Thursday, March 25, 2010

Welcome Little One

Dear Sophia Madelynn,

We are so glad you have arrived safely to our family. We had a long hard night before you were born, but you were so good and waited until the 18th of March to come (I knew that you didn't want to share your birthday with the leprechauns!). They started Pitocin the night before around 7 pm and by 3 the next morning I was still only dilated to a 3! I was very frustrated and felt like I wasn't going to make it. Dad kept encouraging me though and told me he knew that I could do it, that I was strong and was doing a great job. The monitors didn't work when we got up to walk around or when I wanted to get in the tub or sit on the ball... I was sure that would help so the contractions didn't hurt so much. The doctor and nurses needed to make sure your heartbeat was good, so I stayed in bed all night. By 4 in the morning I started having my own contractions and they finally turned off the Pitocin... then I started to dilate more quickly which was a good thing... I was pretty sure we were headed for a Cesarean birth... so I was very grateful that my body was getting ready for you to come. By 8 in the morning I had a really strong desire to push and even though I wasn't quite dilated to a 10, the doctor came in and got everything ready. You were anxious to come, and it didn't take many contractions of pushing to get you out, even though your head was turned the wrong way. When they gave you to me, I was so grateful to see that you were healthy. Dad and I were thrilled that you were finally here!

Olivia and Coleman came to visit you soon after you were born... they were so excited to finally meet you. They have been praying for you since they found out we were going to have another baby. Even before then, they prayed that Heavenly Father would send another baby to our family.... so you are an answer to their prayers (and ours!).

You are now a week old, and I am still in awe at the journey that it took for you to get here. Many years ago Dad and I went on a Pioneer Trek with the youth in our ward. We went to Martin's Cove and pulled handcarts, and each of us got to learn about someone in one of the handcart companies. I learned about my grandmother, six generations back, named Sophia Mason Crook who crossed the plains with the Willie Handcart company. She was 65 years old when she crossed--her husband had died before she left England so she went alone with one of her children. Her toes were frozen and had to be amputated... but she made it to the Salt Lake Valley. She was strong and faithful and committed to the gospel. I felt such a strong connection to Sophia during that Trek and I knew that if we were able to ever have another baby, we would name her Sophia or him Mason after her. After four years of trying to have a baby, it looked like we weren't going to be able to have any more. There were times that I was devastated and heartbroken about it, but I had finally come to feel peace with the way our family was. We had been blessed with two wonderful children and it felt like we were going to be okay the way we were.

In July of 2009 we held a reunion for the Crook family. Again I felt a strong connection to Sophia Mason Crook and was so grateful for the chance that I'd had to "get to know" her during the Trek. I felt a little sick that day, but didn't think much of it until a couple of weeks later, on July 24th--Pioneer Day--when I took a pregnancy test and found out that I was pregnant with you! It seemed so fitting to find out on Pioneer Day. I felt that you were going to be a girl and that your name would be Sophia... even though Dad wasn't sure he was ready to commit to anything until he met you.

When I was only 11 weeks along I had a pulmonary embolism and it was such a scary experience, mostly because we weren't sure how it would affect you. I took two shots of medicine each day so I wouldn't have another clot. They weren't fun, but it was worth it. Because of the high risk, we got to see a perinatologist every 6-8 weeks to make sure that you were growing and developing, which was a good comfort.

I was surprised when I went for an ultrasound at 12 weeks and they told me you were going to be a boy! It didn't feel right, but the perinatologist was certain she could see boy parts. I thought it was too early to tell, and she said that there was a chance she was wrong, but she was pretty sure. I spent the next 8 weeks getting used to the idea that you would be Mason instead of Sophia. Coleman was so excited to have a little brother--he knew you would be a great video game partner. When we had an ultrasound at 20 weeks though the nurse and perinatologist were very apologetic and explained that they had been wrong, and now they were absolutely certain that you were a girl. It was such a relief to me and just felt right. Coleman got used to the idea of having a sister (who still might be a great video-game partner) and Olivia was thrilled at the idea of having a baby sister.

After you were born they asked us what your name was... I looked at Dad and he nodded and answered "Sophia" which has been your name all along! We decided to give you the middle name of Madelynn after both of your grandmothers... my mom was named Madeline after her grandmother and Dad's mom's middle name is Lynn, so we combined the two for your middle name. I love that you are named after three women that are strong, determined, and faithful. They are great examples to me and I hope that you will learn from them as well.

In the last seven days I have learned that you are persistent, trusting, patient, vocal, peaceful, and determined. I know that in the next days, weeks, months, and years we will learn a lot more about each other. I am so glad that you came to our family... we love you!


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Day Late and a Dollar Short

This brochure arrived in the mail yesterday... where were they during the four years that we were trying to get pregnant???

(More to come on the arrival of our sweet Sophia.)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Leprechauns Strike Again

Our annual visit from the leprechauns didn't disappoint... although one of them was almost caught red-handed (green-handed?) on the way to the bathroom to color the toilet water green. Maybe next year that leprechaun will get away with it.

Liv and Coleman were so excited about the box of Lucky Charms and the green Andes mints spread on the table.

Despite the fact that green food is not appetizing in any way, we had some green cinnamon muffins and milk. Luckily the leprechauns only got to the half gallon of milk.

Both kids love the tradition of getting a new green shirt for St. Patrick's Day.

All this green artwork is courtesy of our own artist-in-residence Coleman who has done several projects at school these last few weeks.

**Any visits from leprechauns at your house?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Daughter of a King

Today I read on a friend's blog about an activity she had attended with her daughter and it got me all pensive and weepy. That's pretty common these days... but particularly today as I anticipate going through labor and bringing another daughter into the world. As I read her insights, I was reminded of our conversation we had last night in Family Home Evening where we talked about where our baby has been waiting to come to our family and the things that she has been doing. Today I felt a little more than overwhelmed at the idea of the responsibility and opportunity that lies ahead for me and our family to raise this precious baby girl and teach her who she is and what she is capable of. I love this poem that reminds me that each one of us is a child of God with attributes and characteristics of a perfect being who loves us and wants us to succeed.

Daughter of a king

the Father's royalty
heir to His divinity
He's calling your name
to come and take your place
before His thrown
He has always known
what He created you to be
Daughter of a King

As I reflected on this, my feelings of inadequacy changed to a stronger feeling of peace knowing that I too have been blessed with abilities and strength... I know that the road will not be easy, but I can do this. I can birth this baby and take part in the marvelous miracle of creation (I am so grateful to be a woman!). I can do my best and love her and teach her and help her reach her potential. I know that I won't be perfect in any way... I'll continue to make a lot of mistakes... but I also know that I am not alone in my desire and efforts to help my children become all that they are capable of.

**Are you ever struck by the enormity of your responsibilities?
**Do you get weepy when you think about the fact that you too are a child of God?

Baby Shower Celebrations

My cute friends from work and my ward/neighborhood decided that our new baby needed to be celebrated... and despite my initial opposition to the idea of having any parties in my honor (I'm a much better hostess than guest of honor!) I eventually said yes and embraced the idea. I am amazed at how generous people are and so grateful that so many friends and family members wanted to help welcome our little one into the world.

At work there were all sorts of salads... I ate as much as I could possibly fit and still wanted more. (Of course I left room for cake!)

These cute ladies have been so much fun to work with... and they are great cooks too!

My ward and neighbors put together an amazing shower a week later at my friend Tiffany's house... Olivia loved being there as the Big Sister and helper.

There was a flurry of activity in the kitchen preparing an incredible salad bar... complete with suggestions to make gourmet salads. I regret that I didn't get a photo of the completed salad bar... it was beautiful and delicious.

My friend Jessica is an amazing cake decorator and put together a tower of gourmet cupcakes. I loved their brown and pink decor.

Cheesecake with raspberries!!! I don't think that needs any more explanation. I loved the frames that Tiffany and Jessica put together.

Tiff, Andrea, Marilynn, Amanda, Camie, me, Jessica, Sherri, and Jill--a few others that helped with the shower weren't there yet and didn't make it into the photo... (Sara and Miriam!). I feel so blessed to have such good and generous friends.

I wanted to include a picture of Amanda and her quilt... she is amazing!

Thanks, friends, for helping to celebrate our new baby!

Extreme Makeover--Nursery Edition

Okay, so really this makeover was only extreme in the amount of time and energy it took me to complete... and was a project several months in the making... but our baby's nursery is now done and ready for her to arrive--any time now would be fabulous...

Before Coleman was born my friend helped me stencil really cute animals on the walls... and I splurged and bought a crib sheet and window valance from Pottery Barn to go with the quilt and bed skirt that I made... we kept the animals even when Coleman moved to a big boy bed (our crib turned into a headboard). When we found out this baby was going to be a girl, I was determined to make a transformation in the room (much to Ryan's dismay) even though animals really could go for a boy or a girl. I guess it stemmed from the fact that Olivia's nursery was gender-neutral (with tan and blue teddy bears, not even worthy of a photo apparently, because I didn't take any) and I just wanted this baby to have something girly. Let's hope she really comes out as a girl... because it IS girly now!

We had kept the changing table and used it as Coleman's dresser... so we have been able to reuse all of our furniture from before.

Priming is fun to do when you write funny messages on the wall for the kids to discover...

You can see that I was too lazy to even remove items from the closet before I painted. Luckily I didn't get any paint on the clothes or other things in there!

I made Coleman's bed skirt (yellow and white plaid) into a window valance AND bed skirt for the new baby with some fabulous, flowery fabric that I found and fell in love with. Ryan's brother and sister-in-law gave us their rocker (thank you!) as we had given ours to a friends for their new baby boy (it was blue and wouldn't have matched my color scheme anyway).

A soft pink changing pad and new shelf changed this from Lego stash to a place to actually change diapers... (not sure I'm ready for that stage again!).

I love the way the shelf turned out and found some great birds to go on it. My dad gave us all of the Noah's ark stuff when Coleman was born, and it fit right in.

This is my favorite part of her room... my very talented friend Amanda made the quilt that is hanging on the wall... I found a bedding set that I loved and considered buying, but when Amanda called and asked, "What kind of quilt do you want?" I only hesitated for a minute before asking if she thought she could do something like the one I found for our baby's wall. She was excited for the challenge and pulled off something way better than what I had seen or could imagine. I made the rag quilt with coordinating fabrics... the bed skirt is kind of hard to see, but it's got the same flowery fabric as the border of the wall hanging. Amanda sells some of her other wonderful creations (purses, door stops, holiday decorations) in her Etsy shop (click here to check out all that she has available).

I am so happy with the way her room turned out! I chose a neutral color for when she moves in with Olivia and Coleman gets to reclaim his bedroom... it looks a little more yellow than I had intended... it's supposed to be more creamy colored and the name of the paint color was "Creme Brulee" which appealed to me too... but I still like the way it turned out.

Now all we need is the baby and this room will be complete (even though we keep our babes in our room for several months, it's still nice to have her room all ready to go).

**Do you ever choose paint colors based on their names?
**Don't you wish Amanda were your friend and offered to make any kind of quilt you wanted?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Mixed Feelings

The other night we were trying to explain to Coleman about mixed feelings... Ryan used the example of eating his favorite Girl Scout cookies (have I mentioned that I LOVE Girl Scout Cookie season? Frozen Thin Mints, all the way, baby...). He loves Samoas... and gets to enjoy them all by himself because no one else in our house likes them. He has mixed feelings about eating them though... they taste so good... but the faster he eats them, the faster they are all gone, and he has to wait a whole year to get any more. Someone pointed out too that eating the whole box at once might give him a stomach ache--therefore mixed feelings about consuming Girl Scout Cookies.

My mixed feelings this last week have been about working... my last day was on Thursday and I can't say that my feelings are 50% positive-50% negative about quitting... I am overwhelmingly thrilled to be all done, particularly because the reason I am quitting is because we will be welcoming a baby to our family any day now... but at the same time, I do have a few things that I'll miss about working.

  • I will miss speaking Spanish on a regular basis and making our Spanish speaking clients laugh at my accent and attempts at vocabulary, grammar, and all of the other ways that I slaughter the Spanish language.
  • I will miss making a difference... even if only in very small ways as I was able to help families with nutrition and breastfeeding.
  • I will miss making a financial contribution to our household... even though said contribution went directly to my medical expenses, it still felt empowering to be helping out.
  • I will miss the fabulous people that I work with--they made working a whole lot of bearable (and even fun on most days). We liked to laugh together and eat together--especially hot cinnamon rolls during our staff meetings on Friday mornings. I think my coworkers will miss having those rolls more than I'll miss getting up extra early to bake them :).

Not that I NEED to outline the things I will not miss... but a mixed feelings post wouldn't be complete without the other side of things, right?
  • I won't miss leaving my kids (albeit in capable hands) for any amount of time with babysitters... or arranging complicated schedules and assuring that kids are picked up and dropped off in the right place. I have had wonderful friends that have taken great care of Liv and Coleman, but I am so glad that I get to be a stay-at-home mom again and not have to rely on others to make sure the kids are taken care of.
  • I won't miss the commute... and worrying about whether or not there will be traffic or snow or any other sort of craziness that might make me late to work. I won't miss bad radio and commercials and nothing to listen to because I've exhausted the (very) limited supply of books on CD from our local library. I definitely won't miss the construction zone on I-15 that made things interesting to and from work each day.
  • I won't miss the stress of work and the occasional "interesting" client that would come into our clinic and cause all sorts of problems.
  • I won't miss all the rules and regulations of working for the government.
  • I won't miss having to wear dress pants or skirts! Hooray for blue jeans and t-shirts and flip-flops.
  • I won't miss missing school and social and church events because I have to be at work.
  • I won't miss early mornings, rushing to get out the door on time and hoping that I've remembered to send my kids with all the things they'll need for the day.
  • I won't miss having to come up with a lunch to pack... Triscuits, Laughing Cow cheese, and an apple are good, but I'm done with that. On to bigger and better things on the lunch menu.
  • I won't miss crazy evenings, rushing to get dinner made and homework done and piano practiced and every other thing that needs to be done before bed time which always came way too quickly on work days.
  • I won't miss the puffy feet that I have been coming home with lately.... I know they are pregnancy related, but in the last three days, I've been able to see my ankles and metatarsals. Hooray for ankles and metatarsals!
As you can see, the reasons that I am glad to be done working are much more abundant and meaningful than the reasons I will miss it--but I have mixed feelings still the same.

**What's your favorite brand of Girl Scout cookies?
**What kinds of things do you have mixed feelings about?

Friday, March 12, 2010

And The Simple Serendipity Winner Is....

JENNY who loved Simple Chunky Brown... we'll send it out to you!!!

I hope the rest of you will check back often at Simple Serendipity... Sara is constantly adding new and adorable things to her Etsy Shop! All of her items make great gifts for your sister, friend, mom, or mother-in-law... or just for yourself!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Happy Birthday to my Sweet Cheeks

(Click here for the giveaway... you have until Thursday, 11:59pm (MST) to enter to win some great jewelry!)

Today we were excited to celebrate Ry's 33rd birthday! We started out the day with some lemon poppy seed muffins (thank you Betty Crocker muffin mix!). He got to blow out a candle before 7 am :).

I got to meet him for lunch--after attempting to go the Bombay House (which we discovered is only open for dinner) we found The India Palace... it's a well known fact that I'm not a very adventurous eater, but I actually really liked the food. I ordered my usual (Mango Lassi and Naan) and even enjoyed the appetizers and Tandoori style Tiki Chicken that we shared.

I made my annual German Chocolate Cake (I think every birthday post includes woes of my cake making) and today was no exception... I opted for the cake mix instead of the dirty-every-dish-in-the-house-from-scratch-recipe which turned out just fine... but it all fell apart when it came to the frosting. I struggled to get the frosting just right and then had grand designs in my head of how to make it lovely. The chocolate dollops made the coconut pecan frosting fall right off the top of the cake... and I was left with a giant mess.

Thank goodness Ryan is a good sport and loves the taste of the cake more than he cares about how it looked... as shown in the picture below (he might have just been humoring me to make me feel better... I was more than a bit frustrated at the sight of this cake... but he worked hard to make me feel like it was the best looking cake he had ever seen).

Whether or not the cake tasted good, I will never know because I don't like coconut OR pecans... but the kids and I enjoyed some cupcakes with plain old chocolate frosting. Yum.

I have to be cheesy for a minute and say how grateful I am that Ryan was born and that he came into my life. He helps me be better in so many ways and I feel so grateful that we are together.

Happy birthday Ryan! Love you!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Finally... it's a GIVEAWAY!

My good friend Sara has just opened an Etsy shop--Simple Serendipity--where she is selling some of her fabulous jewelry... the best part of her jewelry (and I've worn and loved several things she's made for many years) is how well made and stylish it is... the second best part of her jewelry is that it's all priced at $5 or less!!! Yes, you read that right, it's all $5 or less.

Here's how it works... go to her Etsy shop (click on the link Simple Serendipity) and browse through her selection. Pick your favorite and come back here and leave a comment stating which is your favorite. Entries must be posted here before midnight (mountain standard time) on Thursday, March 11th. A winner will be chosen at random and we'll send (to any U.S. destination) your favorite item. One entry per person, please.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

It's just not my thing...

Since I had my blood clot back in September I have known that my doctor was planning an artificial induction of labor--save for a glorious week where I believed that I could change medications and go into labor on my own, but that was shattered after an appointment with the perinatologist who talked me out of switching medicine for many valid reasons--yet I am still opposed to being induced. I judge no one that WANTS to be induced or HAS BEEN or WILL BE induced or anything... it just isn't my thing for many reasons... so I have a plan.

Now that we have her room almost finished (photos to come when I finish the quilt... this weekend???)... and her clothes washed and ready to wear I am almost feeling that we can welcome her into the world.

My last day of work is March 11th... and between 5 pm on that day and March 16th (the day before scheduled induction) I will be employing any and all ways to naturally induce this labor and bring baby girl safely into the world without the aid of pitocin.

I am so open to ideas that any of you might have... but please don't share negative stories of things that didn't work or horrid labor and birthing stories (with or without inductions) because I need all the positive thoughts and energy I can muster and gather...

I'm already effaced and dilated a bit... and I've had lots of contractions, which is a change from my other pregnancies, but nothing in any sort of pattern, and the contractions (or rather "uterine surges" according to the HypnoBirthing method which to me is a combination of good relaxation and breathing techniques and total kookyness) aren't painful. Despite this, my doctor feels I'll go until the 17th (still the only day she can induce!!! Did I mention I don't want a St. Patrick's Day baby???).

My plans to start this party on my own include:

  • Lots of sitting on the birthing ball (as I type even!)
  • March 11th, 5:30 pm--Scheduled a massage with a certified prenatal massage therapist who is willing and able to apply pressure to the reflexology points that are known to induce labor. I think this worked for Olivia's birth.
  • Evening primrose oil--taken orally and um, "applied" when the date gets closer to soften things up.
  • Spicy foods... anyone up for a Cafe Rio lunch with me on Monday, March 14th? Let's say 11:00 am?
  • Italian food... with lots of oregano (someone at work has promised a recipe for Eggplant Parmesan GUARANTEED to induce labor... the recipe is even copyrighted!).
  • What gets the baby in, gets the baby out (or so I hear). Enough about that.
  • Walking, stationary biking, hiking in the mountains (altitude changes, right?), and if it comes down to it, Ryan has been instructed to put the trampoline mat back on (it's still off because we keep getting crazy snow here!).
  • Rubbing clary sage oil into my belly... and I will state unequivocally that this will be one of the last resorts... this oil smells so bad that it would scare anyone or anything out of a warm safe place... I'm pretty sure I don't want to expose baby, me, or anyone else to this smell. I have delayed purchasing this and will not buy it until it's the 16th and I've had no other success.
  • Castor oil... another very last resort which apparently sends the GI tract into such spasms that contractions follow shortly... I hear an OJ chaser makes it all go down a bit better... but it still doesn't sound all that appealing.
**Any other ideas for natural labor induction?
(Remember, positive thoughts and experiences only... you can tell me all about the things that DON'T work after this babe is here!)