Friday, May 27, 2016

Investing in tomorrow, today!

Man, we have had a really strange couple of months. Stressful doesn't even begin to cover it! Here's the long version.  

When Jerry was a baby, he was born with a hole in his heart, which closed up on it's own.  Later when he was a few years old (I think 3?) he developed Kawasakii syndrome. One of it's characteristics is a high, high, high fever that lasts for several days. Well when your heart is working that hard it can become damaged. So between scar tissue on his heart from the hole closing up, and Kawasakii syndrome, he developed an irregular heartbeat. It's something he has always had, but for some reason, it very suddenly got much worse. 

We lived in Orting. Jerry had worked for comcast for 5 years. They were a pretty terrible company to work for, as far as caring about their customers or their employees, but they made up for it by amazing pay, amazing bonuses and commission, and amazing incentives. 3 years in a row Jerry was the number 1 salesman in all of comcast. ALL OF IT. Every comcast employee in the entire world, Jerry made more sales, more commission and more money than all of them, in fact he made more than his bosses. We got to go to Hotel Del Coronado in California for the weekend, enjoying the Zoo and the night out in the Gaslamp district for the awards ceremony three years ago, and then last year we were also treated to an all expense paid vacation to Disneyland for our whole family. I mean really, it was amazing.  
One afternoon, I was going about my business when I got a text from him. "Kait, I think I'm having a heart attack. I told the Jeffs (His bosses, both named Jeff.) not to call an ambulance if I pass out." 

Um. Excuse me!? 

We got him in to see the doctor right away, they decied that Jerry was probably too stressed out at work and it was putting a lot of stress on his heart. So Jerry dedicated himself to running. He lost about 10 pounds and became a superstar running man. He was still having quiet a bit of "episodes" where his heart would start beating like crazy (tachycardia) and he would feel light headed from not getting enough blood to his brain. His doctor advised him to take some time off. We spent a ton of time together last summer, truly amazing. Something I will never forget! He got to be present in the kids' lives all the time, that was so amazing! He slept a ton and went through months of finding the right medications. Some meds made him crazy tired, some made him crazy hyper, some made him plain old crazy. Then you have to balance that all out with a sleeping pill so that he wouldn't be up all night, so then you have to take something to wake up. Ugh. It was a long few months.  

He went back to work after his medical leave expired and his first day there, he had a really bad episode. He spent the rest of the day in the E.R.  

We prayed about it, and thought about it and one of us (not naming names) started freaking about supporting 7 kids with no job!! And then miraculously, a job listing popped up for a new call center in Spokane. He applied for the job and they told him to start 2 weeks later. Oh my goodness. Somehow we made it. We rented a house that we found online (which was deceptively smaller than it looks online. We're all sardines in here!) and my parents rejoiced. :)  
So he was supposed to start on the 24th and on the 23rd he got a very short e-mail, "Hey Jerry we didn't have enough recruits signed up for training so we'll have you come back and work in Fife."...  

Um... EXCUSE ME!? 

We just moved across the state, for you to tell us that we needed to move back? What the heck. We prayed about it, and talked about it, and thought about it, and one of us (okay, it was me!) started freaking out. But Jerry felt very at peace. He decided to look for another job. (I just have to say, it was REALLY hard for me because they paid so well!!! Lol) 

Just a few short weeks later, he had started at Cintas. They are a Uniform delivery company. They supplies towels to starbucks, and napkins to Twiggs, and rugs to dentist offices, and uniforms to mechanics, etc. Etc. He went through extensive training, both written tests and physical tests to see if he could do the job. Well thanks to his running he was as fit as a horse. (that's the saying, right?) He was there for 2 months, still struggling with his heart medication and a new doctor, new cardiologist, and now dentist. He needed to get his wisdom teeth pulled, which somehow got him motivated to get a couple of cavities filled too. Well of course, he got dry socket. But that guy pressed on, man. He woke up diligently at 4:30am, drove to work in the snow, collected wet laundry, and would come home freezing cold, smelling horrible, and so dirty. It was such a hard time for him! In February, right before Zoe was born, he passed out at work and lost his license. Sad.face.... freak. Out. FaceLIke, I had a baby 2 days later and my husband is not only unemployed, but also having severe medcal problems!! 

He went on short term disability since there really isn't anything to do when you can't drive a truck but you work for a truck driving company.  

We prayed. We fasted. We freaked out. We prayed some more... but we did not know what we would do. At the very last week of his short term disability, he decided to apply for grad school.  I mean, at this point he can't really work, and when we really thought about it, it totally made sense. We had a good amount in our savings account. Our only debt is our van, and our only bills are rent and our phone bill.  
He was accepted into grad school, into the accelerated program for his MBA on April 1 through WGU. It's all competency based so you take a test and if you pass it, you don't have to take the class... but on average you finish in 2 years.  

He has averaged 1 test per week.  

He has taken one test and passed each and everyone on the first try 7 times in a row... he only has 4 classes left which he is hoping to finish in the next 4 weeks. All his tests are proctored. He pays for a tutor at Sylvan Learning Center to watch him take his test, so obviously you can't cheat. I look at him now and am completely blown away, and also embaressed he had to marry such a dork like myself. He will be sitting for his CPA exam in 2 months. I just can't even understand it, he is just amazing!!  
A year ago today, I was working on my little girl scout troop's bridging ceremony, and planning for their first year of brownies. My kids were all in public school, we had a different life, completely. We had six kids, not 7... Zoe was just a shadow we didn't even know about.  

I can truly say, I have no idea what the future holds, because every other day is a surprise.  
I mean, I'd love to be the kind of person who just trudges along in life and does the same stuff every day... but I'm not, and I don't think I will ever be.  

"Oh no, to live... to live would be an awfully great adventure" - Peter Pan 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

2015-2016 School year is coming to a close.

The school year is coming to a close, and I wanted to write this out for myself, for my kids, for our families, and for our friends. I am always an oversharer, but you can be supported so much better when your support team knows what's going on!

When we moved over to Spokane from our tiny town full of friends, where everybody knew you, I enrolled the kids in 100 million things hoping they wouldn't miss their friends and their activities. I soon became overwhelmed. This is actually a huge fault of mine and something I do frequently. I have an overwhelming fear that the kids will grow up having no close friends, that they will never get to try everything they want to try, and that they wont have any hobbies... so I do too much, become crazy and cranky, and then drop out in utter exhaustion and defeat. Not surprisingly, by December it all came to a screeching halt.

The kids didn't want to be doing all these things, we were perpetually exhausted from running around and having something on the calendar every night of the week. We cut out Awana, and finished swimming lessons, we pulled Molly and Lucy out of girl scouts, still being overwhelmed, exhausted, and essentially alone (Alone as in, knew no one in our school district, knew none of the teachers, could barely find the kids' school, knew no one on the PTA, knew no one in our neighborhood or on the buses), we eventually pulled them out of school. When we moved in I just assumed that the elementary school that is literally 3 houses away from us, was where the kids would go. Boy was I shocked when upon enrollment, my kids were split up and sent to 3 different schools. I had never heard of an "overflow school". I had never heard of an elementary school not having any kindergarten classrooms.

Sam attended the school next door. Joe and Molly were bused 35 minutes to a school 11 miles away. Lucy had to attend the Kindergarten center; half days in the afternoon. School was literally, chaos. I never knew whose homework was done when, I never knew which release form this was for. When was this kids' concert? What do I do when two kids have a veterans day assembly at the same time!? What PTA do I attend; they were both on the same night. Even after everyone was safely to school, my brain was just so overwhelmed.

Sam's teacher would assign these very complicated and lengthy projects which I could never help with because he never sent home papers explaining what he was supposed to do because he wanted the 5th grade students to be responsible for their own education. Sam cannot do that. His sensory processing disorder brain does not work that way. I told his teacher this several times. After a few months of seriously being stressed out I come to find out these projects aren't graded. ever. My husband was outraged. At his parent teacher conference his teacher told me Sam is way above their learning level and he wanted to recommend Sam to jump to 7th grade and skip 6th grade altogether but the school district would not allow that because his penmanship is so poor. In case I've never mentioned it, Sam has Sensory Processing Disorder, he is on the Autism Spectrum. It is a HUGE part of his life. He was nonverbal until he was about 3. He couldn't eat anything besides crackers when he was younger. He literally survived off of crackers and milk. He attended therapy from the time he was 13 months old, finally graduating in 3rd grade - two years ago... and you're telling me because he has an actual physical disability (poor fine motor skills) that he will have to be in a class that does not challenge him.

Joe made 2 friends on the bus, both overly questionable. One little guy told Joe all about how his sister was taken away from the family by CPS because she pulled a knife on a teacher and was abusive to him and his sister, something Joe had never heard of (that someone could take kids away from their families, and I believe it introduced fear into his little sensitive heart.) The other friend, a 5th grader, was a terror to Molly and bullied her everyday, telling her that she was going to kill her, would hit her or scream in her ears, and once stole her coat while it was snowing. The Principle dealt with this by saying that this child just had poor social skills and said things wildly inappropriate but never meant them. That does not help my nervous already anxiety ridden sweet and innocent second grader. About 3 months in, the school next door called and said they had a 2nd grade spot open and Molly could transfer over. YES. A million times, yes. She transferred and made a best friend the first day there. They even dressed up as sneetches on Dr. Seuss's birthday.

However, now Joe was alone on the bus. He became very strangely attached to the little boy, and became very sullen. He suddenly wanted to wear black all the time, became obsessed with this creepy game, and started getting in trouble at school. Little things, nothing huge, but things like not turning in his homework for 6 weeks before we heard anything about it. Spending 45 minutes in the bathroom to get out of class, and the last straw for me, was downloading an app on his phone (That he had only because he was riding a bus alone in the big city!) that made a gun shooting noise. Joe is not a bad kid... a weird kid, yes, he beats to his own drum... and that drum is brightly colored, is a triangle shape, and sounds like a horn when you beat on it (lol) but he is a good, good kid. He has a very tender heart, loves his family, loves God, loves going to church, drawing, riding bikes, building blanket forts... he is not a bad kid. But whatever was happening at school was changing him and it broke my heart.

Lucy was absolutely in love with Kindergarten, and her teacher, and her friends. She loved the playground, she loved coloring, she loved everything. However, Lucy had struggled with her allergies so much when she was younger, and with her stomach trouble, and her skin trouble, and her 4 years of incessant crying, I believe her body took all her learning and growing abilities, and she is just a bit young for her age. I thank God that she is now completely healthy and happy, and growing and learning, but she is still behind the other kids her age. And dude, that's ok. Her school was crazy concerned and wanted us to run all these tests, they even wanted her to start spending time with a special Ed class because there was a possibility she has a learning disorder. I wanted to tell them, just calm down people! Take a deep breath and calm down. Even if she has a steep learning curve, putting her in a special ed class would not be good for her. She just needs more time. Since she went to afternoon kindergarten we had a busy, busy morning getting up and everyone off to school then almost immediately getting her showered, lunch, dressed then off to meet the bus. She still naps even now and she sorely missed her naps. She fell asleep at the dinner table, at 5pm on the stairs, on the couch, sometimes she would just put herself to bed. Her home life was really suffering, she was so tired, she could hardly ever be happy or loving.

I don't want to sound all negative, but it was such a hard time for us. We were all just very very tired. It seemed like our move left us jet lagged for months.

The kids have been home schooled since February and it has been wonderful. It's been so relaxed and it's been so healing for us. We needed time to reconnect as a family unit. We needed to remember we all love each other. There is truly nothing more important than family, and somehow all of us forgot that and forgot how to be together. We've spent so much time together, and I've loved every minute of it... and I think the kids have too. We've needed this and we've learned a lot.

The first thing we learned, is that families are forever. We will be together no matter what, and we are our best friends. This was a huge lesson for the boys. They have become much closer and fight much less now. I find them frequently supporting each other and saying encouraging things. They ride bikes together, they build legos together, they help each other out when they're stuck in a game. It's not all fun and games, they still bicker, but they're no longer at war.

Secondly, the kids have learned that we all have to work together to make the house run. They all have their chores down pat. No more arguing, stalling, wheeling, or dealing. Chores get done by 9am, every morning. This also applies to them taking care of themselves. The three big kids now shower themselves without being reminded, have finally learned to floss and brush their teeth twice a day, and all know how to dress themselves, and brush their hair. This is a really big part of living in the world... we call this, being responsible. I truly am not sure they would have been able to learn all this if they were still in public school, but this is part of life man!

Thirdly, and probably most importantly, I have learned to appreciate them more. When I am a stressed out Mom I am not my best self. I yell more, I have less grace for them, and offer way less learning opportunities. I also learned that I am not a good teacher. We've focused on math and reading. Tons of math, tons of reading, but not a lot of anything else. I'm not good with coming up with content to teach, I need a plan. However, I'm not able to figure out how I can make a plan that can challenge my intelligent 5th grader and my young kindergartner at the same time. I also do not know how I could go with a stricter curriculum for 5 different kids. I can be 100% confident in saying that I have not offered them everything the school could have offered them by way of written instruction... but I am equally, if not more confident, in saying that the public school will never be able to give (or take away!) what we've just spent 4 months giving and repairing, to them.

Jerry and I have been praying about it and we feel like the lord is pointing us to put them back into public school in the fall and we are feeling very at peace about it. I am planning to spend every single day until they start, praying for them that they will be confident in who they are, and that they will stand out in their classrooms as good examples and loving, supportive friends. I will also spend the next 4 months continuing to build them up and prepare them for challenges that they will face in public school.

But I'm truly not worried about them anymore, they are different people today than who they were on their last day of public school. It's like we dug ourselves in, repaired, replenished, and restored, and now we're all ready to go back out and fight the good fight.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Zoe Marie

Zoe Marie is 10 days old now, and she has been the easiest, cuddliest, most loving baby I've ever had. She's had no issues at all with breastfeeding, which for us is HUGE. No problems sleeping at all, it's been wonderful.

Her birth was exactly what I had hoped for, I don't think even through telling it I will be able to convey the peace, love, joy and amazement I felt in that room that day, and continue to feel every time I hear her little mewing. 

We had been scheduled for an induction on Monday, but on Friday we found out there was another woman who needed to be induced that day so we were rescheduled for Tuesday. It was a long day! On Monday evening, at 5:30PM the office called and said they were "so sorry" but they needed to reschedule me again for Thursday. I was seriously... discouraged. My mom was already over, we had already talked to the kids about what the plans were for the next day. My mom decided to stay with us that night anyway. Around 3PM on Tuesday, they called and told me there was a spot open on Wednesday morning after all, I would need to be there at 5AM. 

On Wednesday morning we got to the hospital right at 5, checked in and got all ready to have my water broken. At my last appointment in the office, I had been dilated to 3 or 4 and at +1 station. We were sure that once my water was broken, I would go really quick. 

Things were stalled for a bit because I had forgotten to pre-register at the hospital. We had to call admissions and do all that over the phone, then wait for the nurses to come back in, etc. Our nurse explained that we needed 30 minutes of the baby's heart beat to be recorded before they were able to start a pitocin drip. I explained that we were going for a more "natural" induction and just breaking my water. They said, Hmmm... we hadn't heard that. Since I have a history of hemorrhaging, we had a ton of blood work to do, then they realized they had put the wrong stickers on the vials and were over in the corner correcting that when my OB came in. He checked me and said I was dilated to 4 and with no warning he broke my water. The nurses had their back to him and were completely unaware that he was going to do that. They hadn't prepared at all for it at all, no towel, no whatever they put down usually. Well, it was quite shocking to us all, when my water gushed and gushed and gushed. I've never had extra amniotic fluid, just like, normal people amount usually. 
My doctor's pants got all wet, all the blankets, all over the floor. My response, "Oh no! My feet are getting wet!" and he says, "Mine are too!" We all were laughing pretty hard. At my appointment the week before I had only been measuring at 35 weeks, so basically, I was already small. We decided this baby was probably going to be a tiny lady!!
He ran off to change and the nurses tsk tsk'd about it. "We would have prepped if we knew what was going on!" They said in good humor. It took awhile to get settled back in after having to change everything while remaining in a reclined position to make sure the baby's head was engaged and the cord wouldn't come out first. 

Because of the amount of water, they decided they wanted Zoe to be monitored directly so they put an internal monitor on her head. They explained that since she had so much room to swim around there was a chance she would have been tangled in the cord. 

At 9:15 my Dr. came back in and said he was going to have to go over to Deaconess (about 20 minutes away) for a surgery, so would I be ok with a very low pit drip. I said yes and we got all hooked up. After that started I decided I wanted to have an epidural since pitocin can give you some nasty contractions. My nurse asked if I was feeling any contractions, I said no, she says, Are you sure? You're having some pretty good ones?" I said nope, not feeling anything. I wasn't feeling any cramps, no back pain, literally nothing. 
I had the epidural in at 10:00AM and immediately I felt exhausted. At this point we were having contractions about a minute and a half apart. 

I fell asleep on and off for about an hour and a half, I had been having such bad contractions and back pain, and pelvic pain for weeks, the epidural was SUCH a relief! It was very restful sleep. 

At 12:30 I was dilated to 8. I still hadn't felt any contractions, they turned down my epidural and I could move my legs a bit. The room became pretty busy, bringing in the baby bed and setting up the tray and all that. The nurses kept telling me it was amazing that I wasn't feeling any contractions at all, not even one. They stood in front of me talking to me and watching my face and looking over at the screen in disbelief. 
"Call us the second you feel like you need to push!" they said.

This is pretty much exactly what happened with Sam, which is one reason I'm always game for induction. I had and have no desire to ever deliver my own baby on my bathroom floor! ;)

12:43 I was dilated to 9. Jerry and I just sat there looking at each other and nervously giggling, in a little bit of disbelief. I barely believed we were there at the hospital let alone minutes away from having our 7th baby... ack! SEVEN KIDS? lol. On the next contraction I felt it, just a tiny bit, that almost need to push. I looked at Jerry and said, well... I might call the nurse... then another contraction and I definitely felt it stronger. "okay, I'm calling the nurse." 
I rang the nurses button and they bustled in, my doctor had left just a few minutes before to head to the other Hospital, so his partner ran in. 

When my next contraction wave came a minute later, I took a deep breath and pushed. "I can see her head!" they said. We waited for the next contraction pushed again and her head was out. I pushed a second time and she was out. She was here. 12:47PM. It was so quick! They put her on my chest and she looked at me with disbelief too. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

It is the end

I think the kids can sense that the end of pregnancy has drawn near.

This weekend as we left the fabric store Molly says, "I don't know how on earth you had enough energy to take me to the fabric store!?" for a moment I had a pang of guilt, I do tend to tell the kids I don't have a lot of extra energy, and have been feeling neglectful. We haven't been to the Y since before Thanksgiving, and we have barely been out of the house. We haven't been to church all of December or January.
The baby is sitting so low any sort of walking or sitting on any sort of surface is... rather uncomfortable.

Last night Sam came into our room and asked about his monthly project. "I need to know what date it is going to be, and I would like it to be before the baby is born." Well we have 21 days until they take the baby (if she doesn't come before then!) so I had him sit down and we sketched out a first rough draft.

Iris asked me last week while I was hanging some clothes in my closet if she could look at the baby's clothes, could she touch them, and then could she smell them. Both Iris and Lucy have lots of questions about when she will be here. It's an exciting time for all the kids. I realize this is probably the baby they will all remember the best. They'll remember her as an actual little baby and they'll remember her as a toddler. She is the last in a long line of wonderful little people and her birth heralds a newness. It feels so appropriate that she would be born in January, with February being dedicated to being home and learning about each other and learning how to be eat, and pass gas, and all those things babies take forever to learn. And then March, she will be a month or so old and we'll begin venturing out to explore our new city.

I can see the finish line, and it's so exciting. Last week at my appointment we decided that going back on my anti-anxiety meds is probably for the best. Hormones... plus my increased inactivity... AKA not vacuuming twice a day, washing cupboards and definitely not cleaning my fridge out every week has seriously been such a struggle. When you have OCD you can't just let things go, so this has been a challenge. However, since taking the new prescription I've been able to sleep, which has made me have a bit more energy and I ALMOST feel better now than I have through my whole entire pregnancy. I'm still taking the medication for hypermesis 3x a day, which also greatly helps. I even think being able to sleep again has helped my hip pain, since I'm not tossing and turning constantly.
Over all, everything is working out and everything is going pretty smoothly. I was able to hit my goal of gaining an appropriate amount of weight, thought I think almost every pound is accounted for by the baby and all the extra fluids, and what not that accompany a pregnancy. 11 pounds. And it feels good. I feel healthy. This is my first pregnancy where I've gained "so much". I generally just lose weight and become weak and pitiful.

The cradle arrived from the farm this weekend. It is a cradle my Dad refinished when I found out I was pregnant with Sam. It's very sturdy and just feels so much like a place a baby should rest. All of my kids up to Lucy slept in it, and then my sister became pregnant with Jack, and I passed it to her. In the last 4 years she's had 4 babies and now it's our baby's turn again. I'm not a materialistic sentimental person, once I'm done with things I love to pass them on. I don't have anything for this baby that the boys or Molly used, so this is just something kind of sweet, and makes me a little sentimental... this is it for us.

I've packed my hospital bag as well, bought new slippers, found my bathrobe tie, (does anyone else constantly lose theirs too??) and purchased a new loofa.

Since the baby and I are doing so well, I've talked with the specialists and all of that and we decided that unless something changes, I would be able to birth her naturally, and on my own time... until 39 weeks, then my time is up and we will try a "gentle" induction and if that doesn't work we'll use pit, with a possibility of a c-section. That's the most okay with me. I can handle that.

So now we just need a name!