Sunday, September 25, 2016

Rebecca's Birth

Rebecca is 5 weeks old today, and I'm just now sitting down to recount her birth. I don't know why I  think it's so important but I want to remember it, and I want her to be able to read it when she's older.
So backing up to August now, actually further. When Kenny left for his trip to Alaska at the end of July (Yes I need to blog about that too) I asked him to give me priesthood blessing before he left. I wasn't super concerned that the baby would come while he was gone, because I never have my babies early. But of course it was a possibility. So one night after the kids went to bed he gave me a blessing. Wow! I don't think I really realized how much anxiety I had about the baby coming. But I just started crying and felt such peace and relief that I would be able to handle yet another child in our already busy home. It gave me strength and reassurance to remember that Heavenly Father is keenly aware of my situation and my needs.

Now to August...she was due on the 4th, and my due date came and went. I was huge and very uncomfortable. Going past my due date this time wasn't nearly as awful as it was when I went over with Briggs. Probably because with Briggs, my mom and Sarah had come with the intent to help out after his birth. They had been there for about 12 days, and he decided to be born in the morning on the day they flew home. So that made me very upset. Thankfully I didn't have that pressure this time since my mom is just 1 hr. 20 min. away! :)

On Saturday night we watched TV after the kids were asleep. I noticed I had a few contractions about 15 minutes apart and told Kenny. He said that if I was in labor we should go on a walk and get things going. But I said that I would rather get some rest while I could and that if it was labor, then it would happen on its own. So we went to bed and I would sort of wake up to contractions and go back to sleep. But I finally got up around midnight and got in the shower. I blow-dryed my hair and packed some stuff in a bag for the hospital. I sat in my rocking chair and listened to soft music while the contractions came. I called my mom around 1 a.m. I think and told her I was in labor. She drove out to our house and we drove to the hospital. Kenny gave me a priesthood blessing before we left, which I'm, always very grateful for. I had a lot of peace throughout this whole experience and I attribute that to the countless prayers I'd said in the preceeding months, and the priesthood blessings I'd received from my husband. I was prepared for whatever and knew that everything would be fine. We got there around 3 a.m. and it took a little while to get checked in. I told Kenny on the way to the hospital that maybe this time I would just get an epidural. I hadn't planned on that, I had been preparing for another natural birth. But the pain always gets to me and makes me question my decision. So I said it would just be a lot easier this way. My contractions were getting pretty strong at this point and by the time we walked up to the labor and delivery unit, I was having to stop walking to breathe through them. The nurses were all pretty chill until they checked me and realized I was at an 8, and that it was my sixth baby. I asked if it was possible for me to get an epidural still, and she said it was too late.  I had gone there with the thought that soon all the pain would go away, and then I had to quickly change my mindset. Surprisingly I was still very calm about it, and just thought "Alright let's do this!"

They all started moving really quickly and called the doctor and got things ready. One thing I really hate about the hospital is how they have so many stupid procedures to go through. They have to give me an IV and get me all strapped up to the baby monitor and sit there asking me a hundred questions and having me sign papers, etc. while I wish they'd leave me the heck alone and just let me focus on having a baby! It didn't last long though. The doctor came in and introduced herself. I'd never met her before, but I really liked her. She was calm, confident, and helpful. This was my fourth natural birth, and I think I felt more in control of my thoughts this time than any other time. I had continually prayed for angels to attend me there and I really felt strengthened by that. I knew I had women on both sides of the veil praying for me and helping me. I knew my body was capable, and this time I stayed in check mentally, and was much more positive. I kept repeating the scripture in my mind, "I can do all things through Christ, which strengthens me." Kenny was super helpful, too. He held my hand through it all and repeatedly told me I was doing such a great job and reminding me how strong I was. He loves when they have the baby monitor on me because he loves watching the chart as it rises and falls. I think it helps him feel more involved when he can get a visual of what's going on with my body haha. I don't know how long I pushed for, but it seemed a little longer than other babies. My mind sort of checks out sometimes while I'm pushing and it's like I'm not in my body. I don't know how to explain it, except that I have no memory of certain parts of it and I don't know how much time passes. Probably only like 1 second, but it's still weird to "come to" during those times. She was born at 4:20 a.m. just as perfect as can be. She had a full head of dark hair, and a good pair of lungs. There is just nothing like the euphoria of when they place that brand new baby in your arms. Once the cord stopped pulsing they let Kenny cut it. I put her skin to skin and started nursing her and she took to it immediately. Then they weighed her and we found out how very big she was! I was expecting in the 9 pound range like Briggs, but she was 10 pounds 5 ounces and 21 inches long! Such a perfect, big baby.

Here's an interesting thing with my kids' birth weights. The first 3 were in the 7 pound range, and have gone up a pound every time since then. So Madison was 7# 10 oz.. Kelsey was 8# 1 oz. Briggs was 9# 8 oz. and now Rebecca 10# 5 oz. I told Kenny we'd better stop because I don't think I could do an 11 pounder! Yikes. Once all the nurses and everyone left the room we finally got to decide on a name for her. We chose Rebecca Lindsay Weston.

Kenny went and got me some breakfast and chocolate milk--which is my victory drink after having a baby. :) He didn't stay too long because my mom had to get home since Kim's kids were at her house and Kim had flown out that night (of course! haha we know how to time things). So Tim had gone over to my parents house to be with kim's kids, so that mom could come out here to be with my kids haha. But they all had church duties so Kenny went home and my mom left. He brought the kids by that day to see their new baby sister. They were so excited to see her and hold her. It was just the sweetest thing. My heart was so full of love for my family. Such tender moments.

I was able to go home on Monday afternoon. We are so blessed to have her in our home and as a part of our family. Of course there's a lot of adjustments and challenges that come with a new baby. But it's all part of the journey. Learning to gracefully accept the good with the bad, the easy with the hard. They seem to always go hand in hand. Some of life's biggest lessons to be learned amidst childbearing/rearing. Mostly we are so grateful to God for entrusting another one of His beautiful spirit children to us. We are all "healthy, happy, and terrific".

**Now Becca is 7 weeks old and I'm just posting this without pictures. Hopefully I'll get around to that before she's 20 years old. ;)

Sunday, September 11, 2016

More Visitors!

***I wrote this post like 6 weeks ago or something. I still never got the pictures, but I'm just going to post it and move on since I'm so behind.***

My computer is being too slow and dumb to load pictures, so I'm just going to have to write down what I want and add pictures later.

My cute sister-in-law Kerri, and her two darling girls Jane and Lyla flew all the way from Germany BY HERSELF. We were lucky enough to have her down here in Texas from the 12th-18th. On Wednesday, the 13th I drove into Houston and my mom babysat our kids while Kerri and I went to the temple together. We did initiatory work instead of  regular endowment session. I had a really neat experience while in the temple. During one of the names, I could feel my daughter's spirit so strong! Not as like a baby though. It was just her, but her spirit was mature and older and equal to mine. I knew she was right there with me, and it felt like those words in the blessing were just for me, and tears were just streaming down my face it was such a sweet and powerful experience. Not only me, but the temple worker who was there giving the blessing was also crying really hard and told me afterwards that she had just felt this really strong connection to the early saints and when they used to give each other blessings before they gave birth. It was so memorable and I was really grateful for that tender mercy. I'm getting so excited to hold and meet this sweet babe.

I went home later that afternoon so Brynlee could make it to her dance camp. I had signed her up long before. She had a fun time, and I love it because it's about 5 minutes from our house! :) I am thinking I want to sort of only give my kids two options of extra curricular activities. We have soccer fields and a little dance studio super close to our house so I'd like to just say you can pick one of those two things and then I don't have to drive all over the place. Anything and everything else is a half hour away. Anyways...they did a different dance style each night for 4 nights and she had a lot of fun. I wanted her to get a taste of each of them so she's sure of what she wants to do if I enroll her in anything.

Thursday the 14th, my mom and Kerri and Cami and their kids all came out here to our house! We got to celebrate sweet Lyla's first birthday! They all stayed the night and we had fun swimming and playing around the next day. They left in the afternoon. I was so glad I got to know Kerri a little bit better and now the kids will have real memories of playing with their Germany cousins instead of just google hangouts on Sundays :).

That evening we had been invited to go swimming with a couple families in our ward. The couple that invited us doesn't have any kids, and the other family that came has one little boy in nursery with Briggs. I felt bad that we severely dominated their pool, but it was fun to get to know them better. We're still trying to make friends and get to know people in this ward. Then we went home and put the kids to bed. A couple hours later my cousin Elise and her family arrived! They're on their way to Virginia for a family reunion and I was so glad they stopped here on the way. I haven't seen her in years! Our kids were getting along so well and it's only too bad we couldn't be with them longer. It was a short but sweet visit.

Madison is currently obsessed with becoming a police officer when she grows up. She and her cousin Sam really got into the movie Zootopia and each take one of the main characters and role play the movie out. My mom has been so nice to further indulge this fantasy with getting them police officer costumes. She can often be seen wearing her hat and badge around the house, even the pants too. The other day we got pulled over by a cop because he wanted to let me know one of my brake lights was out (which Kenny had told me a couple days before we just hadn't gotten around to getting it fixed). But Madi was very happy to see a real live police officer in action. Then this weekend we had another cop show up at our house looking for one of the daughters of the people that used to live in this house before us. I gave him the information I had and that was it. But as soon as Madi saw him she ran and got her hat and came back out to the door. He laughed when he saw her and complimented her on her "nice hat" haha. She was so pleased!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Aquarium, etc.

 This past Thursday I went to Houston again. My parents are out of town, but Kim and her kids are staying there right now. Cami came out and hung out too and we took the kids swimming. I stayed the night and the next day Kim and I took our kids to the Houston Aquarium. It was once again a little overpriced, but it was something to do out of the house and the kids really loved it. We had a fun time, and then went to Sonic for lunch afterwards. I came back that afternoon, since I needed to pick up Kenny and Ty that evening. We're obviously trying to soak up a bunch of cousin time while we can before the Bakers leave for Belgium. Caleb's there right now on a house-hunting trip.

 Eliza and Kelsey. They have somewhat of an intense love-hate relationship, but I was happy to catch them showing some love this time :).

The favorite part for everyone (except Madison of course) was touching all the sting rays. They're so slimy!!

A few extras:

 I'm pretty freaking huge this pregnancy. I've gained a lot of weight, and I'm also dealing with my hands and ankles/feet swelling a lot which is new to me. I've never had that in all my other pregnancies and I don't like it! I guess it's from all this heat and humidity.

 Went on a fun ice cream date with this cutie a while back.

 They love to color
Washing Cato in my shower

4th of July!!

This wasn't on the 4th of July, but I need to throw this in here. One day I went down to Houston and met my mom and Kim and kids at the Miller Outdoor Theater. They do a lot of free concerts/plays for children throughout the summer. This one was a bunch of youth musicians. It was awesome to see them all perform--they are so good! It was just under an hour long, so a good amount of time for the kids. Then we went over to the little picnic tables in the shade and ate our picnic lunch that we brought. We went back to Grandma's house afterwards and went swimming, of course. Then dinner and drove back home. A fun outing for the day!

Independence Day!!
That morning I dropped Kenny and Tyler off at the church, as they were leaving for the week on a campout. Kenny had to go for Young Mens, and a couple boys weren't able to go last minute so there was extra room, which meant Tyler got to go along! More on that later though. 

The Bakers had driven to our house the night before and spent the night. Monday morning we made a delicious breakfast of Texas shaped waffles with fresh berries and homemade coconut syrup. YUM! It was so good. Kim and Caleb were so fun to play kickball with all the kids outside in the blazing heat. We swam a lot off and on that day, and just hung out. I was really wishing Kenny were here at dinner time when I nearly ruined our awesome meal with my horrible grilling. But they were kind and wouldn't admit that the BBQ pork chops were under-cooked and the vegetable kebabs needed more time too. Agh! It was embarrassing. But oh well. We had a yummy American flag fruit pizza for dessert which was fun. Caleb gave a great little lesson on why we celebrate Independence Day, and told the story of George Washington crossing the Delaware River. Then they played some football while we waited for the sun to go down so we could do fireworks. We didn't have any big extravagant fireworks, but we had fun anyway. And plus our neighbors were putting on quite a show too, so we didn't miss out too bad. :) Once we were all sufficiently covered in mosquito bites and ran out of sparklers, we called it a night. What a great day we had, though. I am so proud to be an American, even if the near-future does look bleak. I am always so inspired by the founding of this great nation and what we stand (stood) for, and what we have accomplished because of the principles of freedom and good morals. May we ever fight to preserve that!

 Briggs was super scared of the fireworks (especially the loud ones). He kept crying and clinging to me and going inside the house. But he came back out for sparklers :).

June Fun with Cousins

This cute picture was from Father's Day, June 19th. We sure love this guy. I'm so glad he's the father of our children. They're all totally crazy about him, and he takes his roles very seriously, which I'm grateful for.

This is really random but every night we have 3 or 4 little lizards on our bathroom wall. It's sort of fun and weird entertainment for me and Kenny. As we brush our teeth we watch them catch and eat the bugs that come because they're attracted to the light. 

I bought some poster maps to hang in our school room. Kenny hates when I just put posters on the wall. He thinks it's tacky, so he quickly made some little frames for them. :) 
Now on to the fun part: COUSINS!!
We have been so lucky to have so much cousin time this summer, and it's not over yet! My sister, Kim, and her family are in the US for a little while in between Cambodia and Belgium. They have been travelling all around visiting family, and are ending up spending a lot more time here in Houston than they originally planned, as different things are getting delayed. We're not complaining at all! They had stayed with the Webbs in NM on their way down from Utah, and so they caravaned together down here. One day we had fun making tie-dye t-shirts! The kids all loved making them and wearing them and they look cute. We went to see the movie Finding Dory and most of them wore their shirts. It was a cute movie too. Thanks to us taking up two rows and lots of popcorn/candy, Briggs didn't leave the theater. He just wandered around and ate a lot, going back and forth between me and Grandma.

We spent a couple days in and out of Cami's house. Steph and I and our kids stayed at Cami's, while Kim and her family stayed with my parents. 
One time the kids put on a little art show for us. They all did their art work, and then we hung it up all down the hall and they each stood in front of their piece as the adults toured it and admired all of their talent ;). Cute kiddos.

It's really hot so of course we mostly just swim a lot!! Cami's neighborhood pool is way fun with slides, a kiddie pool area, and a splash pad. Plus the playground!

These 3 girl cousins all born within a couple months of each other. Millie, Kelsey, and Eliza.

 Grandma is so fun and is always playing with the kids

 Pizza dinner at the pool

Then we moved the party out here to our house for the weekend! We went to Gator Country one day. It's really close to our house, and one of the few things to do around here. It's run completely by rednecks and interns haha. But the kids loved it (all except for Madison. You will notice she is either not in the pictures, or she's plugging her nose and refusing to touch the animals. She didn't want to smell, see, or touch anything! It's so funny to me how different my kids can be.) They got to hold and pet different kinds of snakes, lizards, and alligators. It was pretty overpriced for what it was, but I'm glad we had the experience :).

On Saturday night Steph, Kim, and I decided to drive back to Houston and hear my dad speak at Stake Conference. He's the Stake President in Houston and we'd never really seen him in action! So once we got the approval from Kenny and Caleb, we left them in charge of all the kids and took off for a super fun night together. We got there in time to enjoy the whole adult session, then we all went out to eat at Chili's afterwards. Then of course stayed up late into the night talking. It was such a rare and unique opportunity for us to be together without any kids and we soaked up every bit of it. I sure love my parents and I'm so grateful for their righteous examples. The next morning we waited anxiously for the rest of our crew to arrive. This is the first time Kenny's had to get all the kids ready for church by himself, not only that but they also had to drive an hour and a half to come join us for the rest of Stake Conf. They all walked in literally as it was starting, and I tried not to be embarrassed at the state of my daughters' hair. But really it looked like none of them had even had a brush run through it haha! Not only that but they walked right up to the front two aisles where we had seats saved. It was a long 2 hour meeting with all those restless little ones who had just been in the car for so long. But we all survived :).

That night we all went over to Ben and Charlotte Allsop's for dinner. It is always so fun to get together with them. We stood around the piano and sang family songs, just like we always did growing up. It was even around the same piano because they're hanging onto my parents' baby grand piano since they don't have room for it in their apt. Brought back lots of great memories. I haven't had the privilege of singing with my family in years and I only wish the rest of my siblings could've been there too. These wonderful family relationships are what make life so sweet. I'm so blessed to have such a great family, and to have married into such a great family, too!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Summer Schedule and HFMD

Once we had our house back to ourselves after cousins left, we had a family council over the weekend and talked about the new summer schedule. I wanted to start into our "school year", getting a head start on the curriculum so I don't feel stressed out when I need to take time off. We will be taking it slow and lots of breaks, but at least we're moving in the right direction. I also don't want them sitting around all summer complaining about being bored! I am not a fan of being lazy all summer. I told them that they had to get all the stuff done on their chore charts by noon, or they couldn't go swimming that day. The pool is awesome motivation. I started leaving at 6 a.m. to go walking every morning, and it was my favorite time of day. I was back by 6:30 or even a few minutes before to try to read my scriptures. But the kids are all getting up by then and Kenny's getting out the door. So the day begins. I'm seeing a good change in some of the kids as we've been consistent with these morning schedules. Kelsey, especially, used to whine about emptying the dishwasher every single day and would drag it on and on for hours unless I pushed back on it. It was so annoying. Same thing with making her bed. She would complain that she just couldn't do it and it was too hard, and she needed help. But we've been consistent and it's sunk in that she doesn't really get a choice. She's doing so much better now and does it quickly and mostly willingly! 

Their charts include their morning chores (say prayers, get dressed, brush teeth, make bed, do hair, clean room) along with their house chore. The older three each have a room or bathroom they're in charge of. Kelsey's job is the dishwasher, but she often ends up helping Madison with the game room since those two are the ones who make a disaster of it on a daily basis. T & B also have to do 30 minutes of reading each day, and their piano practicing. (We just started taking piano lessons again this month, on Mondays.) Madison does reading time with me as well.

We start our Family School time at 9:00 each morning. So far it's going really well. We're still getting a few kinks worked out with the set up of our school room, but it's coming along. I really love the curriculum (The Family School online). I still need to do better at incorporating a little math each day so they don't forget everything :). That only takes between 1 and 1.5 hours. After that they're free to do whatever. They swim for hours a day, and I'm so so grateful we have a pool. I don't know what I'd do without it, seriously. 

One activity for school was making a model of the solar system. We were supposed to paper mache and do all kinds of big crafty things. But I like to keep it simple, or I knew it would end up with me spending many hours on something by myself, and they wouldn't really care anyway. So we just blew up different sizes and colors of balloons, labeled them, and hung them up on the fan to orbit around our "sun". It was great!

Sunrises and sunsets are some of my most favorite things in the world. So I love being outside each morning as the sun comes up so I can see it.

Tyler's learning to make chocolate chip cookies all by himself. Next time he does it I will try to stay out of the kitchen and let him do it alone.

They each picked out a little fake animal at the store for different things. The older three it was for finishing some books they'd been reading, and for Kelsey it was for not wetting the bed for a week! She had been doing great and then we moved and I was washing her sheets every day or every other day. I know she is capable though! 

The summer was off to a great start and I felt like we were rockin it! Plenty of time for all of our work and play, things were going so great. In my last post I told that we went fishing with that other family. Well the next day (Sunday), they texted us that evening and said "sorry but we just figured out what's wrong with our daughter, we think it's hand, foot, and mouth disease. Hope nobody in your family gets it." Their daughter had a horrible rash that progressively got worse as we were there. I had never had experience with HFMD so I didn't know that's what it was, and I stupidly trusted the parents. My heart sank when Kenny read me their text and I started praying so hard, but I just knew Briggs was going to get it because he'd been playing with the little girl, who's in nursery with him. He didn't really have an appetite on Monday, which is strange for this big boy. Tuesday his fever started, and that night I checked again and found spots in his mouth. That started this long, hellish week. Kenny's been sleeping in the game room on the couch and I've been up doctoring Briggs all day and night. It's been the worst sickness we've had in our home, I dare say. I'm home from church with him right now. He has horrible sores all over, and they blister and pop and bleed. He is so miserable and the sores really itch and hurt all at once. It breaks my heart to watch him go through this and not be able to take it away from him. He's just the sweetest boy and we're praying it all goes away quickly and that none of the other kids get it. He is starting to do better. He is eating a little bit now after several days of not eating at all. And last night he slept through the night for the first time all week. So I'm hopeful that the worst is over, for him at least.

I was really angry for several days at this family for bringing their daughter and not just being up front with me. They could have easily said, "let's just go fishing another day, our daughter is really sick and was up all night from this rash". But they didn't. It's not just that Briggs is sick, but the timing of it is horrible. My sister, Kim and her family are going to be here in a few days and I've really been looking forward to spending time with them. They're only here for like a week and then they move to Europe for another year. We never get to see them and if this sickness keeps us from being able to spend time with them for those few days we have, I will not be happy.
He just wants to be held and snuggled about 22 hours a day. My awkward, large belly is not very conducive to that but we do our best.

He's all caked in calamine lotion. We do lots of different things to try to give him relief. Oatmeal baths, bakign soda baths, dermoplast spray, this lotion, benadryl, essential oils, hydrocortisone cream for the rash on his bum, etc. etc.

Another beautiful sunset last night after a big storm.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Fishing in Anahuac

Earlier this week I told Kenny I really wanted to do something fun as a family on Saturday. I wanted to leave the house and go do something all together. It seems like every Saturday since we moved here has been a whole lot of working. Which is good, and necessary, but I wanted to get out for a little bit. So on Friday we all worked hard to get all of our Saturday cleaning done, and Kenny got the lawn mowed early too. We were still trying to decide what we wanted to do. Well a couple weeks ago Kenny got invited to go shark fishing by this guy in our ward. Of course, if you know Kenny, you know he was as giddy as a kid in a candy shop when he got to go do that. Just the idea of catching your own bait, and then using it to get a real shark really appealed to him. Scares the heck out of me, but that's just the kind of adventurous thrill Kenny wants and needs in his life. So they went a couple Saturdays ago, but had absolutely no luck. He's been dying to get back. So that was his first (and final) suggestion. He called up his friend Scott again, and told him he wanted to go back but bring the families this time. 
We drove back to their same spot, in Anahuac, (pronounced Ana-wack) which is about 45 minutes from our house.
Our kids had fun with their 2 kids, and I really enjoyed getting to know Ashley too. I don't really know many people in the ward, so I'm happy to slowly be making friends. When we got there it was really overcast and cloudy, and I thought it would be so perfect to stay like that all day! But it didn't and we were all pretty hot and got sunburned, but still had a wonderful time. Unfortunately, the fishing was no better this time. The kids enjoyed collecting oysters or clams (whatever they were), and seashells. And the dads would throw out the net and bring in a bunch of tiny little fish for them to throw back in the water. But there were certainly no sharks caught. The water was so very filthy it was disgusting, but kids never mind that stuff. We were all completely worn out by the time we got home but grateful for such a nice day with new friends.

Tyler was the only one old enough (or capable) to go out on the kayak. He really loved it!