Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Getting what we can handle, or, how to not be a braggy know-it-all. :)

Asher is an awesome baby.

Strike that, all of my kids were awesome in their own way. I don't think there is any such thing as a bad baby, but Asher is definitely awesome. He lets me sleep. As in, from day one he only woke up one time a night to eat and immediately went back to sleep. No screaming from gas, no cries for no reason, nothing just a little whine to let me know that he was hungry and would like a diaper change, then a quick swaddle and a snack and he was good to go.

The night before last he pulled an all-nighter (as in slept all night long from 8:15-6:45). Last night, he did it again. Bliss.

Here's the thing: My other children were NOT sleepers. Nathaniel was up every 45 minutes, Aaron and Benjamin, about every 2 hours. This lasted for MONTHS. MONTHS I tell you! Of course, they made up for it by being good nappers or low key or whatever. I did everything I could to get these kids to sleep better at night. I tried co-sleeping (no one slept), I tried letting them fuss for a bit, but then they would get so worked up that they couldn't get back to sleep, I tried pleading with them and negotiating, "For the love of everything that is holy, please let me sleep!!" Then, I just figured that I had hungry kids so I better just suck it up and deal with it. Which was why everyone said I looked tired those first years of their lives.

I have yet to hear that I look tired with Asher. :)

I truly think that God is giving us what we can handle and is also keeping us humble.

I am 100% sure that if my first baby slept well I would have been a braggy mom. I would have told everyone what they were doing wrong and how to "fix" their kids. I would have pointed out that my kids slept through the night, what is wrong with you as a mom that your children don't? Instead, I got to be on the other end of that sometimes and, since I'm confident in my parenting style and know my kiddos and their temperaments, I got to learn that some babies sleep, and some don't.

As my pregnancy with Asher came to a close I found myself dreading the sleepless nights. The thought of being woken up 3-4 times a night made me cringe. I didn't want to deal with it!

So, the first night in the hospital came and I put Asher in the nursery so I could catch what I thought would be a short cat nap before he needed to eat again. Imagine my surprise when I was woken up 5 hours later to a still sleeping baby who they thought probably should eat again. Then, we got home and he was still only getting up once a night. I waited and waited for the inevitable to happen, but instead, he started sleeping even better!

So, now I know. God has given us the baby we need for the season we are in. Each child has been a blessing in his own way, and it's clear that if I had a non-sleeper I would end up on the news...:)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Changing my views.

The other week I overheard a conversation between some women that made my brain start to tick and had me composing a blog post in my mind.

The conversation went something like this:

Woman 1: Oh...I don't let people take my picture. I'm way too fat now.

Women surrounding her: Oh no! You aren't fat! You look great!

Woman 1: You're just being nice. I do let people take pictures of me when I'm not fat, but I'm definitely fat.

Women around her: You look fantastic, for what it's worth. We're fat!

Add to this the regular woe of women talk, all while they are chasing around toddlers waiting for VBS to open up.

In my brain I was shouting: Shut up! You are all beautiful! Why do we do this to ourselves? Why can't we feel good about our bodies? Why do we have to think that we need to look like pre-pubescent boys to be considered healthy and beautiful? (Add in extra frustrations here).

I was going to write a post about how we should encourage one another. We should jump into the photos with our kids because they aren't going to see our extra rolls or our imperfections, just their mothers.

Then, I got sick.

Bear with me for a minute here.

I worked really hard during Asher's pregnancy to stay active and eat right. Sure, I gained the same amount of weight I always do, but I felt great and I thought I looked great.

Afterwards, I still felt great and thought I was looking pretty good for having just had a baby (again, bear with me, this is not me asking for "you look great!!" comments).

I refused to get on the scale because I know that it takes time to get back and I didn't want to be freaked out by something that is just a number and has no bearing on who I am as a person.

But, I got sick and had to go to Urgent Care.

Guess what they do when you go to Urgent Care? They make you step on a scale.

I stepped on with trepidation, but thought, "How bad can it be? I'm 4 weeks post partum, I'm sure I within a certain range."

The number flashed before my eyes (mind you, I was wearing jeans and shoes, which definitely adds 10 pounds, right? lol) and my self esteem plummeted.

That stupid number was all I could see, which made all of those good feelings I had from all of the healthy choices I've been making for the past year and a half go flying away. For the rest of the day (and week, to be honest) all I could think about was my stomach that still makes me look about 5 months pregnant if I'm not sucking it in (hello, I just had my 4th baby, 4 weeks ago!!). All I could think about was how "fat" I was and how awful I felt and how ugly I was.

I found myself avoiding the camera. We were up in the beautiful Sequoia forest and King's Canyon and I was there with my youth group and my family and I was ducking away from the photos or shielding myself with children.

I was those women.

Finally, I told Sam how I was feeling and he told me to knock it off because he married a beautiful woman and he wasn't about to not be married to one, so I needed to stop getting so down on myself. (He's great...I have an awesome, supportive husband).

He's right. Of course, I am still recovering from having a baby and my body will continue to change, especially as I get back into working out and continue to train for the 1/2 marathon. But, my kids love me (and love to play with my squishy belly) and I want them to look back and see pictures of us enjoying life together. I want them to remember a mom who loved herself and loved them as well.

In the Bible it says we should love others as we love ourselves. I do a pretty crappy job of loving myself and treating myself well. It's time to change that.

So, I changed my facebook heading photo. I put up our most recent family photo in front of General Grant, the Giant Sequoia tree. After the photo was taken I picked myself apart. But, I'm putting it up to show that I'm trying to not let it bug me. I love my family and I love that it's complete in this picture. I'm not going to let my brain get in the way anymore.

I challenge others to do this too. Get in the picture. Stop being so negative. Chances are, in 5 years you will look back longingly on those photos and wish you looked as good as you did then (which is what I find myself doing...ha!).

Monday, July 15, 2013

How we do allowance (and why)

We recently implemented allowances in our house. It's our way of teaching our children financial responsibility. We want them to know that doing the jobs that they are assigned (anything above and beyond basic responsibility for themselves) will help them earn money to do things that they want to do. We also want them to know that money doesn't grow on trees and that we work very hard for the things that we have. Since Sam and I don't have people handing us money to go do fun things, we want the boys to work for the money to spend on fun things as well.

Disclaimer: When we do fun things as a family, we pay for our kids. We aren't going to make them pay for a family movie or an ice cream outing or a trip to the zoo. We did, however, make Nathaniel choose between a birthday party and getting his Disneyland pass this year. That was a hard decision for him to make, but he chose a pass because of how much fun he has at Disney all year long. Good choice, kiddo!

Here's how allowance works in our family:

Starting at the age of 4 we give a dollar per age a week. Yes, that's a lot, but out of that we are teaching the kids to tithe 10% to church. We also make them buy their own treats. When we are out and they want gum, they buy it themselves. When Nathaniel wants to buy a snack at school from the snack shed, he pays for half of his snack card. When they want a toy, they buy it. When they want to buy a present for a friend that is above the budget we have set for the present, they use their money for that present.

The general chores that the boys have to do just for being a part of our family include cleaning up their places at the table after meal times, making their beds and putting their clothes away (not to mention cleaning up their toys).

Aaron has to empty all of the garbage cans 2 times a week and help his brother with the dog poop. He also has to pick up shoes and put them away and pick up dirty clothes and put them in the laundry.

Nathaniel scoops the cat poop two times a week, picks up dog poop, and empties the dryer when it is finished (I haven't taught him the finer points of drying clothes and would rather not have my items shrunk, so he hasn't gotten the lesson in switching over the loads yet, we're working on it). He also vacuums when we ask him to and will dust and help me with the bathrooms when I clean them (he's really good at scrubbing toilets!).

The kids have a specific time to do their chores, and if it doesn't get done, then they have to pay the person who does the chore for him. Our reasoning behind this is that we have to pay others when we don't want to do, so they need to pay someone for doing what they don't want to do.

So far, so good.  Aaron had a week where he gave away all of his money, and that made him sad, but the next week he earned all of his money. And, now they don't ask for things, they know that they have to use their own money. We even had a fun lesson in the toy aisle last weekend after they spent all of their allowance on candy and junk. They saw how much the cool toys were and that they didn't have enough left to spend.

Win/win! Here's hoping they grow up to be financially responsible!

Friday, July 5, 2013

The final installment :)

In the wee hours of the morning on Independence Day, our final son was born. Here is his story (for those who are interested/curious and for remembering later).

Way back in November when I went in for my first prenatal check up I was given an estimated due date of June 30th. Knowing that I have never gone early in my entire history of pregnancies (two children born on their due date and one born way past it), I gritted my teeth and prepared for a July baby. But, as my pregnancy progressed the date was slowly bumped up to June 28th and I began to have hopes that I would NOT be pregnant in July.

Unfortunately, once May hit all of the "You're ginormous!" comments began to fly, along with the "you will never make it to your due date, that baby will come early for sure!" comments. Which, as most of my friends know, drive me up the wall. It got to the point where I didn't even want to go out in public because I didn't want to have to smile and reassure people that no, I wasn't having twins and that I make big babies who come out just fine.

So, by the time the end of June rolled around I was done. I was done being pregnant, I was done waddling everywhere, and I was done with people asking me if I had had the baby yet.

And yet, July 1 rolled around, and there I was, still pregnant.

Mind you, I was measuring smaller than I ever had with any other pregnancy (I was almost 41 weeks and I was still measuring 38, where in earlier pregnancies I measured 41 at 38...). I was also fitter than any other pregnancy (I worked out up to 39 weeks, and by working out I don't mean walking on the treadmill, I mean back squatting 100 pounds and shoulder pressing 65 pounds. I also power walked 2 miles when I was 40 weeks). But, I was still done. I went in for my non-stress test and everything looked great. A nice steady heart beat for the baby, lots of kicks and swishes, and perfectly measuring fluid. Neither myself, nor my doctor, were worried and there was mention of possible induction, but that was completely up to me, to which I was adamant that I wouldn't induce. Babies come when they are ready.

I was, however, discouraged. I was discouraged because I was finished working and didn't have anything really planned or keeping me occupied. I was discouraged because with the history of my pregnancies and deliveries I was certain that I just wouldn't ever go into labor on my own. It felt like my body was broken (when, in reality, my body is pretty awesome at growing human beings considering I carried 4 children to term). Plus, every night for about a week I would have contractions for 2 hours and then they would stop. It all felt very frustrating.

Finally, enough was enough and I was ready to have the baby, no matter what. When I was pregnant with Benjamin I was told that they would schedule me for a c-section if he wasn't born by my next appointment (because I was a VBAC and my doctor was skeptical that I could actually deliver him based on his estimated size. Turns out, Aaron just had a super huge noggin and was poorly positioned. It had nothing to do with his weight). Because of that news I had a friend make me a magic brew (involving ice cream, root beer and enough Castor Oil to drown a rat) which I drank and which kick started my labor 40 minutes later. So, on the evening of July 3rd I invited my friend over to make her magic brew once again...

After drinking the drink (and giggling once again at the thought of what it could do to me instead of putting me into labor) I said good bye to my friend and settled down on the couch to watch a movie with Sam and wait and see what happened. About an hour later my contractions kicked in again. I thought for sure that it was going to be false labor so I didn't get my hopes up. After all, the other 2 times that my labor began on it's own (with Nathaniel and Benjamin) it started off with my water breaking, I didn't actually think that I would start with real contractions.

But, at around 10:30 I decided to start timing them and really paid attention to the intensity. It certainly felt real, so I started moving around and getting my final stuff together and texting friends that this could be it. At about midnight our friend arrived to take care of our children and I was still wondering if I was really in labor. I mean, sure, the contractions were about 6 minutes apart, but they didn't hurt a ton and I felt nothing in between.

I think I was in denial because of the week I had been having.

At 12:40 Sam and I headed out to the hospital. I figured that even if I wasn't in real labor (because 3 minutes apart was false labor?), they would keep me because of how far I was already progressed from earlier appointments and because I was so far over my due date. My doctor had already said that I could come in and be induced any time, so I figured I could just do that if I wasn't in true labor.

We parked in the parking lot and walked towards maternity. During the walk (probably about 200 yards) I had three contractions. A nice security guard asked me if I knew where maternity was (yes, thank you), asked why we walked so far (because I wanted to, thanks) and then said that she wasn't going to get me a wheelchair because I had already walked so far and I should just keep going. Gee, thanks.

We got into Maternity and I walked in saying that I was in labor. The charge nurse asked me if my water broke, which I told her no (then paused for my contraction). I handed them my paperwork and they walked me back to the delivery room.

It was 1:00 am.

I changed into my lovely gown (truly beautiful, lol) and started answering the billion questions being asked of me. As all of this happened my contractions started coming about 1 minute apart. These weren't the pleasant waves I had experienced before, they were the "Holy hell, why is someone ripping me apart with a vice while kicking me!?" types of pain. I was asked if I wanted an epidural and I had replied, "I'm going to wait and see." and 2 minutes later said, "Yes, I want the epidural."

For those who don't know, an epidural is only given after you have a bag of fluid given through an IV so that you are properly hydrated. I had yet to be hooked up to the IV, but I also knew I needed antibiotics because I had tested positive for Group B Strep. Yet, all the while I'm being asked questions (Do you have a car seat?  How much do you weigh? When did you last eat? When did you last poop? How old are your children?) and having major contractions. The nurse was trying to keep me on the bed so that she could monitor the baby, but I wouldn't sit still (besides, she told me he had to move down still and I figured lying on the bed was not going to help that at all). The other nurse wanted to start my IV, but I was having so many contractions that we couldn't hold still long enough for her to stick me safely.

We finally started the IV and got my blood drawn for the labs (oof) and I was in major pain. I begged for something to take the edge off until I could get my epidural. Begging for Demerol or something. In the back of my mind I was thinking that there was no way I could do this and also remembered reading that when you were sure you were done, that you were probably in transition and it wouldn't be much longer.

All this time, the nurse was asking me questions and I kept mouthing to Sam, "Who cares? Shut up!" Finally, when she asked me how much I weighed before I got pregnant I tried to answer and out came, "Who cares?! What does it matter!? Shut up!!!" Because, really, I was doing everything I could to relax and breathe and concentrate and I was being asked to answer seemingly random questions. At this point both nurses left the room. I think they were trying to get the anesthesiologist and one was getting morphine. At this point it was 2 am and I said, "I have to push!" Sam ran out and grabbed a nurse and said, "She said she had to push!"

They got me on the bed quick and checked and I was at a 7 (I was at a 3 when I walked in at 1:00 am). At this point the question nurse gave me a little bit of morphine (which, by the way, didn't do diddly squat. The nurse said it made me tired, but it was 2 in the morning so I don't know how much of that was morphine and how much was being 2 in the morning and exhausted from constant pain). I knew at that point that there would be no epidural.

The pain became so intense that as I tried to breathe all I could do was scream and yell.

It was at this point that 2 thoughts were going through my head (aside from "Make it stop!")

1. I was officially THAT patient. The one who screamed during labor. It was 2:30 in the morning and I was screaming, probably waking up a ton of sleeping women. I felt horrible.

2. Every single person was telling me to breathe. One or two people were showing me the "hee hee hoo" technique (which, by the way, I knew, I just couldn't do it at that point). I thought, "If anyone in here starts quoting Bill Cosby I'm going to lose it."

Everything from this point was a blur. I remember hearing them call for the doctor to come quickly.

I remember them breaking my water (because for the first time out of three children my water hadn't broke on it's own or in an attempt to get labor going)

I remember having a contraction and at the end of the contraction pushing without consciously doing so. That freaked me out because no one was around and no one was paying attention to whether or not a baby would come out.

I remember Nurse Questions (I don't remember her name for the life of me) trying to lay me flat on my back and I snapped at her, "No! I won't be able to push a baby out lying flat on my back!"

I pushed and pushed and pushed and being told to push one more time numerous times. Finally, after one more mighty push, the baby was out and on my chest, crying angrily at the world for interrupting his warm, happy place.

We hung out for awhile and Sam cut the cord. Every time a nurse tried to take the baby to get his stats I kept saying, "Oh no, he's fine. I'm just going to hold him for a minute more..."

I then started to apologize to everyone for being so snappy and rude (I really did feel bad, especially for yelling at Nurse Questions to shut up). I was also able to get up right away (after delivering the placenta) and use the restroom.

After all of that I had a few realizations.

1. I was able to have the labor that I always wanted. It was fast and unmedicated (I don't count the morphine because it didn't touch the pain, or make me not care about the pain, it did nothing, really, because it didn't have time to do anything).
2. Fast and unmedicated labors suck. I am glad I experienced it. I am grateful to be able to compare it to everything else I ever experienced. I don't think I would ever want to do it again. But, that could be because I knew that this was the last baby we would have, and having done this 4 times I don't know that I would ever want to do any type of labor again.
3. The recovery from this labor has been the best, but things I thought were side effects of having an epidural are actually just side effects of having a baby (shortness of breath when I stand, for one. Being dizzy and having low blood pressure, for two).
4. I always said that if I had a short labor I think I could do it without pain meds. That's not true as I was begging for the pain meds. The thing is, when the labor is short there is simply no time for pain meds which probably helped me out in the long run.
5. I am, however, proud that I could do it (not that I had a choice, lol) but it makes me realize how powerful my body is and how strong I actually am, not just physically, but mentally as well. I never once said that I couldn't do it, just that I didn't want to. But, I had this image in my head of being on a roller coaster. At this point I knew that it was like being at the top of the big hill of a massive roller coaster and the only thing I could do was ride the ride because no one would stop the ride at the top to let me off.

I don't want to romanticize it. I know people who are HUGE advocates for non-medicated births. I think overall it is best, but at the same time, it's up to the person in the position of giving birth. I think that voluntary C-sections are unnecessary and not safe. I also think inducing just to induce early is unnecessary and unsafe (and also leads to unnecessary C-sections), but I think that telling someone that taking an epidural is a bad thing is not our business.

Anyways, Asher Roland was born at 2:44am on July 4, 2013. He weighed 9 pounds 12 ounces and was 21.5 inches long. I think he looks the most like Nathaniel did, and he has the lightest covering of blondish brown hair (something none of my kids ever had). He nurses like a champ and is mostly awake at night (which is about right considering the kicks and punches I felt the last few weeks every night). He is perfect. :) We are so happy.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


I received an email from an old friend this past week.

It was a friend who had walked out of my life many many years ago. As in, met with me after packing up all of his belongings, had a hard conversation with me, and then never looked back.

At the time it hurt.

A lot.

It was a deep wound that made me question my ability to have normal friendships and wonder where things went awry. It also added to the long list of reasons I don't open myself up to people easily.

Openness = ability to hurt me. Therefore, I will let you in to my life just far enough so you feel like you know me, but in actuality, few know the deep dark places of my soul (and the joys that are also there).

This friend was asking me for forgiveness. Forgiveness for walking out of my life, and forgiveness for not being able to be a good friend to me.

In actuality, I hadn't thought much about this person for awhile. I figured that circumstances made it so we shouldn't be friends anymore, and I had come to accept that.

It made me sad, but I had honestly moved on.


But, when I saw that familiar name in my inbox I stopped and took a deep breath. I wasn't sure if I wanted to open up the email and open up the wounds that I had so carefully put back together. But, I clicked and started reading.

His email made me weep. Not because he was asking me for forgiveness, that in itself was beautiful and freeing. It made me weep because of the purpose he was emailing me.

Apparently someone close to him had told him that the impact of him leaving my life had rippling effects that caused all sorts of problems for me.

I won't go into all of the lies told about me to this person, but basically someone else had caused me a lot of strife and instead of owning up he passed the blame.

 All of this was hurt I had dealt with in the past and had moved beyond.

But...because of the false information passed to him, my old friend had struggled with guilt. That guilt has affected his spiritual life. That guilt had made him feel unworthy in other relationships, and like he had no right to be considered a friend. It made him doubt things. And so...I wept. I wept for the harm done to this person in my name.

You see, he's not the first person from my past who has come forward to ask for forgiveness from a certain time period. He's probably the 3rd or 4th.

One name keeps coming up of how they were either used by this person to get information about me or about how they judged me based on false information. (Sorry, I'm not going to go into specific details. Those details are not important).

And so...I have a choice. I once again have to choose to forgive this person for the deep wounds he caused, not only in my life, but in so many other people's lives. Do I choose to forgive? I do. But, how do I deal with this? Do I confront this person who has never come to me to ask for forgiveness? Do I tell him how many people he harmed with choices he made that were (in hindsight) extremely immature? Do I let him know how deeply he has hurt multiple people, while he clearly is unaffected?

In reality, no. I know that there is nothing I can say that will impact him. He will probably go through life, blissfully unaware of the wounds he caused. I'm sure in his mind he did the best he could, given his resources, his lack of support, and what-not. I'm also sure that, given how many years ago this all went down, that in his mind it happened exactly how he said it did.

But, it has made me more aware. It makes me aware of my own words and how powerful they are. Words can hurt people, whether said in jest or spoken to make myself look righteous, when in reality I play a part as well.

It has also made me aware of how deep wounds can go, and how even when I think that I'm "over" something, it simply takes one email to remind me of those hurts. But, it's how I choose to react which is important. So, while I'm sad at the negative impact this person had on so many people, I also had a good giggle at the skewed view people had/have of me.

I think this is a bit disjointed. That's what happens when I try to blog deeply while toddlers climb on me, children whine at me and my husband keeps telling me it's dinner time. :) But, it's what has been rolling around in my brain as of late. Take it for what it is.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


I don't know if I've ever fully been honest with people about the struggles I had growing up in a family full of boys.

Now, mind you, in my immediate family it was my mom, my brother and I for much of the time, so there my brother was out numbered (even the dog was a girl, and the cat was neutered so...).

But, on my dad's side of the family I was THE girl. Born smack-dab in the midst of a VERY male-centric family. I was also the sister of the first born great-grandson, born to the first-born grandson, so I kind of got a first row seat to the grandness that was all things boy.

Whenever we went to visit family I was surrounded by boys and all things boy. Army men, toy guns, camouflage, etc. I also had 4 boy cousins who were very close in age to me. Along with Uncles galore (and one very cool Aunt, who was also the only girl with 4 brothers...).

Sometimes, it felt like instead of being treated special because I was the girl, I was treated as an after thought. I remember pictures being taken of the boy cousins together, and being left out (but eventually let into the pictures). I remember the boys getting to go and do things together and one Uncle (who I'm sure was trying to be nice to me, but my sensitivity got the better of me) telling me that I couldn't come because it was a boy thing and I was a girl...

It made me a stronger person, I know it. I was very Tom-boy a incredibly competitive. It made me strive to be faster and stronger because, let's face it, I needed to be able to keep up with them if I wanted to be included.

But, as I grew into womanhood, it made me incredibly self-conscious and self-doubting. I was not a typical girl. Dresses and make up and other "girly" things did not interest me AT ALL. I would rather hang out with the guys watching Army of Darkness and Monty Python movies than watching chick flicks (Seriously, a guy friend actually introduced me to the Princess Bride...). I was also drawn into leadership roles in ministry, and was told that those were reserved for "the menfolk", which made me doubt my womanhood even more.

I have journal pages filled of doubt. I thought that God had made a mistake when He created me. I wondered, for the life of me, why I was made a girl instead of a boy.

Now, none of this had anything to do with sexual preference. I was never a closet lesbian, or secretly bisexual. Of course, knowing the way that some people think, I probably would have been encouraged to "investigate" that side, but I always have been attracted to men.

Once, I even looked my name up in the baby name book in the book store, thinking that perhaps my name meant something really cool.

Nope. Carrie, short for Caroline. A feminine form of the name Charles, which means, "Strong and masculine."

Talk about your ego blow! Even my name was wrong!

Fast forward 12 years to 32 year old Carrie.

On Tuesday I went in for my regular OB appointment to check the baby's heart rate, pee in a cup and have my weight and BP checked. I also am super lucky to have an OB who does an ultrasound at every appointment just because. I asked her if maybe we could have a peek to see if we could see anything gender-wise with this baby. She was skeptical because I'm only 15 weeks, so it's kind of early to tell for sure.

Within 30 seconds I saw it plainly.

I'm a mom to 4 boys. :)

Relief flooded my veins as I was super nervous about changing things up with having a girl (another post for another time).

As I was processing this whole thing, I realized, everything I experienced, all of my feelings of short comings, it was all preparation for things to come. God knew that I would be a mom to boys. God knew that I needed to be strong and low maintenance to be able to keep up with my amazing brood of boys.

So, if I could go back and talk to my 20 year old self, I would tell myself to buck it up, that the best is yet to come.