Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Coming of Delta

Well, adjusting to four kids, a new semester, and all the jobs in-between has been a little tougher than I thought.  But I'm finally getting settled and ready to write about the arrival of our darling new baby boy: Delta!

Many of you know my story.  For those who need to catch up, read all about my other birthing stories here.

After everything we've been though, we were really hoping for a VBAC this time around.  So, we had a plan.  As soon as we moved here (you remember that we moved a year ago, right?), I set up an appointment with a highly recommended midwife.  My intent was not to have a midwife care for me this time, but to find a doctor who would understand where I was coming from and whose views aligned with mine.  I figured the best place to look for a recommendation was from a midwife, and I was right!

The doctor we chose was absolutely wonderful.  He was known for helping mothers have successful VBACs after multiple c-sections, and he was one of the kindest doctors I've known.

A bit more than half-way through the pregnancy, we heard what we were getting pretty used to at this point: the baby was breech.  The doctor was so kind and just assured me over and over again that we still had time.

As things progressed, I hired a doula.  She was also amazing.  Really, we couldn't have asked for a better care team than the people we were finding.  She helped me to realize that I hadn't been embracing this new little baby like I should.  I guess the thought of four kids in our tiny apartment was just a little too much for me for a long time.  Thanks to her, I was able to really embrace the blessing coming to our lives.

The baby, however, continued to be breech.  I tried every home remedy I could think of, and nothing would turn our little Delta.

Finally, the due date came and went and my doctor and I decided to schedule a version (a manual turning of the baby).  Usually, this would be done around the due date, but doctors prefer if you go into labor soon after the baby is turned and I don't go into labor until around 42 weeks (that's 2 weeks over).  We scheduled for Monday at 7am.

Sunday came and so did a phone call from my doctor.  The hospital was refusing to allow the version to take place in their facility.  Because they're against turning breech babies?  No.  Because they're against VBACs after three c-sections.  They knew what the eventual goal was, and they weren't going to help us reach it.  They said so themselves.

No, I don't hold it against them.  From their perspective, we were doing something that was too risky.  Really, I'm not upset at them anymore.  I was at first, but I'm good now.

So, after a very emotional few minutes, we decided to change our scheduled version to a scheduled c-section.  That means within 15 hours of finding out what the hospital's decision was, I was the mother of a third little boy.

I totally look like I'm undergoing major surgery, don't I?  I can't lie - this was the best c-section experience I've had (and I'm becoming quite a pro).

I'm learning that the anesthesiologist makes a big difference.  I have had a different one for each baby, and my two best c-sections were when I absolutely loved my anesthesiologists.  I think I'll be taking references and hand picking him next time.  I've never felt so good while still on the operating table, and this was the second time I didn't need any pain medication once the anesthetic wore off!  The trick is that he didn't over-medicate me, and he watched closely to make sure I was reacting well to everything he was doing.

True, I did end up with a spinal headache, but that was easily remedied with bed rest and lots of chocolate.  Really, what woman wouldn't enjoy two days of reading, cuddling a cute baby, and eating chocolate?!

The doctor was also really good at looking at the bright side of a sad situation.  He determined that, since he had to perform the surgery anyway, he would really make it count.  He would find out why our babies turn breech and let me know if there was any concern at all with us continuing to have kids (which many doctors tell you not to do after four c-sections).  The verdict?  There is no apparent cause for any of the babies turning breech.  I'm a medical mystery.  Well, I had to get famous somehow, right?  The good news is that I heal so well we could have "a dozen of these" according to the doctor.  So, expect more cute little babies in the future.

Our biggest concern, however, was about to be tested: the JoJo reaction.

JoJo has always been a Mama's boy.  From day 1, he figured out how to get his little newborn arm around my neck and hug me.  I'm not kidding!  He has hardly taken his eyes off of me for the last two years.  How was he going to react to a baby on my lap?  Do you see our reason for concern?

That wonderful look of love in his eyes when he sees me...that was the same look he shared with his new little brother the moment they met.

It was absolute love at first sight.  He is so protective of his little brother.  His happiest times of the day come when he sees that Delta is up and ready to "play" (which, at this age, means staring into space and kicking his legs).  It's like his best friend finally made it into the family.  We've gone from worrying that JoJo would hurt him over jealousy to worrying that JoJo will hurt him by loving him just a little too roughly.

And, you know what?  We haven't had a hard baby homecoming yet.  And if our babies survive the outpouring of toddler love, they turn out to be pretty good kids.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Sculpture Walk

Hi Friends!

A few weeks ago, Madre took us all on a sculpture walk.  It was inspired by a book called "Look, Look, Look at Sculptures" by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace.  It's a great book about three little mice who decide to spend the night in a museum and look at sculptures (what else?!).  They bring along sketchbooks and modeling clay and really have a good time getting into art.  It sounded like fun, so Madre took us all to a local museum to try it out.  We only had sketchbooks, but we still had a great time.

This time out, JoJo and I were traveling buddies.

When we reached the museum, we were excited to see that there were several sculptures outside!  The day was beautiful, and we were glad to stay out in it.  Unfortunately, it makes for some high contrast photos.  Sorry about that.

Our first stop was in front of two sculptures.  One looked like a pixalized flag pole.

Mono decided that this was his sculpture to conquer.

He did a pretty good job!

But, shhhhh!  There was a deer nearby.  Don't scare it away!

JiJi thought this was a better art subject.

She also thought it was missing a little something.  You know, since it's a girl and all, and girls always have eye lashes.

During this whole time, here's what was going on with JoJo and I:

Yeah, he wasn't feeling very included.  He didn't have a sketchbook due to an unfortunate tantrum in the store when Madre was buying them for us.  Good thing Madre brought her own sketchbook and was kind enough to share!

He was much happier after that.

Our next stop was in front of a cat's head.

If you look closely, you'll see JiJi in the left eye and Mono in the right.  Madre thought it would be a cute picture, but the day was just too sunny for it.

 It was also too sunny for any photo of Mono's sketch to turn out at all, but JiJi's worked out well.

At the end of it all, JoJo decided he was tired of sitting.  I was just plain tired, so he agreed to give me a ride.

He's a pretty good driver.  And I may or may not have fallen asleep on the way back to the van "bus."

We all agreed that it was a great trip.  We hope Madre will take us again, because there were so many more sculptures we didn't get to!  Next time, though, JoJo needs his own sketchbook.

~ Homeschool Henry

Monday, June 24, 2013

Introducing Homeschool Henry

Hey there!  I'm Homeschool Henry.

I just joined Creative Minds Family Academy.  Not only do I get to be a student here, they're also letting me be their PR director.  I'll be the head reporter of all the fun things we do.

You may have heard of a guy called Flat Stanley.  He's known for traveling the world and bringing back pictures and things from the places he visits.  I'm kind of like that, but I go wherever these guys go:

We're a class!  Mono, JiJi, JoJo, and I get to go on fun adventures as part of school.  We'll be taking pictures and bringing them to you.  So, instead of bringing the world to CMFA, I'm bringing CMFA to the world.

But don't let my new job fool you.  I'm still just an average kid!  I like recess and lunch and snack.  I would put my pants on one leg at a time, too, if they weren't sewn in place.

I hope you enjoy our adventures as much as we enjoy going on them!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Small Apartment 101: The Bathroom

"You have a family?" 

"I do indeed!  Ninety-six daughters and one son.  And we all share a bathroom!  You know how that is."

"Boy, do I!  (Bathroom?)" 

~Horton Hears a Who

So, we only have one daughter, not ninety-six, and three sons, not one, but we do all share a bathroom.  And with such a small apartment, you can bet this bathroom is small.

One condolence is that it is actually a little bit bigger than the bathroom we had when we owned a house.  I mean, there's more than two inches between the tub, toilet, and sink!  That's a big deal.

The downside is there is less storage in this bathroom.

I have no pictures of how things were when we moved in, so you're going to have to imagine with me.  Ready?

Imagine being in a hallway, facing a blank wall with a door in it.  Open the door, and immediately to the left is a wall-mounted sink with no cabinetry below and revealed plumbing.  Above the sink is a mirror hiding a small medicine cabinet - the only storage in the room.  Next to the sink is the toilet (thankfully, it's new).  Directly in front of you is the tub.  To the right, directly in front of the toilet, are two towel racks.

Welcome to your new bathroom.  That is all that is in there.

Now who here tends to make their bathroom their catch-all?  Come on now, honestly.  Anything that might have to do with getting ready in the morning goes in there, right?  And all of the replacements that you may buy (possibly in bulk from CostCo).  Where are you going to put it all?  And once it's in, how are you going to be able to use the space for what it's intended to do?

This was a challenge.  And I'm not the only one to face this challenge.  Like I said, we live in a huge complex - several hundred apartments - and no matter how many bedrooms you have, the bathrooms are all just as tiny and just as barren.

I have seen many attempts to make the space useful.  Everything from the typical over-toilet storage shelves to shoe-organizers on the back of the door to bookshelves placed under the towel racks.  The space is just plain cramped and cluttered and makes you want to leave as soon as you can.

Amazingly, though, and through a series of fortunate events, we ended up with a bathroom that I have unofficially proclaimed as the cutest in the complex.  It is my oasis in the sea of chaos that is having a growing family.  It is the one room in the house, now, that is able to keep some sort of order.

So how did it happen?  Well, of course I'll take you through the process.  Why else would I be writing this post, after all?

Warning for the visually oriented:  The following images are taken by a cheap camera in an enclosed space with no natural daylight and lots of white.  Despite massive Photoshop work, we still beg your forgiveness for the poor quality.

Without further ado, I present Our Bathroom:

Doesn't look all that impressive yet, eh?  Let me walk you around.

First of all, a note about the decor.

When we realized we would have to sell our house to move here, we decided to buy a simple collection of items in black and white to help stage the bathroom.  We liked what we already had so much that we thought we'd just get cheap stuff and ditch it after the house sold.  However, once we made the change we loved it so much we ditched the colored stuff instead!  That is how I discovered Small Bathroom Decor Tip #1:  Keep your color scheme simple and mostly neutral.  Notice how everything looks clean due to all the white, yet it's grounded by the bit of black.

Looking through the doorway in the other direction, you see this:

Again, nice, clean, simple.

The basic things were bought at Target: shower curtain, rug, towels, and trashcan.  Now, I have to admit, that rug was not their cheapest.  We tried their cheapest and we didn't like it.  What we learned is Small Bathroom Decor Tip #2:  A nice rug is worth the investment.  It makes the whole room more comfortable when there's more than a half a centimeter of cheap yarn and plastic under your feet.

Another benefit from this color scheme is the amount of light that passes through the shower curtain.  The inner curtain is just clear plastic, so even though the only light in the room is in the middle, it's still pleasantly light in the shower itself.

Here is the rest of the bathroom, so you can see how the scheme is carried out and how even the picture frame compliments the black-and-white aesthetic.  Note the top of the sink.  It's empty.  No curling irons, tooth brushes, hair ties, nothing.  This is very important.  It makes the area easy to clean, it reduces stress, and, most importantly to me, it doesn't distract.  When you're using something you should not have to think about everything else that's there that you don't have to use.  Why are you usually at a sink?  To wash your hands.  Everything else can be hidden away.  Even the toothbrushes, you say?  When you have kids that like to take their time in the bathroom, absolutely!  They have been hidden away since the day I found Mono "cleaning the sink" with mine *gag*.

So, Small Bathroom Decor Tip #3:  Clear your surfaces and hide everything that's not essential.

But wait, didn't I mention there was no storage?  How do you hide everything away if there's no storage?

Simple.  If you're not going to use it anytime soon, store it in another room.

I say it again, store it in another room.

This includes extra towels, the extra 80 rolls of CostCo toilet paper you have, extra bottles of mouthwash, everything.  If your bathroom is this small, only store things that you'll be using on a semi-regular basis, and keep all refills away until they're needed.  I will show you all our main apartment storage system in later posts.

Now is the fun part.  Now is the part where you start to understand why I love Ikea.

I mentioned that there are no cabinets under the sink, and how the plumbing is exposed.  But note the cabinet in the picture above.  That's right, Ikea came to our rescue with this:

Ugh, worst picture of the whole post.  So sorry about that, but I had to show you the plumbing.  Yup, this little beauty of a free-standing cabinet has a cut-out just for the plumbing!  It's beautiful.

And it does hold quite a bit.  Nicely, discretely, cleanly.  It's a gem.

But then I started thinking and figuring and imagining.  I honestly don't know how I came up with the next idea, but it has been amazing.  See, sometimes our pipes leak just a little bit, so we couldn't store toilet paper in this cabinet.

Somehow, I thought of Ikea's cheaper shoe cabinets.  Now this is my favorite storage in the room:

Top towel rack for towels, lower half of the wall for this:

Two fit just right under the lower towel rack (which was broken, so we couldn't use it anyway).  They only come out about five inches from the wall, but look at all they hold!

Eight jumbo rolls of toilet paper in one...

All our diapers in the other, with wipes on top.

Honestly, these pictures do not do these things justice.  They are so clean and slick!  They may be right in front of you when you're on the toilet, but they don't crowd in the least.

These two Ikea items taught me Small Bathroom Decor Tip #4:  Keep storage low if you can, so everything at eye-level feels more open.

Now that we have all the essentials out of the way, we were left with a big blank spot over the toilet, and my fingers were itching to do something with it.  I thought of so many different solutions, but I love what I decided on.

The decision basically came down to good feng-shui, which is now Small Bathroom Decor Tip #5:  Have some green that at least looks like it could be alive.  I mean, come on, this room gets no daylight whatsoever.  The only green thing that could live in this environment is mold.

Ikea to the rescue!  When I wash my hands, this is what I get to see:

This is a simple kitchen rod with three baskets designed to hang on to it, with three artificial Ikea plants.  Simple.

I know a lot of you have had some exposure to craft projects like these.  How are the typical methods?  Even if you have the rod and baskets, you'd need to find the plants you want, buy a bunch, buy styrofoam  and start the process of whittling down the foam to fit the baskets, stuffing it with the plants, trying to make the plants look natural and full, etc, etc, etc.  Lots of time and energy spent, but eventually (hopefully) you have a beautiful decorative piece, right?

I don't have time for that.

Ikea knows me well.

Here's what you do when you shop Ikea:

Step 1:  Buy artificial plant.

Step 2:  Place it in the basket.

Did I mention I love Ikea?!

So there you have it: a little walk through my paradise.  Trust me, it's much better in person.  Pictures hardly do it justice.

I hope I was able to give you some ideas for your own small space.  What is your favorite thing you have done so far?