Saturday, January 31, 2009

What's cooking?

My little man has learned where good things come from. These days, whenever something is baking in the oven, he likes to keep watch. He's just making sure he doesn't miss out on the goodies. He's even learned how to turn the oven light on by himself. Dirty oven door, loaded with fingerprints ... fun memories.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Birthday Fun!

J's birthday was filled with fun for everyone. Here's the recap.
Mom and Dad greeted J with song and candles!
Then J sat at the table full of presents, including a Manning family first - a scooter!
Yum Yum! She asked for chocolate covered donuts for breakfast.
Thanks Dad for making the early morning run to Meche's.
3rd Birthday. J got to choose 3 presents to open before getting dressed.
J said, "A three year princess! She's just like me!"
She was so thrilled, she forgot about the other presents.
After ripping off the paper J said, "A box!"
I really think she thought the gift was the box.
She had so much fun digging through this bag, finding treasures.
My girls LOVE clothes.
After getting dressed, J went outside to try out her new scooter.
She got the hang of it in no time.
C can't wait until the "newness" wears off, and she gets to ride.
Then we were off to Toys-R-Us.
The kids are part of the Birthday Club.
Each year, Geoffrey the giraffe sends them a $3 gift card.
All three wanted this cute lollipop!
After a run to Chick-fil-A for dinner and play, it was time for cake!
Happy 3rd Birthday J!
What a day!

Outside with Grandpa

Happy Thanksgiving! Here's your water for breakfast!

We took Thanksgiving Day real easy. I'm so glad we had already decided to do Shrimp Etoufee for lunch rather than all the traditional dishes. I'm not sure Mom and I could have pulled it off after the night we had. We certainly weren't in the mood to do much, and the laundry was demanding enough as it was.

Our day of rest worked! The kids were all recovered and ready to celebrate Thanksgiving with Grandma and Grandpa on Friday.

They loved the rope swing Grandpa made for them.

Then they got to pick oranges.

Eating them was the most fun! Don't forget E. She was there too, but playing inside.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Choo Choo

What fun! Andy got to see the inside of a real train! We have a couple of buds that are engineers. No, not degree engineers. The real deal, train operating engineers. How cool is that?!

Andy was invited to check out the cabin workspace. Andy said it was a little weird waiting for the train, then watching it come to a stop for him in his little white Taurus. He said it was a little overwhelming. He was amazed at how tall the train was. What a fun adventure!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Playhouse fun

The kids absolutely love their new playhouse. (Thanks Uncle Jim and Aunt Kara!) Sometimes it's a home, but most of the time it's a diner. C, M, and J are fascinated with fast food; the speed of the food prep amazes them. And they think the people that work in the fast food industry are beyond cool. They all aspire to be "food ladies" when they grow up.
One afternoon they were all playing outside when I heard a very loud, obnoxious scream from J. It was the J scream that says, "One of my big sisters did something to me that I just don't like at all!" I went outside to investigate. As I was approaching the playhouse, I overheard C lecturing J. So I walked to the window and started up a conversation.
Me: Excuse me ladies. I heard a loud scream, and some shouting. I just thought I would come check things out and see what all the commotion is about.
C: Well, you see. Here's the problem. Look at J's feet! They are so dirty, and she keeps coming into my house and putting grass all over the place. Look at this floor! It's filthy! She can't come in here and make the house dirty like this!
And C was dead serious. She was on her hands and knees picking up blades of grass and tossing them out the door. I've got to get the girl a broom so she can keep her house/diner clean.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Guest Blog: Andy, Daddy
Dear J,

Happy 3rd birthday! You’re a big girl now, and on Sunday you get move up from First Steps to Lil’K at church. How exciting! J, I love you so much. You bring so much joy to your mother and me. You have a beautiful smile, and when you smile it makes me smile. And you don’t mind at all showing your emotions. We know exactly what you are feeling on the inside because you show it all on the outside. And that’s good, because I like to know what my little J is feeling. I want you to be happy, and that’s why lately I have been teaching you a lesson that will serve you well your entire life: Your attitude is your choice. Life is best when we choose a happy attitude, and God has given us the ability to choose happiness. You can’t control what happens to you, but you can always choose to face life with a happy, cheerful, joyful, positive attitude. That’s what I try to do, and even though it’s not always easy, it’s always what is best. I learned that from your Grandpa when I was a little boy. I also learned that if you have given your life to Jesus and He lives inside of you, then you have extra strength to choose joy. As a follower of Jesus you can face whatever life throws at you because you’ve got Jesus walking with you and Heaven awaiting you. And your mother and I pray often that you will choose to embrace Jesus at a young age. He loves you and has a fantastic plan for your life. Right now, my little J, I’ve noticed that you are fascinated with princesses. Did you know that you are a princess? That’s right! Your Heavenly Father is the King of Kings, and He created you as a unique, very special, very precious princess. And you’ll always be my beloved princess, too! I love you J, and I look forward to another year of hugs, and kisses, and lovins, and fun times.

The best is yet to come!


Andy and J

Monday, January 26, 2009

We're walking!

Woohoo!! A took three steps! And since then, I've been catching him practice on his own. I think he's finally beginning to realize he can walk rather than crawl. He's so cute. He'll stand really still for awhile, then bend his knees and bounce up and down a bit, then take off for a few steps. When he falls down on his bottom, he cracks up laughing. When he falls face first, completing a perfect nose dive into the hardwood floor, there are more tears than laughs. But after a little encouragement, he's up and ready to try again.

We were so excited to reward his first steps with his first pair of Nike's. Way to go A! It won't be long before you're running around with your big sisters.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Who's that?!

I was looking through old pictures the other day.
I was shocked to see this old picture of M and how much A looks like her.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Labor & Delivery with C

My first pregnancy. What an adventure. Everything was new and a little scary.

Andy and I were so excited to finally be pregnant. We had not been using any birth control, but our one year wedding anniversary had come and gone with no pregnancy. Shortly before we got pregnant, Andy shared his concern that something might be wrong with him. I remember him asking me, "Do I need to go get checked out? I mean, you've gone to the doctor. Everything seems okay with you, but is there something wrong with me?" I told him he was being silly. God was just blessing us with special time together, alone. Kids would come in His time. Little did I know, His time was just around the corner. A month later we were pregnant!

Thankfully my pregnancy was uneventful. No morning sickness, no complications. It was hard to believe I was really pregnant. It didn't really hit me until my first ultrasound. As I watched this little creature turn back and forth on the screen, I realized those little fuzzy bubbles I had been feeling were my baby!

Things progressed well until my due date, when we still had no baby. We waited and waited, and finally made plans to induce. The night before the scheduled induction, we went out to eat at my favorite restaurant - El Fenix. During dinner I began to feel some contractions, but they felt different from the others I had been feeling for a couple weeks. I stayed up all night with contractions. They weren't terribly painful, and we didn't think they were regular enough to go to the hospital. We decided to wait and go in for our scheduled time at 7:30 AM.

At the hospital the next morning, we got settled into our room, and my midwife checked me before we started the "drip" (pitocin). I was already 7 cm! We wouldn't need to induce! By 8:30 AM, I was 8 cm! But then my body stopped. I stayed at 8 cm, with not much pain until 1 PM. (Quick explanation: No part of labor is easy. There is pain in progressing from 3 to 4 cm. But, nothing compares to the "transition phase" of labor when the body moves from 8 to 10 cm. This phase is considered the most painful.) When the pain came, oh boy! It was the most intense pain I had ever experienced. I stayed in this pain, with little to no progress until 6 PM. (Research shows that for most women, the transition phase of labor lasts anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour - NOT 5 hours!) I was beyond exhausted, and feeling somewhat discouraged. I was SO ready for it all to be over.

So when my midwife asked if I felt like pushing, I said, "Yes! I would love for this baby to be out of me!" At the time I didn't understand the urge to push. My body wasn't ready to push, but seeing my exhaustion, my midwife thought we'd give it a try. After pushing through a couple contractions, she said an episiotomy might speed things up. She asked what I thought. I looked at Andy, and with tears in my eyes said, "Cut away." This was SO not going according to my plans.

But it did speed things up. At 6:29 PM, we had our first baby! C weighed 8 lb 4 oz. Our precious little girl that everyone said would be a boy because of the way I carried her, was finally here.

As C was coming out, she had a bowel movement. Alarms went off, and a rush of nurses filled the room. She was taken to the other side of the room and a flood of hands wiped her down. (Could it be the El Fenix? Sorry.) Then I was told that C was flaring her nostrils, which can be a sign of lack of oxygen. She was taken to the neo-natal unit for observation. I was so exhausted and hungry, it didn't faze me. I remember telling the nurse, "Oh that's fine. Yes, please take her. Do what you need to do. Thank you. Can I get something to eat?"

I ate and rested while Andy stayed with C. She came back to the room about an hour later, and I was finally able to hold my first baby. Andy and I held her and cried out eyes out. A new baby is somewhat overwhelming. We were super excited and super terrified.

Once things calmed down and we were alone in our room, I looked at Andy in my overly hormonal state and said, "Well, that wasn't too bad, was it?" Andy replied, "What?! Today was the worst day of my life!" He was right. It had been a very long, hard, painful day.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Labor & Delivery with M

We were expecting Baby #2 by December 22. But Christmas came and left; still no baby to hold. The night of December 29 I noticed some back pain. I made plans then to tackle putting away Christmas decorations the next morning. I got a good night's sleep, then began the work early the next morning. And yes indeed, labor contractions came!

I held off on calling my midwife because I was getting so much accomplished. I finally decided I better call her before she left for lunch. I called and let her know I was in labor. She told me to come by her office after lunch. Once again, I must have sounded a little too pleasant on the phone. I told Andy to load our suitcases into the car because she would most likely send us straight to the hospital.

The waiting room was crowded. I stood quietly in the corner, swaying and breathing through contractions, patiently waiting my turn. I was called back and quickly stripped my bottoms. I knew we needed to get a move on. My midwife checked me, then exclaimed, "Lydia! What in the world are you doing here?! Get to the hospital now! You are 7 cm!" I said, "I told you I was in labor."

Off we were to the hospital, which thankfully was next door. My midwife had already called to alert the nursing staff, so they were waiting for us. We got settled into our room, an IV was put in, and my midwife came by. She stripped my membranes, and I paced back and forth for the next 45 minutes. As I was swaying back and forth through one contraction, the baby shifted, fluid came gushing out, and my body began pushing. Andy and my midwife helped me quickly get into bed, and precious M was born on December 30 at 9lb 4oz.

This labor and delivery was by far the most smooth. There were only 2 glitches.

The first was me puking at about 9 cm. My midwives let me drink Gatorade while in labor. My stomach can handle clear Gatorade just fine, but this time we tried red. Not so much luck. And when I threw up, Andy freaked out because he thought it was blood. Nope. Just red Gatorade.

And the second glitch was amniotic fluid all over my brand new Christmas slippers. Yuck! And this is why I now wear cheap, nasty flip flops in the hospital. No more brand new, beautiful slippers that matched my brand new fleece robe. Thanks Mom for taking my dirty slippers home and washing them. She brought them back to me the next morning, and I still have them today.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Labor & Delivery with J

My third pregnancy. After 2 little girls, could we be getting our boy? Waiting to find out is so much fun! I hit 40 weeks on January 21, but still no baby. I went to bed January 26 thinking, "When is this baby going to come?!"

Sometime in the middle of the night I woke up with contractions. Hmmm.... could this be it? Are they going to "stick" or is my body just playing tricks? I started timing and logging each contraction. By about 4 AM I decided that this was indeed labor. It was finally time to have the baby! I wasn't in any great pain yet, but we would need to be heading to the hospital by morning. (4 AM is not quite morning.)

I called my parents so they could get on the road and make the 2 hour trip. We needed them to watch the other girls at the house while we went to the hospital. After about 1.5 hours I was beginning to feel the pain. I called my parents to see how close they were. They were still at their home! Oops! I must have sounded a little too calm and comfortable when I made the call.

Plan B -- Call somebody, anybody quick! Our friends are so amazing. Andy called a dear friend, and she was at our home with a head full of wet hair, makeup and blow dryer in hand in no time.

Meanwhile, Andy had been on the phone with the school where he was PE coach. They knew his wife was expecting any day, so plans had already been made. But one very important key -- THE key -- was overlooked. Yes. Somehow, the school managed to have only one key to the gym. And who had that one key? Andy. Who has only one key to anything?!

So he was instructed that he had to bring the key to the school. Oh boy. Hold on baby. Here we go. We're going to hospital, we just have to pass it and go across town first. Every bump and turn brought whimpers, and the ride to school felt like a journey across state. I was beginning to fear the headlines "Baby Born in White Ford Taurus."

But we finally made it to the hospital. Thankfully the hospital staff in charge of registration could see the need to rush us through. They got us upstairs quickly. Then a nurse had to check me before they could get us in a real room. She got real nervous when she realized I was almost 8 cm. The service got even better then!

My doctor was out of town, so the on call doc came to see me. We decided to go ahead and rupture my membranes (break my water). When he was done, he asked, "About how much longer do you think?" I said, "Don't go too far. Give me an hour, and we'll have a baby."

About 45 minutes later, I'm standing beside the bed, moaning and swaying through a contraction. Then it hits me. I say, "Oh no. Poo poo's coming out! I'm pooing on the floor right now!" Thankfully I had a very knowledgeable labor partner who immediately called for the nurses and said, "We need you now! We're ready to push!"

Not only is Andy very knowledgeable, but he's so protective of me as well. He knew I would be so embarrassed to have the nurses clean poo off the floor. Yes, my precious hubby caught my poo with his bare hands. Disgusting thought ... amazing man.

I got into bed and assumed the position. Right before I started to feel a contraction to push I noticed Andy wasn't in sight. I got scared and asked my nurse, "Where's my husband? Where did he go?" She answered, "He's fine, hon. He just needed to go wash his hands." Oh ... yeah.

And the next couple of contractions brought us our J weighing in at 10 lbs. Since the on call doc didn't know my history (or anything about me), he freaked out at such a large baby. He looked at me terrified and asked, "Do you have gestational diabetes?!" I just smiled and said, "No. Just big babies."

Another labor and delivery. Another story to tell. And another precious baby girl.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Labor & Delivery with A

My due date for A was October 4. He decided to make his grand entrance on October 8 - only 4 days late, the earliest I had had a baby. It was Monday, 7 AM, and I was just starting to stir. As my feet hit the floor and I started to stand, I felt a warm liquid running down my legs. I called out to Andy as I moved toward the bathroom. He came running asking, "What?! What is it?!" I said, "Either my water broke, or I'm peeing on myself and I can't stop." He told me to figure it out, while he got the girls' things together, just in case.
It wasn't tee tee. It was go time. Andy threw the girls into the truck wearing flip flops and PJ's. He packed a quick breakfast and clothes for the girls, loaded our suitcases, and we hit the road. Of course we found ourselves in the middle of morning traffic. I wasn't having any contractions, but we were nervous because 2 previous children were born within an hour of my water breaking. We wanted to get to the hospital ASAP, not knowing what to expect with this labor.
We got to the hospital by 8 AM and were settled into a room pretty quick. While I was getting my IV, Andy dressed and fed the girls. Thankfully, dear friends arrived soon to take the girls to the waiting room to wait for grandparents.
Then I walked, and I walked, and I walked. And then I walked some more. By lunchtime, still no contractions. We needed some help with pitocin. Things started progressing, but slowly. This boy just didn't want to come out! After more pitocin, it started to feel like labor, and I finally reached 10 cm that evening.
I didn't have the urge to push, but we decided to give it a try. Pushing felt weird, like my body was working against my physical efforts. At one point I totally freaked Andy and my doctor out by asking, "What if this baby doesn't come out?" I saw the look on Andy's face and immediately apologized by saying, "I'm sorry hon. It's okay. I didn't mean to freak you out. I'm just thinking things through."
That's me. I hate not being prepared. I like to think things through. I think I may be a control freak, so when things are out of my control, I like have had at least anticipated it. But anticipatory thoughts about terrified my poor husband and doctor. Oops.
A was slow to come out, which probably had lots to do with his size. But out he did come at 10 lbs 14 oz. And he was a boy! After three girls, our first boy.
Another labor. Another delivery. Both so different from the previous three, but it worked. We were blessed with another beautiful, healthy baby.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Labor & Delivery with E

Every birth story is different. Baby E was a stubborn little thing. She just didn't want to come out. We were expecting her arrival on January 2, the famous "due date" that's rarely accurate. After waiting patiently for 10 days beyond her scheduled arrival, the decision to induce was made.
Andy and I arrived at the hospital at 5:15 AM on January 13. We did the routine check-in and finally got settled into our room at 6:30 AM. After a quick round of penicillin, I was given a little white pill that was to encourage the start of contractions. My body responded well, really well. Almost immediately labor contractions began. They were mild at first, but quite regular. And their regularity was one on top of the other, no spacing it out. I remember saying at one point, "Oh no. Not another one right now. I need a break." But there was no break. It was even difficult to sneak potty time.
And about every hour, I had to sit in the bed with the belts to monitor contractions and the baby's heartbeat. For me, sitting and enduring contractions is almost unbearable. It's a miserable time, and it really zaps my energy (and mood).
Shortly before 2 PM, my progress was checked. I was in intense pain at this moment. In the past when I've felt this pain, we've been on the verge of having a baby. It's called the "transition period" that has the most intense pain, but leads to 10 cm and pushing! What gets me through the pain is knowing that it's almost over. But when the nurse checked me, I was only 6 cm. Uh oh. This indicated more time, more pain.
For the first time in any of my labors, I said the word epidural. I've never even considered epidurals. I actually like doing it natural, because I feel more in charge, more empowered. But I knew that if I had to endure 2 more hours of intense contractions, one on top of the other, I wouldn't have the strength needed to push a 10 pounder out. I asked the nurse if it was too late for me to get one. She said, "Oh certainly not. As long as the baby's not coming out, you can have one. We can get it right now, and it takes about 15 minutes to work." I said, "Let's do it." And plans were put into place. Fluids were hooked up, and I was being prepped for an epidural immediately.
I had to sit on the side of the bed, my upper body rolled over my tummy. Not a comfortable position. As the needle was poking my back, I felt a contraction coming. My nurse was holding my shoulders, helping me stay really still. I said, "Oh ladies. Here comes a contraction. It's going to be a big one." The anesthesiologist said, "Well I just got a little of the meds into you. You'll still feel the pain, but it should feel shorter. Is it shorter?" I said, "No. Not at all." (Quick pause.) "Oh no, the baby!" The nurse holding my shoulders said, "It's okay hon. We're almost done. You're doing great." I said, "No really! The baby's coming out right now!"
She looked and saw the head crowing. Because I was sitting I couldn't close my legs, and the force of the baby coming was pushing me out of the bed. She was holding me in bed while yelling on the intercom, "Dr. Jurgelsky now! Run! Run! Now!! And I need all nurses in here! Now!!"
We made it through that contraction, sitting on the side of the bed, then I was told to get into bed. I was so disoriented I swung my legs toward the head of the bed. The nurse yelled, "No! Swing 'em the other way!" Oops. I even chuckled a bit. I must have looked like a total goober.
By this time I must have been feeling some of the effects of the epidural because I was able to breath through a contraction while everyone arrived and got things ready.
The next contraction pushed precious E out. It was harder for me to push this time because normally the pushing contractions of the active phase of labor take over. You can't hold it back. But I had to focus more, and make sure I was pushing with all my might.
Pushing is my favorite part of labor, because I'm distracted from the pain of the contractions by physical labor. And the power is in my hands. I'm in charge of getting the baby out, and it can all be over. It's such an empowering experience. And there's such elation of it being "done." The job is complete.
We're so blessed with another healthy baby. I was able to nurse her immediately, all the while my legs were going numb. Yes, the epidural was coming through. It was the weirdest thing. I lost strength in my legs, especially my right leg. I couldn't move it at all. The nurse decided that there was no way I could get into a wheelchair to be moved to my new room. They had to push me on a stretcher, but even getting onto the stretcher was tough. The nurse and my Mom helped pull while I lifted and scooted my body with my arms. Andy's job was to lift my dead right leg, helping it keep up with the rest of my body.
I stayed numb for a couple hours. In my new room, the nurse wanted to help me go potty, and I said, "No way. Not yet." She explained that I would most likely tee tee on myself since they didn't have time to do a catheter. I said, "Then I'll get wet. I'm not moving." I don't think she realized how numb I really was. I would much rather tee tee all over myself, than hit the floor and break something.
So baby E brought my labor and delivery experience to a new level. I can now say I've gotten an epidural. It had to help with the recovery in some way.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Long Toes

E has such long, skinny toes! All of the kids have had somewhat large feet; none of their hospital footprints have fit in the boxes. But E has definitely captured the family record with these long toes.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Home again, home again

There's no place like home. Nana brought the girls back home this evening. They brought a present that C wrapped all by herself. They were so excited to see their baby sister. C and M had fun examining her little feet.