Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Baby in the House

 This was me two weeks ago. 

Photo by my 12 year old daughter.
And then this amazing thing happened.

We are all totally smitten by our charming baby boy.

I have to set the timer to make sure everyone gets equal turns holding him.

These girls are quickly becoming wonderful caretakers.  It is going to be fun to watch these relationships develop.

In his oldest (and most capable) sister's lap.

He is a patient and even-tempered baby.  In his short two weeks, he has gained over 1 1/2 pounds so he is obviously a good nurser!  He sleeps pretty well--not really well, but it is hard to complain about those precious early morning quiet times when the rest of the house is asleep.  
Just the two of us, 
falling in love.

I hold him as often as possible.  
I can't get enough of his soft skin, his tiny face, and his perfect body.
I can stare at his facial expressions for hours.
I love how he quiets down as soon as he is in my arms.
I love the desperate starving dance he does when I put him to my breast;
and the drunken satisfaction when I pull him away.
In short, I love everything about our new baby.
Boy am I ever grateful that he came to our house.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

New York Finals Review

Isaac's week in New York is officially over.  He had a remarkable experience, both dancing and touring the city with Grandma and Aunt Mollie.  Of course, I was here nursing my tiny new baby so I survived on frequent texts, a few calls and nightly Facebook picture postings.  

One of the major highlights of the week included regular Master Classes with amazing teachers.  These instructors were chosen from the creme de la creme including Principal dancers from Paris Ballet and American Ballet Theatre and Artistic Directors from places like The Princess Grace Academy in Monaco and the Houston Ballet.  

Some classes were in the Vaganova Method (the style of ballet in which he has been trained) and some were drastically different.  Some classes, therefore, were super challenging and others were intense, but comfortable.  Every day he worked hard and took full advantage of these intensive sessions with the best. 

 One thing he hadn't expected was how much he enjoyed dancing with other boys.  There were 30 boys in his division and all of his classes were with them.  It was endlessly delightful for him to practice only the boy stuff, never having to sit bored on the side while the girls ran pointe combinations.

Of course, even with the fatigue of hard work and the stresses of the week, he never could help himself from dancing through New York.

Or, at the very least, standing in position.

My mom and my sister took such good care of our boy.  There are no words to express how much I love them for doing what they did for him.  But, I'm pretty sure they know without the words.  They love their children the same way I love mine.

Some of these pictures show a little bit of the love they showered on my boy; motherly love that his mother was unable to show because of circumstance.

In addition to getting Isaac where he needed to be, when he needed to be there (no small task), his chaperon's did a fantastic job of making sure they each saw the things that were most important to them.
Lady Liberty at sunset.

A walk across the Brooklyn Bridge

The view from the top of the Empire State Building.

The New York City Public Library.

The Subway.

Another mega-highlight of the trip was this:

They went to see Newsies on Broadway.  I can't tell you how many times Isaac watched this particular musical when he was a child.  He watched it over and over again--long before he ever knew he would become a dancer.  Not only that, but it is a musical set in New York about boys--and all of them dance and sing.  It was a perfect first Broadway experience!

Contemporary Piece:  Awake

Now, as to his dancing and the competition, he did not place.  This was not unexpected and it was a honor just to be invited to NY, but it was disappointing nonetheless.  He danced beautifully and received some helpful critiques, he saw what he was up against, and he left more determined than ever to work hard and be better.  Even though he did not place, he is still counted among the top young dancers in the world.  In addition to the learning experiences listed above, he was offered a couple of very nice scholarships.  We have a lot to think about!

Classical Piece:  Satanella
The week was a success on many levels, but there was one text from Mollie that stood out above them all:
He said a beautiful prayer this morning, asking for a scholarship but also prayed for the other boys that they might do their best too and be happy with their performance.

I want him to succeed in ballet.  I want him to work hard and find achievement in his field.  But more than anything, I want him to be a good and kind person.

I am proud of the man you are becoming, Isaac.

There is more coming up for Isaac.  In June, he will attend the World Ballet Competition in Orlando, FL and then he will attend a 6 week Summer Intensive with the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.  I will keep you posted.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Feeling . . . Not Pregnant

Fifty Things I Can Do Today That I Couldn't Do This Time Last Week
Alright, not really fifty things, but a lot.
  • Wash dishes without soaking my belly.
  • Walk without a pronounced waddle.
  • Sleep on my stomach.  (Well, I could until my milk came in--and will be able to again soon.)
  • Use the restroom at reasonable intervals rather than every ten minutes.
  • See, reach and even paint my toes.
  • Shave.
  • In the checkout line at the grocery store, I can squeeze between the cart and the candy rack.
  • Go one entire night without having to get up to go to the bathroom.  The entire night!
  • Stand without my varicose veins threatening to burst.
  • Turn over in bed.
  • Carry the four year old.
  • Cut my husband's hair without him having to lean far back so I could reach the front of his head.
  • Get out of bed without having to launch myself with my arms.
  • Go to sleep at night without taking my Zantac and Maalox cocktail.
  • Breathe deeply.

Needless to say, I feel much better. . . and so thankful to have this beauty in my arms.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

YAGP: New York Finals

Today was Isaac's first day in New York.  When he competed in San Francisco, he qualified to go to the New York Finals.  It will consist of not only the on-stage competition, but of a series of workshops and scholarship classes.  His first class was this morning.  Here is a cell phone shot through the little window in the door.

The biggest problem with being invited to the finals was that they were scheduled right when we were to have this new precious boy.  
The obvious solution?
Grandma and Aunt Mollie.

For the last couple of months, these two wonderful women have planned and prepped and paid to take Isaac to New York.  Big, big sacrifice for them and their families and we are super grateful for the rescue.

It is a big week!  I'll keep you informed.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Welcoming a Baby Boy

Monday morning was a doctor's appointment where I was told I was dilated to a 3.  That could mean anything because I have walked around for weeks at a 3.  After the doctor, we went to a wilderness area and hiked around for a while--mostly to get out of the house on a beautiful Spring day.  We enjoyed the earliest wildflowers and the smell of the freshly watered green, but not many contractions.  I had reached the point where my anxiety was making things worse and I just needed to get on with it.  I felt as emotionally ready as I could be.

Nothing happened for the rest of the day until at 11 o'clock that night.  We were watching a movie and I was laying on the floor in the only comfortable position available to me.  I felt a trickle of water and thought maybe my water had broken, but tried to ignore it.  After a minute, I realized I couldn't ignore it and got up to check things out.  Then, there was no denying it; water went everywhere.  I immediately went into shock.  My whole body began to quake uncontrollably.  Because we are an hour from the hospital and I have a history of quick labor, we didn't delay things.  My husband gave me a comforting Priesthood blessing where I was told with almost forcibly not to be scared--that everything would be fine.

We left our younger girls in the care of our very capable oldest daughter and left for the hospital.  I shook most of the way and was only just beginning to calm down when we pulled into the parking lot.  Relieved that we didn't deliver on the side of the road and having had virtually no contractions, we decided to sit in the car for a few minutes to gather our wits.  I asked Justin to read me something peaceable.   He read to me about when the Savior visited America.  He read about Jesus Christ praying for the people, healing the sick and blessing the children.  It calmed me and reminded me to put my trust in that same God; I would not be left alone because He loves me the way He loved them.

A minute here to mention my good husband.  He was my hero and knight during this labor.  He exuded a strength and confidence in me and let me borrow that strength when I had no more.  He was patient and kind and THERE, ever there.

We got ourselves into the hospital, gowned, poked, monitored, tested and questioned.  It was now 2 o'clock and I was decidedly not in labor.  That was fine with me because I was exhausted.  We decided to try to rest.  Justin pulled open the squeaky cot and we both settled in.  I slept restlessly for a while.  (What is it about hospitals and not allowing for sleep?  They had a knack for coming in to check on me just as that elusive sleep was coming on.)  A couple of times in the night, I decided to try to get things going.  I tried walking around and doing yoga to no avail.

Finally, at about 8:30, things started picking up.  I did well for a while, but discovered, about the time I thought I had no more in me, that I was only dilated to a 7.  It took every self-talk trick in the book to get myself through the next hour.  (At one point I was in the English countryside--think Sense and Sensibility where Marianne discovered Willoughby.  My baby's heart rate monitor was the thudding of hoofs as horses ran peacefully over the green meadows.  Yes, I was that bad!)  
After the hour, I was still at a 7; I lost all courage and emotional strength.  
My cheering squad had his work cut out for him.

My doctor did some kind of super painful trick and then I was complete.  

It wasn't long before a beautiful boy entered our lives.  

He was bright-eyed and alert from the moment he arrived.  He didn't even cry much, though of course he did do some of that.  Mostly, he just looked around like a wise old man.

It is evident by the fact that the child hasn't been put down since he was born that, like Joseph and Jacob of old, this youngest will rule over the older!  
We are all infatuated and fully in love.
And so happy to have him here.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

He's Here!

We did it.  
There were more than a couple of times when I didn't think I could do, but I did.

Our baby boy is here.
He is perfect and my heart is finally at peace.

More to come . . .

Saturday, April 6, 2013

No Baby Yet--Conference

No baby yet.  This is how I have to start every conversation these days.  Everyone is anxious and, knowing how quickly my labor can sometimes go, expecting an announcement at any moment.

But, no.  No baby yet.

This is General Conference weekend.  The first session started at 9 o'clock this morning.  I promptly  fell asleep--probably had something to do with my being awake from about 3:30-5 earlier this morning.  It is a stormy weekend so the skies are grey and sleepy, the couch soft and comfy.  I acquiesced.

The thing is, Conference is something our family loves and looks forward to with much anticipation.  (It is held bi-annually, in October and April each year.)  I usually prepare special treats, organize conference-centered packets and encourage the children to participate.  Although I had made raspberry pancakes, I hadn't printed off a single worksheet or prepared any other activity.

When I was finally able to rouse myself from my slumber, however, I saw something that gladdened my heart.  (My husband is working today, so this wasn't even done at his suggestion.)  My girls had spread a blanket on the floor of the living room.  In the middle was a tray of snacks--cheese chunks, strawberries, lemonade, et cetera.  There was the bin of crayons and markers, scissors and glue.  The girls had found the conference paper dolls I had cut out last autumn and had remarkably been preserved from that day to this.  They each had notebooks with home-drawn Bingo cards, check lists and sporadic notes.  They had done it all on their own.

We don't do everything right.  In fact, there are probably more things that we do wrong!  But, on this one day, for this one important experience, I discovered that we have done one thing right.  Our girls have learned to love General Conference, our dear Prophet, and teaching spirit that enters our home during the meetings.

The next session is starting.  I'd better end.  I hope that you will tune in with us.

I'll be sure to sit on a hard kitchen chair so I can keep myself awake!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Okay With the Wait

The truth of the matter is, I'm not really ready for the baby.  I mean, I have packed my bags (one for the hospital, another for an emergency car delivery).  I've washed all the newborn clothes, cloths, and blankets.  I have meal plans for the family.  I'm keeping up on laundry and dishes and I've paid the bills for the month.
My body is ready.  I'm not sleeping at night.  My feet look like Aunt Marge's--all puffy and squeezing out of the straps of my sandals.  My esophagus must look like hamburger based on the way my stomach acids think they belong there.  You don't want to know about my varicose veins.  I've gained a record amount of nutrient-rich weight to supply the baby with healthy milk for the next several months.  My breasts look like a road map of blue veins just waiting to produce.  I can't lay on my back because the baby is so large that his weight on my diaphragm prevents sufficient oxygen intake.

The baby is ready.  His head is so far down in my pelvis that I can no longer cross my legs.  My bones are separated to the point that I can't stand on one leg or the whole skeletal structure screams at me to SIT DOWN.  He has hiccups all of the time, loves it when I do yoga and stretches out every once in a while just to remind me that he is out of room.

Heaven knows his sisters are ready for him!  They practice with their dolls every day.

But I am not ready.  I know now that things can go wrong.  I have delivered a lot of babies and it hurts.  I don't want to pay a hospital bill because I'd rather save for a house.  I can't deliver at home because I know now that things can go wrong.  I hate that I'm ruling out medical pain management, even though I've never used it, because it is expensive.  I don't want that scratchy baby monitor around my belly.  I don't want an IV or that too-tight blood pressure cuff that goes off way too frequently.  I don't want florescent lights screaming in my face.  I don't want my son to be so far away when his brother finally comes.

So, even though I am uncomfortable and tired, I'm okay with waiting a bit longer.  I know from other experiences that our Heavenly Father knows what I need and I will trust His timing and methods.  At this point, that faith is the only thing keeping my wits together.

Well, that and leftover Easter candy.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Secular Easter Stuff

We are not above the secular portions of the Easter celebrations.  I usually make my girls their Easter dresses and this year was no exception.  I picked up this pretty floral eyelet, ric rac for the younger girls, and a braided trimming for Eliza.  Then I made what I thought was just a pretty summer dress.  After I finished the first dress, I had my youngest "go run in the meadow" so I could see how it looked.  It was a sunny day and the long, flowing dress was so sweet.  I immediately called my mother.

"Mom, I just finished the girl's Easter dresses and they look exactly like something you could have made for me 30 years ago!"  When I finished my older daughter's dress, I realized they also have a Jane Austen feel.  I guess I'm not very innovative.

The Easter Bunny came too, but I always screw up this part of the holiday.  We never have huge baskets, mostly candy with a small gift for the family (this year it was a mega bucket of sidewalk chalk).  I'd purchased the candy goods several days ago and we hid them in Dad's trunk.  They mostly melted.  We had to be to church by 8:30 and I didn't want those pretty white dresses covered in chocolate bunny before they could even be worn once.  We told the girls that the Easter Bunny must be waiting to come while we were at church.  Is that lame?  I don't know.  Right after church, we headed to my parent's house for dinner.  Turns out, the Easter Bunny knew we were doing that and he hid the goodies in Grandma's yard!  I'm pretty sure the guise behind this holiday figure is rather transparent.  Oh, well.  Still fun.

We hid our three dozen eggs about ten times so everyone had a turn hiding and finding, including my two Down's brothers who needed my girls to be "buddies" to help them locate even the most obvious eggs.  That game never gets old.

My parents were headed out of town for their 41st Anniversary so I lay on their bed and talked while they packed.  I really love my parents and am so thankful to be near them again.  All of the 30 minute drive home, the children asked questions and I told them story after story about my parents' childhoods, how they met and married, about their newly-wed house fire and more.

When we got home, we went through our final Easter devotional and called it a day.

It was a wonderful day, filled with tradition, family, and love with a healthy dose of the Spirit of God.  What a blessed woman.