enforcer which unfortunately leads to a whole lot of tattling. It was a big problem when the boys were playing conference bingo during General Conference and Nash kept sneaking Skittles before topics were mentioned. 
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Nash checks the front porch for visitors or packages multiple times a day. He always thinks he hears knocking.

The second Troy walks in from work (on the rare days he makes it home before the boys are in bed), Nash runs to him at full speed and declares, "FIGHT!" He sure loves to wrestle and roughhouse his dad.

Nash is particular about his clothing. He hates wearing jeans and shirts with buttons. If I lay them out for him to put on, he always chooses something else. I'm still trying to get through to him that he can't wear sweatpants to school. 

If it were up to Nash, he would wear his "Tough Guy 36" shirt every day. He loves that shirt almost as much as he loves his nie-night.
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I usually lay out Blake's clothes out for him to wear to school. But when I let him pick out his own clothes, he puts on his Superman shirt without fail. It's getting much too small on him, but it has a cape which means he may never pass it on to his younger siblings.
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Nash is still a serious hoarder. I have a love/hate relationship with his favorite hobby. His collectibles keep him entertained for hours, but I despise putting all those little toys back in their homes.
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Nash puts up a fight about going to school. He always has a huge smile on his face when I pick him up, but I think he just really likes being home.

I have become more of a homebody as well. I feel so frazzled on the rare days when we are running from one thing to the next with no down time in between. Thankfully, I've had seven years of afternoon naps that have ensured we spend some time at home each day. And I have at least three more years to go. I really don't know what I'll do when I'm not tied to afternoon nap time anymore.

Crew can easily out-eat his older brothers.
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Between Crew and Finn, there are binkies everywhere in our house. I mean, everywhere. We tried to keep them separate for each boy but gave up after about a day of Crew confiscating and sharing all the binkies.

The boys have a habit of losing one of their shoes. Sometimes those lost shoes resurface and sometimes they don't. I found one of Crew's missing shoes in our neighbor's front yard last week after being lost for a few days. And my dad found one of Nash's missing shoes on a bike path in Michigan at least a week after he had lost it. That was pretty miraculous.

Finn and I have been co-sleeping in the guest room/nursery since he was born. I can't bear to put him in the crib that is a few feet away so he sleeps right next to me. We all get the most sleep out of this situation since I can roll over and feed him. I stay up much too late soaking in those quiet moments where his profile is illuminated by the lamp and I watch him drift into sleep. Nothing gets better than that. Life is good.
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14 November 2014

Toothless

Blake waited longer than most of his friends to lose his first tooth and he could not have been happier to join the "toothless" club last weekend.
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We knew his tooth would fall out any day but Troy and I were out on a date when it happened. I felt so bad to miss the milestone. But Blake's eyes were still wide with excitement the next morning. And our sitter was so good to remind us that he placed that tooth under his pillow.

Blake was a little disappointed about the size of the tooth. After all that anticipation, he at least expected it to be bigger. But his best buddy Liam also lost his first tooth on the very same day, which completely made up for any initial disappointment.

Nash felt left out of the new toothless club. It broke my heart when his eyes welled up with tears and he asked, "When am I going to lose a tooth?" Now he prays every night that he will lose a tooth too. Since Blake was a month shy of seven, I don't think a toothless grin is in Nash's near future.

It's a good thing, or the tooth fairy might go broke.

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13 November 2014

Finn | Two Months

One of my favorite things about the last month (second to snuggling my baby every spare moment possible) is that Finn found a preferred sleeping spot. The living room floor. The sun pours in our large windows every afternoon making the room cozy warm. Finn sleeps for hours on his whales and stars blanket. And he can somehow tune out the ruckus of his three older brothers.
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He has the best sleep smiles. And his awake smiles are stealing our hearts as well.
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10 November 2014

Finn's Blessing

We blessed Finn in church on November 2nd. Although the weather was cold and gloomy, the day could not have been brighter. We felt so grateful to be surrounded by our dearest friends and family.

And if you know me, you know I can't pass up an opportunity for a big production with lots of little details.
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Finn fell asleep shortly before our guests started arriving for the celebration. 
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He seemed like he was in a pretty deep sleep, so I transferred him into a bucket for fun. Who doesn't love a sleeping baby in a bucket?
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I had no idea he would like it so much. He slept in that bucket for hours with all of the commotion swirling around him.
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He didn't seem to be stirring one bit, so I moved him next to his party display.
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Not even his mauling brothers could wake him up.
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The best part about hosting parties when we have family in town is my dad takes over the meal. I make the Costco trip and bring him enough food to feed an army, and he happily assumes the cooking responsibilities. That allows me to focus on my favorite part; the desserts and table display. We make a good party hosting team.
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It was so much fun to have our home bursting with guests. It seems like we just had Crew's blessing celebration and here we were all over again.
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Yep, Finn stayed asleep in his bucket in the corner while conversation swirled around him. He missed his whole party.
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Eventually I couldn't take being separated anymore so I scooped him up.
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And reluctantly shared him.
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We attempted to grab a few photos before Troy headed off to his pre-church meetings. We knew that after church the boys would peel off their Sunday attire and Crew would be napping. Still, this was about the best we could get with all of us.
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We braved the cold weather to snap a few more after church.
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Finn sure is loved.
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