Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hospital Story

This time last week I was getting ready to go to the hospital and have my baby. A week has flown by. A week of anticipation, overwhelming joy, heartbursting love, physical pain, and a steady stream of peace. Lucas is here. He's perfect, my girls absolutely love him, and although we are sleep deprived already, we are so happy.
When I arrived at the hospital last Friday at 5:30 in the morning, it was dark and calm. My nurse. Krystal, showed me to my hospital room where I changed into a gown and then proceeded to a "holding room" before going into the operating room for my c-section. Krystal started my iv, then went over a small mountain of paperwork and before we knew it, it was 7:20 and my section was scheduled to start at 7:30! Soon another nurse came and took me to the OR with Mike following closely behind. Mike had to wait in another room (while putting on his white, gauze-like, suit) and I was taken into the cold operating room. I had to lie down on a bed and the anesthesiologist proceeded to do a spinal to numb me from my tummy down. It wasn't painful and it worked immediately. It is such a weird feeling to be that numb.
Mike was then brought in and a curtain placed close to my head so I couldn't see the actual surgery take place. They offered Mike a chair, but he opted to stand and peek over the sheet. He watched the entire thing-- blood and all. My doctor had to cut through some scar tissue from my first c-section, so it took a little longer. Before I knew it, I heard my doctor exclaim, "Look at all that hair and those cute, chubby cheeks!" And then, I heard the best sound ever-- a beautiful, baby cry. He was here!
I started crying big tears (of joy) that ran out the corners of my eyes and down into my ears. The anesthesiologist offered me a blanket to wipe my eyes and my doctor held Lucas up over the curtain so I could see him for a moment. Another nurse took him over to a station where she could clean him up and get his weight. 7 lbs. and 13 ounces! He was much bigger that either Hannah or Leah.
After another 30 minutes or so, I was stitched up and ready to be wheeled down to my room. A flood of people came in to see our sweet boy including my Hannah and Leah wearing their new t-shirts that said "Big Sister 2009". They were happy and curious. And seeing them loving on their brother made my heart swell with love.
I stayed in the hospital for three nights before heading home, and as crazy as it sounds I loved it. I loved having nothing to do, but focus on my baby. No laundry to worry about, no cooking, no cleaning. Just three days of staring at what we had made. Yes, I'm still sore. Yes, I look like I'm still 6 months pregnant. But it has been a wonderful week. And I'm looking forward to many, many more wonderful weeks as a family of five!

Monday, July 27, 2009

He's Home

Our sweet son: Lucas Galloway
Born July 24th at 7:51 am
7 lbs. 13 oz.
19.5 inches long

It's 11:00 pm on July 27th. We came home from the hospital today and here's what I know right now:

* I'm tired

* The girls are sound asleep in their own beds

* The house is a mess

* I'm tired

* Lucas is sleeping in his bassinet

* I'm debating whether to stay up until his next feeding at 12:30, or try to sleep.

* Have I mentioned that I'm tired?

* But more than any of these things: I AM IN LOVE!

I'll blog more about our birth experience another time. For now, though, we're home and there's no place I'd rather be.

Leah watching her new brother.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Random Thought Wednesday

1. Two days. That's it before we meet our son. This thought is constantly swimming around in my head. I get giddy and nervous and excited each time I think about it.

2. Today the girls and I went swimming. The water felt so refreshing and cool. And it helped lift my belly up a bit, giving my back and hips a break. I've been pretty sore lately.

3. Hannah made me laugh this morning when she asked out of the blue, "Mom, remember the days before Kung Fu Panda?" Oh the world was such a boring place before we owned that movie! =)

4. I packed two new backpacks full of things for the girls to do while they are up at the hospital over the weekend. They don't know about the backpacks yet, but I think they will love them. So far the packs each contain: three new coloring books, a new set of crayons, a blank memo pad, pens, pencils, a new book about animals, a disposable camera, and a new doll. It will be like opening up their stockings on Christmas morning.

5. I am about 20 pages away from finishing my current book (I took a break from Twilight to read a great book called The Well and the Mine.) If I finish it tonight, I will blog about it tomorrow.

6. Tonight my dear friend Jacquelyn is babysitting for us so Mike and I can go out for one last hoorah! We're keeping it low key, though. To save some money we're making spaghetti here at our house, but then we'll head out to a movie and maybe coffee afterwards. I'm really looking forward to some quality time with my Love.

7. My cats have been super affectionate lately. Do you think they tell that change is on the way?
Maybe it's a "sixth sense" they possess?

8. I have the desire to mop my floors before we go to the hospital, but am seriously lacking the energy. I'm hoping for a burst of it later today. We'll see.....

9. Here's what my house is looking like this afternoon. The girls are engrossed in their play which is fun to watch.

That's it for now! Enjoy your Wednesday!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Crape Myrtle

The days of 106 degrees have finally subsided here recently. Much to this pregnant Mama's delight. Although we're still in the 90's, I'll take it over the scorching temps anyday. One bright spot in this heat zone, however, is the annual blooming of my crape myrtle. I love these bushes. They are everywhere around here because they are really hardy and can survive in the extreme heat. Infact, it's when the temperatures start to soar that they open up their vibrant blossoms. It's like the heat coaxes them into blooming. So when all the grass around here is turning crispy and brown, we have these pretty plants to looks at. It makes me wonder if when I go through the "heat" of life, do I wither and dry up or bloom like the humble crape myrtle? I hope I'm a bloomer. =)

A view of my crape myrtle by my front porch.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Snippets of Saturday

Yesterday was a good Saturday. It was spent doing some of my favorite things. And that's just how I wanted my last pre-baby Saturday to be. Not that life is ending after the baby comes; it will just be new and different-- a whole new chapter for our family.

The day started with me meeting my friend, Nikki, for breakfast at Vintage Coffee. We split a cranberry-orange muffin and we each tried a signature drink called a "smooffee" which is a combination of smoothie/coffee and an added flavor. I added vanilla and it was delicious. It was so nice to start the day chatting with a dear friend.

After breakfast I met my mom at a nearby mall where she treated the two of us to pedicures. Here's a picture of my puffy, pregnant feet when it was all said and done. I would highly recommend a pedicure for any pregnant gal-- especially soon before you go to the hospital. There's just something about looking down and seeing pretty feet.

After the pedicure and a little shopping, I headed home to enjoy the rest of the day with my awesome little family. I was determined to spend some quality time with my girls even if that meant putting things on my "to do" list on a backburner for awhile. So I spent the afternoon building a castle out of blocks, reading books, and acting silly with them. I also got out their baby books and went through each book with my girls. They were fascinated by their baby footprints and the hospital bracelets I had worn. And they always love to look at pictures of themselves as a baby and hear me "oooooh" and "ahhhh" at how cute they were.

For dinner we took the girls to Poblano Grill, a favorite Mexican food restaurant of ours, where they munched on chips, guacamole and tortillas. Then we took them to Blockbuster and let them each pick out a movie to watch. We ended up with Mulan II and Sleeping Beauty. We came home and let them get in their jammies and watch one before heading off to bed.

I was just about to enjoy my quiet post-little girl bedtime hours, when I realized that we had to go to the grocery store. I usually don't enjoy shopping in the evening, but as I was driving to the store, I witnessed a beautiful sunset. I took a few pictures as I was driving (not while the car was moving-- I promise I was careful!). Oklahoma has awesome sunsets. These pictures don't quite do last night's sunset justice. But they do capture some of the brilliance as well as the cool clouds that were hanging around.

Just a few blocks away from my house.

In the grocery store parking lot.
I wrapped up grocery shopping as quick as I could (and saved $7 in coupons! woo-hoo!) and headed home.

I hope your Saturday was a good one too!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Dear Son

My Dear Son,

In one short week, you will be in my arms. I'm guessing you'll have a mop of black hair, eyes like pools of dark chocolate, and your Daddy's olive skin. You'll probably cry a little and be swaddled like a burrito in a hospital blanket. You'll sleep a lot, but open your eyes now and then. And you will be perfect. Absolutely perfect. I can't wait to stare at you, snuggle you, and smell your sweet baby smell. You, my dear, are a miracle. God says He knit you together in my womb and that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Always know that you have a purpose, you are unique, and you are already abundantly loved.

So until next Friday, keep growing and developing in your safe baby house that is my belly. And we'll be seeing you soon, Little Guy.

Your Mom

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Harry Potter and Vampires

Confession: I have never read a Harry Potter book. When I started teaching sixth grade in 1999, Harry Potter mania was just beginning. And it continued throughout the next eight years that I was in the classroom. I won a copy of the first Harry Potter book at a teachers' conference several years ago, so I own one, but have never read it. For some reason Harry has just never interested me. I'm sure some people think this is a tragedy. Maybe I am missing out? One day I'll probably read them-- perhaps when my girls are older and are interested in reading them. But until then, Hogwarts and Dumbledore are just words to me.

Enter Twilight. This book was just circulating around the last year that I taught (06/07 school year). I knew it had something to do with vampires, but that was it. Another topic of zero interest to me. So I avoided reading it. Then a sequel came out. Then another. It seemed like everytime I walked by the young adult section at Barnes 'n Noble another sequel had appeared on the shelves and was stocked in mass volume. Then my friends started reading them. My aunts and cousins started reading them. At my monthly bunco group, the women I played with started discussing "Edward and Bella" and various situations from the books. Then a movie came out. And then.......I decided to read them. And I actually liked them!

So far I've just read Twilight and New Moon. I think Edward's character is well developed and fascinating. As a vampire who by nature craves human blood, he chooses out of a moral conviction to only drink animal blood so that he does not harm humans. The main female character, Bella, has a scent so intoxicating to him that he is incredibly attracted to her, but constantly battles his vampire desires with an even greater desire to be with her and protect her. Edward is like a dark knight in shining armor. Edward and Bella's love grows throughout the first book and continues into the second book until an unfortunate event the night of Bella's 18th birthday takes the couple on a painful journey. With the introduction of a rival pack of werewolves in New Moon the plot thickens even more.

I'm looking forward to reading the last two books. I guess I like vampires more than I thought I did. =)

What are some of your favorite series of books?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

106 is HOT

Don't let this beautiful, blue sky fool you. Yes, it looks like the sky of a perfect, balmy summer day. With perhaps a gentle wind to cool you now and then. Ahhhh....if only that were true.

Instead this is the sky of a hot, windy, 106 degree day here in Oklahoma. We have been having record breaking heat lately. When the seven day forecast shows up on the TV screen during the ten o'clock news, it looks like this: 106,106, 106, 105, 103....and on and on. And when you're 37 weeks pregnant, this really feels like 120 degrees.

So what to do when it's 106 degrees outside and you don't have access to a pool? Why break out the slip 'n slide of course! It keeps the girls cool and helps them run out some energy.
I had a slip 'n slide when I was little that got lots and lots of use. My friend, Shauna, and I would spend hours on that thing! I remember it had a yellow, plastic mat, and it had a plastic banana that hooked up to the water hose and sprayed water over the mat. I admit that last summer I tried the slip 'n slide as a 31 year old adult. I misjudged my weight and went flying right off the end into the grass. Oops! There will definitely be no slipping or sliding for me this summer. Not with this belly, that's for sure.

So what does a 9 month pregnant Mama do in 106 degree heat while her little ones are playing in the water? Sit and sweat. That's about it. I tried reading, but I gave up after the sweat drops started rolling off my nose and onto the pages. I think we only stayed outside about 30 minutes, but I seriously needed a shower when we were done. I also really needed a big glass of lemonade that day!

What do you guys do to cool off in the heat?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Her Own Way

Dress-up is still a popular way to play at our house. I have a big, Rubbermaid box stuffed full of dress-up clothes. My mom and I raided a 75% off post-Halloween sale at Target and purchased all kinds of outfits suitable for young imaginations. I've also thrown in some of my old scarves, aprons, shoes, and gloves. It's funny the way each of my girls puts together her dress-up outfit in a certain way. Hannah is very "by the book." She put on this Cinderella costume the other day and wanted everything exactly like Cinderella. She put on a blue headband, hair tied up in a bun, and a black ribbon as a choker, and she put on her clear "jellies" for shoes. And ta-da-- a perfect Cinderella!

Hannah as Cinderella. Not sure who the baby is-- maybe she and Prince Charming have started a family.

Leah, on the other hand, does dress-up in a much different way. She makes up her own characters or a combination of characters. She just throws on whatever looks good to her at the moment. The same day that Hannah dressed up as Cinderella, Leah concocted this outfit: a white angel costume, sunglasses, tiarra, pink scarf, Hannah Montana necklace (a recent birthday party favor), Hello Kitty watch (an old Happy Meal toy), and a pink, shiny purse to go with the whole ensemble. I asked her who (or what) she was and she said, "I'm a princess angel."

Leah the Princess Angel. Perhaps she's carrying a plate of food to a person in need.

My girls are similar in many ways, but it's great to see some of their differences come out in the way they play. I'm glad they each do things their own way sometimes.

Did you used to play dress-up? What were some of your favorite dress-up things?

Friday, July 10, 2009

New Art

We have lived in our house for two years now, but are still just finding the right art pieces to hang on the walls. Our previous house was built in the 1950's and had much shorter ceilings. This house has just the opposite which makes hanging art sort of tricky. Paintings that fit perfectly at the old house look tiny on our walls here. So we've been slowly finding and hanging pieces that we like and that we think fit the space.

For about a year, Mike had been hunting on the internet for a series of skateboards designed by Evan Hecox (one of his favortie artists). It took a lot of patience and a lot of phone calls to skateshops all over the country, but he finally managed to collect them all. We recently hung them up together and they look great!

Two boards came from California, one from Germany, one from England one from Indiana.

In addition, Mike has been painting again recently-- something he has really missed. He's been out in the garage late each night working on a painting for our house and here's the final product. He was really pleased with the end result.

Mike said the guy in the painting is a Russian Cosmonaut. And Mike stil needs to sign it! I really like it here in our entryway.

This weekend we are hosting a party at our home for the entire film crew at Mike's work. We're really looking forward to it, and I'm glad we have some new things hanging on our walls!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Baby Room

We've finally finished getting our baby boy's room ready, so I thought I'd share a few pictures. It looks simple, bright, and cheery, which I'm happy about. Even though he'll be sleeping in our room for a few weeks, it feels good to have his room complete. It makes it seem so official. Like the room is just ready and waiting to have him in there-- to hear his cooing and crying and giggling, to smell that wonderful, sweet baby smell, and to keep him warm and comfortable while he sleeps. It's also neat to see all these decorations that we used with our girls getting a second life with our son.

A view from the hallway. I can't wait to sit and rock him in that chair!

The changing table. It will see lots of diaper action soon.

His crib. I wonder which one of his sisters slept in this one?

A few outfits my mom picked up at Target the other day. We can't seem to stop buying more of these snuggly sleepers.

Tundra keeping an eye on things. She and Ellie are very curious about the changes being made in this room. I'm sure she'll keep everything under control.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Baking Day

As a part of my nesting phase recently, I decided that I should start stocking up some food in my freezer for those post-baby weeks when I won't feel like cooking very much. I don't have a large freezer, so making several weeks worth of food just isn't possible. But my goal is to have 5 meals frozen, plus a few snacks or breakfast items available. I already had some taco soup and banana bread stashed away, but yesterday I decided to get busy on a few more things.

First, I decided to make lasagna. It's quick, easy, and freezes well. I made one pan to eat tonight with a few friends who are coming over and another pan to freeze.

My wonderful assistant, Hannah, posing with our two lasagnas.

Next I tackled the question of what to make with a large can of pureed pumpkin. I usually buy the smaller cans to make my favorite pumpkin bread, but the store I went to yesterday only had the large cans. So I looked online to see what else I could make with pumpkin and I found this recipe for chocolate chip pumpkin muffins. I was sort of doubtful about the combination of chocolate and pumpkin, but the muffins turned out really tastey.

I confess that I ate three of these right out of the oven. I did manage to put a dozen in the freezer though.

Finally I used the rest of the pumpkin to make two loaves of pumpkin bread. One for now and one for the freezer. I took the following picutre this morning before I cut a few slices of the non-freezer loaf for breakfast.

Yum! Overall I felt very productive and also very tired after standing in the kitchen for a few hours. I think I'm going to freeze some pizza dough (since homemade pizza is a weekly staple around here) as well as a pan of enchiladas. Not today though. I need a cooking break!

What are some other ideas of meals that freeze well?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sunday at the Zoo

July 5, 2009

Perfect weather.

A cool, gentle breeze.

A blue sky with puffy, white clouds.
It's a family day at the zoo.

She spies the old fashioned carosel at the end of the path.
Her eyes light up as she runs full speed ahead.
Daddy buys a token and she hands it to the man at the booth.
"I want a zebra!" she says as she inspects the brightly painted wooden animals.

I sit beside her, my pregnant belly swollen, but comfortable.
The ride begins.
A Simon and Garfunkel song is sweetly playing on the speakers.
I look over at her, and she's laughing.
The wind is gently lifting her hair, her eyes are bright, her smile so innocent and pure.
And then something inside of me starts to hurt a little as I think, She's already four!

Where has the time gone?
Wasn't she just in diapers, toddling around, getting her first teeth?
It's as if someone is squeezing my heart, and a tear wells up in my eyes.
I love watching her. Please don't let this ride end. I try hard to capture this perfect moment in
my head. I want to remember it forever.
Then, as my heart is beating out of control, I suddenly take a deep breath.
And I remember that it's not that she's already four-- she's only four.
And for today, she is still all mine.

[ Hannah on the carosel. Picture taken August 2008]

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Day After

So it's the day after our Fourth of July celebration. Here's a short recap of our fun day:

Our festivities began at 6:00 when my parents, our friends Reed and Nikki and their kids, Eli and Parker, came over to eat. We had brats and hot dogs on the grill, grilled corn on the cob, cole slaw, baked beans, chips, fresh pineapples and strawberries, and red velvet cake for dessert. Before we stuffed ourselves silly we sat on the back porch and watched the kids play in the slip 'n slide. The weather had been alternating all day between a light, cloudy drizzle of rain to a few moments of sunshine. But around 6:45 we could tell a full blown thunderstorm was rolling in. The air turned cooler, the clouds changed from white to dark grey and we could see distant lightning flashes. Although it threatened our later firework-watching plans, it was so neat to see the storm as it approached.

The sky started its shift from light blue to angry grey.

My dad and my girls (in their wet bathing suits) watching the storm roll in.

The festive red velvet cake my mom made and Hannah decorated.

As we were eating dinner, the storm rolled through full speed ahead. Rain came down in sheets and we could hear claps of thunder. But thankfully, as quickly as it arrived, it blew off to the north and we were left with a muggy, wet, post-storm calmness. Earlier in the day, Mike and Leah had gone to a nearby fireworks stand to pick out a few to shoot off from home--sparklers, jump-n-jacks, pop-its, and some small rockets. Our cul-de-sac was the perfect platform for our mischief.

Reed running away after lighting a small rocket.

This picture doesn't quite do this poor firework justice. Imagine spinning, loud squealing, changing colors and sparks flying. Our kids were all impressed anyway. =)

And since the storm came and went, we could continue on with our plan to head to the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond and watch their fabulous fireworks display. It didn't start until 10:00, which is way past our girls' bedtime, but the Fourth of July only comes around once a year, ya know. =)

All four little ones ready to go watch the "big fireworks".

We sat a short distance away in a parking lot since last year the loud noises hurt my girls' ears.

Hannah still covered hers as a preaution. But overall, they loved them and ooohed and ahhhed as each one lit up the sky.
The grand finale.

And this final shot, taken at midnight-- not too long after we were finally home and had the girls tucked in, is of me and my enormous, nearly 36 week pregnant belly. I was pretending to hobble like an old lady (and trying not to laugh) when Mike snapped this shot.

I can't believe this little guy will be here with us next year when we celebrate!

What did you do for the Fourth?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th!

I love the Fourth of July. I always have. I think it's the combination of patriotic spirit, family, friends, summer weather and food that does it for me. Today we are having a cookout at our house with my parents, our friends, and their kids. I've been busy cooking and baking to get ready for our feast! Then we're heading out to watch fireworks at a nearby university. That is if the rain doesn't ruin our plans. That's right-- it's RAINING today. It hasn't rained in weeks and then of course it starts sprinkling on the Fourth! Oh well-- I know we need the rain. But I do love me some fireworks, so maybe there can be a compromise: rain in the morning, sun in the afternoon?? I guess I'm not in control of the weather.

In addition to food and fireworks, the Fourth of July is always a day I remember all the people in my family who have served in the military. My mom grew up as an "army brat" living all over the United States as well as Germany and Okinawa. My grandfather was a Colonel and fought in both World War II and the Korean War. When I was little, he would tell me the story of how he earned a Purple Heart. During one battle, a sniper's bullet went in one side of his torso and exited the other side. He would then lift up his shirt and show me the entry scar on one side and the exit scar on the other. We have great black and white photograph of him in a hospital bed shaking hands with the General who stopped by to deliver my grandfather's medal. Both men have smiles on their faces. In addition, two of my mom's four younger brothers followed suit and served in the U.S. Military as well: my uncle Paul Gant (Army) and my uncle Jim Gant (Navy). Now, two of my uncle Jim's four kids are currently serving in the military: my cousin Steve Gant (Air Force) and my cousin Phil Gant (Army). I am so proud of that history in my family. And for all U.S. Military men and women who are currently serving or have served in the past. I am so grateful for our freedom.

Happy Fourth of July!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

RIP Little Bird

A few days ago the girls and I pulled into my parents' driveway only to discover a sad sight. A baby bird had fallen from its nest high atop a nearby pine tree and had died. The girls saw the little bird and were instantly concerned. The questions began to fly as well, "Why did this bird die? Where is his Mommy? Why did he fall out of his nest?"

We decided that we needed to do something to honor the little fellow. So my mom and dad and the girls and I had a simple burial for one of God's smallest creatures. We picked a shady spot under the pine tree to dig a hole. My dad wrapped the bird in a paper towel and we gently covered him up. Next my dad and the girls made a gravemarker to honor the baby bird. It read simply, "RIP Little Bird". The girls then searched for some flowers to place on top of the grave, finally deciding on some pretty pinkish-purple ones.

Later in the car, Leah asked if we could pray for the Mommy bird because she might be looking for her baby. So I did. I'm so glad God is nurturing a tenderhearted spirit inside these sweet girls of mine.