June 28, 2008

Auf wiedersehn...

...my dear friends.

above photo by Lorie Chambless

As I write this, Gretchen and Mike are halfway across the country, probably just now arriving at their new place in Nashville. Where do I start with little miss Gretchen? I first met her at a baby shower last July. We sort of just found each other amongst the throngs of girls there. Elijah and Ollie were newborns and we were in baby heaven. She loved being a new mom and her radiance was contagious. I fell in love with her instantly. She was so warm and friendly. Where had this girl been all my life?

Before long she was sitting in my living room and we were happily stitching a quilt for little Lijah. I could not believe how much we had in common. As she was walking out to her car that day, she turned around and said "Mike and I are moving to Nashville next summer". (Her sister Lydia already lived there, and Mike would finish up his schooling there).


However, I was accustomed to friends moving far away and instead of wallowing in this unfortunate news, I decided to make the best of our next 10 months together. And what a blessing those last 10 months have been. Gretchen is the type of person who always makes you feel good when you are around her. I'm convinced she is part angel.

Gretchen is the one who introduced me to the wonderful world of natural living, complete with cloth diapers, home births and essential oils. Oh the essential oils. Put a few drops of oil in the palm of your hand and mix it with some lotion...rub lavender oil on baby's tummy when fussy/gassy or on mom's forehead when she has a headache. Rub some eucalyptus on Ollie's excema and Poof! It's gone... or on Finn and Calvin's chests when they had a cough. And I am now the proud owner of Tea Tree oil as well. Thanks to Gretchen, my medicine cabinet is now a little crunchier:)

One of the things I'm gonna miss most about Mike and Gretch is how they loved all 3 of my boys. You know the way to a mom's heart is through her children, right? They were so sweet and generous to them. Gretchen was once a drummer herself and was my boys' biggest drumming fan. Remember the anonymous letter with a donation to Finn's drums? She was also the donor of Calvin's first Zildjian cymbal and drum pedal, upping his set to a whole new level. Or remember how Mike so selflessly parted with his Tony Hawk tech deck set when I couldn't find one? And check out this cool new army bag they embellished for Ollie's birthday present. I love it!
But most of all, I'm just gonna miss hanging out over coffee or that huge bowl of popcorn on my family room floor. Or lounging in the back yard as our boys teach each other new tricks, or sitting in the overflow bleachers at church when it's too crowded.

Gretchen, Mike and Lijah bean, you will be dearly missed. We love you!

June 25, 2008

this boy

I did not get overly weepy upon Ollie turning one, because in my mind, one is still a baby. Calvin stayed a baby until he was practically 2. He was just so squishy and lovable and innocent...so baby. And he stayed that way a long time until just recently, when he discovered his will. Or when Ollie became mobile and starting interfering with his drum set. Either way, there are some days when Calvin is so difficult, I just don't know what to do with him. And then, he gives me his old chubby baby grin and all is forgotten. In this spirit, I thought I would record a few things about him that make me smile.

He is a hopelessly devoted animal lover. Every time John takes him to the library, he comes home with books covered in animals. Mostly kitties. And today at Barnes & Noble, he carried around 2 books swarming with kitties and one book with a bunny. Here he is with Grandma Betty's dog, Lady.
John recently bought a DVD on the drummer Steve Gadd, because according to Tommy, "Steve Gadd has a great groove". When I first viewed the DVD, I was a bit reluctant to let the boys watch it, because Steve Gadd is just so darn strange and I didn't want the boys to pick up on his bizarre mannerisms. But upon further inspection, the guy is so humble and answers peoples' questions with such interest and detail, that he soon won me over. After watching Steve Gadd for just a few moments, Calvin said to me "Steve Gadd has stamps all over his arms". The man is plastered in tattoos:)

Calvin and I immensely enjoy our nutri-grain blueberry waffles for breakfast and snack time. John gave Calvin a whole grain tortilla and after eating it Calvin said "thanks for the blueberry tortilla daddy". I guess wholegrain=blueberries:)

After cleaning windows all morning with John, Calvin rewarded himself with 3 stars for his diligence. John said "Calvin, you were only supposed to take 2 stars". To which Calvin replied, "It was a big job daddy."

However, no amount of window cleaning can tire out this boy. He will do anything to stay awake, even let me take a bazillion pictures of him before bed. Here is my little sleep bandit, trying his best to escape some zzz's.

June 22, 2008

Ollie Story: Delivery

That night as I peacefully slumbered, a little someone was getting ready.

And now, we are right back where I started: with my water broken, in a complete panic, shouting for John.

I'm not sure why I was shouting. John was just a few feet away in the master bathroom, getting ready for work. I started barking orders left and right. "Call your mom", I demanded, as I rummaged for my hospital bags and tried to get dressed. I was already out the door before John's mom, Betty, even got here. As John and I loaded up his RAV4, Betty arrived. I tried to give her instructions for the boys, but I couldn't because all of a sudden I was crying. I did not have time to say goodbye to the Finn and Calvin and I missed them already.

"We'll be fine", she said, waving goodbye.

As we drove to the hospital I called my parents and suddenly realized that mom was still in Florida helping grammy. This was going all wrong. She had never missed a birth. Mom and Betty were gonna take turns holding down the fort. When dad answered the phone I kind of blubbered all the facts and told him to call mom. And I don't remember what I said after that. It's a complete blur.

We arrived at the hospital in record time and I got out of the car, a sopping mess. Thank goodness my water did not break the day before in church, all over the gym floor. I would have died. With my heart pounding, we got to the birthing center on the 2nd floor, where all the nurses lounged idly at the front desk, bored stiff. I could barely get their attention. Finally, they lazily glanced up and escorted me to my room, and slowly started to get things ready.

"Hurry up", I urged. "This is my 3rd c-section and I'm afraid I'm going to rupture".

"Oh, you aren't gonna rupture", the nurse drawled in slow motion.

Normally the labor and delivery nurses are the cream of the crop. What was going on here? I had the worst service on the planet that morning.

As nurse #1 tied the rubber band around my arm for the IV, it snapped my skin and then broke. And then she stabbed my left arm with the IV. "Ouch", I jumped. "Sorry", she muttered, "I can't get it in". She tried again, stinging my left arm once again. No luck. Then she switched arms, where the rubber band broke again.

"Oh crap", she said, much to my disbelief.

And then she jabbed my right arm and started wiggling the IV around, for what felt like an eternity. I started to panic and I could not stop shaking. After a minute, I thought she got the IV in, but she didn't and was muttering "crap" once again. By her 4th attempt, I had enough.

"Could you please find me another nurse who is more experienced?" I asked. It was not the most polite thing to say, but this had been going on for half an hour and by now my contractions were really starting to kick in. She finally gave up and nurse #2 tried her luck. Nurse #2 seemed really experienced, but oddly enough she struggled too. "Your veins are really hard to find", she complained. This was the low point of my entire hospital stay.

There I sat, gushing water, shivering and contracting and nobody could do 1 thing to help me.

The door swung open and Dr. Y appeared, my knight in shining blue scrubs, completely and totally in charge. The atmosphere in the room calmed instantly. He's kind of zen that way. Within seconds, my IV was in and they were wheeling me off to the OR for my c-section.

The room was completely frigid, and as they transferred me to the narrow OR table, I was quite certain I was going to shake right off the table, onto the floor. The anesthesiologist asked, "Are you nervous?"

"Terrified", I answered. "I hate being filleted. Could you give me a little something in my IV to stop the shaking?"

"Don't worry, I have just the thing for you", he said. Within a minute, everything was warm and fuzzy and dreamy. My previous c-section was so traumatizing, I shook the entire time. I remember telling John "I hate this, I hate this. We are never doing this again". But here we were again, having another baby. And this time, the anesthesiologist was a wizard with the drip and made all things happy.

A few minutes later I felt the all too familiar tugging, as they wrested to get baby out of me. Then "whoooosh", as they lifted the entire weight of the last 9 months off me, in one fell swoop. It's a bizarre feeling.

And then, we heard him crying. The most blessed sound in the whole world.

They brought him over to me and for the first time, I laid eyes on his perfect, shining, little face. His eyes peeked at me and I was instantly smitten. He was so tidy and his hair kind of swooped to the side like a little 50's boy. I knew instantly that he was Oliver, my little Ollie. His name fit perfectly. As I stared at his sweet face, I had that excited feeling of anticipation one gets the day before Christmas. Like something really good was going to happen and you couldn't wait. Yes, I could not wait to get my hands on him and introduce my son to the world.

above photos by Ellie Grover

I love you Oollie Boollie.

June 21, 2008

Ollie Story: Surprises

Those 3 little words sent such a shock through my system that it surprised even me. I felt my toes tingle first and then the electricity traveled through my legs, up to my face. Which burned bright red.

I distinctly remember putting both hands over my face as I cried "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!". The tech kindly asked, "I take it you were hoping for a girl?" I could barely squeak out "yes, I have 2 wild little boys at home".

"Ah", she said and she started to laugh sympathetically. And for some reason, this made me laugh too, because, you know, if you don't not laugh you will cry. As we sat there chuckling over my plight, I desperately asked, "are you sure?"

"I could not be more sure", she said as she pointed at the screen. Now, I'm no expert at interpreting sonograms, but even I could not deny the truth. I was going to have another boy.

The rest of the ultrasound was a complete blur, as my entire future flashed before my eyes. There would be no pitter-patter of little girls' feet through my house. And if my sons had babies, I was going to be the mother-in-law. I could not just barge into the delivery room and hog the baby. I would have to be *considerate*. Sigh.

And I'm not going to lie to you. I felt so disappointed. Please don't think ill of me for feeling this way. It's just how I felt at that particular moment in time. I was completely and fully 100% aware of the gift of a healthy baby boy and deep down I was so grateful for that. It was the silly, surfacey, frivolous part of me that was most disappointed. There would be no Moda fabric. And this was a hard pill to swallow(I'm hopelessly ridiculous like that).

Back in the waiting room, I called my family, with everyone around me listening in. Complete strangers in every seat tried to console me saying how ridiculously hard, dramatic and expensive their girls were. Which fell on my deaf ears. I did not mind a hard girl and I looked forward to going broke over 1 wedding.

At Natasha's shower that night, my cheeks still glowed red and as they passed around my blankie, one of the girls said "oh, you need a girl." Ouch. And I remember Lorie and Christie giggling " Don't worry, we're probably going to have all boys too!" And much to my delight, they gave birth to a charming Henry and chill Sam just months after Ollie's arrival.

My disappointment lasted for approximately 2 weeks. I'm not sure when or how, but after that, I started to feel excited again. Much to my surprise, God completely changed my heart. The hop returned to my step and I started dreaming of the winters where all 3 boys got to wear little beanies. I even recalled my childhood dream of running a home for orphan boys.

The next few months were precious, as I happily sewed blankets, burpees and onesies for my baby boy. At my previous church, the little ladies would make prayer quilts, in which they prayed over their recipients as they sewed. I loved this idea and so each of his blankets were covered in prayer. It was at this time I learned to hand-embroider. Here was my first attempt.
My sister and I started playing the name game. I was having a hard time getting passed the name "Elle". I was all out of boys names. Jessica suggested Oliver, but I thought it was a mouthful, and preferred Ollie. Jessica did not love the name Ollie and this was a problem for me. You see, I could not do anything without her blessing. I once bought some cute red 50's bar stools from Target and when she said "yuck", I immediately slunk back to Target and returned them, in disgrace.

"How about Opie?" I suggested. " Vomit" was every one's response. Sheesh.

And then I did something very sneaky. I made a diapees and wipees case and hand-embroidered the name Ollie on it.
I did not tell anyone yet, but in my mind, I was 90% sure the Ollie was going to be the name. It would be Oliver on the birth certificate to appease my sister, but I figured I could easily morph it into Ollie as his nickname. Pretty devious, no? At this point I thought, it had better be a boy.

My waistline really began to expand, which was a first for me. I was not planning on doing maternity shots again, but then I stumbled across Ellie's website and just had to get me some "trailer chic" maternity shots, and FAST. We had a blast. Here are some of my favorites.

Soon thereafter I got even bigger and was a bit of a spectacle. A little boy in the church parking lot pointed at me and said " Look mama! She's gonna have a baby!" So embarrassing. And you should have seen the looks I got as I rummaged through the basement of my favorite antique shop for old window frames for my Ellie Grover pictures.

I gathered all my photos together and started to frame them. During the process, some of the glass shattered and I was crushed. It was the weekend and only one seedy repair shop was open. I lugged my big-ole-belly over there, all the while experiencing quite a few contractions. I had endless contractions with Finn and Calvin, so I thought nothing of it. I still had 3 weeks to go. My window was fixed by the end of the day, and as I hung the last picture on the wall, I sighed in exhaustion "I'm ready. The baby can come now."
And little did I know what the next morning would bring.

June 20, 2008

brief intermission:b-day bust

In case you hadn't noticed, I kind of stink at throwing kid birthday parties. I really did attempt to think about throwing Ollie a little pj party/breakfast but things were hectic with Finn's birthday, Father's Day and my sinus infection. Maybe I can still attempt a little something next week, but until that transpires, Ollie's birthday was a total bust. Not that he noticed. We sang him happy birthday over a graham cracker for Pete's sake. Then we gave him one present from Finn and Calvin: a retro Fisher Price Musical Teaching Clock.I found it at Target. When you turn the back dial it plays one song. No bells or whistles. I complained to John that this clock doesn't ring or ding or do much of anything at all. He had to remind me that it was a retro clock, without all the digital hoopla. It took me a minute to actually adjust to the simplicity of it. And it think it will be very useful for teaching both Finn and I to tell time on a clock with hands:)

Even though there wasn't the excitement of an actual party, we did have the joy of watching Ollie learn to walk. On Father's Day, John and I were commenting on how Ollie did not seem too interested in walking. Other than a step or two, he would rather crawl. No sooner did the words leave our mouths and Ollie proceeded to walk between 8 and 10 steps down the hallway. And though he still likes to crawl a lot, every day he seems more and more interested in walking. He now makes several attempts throughout the entire day. He falls a lot, but overall, I think Ollie is on his way. And now, the drunken baby walk:

June 19, 2008

Ollie Story: DayDreaming

While I waited for wednesday to come, my family was very supportive. I told Jessi what was going on, so she didn't think I flaked on helping her make 80 pieces of chicken for the Teen Challenge dinner. Her and Josh were so sweet. They kept saying, "whatever happens, we love you". It was just what I needed to hear. Funny how you remember little things like that.

Time marched on and eventually I was nervously sitting before the ultrasound machine once again. This time the ambiance was completely different. The room was cozy and dimly lit, and the tech was chatty and confident. Within a matter of seconds, she pointed out the flickering heartbeat. "Everything looks great!", she said.

Praise the Lord!

I was overjoyed and so thankful. That little heartbeat was the most welcome sight in the whole world. It amazes me how something so tiny can cause such a big commotion.

The weeks dragged on, with me vomiting off and on throughout each day. My poor boys. I remember sweet Finn holding my hair back as I yacked in the toilet. Aside from the morning sickness, things were going pretty well.

Until week 14, when I picked up our 1 gallon humidifier and felt something rip a little in my side. I was upset with myself. How could I be so careless? And then some spotting occurred soon thereafter. Here we go again, I thought. I was not eager to rush back to the doctor's office. But I had that nagging feeling that I needed to make sure things were ok, for the sake of the baby. So I sucked it up and called my doctor. She ordered yet another ultrasound. By now, I was getting sick of these things.

As I sat unhappily in the waiting room, I saw a very happy Scott and Lorie waltz by, on cloud 9. They were newly expecting and were obviously very excited at the prospect of a doctor visit. From the look on their faces, you would think they were at Disneyland. It was very cute.

They called my name and I sat before the ultrasound machine, take 3. The tech was a very young girl, much to my dismay. She saw a tiny, tiny tear but said it was nothing to get excited about. She was however, concerned that I might have placenta previa.

"It's too soon to tell", she explained, "since things move so much between weeks 14 and 20. We will just have to wait and see". Famous last words. If I indeed had previa, that could mean MAJOR bed rest from 25 weeks til delivery. I could not even fathom how I would be able to care for Finn and Calvin.

So instead of fretting over the possibility of previa, I filled my head with nonsense and starting daydreaming of the bedding I was going to make for my baby girl. Oh yes, it was definitely going to be a girl. I was so sure. During week 11 I had thrown up all day and almost needed to by re-hydrated.Only a girl could make me this sick, I reasoned. After all, my sister Jessica was as sick as a dog with her 4 girls.

I was busy sewing Natasha a girl blanket for her upcoming surprise baby shower, which was to occur a few hours after my "official" ultrasound. While in Patches getting fabric for Natasha, I started scheming with Suzanne, the store owner, about my girl bedding. We were in her back office at her computer oohing and ahhing over Moda's fabric website. We were just one mouse-click away from ordering my fabric. I laughed and joked that maybe we should wait one more week for my ultrasound, to confirm the gender. And silly me happily envisioned telling my friends "it's a girl!". And during a looong car trip when John and the boys were making excessively disgusting boy sounds, I consoled myself with the fact that my dear little "Elle" would never make such a racket. As I look back on my stupidity, I realize I set myself up for disappointment. Something I rarely do. I'm usually so cautious.

I was 18 weeks along, and it was time for the big reveal. My family was on stand-by and Jessi was camped out at my house with the boys. Pastor Josh was sure I was having a girl. Once again I was sitting in front of that all too familiar ultrasound machine, take 4. I was a little anxious about the prospect of placenta previa, but this concern was overshadowed by my excitement to confirm the baby's gender. When I told the tech I was 18 weeks along, she kind of glared at me and snapped, "I can't do anything yet. Your baby will be too small to measure." She must have seen the crestfallen look on my face and she softened just a bit.

"Very well, let's see", she said.

As she began her exam, I held my breath. The tech started to relax and smiled,"Alright, your baby is big enough".

First things first, NO indication of Previa. YAY! It was a good thing I didn't waste my energy worrying about that.

And then she said these 3 little words.

it's. a. boy.
******I'm getting there:)

June 18, 2008

Ollie story continued: ultrasounds

After the holiday bazaar was over I started spotting a lot. It was pretty alarming. I was almost 7 weeks along and I got that real uncomfortable feeling in my gut. I hate the first trimester. It can be so nerve wracking. I was hoping the spotting would magically stop, but it grew worse as the evening wore on. I could not wait around much longer. I left the boys with John and headed to the ER, since all the doctors offices were closed on the weekend.

After waiting what seemed an eternity, they finally got me a room and gave me a pregnancy test. And then I waited and waited and waited. Finally, a young friendly doctor walked through the door and asked "So, what brings you here?"

I explained that I was 7 weeks pregnant and that I was spotting.

He looked confused and said "Really?" And then he tapped his clipboard and said "It says here that your pregnancy test came back negative."


---------------long pause-----------------------

"Um, what?" I asked.

The doctor inquired, "well, what makes you think you are pregnant?"

I explained my at-home-pregnancy test, and the blood test at the lab and all the nausea and morning sickness....I rambled on in a dazed confusion, trying to convince both of us that I was not making this whole thing up.

I was never so confused in my whole life. I had felt so incredibly sick at the holiday bazaar that day, I could barely stomach my subway sandwich. But maybe, it was all in my head? There are those men who claim morning sickness is all a hoax and that it is just psychological. In my altered state of mind I thought perhaps they may be right after all. I felt kind of foolish. And incredibly bummed. But most of all just confused.

And this is what I recall most vividly. In the kindest way possible, he patted my shoulder and said " I know, this really sucks."

Then he got down to business and said, there were 2 possibilities.
1) The urine test was wrong. The lab had already messed up twice that week
2) I was miscarrying.

I liked the sound of option 1, but the pessimist in me thought there was no way the lab had messed up again.

He then ordered a blood test and an ultrasound. The on-call ultrasound tech seemed very inexperienced and proceeded to jab and poke me for over a half an hour and did not say one_single_word. Not a peep. It was not fun. I tried to get something out of him, but he refused to say anything. And the longer it took him, the more my hopes dashed. In my mind, it was over.

Back in my room I waited over an hour.

Finally, the friendly young doctor returned and said "You're not going to believe it, but the lab did mess up your urine test. The blood test shows that you are pregnant. This is the 3rd time this week the lab messed up and I'm really ticked off......And the ultrasound shows a pregnancy but they could not detect a heartbeat. But 7 weeks is still a little early. You will have to follow up with your doctor this coming week".

I was stunned. The lab really messed up 3 times in one week? At least I wasn't going crazy. But why wasn't there a heartbeat? I could see Finn's heartbeat as early as 6 weeks. So I headed home with a mixture of thoughts. Relieved that this wasn't a fake pregnancy but concerned about the heartbeat.

Over the weekend the waiting game continued. My doctor's office was able to do a follow-up blood test on Monday morning , but could not squeeze me in for an ultrasound till Wednesday. Ugh.

While I was at a Teen Challenge dinner Monday night, I got a call on my cell phone from the nurse: "Your hormone levels have increased some but they have not doubled. It has not been 48 hours though, so let's just wait for the ultrasound, okay honey?"

I felt a little surge of hope. Maybe, just maybe, this little baby was hanging on. I thought Wednesday would never come.

*********It's late. I'm going to bed. I will write more tomorrow.

The Story of Ollie

One year ago today, around 6:00 in the morning, I awoke to the startling sensation of my water breaking.

"JOOOOHN!" I screamed in complete and utter panic. The baby was not due for 3 more weeks.

**********Rewind around 12 months**********

Right about the time of Calvin's 1st birthday, John started pestering me for another baby. And I would just stare at him like he had horns growing out of his head.

"Are you kidding me?" I would ask. I truly thought he was joking. Calvin was an insanely sweet but difficult child because he did not believe in the concept of sleep.

However, 2 months later, I completely changed my mind, overnight. When John put in his baby request again I casually said "sure, what the heck." And 2 weeks later that casual remark became "WHAT THE HECK!" as 2 faint red lines appeared on the 99 cent test from the Dollar Tree. It was the day after Halloween and when I told John the news he smiled and said "Oh good. Next year we will have 3 little pirates."Could this censored picture be any more ghetto? And can you believe it's the only Halloween picture I have of them that year?

Later that night some of our dearest friends, Josh and Jessi, broke the news that in just 6 months, Josh would be accepting the position as head pastor in North Carolina. Though I knew this day would eventually come, my heart sank to my toes. How would I survive without them? Their son Davis was a constant companion to Finn and Calvin.

above photo by Ellie Grover

As hard as this was, deep down there was still a spark of joy every time I thought of the new baby that was to come.

And then the nausea hit hard. I was puking around the clock and nothing would help. During this time, I was frantically trying to tie up loose ends for my 1st ever participation in a holiday bazaar. I was in charge of the homemade cards and I was as excited as I could possibly be.

I worked with such vigour and vim you would think I was making $100/hour. In reality? I was probably making 5 cents/hour(Note to self:card-making = unlucrative business). None of this mattered though. I was having fun. When I got to the cute downtown house that was hosting our bizarre, one of the girls asked me to help her move a heavy chair. I fumbled for words. I had not told anyone I was pregnant yet. I lamely said "Um, I'll get John to help". And it's a good thing I did not lift that chair, because I would have blamed myself entirely for what happened later that night.

***to be continued soon***

This account of Ollie was intended to be written in one fell swoop, but I ran out of time and am very busy today. But, I wanted to sneak in at least something on the actual day of Ollie's birthday.

Also, HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESSICA! What a glorious day!

Finn through the Years

Here is "Finn through the years", for his birthday. Ok, so I'm a little late, but I figure this way I can extend his birthday celebration through the whole month of June. And now that I look at these pictures, it seems more like "hats through the years". I was a bit obsessed with hats in Finn's early years, which seems funny to me now, because he rarely wears them anymore. What can I say? He was my new little Finny-doll!

above photo by Mr. Seals

above photo by Mr. K Seals

***notice his tiny cast? Finn broke his arm when he was just 19 months old when he randomly fell off the couch. This was a turning point in our mother-son career, as I turned into a freakishly paranoid helicopter mom. It took the births of both Calvin and Ollie to mellow me out a bit:)

above photo by Mr. K. Seals

above photo by Ellie Grover

above photo by Ellie Grover

above photo by Ellie Grover

When Finn was a tiny baby, my niece Hannah asked me "aren't you so curious what Finn will turn out like in a few years?"

I would have never guessed in a million years that my Finn-boy would be a drummer child. Finn, I was the happiest girl in the world the day you were born. You continue to bring me joy each and every day. I love you!