Monday, January 21, 2008

Lowering the Bar

Hello Everyone,

Jackson is in the midst of his second all-day nursing marathon in three days. Add that to the fact that he hasn't slept for more than two hours at a time for the past 24 hours and refuses to be set down without fussing and I'm in absolutely top form... yep, you can imagine how extraordinarily tidy my house looks right now. (OK, please say this takes a little bit more imagination than you are currently using.) I guess this is my payback for finally deciding towards the end of the week that Jackson had ironed out all of his eating issues and was finally settling down into a reasonable feeding routine. =] Actually my house doesn't look all THAT bad right now because last night I finally insisted that Dave and I needed to do enough of the dishes to at least unearth the location of our kitchen sink before we went to bed. So between the two of us (with Jackson in one hand) we managed to at least cut down on the dish part of the disaster.

Despite Jackson's recent fussiness, we've been doing pretty well. I didn't talk a whole lot about our Christmas in my last update (maybe that's for the best). I guess I will suffice it to say that after weeks of worrying about what to get the kids that would be perfect for them, they liked whatever they ended up getting. Camryn got "a princess money bank with real money in it" from Santa, as requested. Jared got a car race track from Santa and, mysteriously, Auntie Megan got a note from Santa asking her to give Jared the Rubik's cube that he requested (apparently elves don't know how to make Rubik's cubes). Jackson got the one gift that a 4-week-old baby could actually appreciate and enjoy... a wipe warmer. Unfortunately, Santa's reign at our house may soon be coming to an end. A few weeks after Christmas, a very upset Jared came home from school one day, pinned me down and asked, "Mom, did Santa get me the race track for Christmas or did you?" Not being one to lie, I sheepishly answered, "Well, I guess I did." Jared started to go through the possibilities that maybe Daddy and I had eaten the snacks that he left for Santa (which is tantamount to stealing) and concluded that maybe Santa skipped our house this year as a result. Fortunately for me, this uncomfortable subject was changed before I was forced to get to the heart of the matter, but I'm afraid this might have been our last Christmas with a Santa that comes down the chimney.

Jared got a transformer and the entire old cartoon series on DVD from Uncle Nate. Jared is now "totally into" transformers and Camryn has followed his lead and is "very into them" too. Last week Jared and Camryn were playing transformers and daddy and I were drafted into their game. We were each assigned to be "Autobots" or "Decepticons" and given a sign to wear (made by Jared) to show our loyalties. Camryn was excited because she got to be "Optimus Prime," the Autobot leader. I'm not quite sure how, but this eventually evolved into a family Marshmallow Shooter war, using the Marshmallow guns that Camryn and Jared got for Christmas from Grandma and Grandpa Rogers. If we find marshmallows in random locations when we go to move furniture, I guess we'll know why.

Jared's other new hobby is reading the comics in the Sunday paper. He faithfully reads every single one and finds them remarkably funny. Today he read the Garfield comic from yesterday's paper about 5 times in a row, so we could hear how hilarious it was: "Garfield, you need to lose weight." "Correction: I SHOULD lose weight. I NEED a cookie." They both saw an ad for the Simpsons movie on TV and they thought it was the funniest thing ever. Now about every 10 minutes I get to hear: "Spider-pig. Spider-pig. Does whatever a spider-pig does." He and Camryn also anxiously look forward to whenever daddy puts them to bed because then they get to watch road runner cartoons on Dave's phone. Speaking of which, Dave is on his 5th cell phone in two years.... should I be worried? The RAZR was the perfect size, but it got cracked and didn't ring loud enough. The next one had mp3 capability, but didn't have good reception in his office. The next one worked great in his office but wasn't NEARLY as cool as his new phone which is also a planner, has email, video and mp3 capability. He keeps asking me if I want to upgrade my phone, but I don't see much point in that when I haven't even programmed the auto-dial funtions....

On New Years Eve we went to a party at our friends, the Christie's house. He grew up in the other Milpitas ward, so we knew their parents who were visiting. I made my New Years nacho dip, Aunt Joy's Cereal Crunch and Pumpkin Pie Dessert Squares. When she sampled my yummy treats his mom exclaimed, "Is this Jane Lovell's nacho dip? I haven't had this in so long!" and then, "Are those Charleen Tyson's pumpkin squares? They are so yummy." I'd been found out. Instead of being the one with all the great recipes, I'm actually the one who has stolen everyone else's great recipes.... =]

With the new year, we have church at a new time. I figured that now that it is at 2 pm we really don't have any excuse for being late, so I determined that we WERE going to make it on time. Despite my careful preparation, Jackson needed a last minute feeding, so we were still rushed to get out the door. I told Jared and Camryn to get their shoes on and go out to the car while I put the baby in his car seat and grabbed the diaper bag. Even though we made it on time, there were no seats to be had except in the overflow-- apparently everyone else had the same New Years Resolution that I did. Not until we were sitting down in our seats did I realize that Camryn, although obedient to my request, had paired her lovely burgundy Christmas dress with pink sparkly tennis shoes.

Jackson still has his signature cradle cap and baby acne, although it's finally starting to clear up a bit. One night, Dave was giving Jackson his nightly baby spa treatment (giving him a shampoo and scalp rub) and I came back to the door closed to the bathroom. I opened it and Jackson was now getting the baby spa steam treatment... the shower and faucets were running with hot water and Jackson was in his diaper calmly and happily absorbing the warm air being held by his daddy. I guess this is why he smiles for daddy and not for me.

Jackson, although a very sweet and cute baby has determined early on that he DOES NOT like his car seat. This makes it quite difficult to get out and about. We have pretty much had to live off of a trip to Costco with daddy on the weekends. But this past week by Thursday, we were out of everything: vegetables, bananas, mini-carrots, eggs, bread. You name it. I decided that I really needed to go replenish our food supply. So that afternoon I decided that after nursing Jackson I would take the kids to Costco where we would get hot dogs and pizza for dinner. Although I nursed Jackson thoroughly before getting him in his car seat, he still was unhappy about it. By the time we started the car he was screaming. By the time we were driving down our street he was screaming his head off. So I pulled over the car, took out his car seat and bounced him, convinced that he would calm down and go to sleep. After a few minutes of bouncing, he calmed enough for me to put his seat back in and continue our trip. We got to the stoplight at the entrance to our subdivision and Jackson was again screaming, this time so hard that he could barely breathe. So we went through the light, went around the traffic circle and drove back home. (To give Jackson some credit, I attempted to go to Costco again on Friday after Camryn's preschool and he slept the whole time until we got to the checkout and then fell asleep in the car until we got home. Who says that prayers aren't answered?)

On Saturday, Dave met up with his brother Chris to go skiing at Mt. Hood. It took Chris several hours longer than anticipated to arrive because of some expert directions courtesy of the computers at Google maps (ah, memories of our off-road excursion/cliff jumping experience through Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument on the way to Albuquerque come to mind). Despite the great snow throughout the rest of the season, fate would have it that there were several warm days before they went so the snow was very icy. Then it got extremely blizzardy, creating better ski conditions if it weren't for the biting cold and gusty winds. Finally, just before they left the snow stopped and they got a few runs with decent snow and no blizzard.

Meanwhile, in Dave's absence the kids and I spent a very productive day playing video games and watching TV on the one hand or participating in a nursing marathon and playing Scrabulous on Facebook on the other. By the end of the day, although we were all alive and fed, I didn't have much else to say for myself.

Which brings me to my new discovery of the week. You would think that operating on only a few hours of much interrupted sleep and constantly trying to tame a disastrously messy house with a baby permanently attached to me I would be miserably depressed or at least deeply discouraged. I, on the contrary, have been remarkably cheerful and even happy. I don't want to bring tears to anyone's eyes here by being too inspirational, but my new mantra is: Lower Your Expectations. I only get depressed by feeding my kids chicken nuggets for every meal if I expected to feed them Homemade Lasagna with fresh steamed veggies. As long as my goal is for them to eat calories, then hey-- chicken nuggets are calories-- and protein! So not only am I meeting my goals, I'm going beyond the mark! Sure my house is a disaster, but who expected it to be clean? Maybe someone without better things to do. I may not be able to go anywhere or get anything done, but hey-- it gives me a good excuse to play Scrabulous or write excessively long updates. To be honest, I think Jared and Camryn like this state of things better. Not only does their mom not make disgusting meals like Cheddar Corn Chowder or Sausage Mushroom Polenta, they get to have Chicken Nuggets, Peanut Butter and Jelly or Spaghetti for EVERY MEAL (unless of course, we have frozen pizza, which is OK too). Beyond that, they get to play more Wii and watch Cyberchase multiple times in a row! After all, who likes a mom who limits you to 30 minutes of TV a day? Who needs folded laundry? Pulling it straight out of the basket conserves energy. The new mom is definitely an improvement.


Quote of the week:
Jared (As we're driving down the street, attempting to go to Costco with Jackson screaming): "Mom, just stick him on! Stick him on and feed him while you're driving."

Camryn: "I get to be Optimus Prime but Daddy is a Decepticon."

Jared: "So and so likes me again. He's totally into me now."

Sunday, January 6, 2008

To Delivery... and Beyond

Well, it's been a while since I have written an update. I guess I have a legitimate excuse... I have been busy. But history must be recorded, so back to work I must go. In the last few weeks, as you know, we celebrated the arrival of Jackson David, our two week early, 10 lb. 1 oz, "little guy." When I left you last, my induction date had been moved up and I was er... calmly and composedly making final preparations for our new arrival. OK, after a mad flurry of arranging babysitting, running to Target for last-minute items, etc., ready or not, the baby was still coming.

The night before Jackson was induced, my friend Ranell took me to get a pedicure as a last hurrah/celebration of sorts. (This was after watching my kids for most of the day AND volunteering to watch them the entire time I was in the hospital-- now that's a good friend!) This was my very first pedicure, and while I'm not typically into "girly" things, I could definitely get used to that more often: soaking your legs and feet in a luxuriously warm bubble bath, having your feet massaged and rubbed with oil before having your toenails primped and painted, complete with exquisitely delicate white hibiscus flowers with a jewel on my big toe. No, this is not your typical Karen (and I think my sisters may have popped a gasket when they saw my cute toes: "Karen???"), but hey-- we can all change, can't we? Then the kids spent the night at Ranell's house while Dave and I went out to dinner and got as ready as we could for our 7 am appointment with destiny.

So, armed with the cutest toes to ever grace the delivery table, early the next morning we were off to the hospital to be induced. The delivery nurse complimented me on my cute toes... and on my nice veins. Yep, that was the first time I'd ever heard that one. Apparently I have great veins that make it very easy to put in an IV. (I bet you're really jealous.) So by 8:30 am, the doctor broke my water, I was hooked up to pitocin and the induction was underway.

Dave and I spent a very intense morning playing Phase 10. Despite the nurse warning him that in my condition he'd better let me win, he managed to barely scrape by and beat me (which was even more insulting when I discovered that I'd had the card I needed to win in my hand and just didn't realize it... oh well, I can blame it on the baby).

The induction progressed fairly quickly, and although Jackson didn't exactly fall out of me by lunchtime like the nurse predicted, by lunchtime I was progressing quickly and starting to experience quite a bit of intense discomfort. The anesthesiologist came in to give me an epidural and I got another compliment that I'd never received before: he told me I have a nice back that was a great shape for epidurals. (I bet you're REALLY jealous now). After that the nurse teased me that what with my great veins and great back I should just go into business as a hospital tester (she'd noticed that all of my babies were born in different states so I'd have 3 western states covered already). =]

After that things started to go really fast. I went from a 5 to an 8 in about 30 minutes and then from an 8 to a 10 in about 5 minutes flat. My epidural wasn't taking hold fast enough to keep up with the pain, so they called the anesthesiologist back in to give me a boost. Before I knew what was happening, they were getting ready to have me start pushing. I started pushing and we got to the point where the baby's head was crowning, but then he just stopped and we couldn't seem to make any further progress. My epidural boost was starting to kick in, but I was getting a little bit too numb and that was making it hard to push. Finally my doctor did something that our nurse had never seen done before: she had me stop pushing and just take a break. So Dave and I just sat and hung out for about 40 minutes until the boost wore off and I felt the urge to push again. Then the doctor came back, I started pushing and the baby was delivered within a matter of minutes. The doctor and nurse couldn't figure out why I was having such a hard time pushing the baby out when it was my third child until Jackson weighed in at 10 lb. 1 oz.... then it was a lot more clear. He was just a big baby.

So that is how Jackson made his entrance into the world. Dave stayed in the hospital with Jackson and I, and on Friday, Ranell brought Jared and Camryn to come and meet their new baby brother. They were thrilled to meet the baby. Ranell told us a funny story about Jared from the night before. She and her husband were getting ready to go to bed when the heard a noise in the laundry room like someone slamming the door to the dryer. She went in the laundry room to see if someone was awake. Nobody was there, but Jared's pants and underwear were on the floor. "Jared??" Ranell called and went looking for him. She went into the spare room where Jared and Camryn were sleeping and saw Jared standing up, peeing into a laundry basket full of clean clothes. "Jared, what are you doing??" she called out. Jared turned to look at her (continuing to pee, but now on the carpet as he turned around) and said in an annoyed voice, "I'm just going pee." (kind of like "What's YOUR problem?") I guess Jared was sleepwalking and couldn't quite figure out where the potty was.... So yes after having to deal with my son peeing into her clean laundry, I guess you could say that Ranell is a REALLLY good friend.

So aside from that exciting episode, Jackson and I were released from the hospital on Saturday, December 1st without any major catastrophes. My mom arrived later that day to stay with us for a week. Once, after a day of diligent meal-making, house-cleaning and dish-doing, my mom was resting on the Lovesac and Jared came up to her, to express his displeasure. "Grandma!" he said, "You're here to look at the baby and play with us-- not to be lazy on the LoveSac!"

While my mom was here I took my first trip out to take Jackson to the pediatrician and the brakes went out on our van. Well, they didn't quite go out, but they wouldn't work at all unless you slammed them to the floor (and even then it took a LOOONG time to stop). So after a precariously dangerous trip to the pediatrician and calling Dave to come rescue me, the brakes got fixed later that day. In other life-threatening adventures, we also had a huge tropical storm while my mom was here (yes, "tropical" was the designation, even here in the not-quite-balmy Pacific Northwest) entailing torrents of rain (even by Portland standards) and high winds which blew a portion of our fence over. But again, in a most anti-climactic turn of events, nobody was injured or even greatly inconvenienced by the huge storm.

While my mom was here you would think that I wisely spent all of my time sleeping and recovering. And I did... mostly. But, despite the attempts to sleep, I still was so tired that I just felt cross-eyed. I looked in the mirror and there was no way around it... I just looked bad. But after woefully bemoaning how quickly I had let myself go (and after carefully applying make-up so I would look cute in my pictures at the hospital) I realized that I wasn't exaggerating... I really did look bad. In fact, I couldn't raise one of my eyebrows and my face looked... crooked? And I couldn't close one eyelid at a time. I brought it up to Dave and my mom... something felt weird and I felt and looked funny and I couldn't close one eyelid at a time without extreme concentration. They just laughed and said, "Oh you must have "the African cross-eye disease." But then I laughed and they realized something really was wrong: when I laughed or smiled, one half of my face didn't move. Suddenly my mom burst out, "I know what this is... it really is a real disease. Sister So and So in our ward had it... it's the Droopsy Palsy." This made me laugh all the more, and look all the more ridiculous.

Anyway, so it's not called the "Droopsy Palsy," but it is a real disease called "Bell's Palsy." For reasons that scientists still don't understand, the nerves in your face get swollen and one side of your face becomes temporarily paralyzed. It can last for a few weeks, months or years (yes, that's what they told me at my doctor's visit-- encouraging, isn't it?). Your eye on the paralyzed side won't blink, so you have to put in eye drops or even wear an eye patch so it doesn't get damaged. Every time I smiled or laughed only one side of my face would curl up so I would look like a pirate going "Argghh" out the side of his mouth. There's no cure- you just have to wait it out and it eventually goes away. Mine finally started to go away about a week ago, so I can go out in public now without feeling embarrassed and trying to explain that half of my face doesn't work. But.... I finally figured out why pirates wear eye patches and go "Argghh": they must have had Bell's Palsy. (Dave gave me an eye patch and earring for Christmas in honor of my bout with "Pirate's Palsy.")

So, to summarize the rest of our month, we got test results back for Jackson and he does not have any chromosomal disorder: he is just a normal baby. That was a huge relief to finally know that for certain. He is a little bit of a sleepy eater and hasn't gained weight as fast as he should, so I've had to supplement with bottles and pump milk to increase my milk supply. I had never experienced an electric milk pump before this baby and I just have to say, I was not prepared for it: "Hello, I'm a cow and now I'm hooked up to a milking machine." I'm afraid this has been way too educational for my older kids. But despite my dislike of pumping, Jackson is now gaining weight well and is learning to be a better eater.

After my mom left, Dave's mom came and stayed with us for a week. In addition to taking very good care of us, she and the kids made a quadruple batch (accidentally) of the famous sugar cookies that are a part of every visit with Grama Susan. (I guess 4 cups of sugar should have been at tip off. =] ) Yum! Then after she left, Dave had a two week shutdown at work... so for the first time in who-knows-how-long we had two weeks with no work stuff: no cell phone calls, no email, and no conference calls. Talk about great!!-- I mean, Dave was so disappointed and felt so unloved. Then my whole family (except for Dave and Leah and their kids) came out to visit for Christmas. We had a great visit eating yummy food, having board game battles, watching movies and taking them to see a few Portland sights. We also had ongoing reminders from Megan about how Pumpkin Pie is a vegetable but Green Bean Casserole will make you fat (Sorry for the inside joke, but this really was an object of debate...). We were sad to see them leave.

Alas, on Wednesday Dave went back to work and I was on my own. We did fine... until Thursday. Then we had a very "Fun Day": after a night of no sleep Jackson nursed consecutively from 9-4 while the other two kids had more TV and computer games than I care to admit. At this point I knew I had to do something drastic. So I took the kids to a baby store and after taking 3 breaks to nurse a screaming Jackson, we bought a baby sling. Now I can nurse the baby and have my hands free to occasionally care for the other kids. Besides anything that will allow you to nurse a baby and play the piano at the same time is worth its weight in gold.

On the way home we stopped to get Papa Murphy's for dinner and Camryn's couldn't get her seatbelt buckled. Jackson was fussy, so I tried to help her as quickly as possible. In the process of helping her get buckled I knelt in our pizza. So despite the winner conclusion to a winner day, the pizza still tasted fine and we all survived.

Jackson celebrated the weekend by smiling for the first time. He is starting to look at people and things around him. He is still cuter than any baby has a right to be, despite a killer case of baby acne and cradle cap. Dave likes to treat Jackson to the daily "Baby Spa:" he runs Jackson's hair under warm water (which Jackson loves) and then gives him a scalp massage with a brush. What can I say? Between that and eating all day long he has a rough life.



Quotes of the Month:

Jared: "But I'm trying to save my money to a billion and beyond and I'll never do it if I keep wasting my money."

Jared: "Camryn and I will have to get jobs to get money because Dad only works to buy stuff for you and him. "

Camryn: "I'm just nuts about this book, you know. I want to read it every day, all the time."

Camryn: "Stay awake Mom, so you can watch over me. If you fall asleep I might dig in the sugar, you know."

Camryn: "Mom, you had your baby so you're not fat anymore!"

Jared and Camryn were playing chutes and ladders. Dave noticed an extra piece on the board and asked them, "Why is there a third person?" They answered, "Oh, it's just the computer player, Wario."