Monday, December 13, 2010

Just Do It.

I just read this fairly short blog post from a blog a good friend recommended to me, and it sums up this idea very well. GO read it, then come back.

I find it sad that so many of us women concede to medical authority so quickly and so often, especially when it comes to birthing our babies. I suppose since I have had more babies than the norm, I have had the experiences over the years that have given me sort of a time advantage. I NEVER would have given birth to my first baby at home and I probably would not have been interested in self hypnosis or cloth diapering. In fact I recall clearly telling Robert years ago that I could not imagine giving birth at home. Can you imagine having to do the clean up?! And, hey, I enjoy the idea of the nurses being room service and baby care both, while I rest in anticipation of bringing our bundle of joy home.

Well, the years have flown by, and my perspective has changed a bit.

It doesn't seem to me that it has changed THAT much, but I would say that in general I have gone with the medical model of birth more than anything else. All my births have been natural (no drugs), vaginally delivered, and totally healthy. We did have an elective induction done with Angel, but that was about the most intervention-y we've gotten. The stupid internal monitor was the WORST, given that it made me have to be in bed the entire labor (which admittedly was "short"), and laying in bed while laboring to bring your baby into this world is tedious and makes the time go so much sloooooooooower.

As I am in a retrospective mood waiting for this little man to make an appearance, let's see what I remember about my previous births and maybe I can analyze where I made changes and learned what I have. I have birthed 6 babies, so far. All healthy, all full term, 5 of which with my husband. I am proud to be known to the medical community as a Grand Multiparas, and even prouder of the fact that I did it. I mean, even if it was only one, there is something so supremely satisfying about knowing that Heavenly Father entrusted me to carry these babies for 9 months-ish, then actually help them get out of an area barely big enough for them anymore, without dying, going crazy, or severely damaging my body. Seriously, it seems like a pretty weird thing to do when you think about what really goes on during gestation and birth.

But I digress.

#1 baby. I saw an OB, who I guess my mom picked. I went into labor starting with an obvious mucous plug loss as the starting signal, in the wee hours of the morn on my due date. I knew the exact date of conception, so it was interesting to note that I had indeed gestated for the exact period of time estimated by doctors. Labor was uneventful. I remember being hot and laying on the floor with my head against the cold tiles to feel cooler. I recall something about a "muscle relaxer" being given to me (so that's the one instance where my sans drugs claim may be false). I remember that I felt it in my thighs, it was very painful and I couldn't relax at all. One of my sisters was to be my birth partner, went through all the classes with me, and then wasn't quite able to handle it, so she left and my mom stayed. I remember her rubbing my legs. I walked a lot in the halls. When it came time to push, it took less than half an hour I am sure, but I don't really know. I was a little more preoccupied with the emotional battle going on around me with both grandmothers wanting to be there for the birth. Let's say simply that they don't get along. I had a pretty long episiotomy, but didn't really feel as if I was in charge of any decisions in terms of the pregnancy and birth process. I didn't really learn much with that pregnancy except pure experience. If you had asked me then, I would tell you that birth is extremely painful, but overall not too long either. Pretty sure it was about 8 hours long. Baby was perfect, still is from what I know (at least in my eyes, who only see him from a distance).

#2 Robert & I are expecting our first, the one that will change us forever from a couple to a family. We were seeing an OB, who is nice, laid back, and doesn't worry about the fact that I only gained a gross total of 1 pound. Being a good 40 pounds overweight, I wasn't worried either. About 10 days before his due date, we went in for an elective induction. Again, we were pretty uninformed. I had no idea of any risks possibly associated with an induction. All we knew was that we were already at 3 cm. I had no idea what a Bishop's score was. I simply assumed that at 3cm, my body was pretty ready, and we wanted our baby out and in our arms. We went to the hospital, let them hook me up to the monitor, hook a cathode onto the baby's head (effectively restricting my movement to whatever I could do while laying down on my back in bed), and administer Pitocin (and probably IV fluids, too). Labor was shorter than my first (about 6 hours), though felt interminable being stuck in bed, painful, and pushing was pretty quick again. If I remember correctly, we did not have another episiotomy, but did tear enough for like one stitch, no biggie. He was 6 lbs 3 oz, and perfect. We stayed in the hospital for 2 days, letting the nurses take the baby to the nursery as often as they deemed necessary and allowed the staff to tell us what to do, from feeding schedules to drugs administered to changing the baby's diaper to fundal massage (UGH!). Oh, and the OB came in to catch the baby, he was never there for the labor process at all. In fact, the nurses were pretty much not there either, coming in only to fix monitors or help me go to the bathroom when needed.

#3 We decided, since the OB was not there during the whole birth and I wasn't wild about dealing with another male for something so womanly, we'd find a Midwife this time. In Utah, you pretty much get a CNM (Certified Nurse Midwife; who is an RN, trained in midwifery and certified by the American College of Nurse Midwives), as we wanted to deliver in the hospital still, and only CNMs have hospital privileges They also have to be "under" an OB to practice where we lived. We chose a fairly large practice of CNMs who deliver at the same hospital we delivered our first at. It was a great hospital. The only problem this time was that the practice had about 7 CNMs, meaning we saw a different one every time we had an appointment. This was disconcerting, to say the least. But overall, the prenatal care was fine, though being MWs they did really try to get me to gain the normal 15-20 pounds , which I was resistant to, but wasn't trying hard either way of course. We took the Hospital labor and delivery class again (we took a class with all of our pregnancies, to refresh ourselves on the process and prepare ourselves for each one), which didn't really give us tools to use except the vague shallow breathing techniques they teach, and the basics on the physiology of the birth. A couple of days after the baby's due date we let the MW sweep my membranes, and we were ready to head to the hospital within short amount of time. I don't remember how long exactly, but it was within a day or 2. We ended up with a MW we did not know at the birth, of course, the ONE we had yet to meet. But she turned out to be WONDERFUL. She was THERE! She stayed with me for the whole labor, helped me get into the tub, and when it came time to push encouraged me to NOT lay flat on my back, but on my side while she supported the upper leg. Pushing was short again and labor overall was shorter than the last. He was 7 lbs 15 oz, possibly would have been over 8 if he hadn't decided to christen the nurses as he came out. I figured by now that by the time I had a few more babies, they'd just pop out after less than an hour! Again, we took advantage of the 2 nights stay insurance would pay for, and let the nurses and hospital policy dictate what we did, though, as with all of our births, Robert stayed every night with me at the hospital.

#4 We decided to find a smaller practice this time, hoping for a little more personal treatment, even though our MW was amazing. We were slightly disappointed to find that the practice we chose delivered at a different hospital (I hate the unknown more than anything!), but went with them anyway. There were 3 of them, and we met them all. We felt a bit more prepared, but still felt like novices. And pregnancy brain always made me defer to Robert when answering or asking questions, as I can never seem to remember the details of the pregnancies for some reason. Strangely enough this one I remember the least about the pregnancy, though I remember right after she was born as clearly as if it was today. We finally had our first girl, a little princess (and, BOY, has she turned out to be so!), and holding her that day and looking into her eyes, it felt like our family had finally truly begun to blossom. She was only 6 lbs 1 oz but perfectly healthy (I guess we just make 'em small), and a smiler from day one. As far as I recall, we once again had an uneventful, fast birth, with a short pushing stage, but I still felt everything very painfully. And though I had done 4 natural births so far, I could not (and today, still cannot) explain why I adamantly refuse to have any drugs to birth my babies. Oh, there are plenty of risks to discuss: epidurals that don't work fully, epidural headaches for years afterwards, pushing for HOURS b/c the epidural DOES work, effects on the baby due to whatever cocktail of drugs they are using currently, Pitocin problems, like a ruptured uterus, etc. But truly, all of those things I've learned about over the years (and more, scarily enough!). I suppose it's always been an innate knowledge that I could do it. Heavenly Father made me, expressly to do this. I'm a woman, I'm strong, I'm pretty brave, and I want my babies to know I did it for them. It's not a scary thing, even when it is painful (I mean really painful, when you don't know how to prepare!). I guess that's the best explanation I can come up with.

#5 Another boy is on the way, and we decided on the same CNM practice as before. The hospital has proven itself to be a good one, and they haven't done anything to me that I would consider bad. In fact we always had good nurses and a nice room and provisions made for Robert to stay with us. I have a friend who I met in my water aerobics class before Isa was born who I found out some interesting things about. She gave birth at home and used Hypnobirthing techniques to make her labor easier. Pfft, I said, not gonna happen. I stink at relaxing, have already proven at a "hypnotist show" at Robert's work that I cannot be "hypnotized", and still imagine giving birth at home to be more work that it's worth. Besides, I like the idea of going to the Hospital Hotel and being waited on for a couple of days. It was the beginning of the end for me. I am constantly amazed at how Heavenly Father knows me. He knows how resistant I am to change, so He puts little hints in my path for a while (sometimes years), until I am curious, find out more on my own and eventually change my mind set. And so it had begun. Close to the end of this pregnancy, I heard somewhere about the Mongan method of Hypnobirthing. I was intrigued by claims that I could have a pain-free birth! Right! If that were true why doesn't everyone do it? What a crazy claim to make.


My births were really, excruciatingly, amazingly, unimaginably painful. I would clutch the sides of the bed until my hands were white. I have never been a screamer (it only makes it hurt worse), but man, it hurt, and I have a high pain tolerance. Maybe, just maybe, it could help a little. I'm not expecting pain-free, but if I could just get it to ease up a bit... And, believe you me, it could NOT possibly get any worse. So, Robert and I were browsing the bookstore one day and I wandered purposefully over to the baby section and found Marie Mongan's book, "Hypnobirthing." And it clicked. It made actual, logical sense. For the first time in my life I learned about the muscles in my uterus. Did you know you have 2 sets of perpendicular muscles that make up the uterus? (If you are female of course) And that they work together, but each has a separate job to do? One pulls one way and the other pulls the other way, when it's time to get baby to come down, the muscles stretch alternately and help to open the cervix and get the birth canal ready while baby does his/her thing to get where they need to be. I don't explain it well, but I finally got it. I was in so much pain, b/c I would tense up! Think of your arm muscles, biceps and triceps, one helps to straighten your arm, the other to bend it, but in order to do either the opposite muscle must relax. Imagine trying to bend your arm while flexing your triceps. I can personally imagine this because I broke my arm and dislocated my elbow after Isa was born (she was about 7 months old, I think), and after the cast came off, I needed physical therapy b/c my muscles were so tight I could not bend my arm more than a couple of inches. Any more and it was extremely painful. In order to even start my exercises each visit to the therapist, I had to soak my arm for 20 minutes in warm water to loosen the muscles as much as I could. So the theory made sense, and I bought the book with high hopes, it came with a cd after all!

I was disappointed. The cd was just the background music, and I was supposed to do the scripts while relaxing, but how do you do that when you need to close your eyes and let all your muscles relax but hold a book at the same time and read a relaxation script to yourself...? I was disillusioned and wanted badly to be able to take a live class, but as we were still starving students, it was not an option. So we laid it aside, figuring I'd done it before and could do it again without Hypnobirthing. Then we got our (my) hopes up again when we found out one of the midwives actually did a class, at a steep discount to her patients, and we planned on taking it when it was later in the pregnancy. Unfortunately, that particular MW also had cancer and stopped giving classes with the last class before we were far enough along to take it. So we had another very fast (I didn't even have time to get into the tub by the time it was filled b/c it was time to push so soon), intense, and (I'm not afraid to say it) extremely painful birth. It's always worth it, but I wish I would have known then what I do now. Famous last words, right? H popped out quickly at 8 lbs 11 oz, proving that I could do it no matter what the size, right?

#6 I am officially a Grand Multiparas, and feel pretty confident in my birthing ability. I feel like I know more about the process and understand my body a bit more. Robert is really close to finally finishing his BS in Computer Engineering, and he got a job offered to him that was a dream to poor students such as ourselves, allows us to pay our bills and have money leftover(!) for like the first time in our married lives, and has amazing medical benefits. All this means we can possibly take a Hypnobirthing class and pay the pretty high price (when compared to the hospital classes, which were always like 20$ or something close to that). In retrospect, it makes sense that the hospital classes are so cheap, considering the amount you actually learn... We found a class on Hypnobirthing, but it was in SLC and we were not wanting to drive all the way there for the entire 7 weeks or so class, b/c it also meant finding a babysitter for the class time (minimum 2 hours), plus drive time (another 2 hours). That's a heavy commitment to ask anyone when most of our friends are in college, too. Then we found a class on Hypnobabies, and were not heartened at first, though it was very close to us (only about 15 minutes away), b/c it seemed to be a totally different method and I was so impressed with the Mongan ideas. I did some research and quickly found that Hpnobabies was considered by anyone who had done both to be the superior method and had much more "tools" and tracks to use, so I was hopeful. We went to the instructor's house (where she holds class), paid for the class, and got a cd to start listening to. It was awesome. Robert was politely interested, but stoically hopeful along the way. Being a lifelong insomniac who only gets worse at sleeping and falling back to sleep when pregnant, just the 2 tracks I had were a dream come true. It was so nice to be able to relax and get some sleep! The class was a lot of birthing info we already knew, as well as a lot of discussion on things done in the "medical model" of birthing, but we also practiced letting the birth partners or the instructor help us to enter a state of self hypnosis (read: deeeeeep relaxation). Let me explain it this way for those of you thinking of someone up on stage at a show clucking like a chicken. Have you ever been hypnotized? The answer I'll wager you give is no, however I daresay the truth is yes. Ever been driving home, letting your thoughts wander, then find you have gotten most if not all the way home with your body driving automatically? You look up and think, how did I get here and can't really remember the drive... Or you're reading a book and it takes someone multiple times calling your name for you to even register that you are hearing them. Both forms of self-hypnosis: sort of hyper focusing and relaxation rolled into one. Now I have NEVER been someone who can relax easily. You know how you've done that exercise wherein you lay down on your back, kind of spread-eagled and someone talks you through tensing and releasing each muscle in your body one at a time and it feels so nice when you come to the end. I suck at that. But as we did the scripts together at home and I listened to the cds (altogether it came to like 8 I think), my mindset was changing and I finally trained myself to be able to relax at will!

Now, don't start thinking that I only was able to do this b/c I had the experience of my other births or b/c I have a high pain tolerance or something. Many of the women I've heard from do this with their first birth, and many women do it without the benefit of specific training such as a class like we did. Really, there are women the world over who give birth pain-free naturally for some reason. Pretty sure it's the fear-tension-pain cycle. Look that one up. Fascinating stuff. It's also about the perceptions and preconceptions you have been raised with. Can you imagine being scared of going to Disneyland? Not usually if you live in the USA, b/c our society has generally ingrained us to believe that a giant friendly mouse will make all your dreams come true. Now can you imagine being excited to give birth, not the baby holding part and how cool that is, no, I mean the actual laboring and pushing baby out of a 10cm hole in your body part? Probably not, since everyone you know has spent your whole life telling you how painful and scary and bloody and even gross it is. And, hey, that's how it is on TV and in movies, so that must be true, right? (I'm rolling my eyes right now.) Point being, it was a LOT of work and practice for me to get to this point, not to mention a 300$ class, but worth every penny (especially if you ever looked at that bill for the epidural...)

Fast forward to the beginning of July 2007, I go into labor in the afternoon, Robert comes home quickly since it seems these contractions/pressure waves are only about 2 minutes apart. We get to the hospital with minutes to spare, the nurse finally checks me- after ignoring Robert telling her that I birth very quickly and am practicing Hypnobabies (you can just picture the poor nurse rolling HER eyes, right?)- to find I am at 9 cm, and EJ is born about 15 minutes later, the midwife having made it for the last 11 minutes. Oh, and it was completely pain free. Did I mention that I felt NO pain? 'Cause I didn't, seriously, none. Did I say it was easy? I did NOT say that at all; it took all my powers of concentration to focus my brain on the fact that what I felt was pressure and power coursing through my body. I almost lost it right before Robert came home, then he reminded my to put on my headphones so I could listen to my Hypnobabies tracks, and I was able to focus. Overall it was indescribable. The closest thing I can imagine is being transfigured to see a true Heavenly vision, there is no way to describe on Earth how powerful and transcendent that feeling is. I think many of the women in "Spiritual Midwifery" explain it best, seeing as they were all "Hippies." They tended to call it psychedelic and far out and use phrases with light and power in them.

and here we are at

#7 We've hit the official full term, assuming we go by the actual first day of my last period, which admittedly started slowly (and would put the due date at Jan 1st), so I have been dating the birth since a few days after my period started, putting us at Jan 4th. I have been having lots of practice waves, tightening of the uterus. Some of these have simply been this little man stretching out, b/c he is obviously NOT comfortable in there anymore, but a lot of them I have to stop and concentrate on. Now they say Braxton Hicks (or practice contractions) are painless and tight, and "real contractions" are painful and emanate from the back. Ha, this is funny, considering mine are not painful and they do emanate from the back sometimes... hmmm. And going with the Jan 1st due date, we are where I was when EJ was born. Considering all the practice I'm getting, I am surprised we haven't seen more action, but he'll know when the time is right. And I do still have a million things to do before Christmas, even though I am pretty antsy and wish he were here now (or at least when Robert gets home...). Having been nesting we have all of our birth supplies ready and I am reasonably confident he would be fine no matter what at this point, so I am ready, sort of. Well, I'll let you know.

So here's my evolution. Natural, vaginal births, all. One induction, no problem, but will never do that again, especially as we'll never go with a doctor again (knock on wood, assuming we never have a high risk pregnancy) and a CNM would never induce unless you were more than 2 weeks over your due date and we've never gone that far with any of ours. I am disillusioned by basic medical procedures with no point &/or real reasoning except doctor/hospital liability, including but not limited to: internal fetal monitoring, constant external fetal monitoring (which has actually been shown to increase your chances of a c-section with no better outcomes than not having the constant monitoring), stupid IVs simply b/c you walked into the hospital (just in case, they say), pitocin during and after the birth, insisting that your baby is too big to birth naturally or vaginally (they told us Isa was 7 1/2 pounds by ultrasound a couple of days before she was born and she was 6 lbs 1 oz., just ask the ultrasound tech what their margin of error is; also women have birthed 12 lb+ babies), fundal massage, circumcision, cutting the cord before it stops pulsing, pushing baby out on the bed in the doctor preferred (basically uphill!) position (do you have any idea how much easier mommas would be able to get the baby out if they could just squat or get on all fours or do any other myriad positions that their body is urging them to do?), hospital birth for a mom who is low-risk (it's only been like 60 years since hospital births started being popular and our c-section and maternal/infant mortality rates have not gone down in a long time), taking the baby away after birth (the only person who should have that baby, best case scenario of course, if the person who caught it-hopefully daddy!- who should then hand it to momma, duh), being stuck in bed, non-emergency c-sections, elective inductions (especially when momma has no idea what a Bishop's score is, much less what hers is!), and in general any thing momma does not understand, and anyone who acts as if momma could not possibly understand. Yes, I get that in unusual circumstances or emergencies there may not be time to explain everything to a layman, especially a laboring mom, but true emergencies are few and far between. Ever seen one of those birth story shows, where the doctor insists you need to be induced or have a c-section today, then they make the couple wait hours or schedule it for the next day even? How is that an emergency when it can wait?! And women are amazing, no matter what your background and schooling, women have an innate ability to understand their bodies and do what needs to be done, sometimes it just takes another woman letting them know they can do it.

Please note, none of the above actual procedures are bad in and of themselves, on the contrary they are life-saving in the cases that need them and are perfectly acceptable and a great blessing then, but doctors and hospitals seem to be leaning towards making sure they have less liability and moms and babies are simply alive. Mom and baby being alive is of course the point of the whole thing, but too many people are discounting the importance of the experience as a whole. What good is a living baby with a mom who is emotionally scarred for the rest of her life by an unnecessary c-section or other procedure, when she finds out later it was uneeded and she feels like a birthing failure? Or how is it a "good outcome" when they schedule a mom for an induction early due to the idea that baby may be big or just for scheduling purposes only to discover baby is too small to be born and must remain in the hospital long after mom is discharged and has lasting developmental problems? And what about the mom who is fine, and baby is fine, then she finds out later that her birth could have been magical, spiritual, even transcendent? I'd feel cheated. In fact, I do. I am mad at America in general for perpetuating this idea that birth must be painful, b/c I finally figured out that it doesn't have to be, and I am mad at America for teaching other women that so that they sneer when I try to explain what I've learned like I'm trying to be arrogant or judgmental or whatever they are thinking. Can't we just share our different birth experiences and learn from each other, taking what will help us both in our different situations? I guess I'm also mad at other moms who seem to be just flying by the seat of their pants and letting everyone else tell them what to do and how to do it, even though I KNOW that was me with my first couple of births. I guess for me I just felt like I was going to the sources I should (doctors and other moms, right?), but wasn't getting any new info each time, so I must have known what I needed to know. I hate feeling ignorant, especially when I feel like I should have/could have done more. Well, I refuse to do it anymore. I'm not going to trust every source on the internet, but neither will I trust everything that comes out of a doctor or nurse's mouth unless I have a real understanding of it and they have some sort of published information to give me besides vague "this will happen" or "you should do this." And I will read more non-fiction and learn for myself more of what I think I already know.

Whew, that was a lot, with no pictures, sorry. And I didn't explain many things very well, so please ask me more questions if you have them or I was unclear. Now I am tired of writing, and need to visit with my 1st grader who got home just a bit ago and help my 5th grader finish his school today. Hopefully my next post will be pictures of the latest addition to our family and not me ranting about how he is still closeted in my uterus...

Monday, November 22, 2010

November Birthdays

As usual we had 2 birthdays this Month: Isa's 7th and Oliver's 11th (though, technically, Oliver is not yet 11; as his bday always falls a few days after Thanksgiving, we opted to do his party early this year). Here are the cakes I attempted this year. For Isa's party I had the brilliant idea to do a Pajama Party, a pretend sleepover. She has been talking sleepovers for a couple of years now, and as she is still too young to attempt a real one, and she asked if we could do something besides her traditional "Tea Party", I decided to try the best of both worlds. We made invites on the computer as usual, and Isa helped me put stickers on and write the girls' names on each envelope. I found some cute ideas for invites, made up a simple "poem" to go on the back, and made do with what we had. Here are the invites.

For the cake I wanted to do a bed with some girls on or in it. I found a cute idea with a girl on her tummy, but it meant doing chocolate molding, which I was not ready to try, nor pay for store bought sculpting chocolate. Then I found a cute pic using what looked like twinkies as girls, tucked into the bed, so I went with that idea. I wanted it to look like Isa's actual bed, so I took a pic of it, and drew a template on parchment paper to create chocolate head and foot boards. I piped the head and foot boards, then put them in the fridge while I worked on the rest of the cake.

Here I am above starting the outline for the headboard. Of course, I had to let my future chocolatiers help use up the rest of the melted chocolate. Below we have Isa working hard to fill in the hearts I outlined with pencil on the back of parchment paper while Jane waits patiently for her turn.

And I just love how EJ is concentrating so hard on her shapes.

My fondant was way too dry and kept cracking, but it tasted great and looked pretty good. I don't make the fondant often enough to have it down yet, but it's getting better. Moving from ultra dry desert climate to ultra humid climate less than 3 years ago threw off my fondant groove.
I do like the way it looked in the end, and I had extra fondant, so I made some simple shapes of things that represent what we did at our party (or any sleepover really), painted them, and stuck them on. I used paste food colors diluted with a few drops of water as "paint", and made bunny slippers, pizza, fingernail polish, popcorn, and a TV. Strangely enough, they were what the girls all asked for once the cake was cut. Funny. Oh, the cake girls had mini cupcakes for heads, icing hair, and extra cake scraps from the leveling for bodies under the covers. I made the cake itself in square pans, and ended up doing 3 layers to get a good height, since an 8X8 square bakes pretty thin.

I was up until 3, finishing Isa's cake, b/c I didn't plan well how to do what I had sketched out, and spent a lot of time ruminating. I work on the kids' cakes at night once they are in bed, so it is a surprise when they see it. They pick the theme and even some key elements, then I run with it and hope they like it. Oliver wanted a Kirby theme with a chocolate chip cookie base. This turned out well for me, b/c I wanted to do a 3D Kirby, which meant learning to carve a sphere cake, then cover it with fondant. Not as easy as it looks, believe you me, and this allowed me to do it on a smaller scale.

I used a couple of metal bowls to bake the cake, then stacked it, iced it, and (stupidly!) attempted to carve it without putting it in the fridge to harden up. I lost a lot of cake that way, as it crumbled off while I was carving it. The shape is NOT great, but it came out OK, since Kirby is sitting, and his round shape changes when he sits. Can you tell I over analyze these things? I also spent a looooong time trying to figure out what to do the hands and feet with. I made mini cupcakes with the leftover batter from both cakes, and those were very useful. For the feet, I just used 2 small cupcakes, with trimmed sides to create an oval for each foot, then covered them with fondant and stuck them on with icing. For the hands/arms I had to support them with toothpicks (3 per arm) and icing to get them to stay. Ideally I would have done rice crispy treats for those parts, as professionals would b/c it is stiffer and easy to mold how you want it, but I had no rice crispies in my house! The facial features are simply fondant rolled and painted as I did in Isa's cake for the side elements. It was not a huge success in my eyes, but when EJ saw it, she said, "It's Kirby!" So I'm defining success as the 3 year old recognizing the character. And Oli's cake only took me until 1am, after we had guests over that night until at least 8:30 for my practice turkey. Next cake or so, I'll be working on more 3D fondant covered elements.

And now, we need to figure out dinner, so I am getting out of here. Let me know if you have any questions about the cakes or party. I didn't even tell you what we did at Isa's party. It was a lot of crazy fun. And tell me about how YOU make your kids'/spouses/whoever's birthdays special!

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I bought some cool socks at the dollar store a looooong time ago when I found a tutorial on babylegs online and some friends in my ward were talking about them (making babylegs), too. Today, I finally got them out and made them! Since my baby is supposed to be a boy, I'm giving away the flowered one (even though I adore that pair!) to a friend who has a little girl. You can see I was experimenting with the length as the socks were all the same size to start with. We'll see how the different lengths work, and how long this baby will be. These were so stinking easy to make, I whipped out all 3 pairs in under half an hour, and I stalled myself a couple of times by over-analyzing whether or not I could/should use the serger for them.

And here's a random pic of Eliza-Jane with pigtails. She has just enough hair to make 2 cute pigtails, which she doesn't allow me to do often b/c her hair is so dang fine it pulls and hurts her if I am not ultra careful. Funny story: the girls have been spending time on Thursday afternoons at Sister Martin's home while Angel goes to a theatre class (I was surmising I'd go and help sometimes, but that's another story). They adore Sis. Martin, and she loves having them. A couple of visits ago, she put both girls hair into ponytails, and she must have told EJ that hers were "pigtails", b/c the girls argued for days over whether or not Jane's hair was in pigtails or ponytails! Jane insisted that they were only to be called pigtails, while the ever logical Isa tried to explain that they were ponytails, too, but to no avail. I love her hair up. She tends to look not quite girl/not sure if she's a boy most days b/c of her mish-mash of hand me down clothes. With "pretty pretties" (barrettes) and pigtails she is definitely a girl.

On another unrelated note (my blog, my stream of consciousness...), I have pretty much finished our Halloween costumes for probably the first time EVER (usually someone goes without a "real" costume, always Robert or I or both)! I just need to get a few accessories (I love details in costumes), and buy Horatio's sweater for his costume and we are a fully-costumed family a full 2 weeks before our party and 3 weeks before Halloween!!! I feel like when I do my taxes in January and get my tax return in February, then I get to watch everyone else moan and groan about it whilst I spend my money (mhwuu hahaha). Seriously, it's just nice to have it done. Now I can focus on baby readiness: sorting, cleaning, etc that doesn't get done during the day with so much schooling.
Last thing, I promise. We are going to try cloth diapering again with this baby. I say try b/c we didn't do a great job last time. We had enough and planned well, but it was just too much laundry (they say you don't really add to your laundry load, but, people (!), I already do 3 loads a day just to keep up in this house, and cloth diapers have to be put through minimum 2 washes). Well, we have the same washer (takes a full stinkin' 45 minutes to wash a load), but we are going to try the non-pocket diapers, so we have less to wash (just the liners), and we'll use disposables when convenient. I really want to lessen what we put into landfills, but we'll have to see if this is feasible for us. I hope so. I like the idea. Here are the 2 types of diapers I ordered (which are technically diaper covers, sort of. The jargon on these new-fangled cloth diapers is fascinatingly confusing at first.). They're called Flip and Econobum diapers.

And now I have a snuggly Jane on my lap, so I'll see you later, bloggy ones. I'm off to do more important living.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Perhaps a Post

I have been very neglectful of you, bloggy friends, and I apologize. My only excuse is pregnancy and fall. You see, every year starting with the end of August our year revs up, goes from summer to 60 in less than 24 hours it seems and doesn't stop accelerating until well into Spring, around Robert's bday (in April, interestingly enough). Let's see if I can catch you up a little without losing too much time wherein I should be reading my scriptures and snuggling with the younger sifties who I tend to neglect slightly while I'm homeschooling the boys.Pregnancy seems to be going well. I am frustrated that I am still on pins and needles about this baby. We had an ultrasound at about 22 weeks, and discovered it's a boy. Pics were fuzzy, but I'm trusting that info about 98%, so we are pretty sure what his name is, but I'm not telling yet. Sorry. Sometimes we have to meet them to make sure we know their name. I firmly believe all of our children already have names before they were created on Earth, so I like to get it right! I enjoy every movement (though I'm annoyed with the amazing reflux already, and wondering how the heck I'm going to deal with it when this little boy is 6 times as big as he is now!), but each movement scares me, too. I worry that the cord is long, and each roll, twist, or kick might put a kink or knot in the cord. Inevitably I get to a point every day that I wonder if it's been a while since I felt him, then he pushes out and lets me know he's still here. Then I wonder if I will ever again have that blissful, no worries pregnancy that I used to enjoy and didn't know I was lucky enough to have. Why is it when you lose something, instead of realizing the odds are against it again you dwell on the idea that it CAN happen to someone and why not me again? I know a late pregnancy loss is not the same as a miscarriage and they are not related statistically or genetically, but it still feels like any day this baby may not make it into my arms, despite all signs saying he is alive and well. And holding this all in in order to bolster my family and not stress out my eczema covered husband any more than he already is is tiring to say the least. Whew, new subject.

The boys started K12 this year. Basically it's online, public homeschooling. The standards are a bit higher than your basic public school, but the rules (i.e. attendance, subjects, testing for Texas) are about the same. It has given me a level of accountability that I need. I have never been very disciplined when it comes to any sort of independent study situations, so this has been great. It was a slow start, b/c the first week was a lot of training videos/slide shows which the boys got bored with very quickly and kept asking me when we were getting to real school, but once the lessons started coming they didn't slow down. We are doing about 6-8 hours per boy every day, not counting lunch time. They are learning a lot and it's nice to see them absorb things. I get frustrated when I don't know what the heck the lessons are talking about or when the boys don't grasp my obviously perfect explanations, but those times are farther and farther apart as we get better at the program and schedule.

Isabelle is loving the local public school, riding the bus, and being probably one of the most popular girls in her first grade class. She's brought home "happy notes" from 3 different teachers commending her on her behavior and helpfulness. She loves her teachers, classes, friends, and even riding the bus. She hates buying school lunch, which means I get to fix her lunch every day at the crack of dawn, but I know she loves it so I don't mind except when I am tired, like the last couple of days when a cold has knocked me over. Isa's main teacher, Mrs. Shaw is a slightly older lady who's been teaching for at least a decade and has grown kids. She is perfect for Isa, disciplining but kind, firm but loving with the kids, and she likes when I come to the class for Mother reader time. I love this age when all of the kids think having a Mom do stuff at school is still cool, and it only gives Isa more credibility with her friends (read: popularity!).

Horatio and Jane are feeling a bit neglected and I need to sit down and create a shelf and a list of activities they can do slightly independently that I can help with or leave them to. I don't mind them watching Nick shows b/c they are learning a lot (numbers, colors, shapes, counting, Spanish), but I don't let them watch too much on most days. On a good day I spend my time waiting for the boys to get up snuggling on the couch with them which helps them for the rest of the day (though this means not getting my chores done). We've done puzzles, games, sensory activities (flour, sugar, cornstarch, water, paint, etc in cookie sheets), manipulatives (play coins or shapes for sorting/counting), painting/drawing... Honestly I just need to spend some time and find a good preschool website and do some printouts/copies for more writing exercises. Horatio can write the first few letters of his name and his fine motor skills are great! Jane is learning a few letters and numbers and I'm afraid she's not too far behind Horatio though he's much older. My hands will be even fuller next year and of course I wouldn't have it any other way.

Robert is still having eczema troubles, but it is much better on his arms. It's being very stubborn on his neck, but it can't be helped until his stress level goes down, which I'm afraid is not going to happen until after this baby comes, as my mood swings do not help his stress. With the business of school a lot of the house gets neglected; it's not a pigsty and we get it cleaned up most days, but the long term stuff like laundry and dishes do pile up easily then we play catch up on the weekend, or not, which causes stress during the week. Having such a ridiculous commute and sucky health insurance (read: pretty much everything out of pocket) are some stressors that we can't do anything about right now. Add to all that one car instead of 2, no time/transportation to do errands during the day and general crappy moody wife and you have one stressed out hubby. We are doing what we can: prayers, scriptures, church, dates (more often than we used to, but not often enough), and are simply waiting for this storm to pass. It will, but it's like losing power during a hurricane. It's very frustrating to have to watch all your food thaw and spoil and know you can't do a thing about it except wait for the power to come back, and eat way too much meat.

As for me, I'm getting up way too early for anyone to be up, about quarter to 7 most days to get Isa to the bus by 7:45. Then I try to get a few things done like feed myself and read scripts/prepare my Primary lesson then make sure the boys are up for school. We get started most days by 9 or so, go until around noon, having lunch and a break for about an hour total, then work until dinner time. I tried waking them when I get back about 8ish, but that only makes Oliver more sluggish in his first lesson which is counterproductive. Angel needs minimal help with his lessons, but Oliver needs adult guidance on 80% of his lessons and the rest I have to double check for him, as his mind wanders and he gets punchy at times. If I don't check I'll find crazy answers later, having to do with monsters or some silly such, and I have to send in work samples to his teacher regularly... On a good day, we get done before dinner time and I am able to cook. On a bad day we are grateful for fast food, frozen food, and a daddy who can at least cook spaghetti or hamburger helper. We haven't gone past 7 in a while, so we are doing great. At 7:30 every night my phone alarm goes off telling us that it is time for scriptures and prayers.

We study scriptures for about half an hour depending on our time until 8 (if we finish dinner late or something). Some days we work on memorizing Articles of Faith or some other scripture verses, some days we play the "Articles of faith game" (as we've come to call it) where we sit in a circle of some sort and each person says one word until we've gone through all 13 (We have to pay attention for this one and everyone enjoys it), and some days we read from where we are in the scriptures and talk as we read. Currently we are in 2 Nephi 23, one of the Isaiah chapters. I have been pleasantly surprised that I am understanding and can explain a lot of the symbolism and background for these chapters b/c of my study of the Old Testament for Primary this year. I may not be teaching my Primary kids a lot, but I have learned a TON this year.

Speaking of, I have been teaching the 8/9 year old kids in Primary. I mentioned we are doing the Old Testament, and it is challenging to put it mildly. I love all the kids, but we have a few talkers and at least one silly-head who seems to only find engagement when being disruptive. Disciplining in church is tricky, as any of you who have been in Primary, Nursery, or YW/YM can attest to. Each age has to be understood and you have to know what they can be expected to do and act like before you can even think about how to teach and deal with behavior. My 11 year olds were a dream, b/c I knew I could make them be accountable just by telling them so and bringing treats often! Most of my 8 year olds don't quite get personal accountability yet, so they don't really get being good for the rest of the class as well as themselves. And my only disciplinary tool is to take them out of class which is what some of them want. Not very helpful to make the point. I need to go through the Primary training videos for the umpteenth time and figure out what to do. Of course, the saddest thing is I have a few great students (behavior wise of course, since they really are ALL great kids) who truly are quiet and respectful and I wish I could focus on. Ah the woes of teaching any age, right?

To follow up on my busy fall-starting-schedule let me tell you how our lives go from here on out in case I don't get on here for a while, then you'll know what we're up to. I have been working on Halloween costumes since September 1st. With 7 people to make for (my pride and creative juices won't let me buy costumes: crappily made, shoddy fabric, ugly colors, etc) I have made the deadline Sept 1st each year, after which you are stuck with what you told me you are being. We've got 2 Quidditch captains this year (Harry Potter and Oliver Wood), a pop star (Isa), Pikachu (H), a ladybug (Jane), Dr. Facilier/Shadowman from the Frog Princess (Robert), and I'm going as a pregnant skeleton. In addition to sewing costumes, I have been getting plans underway for the annual Lewis family Halloween bash. Invitations are late in going out as usual (I aim for a full month so people have the time to rearrange schedules), but they are almost done (are you brimming with the anticipation of yours yet?). Conference pops up around this time, too which means planning the week well with activities and getting errands done early b/c the weekend is not usable for anything but spiritual feasting. Once invitations are made (yep, I make those, too) then comes the logistical nightmare of getting them out to people and trying to finish costumes in time as well as plan the food, games, etc. for the partay. After that it's the Ward Halloween bash, which should be pretty big this year since Halloween is on a Sunday hence most people will not be going trick-or-treating. Then actual trick-or-treating which a good friend has planned for Saturday this year.

For November we get to the planning for Isa's annual tea party birthday which I should have invites out for before Halloween (one month rule, remember?), then my practice turkey for Thanksgiving 2 weeks prior to the holiday, then the actual tea party, then Thanksgiving. Also figuring out how to get Oliver's bday planned in there somewhere (it's the week after Thanksgiving) and throwing his party. And somewhere in there I suppose I should start planning for Christmas, you think? December is all about the Savior's birth celebration and of course the gifts that go with it. Then we get to have a baby, hopefully after Christmas, but Jane made her appearance 2 1/2 weeks early, so I'm not counting this chicken until he hatches.

So sometime late December or early January (forget New Years except for the obligatory staying up late and drinking Martinelli's) we get to have our first homebirth. Everybody pray the midwife makes it in time, please. I'm not sure I want our first homebirth to also be our first unassisted birth. Honestly I could do this with my eyes closed and in my sleep at this point, but I'd much rather an experienced care provider be there, too, and with how fast my births go we wouldn't make it to the nearest hospital (20 minutes away) even if I wanted to. As a good friend put it recently, "So you're choosing to have your baby at home instead of choosing to have it in the car." Once we have our newest sifty safe and well in my arms and at my breast we can relax until February. Did I say relax? I meant lose more sleep, but, hey, same diff.

For Valentine's Robert and I try to do a nice date every year. This means we need to budget for it well, plan our time well (reservations if possible), and think ahead for gifts/flowers. My relationship with my husband depends on him remembering Valentine's and showering me with tokens of love (expensive or homemade doesn't matter); he understands this and is good with it. Interestingly enough we do more for Valentine's than our Anniversary, but that's another post.

Then in March we have mine and Angel's bdays, which is another party and cake to plan/make, and my usual anticipation and letdown (this year was the exception) for my birthday. Luckily Angel's bday is after mine, so I can throw myself into his party plans and not wallow that I am not the center of the known Universe (why is that?). In the middle of the month of April (see how I wrote that ever so carefully?), we finally get to Robert's bday, wherein we don't do much, but I want to... Then it's finally May, we get to end the school year soon, and Summer starts in earnest.


Now you know why I am a lazy blogger. And a busy momma. Now tell me about YOUR craziness that you love!

Thursday, July 1, 2010


I guess it's time to let my bloggy friends know that I've made it past week 13 of this pregnancy. If you are disgruntled at not knowing before now, get on FB more often, and if you're not on FB, get over it. I'm not going to waste my time announcing to everyone that I'm 6 weeks pregnant only to have to remember who I told, then track down everyone when the pregnancy ends spectacularly ugly-like. Btw, I'm in a mood today, sorry. And this was supposed to be such a nice happy post. Sorry again.

Anyways, we hit 13 weeks about Tuesday, which means we'll be out of the first trimester early next week. We also had a visit from our Midwife, who I love, but I'm not sure if we'll keep her since she lives a good 40 minutes away, and it would be silly to pay all that money if she can't even make the birth on time (the last midwife only made it with 11 minutes to spare, and her office was next door to the hospital!). Also since this labor will probably be quite fast (and a host of other reasons too numerous to discuss right now), we are aiming for a home birth, which makes our choice of providers a short list. Point was: we got to hear a heartbeat, in the 150s. I should be past worrying now, right? But for some reason I am still on pins and needles. I can't wait for the quickening, and I have a daily reminder that this baby is alive and well. I imagine I will appreciate those rib jabs much more with this one.

Overall, I am a hormonal roller-coaster. I'm too tired to do much, and I'm lonely. I haven't been to all 3 hours of church in over a month, yet noone has called or come by in weeks, except the Priests to pass the Sacrament. I KNOW I'm supposed to be happy with who I am regardless of what others do or say, but it sure is a blow to the self esteem to feel friendless, especially when this should be a happy time. And now I am feeling all wallowy and will only get worse if I continue to dwell here, so I am going to work on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Let's see if I can beat Angel, who has gotten ahead of me since I've been playing spider solitaire too much)...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Why I Go Through Trials

Perhaps, later today, I will go back and add those captions I promised so long ago. For now I am feeling pensive and repentant, and feel like letting you share the journey.

I just watched a video made by my church, and was struck by how much I needed to see and hear it. At first I was kind of annoyed at seeing Stephanie Neilson AGAIN. Not that I have any feelings for her really, it's just the pseudo-celebrity status that our society creates for these sad stories that really bugs me. Not to mention that being in the spotlight inevitably means you have to be perfect or you're some sort of bad example for the church or children everywhere somehow. Silly, I know, but just my thoughts.

Anywhoo... watch for yourself, then delve into my insights if you must.

As I write this my heart is full. Those of you who have read my blog in the past will remember the struggle I have had with 2 miscarriages in the past year-ish. These have been especially hard b/c
1.) I have always been quite healthy overall and have given birth 6 times with no problems and b.) It just sucks

So you see, I have been spoiled with health and life in abundance, and I've been selfish to believe that I somehow deserve it more than the next woman. Logically I know that I am not entirely selfish, and I know that Heavenly Father does want to bless me with more than I can even imagine. I also know that wanting more children is not selfish even though I got to keep 5 (so far), and other women out there can't even carry and birth 1 of their own (we won't even get into the annoyance (trust me, the stronger words I'd like to use would not be fitting for a lady such as myself) of women who seem to have babies effortlessly and don't care for them or themselves).

But I digress.

My point was, this video touched me. It could be the extra hormones currently or it could be (okay really IS) the Spirit needed to send me a message. Did you catch it at the end? That was Elder Holland, btw, an Apostle of Jesus Christ speaking there. He mentioned the idea that trials bring us closer to God.

Now this may not seem to be an epiphany at first, mostly b/c in my head I know this already. But it's much easier to "know" something when you haven't gone through it yet. For instance, you probably know that getting addicted to drugs then quitting is hard. But you will never really know unless you do it (don't do it though, K? It's just an example people). It's even easy to forget some things after you've gone through them. I mean, Hello(!), I've been through plenty of trials and been drawn closer to the Lord with each one. But I didn't want to do this one again!

What is amazing is how each one brings me closer to Him in a different way.

I'm going to repeat that for posterity's sake:

Every trial brings me closer to God in a different way.

Imagine spending hours talking to your best friend; the reason you do it is you discover something different about them all the time. If you didn't find them interesting and worth finding more about would you keep talking to them?

Now if you don't know that your specific trials are hand-picked for you, and that you are watched over by a loving, kind, and ever-mindful Father in Heaven, why do you continue living this life? Seriously. For me, before I knew this, I guess my reasoning was, "Things have to get better." Note: I never said, "b/c they can't get worse", b/c as we all know that's like telling the world to "have at you." Knock on wood.

And I digress again.

And the current reason I was touched is because I have been struggling with that scary place between hope and less desirable possible outcomes. Do I allow myself to surrender to being joyful and plan for what I hope/pray/wish for, or do I ground myself in the reality that is probable?

I know myself. I know that when I plan/hope/wish for something fervently it becomes more important and almost sure to me; then if it falls through I am crushed. This is one of my most frustrating traits. It rears it's ugly head with things as mundane as going to a movie or sitting at the dinner table where I want. It's not a pretty sight. Then when it's something actually important to me, it can be devastating.

And here's where it gets TMI, so if you're male (or female who doesn't like discussion of female -uh- "stuff") you may want to avert your eyes for a couple of paragraphs. Here we go.

My last period was ridiculously long, like 10 days or so, and I marked it when I first saw spotting on the calendar, so I would be accurate (I try to keep track so I never have to have an early ultrasound again. If you've ever had one where you have to drink like 10 gallons of water and you're not allowed to pee until they can get you in and out of the ultrasound, you understand. If not, I hope you never do.) in case I get pregnant (I've been doing this for years). (Are you enjoying all the parenthesis?). Also, my cycle runs a good 30 days or so, but my allergies have practically killed me this year. I say "my allergies", but as far as I know I've never had them. (All the doctors keep saying that it's really bad this year for everyone. Blah, blah, blah.) I mean it was so bad, that the RS brought in meals and did some housework for me b/c I was so knocked out. This is all relevant, I promise (wait for it.) Well, Robert finally dragged me to an allergist, who prescribed a bunch of expensive stuff (including steroids), which we got most of and utilized right away. It helped a lot! (I liked those steroids more than you should.)

Problem is -good little instructions/insert reader I am- I waded through the rigamarole on the drugs I was taking and discovered some disturbing information about mice/rats having babies with birth defects after being given less than half the dose I was taking (and, yes, I know I weigh a LOT more than even a pregnant mouse, but they do those tests for a reason...). Now regardless of whether or not my next pregnancy ends in a miscarriage or healthy baby, I could not live with myself knowing that I had even remotely possibly done anything to encourage the former. So I took an early pregnancy test, 5 days after my period may have been due. That 2nd line was so faint I had to squint, but it was within the time frame of the test.

and it was there.

Now I know an OB/Nurse/Midwife(even) has no power to stop a miscarriage and even monitoring me and my hormones won't help if a miscarriage starts. However I also know that getting HCG levels (specifically watching them rise as they should), and (Heaven forbid) an early ultrasound to detect a heartbeat would greatly increase my peace. So, I canceled my follow up with the allergist ('cause I can search the 'net myself for natural remedies for allergies, instead of pay an allergist hundreds of dollars to say, well there's not a prescription that's safe for pregnancy, but...), and called an OB to get a quantitative HCG blood test done.

I apologize, too late obviously, for all the details, but I want to make sure I write it all down and it's my blog, so there.

I had to wait until Monday to get the number. It was a 34. To put that into perspective, anything over 20 is a definite pregnancy, but at 5 weeks it could be a high as over 1000. So we wait. Again. The nurse offered to test is again that day, but I opted to wait until Thursday (our insurance sucks, blood tests are expensive, and I figured the longer the better in case I see signs of this going south on my own). But I underestimated my mood swings and worries. I went in yesterday, got the blood drawn (by a much more competent tech who did NOT give me a bruise by jabbing the stupid needle in this time) and am currently waiting for the nurse to call and either very slowly inform me that the levels have not gone up as much as they should or happily let me know that the numbers have successfully quadrupled and we should schedule an ultrasound.

The point of all this is yesterday was a really bad day, with the waiting and crying and whathaveyou. I have vacillated many times between chanting "it's all worth it it's all worth it it's all worth it" and conceding that I don't want to do this again. I don't want to be this empathetic to some other poor woman who has done this, I don't want to have to tell my children again that this baby will not be joining our family and then deal with the younger ones not understanding and continually asking me when we're having another baby, and I don't want to get any stronger. Pooh on growing and becoming stronger emotionally and spiritually.

So you see what a baby I was being. The video above reminded me that I am not going through this (healthy baby or miscarriage it may be) to get a baby, to grow as a person, to be more empathetic and help others. I am doing this to be closer to my Father, my Creator. I want to know Him and become like Him. No other goal or plan is worth it besides this one. He knows I can do it, too. Therefore I know I can do it, even when I doubt it sometimes (OK, a lot of times).

As soon as I read my scriptures and the sifties do their chores I am declaring this a "video game day", b/c -really- what better way to fritter away time quickly than by video games. Well, maybe I'll organize the library a bit... but I'm certainly not going outside again to be accosted my minuscule demons attacking my poor eyes.

Pray for me or send me positive vibes or just come over and keep me company, would you?

UPDATE: The 2nd HCG test was up to about 85-ish. Not as high as the doubling every 2 days, but still within the range of doubling every 72 hours-ish. And, honestly, the numbers aren't so important as the change in the numbers... We've scheduled an ultrasound for this coming Thursday, at which point a heartbeat should be visible on an internal ultrasound exam. Pray for me. Please.

Monday, February 15, 2010

just some pics traveling back through time

This one is Tricia (with Zack in the background), when we tried making beignets with this really old mix she had. They were OK, but the fun was doing it and making what we used to call beignets but are really called rosettes. Those were tasty, and it was fun to play with the irons with cool shapes in hot oil!
Here are the girls with their new bags I made them. Isa's is her lunch bag for school, and I just thought Jane had to have one since Isa got one. Isa's had to be purple (I used the leftover fabric from her Jasmine Costume, and EJ's had to be pink and yellow.

Here's a closeup of Jane's bag, with her name sewn on using the free quilting foot on my sewing machine. Cool, huh?

Here's Robear staying up late with me to work and wait for me to finish the bags. I had to make 2, so 1 can be in the wash if need be.

Close-up of one of Isa's.

Jane stayed up too late that night, and was being cute for the camera before we got her to bed.

Close-up of the free quilting of the flowers on the fabric; I made a paper pattern of the flowers then just ripped it off after sewing over it.

The bag before the sides were sewn together.


Sleeping Jane with Daddy reading to her in the kitchen.

Isa lining up all her tea sets after Christmas.

Horatio and Daddy playing with the cool marble set that we inherited from some friends (whose mom was tired of all the pieces. SCORE!)

Angel and Oliver doing the only thing that motivates them lately: playing DS/DSi.

Cute Jane the Sunday after Christmas, I believe, since she got the doll for Xmas. The Jacket was from her kindred Sister Martin (You'll see her later in this post).

Tricia trying to get a shot of everyone at the Bloise/Bourgeois traditional movie on Xmas day.

Here's all of us after the movie at the Tomball theatre. Let's see from back left: EJ, Robert, Ryhon, Zach, April, Oliver, Angel, Rhaine, Tricia, Isa, and Horatio. Pretty good for using the camera timer, eh?

Jane trying to wear everything on Xmas day, headband and gloves courtesy of Gma and Gpa Lewis from Brazil.

Angel and Oliver both got one of those cool sand frames from Gma and Gpa L.

The girls with their latest dresses (Yep, got 'em at Costco).

Robert, pretending to play the sax-like instrument his parents sent from Brazil (He said something about having to soak the reed before it can really be played). Oh, and Oliver at the bottom, showing off new play-doh.

Jane looking at a present from Sister Martin.

Jane, Isa, and Sister Martin. She's looking at a circle book I made for her.

Sister Martin and Jane snuggling for the camera!

Jane: "Oh, for me?"

Sister Martin and Isa, I believe the other Sifty is a Zentz. We were in the middle of our Xmas Eve celebration with close friends when Sister Martin stopped by with gifts.

The kids getting ready for the White Elephant exchange at our Xmas Eve dinner/party with friends.

Jane sacked out in the cart at Wal-mart. It still happens. Legs are Horatio's.

Here they both are. I'm pretty sure I moved Jane to the other place, b/c she was threatening to fall out like that.

Horatio's bday party (#4!). He wanted a Ben 10 cake, so I made a huge chocolate chip cookie and decorated it like the omnitrix (look it up). Pretty sure that's Angel, Oliver, Horatio, and me.

Cake cookie (Yeah, it's not great, but it was last minute)!

Isa sitting on Santa's lap at the ward Xmas party.

Horatio sleeping at the ward Xmas party.

Robert and Jane (and Isa) at the ward Xmas party.

Isa sleeping in one of the Kitty beds (?).

Cute EJ.

Naptime. Actually I think we had watched a movie as a family and this is what you get by the end. Horatio, Robert, and Jane.

OK, this is from my game of Animal crossing on the wii. I wanted to see what would happen if I kept just pushing this guy, well he got pretty mad. And, for some reason, the kids and I found this hilarious! Go figure.

Decorating the Xmas tree, and Angel getting ready to top it with our Angel. For arguments sake, Angel got to do it this year, 2009! Left to right: Angel, Horatio, Isa, and Oliver.

Topping the tree with Daddy's assistance.

(Whew! I'll do some more tomorrow, hopefully. Bug me if'n I don't, k?)

WHEW! I'll add some captions later tonight hopefully...