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.