Friday, March 25, 2011

Our first camping trip alone...with 4 kids.

This is the prelude to our camping adventure.  Everyone is feeling really adventurous.  Last night Bethany said she couldn't wait to see lions, zebra's, giraffes and baby bears in the jungle.  Dez was asking if he could go with Ben to the store for a few last minute items.  When Ben said "yes" Dez quickly asked "Can I drive?"

It's the day of the trip...
We got in the van and headed out.  Not one mile down the road, Bethany screamed "I have to go potty!". Someone else screamed, "I'm thirsty!"  Anne-Claire was in tears.  I thought "Oh this is gonna be soo FUN!" :)  I remembered Gary Smalley calling camping "organized disasters", and I was beginning to think he was right. Everyone did calm down, until we were out of town and Ben says something vauge and about not being sure about which direction to go. Anne-Claire replies with a "Oh, I get it, you don't know where we are going". Maybe another reason to call it an organized disaster.  We did finally make it, though and we didn't get lost.  We pitched our tent.  I'm sure the expert campers around were laughing.  Ben and I felt the need to call all of the pop-up and fifth wheel campers snobs.  We ended up only staying one night, but it was long enough to learn a few lessons about camping with children.  Here's a few things you should remember if you are feeling adventurous:
1)Packing light is impossible, don't even try.  
2)Hunting for firewood is an actual activity.  Its like hunting for Easter eggs.  It takes hours and everyone can do it.    
3)  If your two year old does not like small spaces, he may not like the tent.  Especially if you are not in it.
4)  If the two year old is sometimes afraid of the dark, he will not like sleeping outside.
5)  Not all of your children will be outdoorsy.  Bethany kept saying she just needed a slushie and a Happy Meal. She was the first to go to bed and the last to wake up.  She did not sing the entire time.  She was dreaming of French fries. (5 minutes after leaving she burst out in song and it was about salvation!)
6)  Camping is a great break from vanity.  Personal hygiene is totally different, but I do not wear make up.  I pull out my "grungies" to wear for the duration of the trip and I do not care if the children's clothes do not match.  I am totally relaxed.
7)  Because I am outside, Cheetos can be consumed and I do not worry about Chesidue--my arch enemy in the mission of Motherhood. Riggs is showing off his Cheeto fingers in the picture above.  He is proud.
8)Each meal is an event.  It takes a while to start a fire or light up the grill.  It takes a while to cook it.  It takes creativity to keep your plate, napkin, and drink from blowing away. Everything will taste better because you are outside.
9)  The age gap is narrowed.  Riggs remembered to bring his light sabers.  He gave one to Dez and dubbed him as his "padawan".  I think he taught him everything he knows about being a Jedi while using the army of trees as his evil nemeses.
10) Having to walk to the bath house with two young girls makes every bathroom break a race.  Another event.
11)  Throwing rocks can also fill time and everyone loves it.
12) You will smell like a smoked turkey.
13)Flashlighting is a verb reserved for camping trips only.
14) Bonfires have the ability to make even the most active children stop and stare.
15) When your kids are laying in their beds at night, say a big "wooow" to the gazillions of stars in the night sky and then say "This is the best day of my life!", you know that it was worth it to persevere past the first mile.  After all, I have learned something new about my kids and that is worth camping again one day.
Dez taking a nap on the way there!

Chilin' around the fire!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Last but not least!

    My final due date was January 15th.  Let me start this one by saying that I took the pregnancy test for this baby right after Riggs 5th birthday party.  An exciting day, right?  I kind of had a few ideas that I might be pregnant before hand, but I was in denial for a few weeks because I still had an 11 month old.  I had weaned her a little earlier than she wanted to be because I could not get my energy back and I thought weaning her would help.  Well, since I ended up being pregnant, I pretty much just got my energy back about a month ago.  That was absolutely the hardest pregnancy I ever had.  Baby was always okay.  Mom, not so much.  I was just too tired.  I remember that all of my maternity clothes for that season were U-G-L-Y, but I was just too tired to care and too tired to go shopping. I did care about who my doctor was though.  We used Dr. Hannah again.  I was certain that the nurses at his hospital were much better than those at the other hospital.  I was right.
  I made it to January and I had Braxton-Hicks the entire month.  The week before my due date, Dr. Hannah, seeing that I was miserable, asked if I wanted to induce.  I told him I'd wait a few more days.  January 15th came and went and still no baby.  Having had all the excitement I could handle with #3, I felt slightly in control this time, so we scheduled the induction for January 19th.  We got to the hospital in the afternoon sometime, went up to the labor and delivery floor and there was this sweet nurse with an English accent.  She had been a midwife back in England.  I really liked her.  She told me what was going to happen, and she started my pitocin drip.  The contractions finally came pretty hard.  At one point baby's heartbeat kind of "flip-flopped" a little, which scared me because I had never experienced that before.  The nurse monitored it and felt comfortable enough to have the doctor break my water and then have my epidural.  I think they got it backwards.  The doc came in to break my water and Im pretty sure he used a Crocodile Dundee sort of knife.  I used my liberty to scream at that point.  Then when they called for the nurse-anethisist (sp?) I used it again.  I'm pretty sure I was the first person this girl had ever given an epidural to.  You know this when she comes in and starts to tell you to do things like sit with your legs criss-cross on the bed.  What?! This is not prenatal yoga and I haven't done that in months.  Not to mention,this baby is coming out and that very position wants to nullify any and all progress.  I did the best I could and as she was putting the needle in my back, I just screamed.  I screamed loud enough for Ben to hear me outside the room.  I ended up getting what they called an epidural, but it felt nothing like the ones I had with my first two.  Anyhow, when the doctor came in to check on me, Ben said that he wanted to be the one to catch the baby, it being our last and all.  At first the doctor thought he was joking.  It wasn't until he came back in to tell me to get ready for the pushing part that he realized Ben was serious.  He told Ben to suit up.  We got in the delivery position with Ben in the doctor's position and Dr. Hannah right behind him.  Ben did everything.  When Dez's head crowned, Ben guided it out of the birth canal and two pushes later he was holding our sweet baby boy #2

William Dezell Evans III, AKA "Dez" was born just 8 hours after they started the pitocin drip and weighed in at 8lbs 10oz.  Ben is sure that everything was perfect with that delivery--I would have preferred a little less drama, but thats what makes them all Unforgettable.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Part III of my un4gettable experiences

Our next due date was June 28.  Ben and I jokingly talked about taking the third child "plunge".  We knew three was going to be a bit tricky.  Ben likes to say that you've gone from man to man coverage to zone coverage.  Never in a million years did we think that it was going to be quite so dramatic.  The entire pregnancy was characterized by waves of nausea.  By waves,  I mean enormous, gigantic tidal waves of horrible, just got off the Tower of Terror right after eating a Frito pie sort of nausea.  Then it would dissipate as though nothing had ever happened--*poof*, gone! In an instant the world would be back on it's proper axis.  From day one I should have known it was a girl.  I learned from my other deliveries that my pattern for  l&d was increasing time in labor, so I wisely decided to study up on the Bradley method of delivery.  They use a lot of visualization and relaxation techniques that I had Ben practice with me.  I'm glad we did.  Bethany decided that she was uber excited about entering the world and could no longer wait another minute--she was going to enter the world 6 days early.   One Friday afternoon around 4:00pm, I called Ben at work and said I was having contractions.  They were pretty light, so he should just finish up his work day, come home, and we would just see how the evening progressed.  At 8:00pm we called one of our neighbors/ church friends to come stay with the kids and Ben and I focused on when we should get to the hospital, knowing that it could still be a while.  At 10:00pm we started that direction.  At 10:30 I entered into the triage section of the hospital where they examined me, monitored me and then sent me home, saying that my cervix hadn't moved and I wasn't in labor.  On the way out the door and in tears,  I told Ben that this was crazy, because I knew I was in labor and that it was just taking me forever to progress the same way it always has.  We went home, though, and Ben laid down on the couch and fell asleep.  10 minutes later, I woke him up, saying he had to time my contractions.  Bless his sleepy soul. He sat there for 2 hours timing contractions, calling the nurse at the hospital, who said that I wasn't in labor in spite of the fact that they were 5 min. apart.  He then ran bathwater in our Jacuzzi tub where we sat in there for two hours timing contractions from 5 min. to three min. apart.  At 4 am we went back to the hospital where they stuck me back in triage, back on the monitor, checked me and said I had only progressed a little and they would check me again in an hour.  Apparently they were busy, or I was not a priority, because they kept sending in a very soothing, albeit slightly condescending nurse that had had 9 children. She basically said I was over reacting to Braxton-Hicks.  I still just want to line all of them up and just stick my tongue out at them because the following events tell me that they don't have a "listen to the woman in labor" class in nursing school.  At 7:00 am, during shift change, I looked at Ben and told him to get someone in there to check me or I was going to have this baby without my epidural and I didn't want to do that.  He then, went out in the hallway, in the middle of the nurses meeting, and the only nurse that listened to him was a nurse named Brandy--I'm sure she's an angel.  She ran in the room, did the exam, said I was at a 7 and asked when the last time someone checked me was.  Well that was 4am.  So, I had to get my huge belly, off of the triage bed, into a wheelchair, and onto a l&d bed.  After I was in the l&d bed, Brandy ordered the epidural.  When I saw the anesthesiologist, I felt a relief like I wasn't going to have to do all of this the hard way.  However, as soon as I laid on my side, my water broke and my baby's head crowned.  I told the doctor and nurse, the nurse checked me, and the anesthesiologist said "I'm sorry Mrs. Evans there's nothing I can do for you."  He backed up against the wall, probably fearing I was going to throw something.  Brandy turned the bed into a baby launcher and I told her in a coach-like voice that she had two or three pushes before she was going to have to catch a baby.  She was listening.  Every doctor that walked by in those few minutes was in my room while all the other nurses were looking for my doctor.  I pushed once, my doctor ran in put on his gloves, I pushed again, and the doctor turned around and caught her.  16 hours after the first contraction.  All natural, not quite like I had planned.  It was a beautiful and dramatic ending to a beautiful and dramatic beginning.  
                        This is 8lb. 3 oz Bethany on her 1st day in the world--June 23 2007.
 This was Bethany on her third birthday right before she sobbed during "Happy Birthday" because she didn't want to be three.  I have two words: Tidal. Wave.

Our next due date was April 4th 2005.  We had just moved to Northwest Arkansas, and I was very interested this time about how my baby was delivered--no episiotomies or suction cups.  As natural as possible, except for the epidural.  I wanted one of those.  I asked around and chose Dr. Todd Hannah.  He was a great doctor.  He was informative and believed in doing things as natural as possible.  So he didn't mind when I asked him on April 4th if we could wait. So we waited and waited, my parents came up and we waited some more.  We waited and waited and waited and waited and FINALLY, on Sunday April 10th I started having some really light contractions.  We waited for several hours and then after lunch I decided that I should go to the hospital.  I got there and they put me in my room, and my nurse, gave me something in my IV that made me drunk.  I don't remember much except that she was probably the best nurse ever! I was still worried about my epidural because of some things I had heard and read (ignorance is bliss, knowledge is scary).  The anesthesiologist actually stayed in the room while the epidural took effect.  It was wonderful.  Then the delivery was wonderful again--2 pushes and Anne-Claire was here. Just 14 hours after my first contraction and all was as natural as I wanted it.  No cutting, tearing, etc. to overcome.  A wonderful and peaceful delivery for a very beautiful 8 lb. 6oz princess.  
She's still such a sweet and dainty little person.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Flashback Friday! The Un4gettable Labors and Deliveries Part I.

Tomorrow marks the date of the longest Ben and I have gone without having a new baby--Two years and two months.  Who would have thought I would have even cared about such a date.  It is kind of bittersweet.  I mean, I like babies and all.  I love their smell, their cuddles, their little whimper-y cries that are sometimes just too sweet to console immediately.  I love how they grow and begin a lifetime of first.  It all begins with a little push from mom, or maybe a big one.  I do not miss the labor after the delivery though.  With that we begin.
First of all there was Riggs.  Benjamin Riggs Evans, that is.  My due date was May 22, 2003 and he decided that he couldn't wait another day!  At 6:00 that morning I felt a strange sensation while I was laying on the couch.  I had been sleeping on the couch for several weeks, maybe months.  Still technically being newlyweds (remember we were pregnant after being married two months), Ben didn't want to leave me by myself and had rearranged the couches so that the front of our love seat and sofa faced each other.  It made what I called the Utah couch because that was kind of what it looked like.  Anyway, I got up and left Ben sleeping on his side of the sofa and decided to go take a shower.  I wasn't sure what was going on, but I was sure a long hot shower would be good for me.  I discovered that my water was slowly leaking, but not really breaking.  So, I finished up, dressed myself, prepared for more leaking, woke up Ben with a "Honey, my water is breaking, but it's not really broken".  He got up, sort of bewildered, but then again, he always wakes up like that.  He got a shower, too while I paid a few bills that needed to be taken care of before we left.  We were surprisingly calm for first time parents wouldn't you say?  Ben called my parents and his while we drove the long 1 mile trek to Natchitoches Parish Hospital.  They started me on pitocin because of the water leakage.  I felt a few contractions while I watched Regis and Kelly, then I got an epidural and didn't really feel much more until they told me push.  The doctor came in, Dr. Avalez,  and he had me push one more time.  Then the last time he used that suction cup thing and performed an Episiotomy and Riggs was here.  What a handsome barrel chested and strong 8lb 6oz baby that was!

You could tell we had cleared out Boudions pizza buffet a few times. Okay, okay, well actually he was about five months old in this picture. Ben had a friend that was an art major at our local university and we didn't have to take our own camera to the hospital that I can't find our very artistic renditions of nothing.  We were very calm that day, did I mention that?  Tomorrow I'll talk about L&D #2.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Exercise is a must!

I used to measure my running in miles.  Now I measure it in feet--the eight little feet that I am running after.  About a year ago, I thought I'd do a triathlon.  Key word being thought.  I was fired up about it, but training is so over rated.  Then, I more realistically thought I'd do a 5K.  That involves some intensity as well.  I hate to admit it, but  it has been so stinkin' long since I ran that I just don't have enough stamina for that.  It's not even about losing weight--I still wear the same size I did when I got married--It's just that I've shifted, so I'd like to shift it back.  It's not even that I don't like to exercise, but finding time to fit it in between homeschooling, laundry, cooking, cleaning, drop-off, pick-up, dressing myself and 2 or more other people, brushing that many teeth, rallying the troops for clean-up duty and getting dinner on the table at a decent hour... let's just take a deep breath...
inhale all that oxygen = energy
I feel better, you?
I've started a new plan.  Obviously thinking BIG didn't work.  So I'm thinking smaller.  Here it is:
1) I have to get up at 5 am.  Yep that was a 5.  So it has to be something I can get up and do without too much coordination involved.
2) It has to be fast--no 60 min. work outs, the kids will be up soon.
3) It has to be effective.  If I don't see or feel something soon, I'm gonna get bored and feel like I'm wasting my time.
What I'm thinking is: Home workout videos.  Not just any work out video, because the TaeBo I did in college is kickin'. my. tail.  No no.  My new favorite is...Denise Austin.  Yes, her BIG blues are kind of creepy (My three year old is freaked out by them, and she asked that I go back to Billy), but she is definitely catering to the busy mom.  Can I get a twist for the waist-line?
She's got the Daily Dozen--a 12 minute daily work out!  Very Efficient.
The 20 min. Boot Camp Video!  Very Effective
The 20 min shrink your fat zones pilates!  Perfect for swimsuit season!
Now zip up those abs and do great things for your hips, thighs and BUTT!  *ding* (that's what happens when DA smiles)
And lot's more. Each one for the cost of about 1 Zumba class.  That, my busy mom friends,  is AMAZING.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

If I can do this, anyone can!

I am transforming my bedroom into a relaxing French country style.  I needed something to go in the blank spot above my bed, but haven't had enough time to go shopping for anything.  During one of my internet searches, I discovered the burlap wreath.  Characteristics: Easy, Fast, Cheap, Beautiful...PERFECT!
Here's how you make one:
First, you'll need a wire hanger. 
Then you'll need 1-3 yards of burlap depending on how full you want it to be.  I used about 2 and 1/3 yds.  

Then you cut the burlap into 4" strips, or have your little helper do it with the kitchen shears he's enthusiastically located.    

Finally, fold the burlap accordion style and push it onto the hanger.  At the end, I bent the wire into hooks and hooked them to each other. With the leftover wire, I made a little loop to hang it on the wall.  
I also, got some satin ribbon and saftey pinned a little bow onto it.  
voilĂ --a nice shabby chic decoration for any room or door.   

Sunday, March 6, 2011

We moved a house!

When we moved here 4 years ago, the builder gave us this little playhouse.  Actually, when he gave it to us, it looked more like an outhouse.  So we painted it.  It was so cute to look at from my kitchen window.  I had grandiose dreams of turning it into a child's wonderland...but I didn't.   
Instead, the kids played in it, on it, around it, through it-- everything but hang upside down from it.  They turned it into this: 

I didn't want to tear it down, because they still enjoy it, but we had to move it.  We have other plans for that spot.  Unfortunately, we didn't think to put forklift on our wedding registry...but, have no fear Mr. Incredible lives here! (And his trusty sidekick:) 
He jacked it up,  
  Put it on these pipes,
 Then puuuushed it across the yard.  
Well, he had to do a little digging to get it in just the right spot.  I was the leverage a couple of times, and that house is heavy!
After an entire morning of pushing, digging, rolling, and wedging, it was in place.  

Now, isn't that better?  

Friday, March 4, 2011

Flashback Friday!

We did a lot of painting in February.  When I see what our house looks like now, it always makes me reminisce about the old days.  
First, we moved into an attic apartment, but only for two months.  Then I was excited because a house became available and we got...

The house was 60 years old in 2001.  
What I loved was
1) It had a huge pantry.
2) The space heater was the best wipe warmer ever invented. 
3) The front porch.  We did a lot of swingin' on that porch.
4) The rent was $350/ mo.   
What I did not like was:
1)  The crack in the floor in the hallway.  My "crack house".  You could see the ground through that crack.  Not to worry...the landlord covered it with carpet.  What a guy...    
2)  During the winter, the temperature in that house would be the same as that inside my refrigerator.  Ironically, it came with a refrigerator that worked really well.  
3)  Not the most ideal place to bring my firstborn home to.  When Riggs was learning to walk he would have to climb to the middle of the house and roll down the other side.  (The infamous crack was in the middle of the "mountian") 
The picture above was taken on move out day.  What a glorious day that was! 
Then we moved to this house in Bentonville, Ar.  We found it via the internet and figured it had to be a step up.  It was only 7 years old at the time.  You could huff and you could puff, but you weren't going to blow it down.  It had 1200 square feet of flat, carpeted, centrally heated and cooled coziness.  We were glad to have it.  We brought our sweet Anne-Claire home to that house. 

What I loved about that house was: 
1) All the above mentioned! They had become luxuries we could now afford!
2) The dishwasher!  
3) The circular floor plan--It had a galley kitchen on one side, a bathroom in the middle and a hallway on the other side.  We played chase constantly! 

What I did not like:
1) The carpet was in the bathroom.  Not that I was really complaining, but it discouraged me from potty training. 
2) The hot water lasted long enough for one person to shower, one load of dishes, or one load of laundry.  I had two very young children.  There was more than one of all of those things quite frequently.     
If you look past the 3 musketeers, you can see our Fayetteville house.  That was a GREAT house.  
What I liked about it:
1) Big yard
2) Two living areas, huge bathroom. 1800 square feet of 1970's charm.  

What I didn't like:
1) The grass to mow in the summer and the leaves to rake in the fall. 
2) It wasn't mine    

And now, here we are.  A home of our very own.  It's nothing ostentatious.  It is FULL of love and laughter.  We were living here when Dez and Bethany were born.      

What I like:
1)  The yard is not too big--it doesn't take ALL of Saturday to mow.  
2)  The house is not  too big--I can thoroughly clean it in a few hours.  
3)  I can paint it.  
4) We've lived here longer than any other place.  It's starting to feel like home and my oldest two have told me that it's our old house.  I love that.  

What I don't like:
1) Nothing really.  If something bothers me, I change it.            

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Strong and Contagious

I read Joshua 1:9, my all time favorite verse, to my kids this week.  It says "Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and Courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed (some versions say be terrified or discouraged), for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."  I was reading it for myself because at this very last semester of  the school year, I get a little spring fever.  At this point, we need some encouragement to press on.  So, I read the whole chapter to them and asked them what God said over and over in that chapter.  They shouted, with enthusiasm "Be strong and contagious!"  If I had only known that it was a prophesy--Riggs was already not feeling well on Sunday night.  He then bestowed this illness on Dez.  Bethany woke up at three this morning with a stomach problem that required washing clothes and towels at that horrid hour.

Do not tremble or be dismayed!

We are surviving!

We are strong!

We are Contagious!        

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Let's try and remember to not forget.

Sunday was my 29th birthday.  It was one of the best birthdays I have had EVER! I cannot imagine that 30 could be any better.  I believe that as you get older you tend to reminisce more often.  It is true for me.  Maybe it's because things have slowed down a little bit and I haven't had too many life altering events in the past year.  I know that the past 10 years has been full of them.  Here's the rundown:
at 19 Met my husband, got engaged.
at 20 Got married in June, found out I was pregnant in August
at 21 had my first child in May and first anniversary in June.
at 22 Found out I was pregnant again and moved from Louisiana to Northwest Arkansas.
at 23 I had my second child.
at 24 Started homeschooling  and went on my dream vacation to NYC at Christmastime
at 25 bought a house and had my third child
at 26 found out I was pregnant after my oldest's fifth birthday party.  
at 27 had my 4th child
at 28 I was recovering
at 29 I finally caught my breath enough to start a blog.  

Now I have a lot of material to work with and maybe, just maybe, a little time to write down a few moments, memories, tips and tricks that I have learned.  Now, I just have to try and remember to not forget all of the little things that have happened in the past 9 years.  When I am looking through pictures, or cleaning out closets, I plan to share all of the little memories that have been jogged by those things.  This is my online, ongoing scrapbook of sorts.  I hope it's as much fun for you as I plan on it being for me.