Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloweenies to you

How'dya like the new look? I liked so many of Lena's designs I had trouble choosing one. Check her out!

Happy Halloween! I promised earlier in the week to get back with you on the results of my informal random study of which presidential candidate had more signs in yards that were decorated for Halloween*....and the winner is....Obama! By a massive margin of 4 to 1! Does this mean his supporters are more festive than McCain's? Or perhaps, McCain's supporters are more religious and opposed to this holiday? I dunno! The real question is, are people who decorate for Halloween more likely to vote than people who do not? If so, my little study could be indicative of next week's election results.

I neglected to mention last time that baby Juju is now 10 pounds 8 ounces and 22 inches long!

Oooh! I also found the day after I posted my last post that the local paper did a write up on that same house I featured in Modern Day Mayberry! Check it out here! Speaking of our little town, John McCain must think we're pretty important to this election as he's coming to visit today. He's speaking at the baseball field in our lovely Tuscora Park.

*see last post for more details regarding my study.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Over the weekend we had two big fun events. Saturday, we got together at our pastor's house with a great deal of the rest of our starter church and played crazy games, sang songs and had fun. Sunday, we had a birthday party in Mansfield with Ben's siblings and had yet more fun. We ended the day by taking our kids trick or treating. I had brought my amazing bargain costume I found for Z at a "Once Upon a Child" store. Half price and was an awesome race car, just needed new straps to hold it up. At work Ben found two seat belts from an airplane and sewed them in, it was a custom made bargain! Of course, he wouldn't wear it! Thankfully, Aunt Missy had a bin full of costumes and he had lots to choose from. Aunt Biz got him to wear the dinosaur outfit, so we called it good. Here's Aunt Biz and our picky dinosaur before his first time out begging for candy:

And our scary nephew and nieces:
We have three more events that Z could potentially dress up for, perhaps we'll try the car again, but we were sent home with the dino just in case. Thanks Aunt Missy!

Modern Day Mayberry
This is a house in our town that I gawk at every time I drive by. Once, I went by at night and the little house in the back had five ghosts on top of it all blown up and glowing. There were lights on lots of the lawn decorations too. This house is not representative of our town by far, but I must say, our little Modern Day Mayberry decorates for Halloween more than any town that I've ever lived in, and I've lived in a lot of towns.

Guess what? Next week is the election, I know, you're surprised! Well, I got many of the people that decorate for Halloween are voting for Obama and how many are voting for McCain? So, I did an informal random study. I drove around my town to places I was going anyways and if a house had BOTH a presidential campaign sign AND Halloween decorations, I took a tally. I did not count benign Fall decorations, just Halloween, which excluded nice looking scare crows and pumpkins without faces. Surprisingly, I didn't find that many houses that had BOTH a campaign sign AND Halloween decorations, though I saw many of each separately. I'm just dying to tell you my findings, but I think I'm going to wait, just to keep you in suspense. On Halloween, I'll share the results of my study. I'd love to hear any guesses you might have as to which candidate had more Halloween festivities shared on voter's lawns. Yes, I know it's silly, but why not?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

which is which?

Here's a couple of photo comparisons of our kids at the same age. Z's on the left, Juju on the right for both.

On Monday I had my first day all by myself. My mom left for Iowa to be with her parents for a while. It went better than I expected. It's a good thing I've recuperated like speedy lightning as it is quite a transition to go from one to two kids.

I've created a schedule to keep us organized. I've heard that pregnancy brain can last up to six months after the birth. Studies have shown that the grey matter in the brain actually shrinks in pregnancy by a certain percentage...that I can't remember, so it's not my imagination. I put my glass in the fridge yesterday instead of the milk and have twice tried to put Z's diapers on Juju. Note, he wears the largest diaper (size 6) and Juju is in was in the smallest when I did this.

Speaking of diapers, I transitioned Juju to cloth diapers yesterday. They need changed more frequently which makes it QUITE often as I was already changing her every other hour. But they're SO much more fun with snaps and colors though they're mostly boyish colors as Z wore them first.

Juju is nearly sleeping through the night already which feels like a miracle after all the trouble we had with getting Z to do that. He was a year and a half the first time he slept through the night and two before he did so regularly. He still has bad nights about 25 % of the time. Juju takes a while to get to sleep, 11:30pm is late for me, but then she has a five hour stretch of sleep before she wakes herself up pootin'. Then I feed her and she goes another two hours before she poots again. She's so noisy when she's tooting and eating that I have to take her to the other room for that second half of the night. She also grunts in her sleep, a lot. She's getting a reputation at our church as the grunty baby. She loves to sleep, more than she loves to eat, she loves to sleep.

Here's a pic my mom took of Z before she left

I love it when babies lips do this!

My silly cheese ball.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Participation Day!

Hey! Two thoughts to share. The other day I bought our birth announcements. We're trying to do them as cheaply as possible as we'll be sending out Christmas photo cards soon. So, we figured to cut down costs we'd only send announcements to family and we'd take our own picture. I used Picnik to edit a photo Ben took and I'm really happy with the way it turned out. I'll share it eventually but don't want to spoil the announcements.

I searched the web for the best deals on photo cards. I didn't like Snapfish's selection, I did like Kodak's but they were a dollar a piece for one photo card! I checked out VistaPrint, found a simple enough card, not my favorite, but when I saw coupon codes for half price I was sold (deal ends October 31st)! Actually, the cards themselves ended up being 29 cents a piece, the envelopes were free, $2.50 for using my own picture, $7.15 for S/H and don't forget 42 cent stamps for each. Grand total? 87 cents a piece all costs included. I know these cards are cheaper the more you buy, so it may be hard to compare our deals, but can anyone find a better deal than that? Unfortunately, I can't buy our Christmas photo cards early because I want my Dad to take our picture. But perhaps you can benefit from this deal for your Christmas cards (follow the coupon code link).

Also, I noticed gas was $2.65 today in our town. I filled up last night at $2.69 and couldn't have waited any longer. Just wondering what it is where you're at! Also, any predictions as to the bottom price it'll hit before going back up? I'd love to hear your thoughts! Thanks!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Life is good...

All week long I think of things to share with y'all and I finally get a moment to sit down and I can't think of much at all. It'll probably be remembered as I sit here though. We're all doing remarkably well for having a major life change just two and half weeks ago. My mom's visit has helped this transition go as well as it has. She has worked so hard to keep me from working at all. She leaves next Monday and reality will slap us around a bit. I've only been alone with my two little ones a few times so far. Tuesday, I took them to Play Group by myself and I took a picture when I got them both in the car (as seen in the slide show). You'll notice a lot of grandparents in the slideshow. Our kids are very fortunate to have so many grandparents. Six grandparents, six great grandparents and one great great grandma (Z met two great greats). My Dad is still overseas and won't be over to see baby Juju until the week of Thanksgiving, I know he's super bummed about that. He'll make it just in time for her to smile while she's awake and actually be awake a little.

A quick update: I just heard tonight that our friend, Matt, actually won a gun from the gun raffle I posted about a while back. Way to go, Matt!

A funny story from Wednesday's nap time: I went upstairs to wake up Z and a fire engine was blaring just as I did. I asked Z if he heard the siren, then Juju screamed and so I asked Z which one he thought was louder, the fire engine or his baby sister and with his eyes still closed he responded, "Car." Just to be ornery and because I know he loves fire engines I asked him, "Which one do you love more, fire engines or your baby sister?" Bleary eyed he smiled really big, sat up and I kid you not, he kissed his sister who was in my arms. He's a boy of few words, at least words that I understand, but he certainly understands us.

This was just too perfect not to share: Even though the economy stalls...
Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
Habakkuk 3:17-19a (NLT)
(found on the back of our bulletin on Sunday)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What's her name?

A big welcome to all my FaceBook friends! I sent out one e-announcement to everyone in my e-mail's address book, but I got several returned, so if you didn't get one and want one, leave me a comment here, on FB or send an e-mail and I'll get you an e-announcement pronto!

Her official name is NOT Juju, but it is her screen name. Not that e-mail is that much safer than posting her name here, but it feels more private anyways. Thanks for all your comments, e-mails and support! I feel so loved!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Juju's Birth Story

This took me a while to muster the mental and emotional energy to write, but here it is, hopefully, it doesn't embarrass my grandparents or others I respect.

I always wanted to do things as naturally as possible. Besides, quadrillions of women since Eve have been giving birth without any pain killers, why couldn't I do it? I always imagine the settler's wife jumping off the wagon train, giving birth beside a rock along the road then jumping back on the wagon train. I don't know, I heard once that had happened.

Thursday was Ben's birthday and my mom watched Z so we could have a date. We went to Quiznos then to the mall to shop for clothes for Ben. I was having a lot of pelvic pressure and had to walk super slow. I ate a bunch of guacamole for lunch as I heard that can help bring on labor and I think it was starting to kick in. Around 10:30pm I was pretty sure I was in labor and called Ben's sister, Debbi, at Messiah College in PA so she could make sure her car was fueled and bags packed. I had to pause for a contraction while we were talking, so I count 10:30pm as my labor start time. Ben said, "I'm going to bed, sounds like it could be a long night." He got about 45 minutes of sleep, when he heard me on the phone talking to his mom about my contractions. I had heard they were supposed to be five minutes apart, one minute in length for one hour. Mine were only 30 seconds long, but they were growing in intensity and getting closer together.

By the time we left for the hospital (an hour away), they were three minutes apart, but still short in duration. I had invited all of Ben's sisters, his Gramma H. and Aunt Val to come witness the birth. Debbi had taken her chances and just left for OH when I called even though I hadn't known for sure I was in labor. Gramma H. called everyone else for me around midnight when we left for the hospital.

Shortly after checking in (see checking in story) I was in the tub and though that alleviated the pain initially, it relaxed me and the contractions got stronger and longer quickly. Gramma H. and my sister-in-law, Bekah, arrived pretty early on. I remember once between contractions asking the others to tell me when Debbi got there. My bane at this time was the IV port they made me get and the antibiotic I had to get for being positive for Group B strep this time. The antibiotic hurt my whole arm like a giant bee sting and I had trouble not complaining about it. I told them I expected the labor pains, but not the arm pains! I didn't have to get that with Z's birth.
I had a little back labor with Z and really hoped it wouldn't happen again, but alas, it was worse. My mother-in-law, Bobbi, said the baby was slightly anterior and caused more back labor this time. Thankfully, I was more alert this time around and more relaxed so I was able to expediate the process by relaxing the best I could through contractions. Ben constantly rubbed my lower back as each contraction came. I remember wanting him right with me just like with Z's birth. I remember praying three prayers, "Thank you, Lord, for this honor," "Lord, be with me and help the pain to go away," and, "Why does it have to hurt again, Lord?" The only thing that I found super motivating was the thought of having to get a C-section if I didn't keep on trucking. They had me get out of the tub at around 8cm dilated to push. Evidently, it's not kosher to push in the tub, they'll only let you stay if the baby jumps out while you're in there. I remember going from freezing cold to boiling hot as I started pushing. There was a time Bobbi told me to not push, evidently she was moving things around down there to make the pathway clear. Then, I was allowed to push again and once her head was out, she came flying out. Ben cut the cord, and then I got to hold my baby girl for the first time.
She had a little trouble getting her temperature to stabilize at first, but after a few hours she got there and all was well. She took a little longer to learn to latch on for nursing than Z did, but within a day she got it. I ripped a little just like last time and moments after I was stitched up, Debbi arrived! She made it in record time (five hours from Eastern PA), but we were quicker! Four hours from the time we got to the hospital, six hours of labor all together. I didn't sleep much that first day due to all the excitement, but caught up that night and we checked out a day early to keep our hospital bill down.

Here's the crew from left to right: my mother-in-law/midwife, Bobbi; Gramma H., me and Juju, Ben, and two of my sisters-in-law, Bekah and Debbi. Four generations! It was special to have our kid's grandma deliver them, but this time it was also special because Ben's Gramma H. had never seen her daughter work her wonders as a midwife before. My mom was able to be with Z the whole night, which was a super big relief. If we hadn't moved her arrival date up, she wouldn't have been here. She came up to the hospital that morning with Z and we spent the morning together. Last time, I was talking about baby #2 within an hour of Z's birth. This time, I remember thinking, "I'm OK if I never do this again." We'll see if I can remember that once my baby is getting big and I see other babies I want to hold.
Update: Z got a cold the weekend she was born and Juju caught it at one week old. It's been sad watching her struggle to breathe through her nose, but thankfully, it's just a cold. Without comparing our children too much, Juju has been a super easy baby. We had no idea when Z was born that he wasn't. Juju sleeps a ton (practically through the night already!!!), she nurses for 15 minute intervals and can go hours without nursing. My own experience of nursing has made that easier too - keep lips flanged out, take Lecithin to prevent mastitis, and knowing different positions and ways to get her to latch on. All around I feel completely blessed that this experience has been so much easier than I anticipated.

Another sister-in-law, Biz, came to visit over the weekend (I have four!), and we did one week old "Glamour Shots" with her fancy camera. Check out the swirly in the middle of her forehead! Can you say, "Cow-lick"? Hoo boy, that'll be fun to watch as it grows out! Well, that's Juju's birth story, only slightly censored for world-wide viewing. It hurt more than the first time, but was quicker by a couple of hours. Pretty sure I couldn't have done it alone beside the wagon train like the Colonial women, in fact, I doubt that story's even true. I knew what to expect this time and in the chaos of my nesting and preparations, I didn't spend much time thinking about the little girl that was about to enter the world. I've bonded much quicker this time and spend hours, just as I did with Z, watching her with wonderment. In fact, I've called her my "Joy Surprise". All the pain and labor was such a small price to pay for such a gift of joy.