Saturday, October 30, 2010

30 Before 30: # 28 Organize a Summer Book Club

Good thing I said that I only needed to organize a summer book club, because it was disasterous! I started the SBC in July with the book Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. The impetus behind the club was to help me stay accountable for reading over the summer. I had found that my ravenous reading had dwindled to meager snippets here and there with the pressures of being a SAHM and no real involvement in academia per se. I don't usually read multiple books by a single author, but I have coincidentally found that every book (ok, everybook but one) I have read from the Salinas native has been a real enjoyment. I love his style and authenticity. I love his grit and compassion. I love his insight into the human character and the unassuming way he goes about presenting it. I've only read 5 of his books, but that is more than any other author for me. Anyways, I chose Grapes of Wrath for June and invited people through Facebook and some word of mouth. At the time of the invite, I had not decided on a book, but I later messaged people to tell them it was to be GOW. Only two people replied that they were coming, but as I messaged them to confirm, neither knew that I had actually chosen a book. I don't know how it happened, but through some communication error, June's book club only had two people saying that they would come, but unaware of the reading.
I made a stronger attempt in July to make sure people knew when we were meeting and what we were reading. However, I boggled this month's club too. I chose Dave Egger's A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. I memoir of sorts, I chose it because it was talked about highly in some circles I used to frequent and he had won a Pulitzer for a different work, and I had bought it years ago and it was just sitting on my bookshelf. I sent out the invite and started reading. That's when I realized that although I cannot expect pagan authors to keep their works clean, that I was unwilling to ask my friends to read this book which was stuffed full of vulgar language. It wasn't just an exclamatory here or there, it was superfluous and gratuitous vulgar language. So, I had to change the book; the problem was that some people had already replied they were going to come based on the book choice! I chose The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs instead. This book is about an atheist Jew who chooses to try and live out the Bible literally. He doesn't cut his hair, blows a horn every morning and stones adulterers. It was amusing and insightful, but I would have liked to discuss his shortcomings in regards to the new testament. I chose this book because my mom and Tim had already read it. I think I was hoping to at least host someone! Some people said they would come, but changed plans at the last minute and I was left alone on another book club.
For August, I took a request from Becky Lawlor and we read Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. It was a good book and a totally engaging read. However, I changed the meeting date on everyone because of some scheduling conflict and successfully bumped anyone who was planning on coming from actually coming. In the end, I was glad to be done with my bungled book club because it was a little stressful for me to choose the books, wonder who would come and then prepare to entertain. I am so enjoying being part of a book club, but not organizing it anymore. Oh well, I did it! And, it's one more thing off my list =)
Love, Lauren

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Crazy Baby Boom

I know it has to be the age I am at, but I just had to post on how amazingly explosive the baby-making is getting around here. Here is a list from fabulous friends to slight acquaintances who have recently delivered or announced a pregnancy:

Sarah M. (delivered August 8)
Coley D. (delivered September 15)
Patricia M (delivered September 11)
Julie B. (delivered October)
Meredith L. (delivered October 15)
Allison (due October 25)
Me (due November 4)
Joey S. (due November 5)
Christina K. (due November 23)
Rachael S. (due November 25)
Mary M. (due November 28)
Joyy L. (due December)
Renee W. (due January 2011)
Katrina L. (due March 2011)
Alison B. (due April 2011)
Kari M. (due April 2011)
Regina (due APril 2011)
Lauren D. (due April 2011)
Erin T. (due June 2011)
Jenny G.(due June 2011)
Elizabeth M. (due June 2011)
Korina A.
Courtney C.
Nicole S.

I wonder who else will be added to this list...
Love, Lauren

Saturday, October 9, 2010

30 Before 30: # 7 Go to a National Park

When I wrote the 30 Before 30 List, I was pretty sure that a few things wouldn't really get done, and I was totally fine with that. It was mostly a goal list and, as I'm finding out, a good way to figure out what I think I enjoy doing and what I actually enjoy doing. It's also revealing in the sense that my life has changed so much, but I am still transitioning into that change. For instance, have a fun karaoke night with friends probably won't happen for a few reasons. One, I really don't have that many friends who I would actually invite to a sing-along fest, and even if I did, we all have kids, so hitting a pizza joint and staying up singing "Eye of the Tiger" until midnight doesn't even really sound like a super-blast. I guess I'm moving from thinking in terms of "single/married fun" to "family fun". Not that anything I did was uber-un-family, it's just that you don't take your 16 month old out to the Round Bar at 11pm and sleep in until 9 the next morning.
Anyways, all that to say, when I wrote the list, I wasn't quite sure how we were going to get to a National Park. The closest one is probably Joshua Tree, but we didn't have any realistic plans to head out to that area, let alone in September heat. So, when Tim suggested we extend our Lake Powell trip another week and tour the southwest again, I knew there were quite a few places we could go to complete this item. We were pretty ambitious in our planning, at first, but we did temper the trip and ended up choosing Arches National Park. Not only did this complete a 30B30 item, but it's actually been my #1 desired NP destination for about 6 years now. There is nothing more glorious to me than red rocks. I don't know what it is, I think it's the influence of hot summers driving in an old Suburban, with the windows down, out through the Mohave toward red rock county for endless family vacations. It's the folding levels of Lake Powell's shores that slip into sparkling blue water. It's the spiring pinnacles of stacked sun-burnt rock in Valley of Fire SP. I don't know what it is, but I just love this landscape. Pretty much everyone is familiar with the ubiquitous Delicate Arch, but I was very excited to seeLandscape Arch too. Of course, the largest natural arch is actually at Lake Powell: Rainbow Bridge.
So, we stored our boat and stayed in St. George on Saturday and headed out for Arches NP the next day. We drove into the park and took our obligatory family park sign picture.
We then stopped by the park headquarters to see some of the exhibits and get oriented with the park. We also grabbed a map and took a few pictures of Madeleine. Unfortunately, we didn't get a picture of the huge bronze Borregos outside, they were much too hot in the sun. We did manage to snag this picture of an awesome Sportmobile. We're thinking when we hit 5 or more kids, this might be the way to go. We're saving now though, since a sup-ed up one can round out to $80,000! Or we'll just buy a horse and wagon =)
Outside the NP HQ, Dada creates Madeleine into an arch:
The sun was already on its way down, so we just did a quick drive tour. I used to bemoan the fact that so many of our national Parks are road accessible (Bryce Canyon comes to mind) and that you could really tour many of them from the luxury of your vehicle and never get out, but now I don't know if I want to moan about it anymore. When you have a toddler, are pregnant, or are elderly, I could see why accessibility is really for all people. Arches is a relatively small park, so we were able to see many of the prominent pinnacles, arches and windows from the car. We did get out to do a little one-mile hike to North and South window and Turret Arch.
South Window @ 33 weeks:
North and South windows:
After our little hike, we were debating trying to get out to see Delicate Arch. It is supposed to be amazing at sunset, especially for pictures. However, a 5 mile for our family wasn't really in the future and we decided to just go to the lookout. We saw lots of people lining the trail out to the arch. Delicate Arch
We again miscalculated the time and our timing and pushed Madeleine a little far. We had to search for a long time for a campsite and had forgotten that when we were packing we did not have an propane for our stove. At home it was a simple, "We'll get it on the road". But since we needed it now, it became a drive to Moab and a late dinner for baby. She slept fine in the tent with me until I tired to cover her with a blanket around 5am. We were up and trying to get food down and get out of there for Madeleine was trying to wake everyone in the site with crying. It's quite a different experience camping with children. Yes, it was difficult, but she had already been on the road for two days after a week on the houseboat. I think we set some rather large expectations for her, and she really was amazing. After a nap on the drive into the park, she seemed a little more adjusted, but still was not interested in sitting in the KidPack for too long. We planned to go out to Navajo Arch but cut our trip short. I was very tired too, so Tim and I took turns heading out to see Landscape Arch.

Landscape Arch:
The scenery was breathtaking and I was glad to see Arches NP. We decided to head on toward Denver and try and give Madeleine a little rest from everything. Thanks to my wonderful husband for making it happen, and for understanding when Mama and babies needed to quit looking at rocks and lay down =)
Love, Lauren

Friday, October 8, 2010

Lake Powell Sept. 4-12

Once we got Sima on the road to recovery, we set out on Sunday to make the 14 hr. trek to Page, AZ.
Little miss with her "Baa" and "Lamby":
14 hrs, 3 tanks of gas, a hotel stay from hell, a boat that wouldn't start for 2 hours and two tired parents later, we were boating our way up to the San Juan Arm of Lake Powell. Once we were there, we let Nani and Popi take over some Madeleine duties and tried to rest and relax.
Popi, MJ and Nani go for a stroll:
We were able to get some rest and enjoyed the cool temps and lovely water along with the others on the houseboat. You can see our yellow sea-doo and orange Malibu. Isn't the water gorgeous? If I had to pick my favorite landscape, it would be red rock and turquoise water. The entire Lake Powell, Havasupai reservation, Lake Mead, Virigin River Gorge, Grand Canyon, San Rafael Cliffs area is superb.
We left Madeleine for a nap while Tim, Jared, Katie and I went to Dangling Rope Marina (about 45 minutes away). While on the way, Jared had brought a drink and he was having a hard time drinking it considering the ride was a little bumpy. So, I took a picture of him trying to drink it because it reminded me of the time when we were about 8 and 7 years old and our parents bought us ice cream cones. But, as we were leaving the London Bridge area, we hit a lot of chop in the boat. Our ice cream cones were dripping from 104+ degree heat and every time we went in for a bite they would end up all over our faces. I can't remember which of us ended up crying (maybe it was Alex) but I think we had to throw our cones over the side. Now that I think about it, I have no idea why we didn't just stay at the bridge and enjoy our treat...but, oh well. It made for a childhood laugh for Jared and me as I snapped this pic.
Madeleine helps her dada drive the boat back to Wahweap Marina:
Our funny family:
Mama & baby Madeleine enjoy the beach around the corner- room to walk about and shallow pool for baby to explore:
Dada & his baby girl on an early morning (letting Mama sleep in!)
Look at those beautiful loves!
Again...Lauren is a lucky girl!

Love, Lauren

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Peanut Update #4

30 weeks:
32 weeks:
33 weeks:
36 weeks:

Well, we are down to it folks. I reached the last sub-goal before D-day: 36 weeks. I am now 9 months pregnant, 25 lbs. heavier and very much ready to meet my next sweet baby. Praise the Lord that all those righteous women out there praying for me brought about a miracle for my sciatic nerve issue. I would be upright one minute and rolling on the ground in stultifying pain the next- for no apparent reason. Exercise, no exercise, standing, sitting, holding Madeleine, not holding Madeleine- it didn't seem to matter, but my right leg would seize in pain, and I would be frozen. Thankfully, it is gone! On Sept 27th, my doctor did a little ultrasound to check Peanut's position. I was afraid she was transverse because I kept feeling kicks around my right rib and my left hip bone. She said that the baby is already head-down and left-anterior (LOA!) which is a VERY good thing! Yeah, my fears of a breech delivery are subsided. I feel very , very tired. For some reason, I don't remember having so much energy leave my body with Madeleine, but maybe my golden hindsight is clouding my memory. I would sleep all day if I could! I try every chance I get to squeeze in a rest session with my little toddler. However, every time I lay down, little miss Peanut goes at it trying to make a portal hole or two out into the world. This baby is still super active and now I can feel her hiccuping through the night as she practices her breathing. Ballerina, gymnast, boxer or tornado...not quite sure, but she is active!

Last pregnancy, I just so happened to guess Madeleine's delivery date. It wasn't magic, I just used two influences: Dr. Bradley writes that a woman's gestation is actually 41 weeks and 1 day. I also read that Tuesday holds the highest delivery rate of any day. So, I took my due date of May 25th and added a week and a day. It just so happened that June 2 was a Tuesday. So, even though I am 99% positive when we conceived, and the LMP creates a due date of November 7...I'm going to go slightly hopeful and use the ultrasound dating to guess at Peanut. Ultrasound dating gave me a EDD of November 4. I am adding a week and a day and circling November 12 in red. That means I'll probably be in labor on our 3 year anniversary. What a wonderful time to show all the fruition of our love to my amazing husband =)

Now for a rant:
I was willing to let a few comments slide, but it's starting to bug me, so I will state my peace here and be done. In the last week, I have had 3 random acquaintances say something to the affect of, "So, you guys gonna go for the boy?" or "Once you get that boy, you'll be done, right?" or "Are you sure it's a girl? Hello, little BOY! (as they rub my belly)."
WHAT IN THE WORLD? It's starting to tick me off because I love my little girl, and when people ask about our desire for a boy, it feels like they've slighted my girl just because that is how God made her. Plus, when did having a boy become the end-all? It makes me upset to hear how people think that our family isn't complete unless we have it constructed with certain genders. What a blessing to have both boys and girls, but what are people thinking? Okay, I understand that it's just an ignorant comment that some people say to make small-talk, but seriously, can you think about what you are saying? Like our desire for all things in our lives- finances, health, decisions, family rituals, our marriage- we have put our children into the hands of God. He will build this house with whomever He desires, and He desired for us to have two girls first. If we should be blessed enough to have more children, then He will determine how many and when and of what gender. So stop telling me that the boy will come, as though the child I have is only a consolation prize. ugh. But, I guess with all this said, we better have a girl- :D

In other news, we finished our birth plan and Tim took it up to the nurses for them to edit. UPDATE: I actually wrote this post a while ago, so please continue to pray for sciatic nerve relief, it was great for a week, but some godly woman or women stopped praying, and I am back in pain. So pray!! You can pray that God blesses our labor and birth, that we get supportive nurses and a doctor who are willing to follow our plan. Pray that we use wisdom in getting down to the hospital, too soon and we could end up being pushed to deliver in the hospital's time, too late and we might just be pulling over on Mission Rd. =). Pray that Peanut delivers well, with no hang-ups (cervical lip, pubic bone, etc.). Pray that I can retain my mental focus during labor and witness to the staff with my behavior/attitude especially towards Tim.
Love, Lauren

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Madeleine's fourteenth month: August

Pretty much the day before she turned 14 months, Madeleine started walking. I was excited that she achieved this milestone development, but mostly because I was 6 months pregnant already and getting tired of carrying her around all the time. She's a fairly solid girl, weighing in at 25 lbs and 30 inches at her 12 month visit. Since we haven't taken her to the doctor, other than a newborn visit, a 6 month and a 12month check-up, we're not quite sure how big she is, but hefting a 24-27 lb. toddler with a bulging belly was getting old fast. She also took on a very distinct "little-girl" look. No longer was she a little slug of a baby. As her walking improved and her summer tan got darker, she looked suddenly older. I was stunned to be looking at a honest-to-goodness toddler. She took to reading and playing by herself, she started using her signs in a definite manner, and she started acquiring new words. Her hair was even long enough to put into pigtails, and this change made her look even more grown up. In the words of Tim, "I like it, but I don't".
Here's the first day we put her hair in two pigtails, she wouldn't really sit still, but you can see how cute she looks:
I decided to mark off a 30 before 30 item and take Madeleine to the Wild Animal Park. So my mom and I loaded into the car one day and headed off. Now, I knew that the WAP was in Escondido somewhere, and I even saw the signs near Via Rancho Parkway, but I was confused because when I searched for WAP on my Driod phone, it routed us down the 63. I was even more befuddled by the comment that Tim had made when we first got our passes. We were driing home from the zoo and I was talking about how great it was going to be to jet down to the WAP every now and again while he was working and spend some time there, then see him on the way home. He replied with some discussion and the mention that even once I get to Escondido, the WAP is still kinda far from his station. With that comment in my mind, I figured that the sign saying "WAP next exit" was wrong and that we should continue on via the gps in my phone. It wasn't until we got to the Zoo that I realized my phone had routed us to the fundraising headquarters for the WAP, which just so happens to be the SD Zoo. So, we went to the Zoo again. Yes, I do dumb things like this often.
Giraffes at the zoo:
Oh yeah, and I changed my list to say "Take Madeleine to the zoo" instead of WAP. =)
My mom, aunt Sally, Madeleine and I traveled back down to Escondido area to visit my Aunt Pat and her family who were visiting from Utah for the summer. Madeleine liked visiting with Aunt Pat and it was nice to get to see my cousin's family too.
On August 28th, I dropped Madeleine off at her Grammi Cindy's house for the night and went to the Stark/Riser wedding out in wine country. I have known Daniel since he was about 2 years old, or something, so it was wonderful to see him married. The venue was very nice, intimate and thankfully the weather cooled down about 20 degrees to a cool 74 or so. What a blessing for the couple (and for their guests). Tim was working, so I went with my family and it was fun to be there with my brothers, even if they had to leave early, skipping out on the dancing.
Here is the ~30 weeks (7 months)pic:
The lovely bride and groom with their attendants:
Congrats Amanda and Daniel!:
Finally, we were just about ready to leave for our September roadtrip when another seeming disaster struck our household. It was our plan to vacation on Lake Powell for a week, then take a little roadtrip to Denver, visiting some sites on the way. We had our boat packed for boating, our truck packed for camping and our suitcase packed for Denver city-life. The last thing to do before leaving around 4am was to eat dinner, get to bed early and make sure the dogs got out one last time before we left them for two weeks with the house-sitters. I went to the store for a few last-minute items and Tim took Mads and the dogs out to the meadow that sits behind Callaway vineyard, with access from Butterfield Stage Road. As I drove into the driveway, I noticed Tim had Sima on the back of the truckbed. I sensed something was going on, so I got out of the car and asked him what was up. He told me that Sima was running back to the truck to load up, when all of a sudden Tim heard her yelp and just lay down at the top of the hill. He had to carry her back to the truck and bring her home. He was palpating her leg for sprain or strain and I did the same. He told me that when he had taken his hand away, he had a tiny bit of blood on it. He tried to get her down, and eventually carried her onto the grass. I watched her panting, but in a weird way. It wasn't just the "tired" pant wiht bright eyes and sagging tongue. This was a mouth-barely-cracked pant with eyes that were starting to glaze over. I suggested that she must have been bit by a snake and Tim noticed her swelling leg. So, at 6pm the day before our much-hyped vacation was set to start, we took Sima to the vet. About 4 hours and a lot of money later, we had a dog who was drugged and possibly dying. Even if you administer an anti-venom, there is no guarantee that it will work. We decided to stay home and nurse her for three days hoping to see some marked improvement before we would go. We laid out a carpet and bed for her in the playroom. We also pushed fluids on our own (instead of having her stay at the vet and have them do it) which saved us quite a but more in boarding & observation fees. Tim was able to use some expired bags of saline that my brother had to start an IV on her and really try and get the hemotoxins out of her system. After some marked improvements (including self-mobility, peeing, eating and drinking) we decided that we should either go or plan on canceling our trip. We left the dogs in the loving and caring hands of our house-sitters and left fairly sure that she wouldn't suddenly digress into a dire state.
Sima is prepped for her IV; notice the back left paw which is swollen, shaved and red from necrotic tissue:
Having a paramedic around is awfully nice when your playroom needs to become a doggie hospital:
Thankfully, she survived. Whether it was the anti-venom, the placement of the bite or the continuous flush of fluids, God saw fit to allow her to live in our family for a while longer.
Love, Lauren

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Madeleine's thirteenth month: July

I already posted on our trip to Lake Mead, but our July was punctuated with other comings and goings that merit mentioning.
To celebrate Fourth of July, we went with Tim's family, including Kim and the kids, to Coronado for a fire and swimming. You might remember that we had a balmy summer, and these pictures attest to the fact that we were almost downright cold for our day at the beach. But we still had a wonderful time; Tim and I even got a chance to catch some waves on our boogie boards, though, my tummy was bulging at this time and it made it hard to get up on the board with any comfort, so I caught a few and then enjoyed splashing in the waves while Madeleine played in the sand with her cousins.
Tim & MJ brave the water:
Tim's family, and my parents join in for a hot dog and s'mores roast:
Tim's 3 girls:
Before our Lake Mead trip, near the end of the month, we actually had a few household issues that came up unexpectedly. One of those issues was a swarm of bees that decided to build a huge hive inside our attic. Although Tim had tried to find them earlier this month, it wasn't until they had established a sizable hive, with about 8 pounds of honey, that we needed to actually bring an exterminator in to get rid of the bees. We both wanted to re-locate them, for we had heard that honeybees are somewhat an endangered species. We also felt bad that we would destroy them based solely on the fact that they were building a home in our home, but a few factors led us to the decision to demolish. Firstly, it was around this time that there was an article in the Press Enterprise about africanized honey bees attacking two horses in Menifee. Second, the humane removal experts we did call were very expensive and very busy. The way they talked, they made it sound like there were too many people out there trying to relocate their bees to honey farmers and that the farmers were overwhelmed with the amount of bees to be collected. Thirdly, as we talked to experts, it's hard to determine whether bees are africanized or not until the nest is well established. We were unable and unwilling to wait around and see if our bees got more aggressive the longer they lived in our attic (which they actually ended up doing). So, we went the cheap route and just paid for the bees to be sprayed.
A few of the bees outside our home:
Since we didn't want to pay someone $300-$400 to clean up and remove the hive, Tim climbed up and vacuumed out the hive. He said he felt bad because the honeycomb was very beautiful and intricate. I wanted to save the honey, but it was coated in chemicals after the death of the bees.
Here Tim works to remove the wax, honey and dead bees:
This picture actually shows the combs intact, before Tim started removal:
After that little debacle, we headed out to Lake Mead, which you can read about here.
When we returned, we spent a lot of time in our pool, Madeleine loves to swim and we bought her a little turtle swim aid that allows her freedom of movement yet buoyancy as she practices swimming. She's definitely going to be swimming freely in the next year! She doesn't mind being dunked under water and loves "falling" off the ledge and feeling the sensation of dropping deeper into the water. She even floats on her back for a while if we tell her to "do a baby relax".
Dada & baby swim time:
Madeleine being her adorable self during dinner; love that girl!:
Tim worked a few 48 and 72 hr shifts to get time off for our Lake Mead vacation, so we went to visit him at the fire station.
Dada shows Madeleine what a day on the job is like:
Listening intently to proper handling of the hose:
When Tim is at work, I try to stay busy so that his absence doesn't send me into an abyss of depression, I often end up over at my parents house. This time, Uncle Jared read Madeleine the DOGGIES book by Sandra Boynton. It was very cute how he did all the different dog noises, and she liked it immensely:
When Mads was not even born, I indulged in another Janie and Jack item: cowgirl boots, size 4. Well, she finally moved into a size 4, but the practicality of leather boots for a 13 month old is not eve measurable, so I think she wore them just this once.
At the very tail end of July, my parents and I decided to head up to Riley's Los Rios Ranchos and pick raspberries. Unfortunately, Tim was logging another long weekend at the station, so we headed up to Apple Valley to pass the time in a meaningful and fun way.
Popi shows Mads how to pull the berries off the stem:
We made out like bandits...eventually:
Nani and Mads enjoy summer's sweet bounty:
Almost every morning, Madeleine wanted to play with chalk. So, we spent most balmy mornings on the deck drawing lots and lots of "", or stars if you don't speak Madeleine. We drew turtles and bunnies and ABCs and one day she took a nose-dive into the chalk. She was totally fine, but I had to take a picture of my cute, chalk-covered girl:
Love, Lauren