Sunday, December 22, 2013

Miracle of Miracles

Wonder of wonders
Miracle of miracles
I was afraid that God would frown
But like he did so long ago in Jericho 
God just made a wall fall down 

After I had my baby, this song was stuck in my head. It came from nowhere. It is not a Christmas song and I haven't seen Fiddler on the Roof lately, but the more I think about it, the more appropriate it is. A week ago I felt terrible, and since I have been depressed before, I couldn't imagine my emotional state changing into anything more positive any time soon. But after my last blog post I received so many notes of encouragement, private and public Facebook messages, and e-mails from friends, family, and acquaintances. People said they had been there, that they had empathy, that they were proud of me for speaking out about where I am and the reality of how I feel. Some people couldn't relate at all, but acknowledged that what I was going through was real. People said they loved me, that they were praying for me. Friends brought treats, they brought meals, they made solid plans to help. I never could have expected this outpouring of love and acceptance. I thought maybe one or two people would awkwardly respond, and that my depression would be ignored. People normally don't know how to deal with a depressed person, but I felt understood and blessed. What an unexpected twist.

The night before my scheduled induction, my husband and my neighbor prayed over me and gave me a blessing. Dan also fasted. He broke his fast right before they hooked me up to pitocin. I was feeling calm and well. I felt normal, but better. It was amazing.

After I had been on pitocin for a little while, my doctor stopped by to break my water. I'll save the details for another post, but the labor was fast and I had no relief from drugs. Natural labor (well- natural besides the petocin) was intense and painful, but after I pushed my little boy out they handed him to me and all I could say was "Sweetheart. Sweetheart." I loved him instantly.

When Moses softened Pharoh's heart
That was a miracle
When God made the waters of the Red Sea part
That was a miracle too...  

I was transformed. I really think it was a miracle. Sometimes I feel like I must not have been depressed, because look at where I am now. Of course, I know I was... I know what depression feels like. You just want to be swallowed up by nothingness. But I no longer have those feelings. Not even after all the sleepless nights and the pain and the water retention (I bloat up like a balloon after I have babies).

I almost feel silly about the amount of help I'm still receiving. We have more meals lined up, people are taking our kids to play during the day, people want to help with housework, etc. I feel almost like a fraud, and maybe we don't need all this help. But then I think that people enjoy serving and showing love, and that it helps us both, and that maybe all this love and support is helping keep my depression at bay. I know it can come back any time. Like I said before, depression is not something that you can control. And having a newborn is still hard.

For now I am just so grateful. I'm thankful for such a supportive group of friends and family. I didn't have any idea about the amount of people who were willing to jump in and be of assistance to me when I needed it. I also want to make it clear that I did not mean to hurt any feelings in my last post. If you did anything on my "not helpful" list please know that I do not hold you responsible for my depression. I was trying to inform, not to offend. And many people who may have been "not helpful" once have actually helped me again and again at other times in my life. And I am thankful.

I recently read a little story that I would like to paraphrase: One day a man falls in a hole while he is walking down the street. He begins to yell for help. A doctor walks by, hears the man, and writes a prescription which he throws into the hole. The doctor
continues on his way. The man still yells for help. A priest walks by, throws a bible in the hole and walks on. The man is screaming for help. A friend walks by, hears his buddy yelling, and jumps into the hole. The man asks his friend "Why did you do that? Now we are both down here." to which his friend replies "Yes, but I've been down here before, and I know the way out."

It is difficult to deal with depression. And most people who are depressed cannot express what is happening to them. Heck, I might not be able to tell anyone if I relapse tomorrow. The best thing you can do for anyone who is depressed is to notice if they are in that hole and then be there for them. Every person has different needs and different "helpful" and "not helpful" lists. Just be aware and be available. That is it. And thank you to everyone who has been there for me. You have helped me at a critical time in my life. What a gift it was to have a beautiful birth experience. What a gift it is to have the opportunity to bond with my new baby boy. I love him. I love him. I love him.

But of all God's miracles large and small
The most miraculous one of all
Is the one I thought could never be
God has given you to me.     

PS If you are ever feeling depressed and you need someone to talk to, I will always be available for you. I will try to help you out of that hole if you let me. Even if I'm already in that hole and we happen to bump into each other, we can find our way out together.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Dark and Deep

Gwen just came into my room. "I didn't hear crying anymore, Mom. So I thought to come back." She smiled sweetly and put her head on my arm. It broke my heart all over again.

I had postpartum depression after Gwen was born. It took me a while to come to terms with how bad it was. Eventually Dan convinced me that not sleeping and crying every night and not being able to stop my body from writhing were abnormal behaviors. I really wanted to be able to take charge of my emotions without medication, but it just wasn't working. Things were getting worse. And admitting to needing drugs made me feel even more helpless and like less of a person. I cried in the doctor's office. I was on medication for about 6 months or so, I honestly can't remember. The pills helped to dull what was happening to me, but I still felt like a failure and I didn't feel creative at all. I kept doing the things I was supposed to be doing, trying to enjoy life. Sometimes I was fine, but I was never normal. One day, about a year after I had Gwen and I had been off the pills for a while my husband said "You did something the other day... I can't remember what it was, but I thought 'she used to do that.'" Like, yay- it has been a year and I'm finally sort of kind of coming back to normal. Things got better. And that experience brought me wisdom and empathy for people who suffer from mental maladies. Also, after this experience we weren't sure about having a bunch of kids- because going through that was the worst, for me and for my family.

But after a few years we decided to try for a third. I was feeling good about being pregnant with this one. I was. I thought "Ok, it looks like I'll be having this baby in early December, if not November! My body is getting so ready... and Gwen was two weeks early after all." So when the baby didn't come and didn't come and people were always asking me about it, I felt a loss of control. Like I am supposed to have this baby and I'm not accomplishing the one thing I'm supposed to do. And it was getting harder and harder to move. I hurt more and more. I mean, who walks around at a 4 (a 5 now) for weeks and doesn't feel uncomfortable? I was doing less: not cleaning. Not cooking much. Not doing anything except walking around and waiting for this baby to come out. I was sure it would be any day. People predicted the 4th. That day came and went. No big deal. But as my due date approached, I felt it coming. That old relentless monster: Depression. I prayed and prayed and recruited other people to pray and prayed that the baby would come out so that I could stave off that Beast. But it didn't work. My due date was terrible. I stayed in my room all day crying on and off. I cried in the bathroom, I cried in my closet. I cried in bed and I cried in the shower. I sobbed all day, but that didn't start contractions. 

Let me be clear, I've tried everything there is to try when it comes to naturally triggering labor. I've done acupressure, essential oils, induction massage, all the textbook physical stuff, taking evening primrose oil, eating the stuff people swear puts you into labor... I even had my membranes stripped. Twice. I've been doing these things for weeks. When I was given the induction date of December 17, I cried. I made it out of the Doctor's office, but I got into my car and sobbed. This is not what I wanted. 

And now, I've been trying to maintain some sort of positive outlook. It works and then it doesn't. I haven't gone to church in two weeks because I don't want to see or talk to anyone. I'm usually good at putting on my happy mask (who says you don't use a theater degree?)-- but I can't right now. Dan has taken over drop-off and pick-up responsibilities with our kids. The thing I hate most of all is how I feel towards this baby. (Please keep in mind that I am trying to cling on to sanity here.) I hate this baby. I don't want it. I could give it up for adoption and never see it and that would be totally fine with me. Before my due date, I loved this baby. I was excited. Now I just think of it as a burden and a thing that is putting me through a lot of unnecessary pain and anguish. I see it as the reason for my loss of control. I cannot imagine a good birth experience at this point. The aftermath of birth is painful and disgusting. Also, I know that once the baby is born it will rob me of sleep, sanity, all of my time, and it will make me fat for a year at the very least. I have enough of a rational mind left that I feel shame at these thoughts. I know I love my children and that I prayed for this baby. I know these dark thoughts are not acceptable. But I cannot imagine feeling good when they place it in my arms. I don't even want to hold it. How am I going to make it through labor if I don't even care about what I get at the end? 

And I am most certainly depressed right now. Just in case that wasn't clear. I've been wearing the same ugly ill-fitting clothes for two and a half days. I've been crying. Depression is something you cannot control through force of will. I cannot "just think happy thoughts" or "chin up" or "put on a happy face." So if you tell me these things, please know you are contributing to my depression. When I am depressed it also makes me feel incredibly guilty. And during the holidays? Triple the guilt. This is December, for goodness sake. I'm having a baby right before Christmas, isn't that the best present ever?!?! I should feel excited and all Christmas Cheer-y. I don't. I hate it. I didn't want to have a baby right before Christmas, and being pregnant and overdue has kept our family from participating in all kinds of holiday activities. Not to mention this kid is going to HATE having his birthday right before Christmas. This has been the unhappiest December of my life.

So now that we have established that I am depressed, I am going to attempt to explain things that are helpful and not so helpful. Firstly, when I was going through PPD a few years ago I had a birthday brunch with some family members. They asked how my depression was going (like it was a project I was working on or something) and asked what they could do to help. It was hard to admit, but I finally told them that they could take my kids away from me for a few hours here and there. Any time convenient would be helpful. None of them ever did it. Now, I'm not blaming them for anything... but it is not helpful to ask how you can help and then not follow through. If you want to help and you get an answer of how to help, make sure you DO it. 

Here is a list of things that are helpful to me:
-Taking my kids away to play. I'm an introvert. Having time to recharge on my own is super helpful.
-Cleaning my house. But seriously, only the parts I want you to clean. If I am embarrassed by the state of my craft room, don't go in there. If you do it anyway it will cause me to feel shame and distress, which contributes to my depression. Also, do NOT organize anything. More on that later.
-Making a meal or food of any kind. 
-Dropping off a treat, a gift, or a kind note. Even if I don't want to see you or come to the door, it is still appreciated, I promise. 
-Communicating with my husband instead of with me. I'm not usually a fan of talking on the phone anyway, but when I am depressed it is the absolute last thing I want to do. If you coordinate a meal or something with my husband, I will appreciate you. And it will be even better if I don't have to talk to anyone about how I am doing and how much help I need.
-You CAN write me an email or text me. Most of the things people say aren't super helpful, but sometimes it is nice not to feel like an outcast. I don't have many friends as it is, which is kind of by choice and honestly fine, but to never hear from anyone can contribute to depression.

Here is a list of NOT HELPFUL things:
-Telling me that "happiness is a choice" or something along those lines. Sure, sometimes it is. But sometimes it is not. And I promise you will be contributing to my depression if you write or utter anything like that.
-Asking me if I've had my baby yet. Some people do this in the sweetest way, and my close friends can actually get away with it. But everyone else is running the risk of getting punched in the face.
-Seeing pictures of babies in the hospital with their smiling beautiful skinny mommies- especially if your due date was around mine or after mine. 
-Telling me how to induce labor, or giving me opinions of any kind on labor and delivery. There was a time when this was interesting to me... now it just upsets me. 
-Doing my laundry. There are a few things that I am super particular about. Laundry is one of those things. Sometimes I get really behind or someone pees on something and my husband puts a load in. Usually it is fine, but there have been a few things ruined because they weren't supposed to be laundered or put in the drier or whatever. Some stains have been permanently set in, etc. Usually it is the "favorites" that get ruined, which makes me sad. Also, laundry is something I don't mind. If you take that chore away from me I feel like I am literally good for nothing. Like I'm not even capable of keeping on top of the ONE chore I don't mind. 
-Organizing my things. Listen, I know I am a chaotic person. I'm trying to get better at organizing. But there are some things in my house that are just always messy. Or maybe things look different than the way you would do it. Or maybe you are trying to put things away and you don't know where they go. Seriously, if you are at my house, do not move anything without asking me. You might think you are doing me the most amazing favor by moving my stuff around, but that is one of the very worst things you could do. If I can't find things in my own house, it makes me feel a greater loss of control. It sets off my depression big time. Just over the course of today I went to look for two things and I couldn't find them because someone else had moved them out of love and a desire for rooms to be cleaner. I cried. I cried and cried. Something about other people organizing my stuff makes me incredibly sad. First of all, it feels very personal to have someone sort through your things without you, even if it is something as impersonal as dishes. And there is a difference by the way in throwing toys in a toy box or straightening up a book shelf or putting papers in a pile and deciding where things should live. I don't care if you put things away... if there are groceries on the counter and you see where the cereal boxes live, knock yourself out. Even if there are a pile of papers all over the place and you find an empty cardboard box and put the stuff in there for me to sort later, that is just fine. But if you start thinking to yourself "Hmm. I could sort these things for her." or "The way she has the clothes in the closet just doesn't make sense. Let me rearrange things so that everything is easier to see." Just stop right there. You will cause me a crazy amount of stress and distress if you organize things for me. I promise. Not helpful. (Sorry about the novel, but this has been done for me many times and it makes me cry every time.) 
-Telling me to try harder with my appearance. This is for down the road when I am a sweaty and fat nursing mom, but sometimes people tell me that it would make me feel better to get a haircut or buy a really cute pair of jeans in my larger size instead of waiting to lose weight to fit back into my clothes. First of all, this is annoying because it implies that I don't look good and that is somehow a terrible thing. Secondly, we all have different priorities and maybe I don't want to waste money on something like that right now. Also, I am one of those weirdos that thinks women shouldn't be killing themselves over their appearances all the time. Thirdly, do I want to look like I'm trying to look cute when I don't feel cute at all? Do I want to be that girl wearing the outfit that would look great on a skinny runway model but it looks atrocious on the sweaty fat nursing mom? No. I'll stick to sweat pants and oily hair most of the time, thanks. At least that way I just am what I am and I don't have to depress myself about trying to look cute when it is impossible. 

That is pretty much it. I'm sure the lists are not complete, and it is hard to write constructively about depression while you are depressed. The one thing I am concentrating on most of all right now is feeling love towards this baby. If I could change one thought in my head, it would be that. My induction is tomorrow. I am able to climb out of the depression every once in a while, and I'm hoping I can make it tomorrow somehow. It feels better just to put this out there, although it feels worse at the same time because anyone who hasn't experienced this sort of thing may be judgmental about it. Oh well. I can't control what you think. I can barely control myself. But at least now you have a chance to understand me, and if you want to be helpful, you have a rough guideline. 


Friday, December 13, 2013

Baby, All I Want for Christmas is You

I went to the doctor a few days ago... he says I am dilated to a 5 with the baby in zero position. I am mostly effaced. I've been walking around like this for a while now. It hurts. It sucks. I don't know why I am not in labor. I've been dilated to at least a 3 and 70% effaced for over a month. I've had my membranes stripped twice, and I have tried acupressure, essential oils, squats and jumping jacks, eating certain foods, ingesting evening primrose oil, prayer, and every other thing suggested by friends and websites. Except castor oil. I won't go that far.  
I am not amused. 
I took the above "selfie" over a week ago. I didn't think I could get much bigger. I WAS WRONG. I feel like I have doubled in size since then. My belly no longer looks like a pregnant woman's belly... it looks like a fat man's humongous beer belly. I imagine my baby weighs about ten pounds. And I am still going to try a natural labor... yikes!!

My mom was here for almost two weeks, but she left today to go to Sierra's baptism back in Utah. She is going to be flying right back afterward, and hopefully she will actually get to see her new grandson this time! I don't think she was planning on staying for so long. December is a busy month. But this baby has just not wanted to come out!

On my due date I was so depressed I didn't go to church. I've kind of come out of that depression, but it was really bad that day. On Monday Asher had some sort of eye/ear infection, so we decided he could stay home for two days. We tried to have a very active and fun-filled Monday... we walked around some model homes, we ate lunch at The Apple Dumpling Cafe, my mom and Gwen and I all walked home while Dan took Asher to the doctor. I taught a last minute voice lesson, because hey, why not? And then we went to see Frozen in the theaters. It was a cute movie. Asher loved it, Gwen was scared a lot.

I went to my final OB appointment on Wednesday. My doctor is very nice and I like him a lot, but he gave me the induction date of December 17th. I think if I am still pregnant on the 17th I will be wishing for death. I was so sad that I burst into tears after I walked out of the office.
We went to the Mesa temple lights on Wednesday night. They were beautiful, but I couldn't enjoy them really because walking hurts so badly right now. We went out to eat at Freddy's last night. I have stopped caring about what goes in my body... so I ate an enormous amount of fries, a burger, some chili fries (with a jalapeƱo slice, just to see if it would put me into labor) and some bites of ice-cream. I was super stuffed.

I have missed out on many things this December. We did make it to our church Christmas party on the 6th, but I didn't go to book club (in December they do a nice dinner and book exchange, and I read the book and really wanted to talk about it), the RS dinner (which I was sort of supposed to be in charge of, but of course with the timing of this baby I put almost all of the responsibility on others), and I also wanted to make it to some live theater shows. I'm going to keep missing things, but I don't care as long as the baby comes out.

On the bright side, our house looks nice and clean because my mom was here waiting for the baby. She also decorated for Christmas, which I just didn't have the energy to do. Our front rooms and our tree look amazing. And it was fun to just be with her and the kids have loved having Grandma around. She is a very helpful person and relaxing presence, I am blessed to have her as my mother. Let's hope she has something to come back for soon!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

November so far

Dan had a birthday. I got him a better lawn mower, a book, and a few things for his guns. The kids made him cards. Since his birthday was on a Saturday we were treated to lunch at Liberty Market with Stephen and Rachel while our kids played at their house. Dan made his own cake (wife fail)... but he said it was a good day. We were going to go shooting with AZ family, but some couldn't make it so we rescheduled for the next Saturday. Dan ended up being sick, but he went anyway. I stayed home because I am just feeling more and more pregnant every day. I can't stand up for long periods of time, and I have a hard time sleeping. I think this is the hardest "home stretch" out of my three pregnancies so far, which is kind of funny since I was working so hard before my other two and this one I've been taking it easy. I also have more anxiety and am sometimes moody. I am looking forward to meeting this little guy. My doctor says it could be any day now, but he has been saying that for weeks. I guess I was really progressed, and then I just haven't changed from then.

Gwen had a birthday too. She had a tea party with five friends. It was really cute, the girls would play soccer in their pretty clothes, and then come in and do girly things. Lest you think I'm some kind of super woman, I did not decorate for this party. I traded voice lessons for this, and I'm so glad I did. It was hard enough for me to put together the food, and I didn't even make the cake. Gwen LOVED her party and her gifts, though. She sure is a light in my life. I can't believe she is FOUR!

How cute is this?

My pregnant belly makes a cameo. 

P.S. She still fits into the Alice dress I made her when she was not quite two years old. She is petite. 

We also went to "Frontier Days" at Asher's school, which is CTA's annual carnival fundraiser. I took pictures, but none of them were great because the event is at night. There was a DJ and food just like last year. Our kids rode the train, and Gwen rode a real pony while Asher did all the booths with Dan. (Well, Gwen's pony ride was probably 10 seconds long... but we sure waited in line for a long time.) Asher and Gwen also did a lot of bounce house-like activities. They were really into those this year.

I also got it into my head that we needed to paint stripes in our 1/2 bathroom downstairs. It has been on my list for a while, but honestly there are other far more pressing things that I still need to do. Oh well, something got done! Yay us! In real life you can see a lot of paint where it is not suppose to be, but I still love it. Maybe someday I will get around to cleaning up the edges. 

Last but not least, we just had Thanksgiving at Stephen and Rachel's. There were about 33 people there. The tables were decorated beautifully, and the food was good. We brought a green bean casserole and a chocolate haupia pie. And that note you see in the picture is one of my favorite traditions. Every time we go to S&R Hixon's for Thanksgiving a member of their family writes a personal letter of gratitude to each guest. One year I got a note from Jake- this year it was from Chip. Those teenage boys sure are sweet.

Also that morning the whole group (except me and Gwen) went to a place called "Feed my Starving Children" and helped pack food for the hungry. Dan and Asher had a great experience with it, and I can't wait to participate in the future. I'll need to get this baby out of me first... and hire a babysitter.

I'm really coming into home stretch, although I've almost totally given up on it. I feel like I'm going to be pregnant forever. :) But I've cancelled all lessons for the month of December, and my due date is right around the corner. Now we are just playing the waiting game. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

China, Sedona, and so forth.

In September Dan went to China for a week. I was sad to miss an adventure, but it was a business trip and I wasn't invited. It turns out the only thing I missed was karaoke and a lot of factories. Still, it sounded amazing and I want to invent or design something just so I can have an excuse to go there. Maybe someday. Anyway, while he was gone I often stayed up until 1:00am to get all the housework done. I am slow and tired with this pregnancy. My back was killing me and my patience was worn a little thin by the time he came back. But now he is here to keep me company, wash the dishes, and bathe the kids and put them to bed. It was weird having my best friend gone for a week. I sure missed him.

Then fall break happened. It was so nice to sleep in a little every day. The first weekend of the break we went up to Sedona where Dan's brother and his family have a time share. They wanted Dan to take their family pictures, and they told us to go up a little early so we could have the place to ourselves. It was nice. And minus food and gas, it was a free vacation. Score. We had fun seeing the sights and we ate at a restaurant named Pisa Lisa that had the most amazing salad I have ever tasted in my life. The pizza was good too.

In October I helped (last minute) with Copperstar's "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" at the Mesa Arts Center. I lead the music for the kids on stage left. I am supposedly getting paid for that, and I got comp tickets for my family and some friends. It was a really great show. And the Saturday matinee that my kids attended was fun. They played in the fountain outside the theater. It was a beautiful day. The weather is finally getting better around here.

Halloween also happened. I got to go to the pumpkin patch with Gwen's preschool class, which was pretty fun. I also made two Star Wars themed costumes for a family in our neighborhood, and our kids were Harry Potter and Tinkerbell. We had fun at the Trunk-or-Treat a week before, and they had fun trick-or-treating on actual Halloween. Of course, Gwen was sick, and now we are all going through it. 'Tis the season, I guess.

I'm still teaching a few voice and piano lessons, but I'm planning on taking December off. I'm also teaching a few acting classes for Copperstar in their new studios. They are having a hard time getting going. I'm sure once the word gets out, they will be very busy, because the other teachers are awesome. So far my largest class had 6 people. We'll see how it goes next session.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What did I miss?

There were birthdays (mine and Asher's). There were first days of school for both kids. There was a cavity filling for Asher and a crown for me. There were book clubs and calling changes and projects. Doctor visits. Family outings. Growing. Surprises. Plans. Projects.
1st day of school... way back in July.

1st day of preschool. She LOVES it!
Asher had a lego themed birthday party. He only wanted extended family there (no friends from church or school). He had direct specifications for his cake. He had a great time and he loved his gifts.

My birthday came and went without much fuss. It is right when Asher's school starts up, and I'm pregnant and lazy, and we just spent money on a new mattress, Vegas, and rocks for our backyard. So I went out to brunch with my AZ sisters-in-law and Gwen... right after a doctor appointment that confirmed the gender of our third child. Gwen couldn't hold that information in. She was quiet for a while, then blurted out "Our baby is a boy." Later, Dan got me a few small gifts and that was that.

This summer was supposed to be the "summer of me" where I do a lot of projects for myself instead of projects for other people. Yeah, that didn't happen so much. But I did make (for clients) two flower girl dresses, 6 re-covered chair cushions, a roman shade, curtain panels & matching pillow, and I added sleeves onto two dresses. I also kept up with a few voice and piano clients through the break. I guess I just can't say no to money and friends.

One of the cushions I wanted to keep. They matched my house. 

We didn't go out much as a family this summer, but occasionally we went to dinner or to see a movie. The kids loved Despicable Me 2. One of the characters has a punchline ("Pooping?") that sent Asher into hysterics for minutes. I didn't think he was going to be able to breathe, he was laughing so hard.

An example of what we do instead of "going out." 

I am now Enrichment Leader. Or whatever it is called now-a-days. I was so sad to leave my primary singing time gig... but that's the breaks. At least a few kids burst into tears on my last day too. I wasn't the only one crying. Enrichment is harder for me, but I'm getting the hang of it and we had an awesome meeting about a week ago where a professional psychologist/psychiatrist came to talk about emotional health. It was interesting and we had a ton of people there and many girls cornered me afterward to say that they could have listened to her speak forever. We also had green smoothies and info on canning meat. I've been making a lot of green smoothies for Asher. Secret spinach! Woohoo.

I have two book clubs that I go to, I love it. In one club I recently headed up the discussion on "Ender's Game"- it was nice to re-read it. I think I enjoyed it more the second time around, and I noticed more about it. For instance... Orson Scott Card sort of predicted a ton of technology that we have now- and that book was written in the late 1970s. Anyway, I also read "Gone With the Wind" for the first time for my other book club. I'm glad I read it, it is an amazing book. But it is also very very sad. To off-set my sadness, I read two books in a YA series only available on Kindle: "The Scourge" and "The Defiance" by A.G. Henley. I can't wait for the next book to come out next year. I read a few more books about writing, and I read some Roald Dahl books to Asher. Hixons like books. (Maybe that should be our family motto?)

Our baby boy seems healthy, but we found out our insurance covers absolutely no maternity costs. We'll be fine I guess, but I'm still bummed about it. I'm also going to try to give birth without an epidural so that we can save almost $2000 there and get out of the hospital sooner- saving even more money. If this third birth is anything like Gwen's I think I can do it. If it is more like Asher's... I'm going to need some major pain meds. I'm trying to study up. The pregnancy is going well, except some moments of anxiety. And I feel way more tired and I'm gaining tons of weight. I already weigh more than when I gave birth to Gwen, and I still have 13 weeks to go. I'm not to my Asher weight yet, but I have a sad feeling I'll probably get there and pass it. I mean, I started out with 20 extra pounds to begin with. Oh well. I'm not in the "fat chicks of pregnancy" club all by myself. :) I'm just hoping for a healthy baby.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Details, details.

 So while we were in Rusty's pizza in Santa Barbara, I noticed something in the bathroom...

It is a sad state of affairs when there are no locks on the doors... but there are locks on the T.P.

And in Vegas I probably looked like an idiot the whole time, but I couldn't help myself. I kept looking up. Have you ever noticed how spectacular the ceilings look in casinos? It really does amazing things for the space. It is making me consider my own ceilings. I probably won't do anything to them, but I am open to the possibilities. 

Two Trips

We went to Santa Barbara. The plan was to stay for 7 days, but it was so beautiful and Arizona is so hot that we decided to extend our vacation to 10 days. Dan's mom had recently had knee surgery, so she didn't go out with us much. But we still did lots of fun things with Grandpa... as well as with my sister Lori and her kiddos. I also occasionally met with old friends on my own since Dan was still working during the daytime. (I hope he works "from home" forever. It is the best.)

Dan made a highlight video that was really cute. He posted it elsewhere, so I won't post it here. Plus, some of his video was when I wasn't there, and I was with another child or friend doing something else.

Things I did without Dan: went to Tucker's Grove with the kids and met with my old high school friend Daisy, went to a fun game night at church with my sister, went on a walk downtown with my friend Anna and her sweet little girl Georgiana (including playing at the Courthouse and eating at the Habit), hung out with my sister and our kids at a park, and went shopping and headed up some smoothie runs. There were probably a few more little things.

Things we did together: Ate at the Natural Cafe and saw a movie (Into Darkness) without the kids, went to the zoo with Grandpa and Lori and her kids, rode the carousel and played at Chase Palm Park, went on a date to the Palace Grill, went to church and celebrated Father's Day with some Simi Valley brothers and sisters-in-law who came up for Sunday, visited the Sea Center on the pier with Grandpa, had lunch at the "lighthouse" Rusty's pizza, went to Lori's house and also a home she was watching while the owners were away. That house had baby chicks and baby cows and an old dog that Asher loved. We visited an awesome house that Dan's brother Jeff and his wife Heather were looking after for his boss. We also watched a lot of Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune with Dan's parents, and Lori and her kids came over to the Hixon's to play a few times. :)

We took things a little slower because I was still getting over the nauseating part of pregnancy. It was much better by the time we left to come back... maybe because I slept in every day. I felt bad that we didn't do more, but I needed a slow pace. And let me tell you it was HEAVEN to be away from responsibilities and insane heat! I loved the "June gloom"- I couldn't get enough fog.  

Going back home was sad, but we did have something else to look forward to. We booked a little two day trip to Vegas on July 1st and 2nd... with no children! It was amazing. I love my kids and everything, but it was nice to stay up late and sleep in and do whatever we wanted and not have to help anyone use the bathroom. We stayed at the Wynn, which was wonderful, and we saw the Cirque show there (Le Reve) and then Penn & Teller's magic show at the Rio the following night. We loved both shows... especially Penn & Teller. I think seeing them was on Dan's bucket list. We also went to an older casino and saw a movie during the day (Mud), and we went shopping and walked around and ate awesome food. We even went back to a place we ate the last time we were in Vegas at the Venetian because Dan remembered how much he liked the food there. It was still super good. P.S. The Stecks watched our kids, for which we are eternally grateful. They swam and played and had a great time there.

 **Also my sister Tracy came to visit in early June. I've missed a lot, but I want to note that it was so fun to see her, and I was glad she came. :)

Friday, May 31, 2013

Number Three

I know I have a lot to catch up on, but for now I will start with the big guns. As you may be able to surmise from the picture below... I'm pregnant! Everything looks pretty good so far. (Whew!) Unhappily I was exposed to Fifths Disease, had an emergency root canal with x-rays, and had electrolysis without knowing I was pregnant... so once I knew for sure, I anxiously awaited my first doctor appointment. I was glad and excited to see that little wiggly body and heartbeat. I had a big smile on my face watching the monitor, although it wasn't twins. Seriously, I wanted twins. But I am really happy about a healthy single too.

I've been feeling ill. When I read or stay still it isn't so bad. I think it is finally going away. But my house is a mess and I haven't cooked anything for a couple months. Dan also puts the kids to bed most nights. I feel bad that he is doing almost everything around here, but I hope to be back in business soon.

I've only had to cancel a few voice lessons. It is weird to be pregnant again and to immediately remember what it feels like to be pregnant. How I can hear the name of a food and KNOW that I most certainly do NOT want to eat it. How I feel uber ill if I forget to consume food within four hours of my last meal. And how I feel nauseated, but if I eat through the nausea, it is better than if I don't eat. When I am not pregnant, that sounds like crazy talk, but when I AM pregnant it is the truest truth in the world.   I also can't wear tight pants (or I will barf), and I can do stuff (like attend church or teach a lesson or go to a class with Asher), but afterwards I need to lie down for the rest of the day.

I feel pretty pathetic, but I think I'm doing better lately. I'm at 12 weeks, so hopefully this will taper off and I can exercise and participate in life again.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

SB & Disney

We took a trip to Santa Barbara for spring break. It was really wonderful to be back in our hometown for a few days. We played and stayed at Grandma and Grandpa's house, but we visited my sister in the mountains a few times as well. The cousins had a great time playing together, and I got to see the new place that Lori is moving to. (It is right down the road from where she is now... on the property of a big ranch!) We probably would have done more and seen more people in town if it wasn't for our mid-week adventures at Disneyland. Not that I am complaining... I LOVE DISNEYLAND and I have been thinking about going there with the kids now that they are old enough to enjoy it. Luckily, G&G Hixon had the same thought. We are SO thankful for their generosity, and for the two days we got to spend with them at the happiest place on earth.

Friday, March 8, 2013


I have wanted to be in a successful book club for a while now. I love reading (I've enjoyed fourteen books since January 1st) and I always want to talk to people about the books I read. I don't know why my book club fantasy hasn't worked out until now... maybe because I have been in plays, or maybe I just feel awkward crashing parties. Maybe both. Anyway, somehow I found my way into our neighborhood book club. I am LOVING it. I have gone twice.

February's book was "Mrs. Kennedy and Me" by Clint Hill. It is not a book I would probably choose to read, because it is non-fiction. I'm so glad I read it though because first of all, I didn't know much about the Kennedys other than JFK was shot and Jackie was a fashion icon. They are a morbidly fascinating family. Morbid, because I think they are totally messed up in a lot of ways- but the point of view was kind. The story is told by Mrs. Kennedy's secret service agent, and he worshipped her... in a very chivalric kind of way. It was so fascinating. And I don't know much about the secret service or how they operate, so that part was very intriguing as well. At the end of the book, I just felt sorry for everybody because everyone was broken. Book club was great, because the discussion leader is a Catholic democrat who knows a TON about the Kennedys. She brought lots of extra books (about Jackie's fashion, for instance) and supplied lots of additional information.

March's book was "Divergent" by Veronica Roth. I actually had read the book before and enjoyed it, but I remember spending half the time trying to wrap my head around the "five faction" concept in this post-appocalyptic YA novel. The book was well written, and I liked the story and the protagonist a LOT, but I kept getting tripped up by those factions. The book would talk about "Amity" or "Candor" or "Erudite" and I would think Who are they again? What do they believe in, I forget. I also just couldn't believe that after some big nasty world-ending war, the survivors of said war would have it together enough to say, "Hey! Lets form groups. If you believe bravery is super important, step over to this area of Chicago, get some tattoos, and be 'Dauntless.' If you think selflessness rocks, go over there, wear gray, and be called 'Abnegation.' PS, those people get to govern us all, and our kids can choose which group they want to be in when their 16. Everyone ok with that? Great." Anyway, the book was much better the second time around because I didn't have to get derailed by all of those thoughts, and I had read the second book in the series as well, so it all made more sense. Not many others in book club shared my problem, so maybe I'm just special. Side note: the rights to make this into a movie have already been purchased, and the third book of the series isn't even out yet. And the author is like 24 years old, which means she was 22ish when Divergent was published. She is winning life.

I could review a few more books in depth, but I will spare you. For now. But I do want to mention one more thing before I sign off, because it is related to clubs.

About a month ago I went to a really cool birthday celebration for my friend Colleen. She had a girl's night and rented a limo and it was the best idea ever. We went to Mint (appetizers!), Jesters (improv!), The Big Bang (oops, Colleen forgot/lost her ID!), Mojitos (salsa dancing!), The Big Bang again (dual pianos and dancing/she used a passport!) and finally to the Talking Stick Casino (creepy and scary because it was 1:30am and only yucky people were there!). It was super fun to get out and let go. I was hit on minimally because I was trying to make as little eye contact as possible with people I didn't know. One of my neighbors was getting attention from a lot of guys, and one girl from our party was a hit with a few different girls, randomly. We all had wedding rings on, but yeah. Personally, my discomfort was minimal and I had a really good time. But it could NOT be an every weekend thing for me, or even an every month thing. It is definitely a special occasion thing.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


I have a theory. It goes something like this: I have too many social media outlets.

Shocking, right? But really, this is why my blog has been suffering. Because when I want to say a one-liner from or about my kids, I go to Facebook and type it in... where I get the almost instant gratification of dozens of people "liking" and commenting. If I want to share a quick photo, nothing is faster than Instagram... and it makes my pictures prettier than I ever could with its magical filters, plus it can link to Facebook. If I want to share family experiences, I go to a private website created by my super smart husband quite a few years ago. The whole family uses it, so it is great for keeping up-to-date with each other. If I want to doodle or play a game with my family or friends, I launch Draw Something. If I want to catalogue, peruse, or use stored ideas for crafts, meals, workouts, or hairstyles (among other things), I go to Pinterest. If I read a book and want to review it, I visit Shelfari. With all these quick and easy outlets, my blog often gets left behind. Why?

Well, my blog is my journal. And for some reason ever since I can remember I have had a hard time recording things in my journal "out of order." If a big trip or event gets skipped, I feel like I cannot move on to other things until I record that occurrence. And the more time has passed, the harder it is, because it is A) harder to remember, B) no longer relevant to what is happening currently, and C) at the bottom of a list of things to write about that just keeps getting longer.      

Another thing. I like to take time writing on my blog, because I want it to be good. I like to edit, and editing takes time. I enjoy brevity and style. Not all of my posts are masterpieces, far from it actually. Nevertheless, I want to strive for quality, not necessarily quantity. But I do want some quantity.

But the other media outlets are so fast! If you want them to, they take no time! (But if you're not careful, they can suck up your whole life.) So why not ditch the blog?

This is where I want to collect everything. Where my life in a nutshell should be recorded. Everything else is piecemeal, it is scattered, it is hard to access. I want unity! My blog has evolved for sure over time, but I don't want it to evolve into nothingness. So I will try harder. Even if I need to steal quotes from Facebook and pictures from Instagram. Even if I am a little redundant, I will try harder to collect my life.

And what about the other stuff? Couldn't I or shouldn't I pare down? Well I really like my quick fix media outlets too, and they serve different specialized purposes, so I'm holding on to them for now. But if someone asks me if I want to join google plus, or twitter, or foursquare or flickr or linked in... my answer is going to be HECK to the NO, because I can't take any more.