Monday, August 31, 2009

Up North Part II

This weekend we took another trip up north, this time to our friend's land which is just west of ours. Unfortunately it did not go nearly as smooth as our first trip up, what with all the rain and near freezing over night temperatures, but all in all the kids were AMAZING at staying positive. Even with soaked clothes and wrinkled feet and wet hair and tents with puddles, they found a way to make it work and to still have as much fun as possible, which I think is a wonderful and incredibly useful talent to have in life. By Sunday the skies had cleared and so we got to enjoy a bit of sunshine before the long ride home.....

This little baby was, as usual, a very happy camper.

And guess what?
Tonight is a SCHOOL night!!!!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Up North

We went up north this past weekend with 6 of the kids to my family's land. I spent many summers there myself as a child and remember the woods well. Everyone had a great time, and we were amazed by how incredibly smooth it went with three babies along for the ride. I am too tired to go into detail, but it was amazing and I am grateful that we made it up this year. Ever since we got back into the city Nuala has been reminding me about the badger hole we saw on the side of the road.
"Badger sleeping, badger sleeping mama, shhhhhhhhhhhhh".

Picture Window

Ah yes, there is so much to catch up on and lots to report, but for now we'll return to the picture window where all good things come to those who wait. And oh how they spend hours in this window waiting for the next big something to happen, luckily for them it's a pretty busy street.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Weighing It Out

Saoirse is now 2 months old.
On Wednesday we had her 2 month check up and guess what?
She is perfect!

But perhaps I should back track a bit.....
Saoirse was born a whopping 8lbs 15 ounces, so pretty much 9 pounds even. Of course the nurses and doctors all ohhhed and ahhhed over how big she was, but I have to admit I was relieved that she was relatively small-ish considering that my last pregnancy yielded 15 pounds of baby, granted there were two of them in there. Even my last singleton pregnancy (Micah) ended with a bang since he was a chunky lump of nearly 10 pounds! So even as all the medical staff marveled at Saoirse's large size, I personally marveled at how perfect she was, not too little and certainly not too big.
She took to the breast immediately almost as if she was showing off how skilled she was and we faced very few problems in those early days while establishing our breastfeeding relationship. By the time she was one week old we had pretty much gotten over any of our initial hurdles and she was nursing on demand and even sleeping 5-6 hour stretches at night. I couldn't believe our good fortune and felt incredibly lucky that life with our newest little one was developing with such seamless grace.
As I've mentioned before, and probably will for the rest of my days, when we brought Nuala and Oscar home from the hospital there was nothing seamless about it. We ran into all sorts of trouble during those first few weeks. From Jaundice issues accompanied by billi blankets (which were very strange machines the hospital sent us home with that were essentially very large ace bandage guaze wraps that plugged into humming machines and glowed in the dark) and countless heel pricks that were incredibly painful (just a guess here, but their screams during each collection were a fairly decent indicator) and left their poor little feet looking battled and bruised, to breastfeeding issues that took weeks, heck MONTHS even, to resolve. And who could ever forget the slow start they both had gaining weight? My two relatively GIANT twin babies each lost a great deal of weight in those early weeks and dropped well into the 6's. Oscar lost so much weight that his skin became loose and started to "hang" off his body in an irregular way. By the time they were 2 weeks old we had been into the dr's office more times than I can even remember and they still were not back up to their birth weights. By the time they were 3 weeks old I was told that I would need to start supplementing their diets with formula or pumped milk. It was a very difficult and demoralizing time for us. Eventually they turned the corner and began growing like weeds, like jelly beans, like round little fat little frosted cupcakes. In fact one of Oscar's very first nicknames was "chunker butt", but still those first few weeks were nerve wracking to say the least.
Naturally I assumed that with Saoirse we would dodge all of those weight issues, especially since she was so big at birth, there was only one of her to feed and plenty of milk to go around. So imagine my surprise when during our 2 week appointment she still wasn't back up to her birth weight, weighing in at 8.10 when they wanted her to be back up to 8.15. I watched the numbers on the scale with a sinking heart, and prepared myself for what was to follow.
"You'll need to start waking her up every 4 hours to eat," said the dr. "Do you think perhaps she is just such a good baby that she doesn't complain loud enough to get your attention when you're busy with the other kids?" she asked. At which point I almost laughed out loud, I mean honestly, if anything it was the other kids who were finding creative ways to get my attention at that point and TRUST me they were plenty loud enough!
"You know, she looks great, she looks perfect and if I could ignore the weight I would, but we'll need to see her again in 5 days for a re-check."
I suppressed my tears, held my head high and left the office with an appointment for the following week. Looking back it doesn't sound like such a big deal, but at the time, for me, it was. It was a very big deal. I drove home consumed with feelings of inadequecy and dread, wondering what was wrong with me that I couldn't even manage to bring one small baby back up to her birth weight over the course of 2 long weeks. Was I doing it right? Was I even producing enough? Was something wrong with my child? Was I going to be instructed to supplement again? And did I honestly have the energy or the time to continue commuting out to the dr's office, a 20 minute trip one way, just for weight checks? $30 weight checks? Did I really, REALLY, need to start waking her up at night, during all that precious REM sleep? Really?
By the time I got home I was done feeling sorry for myself and was done feeling like a first time mom. I dipped into Target and bought a baby scale. I began weighing the baby after every diaper change and sometimes in between just for fun. I continued to nurse her on demand as frequently as possible and even tried to squeeze in a few extra sessions throughout our incredibly busy days. I did NOT ever, even one time, wake her up in the middle of the night to nurse. I let her sleep, I let me sleep, and then when she finally did wake on her own at 3 or 4 am I would wonder briefly if I was doing the right thing for us. Morning would bring the sunrise and I couldn't get her on the scale fast enough, willing the numbers to support my decisions. By day two of being a repeat scale offender she had gained a meaningful amount and was back up to birth weight, by the end of day three she was well into the 9's and by day four I was calling the dr's office to cancel her weight check appointment. I felt giddy and relieved and completely validated. I think buying that baby scale saved my sanity during those first few weeks, and it was a rapidly formed habit that I had a difficulty letting go of once the time came to pack the scale away.
Well, time passed by and although Saoirse continued growing and developing right on track, I decided that perhaps I should schedule a 2 month baby check for her. Of course there was some dispute once I phoned the office.
"Well, when was her 1 month check up?", asked the receptionist.
"Oh, she didn't have one", I replied.
At which point I was put on hold a number of times while they pulled the chart and then was actually told that they would have to call me back. The head receptionist called later that afternoon to let me know our dr. was on vacation for the next few weeks but that I NEEDED to bring baby in the following afternoon for a weight check. We talked in circles for what felt like a painfully long time, with her arguing in favor of the chart and me trying to stand my ground. I was at the park watching the older kids playing on the jungle gym, helping the twins down various slides, with Saoirse nuzzled up against me in the baby carrier, her fat little legs hanging down like pastries in the afternoon sun. And she ALMOST got me, this receptionist, to agree to a drive out there, it's hard sometimes to speak up and stand up for what you know to be true. Had it been Maija, had it been me as a mom 10 years ago I would have agreed in a heart beat, I would have never said no, but so much has changed in the past 10 years and as a mother your voice only grows stronger over time.
"Look, I'll be glad to make a 2 month check up with my dr. once she's back from vacation, but I will not be able to bring Saoirse in before that".
And with that we were done talking in circles and I had left any glimmer of mom guilt behind me, at least for the time being (trust me it's everywhere, and even when you win a round there is always another one around the corner). I took Saoirse in for her exam and was very pleased with the numbers on the scale (12.2) and very happy to speak with our dr. about life with 2 month old. We did not get any shots, but that is a story for another time.

Monday, August 17, 2009


So far my favorite name for June8ug is Hedgehog. The reason for this is obvious. I know the time is coming when her hair will inevitably "fall", but until then I will keep shaking my head in wonder and disbelief, fielding comments from admiring strangers and snapping as many pictures of it as possible.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Skipping Stone

A few days ago we hiked down to a nearby "creek" and splashed around for awhile. The kids were very mild and easy going, so we all enjoyed the stillness of the water and the peaceful morning breeze. At one point Micah and Ruari struck up a little conversation that went something like this.....

Ruari: What ya doing?
Micah: (digging around in the water) I am looking for my skipping stone, do you want to help me? It looks smooth.
Ruari: Ok.
(At which point both children began carefully scanning over hundreds of rocks. It's important for you to know that they weren't just looking for any skipping stone, they were in fact looking for a specific skipping stone that Micah had indeed already been skipping down the creek)
Ruari: (holding up a small rock) Is THIS it????
Micah: (inspecting the rock rather skeptically) Hmmmmm......I don't know, let's see if it skips.
Micah: (throwing rock into creek only to find that it does not skip at all, in fact to his dismay it sinks rather dramatically) No, that's not it (matter of factly).

I assure you it was a hilarious conversation to listen to, but maybe you had to be there?

Oscar was a rock throwing menace, he kept finding dangerously large boulders to hoist into the water and after a while all the other kids decided that perhaps they would be safer down stream.

Nuala was the least impressed with the entire adventure and couldn't quite make up her mind about whether or not there was any fun to be had.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Rainy Day Projects

Rainy days equal bake offs in our house and today Ruari decided that we should make some fancy sugar cookies.

When the twins woke up from their naps, they were more than willing to taste test a few.

Nuala knew just what to do, but Oscar took a little longer to figure it all out...

When he flipped the cookie upside down to take a bite he lost a bunch of the toppings in his lap, hence the "Oh no" comment. Oddly enough, once he got going he ate nearly all of his cookie, while Nuala on the other hand never finished more than a few bites. Maybe because she never figured out how to lift it off the table?

State Fair Bargains

We went to the Fair for opening day. We braved the masses and the sweltering sun all in the name of tradition, all for the sake of a cream puff. It was Hunger Task Force day at the Fair and so we took full advantage of the reduced gate charge by donating a bag full of non-perishables (us and about a million others!). Our family of 10 got in for a mere $12.

Then it was off to the mid-way where the kids were more than happy to wait in long lines for short stomach lurching rides. Fortunately for us it was Dollar ride day and so we sponsored 10 rides for each 'big kid' and only spent $50 in the process. What's more, Sarah volunteered to over see the mid-way activities and so we were able to take the 3 little kids around to the less thrilling (but perhaps just as stomach lurching) animal barns.

And if you are wondering how on earth you can get away with feeding 10 people at the Fair without taking out a small loan, well I have 4 words for you.....Herb Kohl's Milk House. A long running attraction at the Fair, this little milk stand offers different flavors of milk for 25 CENTS a cup!!! Choose from banana, root beer, cherry vanilla, strawberry or of course chocolate and you will not be disappointed. Each of us picked 2 flavors to sip on and wound up with very full bellies for under $10. In addition to this we found the Root Beer Barrel's to be the cheapest way to quench our thirst. You can buy a 46 oz. re-usable plastic cup there for $5 and refill it unlimited times for $2.50. Luckily none of our kids mind sharing germs, especially when they're thirsty!

Another cheap food fix is the French Fry Hut. They've got fries in all sizes and we settled on a 64 oz. basket that cost $9 and had everyone licking salt and ketchup off their fingers.

And just so you don't think I am the biggest cheapskate on the planet, we didn't bargain hunt the entire time we were there. Maija and Sidhe joined forces (and piggy banks) to purchase a lovely parasol from a curbside vendor and we did wind up with a box of 6 Creme Puffs To Go. Plus, in all honesty the rides are where it is at for our crew. Nuala and Oscar even got to go on their first ride this year. It was hilarious! They piled into this friendly red dragon with Finn and Ruari and by the time all 4 kids were belted in the poor thing looked as if it might just tumble over from the pressure of it all. It didn't of course, but still my heart was pounding a little faster than usual!

A few years ago this was the exact same ride that Micah choose as his first mid-way adventure....

I also got a few over exposures as well before catching my settings....

So there you have it, our annual trip to the Fair, and even though not a single one of us made it home without a sunburn (yes, even poor Saoirse who was in the Bjorn the entire time, came home with red raccoon eyes) we all had a great time and will definitely go back for more next year. Ummm, more fun that is, not more sunburn. How on earth did I forget the sunscreen?!?


Just in case you need a little cheering up today....

Monday, August 3, 2009

8 Weeks

Our eighth child is a full eight weeks old and is sleeping a full eight hours at night. I know I've mentioned how 7 has been my favorite number for years, but 8 has made a lasting impression this past year.
Lucky number EIGHT.

While cleaning out my NEW craft closet (totally deserves a post all of it's own) this afternoon, I found a super soft remnant from the bitty baby blankie project and couldn't help tossing it over a bean bag chair for an impromptu photo shoot. Luckily Saoirse was fairly cooperative.

Until the end of course....