Sunday, June 30, 2019

It's Good He's My Fourth.

I have a lot of weird fears. One of them was getting married. This isn't a hugely weird fear, because it's pretty understandable why some would be scared of such a long commitment. However, my fear lay in the fact that I felt like the beginning would be great--we were young and fun and fit (ish) and had nothing holding us back! But then we would get old and tired and boring. And be like that for a really long time. And then we would die. In my mind, there was nothing as great as young love!

Speaking of young, look at this AMAZING photo I found of Dan from his younger years. Maybe older is just better for everyone!!

Turns out, old love (shall we call it something better? "Growing love"? "Love in progression"? Barf barf barf. I'm not a cheesy person.) is wwaaaayyyy better than young love. The old and tired and boring thing I was scared of has kinda come true, and it's been for the best. I don't think I realized it as much at the time, but that first year was rough. We disagreed on everything. We still do, but it doesn't bother me anymore. I used to have to Make. A. Point. It was the Principle Of The Thing! Baloney. We had some dramatic fights. I still feel the urge to fight, because unfortunately I'm a hot-tempered type (Dan, on the other hand, is super mellow and everyone likes him better) but now I'm just too tired. My exhaustion has saved me from myself on many occasions. And it's better that way. Plus, while the young love stage was really fun, there wasn't really much skin in the game. Seeing your husband take care of you while you are sick and pregnant four times in 7 years makes you love him so much more. I loved him when we were just starting out, but I feel like he has shown his love to me in a greater measure through his sacrifices these past several years.

Already with the disrespect from this one. The other kids got to him early.

One of my other fears is being a more experienced mom. Perhaps this goes along with the aforementioned fear. I guess I just fear getting old. I've had several friends pregnant at the same time as me this go around, but most of them were having their first child. There's just something different about that first time. It's super tough, but it's a little magical. It's just you and your growing baby. There are no bigger children to take care of while you are sick and while they are constantly fighting, making messes, etc. You think about how you want to parent, the kind of mother you want to be. You might get to spend a lot of time and money on a nursery. You get fussed over at a shower. It's different. I looked at those moms while I was pregnant with Beck, and they always looked so shiny and pretty and new. They had that glow thing people always talk about. I didn't have glow; I had sweat. From carrying a tantrum-ing two year old on TOP of my 8 month prego belly, all the while herding two cats named June and Gwen from place to place in the hot, humid sunshine whilst wearing the same stretched maternity clothes that had seen me through four pregnancies.

Good thing I'm not a whiner or you might really get an earful.


It was at one such outing that another mom approached me at the park the other day, about a week before I had Beck. She was a beautiful, shiny mom with one 17-month old child. I was there with my crew and a friend and her crew. She asked me about all of my kids and then asked if she could ask me a question, because I'm such an "experienced mom".

I could tell that "experienced" meant something so different for her and for me. In her mind, I was experienced because I have four kids. In my mind, ANYONE can have four kids; it doesn't make you good at raising them. In her mind, I must know the tricks of the trade. In my mind, I know absolutely nothing except that with each new kid my standards have continued to slide in a downward fashion. She then told me she wanted my advice. I braced myself. She disclosed to me that her 17-month old had never had any non-homemade food before and that they were flying across the world in a couple of days to see her Greek grandparents (I want to go to Greece so bad), and did I have any thoughts on good, healthy, organic snacks for the plane ride?

No. No I did not.

Luckily, my friend Chrissy was there was me, and she's very good about that sort of thing and had lots of suggestions.

I managed to keep my thoughts to myself, which were--I feed my kids whatever they want pretty much whenever they want and ESPECIALLY on a plane ride. Chocolate chips off the floor? Sure. If you're not crying, I'm not crying!!

Maybe I'll still cry a little. Pass the chocolate chips.

ANY.

WAY.

All this to say,--my irrational fears have turned out to be . . . well, irrational. I'm so glad I'm on my fourth kid and not my first. Even though I don't have the high standards I used to have and wish I still did a lot of the time. Yes, it's harder with all of the other crazy kids running around. Yes, I'm tired and getting up in the middle of the night is SO hard for me. Way harder now that I have done it this many times.

BUT.

I am also not freaking out about every little noise Beck makes. I'm not super concerned that Harris has turned into a sociopath because I know it's a phase. I have enjoyed seeing June and Gwen love on Beck and have loved watching them put his pacifier back in his mouth ("suckifier" according to June and "suck-thumb" according to my thumb-sucker, Gwen).

SO MUCH CRAFT TIME THIS SUMMER. It's been good, but the clean-up is brutal.

Also, I was super scared of having a newborn baby at the start of the summer. Because everyone is home. And you know what? It's been great. I decided NOT to listen to the school and kept June home from summer school because I didn't want to have to rush her out the door early in the morning. And for once, I feel like I made the right decision! It's been a very chill summer. Lots of playing outside and inside and some tv watching and some movie watching, and it's actually been good. I don't want my life to be like this forever, but I definitely want it to be like this for now.

Painting nails after baths on Saturday night.
And this morning's church photos:


I tried to do something cool with Gwen's hair. Unfortunately, she still has tons of short pieces from she gave herself a cut earlier in the year. I'm hoping those bad boys are tamed by the time school starts in September.


I had June sleep in wet braids so that her hair would be crinkly. It's a go-to for me because I still have never curled my girls' hair with a curling iron. This seems easier and still produces some wave.


Harris refused to take a real photo, so this is as good as it gets. What a pill. I love you, my little pill!



The End.


Monday, June 24, 2019

Last Day of School!!!

June's last day of school was Friday. It was a really rainy day.


The world was crying. 

First day of first grade:



And the last:


Man, it takes a long time to grow out bangs!!! Let this be a reminder to all of your--friends don't let friends cut bangs.

I have been nervous about this summer. That is the understatement of the century. New baby, not being able to swim myself for six weeks, being warned again and again by docs not to take baby many places because of measles and other outbreaks, etc makes for a crazy and antsy mama. I am a homebody, but staying home only feels good after you've been able to be out and about for a bit.

So these past few weeks, I stocked up on every little dumb Target and Aldi craft thingy they had on sale and loaded up our bookshelves with art supplies.


June's teachers sent home THREE fat packets of optional summer homework. I really hope we don't get that desperate. Homework is the worst.

I also bought the complete Ramona Quimby book set, and we read them every night. We're already on book three, Ramona the Brave.

Today, I was feeling a little daring, and so we ventured out to the park down the street. I told everyone we would only be able go for a quick jaunt. Well, there were bugs EVERYWHERE, and I didn't want Baby Beck to get eaten. So I gave Gwen and Harris each a few pushes in the swing and announced it was time to go. All three older kids promised me that they understood we could only go to the park if they would listen and obey when I said it was time to go. June and Gwen did well with this, but of course Harris only promised under duress and not understanding at all what I was making him promise. He kicked and screamed, and I had to carry him out of the park, all while June and Gwen tried to steer the stroller with Baby Beck themselves. This resulted in the stroller nearly careening off the path and into the woods multiple times. 

What a rejuvenating experience!!!

So, like my previous experiences with newborns, it isn't the baby that is the hard part, it is the toddler above the baby that is the struggle.

Harris has flipped out. He is still sweet a lot, but he's also crazy a lot. I made lunch for him to his exact specifications yesterday, and he threw it across the kitchen. We've been trying to spend more time with him, but he's also been spending more time in time out. Fun for everyone.

On a more fun note, Dan was home with us last week, and he went to the library and checked out Toy Story 1 through 3. Each night, the family would watch one.



What a weirdo.

Then Friday afternoon, Dan took the girls to see the new Toy Story 4. Of course, I had a terrible mix-up with Fandango, and they didn't issue our tickets correctly. So then Dan and the girls had to come back home, and there were many tears. I worked out the issues with Fandango, and the crew was able to set out Saturday morning to really see the movie. Hint: If you can find a 10:00 a.m. showing of a movie, it's only $6 a ticket. I find this exciting.



June made that visor her last day of school, and it has accompanied us many places. It's her "summer hat".

And that is Gwen's caterpillar. He lost a foot, and there has been a lot of mourning ever since.

We've also taught the girls to play checkers, and it is a delight/torture to play with them. June likes to talk through each move THOROUGHLY, and if you do jump one of her guys, she always yells out "OOPSA DOOPSA!"


I don't know why.

And of course, this love continues to grow. So sweet. Hope it lasts forever.


I just checked, and only 29834729837 days of summer left. Hope my craft supplies last.

The End.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Beck Douglas Jolley.

I had a baby last week.

I don't mean for that to sound cavalier. It should read--I had a BABY! LAST! WEEK!

I'm always impatient through my pregnancies. I think things like "Get this baby outta me!" "This is terrible! I am so uncomfortable! I can't sleep!"

And everyone hears about it. 

And then I approach 38ish weeks, and I panic. "I'm not ready! What are we going to do with this baby? What if he doesn't sleep? I can barely take care of the three I have!!"

It must be fun to live with me. My personality is a calm, serene landscape on which my children paint their childhood.

What.

I will say that I was given the "Emotional Rollercoaster" award by one of my teachers in eighth grade, and it really hurt my feelings. But she was right on.

ANYWAY. BABY! BABY! BABY!



My mother came into town for the event. I have waxed poetic about this before, but my mom is the best. She is tireless. When she comes, she plays with the kids nonstop, makes tons of food and does laundry. And does it all again the next day. And day after that. She usually comes for a few days, and I don't feel so bad for zapping all of her energy. But this trip my baby didn't come when we thought he would so she had to extend her trip. She spent 28934723 consecutive days with my kids and was nonstop fun the whole time. I don't know how she does it. I honestly worried about her falling asleep on her plane ride home and never waking up and ending up in the Bahamas. Which would be awesome. But then she would realize how terrible it is to stay with us and never come back.


This is a picture of my children looking genuinely happy to take a Sunday morning picture for the first time ever. Because they are with Grandma Sandy.

Since Baby didn't come when we thought he would, I was induced June 13th. I was a nervous wreck the whole time. My first two deliveries went really well, but you may recall that Harris flew out of my like a bullet and I was a screaming banshee with no chance for an epidural, and it was awful. Many people wonder if I wanted to go natural again because I did it last time. Nooooooooo.

So even though I knew I was getting induced and would have time for the epidural, I was so nervous. We arrived at the hospital, and the attendant told us to go into Delivery Room #6.

The same room we delivered Harris in.

It looked a little different this time because I wasn't shrieking and shaking and my face wasn't numb from hyperventilating. Two med students came in and talked to me for awhile, and everything was pleasant enough. 

The doc started me on the pitocin, the other doc started me on the epidural, and then I felt at peace. The epidural is my happy place.

Suddenly. I felt extremely nauseated. I told one of the med students, who handed my a barf bag and told me that it was common to throw up during child birth.  And then the doctor came running in, looked at the monitor, ordered the nurse to put an oxygen mask on me and said we were going to push the baby out now.

I knew something was wrong, but no one was talking to me. The doctor was busy directing everyone.

Side note. I have the best doctor. He has delivered 8,000 babies, and he knows everything. So I knew we were in good hands, and he would tell me what's up when things were in a place where he could.

I heard him order the vacuum, and I heard him use it. He told me to push, push, push. 

It was all over in 7 minutes, and we had our beautiful baby. The doctor actually told me to pull him out myself. I have never done that before, and I was overwhelmed. But I leaned forward, grabbed the guy and pulled him out. Amazing.

Then I found out that my blood pressure had dropped, which caused the baby's heart rate to drop, and the doc, in trying to prevent me from having a c-section, had me push him out at only 8 cm. He said he knew he could work with the cervix to get the baby out since this was my fourth one. He used the vacuum to get the baby to drop fast ("It was like watching an elevator descend!" said one nurse. "I've never seen anyone drop that fast!"), and worked his magic while I pushed.

This is why I like having the guy who has delivered 8,000 babies. I asked him how many times he had done that, and he said "once, about 25 years ago." Wowsers.


NINE pounds, two ounces. Our biggest baby. It's not a contest, guys!!!


Beck (my maiden name) Douglas (my father) Jolley ("Dan, you're THE father"--Maury Povich)


The next day, the kids came up for a visit. 


June is in LOVE. Gwen is in LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE. Harris in toleration.


I often catch Gwen watching Beck in the swing. So sweet. She loves helping with him.


Harris points and says "BABY BECK!" all of the time. But if you ask him if he wants to kiss or hug or touch or be in the same vicinity as Beck, he shakes his head and screams "NOOOOOOOOO!" Considering the gentle nature of most 2 year olds, it's probably for the best.

The End.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

This Week Was All About Gwen.

Gwen, the middliest middle child ever, had a LOT going on this week. I was happy for her. She needed it.

When we moved here two years ago, I signed Gwen up for a kindermusick class at our town's community center. Miss Cindy leads the group, and she and Gwen had an instant connection. Since we decided not to put Gwen in any sort of preschool, we kept signing her up for session after session of kindermusick. She knows all of the songs and instruments, and she always gets excited to go.

Miss Cindy has never had a kid stay in her class as long as Gwen has, though Gwen's friend Vinny started coming about a year ago consistently. Miss Cindy made up certificates for each of them at this last Thursday's class, as it marked their last class ever before starting kindergarten in the fall.


"Hold your certificate to your chest so that I can see it, Gwen! And smile!"

No and no? Okay then. That's my Gwen.

Later that day, I took Gwen to her kindergarten orientation. She was SUPER STOKED about this because she cannot wait to go to school. She thinks she is riding the bus (she's not), and she thinks she will be in the same class as June (she won't), and every time we discuss those two points, she cries. Should be a fun September!

This pic below is Gwen waiting in line to get inside the cafetorium (is that a real word because I have only ever heard it called that here) so that we could get our name tags and itineraries. She thought the wait (at most 5 minutes) was terribly long.


But I was grateful for the extra time because it allowed me to examine this weird mural on the wall of the school. It's a nature scene, but for some reason this beaver is holding a ruler.
Lest you think there were other animals with school supplies, alas there were not. Lots of other animals but no school supplies. Just this beaver. I guess he's going to measure that stick. I don't think beavers do that.

Gwen got to go on a school bus ride with the other kindergartners, which will only make the fact that she doesn't get to ride it all the harder. (I wish she could, but June's no longer eligible for the bus so it won't make sense to put one kid on the bus and take the other to school.)

While all of the kindergartners were on the bus ride, we got a big talk from the principal and kindergarten teachers and nurse about not sending our kids to school naked and with lunch boxes full of sour patch kids and with lice and ticks and fleas. Lots of parents around me were taking copious notes, and I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I was just grateful to be there and able to sit on a metal chair with my 4835974 pound baby inside of me without keeling over.

I may be a little cranky.

It's like today when my wonderful bishop asked me how I am feeling (because my pregnant belly almost knocked out three people as I entered the chapel). I told him I'm at the murderous rage stage of pregnancy, and then I told my sweet bishop--who is 6 foot 4 inches and played for the NFL--that if he needed anyone "dealt with" today, that he could send them to me. He chuckled a little, albeit nervously.

He's really great, and I hope he doesn't remember me this way.

Wasn't this post about Gwen? How did I end up talking about myself? Weird.

Anyway, Gwen loved being with the other kids but was dismayed when it was all over in an hour because she didn't have time to make any friends. She thought we were going to stay all day and that school was officially starting for her.

I really do talk to her about things and explain things but to no avail.

And then this weekend, we had Gwen's huge dance recital!!!

Gwen's feelings toward dance have been hot and cold, to say the least. She was so excited to sign up, so excited for the leotard and tutu and tap shoes and ballet shoes and all that.

But, as every kid finds out immediately after starting dance, piano, whathaveyou--practicing something is not fun. Listening and following directions--not fun.

So it was a bit of a battle to get her to go some weeks, which makes me wonder what I am doing. Why are we paying for this?

I told her we at least had to get through the show.

For the first time, I put some makeup on her.



And we went to the dress rehearsal.


And then did it all over again the next night for the performance.



She was in two numbers, one tap and one ballet. Dan has never seen her practice or anything, so it was fun for me to watch him watch her. He may or may not have shed some tears during "On The Good Ship Lollipop". She was really good during that one.


I didn't know how she was going to do because her attitude is kinda stinky sometimes, but she lit up while on the stage. She was excited and happy and dynamic. It was fun to watch her. And yes, all of those girls are doing different moves in that picture, and yes they are all supposed to be doing the same moves. I guess that's dance for four year olds.

And here's Gwen, front and center for the grand finale.


She was beaming when it was over. She told me she loved being on stage, and she loved watching the older girls dance when it was their turn. I gave her a rose, and she really had a Sally Field "you like me, you really like me!" moment for the rest of the evening.

So are we going to continue with dance? I don't know. She also wants to try soccer (which I know she would love a lot--lots of aggression in that one), so we will see what we decide in the fall. I don't want to have a 5 year old in a thousand activities.

And here are all of the kids ready for church this morning.


I finally get a good picture of the three of them--and an empty diaper box!

All of my dreams are coming true.

The End.