Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas Present for Me or the Arveseths?

For Christmas Brian got me a new cell phone. When we got the one I currently use, we got the cheapest phone possible. It was really small and designed flat, meaning it didn't fold open and closed. Should have been perfect for our needs. I couldn't figure out how to lock the keypad out, so I kept dialing numbers without meaning too. Finally, I had my tech savy friend, Lauren, figure out how to lock the keypad. Problem solved, right?

Unfortunately, my backside is really, really talented. I would put the phone in my back pocket and my talented toosh would unlock the phone. Over the months I've had the phone, I've dialed numerous people on accident and they have listened to the muffled sounds of my pocket. I have sent numerous text messages of gibberish and a few times, retexted messages meant for one person to another person. Good thing I never said anything bad. The most lucky of such recipients was Catherine Arveseth. Arveseth comes first in my phonebook, so it was her good fortune to receive the majority of the random calls placed by my rear end. I have to say, being a Zufelt, I have often been the victim of the same crime. Many people's phones have called me over the years and left 10 minute muffled messages on my home answering machine. One person did it so often, 5 or 6 times a week, I finally asked them to change my listing in their phone book from Zufelt to Angie so it wouldn't happen as often. The bad news was that it still happened because Angie came first in her phonebook. No escaping it with that phone...

Today we got the new phone completely hooked up and it's ready to go! So, it begs the question, is this gift really for me or is it for Catherine? Cath - my backside will miss calling you.

We Love Parker

Brian caught this cute shot of Maddie and Parker sleeping one night. Ben, Maddie and Parker had a blast playing together for five days when Kristie and Anthony's family came to visit us after Christmas. They spent a lot of time going up and down the stairs formuating big plans of what they would do next. For the most part, everyone got along. Kristie regulated any disagreements because she could move so much faster than me and I was just too tired to care most the time.
McKenzie tried and tried to keep up with the older three kids but just couldn't move fast enough to stick with them. She learned how to go down the stairs. We had only one incident where she fell down the stairs and it wasn't really her fault. The three big kids were being ghosts with blankets over their heads running around. Of course they couldn't see where they were going and someone ran into poor, unsuspecting McKenzie who just happened to be standing next to the staircase going down to the basement. At least it was only a half flight and she recovered quickly. Those are just the growing pains of life, right. Now we have strict rules about blankets and covering your eyes.
At night time, we would put all three of the big kids in one room and McKenzie in her own. McKenzie would drift off happily. Parker, Ben and Maddie would laugh and giggle and play in their beds for literally hours. If we put them down at 8:30 they would finally drift off to sleep around 11:00. They had so much fun and it was delightfully pure laughter coming from their room. Despite our constant prodding to "be quiet" and "stay in your beds" we adults did enjoy their happy giggles.

Nursing the Baby

Well, it took a little more than three weeks, but it finally happened. Maddie started nursing her babies. She climbs up on the couch next to me and holds her baby doll like I am holding Jacob and gives me the biggest smile as she tells me, "I'm feeding my baby like you feed Jacob!" It will be fun to see if she ever becomes as talented as Ben was when I was nursing Maddie. Ben would nurse his doll Potsy, but would switch sides because some days Potsy would want chocolate milk (the left side). Other days he would want regular milk (the right side). It was so hard not to laugh at his innocence.

Pentagon Visit

Try to explain the Pentagon to a four year old without scaring them. I wondered how military families do it yesterday when we were attempting to tell Ben where we were going. I'm not against guns. I really enjoy shooting, though I've always shot at paper targets, never gone hunting. I played superheros and cowboys and Indians growing up where we "shot" and "killed" people all the time. Didn't think I'd have a problem with my kids doing the same, until Ben "killed" something one day. My angelic three year old killed something with a gun. It just felt wrong for him to play that way. We now don't kill people at our house, but I'm at a loss for where to go from there. Mostly I have avoided guns because I don't know what to say, so I've never bought them for the kids.

Now we visit the Pentagon and talk about the amazing men and women defending our country. The display cases have lots of guns in them, beautifully displayed telling the history of different branches of the military. Guns scare Ben, how we do reconcile it all in his little head? I don't know. Our conversation on the drive there was something like this: We're going to the Pentagon. What is the Pentagon? That's a building where people work that keep us safe. Safe from what? Bad guys. What kind of bad guys? Ones that might want to hurt us. Why would they hurt us? I don't know, I guess they are just mean. What do they do to the bad guys? Look at the airplanes in the sky, aren't they big? (dodge the question) At least Maddie provided some comic relief. She caught onto the "mean guys" idea. She asked, "Is Maddie safe from the mean guys?" "Yes! Maddie is safe!" "Oh. Okay. That's good." "Daddy, are you safe from the mean guys?" "Yes!" "Oh. That's TOOOOOOO bad!" We enjoyed our Pentagon tour. We walked and walked and walked and walked and only saw 10% or less of the building. The kids did great in their strollers. We got a lot of funny looks and smiles from the people working there. We had a friend from my old neighborhood growing up give us the tour while my sister and family were in town. We had three double strollers and seven kids with six adults. We really were a sight to see, like a stroller parade walking the halls of the Pentagon. Probably the highlight was seeing the Pentagon Memorial to the victims of the September 11 Attack. It was really a special memorial. A special, quiet place to sit and think. Now I know how to get there, I can take all our visitors, so buy your tickets and come on out.

The Passing of Grandma BerDella

We got a call Monday morning that Grandma BerDella passed away Sunday night. Brian’s parents were with here in the evening. She said she was really tired, so they helped her get ready for bed and lay down before they left at 8 pm. By 10 pm they got a call that she had passed away. We’re glad it was quick and hope it was painless for her. While the loss of a family member is always a sad thing, we are really happy for her. She has been so miserably lonely for the last 15 years since her sweetheart died. This is what she wanted. We know she is happy in heaven with her maker and her most precious family having a joyous reunion she has longed for these many long years.

Monday it didn't really hit us, but Tuesday I asked Brian how he was doing. He sort of summed up both our feelings when he said he was mostly just sad that our children would never really have memories of her. It is odd to think that someone that was such a part of his life growing up won't be around when we visit home anymore. We are a bit sad that she missed meeting her newest great grandson, Jacob. They missed meeting each other by just a few days. It has been fun to sit with Brian the last few days and think through memories of Grandma BerDella. We thought we would share them here for our posterity and family to enjoy. Memories of Grandma BerDella Zufelt By Brian Zufelt

  • Grandma BerDella loved holding newborn babies. She was always excited to hold and caress the newborns and would gaze down at their faces and their small hands and feet. In the past several years she would comment that she shakes too much, but that wouldn’t stop her from admiring the little ones.
  • Grandma BerDella loved and respected the Temple.
  • Any time we visited Grandma BerDella, she would tell us about what she was growing in her garden. They had a good bit of land in the back yard where they grew a garden. She loved to share the fresh food with us.
  • My earliest memories of BerDella and Syril were of them visiting us at our house. They were hard working and would always help us out with some sort of project around the house. I believe the project often involved helping us take care of our garden.
  • Grandma BerDella kept a box of toys in the garage for us to play when we visited. Many of the toys were outdoor games such as lawn darts, badminton, and a hula hoop. We spent hours reading the comic books and playing with the toys she kept in the basement room. She also kept several bikes at her house for us to ride when we would visit her. We would ride all around the neighborhood. We would also ride the bikes over to an empty lot with a huge hole dug out. We would ride all around and in and out of the hole. I particularly remember a bump in the sidewalk lifted by the roots of a large tree in her front yard. We would ride as fast as we could to jump the bikes over the great jump. I also remember sitting with Grandma and Grandpa on the swing on the front porch watching the neighbors.
  • Our Zufelt and Malmgren grandparents lived very close together and got along well together. We would see them about one weekend a month and usually saw both sets in the same visit—either we would visit both of them at their own houses, or they would travel together to visit us at our house. Every year we would celebrate either Thanksgiving or Christmas at one of the grandparents’ house, and the other holiday at our house. When it was Grandma and Grandpa Zufelt’s turn to host, they would set up a long table in the middle of the living room to be able to accommodate all of the guests. There were always two dishes we could count on grandma to bring: 1) Orange jello salad with crushed pineapple and mandarin oranges mixed in and topped with layers of marshmallows, vanilla pudding, whipped cream, and sprinkled with grated cheddar cheese; and 2) baked beans.
  • When Angie and I were in college, we had the opportunity to intern with a couple of companies out of state. We had limited room to bring things with us and needed a place to store most of our household items. Grandma BerDella quickly volunteered to store our couch, kitchen table, shelves, and many more items in her garage for the nine months we would be away. When we returned, we found that she had taken great care of our belongings, including covering it with tarps and throwing rat poison around and under it to keep the critters away. Thinking back on the situation, she probably checked on it for at least once each and every day.
  • While we were interning in Kentucky, we invited my parents (Craig and Anne Zufelt) and grandparents (Grandma BerDella Zufelt and Grandpa Dean Malmgren) to visit. Grandma BerDella stayed with us in our two-bedroom apartment while my parents and Grandpa Dean stayed in a nearby hotel. We lived right on the Kentucky / Indiana state line which was also a time zone border. Anytime we talked about a schedule and state a time we would do something, Grandma would ask if we were talking Utah time, Kentucky time, or Indiana time. We later found out that Grandma did not change her watch so she had to translate everything back into Utah time so she could track our schedule. One of the mornings, she wanted to be sure she was ready by the time my parents would arrive around 7:00 so she got up around 4:00 (that’s 2:00 a.m. Utah time) and stayed in her room until she heard we had left the house at about 6:00. At that point she took her shower. We only left to run to the store for a few items for breakfast and returned to the house in a very short time. Grandma did not expect us back so soon and had not taken her clothes to the bathroom with her. Surprised that we were back so quickly, she wrapped up in a towel and ran back into her room to get dressed.
  • Grandma BerDella worked very hard her whole life and saved so her posterity would receive an inheritance. She always made sure to send or give Birthday and Christmas cards with a check each year. Several years ago, Grandma decided that she needed to distribute the inheritance to all of her living posterity so they could enjoy the money before she died. She sent us a large check with the instructions that this was the final inheritance and she would not be sending any more money for Birthdays or Christmas. However, for Grandma, this still was not sufficient. Not more than two years later, the Birthday and Christmas cards contained checks again.
  • Grandma BerDella was always very thoughtful about attending life events such as baby blessings, weddings, and graduations and sent Birthday Cards every year. This past year she sent her great grandson, Ben, a dollar for his Birthday. This gift was very meaningful for Ben—we took him to the dollar store where he could chose his own gift from anything in the store. He chose a dinosaur that roars, and sent a thank you card in return. Grandma BerDella must have felt bad about excluding Ben’s sister Madison, so she sent a dollar for Maddie as well. Ben helped Maddie choose a toy as well. In recent years Grandma apologized several times to us about not being able to keep track of all the birthdays. I do not recall her ever missing anyone’s birthday, but she really did not want anyone to feel left out.
  • Grandma BerDella and Grandpa Syril had a large back yard with a portion covered with gravel. When we visited them we would go excavating for “Indian ruins” in this gravel—we found lots of small clay pieces which we were able to fit together to form parts of clay pots. Grandma and Grandpa did not seem to mind the mess we must have made as we carried these pieces around.
  • Grandma BerDella loved music, and always commented about how she wished she had learned to play the Piano. She was very proud of us when we took piano lessons and loved for us to play some some songs to her. She taught me the “only song she knew,” which was a two-finger version of “Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater,” which I have passed on to our children. Several years ago BerDella won an organ through a drawing at the Senior Citizens’ Center in Richfield. During our next visit with Grandma, she beamed with excitement when she told us, “I have never won anything in my entire life,” and showed us the brand new organ sitting in her living room. She then told us she had been taking lessons and even played a song for us. She loved being able to fulfill one of her life-long dreams.
  • Grandma BerDella thrived on familiarity and having a routine in her life. In recent years she loved the companionship and routine that the Senior Citizens’ Center provided. She invited Craig and Anne to come for dinner with her during one of their visits so she could share the wonderful experience with them. She did not like to be away too long for fear that she would loose her spot at the dinner table if she was not there to claim it.
  • We loved visiting Grandma and Grandpa Zufelt and staying in their upstairs rooms. The twin beds in Craig’s and Nick’s old room always had electric blankets. Our parents told us not to play with the blankets, but we loved being able to heat up the bed, so we did anyway. The two upstairs rooms were also connected by a walk-through closet. We loved hiding in the closet or using it to travel from one room to the other. In the hall near each of the upstairs rooms, Grandma had hung to poems about what boys and girls are made of. In the living room Grandma and Grandpa had a fireplace for many years. I was very surprised one visit when the fireplace was not there—that is the point that I learned that the fireplace was fake.
  • Grandma BerDella always talked about how proud she was of her grandchildren and how bright they are. When I showed interest in science classes, Grandma would tell me that I needed to invent an anti-aging pill so she and Grandpa could stay young. When we visited her this past August to perform a magic show at her assisted living home, she put her great granddaughter, Madison, on the small “seat” of her walker and pushed Madison around the large common room to introduce her to all of the other residents. Everyone could see Grandma BerDella’s pride in her her family.
  • Grandma BerDella always had a bowl of candy with chocolates or English toffee or hard candy and loved to share that candy with us. She always had ice cream to share with us when we visited.
  • Grandma BerDella taped a paper to the side of her TV on which she had written down the channel numbers for the local stations. When we visited her, we would use this paper to find the shows we wanted to watch. Grandma and Grandpa always watched Johnny Carson and were upset when he retired. While I was in college, Grandma bought a new TV. She must have decided that I needed a TV in my dorm room so she gave me her old one. The paper I had seen for so many years was still on the TV and remained there for all of the time I had the TV. Every time I saw that paper I was reminded of sitting on the floor in the middle of the living room watching shows with Grandma and Grandpa.
  • While we were interning in Kentucky Angie and I had to work one day while my parents and Grandpa Dean and Grandma BerDella did some sight seeing in the countryside. Dean and my parents stayed in a hotel and BerDella stayed in our second bedroom at our apartment. We were planning a nice dinner, but needed a few other ingredients for the jello salad. We woke around 5 am and showered. We ran to the grocery store as soon as it opened then returned home to make the jello and go to work. BerDella must not have slept a wink that night for fear she would sleep in and not be ready for the others to pick her up at 9 am. When we returned home to make the jello, BerDella was in the shower before 6 am. She must not have expected us to return, because she apparently didn’t bring any clothes to the bathroom. We soon saw her run across the hallway to her room naked, clutching her towel in front of her, but leaving her backside totally exposed. She dressed and came out to sit on the couch and wait for her ride to come in three hours. We finished our jello and headed to work.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

BerDella Oldroyd Zufelt

BerDella Oldroyd Zufelt passed away on December 28, 2008 in Cedar City, Utah just ten days shy of her 93rd birthday. She was born in Glenwood, Utah, January 7, 1916, to Isaac Robert and Annie Louisa Kay Oldroyd.
BerDella graduated from Richfield High School and LDS seminary, and attended Snow College in Ephraim, Utah for two quarters. She worked at Lynns Cafe and Ben Franklin Store until she was married. She enjoyed dancing and attended many dances in her youth.She married Syril H. Zufelt March 9, 1940, and their marriage was solemnized in the Manti LDS Temple February 18, 1952. They lived in Springville, Utah for two years while Syril worked for Geneva Steel. They moved back to Richfield after that and spent the remainder of their lives there. Syril passed away in April of 1993.
BerDella taught Sunday School for the LDS Church in Venice, Utah, and was active in the MIA in Venice and Richfield. She was also a visiting teacher in Richfield for 50 years. BerDella worked as a clerk in Merrill's Pharmacy for 20 years and Hall Drug for 10 years. She loved associating with people and was once named by Dan Valentine of the Salt Lake Tribune as the Utah Clerk of the Year. She enjoyed having gardens of flowers and vegetables, which she shared with many friends. Her home was always immaculate and she loved to have visitors.
BerDella is survived by two sons, Nick (Wanda) Zufelt of Sparks, Nevada, and Craig (Anne) Zufelt of Enoch, Utah; nine grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren.She was preceded in death by her parents, husband, daughter, Deanna Dell,brothers: Marvin and LaVar Oldroyd; sisters: Vivian Oldroyd, Wilda Breinholt, Agnes Davis, Arnell Breinholt.
Funeral service will be held Friday, January 2, at 11:00 a.m. at the Magleby Mortuary Chapel (50 S 100 W), Richfield. Friends may call at the Magleby Mortuary in Richfield, Thursday evening from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.and Friday morning from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Interment will be in the Richfield Cemetery. Funeral Directors: Magleby Mortuary, Richfield, Salina and Manti. Online guestbook at http://www.maglebymortuary.com/

Sutera Surprise

Who knew? Anthony Sutera lived on the other side of our block growing up in Taylorsville. Now he lives a mile or so away. I was so surprised. I was reading my sister's blog one day and clicked on the links to her friends. She had one for Anthony. When I pulled it up, I was floored. The pictures of his kids were all at our neighborhood parks, the fountain, etc. Obviously they live close. I quickly found out that Anthony's wife was best friends with one of my good friends and they lived almost around the corner. What a small world. Kristie and family came to town so we had a dinner party with the Moellers and Suteras at our place. It was so much fun to meet Jaime and the boys and catch up with Anthony. I find it funny that Kristie's first kiss was Anthony and she ended up marrying an Anthony. My first date was a Brian and I ended up marrying a Brian. Weird. Does this predict something for the future of our kids? The first date may mean more than we originally thought it does.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

My Truck Isn't Cool Anymore

I went to my morning meetings on Sunday. The car was parked at the pool, so I took the truck which I usually don't do if I don't have the kids. After my meetings, I went to the truck, put it in reverse and turned around to back out. To my amazement, my eyes were met with a line of three car seats. All I could think was, "Holy cow! When did my cool truck become uncool?" It reminded me more of a mini-van than a tough truck. It was a sad moment of realization for me, but hey, at least we don't have the mini-van yet.

Where Is Everyone?

I need a blog reading fix. Where is everyone? Almost no one has posted since Christmas. Hope you are all off having fun with family. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Early Christmas Miracle - Update

For the sake of all the women out there who fight to loose the pregnancy weight, I felt it only right to provide an update to my post saying I got into my pre-pregnancy jeans. The day of all my excitement I tried on two pairs of jeans and they fit! I was elated. The following day the next pair in the pile did NOT fit. No big deal, I tried the next. No luck. I quit after the fourth pair of pants didn't even come close to buttoning over my abdomen. Depressing. Now as I think back over things, it sort of makes sense. The top two pairs of jeans would have been the last two pairs I gave up when I was growing and moving into my maternity clothes. Obviously, they were the most stretchy, largest, generous pairs of jeans I owned. As we moved backward in the pile, we get to the smaller and less stretchy sizes with less give at the waist. Not a chance at getting those ones on anytime soon. Of course, even if the weight is gone, every woman knows (and likely their husbands also notice) the body shape is a far cry from what it was. I happened past a mirror a few days ago and thought to myself, "I look about 6 months along today." So, for anyone out there who was hating me last week over my excitement...justice is served. I don't really fit like I thought I did. Gotta keep working on it and quit eating all those Christmas cookies.

Champion Sucker

Who knew some babies can keep a binkie in on their own? With Ben I swear we held the binkie in his mouth for three months before he really seemed to have the coordination to keep it in himself. His tongue was just too wiggly and would push it out. Maddie did better, but still took six to eight weeks to keep her binkie in. With both kids we would swaddle them like a burrito in their blankets and do it just so to wrap just over the bottom of the binkie to help keep it in longer. Some may say I forced the binkie on my kids. Darn right. I call the binkie the "magic happy maker" and it is a God-sent gift to mothers and fathers everywhere. Both the kids really did want them, just couldn't keep them in. They would settle immediately when they got them back.
It has been a pleasant surprise to us that Jacob is a champion binkie sucker. From the hospital he could more or less keep the binkie in. Of course, sometimes it still pops out, but not very often. What a nice treat for us.
I just asked Brian if we had any pictures of Jacob with a binkie without saying anything about this post. Brian said, "Probably not. He doesn't really keep the binkie in very well, so I doubt it." It appears that we have a difference of opinion, so let me clarify. Jacob is a champion binkie sucker when he is awake and wants it to settle him. It does fall right out when he falls asleep, so it isn't there when he wakes up to resooth himself back to sleep.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Santa - Damage Report

The kids were pretty happy with Santa's work this year. Santa brought Maddie some dress up fancy high heel shoes. She put them on immediately and with a smile, told me, "Now I can go to church!" That made us both laugh. She enjoyed her airport too.
Jacob got some lovely rattles, a teether and a set of coins for his birth year.
Ben was extremely specific and gave Santa quite a task to find an airport that would fulfill all his expectations. It had to have a big airplane with the top that came off to put people in and the belly open up for luggage. He needed a luggage truck and trailer to pull behind, baggage claim in the airport, the truck with the stick that helps planes back out of the gate and several other VERY specific things. Luckily, Santa knows all about ebay and delivered a fantastic airport with lots of accessories.
Of course, I called it with Ben, a.k.a. Mr. Negative. It took a few minutes longer than I thought, but one of his first observations about his airport was that it was lacking the steps/conveyor belt to load the luggage into the belly of the airport. Sometimes Santa just can't do it all. Luckily, he seems to be over it now.

Both Maddie and Ben were so excited and involved in their airport and stocking stuffers from Santa that we couldn't get them focused on unwrapping presents. After a while we stopped trying and decided to let them play and enjoy for a while. Brian and I went and made a first class breakfast. We had scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, juice and the works. It was super yummy.

After breakfast we got them to unwrap the presents under the tree. They really loved ripping the paper and playing with all the new loot. They got several games from their cousins, baby doll stroller, movies, walkie talkies and a few other things. Thanks to Santa, friends and family for all the great stuff this year.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Santa's Coming To Town

Brian pulled up a Santa Tracker on the internet and completely captured the kids attention. After the initial fun, Maddie went on to other things. Ben was enthrawled for hours. He would just sit and watch the computer screen that never changed asking "Where is Santa now?" over and over.
I had the kids clean up the living room, including the train tracks around the Christmas tree tonight. Ben stacked all the legos in a really tall tower so I could take them to the basement in one load. Maddie wouldn't leave the stack alone and kept breaking it and scattering it all around the living room again. After a while, out of frusteration, Ben said, "I think Maddie is going to be one of the coal guys because she keeps ruining the tower." I guess he's got the basic picture about Santa bringing coal to bad kids.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Why Did You Do That?

Ben is screaming at the top of his lungs right now, looking for my love and sympathy. I'm plum out of that. He took a clothes pin and clipped it on his lower lip. Go figure, it really, really hurt. You would think he'd remember, it's only the third time he's done it to himself. Jacob is screaming to eat again for the fourth time in an hour and screams bloody murder every time I attempt to set him down. Maddie is crying because she is "hungry for dinner" even though she barely finished eating her breakfast one hour ago and it is 10 am. The phone keeps ringing and the caller hangs up (for two days now). I don't have time this minute to nurse wounds of stupidity with a clothes pin too. Now who can nurse my wound of stupidity? Thinking I could handle being a mother of three...today feels overwhelming.

As Close As They Would Get

Ben and Maddie are serious Santa fans, but don't ask them to get close to him. Neither one of them would sit on his lap at the church Christmas party where he visited. They both cried and screamed. Someday maybe they will grow up and settle down. Why is he so scary?
Poor Bruce Pilling, our trusty photographer, had a rough time getting a good shot by the pictures. Brian said he was holding Ben's body just to keep him from running out of the picture. Maddie looks a bit apprehensive but happy that she was getting a bag of candy.

Never Really Enjoyed Gift Wrapping

I'm not big on wrapping presents. Gift bags are a dream to me. Stuff it in and you're done! Of course that wont work when you have a toddler around that will just unpack the bags. Even when I was little I remember taking all my Christmas presents in to my sister, Kristie, and having her wrap them all. She more or less enjoyed it and could always get the corners to look neat and tidy, plus she put bows on them so they were cute. Yes, we were different from the start. Kristie has always been the clean and pretty one. I've always been the disorganized junk hoarder. I remember us putting down a masking tape line in our bedroom to divide what she called "the messy side from the nice clean side" of the room. She would make her bed and go play. It would be crisp and perfect. I would then go touch her bed to put the slightest of wrinkles in the middle somewhere and she would notice. Nut case. By this age though, I've just accepted it. Maybe someday I'll be as amazing as her. Anyway, Ben has been telling me that we don't have many presents under the tree and has been sort of worried about it. He and Maddie Mae have been trying to reconcile the situation as best they could by putting blankets and piles of their toys under the tree. Then Maddie comes to me and says, "Look mommy! We got some pwesents!" Yesterday I got the email from Wal-Mart saying all the gifts from the grandparents and cousins were in waiting to be picked up at the store. I got everything and spent 3 hours wrapping those things and all the others. Ben was totally happy when he came downstairs this morning and saw all the gifts. He is so excited to open them all now. There isn't anything earth shattering under the tree this year, but we got some fun stuff in some seriously big huge boxes. It does look impressive!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tired Family

Our whole family is tired today. I didn't get a nap, neither did Maddie. Ben has been irritable and tired looking all day long, sort of dragging in everything he's done. We all went to church and survived the experience. Brian had meetings from 10 am and didn't return home until just after 8:30 pm. It's been a really long day for all of us. I'm ready to go to sleep. At dinner, Maddie caught Ben yawning. She asked, "Ben, did you just say, 'Ahhhh'?" mimicking a yawn noise and gesture. Ben got defensive immediately. He told her, "I didn't yawn, I was just stretching out my mouth."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Big Sister Duties

Maddie took it upon herself to read to baby Jacob. She found a book and brought a chair over to where he was sleeping and read him a story about monkeys. It was totally cute.

Radar

Jacob has radar installed. I feed him, check my email and watch tv or something. Then I turn in for the night. Seems the instant I start to drift off to sleep, he wakes up to eat again. His internal radar tells him to fuss because I'm about to get some sleep. Little stinker...

An Early Christmas Miracle

When people told me with Ben to bring my maternity clothes to the hospital to wear home, I didn't really believe them. I brought a pair of maternity and a pair of regular clothes. I was having a baby, right? That meant I would get skinny really fast. I gained 40 lbs with Ben, but still, how could I possibly need maternity clothes still? To my great disappointment, I was in my maternity pants for about three months after Ben. When I had Maddie, I knew what to expect and was in better prepared for reality. I gained 25 lbs and was in maternity pants for about two months after her delivery. Every time I tried on my regular pants, thinking I'd finally lost enough weight, I was broken hearted and sad to find I didn't fit yet. This time I gained 23 lbs and expected maternity for a long while. I got a little early Christmas miracle though. I was leary of trying my regular pants on because I know the heartache of not fitting. Eventually, though, I couldn't keep my pants from falling down and it was driving me nuts. I put off the test for several days until I couldn't find a maternty pair that would stay on. I tried a generously sized pair of regular pants and they fit! Excellent! Back in my old jeans at 10 days? That's nuts! And cool! Don't worry, my belt isn't anywhere near my regular hole, but I did get it on... I'm smiling today, even if I can only fit into one pair of regular pants because the rest won't button up yet.

Overdoing It...Recovery

You know when you feel pretty good for the first time in a while and you go nuts doing all the things you have been putting off for a while? That's what happened on Tuesday. I felt great and the weather was warmish (in the upper 40s). I bundled the kids up and went outside. The kids rode bikes around the neighborhood and I walked with Jacob bundled inside my coat. Then Brian came home from work a bit early and I had really, really wanted to hit the Linen's and Things going out of business sale to see what we could find for my Christmas present. We hit the store, granted, we walked super, super slow. There was pretty much NOTHING left. The entire place looked picked over and there was basically only junk left. We came home and I relaxed a bit. Our good friends the Pillings brought dinner, which was great. Then I went to cooking group for a cookie exchange. My theory has always been I can relax at home on my couch or spend 10 minutes driving and relax on your couch. I still get the same amount of rest but get to enjoy my friends if I go out. Brian had been encouraging me to go for a day or two and actually wanted me to get out so bad that he baked me a bunch of cookies to take to the exchange. What a sweetheart. I woke up the next morning exhausted. I took an hour and a half nap in the morning on the couch while the kids played trains next to me. I made lunch for the kids and then took a two and a half hour nap in the afternoon. Poor Ben, he watched movies in the afternoon until Brian came home, then went to play with dad. I was so tired. Note to self: you are not fully recovered, take it easy or you'll have to sleep all day to recover again...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Scrounge

We went on a walk/bike ride today. The weather was sort of warm and the kids were restless. I was feeling better than I had in a few days. We bundled up and headed on a small walk around our little neighborhood. I was on a personal mission. It was recycling day and I needed to find the newspaper from the day of Jacob's birth for his baby book. I knew most people would have already recycled it since I wasn't up to dumpster diving the day after I got home from the hospital and had forgotten to ask Brian to pick up a paper at the gas station the day of the birth. I searched and searched the recycle bins of my neighbors in the light rain as the kids rode their bikes around. Finally, I found the right newspaper and we headed home. As we approached the house, Maddie saw one of our neighbors had thrown out a Bumbo chair in good condition. She got all excited about it. The neighbor's baby is too old for it now (so is Maddie of course), but she was so excited to find it and insisted we take it home. We wiped it off and she has enjoyed playing baby in it.

Preschool Nativity Program

Ben and his buddies put on a nativity program. They practiced for a few weeks and did a great job. Ben was a shepard, which he wasn't totally excited about. We found out after some digging that his problem with it was that everyone else got to walk around a little bit in their jobs but he just stood most the time. It made me smile to hear his problems. He was so proud though after the program. He ran to me and gave me a huge hug and had a gigantic smile on his face. All the kids were cute. Hugh was my favorite. He was a little shy when he was playing the innkeeper. We did the play in Lindsey's basement and the kids wanted the inn to be in the bathroom. Hugh was in the bathroom, Mary and Joseph (Ella and Wade) came and knocked on the door to ask if there was room in the inn. Hugh wouldn't say anything and didn't step out of the bathroom at all. He just opened the door enough that he could barely see Mary and Joseph and shook his head "no" then quickly shut the door. It was so cute and funny.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Uncle Rob Memories

Robert Manning is an amazing man. Uncle Rob has always been someone I looked up to. From the time I was a little girl, me and my cousins Natalie and Jennifer idolized him. He was the fun, cool uncle that lived in really exciting places and traveled around the world. Things I could only dream about as a little girl in Utah. I still remember when he bought every single one of me and my cousins (16 of us) a Houston Astros t-shirt. We loved those shirts. He was so thoughtful and would take time to talk to each of us individually. What grown-up cares about a kid? It made me feel like a million bucks, especially since I never felt cool or pretty with my huge glasses and awkwardness. He was the best. In high school I always wanted to spend my money to go see Uncle Rob in New York. My parents didn't think that was the best use of time or money and never let me do those types of big things. In college, money was tight enough that I couldn't ever go. Once when we were interning in Michigan during the fall of 2000, Brian and I planned a trip to Niagara Falls and Palmyra, New York over Thanksgiving weekend. I couldn't believe I was going to actually be in New York. We were both really excited and looked at the chance of going to see Rob while we were "so close" but we quickly realized just how big the state of New York really was. We barely had time to get to Niagara Falls and NYC was another 400 miles farther. That was a huge let down. We didn't make it to visit Rob that year. After we graduated school and worked a few years, Ben came along. I wasn't working anymore and Brian had a two week trip to DC for work training. I came along and on the weekend between the two weeks of work, we drove up to NYC to visit Rob. He was an amazing host. What type of guy lets you come visit and stay in his place and he stays with a friend so you can have his place all to yourself? The entire weekend he told us what to see, how to get there, when to take a cab, escorted us on the subway and to the sights all over the city. We had an amazing weekend. He even babysat Ben for us so we could go to a show on Broadway. We saw Phantom of the Opera, which is an old show, but one neither of us had seen before. It was cool to see it on Broadway. The next night we saw Stomp and took Ben with us. It was fantastic! We had so much fun seeing where Rob lived and spending a few days with him. It was my birthday while we were there, so he took us to a cupcake shop. He bought me the most ornately decorated cupcake I've ever seen. It was awesome! That trip was what I think was the real beginning of our special relationship. Soon we moved to DC and Rob was ready to change jobs. He flew into DC for an interview to settle the details before he accepted and relocated to Chicago. We met him after his interview and spent the rest of the day with him at our apartment before he flew back home the same night. Once he was settled into his new position, one of his projects was here in the DC area. Every time he flew in to check on the status of the hotel remodel he was supervising we got to meet up with him for lunch or dinner. He happened to be around the week we decided to announce the pregnancy with Maddie so he was the first one we told. I sort of felt bad since social rules say you MUST tell your mother first. I've not really ever been into rules, so I was happy to share our special news with Rob. Rob and my family continued to have a special relationship. Once when we went to dinner after Rob finished working at the Hyatt near Reagan Airport Ben wore an orange and navy blue outfit. The next time he came to town, he insisted that he wear his "Uncle Rob clothes." The next several visits he had to wear that outfit. He would get so excited on days I would tell him Rob was coming. He'd run to Rob when he saw him and give him huge hugs and loved to see Rob. It was a sad day when Rob had to move from Chicago to San Francisco and passed the DC project on to someone else. It meant the end of our frequent visits. We miss Rob.

Baby Jacob is Due Today

Today is Baby Jacob's due date. Seems odd that we are 10 days into this journey together as a family and it could all just be beginning today. I think we're all glad to be where we are in the process. Things are settling down, the kids are beginning to adjust, Jacob is a champion eater and my body is getting adjusted to nursing again. We are a happy family today. Brian took the day off work since my mom has gone back home. We haven't done much of anything and it has been so nice to be home with no pressure or deadlines looming for us to do anything. Brian helped the kids bake cookies, worked on the sheetrock in the basement, built a train around the Christmas tree in the living room and got ready for the preschool Christmas party magic show. I checked my email and rested. I have a good life and am blessed to have so many people loving and supporting me right now. Having a new baby is a miracle. Jacob's sweet countenance and delicate baby smell warm my heart and make me want to hold and snuggle him near my face to be close to him. Even in the middle of the night I am enjoying our time together, even when he or I doze off during a feeding. Having a newborn at Christmas time has been extra special. It makes the season all the more sweet as I ponder the baby Jesus and his purity. It helps to be holding a pure infant in my arms as I think of the King of Kings and all he offers to me. Jacob offers some of the same things right now, unconditional love and hope in me and what I can do. It is a special time to have that so clearly illustrated at this time of year. We love our little December miracle and the pure and abundant love he is bringing into our home.

Jacob Updates

Jacob had no issues in the hospital and was discharged with a clean bill of health. Since our pediatrician's office doesn't visit the hospital we delivered at, we were to visit the doctor in the next 24-48 hours. At our visit the day after discharge they couldn't find any issues until we took his clothes off. His coloring was off and they ran a biliruben blood test. He came up with some jaundice trouble and we had to go back again for another check three days later. At the follow up appointment his coloring was so good they didn't even run the check again. Lucky boy, they spared him a mean foot stick for the blood draw. His circumcision isn't healing quite like we'd hope but he'll be okay. Maddie and Ben both were quite concerned at our second follow up that neither of them were going to have to see the doctor. I had to reassure each of them multiple times that it wasn't their turn to get a poke from the doctor. At the end of our visit I realized how worried Maddie was as she started verbalizing a few of her memories from her last visit. In September or October I had taken her in because she was vomiting. They ended up bagging her to collect a urine sample and she screamed for about 2 hours and wouldn't pee. After almost 3 hours the entire ordeal was over and she was finally calmed down. At Jacob's appointment Maddie started telling me that she didn't have to "get a turn to have a bag on my bum" and "the lady wouldn't put the bag on my bum" and "I don't want to have a pee pee today for the lady." Poor Maddie. I didn't realize how vivid that memory must be to her. It is obviously burned deep into her memory banks, never to be removed.

Photo Archives

My brother Shon and brother-in-law Anthony are working on making a family photo calendar again this year. We have all been given the assignment to find pictures to contribute. This is one I ran across in my searching. Are you as scared as we are? Maddie looks totally possessed!! Yikes.

Holding the Baby

Maddie and Ben both are really excited to hold the baby all the time. It doesn't play out how I thought it would originally. I figured Ben was older and would have more interest and a longer attention span. Turns out that Maddie is the one that wants to hold the baby forever. She just pets Jacobs head and loves to look at him. She can hold him for 10 minutes sometimes and be totally happy.
Ben on the other hand will go wash his hands and come tell me, "Mom, I washed my hands." Then he expects me to get the baby. He knows I don't respond to hinting. I just tell him, "That's nice. I'm glad your hands are clean." Eventually I have to prod him and ask why he washed his hands. He'll tell me he wants to hold the baby, I have him ask, then we get set up on the couch. After 30 seconds he has had his fill and wants to get down and go play. He does love to hug Jacob though, he always makes sure to give him a snuggle before he goes to bed every night. It is sweet to see how much he loves his baby brother.
Maddie is just happy to be all over Jacob in his face. Poor baby gets smothered. At least she is gentle by toddler standards and we're working on the rule about not touching his eyes.

Naming Jacob Robert Zufelt

If you've been following our blog lately, you know that we've had a hard time picking a name for this cute baby boy. We had forced ourselves to whittle down the list of potential names to about four first names with no idea on middle names. Friday morning, the day of the delivery, we were down to Jacob, Joshua, Nicholas and Jeremy. I was pretty hooked on Jacob or Joshua. Brian was favoring Nicholas. The moment I saw the baby lifted out out of me, up over the sheet I knew I wanted it to be Jacob. I started crying and knew it was the right name. Brian looked so proud. I didn't dare tell him what I wanted because I felt like I sort of got "my turn" to name Maddie by choosing Madison Mae after my Grandma Ellen Mae. I didn't want to have him feel he didn't get a say in the matter so I didn't say anything yet. In the recovery room we started talking about names again, but I didn't say much yet. Finally, the next day I fessed up how badly I wanted Jacob. Brian was totally happy about the name Jacob and I was relieved. So after Jacob was more than a day old, we finally had a first name. Now for a middle name. Every time Brian came to visit me in the hospital, we would talk about a middle name. We couldn't figure out what we wanted and had no good ideas. On Sunday, three days after he was born, Brian brought the kids to visit, then took them home to go to bed. Grandma stayed with the kids and Brian came back to the hospital to relax and visit me and baby Jacob _____ Zufelt. When he returned, he told me that our neighbor Claudia had told him today that we should name him with my maiden name as his middle name, Robinson. Neither of us really liked that idea, but it got Brian thinking in a different way. Family names. He suggested Robert instead of Robinson. Robert is probably the best uncle in the history of the world. I was instantly excited. It was almost midnight when we decided it was the perfect name. Jacob Robert Zufelt. It may have been midnight on the east coast, but Uncle Rob lives in California, three hours later, so we looked up his number and called him. We got his voicemail and left a message asking if he would mind us naming our baby after him and told him how much he has meant to our family over the years. Monday morning we got a call back from Uncle Rob. We called the birth certificate office of the hospital and made all the formal arrangements. Brian signed the forms and we checked out of the hospital, happy to have found the perfect name. I think the fact that Brian originally mentioned naming our son after Rob speaks volumes about Rob's character. Usually, people want to name their children after their own blood relatives, not their spouses family. I have always loved Rob. He's always been my favorite uncle. He was everyone's favorite uncle. He is one of the most kind and giving people I know. He would bend over backwards to help any and everyone. He welcomed my family into his home and watched Ben for us so we could go out. He has come to my home and played with my children on the floor. We miss our visits with Rob now that work has taken him to the West Coast. San Francisco is a long, long way from Washington, DC. We hope some day to be closer together so that our kids can get to know their Uncle Rob again as more than just a picture on our kitchen wall. He is such a great role model of how to treat others and make them feel valued. I love that I can talk to Rob about all sorts of things for hours and hours. We share many of the same feelings about life. It is good to be able to know that someone in the family actually enjoys experiencing the adventures of life outside of Utah. So many of my cousins and grandparents pressure us to move home every time we visit. They can't seem to recognize our happiness in the life we have built for ourselves. Of course we miss family, but we have created a good life in another place. Our experiences here hold value to us they don't seem to see. Rob understands exactly how I feel. Mostly Rob has chosen to take a real interest in my life. He makes me feel like a million bucks. Hhe never misses calling on my birthday or sending a card. It is good to be genuinely loved and not judged. He makes me and my family feel so valued by the care he takes to keep up with us. We love Rob and are glad to have Jacob Robert Zufelt share his name. We hope that he can live up to the measure and example of kindness and compassion Uncle Rob has shown us in his life.

Birth of Jacob

I suppose it is to be expected that by the third baby some things begin to become routine. I basically knew what to expect for this delivery. I knew where to park at the hospital, where to check in, which hall they would take me down to get hooked up for the surgery, when they would bring Brian in to watch and when he would leave with the baby while I was sewn up. There was a point I got totally clinical about everything. I couldn't remember a lot of nitty gritty details from the last surgery so I was taking great mental notes of what was going on around me. When we delivered Madison Mae, we waited in the downstairs lobby for two hours before they brought us upstairs to get started because they had too many other women in labor and didn't have room for me yet. When the hospital called the day before the delivery to go over all the procedures they said the schedule was totally full, so it was unlikely they could move the surgery time up. I mentally told myself that meant another long wait in the main lobby waiting area. When they sent us directly upstairs, I had a mild moment of panic. I wasn't ready yet. I needed more time. I'm not sure what the extra hour or two would have really bought me, but it was stressful knowing we were going to do this right now. Luckily we got to sit upstairs for 30 minutes or so before they actually got my paperwork processed for me to start. Once I was taken back into the area to get set-up for the c-section, I used the bathroom for the last time for a few days, I changed into a hospital gown and climbed up on the bed to get hooked up to the monitors. They tried an IV in my hand and missed, causing a big egg shaped blood pool under my skin. It didn't hurt at all for six or seven days but then it finally got pretty tender for a week or more. We had to have one full bag of IV fluids before they could take me to surgery so we sat and waited for a long time. Finally they let me walk back to surgery. Brian waited outside the door while I got hooked up. They had me sit up on the table and hunch over while a huge man stood in front of me holding my shoulders still. The anesthesiologist cleaned my back a million times and then started poking and doing the spinal block for the surgery. The big guy holding my shoulders kept me steady and I just remember how warm his arms and body were. I had to push my head into his chest and he wrapped his arms around my head and shoulders to keep me absolutely still. I must have been freezing because I remember how desperately I didn't want him to let go for fear of being cold. After a few mild pricks, I could feel parts of my back with warm sensations, indicating the anesthetic was kicking in. Pretty soon they laid me down on the table and put up the big blue sheet. They put the sheet up right under my chin so I can't see anything at all. Dr. Knudson came in and I was almost completely numb. I could feel the pressure as they cleaned my abdomen and stuck the sticky paper on my stomach to catch all the blood and gunk. Then Brian was at my side and I checked the clock. It was two minutes to three o'clock when they started cutting. I could feel lots of tugging and pulling, more than the last two times. My body was really pushed around. It felt like they were lifting me up by my ribcage on the right side. The next day I found it was painful to breath on my right side, so they must have roughed me up a little bit. This time they had randomly slung a tube over the top of the sheet. I didn't notice it until it started to fill with blood draining out of the operating table. That made me feel a bit queasy. I think Brian mentioned it to someone because someone said, "Oh!" and it was quickly removed. Seven minutes after they began cutting, I felt a big jerking motion as the baby came out and they were no longer pulling on me because he was above me now. As he came out, I heard Dr. Knudson say, "He's out" followed by a little cry. They announced it was a boy and held him up for me to see. Dr. Knudson handed him to a nurse who walked about ten steps over to the baby clean-up station. It was in those few seconds that the Lord spoke directly to my heart and mind. I knew then that this would not be our last baby. There was someone else missing in our family. The spiritual impression I received that moment was absolutely undeniable. I could feel tears coming down my face. Brian held my hand so tight and looked so proud and happy. Then he got the camera and camcorder working to capture the first few minutes of our new little baby boy's life. I was so calm and happy. So excited that we had a new spirit in our lives. Brian went with the baby and I stayed on the table to get sewn back together. At this point, I felt like I was having two different unrelated experiences or conversations in my head. One conversation was all about the clinical stuff, paying attention to how they were doing the surgery and how long it took. The total surgery took 35 minutes from start to finish. I did talk a bit to the surgery staff but mostly listened to their random chatter about inconsequential things. They kept saying it was a good thing they were chatting and laughing. That meant nothing was going wrong. One of the surgery assistants at one point gave me a very nice compliment, though it is one I never expected and likely won't get again. He said, "You are really healthy inside. You don't have any extra fat anywhere inside here. Do you exercise a lot?" That made me chuckle. If only he could cut open and see my backside he would have a different idea. One other funny thing was that Dr. Knudson did my last c-section, but the staff didn't know that. When they cut open my skin to expose the uterus, one of the surgery staff commented how beautiful the last surgeon had closed me up. Dr. Knudson just looked up at me with a twinkle in his eye and didn't say a word. Near the end of the surgery, Dr. Knudson told me my uterus was in fantastic shape, not thinned or damaged at all (other than the three scars from three surgeries of course). The other conversation going on in my head was being totally overwhelmed with the amazingness that is the birth of a new baby. I couldn't believe how sweet the experience of the birth was this time. It was so wonderful to witness a new life entering the world and to know how much love I have in my heart for him and knowing that Brian feels exactly the same. The most spiritual times in my life have been the births of my three children. I feel so close to heaven when we welcome a new, perfect child into our hearts and home. We are so excited to have a new baby boy in our family. He is a precious gift from God. Eventually, the finished the surgery and wheeled me to the recovery area. Brian was there waiting with the baby. He was talking to someone on his cell phone, I think his parents, telling them how the surgery went. He quickly got off the phone and greeted me. The nurse got me settled and arranged on the monitors then left us for a bit to talk. I felt weird, but good. Brian offered to let me hold the baby, but my body just couldn't yet. I couldn't move much and didn't have the strength to hold him yet so Brian held him so I could look at him. I remember the video we have of me holding Ben for the first time and I was so drugged and whacked out from the surgery that I wasn't really there and wasn't really holding him. He was more just laid on my arms. I didn't want my first connection with this child to be that way. I wanted to be there when I first held him, not mentally partially gone. My job in the recovery room was to try to move my legs. That was my ticket out of there and into my own room. I tried and tried for what seemed like hours. It is pretty unnerving to lift your leg up like you normally would and have NO response from your body, not even a little twitch or your toe. Eventually, I could sort of rock my leg back and forth a bit and my strength was returning so I asked to hold the baby. Brian got him for me and I cried again the first time I held him in my arms. I still couldn't really move much or adjust my position so it was awkward but sweet and special to hold him, to feel his warmth and put his face up to my cheek. It was wonderful. Finally we got to go to my room. I got settled, Brian stayed a while, then went home to tell the kids and Grandma Debbie, show them pictures, make a few important calls to people who were waiting to hear our news and post the big announcement on the blog. I was exhausted and ready to rest by the time he left. I don't remember much more about that day, but I know it was a great one. I thank God for the gift of sweet and precious babies. Days like this bring peace into my soul. I love being a mother.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Busted

I always have plenty of time to do whatever I need to do behind Brian's back. This baby thing is cramping my style. I had all the Christmas stuff figured out and bought everything before Jacob was born. Or so I thought. I forgot to get anything for Brian. Now he's taking time off work and helping out around the house and letting me get naps and stuff. We are totally loving having dad around more. Problem though, when can I sneak out to get something for him? Ugh. I found the perfect thing on craigslist. When do I arrange to pick it up? Doesn't matter afterall, the seller wants me to come Sunday afternoon around 3pm. Not when I would ususally schedule something, but I'm staying home from church today anyway to rest and nap. Brian will have the kids for 3 hours at church. So I make the arrangements. I'll only be gone a few minutes and can still rest like I'm supposed to. The plans are made. I print a map to the house. Brian comes home from his morning meetings just in time to grab the kids, a sandwich I packed in a bag for him to eat on the drive and get to church. He runs to the basement to grab something and comes upstairs... "So where are you going during church today?" as he holds up my map. Busted. Oh well. He still doesn't know what he's getting...

Magical Fairy Dust

Having my mom here to help after Jacob was born was like having a magical fairy around. The kids were in heaven. Every time they turned around they got candy. (Now that she's gone, it's sort of a problem.) Someone was happy to play with them and build train tracks or lego airplanes. Mom would lift or move things for me, including Maddie. She always washed the kids hands after mealtime.
When I returned from the hospital I found that all those house cleaning chores I hadn't gotten to had been taken care of. Every bathroom was shiny from top to bottom. The kitchen floors had been cleaned and every carpet was vacuumed. She even swept my bathroom floor which I had been neglecting because I didn't want to deal with the dead ants and Raid mess a month or so ago (gross, but she cleaned it up still). The Christmas decoration boxes left laying around the living room were away in the basement and the good will donation box had been taken to the car for drop off rather than sitting in the front entryway.
Mom let me just sit and relax or nap. Every meal was prepared for me and after I ate the dishes were wisked away and washed immediately for me. When she made dinner she doubled everything and froze and extra portion for us to eat later. The countertops were never as clean as while she was at our house. The toys seemed to stay in their right places or at least within reason so our main floor was much cleaner than usual. The children were read stories and entertained. They even went on a Christmas Lights Bike Ride when the weather was pleasant one evening. Ben said they need to do that every year when he returned to the house again.
Grandma is a hit with everyone at our house. I am so grateful for all the help she offered us. It was wonderful knowing that Brian could go to work and I didn't have to stress about which friend was watching the kids this day or that. They were safe and happy at home with Grandma. Now that she has returned home, I'm missing her and wishing we could hang out in the evening again talking. I'm glad that Baby Jacob will forever be able to share a birthday with you, even if he didn't get to share the birthday cake this year. I miss our magical fairy and the magical fairy dust she spread all over our entire home. Thanks, mom. We love you!

Bethlehem Walk

The kids and Brian went to one of our favorite holiday events last year. I think everyone should try to go if they can, it is totally geared for kids. Last year I only gave people about 2 hrs notice, so I promised I'd do better... Parkwood Baptist Church hosts A Walk Through Bethlehem. They decorate the entire basement floor of their church, walls, ceilings, lighting, everything to make it look like you walked back in time to Bethlehem. Everyone is in full, seriously great costume...women at the well chat with you about the arrival of the baby king, roman soldiers sign you in at the city gates on a scroll, trades people are scattered through the village you pass as you take your walk to find baby Jesus. The characters are all sitting on stumps or short stools so they are eye level to your kids and give them little things that they "make" in their trade (swatch of cloth from the weaver, piece of twine from the rope maker, leather bracelet, little cup of soup, etc, etc. They are amazing with the kids. Then you go outside in the courtyard to see baby jesus (a real baby and parents) and they have real donkeys, sheep and goat you can pet before you head back inside for cookies and juice. The kids both had a great time. Last year, Ben thought we were really going to meet Jesus. This year he understood that it was a baby pretending to be Jesus. He still enjoyed the experience. It makes it so much more real to them to have an interactive experience.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Snuggie

Have you seen the adds for the Snuggie? Jay Leno was just making fun of them during his monologue and it was cracking me up. I think they are totally silly. A big huge blanket with sleeves? Looks like a big potato sack with a zipper. It did remind me though, when I was having my temperature regulator problems. When I was warming on the couch after my first incident, Ben looked a little bit apprehensive until he knew I was okay. After a while, he headed up the stairs. He stopped halfway up and looked down over the stair rail at me with a huge smile. "Mom, we need to buy you a Snuggie! Then you will be warm all the time and you won't have to take your arms out of your sleeves!!" What a sweet, thoughtful kid. I love Ben. He's always thinking of how he can help me or what I might want or need. He has a real tender heart.

Friday, December 12, 2008

My Aching Back, Temperature Regulation and Other Surprises

I was ready to go home early. The hospital is okay, the food is actually great. It is so healthy and fresh. I only had to have chicken broth for one meal and even that was pretty darn fantastic, seriously, it was yummy and full of flavor. The nurses haven't been pushing on my tummy to often or too hard. Bless them. After two days of laying in the bed though, my back starts to ache. Since I just got sliced open on the front, I can't bend and twist and stretch out my back like I know would feel amazing. I just have to deal with it and it is getting more and more miserable. I also feel well enough that I went home a day early, Monday instead of Tuesday, and have weaned myself from the pain meds and am feeling okay. All good signs, but I'm bored in the hospital. Not bored enough to pick up a book though. Saturday the kids came to visit and I actually asked Brian to take them home after an hour and a half. I was so frazzled and exhausted. And I only sat in the bed while they ran around the room. That made me realize I wasn't actually ready to head out the door just yet. So I rested Sunday and they brought Candyland to play with me in bed to keep the visit a bit more calm. It helped. Ben and I really enjoyed the time together and Maddie went on a "baby hunt" with dad, then grandma, then dad to keep her busy. She liked looking in the window in the nursery to see the babies. Monday, Brian went to work in the morning, the doctor signed me out in the morning and circumcised poor Jacob. After the pediatrician checked out Jacob later on and I ate lunch, Brian came and we packed up and headed home. It was so nice to change into regular clothes and know I didn't have to spend another day laying on that bed. When we got home, I told Brian we needed a picture of us arriving home. I forgot to do that with Ben and now there is a hole in is baby book that can never be filled. He grabbed the camera and we snapped a picture at the car. I had a t-shirt on and my coat wasn't zipped up, but felt okay. As soon as we started walking into the house, a major chill hit my entire body. I could barely walk my entire body wanted to curl in a ball. Every little shuffle of my feet hurt and I was shaking so bad. I didn't think I could make it into the house and I couldn't really talk. I just prayed Brian would hurry with Jacob and get the door unlocked so I could get inside and warm up. My body was shaking and jerking all over the place. I got to the couch and grabbed the quilt Ben was using for his tent and desperately held it clutched up to my chest trying to warm up, still in my coat. Tears of pain were rolling down my face and every muscle in my body was screaming and clenched tight. I was so miserable. When Brian and my mom found me on the couch crying and shaking they were really worried. My mom said she couldn't believe they would send me home from the hospital in such bad shape. After a half hour or so my body warmed and I could relax enough to lay down, still in my coat under the quilt. I just laid there forever, scared to get up and leave my warm cocoon. Finally I had to use the bathroom bad enough I got up, but got the chills again after about two minutes so rushed back to the couch. Brian turned the house temperature up really high and I kept well covered all day. Funny to think I had the same trouble both other times in the hospital and had thought just that morning, "WOW! I never had to call the nurses in tears asking for blankets from the warmer! It is so painful and miserable to have that temperature regulating problem...I'm so grateful it didn't happen this time!" Oh well, so it happened in the end. I still have problems overnight, but everyone does. I go to sleep under two blankets in a t-shirt and am just right. I wake up with my shirt and sheets soaked with sweat. I have to change shirts multiple times at night because when I get up to nurse I am so cold in my wet shirt. My abdominal muscles haven't hurt too bad this time considering I was sliced open. It is still hard to turn over in bed or take a deep breath or cough or laugh. Coughing makes me cry out in pain but it's getting better every day. The day after the surgery I noticed how hard it was to take a deep breath. During the surgery before they got Jacob out it felt like they were totally throwing my body around the table. The best way to describe the tugs and pulls was like they kept grabbing my rib cage on the right side and lifting my chest cavity up as they tugged and tried to wiggle Jacob out. Sure enough, my right ribcage hurt like a really deep internal bruise on my lung or something for the next three or four days. It wasn't too bad unless I took a deep breath and then it really hurt. I guess Jacob must have really been wedged up inside of me. That's all I can think of for now. Won't it be weird to re-read all this when I'm in my 60's? Will I think I was a wimp?

Count Your Blessings

I cannot believe how well this surgery and recovery has gone. There have been painful days and moments, but overall I'm doing fantastic. Since I'll always have the Ben delivery experience to compare everything else to, I'm sure all experiences will be better than that one. I just feel so grateful for the help I've received both in and out of the family. Mom left yesterday, Brian helping all the time too, Ben loves to do the little things we need and Maddie just wants to hold the baby. Now all our friends are beginning to help out. Ben has a play date today with the Torres family from MOPS church so Maddie, Jacob and I can get a good nap in. Play date even comes complete with pickup service. What a saint that Deborah has been to me lately. So as grateful as I'm feeling this morning, I know I'm just beginning to count the blessings heaven is sending my way. Thank you all for being my angels.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Church in the Hospital

When Ben came to visit me in the hospital, one of the first things he wanted to know was about church. "Mom, did your nurses teach you about Jesus since you couldn't come to church today?" He makes me smile.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Big Kids Meet The Baby

The kids had fun meeting the baby. Ben wasn't really very interested in sitting on the bed with me or holding the baby at first. Maddie was more interested in my bed and if I was going to fall off because it moved. Both of them did eventually want to hold the baby. We washed up all the little hands and both Ben and Maddie got a turn. When Ben finished after about 30 seconds, he simply dumped the baby off his lap onto the bed. We had to tell him to stop and we would help take the baby. Maddie was much more interested in the baby. She wanted to hold Jacob for a long time. She wanted to touch his eyes, his ears, his hair and pet him like a doggie. She stayed with the baby on her lap for a long, long time. She loved him.

We let Grandma hold the baby without supervision. She's a little more trustworthy than the little people and didn't try to throw the baby on the ground when she was done.

Shark Boy Is Here

Our new bundle of joy has arrived. We had a C-section apointment today at 1:30 p.m. We were very surprised that they took us straight in and did not make us wait for a few hours as they did with Maddie. Our new baby boy was born at 3:05 p.m. EST. He has the least amount of hair of our three babies, but is definitely the largest, weighing in at 8 lbs 4 oz and measuring 20 1/2 inches. We wonder how big he would have been if we let him cook until his due date of the 15th.
Both Angie and the new boy are doing well. They are at Inova Fairfax Hospital and should be there until sometime Monday. Visiting hours are 12:00 noon to 8:00 p.m. for those of you who would like to pay them a visit. Take the green elevators up to the third floor and follow the signs to Room 349.
As for his name, we are leaning toward Jacob for his first name, but have not yet decided what middle name to give him. When I came home tonight to show pictures to Maddie and Ben, I stated, "Here is your new baby brother, Jacob." Ben quickly replied, "No, that's not his name. It is Shark Boy."

A Few Thoughts

Angie was a bit pensive this afternoon before entering the operating room. Here are a few of her thoughts... "It'll be weird to zip up my pants again." "This is sort of a weird place to be. Most people come to the hospital to get their body repaired. I have come here to have a life cut out of me. Everyone who comes to this part of the hospital leaves as two or more people." "My contractions feel kind of like how you feel when you are sick to your stomach. I feel that tightness that makes you want to sort of crunch up into a ball, but I can't because something is in the way." (That would be the baby, Angie) And...one thought while laying in the recovery room after having the baby... "Wow, my hands feel like they should be up here..." (a few inches in the air above her stomach), "but now they rest here" (resting on her stomach).

Friday, December 5, 2008

Early Morning Breakfast

Why do I get afternoon appointments? So the hospital called yesterday and gave me the rundown again about what to do and not to do and where to park and what random diseases I have had in the past, etc. Really, the only thing that mattered was that I can't eat for 8 hours before the surgery. I mean delivery. Why do I always get afternoon appointments? This is the third afternoon baby. It would be so much nicer to wake up early and have a baby by 9 am. My tummy will be so grumbly and my palette parched by 1:30 pm. Plus, in not so many words, she told me to expect delays. She told me, "Well, not much chance we'll be bumping your surgery up today. We are booked solid from early morning." Great. I can take a hint. With Maddie we had to wait just over two extra hours in the waiting room before they took me back, then a bunch of emergency c-sections were taken care of while I waited on the bed all hooked up and ready to go. Having had an emergency c-section after a full hour of being in full transitional labor without the aid of an epidural or the luxury of being able to push for the whole time, I do NOT begrudge any woman her spot in line if I get bumped for them. I just wanted the other no big deal patients like me to have waited longer to schedule their procedures. :) I know it's a bit early for a blog post, but I can't possibly make it through the day without any food (even if I gorged at the all you can eat buffet last night). I was told I could eat at 5 am but not a drop of food or water after 5:30. I had a banana and two huge bowls of Berry Burst Cheerios and apple juice. I tried for the life of me to think of what I could eat to give me serious gas, but couldn't come up with anything. For those of you who don't know, after a c-section you are given a lovely diet of chicken broth until you can tell the nurse you have passed gas. Then your regular hospital diet can begin. With Ben I had chicken broth for about 3 days and was about to die from hunger. I got more and more frusterated. How can I have gas if I hadn't eaten in almost 5 days? When it was all said and done, aparently burping counts as a sign that your plumbing is all in order too. WHAT? Who neglected to tell me that? I burped 2 days ago. Oh well. This time I know the game. Anyway, the magical hour of 5:30 am has rolled on past and I have cleaned up the table to remove temptation from my sight. Why can't this delivery just be normal? Seriously? I had zero contractions with Ben, didn't dialate or efface. Induced a week late, didn't work out. Sunny side up baby with 90th percentile head = c-section. I had about 4 contrations a month before Maddie was born but never anything again and didn't dialate at all. We had an induction planned again but then Maddie was breached, so no choice again...c-section. Now I've been having real contractions for almost two weeks now. I think my body could actually do it this time, but if you had two c-sections, no doctor will really try a VBAC on you. You're just scheduled for a c-section to reduce the risk of uterine rupture at the scaring from your other surgeries. Oh well. I guess I'll never know what a regular delivery is like, but in the end who cares? I have beautiful kids however we get them here, we love them. By the way, we still have no name. We are down to: (in alphabetical order) Erik, Jacob, Jeremy, Joshua and Nicholas. Haven't even thought of a single middle name yet. This may just be our baby that comes home from the hospital with no name. Oh well. Every kid needs a story about where their name came from, right? Why not make it intersting. Brian said he'll update the blog tonight with stats and pictures so stay tuned.

Quality Cake Decorating

I've learned a few things in my time practicing my cake decorating skills. Here are my tips:
  • Icing type and consistency matters. You can't use a recipe the consistency of glaze, it just won't work. The first cake I made for Brian ws a total disaster because I was hoping to find a new icing recipe we would love. It turned out to be a better glaze than a decorator icing and in the end I decorated the cake with a spoon. I scooped up a spoonful of "icing" and drizzled it into the approximate shape of a sailboat because I couldn't make anything more complicated. Also, that yummy cream cheese icing isn't the best for decorating either. Stick with the buttercream icing in the books.
  • When making icing that needs to be colored, use the gel colors. If you use food coloring it is like adding water to the frosting and it gets really runny when you want a deep or vibrant color and add lots of food coloring. That is what happened with my very first cake, Elmo for Ben's 2nd birthday. I had to add so much red to make the frosting actually red instead of pink that it was a runny mess by the time I finished coloring it.
  • Fill in the holes. Most of my cakes are made characters. I use a star tip to fill the colored sections to create the characters. When I am slow and meticulous, filling in all the white space between stars it looks great. In the sections where my hand is getting tired or my patience is growing thin I start to rush and then there are white spots of base frosting showing beneath. It really doesn make a big difference in the end presentation. I should always work slowly.
  • Along that same vein, always enough time to do it right. If I'm rushed and don't have enough time to do the cake right, I won't be happy with it. I'll skimp on the time I need to color the icing just the right shade and may run out of a color because I didn't mix enough, then matching it is a joke, etc.
  • When doing features that need to be distinguished from each other but are in the same color (say a characters face and neck), put a black icing line on the base frosting (forming a chin), then fill with stars tightly around the line. It will leave a gently line marking the feature but won't be so bold as to be overpowering.
  • Buy the right tools. I seriously believe that the reason more people don't decorate cakes is that they don't want to do all the frosting color changes in the icing bags. So for less that $20 you can get minimally equipped to decorate cakes. Invest the money. Buy a bunch of star tips, couplers and plastic frosting bags. I now make my icing without milk, just water, then it can keep on the shelf for a long time. I mix a color, fill a bag and use it. Then I keep a large tupperware of all the frosting colors I have already made. Next time I need red, it's ready to go. Saves me a zillion hours or mixing and lots of dish washing! There, cake decoration just got really easy.
  • Finally, if you make the cake ahead of time and freeze it, make sure you thaw the cake before you serve it. For Maddie's first birthday I made a cute duck cake ahead of time and had it in the freezer. Brian's parents were visiting and it was bedtime before I remembered the cake. I grabbed it out of the freezer and we tried to let her destroy the cake as most 1 year olds get the priviledge of doing. It was frozen solid. She basically got to scrap the top layer of frosting off but was unable to penetrate the icy layers of yummy cake. Oops. Oh well, it does make for a good story, just not a good video.

My cake decorating schedule:

  1. Day 1 - bake cake, level, frost middle if two layer cake, put in freezer because you're too lazy to finish the base frosting layer or because you ran out of time to do it
  2. Day 2 - (not necessarily the next day, just day 2 of working on the cake since I usually take a week to do a cake) frost the base layer of the cake, try to make it really smooth and pretty then throw back in the freezer because you ran out of time again
  3. Day 3 - (again, just the third day of working) take the cake out of freezer the day before you need it completed, let cake thaw, moisture will collect on top of cake because of the humidity so let it evaporate away or it will look wet and shiny
  4. Day 4 - (day the cake is needed, best to start with just enough time to complete the project under ideal circumstances, so that when something goes wrong, as it always does, you are rushed and crazy trying to finish it just in time), google the image you want to put on the cake, size image to fit cake, print two copies of the picture, cut the outline of the image as well as any main components of the picture, lay paper on cake and trace shape and main features with toothpick, add any other detail with toothpick tracing, color icing, fill bags with colored icing, fill each section with the star tip and proper color, take pictures, cut into pieces, add a side of ice cream and ENJOY!!

Christmas Lights

We put out Christmas lights in the front yard today because I didn't have anything better to do with my time today, you know like clean the house, scrub the toilets one last time, wash the baby swing, clean out the fridge so my poor mom knows what is safe to eat and what might kill her, etc. Ben was pretty excited and insistent we get the lights out. Such pure and happy anticipation I couldn't put him off anymore. He's been so patient with me as I've been tired lately and I know he misses the me I used to be that spent time with him while Maddie napped. I really did enjoy working with him. He is simply a delightful soul, especially when he's giddy excited about something. He focuses and follows directions as closely as possible for a four year old. I sure love my sweet Benjamin. Our electrical plug outside is broken though, so we couldn't actually turn them on. Do not dismay though, Brian is "working" from home this morning so he may take a minute to check the switches before he "goes to work." That will ease Ben's worries. Not to worry about the inside lights though. Brian has them on remote. They come on every morning at 6am. It is sure cheery to come down the stairs to a lovely tree all bright and pretty. With Brian, everything has always been on remote. It was baffling the first few months of our marriage. Hummm....everyone reading my blog at their boring jobs would enjoy reading a post about our first year of marriage. Maybe I'll do that in a week or two. It was entertaining to say the least. Anyway, Ben also asked me to write on the calendar, "Christmas Day - Make a Snowman" to which I had to break the news. We might not have snow. That comment was met with a look of complete confusion. "But if we don't have snow, how will we have Christmas? Santa can't come in his sleigh either." I explained how Santa always made it to Houston and they don't ever get snow (except the ONE year we went to Utah for Christmas, then they had a one in one hundred years snow and I missed it, but that's another story all together).

Thursday, December 4, 2008

When Will It Be Real?

Two days ago I was sitting on the couch watching the kids play and chatting with them as their imaginations roamed. I glanced at the Christmas tree and mantel with stockings hung with care. I thought to myself, "Oops, we hung too many stockings." I was about to go take one down when I realized I was wrong. Five is the right number of stockings for this Christmas. Baby boy will most certainly need a stocking this year for Santa to fill with wonderful treasures. It made me laugh inside to realize how surreal it all feels to me. I did begin to consider the magical sacred moments that I will share with Brian on Friday afternoon. I'm sure when we get to hold our new little angel we will begin to wrap our minds around the gift about to be given to us. I love those first quiet hours of special time after I first get to be with my new baby and my sweetheart alone in another magical world. Everything else just melts away in my mind. Welcome baby. We can't wait to meet you.