Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Act 5; Scene 27: Robert's Birthday

It's no secret that I love surprises. And trying to come up with awesome surprises for my favorite man is such fun! 

This year I decided on a Park City over night trip. We have been talking about going up to Park City FOREVER because Robert had never been. Granted, we weren't going to go skiing and the summer attractions weren't open yet, but I decided that now was as good a time as ever! Thanks to my mom and dad (thanks, guys!) for taking Thomas for two days, I booked a hotel room just outside of Park City. All on the DL, of course.

When Robert got home on Friday after work (the Friday before his birthday), Tommy was already at my parents. He was adequately surprised. (he he he). Then I told him we had to be somewhere to eat at 5:30, so we'd better get going. I told him not to bother with changing his clothes, but he said he wanted to at least freshen up. Next thing I know he is asking where his deodorant is. Ah! I responded that Tommy must have taken it out of the drawer--and really don't worry, you smell great, we need to go! But he continued to look around for his deodorant and realized that his toothbrush was gone. And my toothbrush. And his contact stuff. 

"We're going somewhere overnight, aren't we?" 

Haha! Oh well, at least it was a surprise until then, with everything already packed in the car! We loaded up Scarlet (lucky duck she got to come) and headed to Kneader's in Provo where I had ordered dinner on the run for us. Then we made our way to Park City via the scenic route past Midway and Heber. And it was a lovely drive--the perfect weather and light at that time of day. 

We checked into the hotel, and called it a night (baby, remember??) Scarlet even slept pretty well in the pack-n-play till about 3am. And then after 5am when I let her snuggle with me in bed. The hotel had an AWESOME hot continental breakfast, and we stuffed ourselves. Hey, why not?

After breakfast we tried to play some pool or ping pong, but by the time we got there all the kids on spring break had taken over the game room. So we decided to check out and explore the city.

First we headed to the Olympic Museum.

We learned some cool things about the history of skiing in Park City. We also learned a lot about ski and snowboard apparel fashion....who knew? And we tried some funny games.

Trying to get the ball down the slope in the path
After that we headed to Main Street and just meandered around trying on $500 leather jackets (I didn't let any of us touch the $1500 ones), looking at art work, and perusing all the menus to see what we wanted to eat for lunch. Robert found a favorite--a Mangelsen photography studio. And just after walking out of that gallery, a nice little bird perched perfectly for him to take a few shots:

We ate an overpriced lunch at a fun little place on Main Street, then decided to head to the outlets. We couldn't find Robert any Sunday shoes, and at that point Scarlet had basically had it, so we decided to head home. It was a fun outing, and now Robert can say he has been to Park City. Next time we go we won't bring any kids :-)

Celebrations continued the next week. The day after Robert's birthday and the day before Luke's birthday we had a dinner celebration at our house with home made pizza. I made Robert one of his favorite cakes--a blueberry lemon with lemon icing. It was a hit!

One year older and wiser, too!

Happy birthday, to you!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Act 5; Scene 26: Easter 2015

Easter family picture!
 We started our Easter festivities a little early this year. The Sunday before Easter, we headed to Salt Lake to take in the beautiful spring flowers at temple square.

Thomas especially loved all of the fountains...

It is so fun to see Tommy look up, point, and yell "Temple!" Something we are teaching is sticking? He mostly loved walking around and around the flower beds and fountains, "doing his laps" as he calls it.

The next weekend, we got to participate in the annual North Lake Easter egg hunt. We love this event! Too bad it was so cold this time around.

As per tradition, we had Easter dinner at our house. I have never had much luck making rolls, and I was determined that they would turn out this time. Here's a picture of my practice round:

And they were delicious! But...I got excited and decided to make some traditional Jewish Challah bread instead:

Which was also delicious! Good thing, because I made A LOT.

And we decided to give my checkerboard cake kit another try. Turned out kind of fun, right?

Don't these kiddos look cute with their baskets?

We also had a giant Easter egg hunt for everyone--the adults! It was loads of fun. We even managed to hide a few pretty hard :-). There was one special egg--a golden egg--that was empty. It symbolized the empty tomb--Christ is risen and lives again. The empty egg (empty tomb) is the greatest gift of all. 

You may have seen this, but I think it might be my favorite LDS film as of late. I especially like the part where it says "again, and again, and again." I am so grateful for the chance that I have to try again through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. 

Because of Him:

Act 5; Scene 25: A Morning in the Life of Trying Not to Watch as Much TV

Yes, I am trying to get away from the TV watching that having another baby has promoted in Thomas. Too much TV makes everyone grumpy, and makes me feel like a bad mom (even if he is learning his letters, shapes, numbers, and a whole bunch of random dinosaurs via PBS).

This morning we were headed to the grocery store, when I discovered a rash on Scarlet's neck (in the folds and folds that never see the light of day) that made it very uncomfortable for her to be in the car seat. So we had to change plans and stay home. Might I mention that the weather is kind of ghastly? SO SO windy that you can barely stand outside.

My immediate thought was: what will we do this morning to fight the TV????

And here is what we did: 

  • Got out the craft supplies to create a "bug diagram" for the library's family bug display. Bless you, library, for giving us a theme and a cause.
  • Colored with markers 
  • Painted a wooden Christmas tree 
  • Ate ants on a log snack, to coincide with our bug life home we created
  • Played red light green light
  • Read a few books
  • Did a puzzle
A picture of our "bug home" Don't mind the messy counter--we were in creation mode! Can you see the spider and web, caterpillar, and bumble bee??
The Christmas tree, with the bug home in the background
Then when Scarlet woke up, we watched Dinosaur Train and Daniel Tiger while I fed her and we ate lunch. I was very proud that we made it that long without Tommy begging for a movie or for Curious George. Whew. Just got to keep him busy!

And now I'm trying to think of what we can do this afternoon to avoid the TV. I'm thinking we can make some bread together. And maybe build a birdhouse with some blocks? Maybe do a puppet show?

What do YOU do to minimize TV time in your house, especially when outside is not a good option, and you can't go anywhere in the car? Are you as tired as I am after a day like this?!?! It's sure been fun, and we will have more fun this afternoon! 

Now I've got to hurry and clean the bathroom before they wake up.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Act 5; Scene 24: On Cinderella

Today as I was cleaning up the ever-present mess in the kitchen, feeling my back and neck ache from carrying whiny children, and thinking about how welcome tomorrow's night out is going to be, I thought:

"I am just like Cinderella."

And I mean, really. My life consists of cleaning up other people's messes, obeying orders from my family slave-drivers, trying desperately to be happy and kind about it. As I was wiping down the counter (for the umpteenth time) I could barely keep my eyes open and thought that Cinderella must have been very tired all the time, too. And she didn't even have the emotional aspect of her slave drivers being her own children that she loved and adored and had to make do things they didn't want to do for their own good. 

But tomorrow...tomorrow, thanks to some of my good friends and BYU, I get to go to a ball. I mean, a real prom dress, late night, fancy, live band, dancing kind of ball. Complete with theatrical and musical entertainment.

This little break could not be coming at a better time. (Although I do hope I don't regret the amplified loss of sleep this is going to create. I think it will be worth it in the long run). Today while Tommy whines and Scarlet refuses to nurse or sleep and I try to keep up with keeping the house decently clean, I am thinking about how I want to do my hair, and which dress I should wear, and if I should try lipstick, and will those shoes be too tall to dance comfortably in?

I mean, a ball. Hello. What is more romantic than dancing? Especially when you have a husband who refuses to dance with you, except on very VERY special occasions. That's another reason I am so looking forward to it. Robert hasn't even given me the "Do I really have do dance and go to this thing?" look. I guess he knows better than to put a damper on this Cinderella's ball, haha.

Ah, this break could not be coming at a better time. True, the possibility of my dress being ripped apart (or spit-up on or pooped on or spilled on) just before the dance is still quite real; but unlike the (unprepared) Cinderella, this one has a back-up dress. And hopefully my fairy godmother will appear and turn my children into perfect angels for the entirety of tomorrow afternoon and evening (doubtful). 

Nonetheless, I am excited to go to the ball. Luckily for me, I don't have to run away from my prince to get home on time. I get to take him with me. :-)

And honestly, if I even make it to midnight,  he'll probably be carrying my poor, fatigued body down the palace steps rather than running after me.

Here's to being Cinderella (like, for real) for a day!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Act 5; Scene 23: Scarlet's Blessing Day

Scarlet Elizabeth Center was given a name and a blessing by her father on March 1st, 2015. It was beautiful. And what a beautiful reason to get together and visit with family that we don't see as often as we would like. 

And really, those are all the words I have. 

Let's see the pictures:

Four generations...and Tommy

Aunt Katie

Tait eating a parfait

Grandma Center

Uncles Luke and Sam

Grandpa reading to the boys

The kids had a blast upstairs

Love this picture of my aunt Joy

Mautz boys!

Mommy daughter glam shot--shared a blessing dress

Grandpa and Great Grandpa McFarland

Getting overwhelmed!

Aunt Carol

This picture makes me laugh!

The Svedin ladies

Family shot!

Great Grandpa. Wow he's tall! :-)

Daddy and Daughter

The Center clan

And the perfect picture to sum up a lovely day

Sweet dreams, Scarlet.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Act 5; Scene 22: Priorities

This past week has been a crazy one. I had a lot of goals and items on my own "agenda" to get done by the weekend.

On Friday, I was maximizing my time to be able to have things ready by Saturday. I was feeling great that I had managed to dust and vacuum the whole house, organize toys and upstairs, gather items for my little musical theater program, do laundry, ironing, and make dinner. Pretty impressive!

At dinner that night, Thomas had a complete meltdown. He was in hysterics about not being able to watch TV during dinner, and throwing a very dramatic tantrum. Which of course led to time out, because he invariably does a few things that he is not supposed to do while throwing a tantrum. 

As I listened to him cry during his 2 minutes of time out, I thought about our day. I had gotten so much done. Thomas had watched two whole movies, gone to preschool, and watched a few more episodes of Curious George. I thought, how much had I even seen Tommy that day? I felt great that he had done something productive and physical by going to preschool, but I had barely had any real interaction with him that whole day. 

I had a realization. It was my fault he was having a complete meltdown. He did not receive the attention he needed during the day. I have heard many people talk about how having a clean house doesn't really matter, or "messy house equals happy kids" kind of thing. I understood the message, but I also kind of thought it was an excuse for a messy house. 

On Friday night, I really understood. I will ALWAYS need to vacuum, and I will ALWAYS need to dust. And heaven knows there is no end to laundry. But I will not always have a bright-eyed two year old who wants to blow bubbles outside and read the same books over and over and play puppets--who needs attention from ME.  Even if he does seem perfectly content to watch movies. 

I'm not saying that all of our days are this distracted, or that all of our future days will be distraction-less. What I am saying is that on Friday night I had a clear vision of what my priorities should be. And I intend to make my little family members my first priority rather than my idea of "getting things done" and "having things ready".

In the end, I am probably the only one who notices the dust and crumbs in the house anyway. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Act 5; Scene 21: The Whole, Long, Big Birth Story of Scarlet Elizabeth

The title of this post is kind of deceiving, since the actual birth of baby Scarlet was actually pretty short (1.75 hours from the first contraction to birth, to be exact). But the writing about it will be long, since I want to include all the details :-). I have loved reading my friends detailed birth stories on their blogs, so if this is not your cup of tea, just skip this one!

It starts with this: being dilated to a 3 and 85% effaced at 35 weeks. Then at 36 weeks being dilated to a 4 and 90% effaced. The doctors kept telling me they would see me soon. When it got down to 38 weeks and I was just over 4 cm and very effaced, but still pregnant, I mentioned to the Dr. that I wasn't sure if I wanted to be induced (I had scheduled an induction for my due date per the suggestion of one of the doctors--he said it was easier to cancel an induction than to get on the waiting list in case something happened and I ended up wanting to be induced. So I did just in case, thinking there was no way I would need one since Tommy came early and this is the second baby and I was just as dilated). When I mentioned I didn't really want to be induced, the Dr. said, and I quote, "Well, statistically you won't make it to your due date, so I wouldn't worry about it too much." That calmed my fear about that.

Well. January 9th came, and I still had no baby, and I still had an induction set for the next day. Walking up and down the stairs a ton didn't work, bouncing on the exercise ball didn't work, eating spicy food didn't work. Did I still want to keep the induction???

We decided to go for it.

Now, the main reason I didn't want to be induced was because I had been practicing for months "Hypnobirthing" techniques. After Tommy's labor in which the epidural didn't work for most of the labor, and then they had to pour tons of it into me which resulted in a very hard recovery, I decided I needed a coping method in case it didn't work again. The more I read and practiced Hypnobirthing, the more I really wanted to go through with it naturally no matter what. As I always tell Robert, labor is like the ultimate female experience--and I sort of decided that (since I'd already had a baby once) natural labor was really the ultimate female experience. And I wanted to try it.

But...I knew that pitocin would probably make it harder. I didn't want that. Besides the fact that inducing took away that element of excitement and surprise when you go into labor naturally. 

But when it came down to January 10th, I was ready to have that baby. Plus I didn't want to risk getting to the hospital too late, since I was positive for strep. So we decided to stick with the induction.

One of the benefits of having an induction, said everyone, was that you can plan for it--you can get a good night's rest, a nice breakfast, and take a shower before you go into labor. 

The breakfast and shower, maybe, but the sleep...lies.

I could not sleep one wink. It took me forever to fall asleep, then I woke up at 2:30am and was up for good. There was no way I could sleep--I was anxious and excited--oh, and did I mention I had a cold at the time so I could only breath out of one nostril?

I know, ideal way to go into having a baby, right? At least I did get that shower.

I spent a lot of the night looking up ways to naturally induce labor. Maybe if the Dr. just broke my water, I could get myself into labor without pitocin. I spent a lot of time that early morning massaging acupressure points that supposedly induced labor.

Here I am just before we left for the hospital, about 6:30am:

Well we got all checked into the hospital, and hooked up to penicillin, and then the Dr. came in. The first thing he said to me when he came in was, "Who scheduled you for an induction today?" I replied, "Uh...me," He responded with, "Who was the practitioner who gave the permission? Usually we don't do inductions on Saturdays."

Ummm...that was a great way to make me feel super nervous (as if I wasn't already--I was about to have a baby!). HE was the Dr. that suggested I schedule it, I told him. Then he left, with no other words, looking rather bleary eyed. I mean, of course he didn't want to come in on a Saturday morning for something non-emergency! I felt really bad, and nervous that he was not happy. 

The nurse (who was AWESOME) saw my reaction, and she had noticed very acutely the doctor's behavior. She informed me that this doctor came in and there were two scheduled C-sections and my induction all in the same morning. So he was feeling a little overwhelmed. I'm glad she told me that, because his response made me feel pretty awful. Honestly he could have been nicer about the whole thing. 

He did come back about a half hour later and broke my water--he told me I was dilated to a 5. Then he and the nurse left, since we said we'd like to try for a while to get it going without pitocin. They brought in some exercise balls and I started bouncing away! Then we tried some other wives tale labor induction tricks (wink wink) and what do you know--all of a sudden I had a contraction, strong and hard. There was no mistaking that baby. And then another--and another. The contractions started about 3 minutes apart. We were on our way!

The doctor broke my water at about 8:20am, and I think my first contraction was around 9am. When the nurse came back to check on us, and took monitor of my contractions, she was kind of surprised at how far we already were into the whole labor ordeal. Later she told me that she had only seen it work once or twice in her 30 year career that people being "induced" were able to start their own labor without pitocin. I was ecstatic to be one of those!

But my excitement at being able to start labor without pitocin soon waned as the "intense pressure," shall we say, increased. I tried to get in the zone and stay released and relaxed. Robert was great at helping me through and pushing on my back as hard as he possibly could. I plugged in to my Hypnobirthing tracks on the ipod...but I just couldn't listen to them. They were so far removed from where I was right then and there, and since contractions were coming faster and faster, I didn't have a chance to be able to take time to get relaxed with the tracks. In fact, I was just annoyed at listening to them. So I ditched it and tried to focus on breathing and relaxing through the here and now.

Since we hadn't ever done this before, Robert wasn't exactly sure what kind of coaching to give me. We had worked on a few things, and he was doing great, but honestly I hadn't known exactly what kind of coaching to tell him to give me (I thought I did...). As my contractions were 1 minute apart and very strong, I started to wane. We thought it might be a good idea to move around or change positions--we had heard that helped. But I could not move. I just couldn't--I needed my whole focus to get through those fast and hard contractions.

I ended up sitting up really high in the hospital bed--not laying down at all. And Robert was pushing my legs as hard as he could. Thank goodness our amazing nurse was there. She knew we wanted to do hypnobirthing, and she came up to my head and would gently coach me with "Let yourself sink into the bed...relax your forehead...relax your arms...." etc, according to what I needed at the time. She was so encouraging and calm! She kept telling us how great I was doing, and I did manage to stay loose and relaxed through the contractions. Something about her voice was just so calming! I knew if she just stayed by my head and kept coaching me we'd be ok!

Soon (at like 10:15?) They called the Dr. in--I was finally dilated to a 10. Ok, ok, so I know like an hour is NOTHING, but I seriously felt like I couldn't handle it much longer. It was getting so so so hard to stay relaxed rather than just pushing back with my arms. But when I did tense up and push back with my arms, they were much worse. So I tried my hardest to stay relaxed.

Now, part of Hypnobirthing is no pushing--they call it breathing the baby out, or gentle pushing. Which is what I wanted to do--I really didn't want to tear. However, when it came time that the baby's head started coming out, there was absolutely no release between contractions or pain. It was just one giant contraction, and I felt, as my friend called it, "The Ring of Fire." The nurse started coaching me in purple pushing--pushing her out hard. I said no at first and just kept breathing (my breathing sounded like a cow by now--something about that gutteral sound really helped control the pressure). But soon I realized that if I pushed as she coached me (and by this point I was doing anything she told me because she was awesome, and I was a bit out of my head), then the baby would come out, and the ring of fire would be gone. So I pushed. Hard. And I knew every second that I pushed that I was going to tear. I could feel myself tearing. But I did not care. I just needed it to be over.

At this point the Dr. was there, who said absolutely nothing to me. Other people were coming in rushing around getting ready, trying to stay quiet and avoid my eyes--I could tell they didn't want to "disturb me" (remember I was cow breathing? haha). 
I have no idea how many times I pushed, but it wasn't very many. Finally she burst out! Looking purple and just like Tommy. Whew! The Ring of Fire was gone! and she was up on my chest looking beautiful! But....my mind was definitely not taken away from everything else. My body started shaking and I'm pretty sure the first thing I said was, "Did they put the local anesthesia on? Put it on!!!" The nurse told me that skin was the hardest thing to numb, so it might not be completely numb. Bummer.
I was sitting up, so I could see the Dr. stitching me up. I could see the thread he was pulling, and I could feel the tugs of the string. And my legs were shaking. He told me I needed to relax my legs and stop shaking them. I tried to so hard! The nurse and Robert were trying to distract me my showing me my baby's sweet hands and feet--she was still right on me. But it was difficult to focus on her when my body was kind of freaking out. 
I did get stitched up and calmed down, and the doctor, without another word, left. Geeze. Who even cares about the doctor? He was there for like 15 minutes, hardly said a word (except for words I found rather discouraging), and then left. Not even a hint of recognition or friendliness that I expected, since I had been to my last two appointments with him! Good thing the nurse was so great. The nurses are the ones who do everything, anyway. I'm pretty sure we could have done that whole thing without the doctor (except the stitches, I guess...)
Anyway, to the most important part of this story--the baby! I had thought for sure we would name her Elizabeth--Lizzy. But when she came out, she looked so dark skinned (which she still is), and so...delicate. I immediately thought "Scarlet."  Of course we went back and forth for a few hours before I relented my wish for a "Lizzy" and we went with Scarlet Elizabeth. Yes, Scarlet with one "t", as in the Scarlet Pimpernel. And you know what? I love it. It fits her so well. We call her Skiz, or Skiz-a-Liz, for short :-).

She was born 6 lbs 14 oz, and 19 inches long. A teeny tiny little thing!

I think the best part about going the no epidural route was how easy it was to move afterward. I could pretty much immediately sit up and cross my legs to hold my baby, and I didn't need much help on the way to the bathroom. Really, the whole hospital stay was so much more calm this time. While the hospital bed was still extremely uncomfortable, at least I could get up and move around a lot more. And I was more prepared for how to handle nursing. And Scarlet slept silently in there--no huffing and puffing sounds like Tommy made. We had to check to make sure she was still breathing! But it made for some better sleep for us.

Here she is on the way home:

And by now it's been over a month. Six weeks tomorrow, actually! And the recovery for the most part was much smoother. My back wasn't aching as much as last time, and my "front bottom" (as stated in Matilda the musical, lol) was much less sore. Nursing, on the other hand....I am managing to make it without nipple shields, but I have been so so so sore, and I ALREADY had mastitis--like the kind you need a prescription for. Oy. That has made recovery really hard. You win some, you lose some, right? Oh, and did I mention I am off all dairy for now to help little sis and her tummy issues? Yeah that's been fun, too.

But overall it's been fairly smooth and we love our little sweetheart. Tommy loves her to death.

The first time Tommy held Scarlet

Proud big brother on Scarlet's first day to church
Skizzy at one month
And there you have it! I told you it was long. And I am not even going to go back through it to edit or even proof read because I don't have time!

So there you have it!

Welcome to the world, sweetie.