Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Plug for the Blog Roll

I just installed it on my blog and I am loving it. Why? Because it's a time saver. You don't have to check every single one of your friends' blogs to see if they have updated, you just look at the roll and it tells you who updated last. I love all things that save time! If you can't figure out how to do it, just let me know, but it's really easy. If I can do it, anyone can.

Here's another plug.....WALL-E. I won't tell you anything more than the trailer does, but I will say that it has a wonderful message about the stewardship of the Earth our Father in Heaven has given us. I want to see it again, but this time alone with my husband so I won't miss any of it!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Chores for Johnny

I'm working on reformatting the "Homemaking Tips o' the Day" section of my blog. As I organize, please bear with me as I post these tips in the main section. Soon I will have a link where they will all be together, but for now, you'll have to look at them whether you care to or not!

Because I have nine children, including a set of four-month-old twins, and have opted to live maid-free here in Mexico, the world of cheap labor, I have had to organize a work force peopled by my children. Here is a short list of chores my two-year-old, Johnny, is expected to do.

-Bring me his diaper when he needs to be changed, including wet wipes and bag balm (Don't worry, the thirteen-year-old will be potty-training him this summer. Yay for teenaged girls, even if they are a little moody and sullen at times)

-Throw away his dirty diaper and put away his wet wipes and bag balm

-Pick up his toys and put them in his toy basket

-Wipe up any spills he might make during meal time

-Take his dishes to the sink. We try to use plastic, as he usually ends up pushing them over the edge into the sink

-Wipe his hands and face after a meal

-Unload the silverware from the dishwasher. (Even though Johnny doesn't get each fork, spoon, or butter knife in the correct cubby, he does this just as well as his grandpa, who simply dumps the silverware from the dishwasher basket into the drawer)

-Talk to the babies in their swings or playpen if they are fussy

-Wipe down our stainless steel kitchen trashcan (it usually looks worse after he is finished, but at least he is learning)

-Bring me his clothes and shoes to get dressed in the morning

We'll just leave it at that for now. Perhaps we'll add more when he's three!

P.S. He does wear attire other than Huggies every so often....Johnny, that is.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Oh, the pressure...

Having a blog can be a lot of pressure....

At first you don't know what you're doing, but then people start making comments on what you write and you figure out that you can get a site feed and get a glimpse of the number of people who come visit your site and from where they visit. Then you realize how good it feels to know that people are interested in what you have to say and you start checking other blogs out and making comments to show your friends and family you are interested in their lives. So you keep writing. But what about when you can't think of anything to write about? You keeping checking your site feed and see that lots of people are still checking you out, but you have nothing new for them. You feel like if you don't hurry and think of something interesting to write, you are going to lose your following and they might never come back, like hummingbirds when you run out of food in your hummingbird feeder. Then, that's when you tell yourself, "This blog isn't for my friends, it's for me and my posterity." Nonetheless, I really enjoy the interactions I get when my friends read my blog and I don't want to disappoint them, so I will try to scrape up something for this post.

Here is a list of things I wonder about:

How can a plant, like a huge tree with bark and leaves, grow from such a tiny seed, being fed only water and sunlight and a few sparse minerals from the soil? It's beyond me and amazing!

How can I have nine kids that are so perfect physically? The chances of something going wrong increase with every child I have and with every year I age, so why am I so lucky?

Why does childbirth have to be so painful?

How does a camera work? I have absolutely no idea. I know some of you men out there are going to think I'm an idiot, but I really don't know.

How come men don't like to talk about their problems and women do?

Why do some people think it's okay to kill unborn children?

Why are teenagers so sullen?

Why do babies' noses run and fevers spike when their teeth come in? I don't get it.

Why do I have so much trouble with my spacing when it comes to this blogger program?

Why do some people who are beautiful not realize it?

Why is chocolate ice cream so, so good?

Well, that's about all I'm wondering about today. What are some of the things you wonder about? I would really like to know. Also, if you have answers to any of my questions, feel free to enlighten us.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Tribute (Part 2)

This is a continuation of the previous post. In addition to the support my husband gave me during the time I had to stop nursing to heal from a staph infection, I received support from many other people, namely my mother and father, my kids, my sister, Robyn, my Aunt Bobbi and Uncle Rocky, and my friend and lactation consultant, Christy.

After a week of trying to nurse through agonizing cracks, John and I finally came up with a plan to heal. He would bring home a breast pump and bottles, and I would try to pump enough to feed the babies until I began to heal. Little did I know that it would take twelve hours a day to pump the amount needed to feed the twins, in part because of our inexperience in choosing a pump. We were both completely overwhelmed by this, so decided that we would need to enlist my mother's help. We arrived to EP the next day, and not only had she and my sister, Robyn, performed a 24-hour fast on my behalf, she tirelessly assisted in caring for all of the kids, including our two-year-old, Johnny, who probably requires more patience than the twins combined. Every time I needed her help, she was there, whether it was 5 in the morning, or 12 o' clock midnight. Most importantly, she gave me the emotional support I needed as she constantly encouraged me through the entire process.

My father gave so much encouragement as well, and was very patient as I took over his recliner in the living room, that he normally uses as a bed. :) He was patient with all of the extra people staying in his normally peaceful home for a week and he made us some awesome breakfasts!

My Aunt Bobbi and Uncle Rocky talked to respectable people in their medical field and were able to help me determine that I probaby had a staph infection and how to treat it. It was good advice that I could trust and it helped me to heal. (Sorry, Bob, but every time I tried to download your picture off Ben's sight, it would just turn into an x!)

I have to add here that my children went above and beyond to help our family. They spend so much time helping with feeding the twins and chasing Johnny, especially, and really stepped up to the plate when we needed them. Sometimes they let their feelings of frustration or fatigue show, but all-in-all, I could not have asked for better, more helpful kids during this difficult time in our family.

Next, I would like to thank my friend Christy, who is my neighbor, lactation consultant, cousin-in-law and dear, dear friend. She lost sleep over my condition. She searched her literature and the internet for answers. She looked up her lactation counselor's phone number, with whom she hadn't spoken in ten years. She sat with me in her father-in-law's office as I pumped pathetic amounts of milk and talked to me about her pumping story with her second child. She encouraged me and told me that she KNEW I could do it and that I wouldn't fail and that, in the end, these babies would be nursing again. I get a tear in my eye just thinking about it. Thank you, Christy!

Finally, I would like to thank The Lord for giving me this experience. I got to see first hand how my friends and family were His hands; here to help me on this earth. I was able to witness amounts of love that I had not previously known were there, or to what extent. I'm grateful that now I can be a help to someone who might be in my situation, who has never had luck with pumping, but who must in an emergency situation. I am grateful that now I have a nice pump that I could lend to someone in CJ or D in the case of an emergency. I'm grateful that perhaps John has a better taste of what my life is like, not that he doesn't appreciate me, because he does, but that he understands. I'm thankful that now I know I can pump, and if I want to, I can leave milk for the babies with their siblings and attend the temple sooner than I would have been able to otherwise. I'm thankful for everyone in this wonderful, small town who comforted me and asked how I'm healing. (I don't want to name them all, because I know I will forget someone.)

To some, it may seem as if it would have been the end of the world for me to have to give up nursing the twins, and in some ways it would have been. This has been a very special bonding time for us and I'm so grateful that that wasn't taken away. Thank goodness for the tender mercies of The Lord.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Tribute (Part 1)

... to my husband, for supporting me during a most difficult of times.

Here's what happened. About three weeks ago, I was nursing Joseph, when he bit me. Even though he has no teeth, it was a painful bite and began to hurt more and more as the hours went on. I then noticed a crack where the skin had broken, but I figured it would go away as I kept nursing. However, when nursing became so painful that I couldn't bear it, I decided to give that side a break and nurse only on the right side. After doing that for a day, the right side was so irritated from nursing two babies that it, also, began to crack.

I kept nursing like this for several days, only to witness the cracks growing wider and deeper (think Grand Canyon), until one dark moment when it was so painful to nurse, that I cried out when Joseph applied too much pressure as he was nursing. The loud, unexpected noise scared him, and he looked up at me, his lower lip quivering, and let out a heart-wrenching sob. Johnny, who was standing next to me, was also scared and he started crying and clinging to me. Hyrum was already fussing because he was hungry, and I couldn't feed them at the same time, so he also started crying harder. All of this was more than I could take, so I, too, began to sob. I cried to God telling him that I was sorry I had yelled and scared everyone and pleaded for his help. No one else was at home and John was out of town. I called him and we decided that on his way into town, he would purchase a breast pump and bottles, so I could stop nursing for a while.
While this idea seemed like the only solution, I had never had any luck pumping milk, and I was unsure and worried about how successful this plan would be. I talked to my lactation consultant, who also happens to be one of my dearest friends (and to whom I will dedicate a tribute in the near future for all of her help), and she was very encouraging, assuring me that if I tried hard enough, I would have success with the pump.
John arrived home at 1:00 AM that night, and I didn't want to deal with the pump and the probable disappointment of not succeeding, so we went to bed and I suffered through one more night of nursing in excruciating pain. The next morning we attended a baptism of one of John's cousin's daughter, after which I finally decided I would try the pump.
I went into a quiet room with the best of intentions, placed a favorite book and a glass of ice cold water on the coffee table, and began the process. After one and a half hours of pumping, the reward was 3 ounces of milk. I was completely discouraged that it took so long, but hopeful that we had found a solution. I couldn't comprehend how I could produce enough milk for both babies until I healed at this rate, but I was going to try. I asked John if he would try to feed the baby his first bottle, as I had learned that it is usually easier for someone other than the breastfeeding mother to attempt this. He wanted to do everything just right, so he began by attempting to remove the air from the disposable bag in the bottle. He did this over the sink, with the top off, and in one split second, accidentally spilled the entire contents down the drain. If there was ever a time I wanted to cry over spilled milk, it was then, but we both held it together and I kept pumping until we had enough milk for the babies.
The amount of time and work both John and I had to expend was more than we ever imagined, as I was confined to a chair for one hour out of every two hours pumping. He was left with the brunt of not only supervising the construction, but now taking over my job inside the home. It became too much for both of us, so I had the idea that we should perhaps go to EP so my mom (to whom a future tribute will be dedicated also) could also assist.
The next day we arrived in EP, continuing the hour on, hour off process of trying to pump enough for the babies. There was so much pressure to provide enough milk and I was completely overwhelmed. A few hours later, my Aunt Bobbi came to visit and related that she had talked to her OB/GYN about my problem. Without a hesitation, he told her he thought I had a staph infection and that I should be on antibiotics for ten days, during which time the babies should be on formula and I should pump if I wanted to continue breastfeeding after the ten days.
My mother looked at me hopelessly, and when I walked out of the room, she told my aunt that I would never, in a million years, give the babies formula. Much to her surprise, I got my purse ready and asked John to accompany me to the store to purchase bottles and formula. It was almost a relief just having an answer to my problem. I had already been on the correct antibiotics for four days, and I felt confident that I could do this for six more.
John continued to be a HUGE support throughout this. He got up at night and fed the babies, so I could sleep, stayed home with me when he probably would rather have been accomplishing important errands, and refused to go to bed until he knew I was taken care of.
After only two days of using the pump, however, I began to feel a lot of pain and began to be frustrated that the milk production took so long. I feared that we had not purchased the correct pump and that we would be better off if we tried the expensive, hospital-grade pump. I was hesitant to purchase this pump, though, as the cost was $400. After another morning of pumping in pain, I made the rash decision to go ahead with the investment. I was so scared to try it, thinking that it would hurt even more, and that I would have wasted my money, as we couldn't return it. After arriving home from the drug store, I said a quick prayer, sat down with my ice water and began to pump. In twenty minutes, I had pumped 12 ounces and there was no pain whatsoever! I felt like a whole new world had opened up to me! Now I could pump for only half an hour every three hours and get the same amount as when I pumped for an hour every other hour!

(Here is the new breast pump, who is now a dear companion!)

To make a longer story shorter, I followed the new routine for the next six days. During this time we had to go back to CJ for Reid's sixth-grade graduation, then return again to EP. John continued to support me with countless hours of feeding babies and doing the other million things he does for our family.
Today was the day I completed my antibiotics and began to try breastfeeding again. Before I did, John gave me and Joseph and Hyrum a blessing. As I lay down to nurse Joseph, I was filled with a wonderful feeling of peace and there was no pain whatsoever. I had more than enough milk and was successful in nursing both Joseph and Hyrum all day without having to suppliment with formula.
I could not have accomplished this without John and all of his help and sacrifice. I know I was hard to deal with as I was depressed and hopeless at times, and bossy and demanding at other times. He was patient and loving and kind and I am so lucky to be married to him.
Thank you for the richness you bring to my life, John. I love you.

For Part 2 of this post, click HERE.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Fear of Commitment

....not when it comes to a husband, or kids, but going on a diet. I'm finally going to do it.

Here is my life story at five foot eight, no holds barred, when it comes to weight:

Marriage to Rob - 125 lbs (model thin)

After Bethany was born - lost all but five pounds, so up to 130 (still looking good)

After Conor was born - lost all but five pounds, so up to 135 (still pretty good)

After Kyla was born - lost all but five pounds, so up to 140 (not too bad for having three kids)

After Reid was born - lost all but five pounds, so up to 145 (not too bad for having four kids)

After Landon was born - lost all the weight, so still at 145 (looking good)

After Claire was born - lost all but five pounds, so up to 150 (kind of starting to get annoyed)

Met John - went out to eat at least three times a week, so by the time we got married five weeks later, I was up to 160 (really depressed because I had to take back the first wedding dress I had purchased in exchange for a larger one!)

After returning from honeymoon in Cancun - 165 (even more depressed now)

After Johnny was born - lost all but 9 pounds, so up to 174 (figured I'd lose it eventually)

After twins were born - lost all but four pounds in five weeks, so now up to 178 (thrilled that I had lost 38 pounds in four weeks eating whatever I wanted!)

Continued eating whatever I wanted - gained 11 pounds and reached an astonishing 189 pounds!! (Aarrrgh!)

So I've started a diet. It's not a diet where I count every calorie or carb gram, just one where I don't eat four large bowls of chocolate ice cream every day. I might even start exercising. I'm still nursing the twins, so I have to make sure I get enough calories, just not so much that the excess goes to my hips and thighs and under my chin. I'm blogging this because I want to be accountable to you and I know you'll give me the encouragement I need. Since I began my diet, I have lost five pounds, so I'm on my way to success. Here is a picture of my current self. I'm not proud of it, but let's just call it my before picture. Wish me luck!

Five Down, Two to Go!

This blogging thing is too fun! Just now my blog was visited by someone in Kenya! How do these things happen? Anyway, how cool! Now I have been veiwed by people on five continents. I just need someone from Australia and Antarctica and I will be set! (Do you think penguins or kangaroos blog?)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Guess What Everybody.....!

I shaved my legs last night! I see some of the stares I get when people think I'm not looking, so I just thought I'd let you know!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

From an Old Mom to a Young Mom

Make sure you check out the new section of my blog in the right column entitled "Homemaking Tips O' the Day"! Please add your comments or advice to additionally enlighten our readers!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some questions I am frequently asked about breastfeeding: (Are you surprised that I'm devoting an entire Q&A to breastfeeding?)

Q: (Two part) Do you breastfeed your twins? If so, do you ever do it at the same time?
A: Yes, I do breastfeed my twins. I have never supplemented and don't plan on it. God has blessed me with plenty of milk and I just see no reason to go through all the trouble of preparing bottles. Plus, my fear is that if I ever did bottle-feed, I would be tempted to prop the bottle so I could get other things done, and that would be too sad. I do sometimes nurse them simutaneously if they are hungry at the same time, but I prefer to feed them separately, as it is more physically comfortable and it allows me precious one-on-one time with each baby.

Q: How do the twins do at night?
A: They are finally beginning to have some semblance of a schedule. If I can keep them awake beginning at 8:00 PM, then they will go to bed at 10:00. My routine is to play with them (or ask relatives to help, including the grandparents down the street, see picture on right) until 9:00. They then take their bath together. They love it so much and usually spend about half an hour kicking and splashing and sometimes hitting each other in the face, but they seem used to that by now. I then dry them off, and lay them in the playpen in the living room for more play time while I clean up as much of the bath mess as I can. Once they get tired of playing, I dress them and wrap them tight in two beautiful, big, but lightweight blankets my mom's friend had made for me. I turn down the lights, get a glass of ice water and a book or the remote, my special "Bosom Buddy" nursing pillow and first latch Hyrum on the left side in the cradle hold, then have someone hand me Joseph to be latched on in the football hold on the right side. I can do this without help, but it is very awkward and since someone is usually still up, it's nice to have the help. So basically they are both facing the same way. They usually fall asleep within five minutes using this routine and it is very rewarding to know that they will sleep well for at least three hours.
After I am sure they are in a deep sleep, I carefully lay them in our cosleeper attached to the left side of our bed. I love the cosleeper because the babies have their own space, but they are within arms reach. It was invaluable after my c-section! Usually, about 3 to 4 hours later, one of them will begin to fuss. When this happens, I will pick him up and put him on my right side to nurse. We usually fall asleep within 5 minutes in this position, then at some later time, I will be awakened by the other baby. At this time, I will roll over, pick him up and nurse on the left side, and again, both of us will usually fall asleep within 5 minutes. When the other baby wakes up again, I will roll over and nurse him, etc. This goes on until about 6:30 when I have to get up to help get the kids ready for school. Sometimes the babies only wake up once during the night at the same time, sometimes one will sleep through the night but the other will wake up many times, or sometimes they will wake up at different times, two or three times each. That is usually the case, but because we are able to fall back to sleep so quickly after each feeding, I feel like I am able to get through the day without a nap, which I usually don't get because it is difficult to get all three babies asleep at the same time (including Johnny). Night times are hard, but not nearly as difficult as I imagined they would be when I was pregnant. God has a way of making things work out.

Q: How much time do you spend each day nursing the twins?
A: About eight to tens hours, including nighttime feedings. It's literally a full time job!

Q: Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed at the amount of time you spend nursing?
A: Sometimes, yes. The way I deal with it is to remind myself that this is a very special time in my life. It is only six months (breastfeeding without supplementing, that is) out of the, hopefully, 90 or so years that I'll be alive! Even though I can never leave the babies for more than an hour and nursing them takes up most of my time, I wouldn't give up this time in my life for anything!

Look for more FAQ in the future, perhaps about things other than breastfeeding!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Tagged by BJ

Tag! 20 Random Questions...
1. Where were you born? The Pass
2. Where would you live if you would live anywhere? CJ
3. What's you're favorite book? The Book of Mormon. It has had the biggest effect on me of anything I have ever read.
4. What brand of make-up do you use? Revlon and Loreal
5. What do you do to cool down when you are mad? Clean something really fast and furiously
6. Favorite quality in you're significant other? His Generousity
7. Do you play an instrument? Piano, Organ, Sax and Clarinet
8. Have you ever had braces? Yes, and I didn't wear my retainer faithfully, so now my bottom teeth are crooked again, but I don't really care
9. Do you have a birthmark? I don't think so.
10. What's you're favorite indulgence? My homemade chocolate ice cream
11. What was the last movie you watched? Underdog (I wouldn't recommend it as it's my two-year-old's favorite)
12. Who is a good friend you've lost touch with? Melissa Burton
13. Favorite place you've vacationed? Puerto Vallarta
14. Do you know a foreign language? A little Spanish and an even littler German
15. Do you like your handwriting? Yes.
16. What was the last piece of mail you opened?A box from Amazon filled with books about how to teach your kids to work!
17. What's the most random article in your purse? An EpiPen, with which I would have to stab myself in the thigh in the event I would have an allergic reaction to my allergy shots.
18. Have you ever flown 1st class? Yes, in exchange for giving up a seat on an overbooked flight.
19. Are you still friends with your ex's? No
20. What is something random about yourself? I can't go to bed unless I actually see my children's chest going up and down as they breathe. Even my teenagers. Weird, huh?
I Tag...Christy, Kristin, and Bethany

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Where do they get these people?

Border patrol agents...I think that every time I cross the border, their IQ gets a little bit lower. Case in point...Kyla, Claire the twins and I had to go to EP to pick up Conor from the bus depot. When we got to the border, there were about six cars in front of me and Joseph had just started to fuss because he had slept all the way from CJ and he was hungry. I did a quick mathematical calculation and determined that if each car took three minutes at the border, then I would have 18 minutes to breastfeed. I asked Kyla to get the baby out of his carseat for me and proceeded to feed him. Unfortunately, I have mastitis, so to nurse was agonizingly painful. So much so, that it took all of my concentration to deal with the pain. However, while I was doing this, I prepared all of the proper documents, i.e. birth certificates, ID's and so forth. However, to my chagrin, the line moved much, much faster than I had anticipated and after only seven minutes, we were up next!

Kyla said that she thought she should put the baby back in his seat, and I brushed her off, saying that it would be fine (foreshadowing). Upon driving up to the guard post, I confidently stated my citizenship, and deftly handed the female patrol agent my paperwork. It was the first time we had had the proper paper work for a long time, so I knew that I would be well on my way in about thirty seconds. However, when the male agent checked my license plate, I did not have the proper sticker. He asked me to pull into a side lane to examine my paperwork further. By this time, Hyrum was hungry, so Kyla and I switched babies and I began to feed him.

When the male agent came to my door, he asked for my insurance and registration. Again, I confidently handed him this paperwork as I was sure everything was up to date. He took the papers to the back of my vehicle to survey them, then came up to my window to deliver the verdict.....I was to receive a citation for not having the baby in an infant restraint system as I approached the border.

"What?!? You are kidding!" I cried.

"No, I am not kidding. I am dead serious and you would be serious, too, if you had seen the things I've seen" he said.

I again expressed my shock and stated that I couldn't believe that I could be ticketed for this. I asked him what harm could have come from me feeding the baby and he said that I could have run into one of the pillars next to the guard station and that that could have seriously injured my baby. He asked how old my baby was, I and asked him which one, and he glared and said, "The one you were breastfeeding." I told him that he was three months old and he asked if the other baby had been unrestrained as well. Apparently it would have delighted him to no end to give me double citations for double babies. Fortunately, Hyrum had been restrained but to my ultimate amazement, there was no getting out of the ticket for Joseph. Fifteen minutes and $75 dollars later, I was on my way to my parents in a very depressed state of mind. I was sad that I was now depressed, because my intent all along had been to happily surprise my parents with our visit. They had no idea we were coming. I had to figure out a way to get happy really fast, so I asked Kyla to put on some really happy music from her shuffle. She chose Georgia by Gladys Night and the Pips, which you can listen to below and we listened to some John Mayer. After three songs and some intense meditation, I felt happy again and was ready to surprise my parents.

When we drove up to their house in anticipation, their car wasn't there. I went inside and looked around, hoping it was in the shop (because they never go anywhere), but to our great disappointment, they were nowhere to be found. I had to ruin the surprise by calling my dad's cell from his house. He answered hello and after I said hi, he shouted, "Jennifer! You are calling from my house! Patti (my mom)! Jennifer is calling from our house!" They had been traveling to various different fast food restaurants in search of the perfect meal. I guess that reaction was almost as good as surprising them in person and it gave me a little more time to get happier. The end.