Saturday, February 21, 2015

Oh the views

Sometimes life starts going so quickly that it's easy to forget to pause smell the roses or in this case look up at the scenery.  The views and nature here in Alaska are absolutely incredible.  Every once in awhile I will just be walking or driving and be struck with how gorgeous the surroundings are.  I often find myself running through my to do list while driving and then I'm smacked with views that look like they are straight from heaven.  We talk with our boys frequently about how different this place is from other places we have visited/lived.  Each place has it's ups and downs.....but the mountains and views here, regardless of the season, sure are breath taking. 

A little picture of the boys enjoying some outdoor skating on a neighborhood rink.

Friday, February 20, 2015

This Parenting Gig

This parenting gig is tough!  If it were any regular job you would probably quit. Seriously, imagine if you had a job where people cried, screamed, fought, yelled and occasionally you got peed/pooped or vomited on.  With this being said, I have to admit, this gig does get easier in some ways as time goes by.  We haven't approached the tween and teen years (phew) but the infant stage does become easier the more you do it.  I think it's all a matter of perspective.  I can honestly say that I am a lot less stressed this time with a set of twins then the first time around.  Through the years of parenting you learn that each stage is just that....a stage; and it won't last forever and there is an end in sight.  Sleep deprivation can actually be used as a method of torture and yet these tiny beautiful little infants that we bring into this world never allow us to get any semblance of proper sleep.  I remember walking around like a zombie when the older boys were little and all I could think about was catching a little nap. This time around, I may still be a sleep deprived zombie but I know that this too is just a stage and we have always been blessed with children who sleep through the night after only a few months. We may already be more then halfway there on this sleep deprived twin adventure! 

This time around I stress a lot less about how much everyone is eating and when they are going to the bathroom. Instead I just try to enjoy each moment as they come.  With the first set of twins the doctors made us keep records of every feeding/diaper change for the first few weeks and we had to bring these records in to our weekly pediatrician appointment to make sure the boys were staying on the proper growth curve.  This time we decided to do things differently and the girls lost barely any weight and both had surpassed their birth weight by their one week appointment so we don't even need any extra check ups!  With the first twins I was always stressing about how much breast milk the boys were getting, how much I was pumping etc...  This time we decided to take a different approach and realized that I may not have all the time in the world to pump breast milk and just do it when our schedule/life allowed. To my amazement, we have way more breast milk then we ever had and the girls both get about 80% breast milk per day. 

This week I recently read a joke about parenting....

- when the first child eats dirt you call the doctor
- when the second child eats dirt you wipe their mouths
- when the third child eats dirt you wonder if you still need to feed them lunch

I find this to be crazy true.  The girls are completely looked after but I can honestly say that we do things for these fourth and fifth babies differently than we would have ever thought of doing for babies one and two or even three. The biggest example that comes to mind would be bottles.  We still sterilize all the girls bottles but I have to admit, that if one of them is full and falls asleep without finishing their bottle and the other is still hungry, I have given that second baby the other ones left over bottle.  Gasp!!! I know, perhaps it's because it's breast milk and I don't want to waste but bottom line, they have shared bottles and that's okay. 

 When I say this parenting gig is getting easier it may just mean that we have become accustomed to larger and larger amounts of chaos.  I know that the house will not always be in this state of disarray. The folded clothes will eventually get put away, at some point in time all the dishes will be done, we may eventually get out of our pj's and one day, perhaps, all 7 of us will be bathed from head to toe on the same day. For now, we will just step over the toys on the floor like an obstacle course and clean up the pantry that the toddler helped himself to (it's like his own personal snack bar that he thoroughly examined every single box or container of food and discarded the packages that were of no interest). The simple truth when you get right down to is that we will never again have two 7 year olds and three more that are two and under. Along with my husband and our little dog, the entire package is really what makes this gig worth every single moment no matter how sleep deprived or chaotic it gets.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Minivan Express

Today we set out to do our errands as a family of 7!  Up to now it was either Jason or I with a few of the kids out or Jason and I with the three babies out but never before all in the van at the same time!  The big boys were off today and we wanted to do a few errands so we loaded everyone up in the van and set out!  We went to Sports Authority and Costco and got everything we needed!!  No tears....no meltdowns....no screaming .....and everything on our list!  Phew! Success in my books!

 This is the first time that we haven't  had to buy a new vehicle to fit the new baby (babies).  When the twins were born we bought a Honda pilot, when Josh was born we purchased the Honda Odyssey....and thank goodness we still all fit :)

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Being the little Brother

It's great to see the dynamics between the big boys and Joshua.  They all love each other to death and from the minute they get home until the minute that Joshua goes to bed Joshua follows/adores his big brothers.  Sometimes the three of them play all together and sometimes the bigger boys take turns playing with him.  They are so sweet with him and teach him things (I'm sure some good and some bad).  He runs around calling for them (Zaaaaacckkkiee and Maaaafew). 

One thing that I never expected was that the older boys actually make an effort to include him in things they do.  When things get quiet in the house you can usually find Josh cuddled up in one of their beds being read to, cuddling against them on the couch or just plain siting beside the older boys watching what they are doing.  Last week they taught him how to use the whoopee cushion.  Oh boy the whoopee cushion has made another appearance at our house because they all think it's hilarious when Joshua sits on it and says in his baby voice "scuze you".  Just thinking of the three of them laughing hysterically about it makes me smile while I write this.  They have given him his own beyblade so that he can battle with them......the three of them laugh like hyenas when they all pile into Joshua's little ball tent. 

It's great to see the relationship develop between the three of them and you can truly see the nurturing role that the older boys play with little Joshua.




I can't help but laugh because I come across scenes likes the one in the picture so many times per day.  The older boys teaching him things. In this case as the book title demonstrates, how to be awesome.  I mean what 2 year old doesn't need to know how to be awesome? :)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Our family expanded 4 more feet

The arrival of the girls was straight out of a book.  Everything went smooth and shockingly quick.  For the twin boys I was in labour for almost 12 hours with 1.5 hours of pushing Zachary was born followed by Mathew a speedy 11 minutes later.  For the birth of Joshua my water broke and then I was in active labour for 6 hours and had almost 3 hours of pushing.  So when we went to the hospital to deliver the girls, we expected a similar drawn out delivery.

My in-laws arrived late on the night of December 29th and Jason and I headed to the hospital mid morning on the 30th.  At this point I had made it to 38 weeks and 5 days with the twin girls and I was gigantic :)  I was not in labour when we went but we were going to be induced at some point that day.  When we arrived I was 3 cm dilated but since I had been 2cm for over a month it was no big deal.  My contractions were approximately 3-7 minutes apart but again I had been having those same non-progressive contractions for months.  The doctor was going to be coming in to see me after she finished her office hours for the day so we stayed at the hospital where I was monitored.  Jason and I walked around, went shopping at the gift store and basically hung out for the day.  When the doctor arrived at 6 pm that evening we were shocked to find out that I had progressed to 6cm without knowing it.  She broke the first water sac and we became top priority to receive an epidural in case of emergency c section during the delivery.  Baby A was head down and baby B was transverse (sideways) with her feet down.  45 minutes later I was 9.5 cm dilated and we were rushing to get to the operating room where I would deliver.  I had never delivered in the operating room before and was shocked with how quickly they get it all set up and how great all the nursing staff and doctors were.  I remember thinking everyone was working so quickly like busy little bees.  It could have been a crazy stressful situation but our doctor had a way of making you feel super calm.  A specialist (perinatologist) she delivers twins with her husband (an obstetrician).  For our situation he would do the ultrasound so she could see the position of the second baby as the first was born.  He was also there as a back up in case an emergency cesarean section had to be done. 

Once everything was set up I specifically looked at the clock and this is the conversation that pursued

Doctor  "okay time to start pushing"
My mind:  Ugghh here we go again ....hours of horrendous pushing......

but to my shock after just one push

Doctor "Okay next one needs to be a good one"
My mind "yeah yeah been here before..."

One more push later

Doctor "Okay she is crowning"
My mind and perhaps I said it out loud too "Are you kidding me....already!!"
Jason as he jumps up from his chair that he was sitting on beside me "Already!!!"

And sweet Emma was born a mere 7 minutes after we started pushing.

At this point I was kind of in disbelief at how quickly everything was going.  Jason went over to cut the cord and check on Emma.   It was kind of neat at this point because doctor #2 was still performing the ultrasound so that my doctor could grab on to the feet of baby B. 

At this point I remember my doctor saying come on little baby. I asked if everything was okay and she just replied "yes, this little one just keeps moving her leg on me". I asked again if everything was alright. It was quiet for a minute and then she smiled and said "I have her".  I remember calling Jason to come over quick and little Sarah was born (feet first) a quick 2 minutes after her sister. 
 


I laid there in shock at how quickly this was all going.  Sarah took a little longer to pink up (transition) after birth but my two babies were now both here and everyone was doing great.  We left the operating room less then an hour from going in. I had no "repairs" as they call it. The girls came to the room with us and I required only a few ibuprofen for pain the next few days. After only a couple hours, I was able to get up and walk around. What a different experience and recovery then any of our other births! 

 
Things went so well during the delivery that I was actually the one who took the picture of Jason and the Emma!
 
Emma was born weighing 6lbs10oz and Sarah was 5 lbs 14oz.  Emma was 4oz bigger then Mathew's birth weight but these two little girls just had such different builds then the boys.  Everything on them seems so tiny and petite and dainty.  We were supposed to stay in the hospital for at least 48hours (standard for babies born under 6lbs) but because the girls barely lost any weight after birth and we had no jaundice issues (which we did with two of the three boys) we were released 30 some hours after the girls were born.  Being our fourth and fifth baby not to mention our second set of twins, the staff quickly recognized that we were experts and didn't need any assistance. Our experience at the hospital was absolutely amazing.  We had amazing doctors, nurses and all the hospital support staff were top notch.  I am still in shock with how smooth and enjoyable of a delivery and stay this was.  On new year's day we came home where the girls joined their brothers and we started to settle in as a family of 7. I'm still a little shocked when I think about that.  Who would have guessed when we got married 8 years ago that we would be spending new year's day of 2015 bringing home two baby girls and completing our big family (by today's standard) at 7!!!


Friday, February 13, 2015

Mountains of Toys

As our family continues to grow so does the sheer amount of stuff in our house.  Some days it seems like it is swallowing us up.  It's a constant battle to keep things organized, purge things we don't use and store things we will use again.  We spend way way way way way too much on kids clothes, books, toys etc so I always make sure we look after it.  I like to buy good quality stuff that will last and now that we have more kids I think that's even more important.  I don't let the kids misuse their stuff so that means it will last down through the other kids now too.  Ugghh but as we have more kids it becomes a little overwhelming to continually rotate the clothes and toys.  Financially though it's crazy how much you save by doing this.  I can't imagine re-buying all the stuff that we have x5.  At our current house we have been blessed with a huge storage area in the basement so I have been working diligently on making sure all of our stuff is properly stored/labeled and easily accessible for rotation.  We have been working on having so many toys out per child and the rest stored in the bedrooms, toy room or put away if it is not age appropriate for any of the kids.  We have started working on more "lessons" with Joshua and I find having things organized like this makes it so much easier to quickly rotate and come up with a new activity.  For the older kids I have used a labeler to label the bins but for Josh I find that having the picture on the outside of the container makes it easier for him to ask for it.

When we read our nightly books together we tend to keep them on the bookshelf in the family room upstairs.  I tend to put the books that are brand new there for us to read a few times (until the kids get tired of them) before they enter the regular book rotation.  I have been trying to make sure that the season/occasion appropriate books come out at the right time ie. valentines books are out now.  The boys are in charge of their bookshelves in their bedrooms.  The novels are kept between their two shelves and any books they want to look at during quiet reading time.  Once they have too many books on their shelves we rotate them down to the toy room bookshelves and bring some more up.  Joshua has a little book shelf in his room but we tend to keep his board books in baskets throughout the house that are easily accessible and quick clean up.

As we start pulling out more and more stuff for the girls you realize just how much money you can actually save by storing the items from the older children.  I recently opened a Rubbermaid container of baby toys for the girls to play with and it's crazy to think about paying 20ish dollars again for all those toys.  It's like Christmas when I open up a new container of clothes for Joshua that the twins wore.  It's also nostalgic to see the younger children wear the clothes the oldest wore.

Mathew and Zachary in the bouncy chairs
 
Below is Joshua in the same bouncy chair






















I would love to hear how other people keep the kids clothes/toys organized and would love any helpful hints :)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Funny things to remember....kids growing up in Alaska

Every evening at the dinner table we ask the boys what their favorite thing at school was.  One of their answers last week lead into talking about the principal at their school.  She's always super friendly and the boys like her.  Our dinner conversation went on to talk about her getting new sliders for the school kids to use. The boys then went on to talk about other jobs she does.

Jason:  She seems really nice and she must be really busy. You haven't had to go see her because you were bad or anything have you?

Mathew:  Why would you have to go see her if you are bad?

Jason:  Oh because that's what happens sometimes if you misbehave.

Mathew:  I don't think so dad.   You can't misbehave at school and if you do you can't see the principal she is really busy!  She has to stand in the hall and say good morning to everyone.She has to ring the bell to make school start.She has to ring the fire alarm if we have fire drill.Oh and she needs to always protect the kids and make sure we are safe!

Jason:  That sounds busy.  What else do you think she does?

Mathew:  She doesn't have time for anything else. She has to watch out over the school yard to make sure no moose come.  If a moose comes it can be really dangerous and you can't go near them and she tells us we can't go for recess. Kids may not notice a moose at recess because they are so busy having fun so she watches all day for moose. She has to protect the kids.  So kids can't misbehave at school dad because she is busy!

Jason and I couldn't stop laughing. I guess through the eyes of a kid growing up in Alaska, watching for moose is an important job. 

On a side note....phew they hadn't been to the principals office for misbehavior hahaha