Monday, December 30, 2013

8 Years

It's the eighth anniversary of our wedding  And in honor of that, I wanted to mention some things I just love about the husband I've got.  I have been thinking about them for a while, and I wanted to think of some unique-to-the-guy-I've-got ones.  So, I didn't include them in the list, but certainly I also love how Greg is a wonderful father, faith-filled man, good provider, etc, etc.  The standard ones are all totally relevant, but here are some special things I love about my boy:

1) He does voices.  This is particularly my favorite thing when he is reading children's books.  When we were first married, I was the nursery leader, which means I was in charge of the 1.5-3 year olds for 2 hours every Sunday for a few years.  Greg would come in and help me when he didn't have other commitments.  The kids (who called him "the other Sister Ashcraft", by the way) loved when he came in, because he would read to them, and do all the voices.  If you haven't ever heard him read a children's book, you are missing out.  This skill also comes in handy when playing games such as Cranium that have an impression component.

2) He is a morning person.  I am NOT a morning person.  (In the mornings, I am actually a little mad that morning people exist.  I'm terribly grumpy in the mornings.)  However, I really appreciate it in my husband.  I know people who switch off sleeping in on the weekends, and I'm not embarrassed to admit that if I had to wake up with my kids (who really aren't even unreasonably early risers, comparatively) every Saturday, I would be a much less kind human in general.  My sweet husband lets me sleep in pretty much every single Saturday we don't have something going on.  I love love love it.

3) He drives everywhere.  I really don't enjoy driving.  Any time we are going somewhere as a family, there isn't even a question, he hops in the driver's seat and takes care of it, just because he knows that I don't want to drive.  When we went to Utah in September, we split the drive there about 60-40 (because we drove overnight, and due to the previous section, he is not at all a late night person, so he drove as much as he could, which was still more than half), but the drive home was about 80-20, him of course taking 80% of the driving.  He doesn't particularly love driving (he is fine with it, but it's not his favorite thing or anything), and he drives all the time just to be nice to me.

4) He is the best gift giver.  We often joke that he can never surprise me; if I were to guess what he were going to give me for my birthday or Christmas, I can almost always guess exactly the gift.  I don't know if I've ever told him why I can always guess with exactitude: because he always gives me exactly what I would want, if I could pick my own gift.  His ears prick up anytime I mention something I would like, even in passing, and he remembers until it is time to give me a gift.  Even if I haven't mentioned anything, he ends up giving me something that I didn't even know I wanted, but upon his explanation of why he thought of it for me, it is completely thoughtful and something I would use.  As a not-great gift giver, and with gift-receiving anxiety (I can explain, but I won't here, because it's a little weird and obnoxious, and I'm working on it), I am so impressed with his gifts, including the little ones.

5) He is musically inclined, and we are musically similar.  I read this quote by Linda Ronstadt (I know, random/weird, but I like to surf wiki when I'm up in the middle of the night, which I often am lately, with the babes) recently about why she never married.  She said that she would find a great guy who just couldn't inspire her musically, or she would find a musical genius who was sort of a jerk, but she could never find the combination.  While I imagine musical chemistry would be much more important to someone like Linda Ronstadt than it is to me, after reading that quote, I started thinking about how nice it is that Greg and I enjoy a lot of the same music.  While I have a soft spot for the occasional Top 40 song that he doesn't always share, we very, very often like the same songs.  What's more, he is talented musically, which of course sends me over the moon.  I fell in love with him while basically being a groupie for his band while in high school (if he were writing this, he would want me to make sure you know I am talking about a rock band, and not THE high school band, which, by way of information I was actually in), and his musical talent will always be one of my very favorite things.

6) He puts people at ease.  You probably know that I'm a totally high strung ball of nerves.  If you didn't know, you probably see me with my husband a lot.  Because he makes me feel calm.  I think the best example of him putting me at ease would have to be the fact that I went to many high school dances with him, where we danced and enjoyed every minute.  Isn't the rule of high school dances that you can't dance, or at least have to have a healthy dose of self-consciousness if you do?  Not if you are with Greg.  Because he is having such a nice time not worrying about other people, that it is just impossible not to enjoy yourself.  Also, I have seen him be friends with someone who doesn't have a lot of friends time and time again, because even people who don't like a lot of people really like Greg.  Because he is likeable!

7) He makes me laugh.  I know I said I wasn't going to do the standard reasons, and I know that "sense of humor" is about as standard as you can get, but I had to say it because, really.  He makes me laugh.  Out loud.  Every day.

8) We are compatible.  By way of disclaimer, I should point out that I don't necessarily think that serious compatibility is the number one requirement for a happy relationship.  Nor do I think that compatibility comes strictly from having either similar or complementary options on things.  But, that in mind, I love how compatible we are.  We dislike different chores.  We like the same movies.  We listen to (lots of) the same music.  We laugh at the same jokes.  It makes it easy to have a nice time together. 

Love this boy.  So glad to be celebrating 8 years.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Family Picture Sneak Peak

Everyone always takes the picture of the family walking, and I suppose it is because it is supposed to be natural, although I must say I have never naturally walked down the train tracks holding hands all in a line (we usually hold hands in pairs, so as to be less of a walking barricade).  So, while I might usually laugh a little at the stereotypical family picture pose, I have to say, I like this one of my sweet fam.  We had our family pictures taken recently for our Christmas cards (if you suspect you are not on our Christmas card mailing list and would like to be, please let me know; I imagine you know what we look like and what we are up to, if you are a regular blog reader, but I personally like to have a tangible card that I can post up in my family room with the other cards, so I am keeping the sending of the cards tradition alive, at least for now).  Our photos were done by the talented Judy Cook, and here are a few of the shots (that didn't make it onto the card).

The colors in this photo.  I die.

 Judy's specialty is newborn shots, so she used a couple of her props and snapped a few of Hannah.  She is five weeks old here.

This guy drove me crazy the whole shoot, winning the prize for least-cooperative (he kept opening his mouth as if he were taking an enormous bite of something every time we told him to smile.  OH, the little turkey!), but all that is just a memory when you're looking at his sweet face.

With my girls. 

Charlie is his daddy's number one fan.  He wouldn't move to the assigned location for the group picture we were trying to take, because he wanted to stand next to his dad.  So, she just took the pictures with him where he wanted to be.  Flexibility: the key to dealing with the five year old.

At some point, Judy finally just told Felicity to open her mouth all wide, so at least they would be matching, since Charlie wouldn't just smile.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A billion Hannie pictures

I can't take just one.  I can't.  I've tried.  These are the minimum number I could pare it down to.  This baby is so much fun.  I feel like it is a combo of a lot of things: experience, life station (aka no husband gone at school at all hours, and no serious PPD issues, as with my last), older kids who are able to help, and also who are off at school occasionally, so I get some one on one time... etc.  But I am seriously honeymooning with this baby.

This is one laid back human.  While all three of my babies are absolute loves of my life, I think the cheerful behavior I am witnessing regardless of the circumstance is pretty much a novelty.  It is well received around here.  The following sentence was uttered by an older sibling (hint: a sister) earlier in the week: "oh no, mama, I'm not poking her eye.  I'm FEELING her eye."  Yikes.  But baby girl has no complaints.  She is worshiped by her brother and sister, and she doesn't even mind when the worship takes a slightly violent turn.  As I type, I am sitting with her completely stuffed nose, holding her up because she can't breathe.  It's 2am.  And she's just looking at me, giving the occasional smile, and not a peep of complaint.  I'll take it.  =)  If I've been gushing about this girl (especially if you've talked to me in person in the last several weeks), I apologize, but seriously.  It's love.
My sister sent me these pictures from Hannah's first day, meeting her brother and sister.  They are in pajamas and Charlie's are impossibly orange, and it was at bedtime, so it wasn't leading to the most gorgeous quality pictures necessarily, but I'm so glad I have these.  The ones of Charlie especially show the instantaneous love he had for little sister.  Hannah is already six weeks old, and I cannot believe how quickly these weeks have flown by, and my two bigger babies have not lost any of the adoration they have for this little girl, and I couldn't let these pass by without putting them up.


Little brother is getting married in a few weeks, and all us girls were able to make it to the bridal shower in her hometown.  Hannah was only 9 days old, so I wasn't exactly in my best health, but we couldn't pass up the photo opportunities of the girls in the family, regardless of my appearance.
We played the standard game of the toilet paper wedding dress at the shower, and Stacy, Tristen and I were on a team together (we had Stacy hold Hannah and so we said it was a shotgun wedding dress; we laughed and laughed, but no one else found it quite as hilarious as we did).  After the game, we were taking the toilet paper off Stacy, and we were discussing that it was a good thing that my mom was unable to make the shower, because the wasted toilet paper would KILL her; as it was, it was giving the three of us a little twinge.  As Alexi was coming around, she mentioned that she felt like it was such a waste and it was upsetting her.  The three of us said in unison "you're one of us!"  =)  We are all glad to have a sweet new sister.

G is for Grandma

Charlie's homework the other day was to draw a picture of something that starts with the letter G.  His immediate response was to draw Grandma (on the right).  He added Grandpa afterward.  I thought it was sweet of him to think of that for a G word, but I also wanted to mention that he has really tried hard to improve his coloring and drawing.  I mentioned recently that he had won a coloring contest, and that it has never been his first choice in activity.  In the last few weeks though, he has stepped up the coloring and drawing.  The goal they set in school is to color the picture in the lines, and with none of the white paper showing through the part you colored.  It has been fun for me to see him really learn how to do something and improve upon it in such a short time, since more academic subjects go much slower.  It's a little funny to be proud of a kindergartener learning to color inside the lines, but it's more than that.  He set a goal with his teacher to do better, and he really is!!  So, while I've seen younger kids draw on the same level or even perhaps better than this, this cute little picture of Grandma and Grandpa means a lot to this mama!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Some updates

I took these sweet shots of my little girl when my SIL had the backdrop set up for Hannah's newborn shoot.  She had done her own hair for church, and had borrowed one of her cousin's dresses because the one I had brought with us was not twirly.  (Fancy girl problems: 15 dresses in the closet, will only wear 3 of them, because church dresses must twirl.)
This little girl is such fun.  Since her birthday is in the first half of the year (and since she speaks with the vocabulary of a seventeen year old), she is older than a lot of the kids in her preschool and church nursery classes, and she loves "mothering" (read: bossing around) the other kids.  She also has a predilection for informing.  She comes home from friend's houses, church, and school, and gives a full report of all the kids who were naughty.  She also informs on her parents to the other parent when we do something that isn't to her liking.  Her teachers just love her.
Felicity is wanting to help with everything.  She is helping cook (she occasionally makes her own PB&J for lunch, all by herself.  This is not a mess-free situation, but we all appreciate her efforts), always great with her chores, and always thinking of others.  One recent funny thing she is doing is getting very concerned about our dog, Pippa, when we go somewhere (like to the grocery store or something).  She occasionally cries because she is going to miss Pippa so much while she is gone.  It's sweet (when it doesn't cut into our trying to leave the house).
This girl is a great big sister!

My two monkeys, enjoying an especially warm day for November.

Charlie's school does a morning assembly type thing every Friday, to which parents are invited.  It's usually nothing big, so Greg has gone a couple times, but I hadn't made it yet (since Greg typically takes Charlie to school on Fridays).  However, they did a special on on Halloween, complete with a costume parade of all the kids.  So, in my first ever outing alone with all the kids, I packed the girls up, took Charlie to school, and stayed for "Friday Flag" (it was on a Thursday in this case, but the alliteration wasn't there).  I couldn't hear too much of what was going on, but they were calling up kids who had had a birthday that week (every child gets a pencil for their birthday.  How sweet is that?) and various other recognitions, and all of the sudden, they call up Charlie from Mrs. E's class.  That's my own boy!  I hadn't heard why they were calling him up, and I asked some of the people around me, but no one else knew either.  They presented him with a wrapped gift/prize, and he went back to his seat.  After the assembly was over (complete with the parade and a surprise "Thriller" performance by the 4th and 5th graders that was actually quite good), I went over and asked him and his teacher what it was for, and he had won the coloring contest for Red Ribbon Week, which had been the week before.  He turned in the entry just a few days after I had come home from the hospital with Hannah, and I was still out of it enough to not even know he had submitted an entry.  I was SO proud of my guy, because usually he doesn't seem to enjoy coloring that much (I think he prefers drawing, but until fairly recently, neither one has been his first choice of activity) and he doesn't usually do a very careful job.  However, he had tried to do his best work (a catchphrase from his Kindergarten teacher) and he won!  His prize was a pack of markers and a sketch book.  Between he and his sister (who DEARLY loves to draw and color), the sketch book was filled in just a couple of days.  I was so proud of him for trying something new and getting recognized in front of the whole school.
I was volunteering in Charlie's class once a week for a couple months (before Hannah came) and I got to see him in action in Kindergarten, and it helped me see how well he is doing.  He still has a rough start sometimes in the mornings (he got it from me), but in class he is a sweet, happy, smart boy.  Recently I was running late picking him up, and then got caught behind all the traffic of the parents who pick up their kids in the loop, instead of us Kindergarten parents who park in the nearby neighborhoods so we can get our kids from the Kindergarten waiting area.  So, all the other kids in his class had been picked up, and he was waiting for me in the office (this sounds more dire than it was.  There were other kids in there, he wasn't abandoned or anything, I was only like seven minutes late).  When I got in there, I got him, and he got very upset.  I told him I was so sorry I was late, and I would try not to let it happen again.  He explained that he didn't care about me being late, but his teacher had gone back to her classroom and he had wanted to give her a hug.  Now, I should mention that the Kindergarteners are supposed to "check out" with their teachers when their parents/caretakers come; usually the kids give their teacher a high-five so that the teacher can see for sure they are being picked up by someone who is supposed to be picking them up.  Charlie, however, hugs his teacher, every day.  We had to basically stalk his poor teacher - who had just finished being in charge of 27 five year olds for six hours, so I am sure she was thrilled to be tracked down - to find her so Charlie could give her his hug.  He kept saying "how will she know you came if we don't go find her??"  She is the best, and we all just love her, but especially Charlie.
Charlie worships his baby sister.  He literally never walks past her without kissing her.  He is great at holding her sitting down, and is recently wanting to master the art of picking her up and taking her from point A to point B, but that skill is still being heavily supervised.  He tells anyone who will listen that he has a new baby, and loves to show her off when he is with her.  He has begged on several occasions to let her sleep in his room with him, which is an offer I have considered, especially some nights, but so far I'm taking care of the night feedings, so I am not sending her in there yet. ;)

Our blog has been heavily weighted in the Hannah direction lately, so I wanted to give some updates on my other little sweethearts.  But, I can't pass this little happy Halloween-er up.
We are all doing well; healthy, happy, and enjoying the newborn moments.  I will write a segment on Hannah, having three children, and, probably, post even more pictures of her soon.  Of course, we just adore her, so we think taking 45 pictures a day is totally reasonable, so I have a lot of her to post.  =)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Big Brother, Big Sister

 These two bigger babies adore this little baby.

More Hannah....

Eventually I will get through all the millions of pictures we take of Hannah every day, and get back to our regularly scheduled program, but that hasn't happened yet.  She is so worshiped by all four of us, so we spend all of our time staring at her, and we take a lot of pictures.  =)
These were taken in the hospital the day after Hannah was born.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


My wonderful sister in law (and brother) put us up for the weekend and entertained, fed, and generally took care of us, and on top of it, she took some lovely photos of Hannah!  Thanks for having us, guys!!  We won;t wait too long to come back, especially considering how little I had to handle my older two, since they were just having too good of a time with their cousins!!

(I should mention that these pictures were done in less than ideal lighting, and with six other children running wild, plus while Tristen was making the cherry topping for her husband's birthday cheesecake and making dinner for fourteen people.  I think they are amazing even not considering all those circumstances, but when you take that into account, you can see that she is basically superwoman + mom of the year.)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Halloween Preview

Saturday was the Trunk or Treat at church.  Greg took Felicity and Charlie and Hannah and I relaxed at home, but I couldn't resist putting her in the pumpkin costume I had gotten, just in case she was born before Halloween.  =)
Felicity is Fancy Nancy, and Charlie is a Jedi Knight.

Baby Hannah

Hannah Hope Ashcraft
Born 10/17/13 (12 days early)
7 pounds, 1 ounce, 19 inches long

With her Great Grandmas.

If you like to hear a delivery story, I've got one!  If not, you can skip this post.  =)  (Although I will try not to be graphic.)

So on Wednesday night I was having contractions.  But, I had been having contractions, even some pretty regular contractions, for ten weeks.  So, I mostly wasn't paying too close of attention, so I can't pin point when I started contracting Wednesday.  I went to bed around 11:30.  At 1am, I gave up on sleep, because I was too uncomfortable.  I had had two bouts of false labor where I contracted really regularly for several hours, so I was not convinced.  I started doing laundry and chores and timing contractions.  After about 2 hours of contractions 5 minutes apart, and increasing some in intensity since I was walking around the house, I decided that I should go to the hospital.  I really have fear of going to the hospital and having them say that I am not really in labor.  I don't know why I feel like that might be the most embarrassing thing ever for a third time mother, but I do.  However, the fear was also up against the problem that I was GBS positive, which essentially means that I needed to have two rounds (four hours) of IV antibiotics before I delivered to prevent needing the baby getting all sorts of blood work.  Because I had had so many weeks of contractions, my doctor had said several times that she thought my labor would go quickly, so I didn't want to take the chance.  (My first labor was around 24 hours and my second around 12, so I was nervous that I had some kind of radioactive half-life and this one would only be 6 hours.  Spoiler alert: the nerves were for naught.)  I had officially decided to just go in and see if I was in labor by myself (Greg had been asleep for many hours at this point) and just call him and have him join me when our babysitter arrived, but last minute I decided to wake him up first because I didn't want him to not answer the phone when I called.  So I woke him up and said I was going to go to the hospital and he could go back to sleep, but he needed to answer his phone if it rang.  After about 3 minutes he came out of the room and was like "duh, I am not going back to sleep."  So, we called the various family members we had on call, and finally woke one of them up to come watch our kidlets.  My grandma and mom both came; my grandma came right away and my mom came a little later to relieve her and then watch my kids for the rest of the day.

Around 4am we set out to the hospital, which is just a few minutes away.  The nurse checked me at around 4:15, and said I was at a 2, but that she wasn't really convinced I was in labor.  While I understand where she was coming from, I am not one of those people who has some degree of progression for weeks and weeks at the end of the pregnancy.  Two centimeters dilated is how some people spend the last month of their pregnancy, but based on my others, two centimeters means I am in labor.  I told her that, and we decided to walk around for a little while and see if things progressed.  Greg and I walked for just over an hour, and when she checked me again, I was at a 3 (I think I was really at a sort of 2+, but she saw some progression, and that was good enough for her, based on my other experiences.)  At that point she admitted me.  Contractions are monitored on this machine that sort of scores them from 1-100.  At this point they were 3-5 minutes apart, but only around 40-50 in intensity.

After 5:30am, I continued to labor for the rest of the morning.  Nothing much really happened.  They told me that my doctor would come at 1pm to break my water, so I just tried to progress as much as possible until then, and watched a fair amount of HGTV.  One sort of funny thing that happened was that I sent Greg home to get Charlie ready for school and drop him off, since we were still in the very early stages of things and I knew nothing would happen while he was gone.  However, he was gone during the shift change of the nurses, so when my new nurse came in, I was alone in the room.  She very tactfully said "...and will anyone be joining us today?"  But it made me wonder if she ever had someone who went through labor and delivery without any sort of birth partner or coach.  I certainly hope not.

Around 12:30pm I started feeling sort of nervous that the water breaking would hurt.  I was in a fair amount of pain from the contractions (they were peaking in the 70-80 range at this point) but I was managing fine without the epidural, and I didn't want the epidural to halt the progress, so I was trying to put it off.  I asked my nurse if she could check me and see if I'd made any progression, but she said it might be better to just wait for my doctor to come and check me, since she was coming anyway.  So, wait I did.  The doctor got held up, so she arrived around 2pm to check me and break my water.  I was only at a 5!  After 8.5 hours I went from a 3 to a 5.  I was annoyed, but I knew the water breaking would get things going.  (Note: having your water broken hurts.)

She wasn't sure she actually got it at first because there was no gush when she broke it.  They decided that the baby's head was blocking it, but it didn't really matter.  She went back to her office and said she would be back when it was time.  Greg stepped out to grab some lunch (he had been waiting for the doctor to come at 1, so by this time he was starving) and I needed to use the restroom.  While I was up, the baby shifted, and the water breaking happened.

After the water broke, contractions got very strong, peaking in the 90-100 range.  I labored for about another hour before I asked for the epidural.  I got it put in around 3:30pm.  And let me tell you, it was the most glorious epidural ever.  Once it spread properly, I could feel all the pressure of the contractions without pain.  My other two epidurals successfully blocked the pain, but I didn't feel like I knew I was having a contraction other than watching the monitor.  This one kept me totally in the whole labor process.  Around 4:30, I told them that I thought I was pretty much ready to go.  They were a little skeptical I think, based on the fact that I had been laboring for around 15 hours and barely gotten to a 5, but they checked me, and confirmed that the baby was right there and ready.  They called my doctor, and she arrived around 5:30pm.  They set the whole room up and when everything was ready to go, I was mid-contraction.  My doctor said we would wait for the next contraction and then start pushing.  But then she said "why don't you just do a little push now?" so I started pushing.  I delivered her head in that contraction and the rest of her in the next one.  She was born at 5:49pm.

The baby nurse (who is a dear friend of mine; I was so happy to have her there at my delivery!) gave her a 9 on the Apgar for 1 minute, and a 10 for 5 minutes, and apparently that doesn't happen very frequently.  She came out with just the most beautiful color and all vital signs raring to go!  For the first hour they leave you alone with the baby and let you nurse or just gaze and enjoy each other, so we did that.  My mom and sister had my kids and we had told them they could come at 7:30, so at 7 we called the nurse back in to check everything and bathe her.  She was 7 pounds 1 ounce (waaaaay smaller than my other babies) and 19.25 inches long.  She nursed some during the hour, but mostly we just stared at her.  (I stared at her a lot during the first 24 hours because I was REALLY stuck on her name.  We added two names to our short list during the labor for some reason, and I felt really conflicted.  In the end, I chose my number one first name, and Greg chose his number one middle name.  It was not a combination we had discussed during the pregnancy at all, which I find funny, but we love it!)

It was love at first sight for my other two babies when they arrived.  We were able to have them visit us in the hospital for about an hour that first night, and for several hours the next day (Charlie pretty much just came to the hospital after school and then stayed until we were discharged on Friday night, and Felicity was there until she had to go home and take a nap.)  They are loving having a new sister!  (Charlie especially is hyper aware of what's going on with his baby.  He has woken up a couple of times in the middle of the night and come running in our room to check on her, and demanding that we bring her in his room to sleep.)

All in all, it was a little longer than I was expecting, but I think it was my most peaceful labor experience so far.  And she has so far been a very sweet-natured human (it's still early days, but she just seems to take things in pretty calmly), and we are overjoyed to have her in our family.

We are SO grateful to the wonderful humans who made everything go so smoothly, including those who drove my kids to and from school while I was in the hospital, my grandma, sister, mother, and mother in law, who all took shifts watching my kids, the fabulous hospital employees, wonderful friends who have visited, brought meals, and sent sweet messages, and for me, most most most of all, my husband, who takes such good care of me.  Thank you!!