Sunday, May 7, 2017

Springtime for Garretts

The past few months have been quite the mental and emotional roller coaster for us. We have known since last year that this would be our final year in Utah (long story short, it is due to teacher licensing issues). However, we never felt we would be here for a very long time, even though we felt it necessary for us to move here 3 years ago for some reason. We weren't expecting to be moving quite yet- thought we had another year or two at least here, but plans change when there are some things that are out of your control. We have been applying for jobs the past couple months, but weren't quite sure where we needed to go next. I had a few job offers come through, and Nate ended up with a job offer in the same place as me- but we turned it down, because it just didn't feel right (it was on the northern Californian coast in the Redwoods, FYI). We resigned our positions for the end of the year with the Granite School District and put our house up for sale (and it went under contract within a couple hours after zero showings) with no idea where we would be going, but we knew we had to leave. So, a couple other job offers came through for me, but we were really torn between which we should choose. We had it in our mind for nearly the past year of a place we wanted to go- it was familiar, close to family and friends, next to Oregon, and just seemed like a good idea. However, I always had this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that things may not work out the way we expected. So after lots of back and forth and angst about the right decision, we made it. I did not expecting to be announcing this but..........................





Hee hee




Keep going







It's a good one....






We are moving to Stuttgart, Germany in August! I accepted a position as an SLP assessor for DODEA. I'll be based out of Panzer Kaserne military base assessing at a few of the schools at the 4 bases in Stuttgart. We are SO EXCITED! I went to Germany once in high school, and have been wanting to go back there ever since. I even took German in high school (though at this point, my German skills have kind of gone down the toilet. I still remember the "Ich bin ich" song from German 1, though, so I am a rock star at asking people their name.) Looks like Nate will have a 4th language to add to his list within the next few years. It's a 2 year contract, and at the end of 2 years, DODEA decides if they want to keep me or not, and then if we decide to do another contract, they fly us home for the summer and then we go back for another two years. Otherwise, we just get move back home to our home of record. Come visit us! After we get our permanent quarters, which will be off-base in a house somewhere. We're planning on taking the kids to Disneyland Paris sometime next year (spring break, maybe) as a "sorry we dragged you across the ocean even farther away from family" thing, so hit me up if you want to join us. Paris is only 6 hours from where we will be living, and we'll also be just 2 hours from Switzerland. Assuming our house closes as scheduled, then we'll be living with my mom in Eugene the majority of the summer after we hit up Boise and possibly do a Seattle trip- so you can come visit us there, too, before we leave! Oregon has pretty awesome summers, so I'm pretty excited about that. If anyone has any good advice for relocating to Europe- please share! We're trying to figure out what to take and get rid of and the power converter/transformer/plug adapter thing. Possibly will be taking a trip to Costco to stock up on peanut butter, too.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Very Garrett Christmas

I was more on top of things this year, being as I am not 8 months pregnant this Christmas, but still couldn't quite get it together to send Christmas cards to anyone other than immediate family. But I still had it together enough to write a Christmas blog post, much like a Christmas letter, except this time you don't have to throw it away when you are done reading it. I'm saving the world, man, so maybe this will become a tradition. I really do enjoy reading family letters and reading about goings on in other people's lives, so I decided to share the love. Plus, this way you can see more photos, like this awesome family photo in front of our chicken-less chicken coop:

One major thing that happened this year was that we bought our first house. It's located in Taylorsville, just a few miles outside of Salt Lake City. The location is perfect for us- it is so easy to get anywhere in the valley. The schools I work at are only 5 minutes away, and although Nate's commute increased slightly, it's still only 17 minutes. This next year, we are planning on planting an epic garden and are considering getting chickens for the chicken coop. We can't have furry pets because Madelynn is horribly allergic to pretty much anything with fur, so she has been asking us for a pet chicken.

 The most noteworthy thing that happened this year was that we added a new member to our family. Rhys Nowlin Garrett was born on Valentine's Day, and was 7 lb 14 oz and 21 inches long.

He completed our family, which is both exciting and a little bit sad as well knowing that we're done having babies, but after a difficult recovery and being away from family, I don't really want to go through that again.
Rhys is 10 months old, and is starting to walk. He loves to climb all over Daddy, eat, play with his older siblings, eat, go on walks in his stroller,climb in boxes, playing along with music on random instruments, eat, laugh, babble, eat, play with cords, and eat some more. He is our best eater, and our chunkiest baby. The other two were always pretty long and skinny babies, so having a roly poly baby is a new and fun experience. Ironically, he also has a really severe food allergy as well called Food Protein-Induced Entercolitis Syndrome (FPIES) and is on a severely restricted diet until we can begin slowly introducing new foods when he is 1.

Ian began his 2nd year of preschool this year and is 4. He loves being able to go 4 days a week now instead of 2 like he did last year. His favorite thing at school is playing on the playground. Ian loves to play with cars and trains and dressing up like Spiderman. One day I came home from work on a break to nurse the baby, and found Ian lying on the ground in his Spiderman costume, wearing his Spiderman backpack and Spiderman shoes, and coloring on his Spiderman dry erase board. He also loves to help mom cook (especially bake because it's fun to taste the batter), building forts, playing with play-dough and coloring. He started playing rec league soccer this year, and absolutely loves it. He scored his first goal..... well, okay, his first goal going the right direction just this past week.

Madelynn started 1st grade this year and will be 7 at the beginning of January. She is excelling in all subjects at school, though I'm pretty sure her favorite is recess. She's extremely friendly and social, and sometimes gets a bit too chatty in class. She says her favorite things at school are lunchtime, recess, and going on iPods for math. She started dancing at a new studio and recently had her Christmas Dance Recital where she rocked it. Madelynn loves drawing, making crafts, and anything related to Descandants (Evie is her favorite.) She is amazingly talented at drawing- this is what she drew just from watching youtube videos:
Madelynn recently began taking piano lessons from Mommy just a few months ago and likes it, although she doesn't willingly practice on her own. She is also a great helper with her baby brother, which is great when Mom wants to take a shower or eat food without being climbed on.

I (Emily) am still working half-time in the local school district as a Speech-Language Pathologist with preschoolers. I love my job, and I love that my schedule is flexible and allows me to nurse Rhys and take Ian to school in the middle of the day. I haven't had much time for hobbies between work, moving, and raising 3 kids, but I do still play the piano when I'm able to and will begin playing the organ for church in January. I like to plan fun outings with the family and try new places for food and adventures. Honestly, one of my favorite things to do right now is to just sit down and snuggle with my kids. I know that it won't be long before they won't want to hold my hand or snuggle or acknowledge me in public, so I'm taking what I can get.

Nate is in his 2nd year of teaching at Cyprus High School. This year, he is teaching all upper-level Spanish classes and is head of the Spanish program since the previous head retired last year. He coached JV girls soccer again this fall, and is now coaching Sophomore girls basketball, which is great because basketball is a big passion and he's always wanted to coach basketball. He continues to have an ever-improving Christmas sweater that he wears to school once a year with some epic facial hair to go with it. He won the ugly Christmas sweater contest this year at work (and also a salsa-making contest earlier this year) and was trending on instagram at his school that day. Alas, we do not have any photos at the moment of him in his Christmas sweater, but you can see how he wore his facial hair to school. He's planning a trip for students next school year during Spring break to Spain and Italy, so he's started learning Italian. I'm pretty excited about it as well, because I'm planning on going as a chaperone, so I suppose I should brush up on my Spanish. A lot. Or just be glad that Nate speaks multiple languages and hope that I never get separated from him while traveling.

We are feeling much more comfortable living here in Utah now, and finding lots of fun things to do and meeting some great people. We're planning some fun shenanigans for the coming year and looking forward to having more visitors!


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Valentine's Day Story

I've never been a big fan of Valentine's Day. I'm not particularly fond of the candy, pink and red aren't my favorite colors, and the idea of dedicating an entire day to "show someone you love them" aka "feel obligated to buy presents for your significant other/classmates/children". It's always been just another over-commercialized holiday of pointlessness for me. Plus, I remember how bad it felt to be in school and see other girls getting a dozen roses/chocolates/teddy bears/balloons/25 lolligrams delivered during class. In fact, the first time I remember this happening was in 3rd grade when a girl that apparently multiple boys in the class were in love with (who was a very nice girl, by the way) all brought her big boxes of chocolates for valentine's day while the rest of us settled for power ranger valentine's with a hershey kiss taped to it. THIRD GRADE!  (Disclosure: this was right after we had moved to Utah- this weirdness never happened at my elementary school in Washington) And also- how did these 8 year old boys end up with those things in the first place to give to the girl of their dreams? In middle school, it got worse. If you were "going out" with someone, then that meant that your "boyfriend" would have to send you something huge to be delivered during class so that all the "single girls" could feel bad about being total losers because they had no relationship experience at the ripe old age of...... 11.
However, with recent events, I am now a huge fan of Valentine's Day, because it will now involve birthday cake and a cute little stinkbug to celebrate! Rhys Nowlin Garrett was born Feb 14, 2015 at 12:08 pm. So here is his birth story:
My due date was Feb 21, and I was planning on trying to let things start naturally and then get induced the next week if things didn't start on their own. But, then my OB informed me that he would be out of town the week before and the week after my due date, which meant if I wanted him to be the one to deliver my baby, I would have to schedule an induction for Valentine's/President's Day weekend, when he was on call. I wasn't too thrilled about the idea of being induced a week before my due date, but I also wasn't a fan of the idea of a stranger delivering my baby, either. I wanted to be familiar with at least one medical professional in the room while giving birth, considering that we know very few people here in the first place and I just wanted some semblance of familiarity. I felt a little unsure about my decision at first, but that last week before he was born, I was so miserable that I just wanted him OUT and I didn't care how he got here.
The morning arrived, and we had to be at the hospital at 6:30. We were able to find someone to watch the kids for the day, and after they arrived, we headed over to Jordan Valley Medical Center. When we arrived, I realized that a lot of babies had decided to make their appearance that day, so it was totally insane. But, since Utah is a popular place for baby-making, there were a zillion rooms and the nurses on hand seemed to have things under control, though some people did have to get called in.
I did the usual strip down and put on the beautiful hospital gown and band for the monitor to be put on my belly, then waited for the pitocin drip. The nurse had a hard time getting any of my veins to pop out, and had to settle with jamming the needle in my left hand, which wasn't particularly comfortable. It was also at an awkward angle and I had to keep my hand in a fist for hours in order for things to flow through, so that wasn't so fun. Pitocin has never bothered me much, so I just hung out and hoped it would help get things going. I was already dilated to a 4, so I wasn't too concerned about things not progressing- I knew once my water broke that things would get crazy. While I was in the room, I started feeling really guilty about making the baby be born when he wasn't quite ready. And then I started thinking about all of the family members that had passed away before him that he would never know and how my mother would be the only grandparent he would ever really know, and I started to cry. I was such an emotional wreck for the first few hours, but Nate was great at comforting me and holding me. I was squeezing him pretty hard while getting the epidural, so I'm glad I didn't break anything.
 After being on the pitocin for an hour or two, I had progressed to a 5, and then I was informed that if I had any hopes of getting an epidural, I better get one now because of some possible emergency c-sections from other patients that were being anticipated. So the anesthesiologist showed up, did his thing, and just like with Ian, I was able to move my legs this time, though my right side was a bit excessively numbed and I didn't have much control. Still, it was pretty effective for pain. The doctor showed up, broke my water, then disappeared. I think he was in there for maybe 5 minutes. Then I sat back and waited for things to happen. I felt all of the contractions, but they didn't hurt, so I wasn't doing too bad. A couple hour later, a new nurse showed up- the one I started with was assisting with a delivery, and this nurse had gotten called in on her day off. I liked her, so it didn't bother me. She checked me, and I had only progressed to a 6, so I was a bit disappointed that. She also noticed that there was a little bit of meconium in the amniotic fluid, and suddenly any guilt I had felt about making the baby come a week early disappeared. She helped turn my on my left side because I was getting uncomfortable, then turned up the pitocin drip to help progress things along. Almost immediately after she left, I started feeling intense pain in my abdomen every time I had a contraction. I was surprised that I could feel it, and it was extremely painful. I tried to breathe through it, but it was so awful that I hit the button on my epidural to give me more meds. Even after 10-15 minutes, I was still feeling awful, so I tried turning back on my back and that helped. The nurse came in a few minutes later, and when I told her the pain I had been feeling, she got an interesting look on her face, then decided to check me. And what do you know, not only was I already to a 10, all that pain had been my body pushing the baby through- he was nearly crowning at that point, so they went to find the doctor, brought the people from the nursery in, and one contraction later, Rhys was out. I felt nothing while I was pushing, which was surprising, because I had the same type of epidural with Ian and when he crowned, the pain was excruciating. But not this time- Rhys pretty much fell out.

He wasn't crying at first, but was all purple and trying to cry. As soon as the doctor suctioned him, he took a huge breath and wailed. And didn't stop screaming for an hour. He had a lot of amniotic fluid in him because he was in the birth canal for such a short period of time that it didn't have a chance to get squeezed out, so we spent the next hour alternating between trying to calm him and get him to nurse and suctioning crud out of his throat. I was hoping to hold him for a while immediately after he was born before he was cleaned up and weighed, but he was only placed on my chest for 1-2 minutes, then whisked off to the side. I have no idea if it was necessary, if there was something they were concerned about, or if they just didn't care and were trying to just do their "thing" and then bolt. It was difficult to be stuck in the bed while I was watching them take care of my new baby that I had barely been able to touch. Rhys was 7 lb, 14 oz, and 21 inches long- long and skinny just like my babies tend to be. Then suddenly, everyone just took off and we were left on our own for the next hour attempting to take care of our angry screaming newborn. I was eventually able to get him to nurse, and he calmed down, but as soon as it was time for me to move to the new room, since at this hospital labor and delivery were done in a separate room and then you were moved to a different room to recover a couple hours after delivery, Rhys was taken to the nursery for a bath and whatever else they were doing, and I was wheeled down the hall to the new room after I quickly scarfed down the lunch I had ordered. Had this been my first baby, I would have said it would have been a terrible experience, but considering that this was my 3rd, I didn't care too much because we already knew what we were doing and it didn't bother me too much that I felt like I was in a baby factory. When Madelynn was born, there was only me and one other woman having babies that day, so it was a slightly different experience having a baby in a hospital with a zillion other mommies.
Things calmed down once I was moved to the other room and I was able to rest. Sort of. If you've never given birth before, one thing that is rather awful is that the nurses come in regularly to pummel your belly to help the uterus contract down and also check to see if there is any major clotting. There was. Grapefruit-sized. 2-3 times. Not good. I was getting a bit nervous, and the nurses were also a bit concerned about the amount of bleeding and clotting, so I was given methrogen. Fortunately, that quickly slowed down the bleeding and clotting, and I was fine after that, but it was still a bit scary. It also meant that I had to be hooked up to the pitocin for a little bit longer to help contract thing back down, so that was a bummer because I really wanted to take a shower and was really annoyed at trying to maneuver to go to the bathroom with that dang IV tree following me, and trying to hold Rhys with the IV in the way.  
A few hours later, Nate went and picked up the kids to bring the to the hospital to meet their new brother. They were ecstatic, and Madelynn wanted to hold him all the time. Ian was intrigued, but didn't want to hold his new brother just yet, which was just as well, because he was sick. After dinner, Nate took the kids to a friends house to stay the night so he could stay with me at the hospital, but they only lasted a few hours before having total meltdowns, so Nate had to go pick them up and take them home, which meant I was on my own. I ended up having the nurses just keep Rhys in the nursery most of the time and just bring him in to feed, because I was exhausted and also wanted them to keep an eye on him because he was still gagging and choking on fluid. They ended up suctioning his stomach, which I figured would happen, and after that he was totally fine. Nate showed up with the kids the next day, and we just hung out in my room until I was given the okay to go home. I was healing well, Rhys was fine, and I had no desire to spend another night in the hospital by myself. Once we arrived home, it was probably the only time I was grateful for living in an apartment because it meant less to take care of.
We are so excited that little Rhys joined our family; now we feel complete. I'm done having babies if I can help it!

 Rhys hardly opened his eyes the first few days. When he did, this was as wide as he would open them.
               Ian's first time holding his new brother. He's not quite sure what to make of him.

                                   Madelynn wants to hold her baby brother all the time.

                                                                   Rhys at 2 weeks old

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Inducing Labor

      After my last appointment at the OB, I learned that I would have to make a decision about whether or not to be induced soon, and have to decide before Valentine's day. I'm a bit torn in making this decision, even though I was induced with my other two children and honestly, both of them were good experiences. The first time I was pregnant, I wasn't sure exactly how I wanted things to go. I considered attempting natural, but wanted the option of having pain relief if it got too bad. I figured I would just go into labor, then decide what to do as things progressed. Of course, as I got farther along in pregnancy, the idea of having an all-natural birth sounded horrible with as awful as I was feeling, and the idea of an epidural sounded lovely.
    When I was pregnant with Madelynn, I started having pre-term labor. At 28 weeks, it was discovered that I was already over 50% effaced and was having contractions that eventually brought it to nearly 75%.... or something like that. That was over 6 years ago- I can't remember the exact numbers, but basically it was quite concerning. I was put on modified bedrest and couldn't go to work for 3 months, and also put on medication to stop the contractions. Fortunately, where I worked had a sick leave bank that I qualified for and was able to continue getting benefits and pay during this time. My doctor was absolutely positive that she would be born a few weeks early, and was just trying to get me to 36 weeks before delivering. And then my body decided "just kidding, I'm not going to go into labor on my own." Given the issues I had during that pregnancy, my doctor was nervous about letting me go past my due date, so I was induced on my due date. By that point, I was already 100% effaced and 2-3 cm dilated with regular contractions, so it really wasn't a big deal. Every single mother I had talked to about induction told me it was absolutely horrible and to avoid it if it at all possible. But it wasn't bad at all- I had been having regular contractions for so long, that the increased ones from the Pitocin didn't even hurt, I would just have to stop walking around to catch my breath when a bigger one would come on. It is also worth mentioning that this particular winter was one with absolutely horrible snow and ice storms that shut school down for over a week, and the day she was born was the only day that the roads were in decent shape, so we didn't have to chain up the car and drive down from the top of the hill we lived on. Anyway, basically the entire birth was fine, other than my epidural being TOO effective, requiring forceps because she refused to come out. Recovery was pretty harsh, but the experience in the hospital was delightful.
     When I was pregnant with Ian, I was monitored closely to watch for signs of pre-term labor. I had a bit of a scare at about 26 weeks when I started randomly bleeding and contracting, but no cause was ever discovered, and I was just put on modified activity for a couple of months to be safe, but I never had the problems I had with my first pregnancy. At this same time, my dad was dying of cancer. I knew it was likely that he would never meet his grandson, but hoped that he might miraculously live just long enough to see him. My dad and I spent a lot of time wearing our matching sea-bands to help with the nausea, and I found it ironic that we were both feeling horrible, but knew that the end results would be completely opposite. It's definitely easier to deal with feeling horrible when you know that it will eventually get better and the results would be with it, as opposed to knowing it would just get worse and lead to a terrible outcome. As my due date approached and my dad just got worse and worse, I knew that time was of the essence. There was no medical reason for me to be induced with Ian, but I told my doctor that I insisted on being induced if Ian still wasn't here 5 days after his due date, which is when I ended up having him. I was already 4 cm dilated when I went in, and so getting to the point of active labor wasn't terribly difficult. Ian was born after only a few hours of being in the hospital- I couldn't believe how fast he came! 10 minutes of pushing and BAM, hello world. It was pretty awesome, and then I was immediately put on anti-depressants, because HELLO, given that I had severe post-partum anxiety with Madelynn and didn't even know if I would make it out of the hospital before my dad died, it was clearly necessary. For the record, I healed remarkably quickly with him and was able to leave the hospital the very next day. My dad ended up dying just hours after we put Ian in his arms, and I absolutely do not regret the decision to be induced. I knew he was holding on just so he could meet him, and every day that I remained pregnant was one more day of him being in excruciating pain.
    So this time, I have absolutely no medical reason to be induced and no one on the verge of death (because the person that traded places with this baby died at the beginning of this pregnancy- I can only have babies if someone in my family dies. Seriously.) The kicker with this? My OB is going to be out of town a few days before my due date and the next week after. He won't let me go past 41 weeks (and I won't let me go past 41 weeks, given how Ian was already a bit "overcooked" so to speak with only 5 days past his due date, so we're in agreement.) Which leaves me with two options- wait for my body to go into labor naturally, knowing that there's a strong possibility of waiting longer than I am comfortable with to have the baby and having a complete stranger deliver him, or be induced a week before my due date. I'm already dilated to 4 and having quite a few contractions, so inducing labor wouldn't be a problem, but I've never been induced before I was due. Yes, I know it seems that being at 4 and having lots of contractions would mean I would be having this baby within the next week, but alas, my last two babies were the same way, so I just got to spend multiple weeks having contractions all the time and slowly dilating. To be honest, I will probably end up electing to be induced valentine's day weekend. Why? For one, we don't have much of a support system here. If we were back in Eugene, there's a zillion people I could call to help. We know of a couple people here we can call to help watch the kids, but it's not a guarantee that we will be able to get a hold of them at the drop of a hat- especially if I go into labor at 3 in the morning. Which would mean we would potentially have to drag the kids to the hospital and traumatize them. They've spent enough time in hospitals being traumatized; especially Madelynn. Also, it would be nice to have at least one familiar medical professional at the birth. I am also feeling pretty awful now- two bouts of viruses with only 3 days respite in between has worn me down, the pelvic pain is relentless, the reflux is constant whether I'm standing up or lying down, and now I'm getting shooting pains down the front of my right thigh, so the idea of having one less week of being pregnant sounds pretty sweet. I also miss being able to breathe comfortably through my nose. Neither onption is ideal, but we just don't have as many options here. Well, either way, I think I will start eating lots of fresh pineapple and Indian food. If it doesn't do anything to help things along, at least it's delicious. On a final note, I know that everyone has strong opinions one way or the other about the "right", and if you give yours telling me what to do, I will probably be annoyed and ignore it. I just want this baby to get here safely, whether he falls out on his own or requires assistance. Whether or not you had your baby in a magical waterfall surrounded by fairies or had a c-section, I don't have strong opinions either way and just hope that you didn't have a terrible experience.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

When the kids are in bed, you eat chocolate pudding and write a blog post.

With the arrival of baby #3 getting closer, I haven't felt like doing much of anything. If you actually look forward to reading either of my blogs, I apologize that they will be few and far between for the next while. If you hate my writing, then you probably aren't reading this anyway.
    My due date is exactly 4 weeks from today- Feb 21. I'm feeling relatively good, considering that I'm over 8 months pregnant. Eating pretty much whatever I feel like, mostly because I have horrendous acid reflux that is ever present and constant no matter what I do or eat. Pepcid no longer works and sometimes makes it work. Tums have surprisingly been more effective. I really do not like being pregnant, and have been pleased to see articles popping up around the place written by other women who also hate being pregnant. I love the results, which is why I'm doing this for the third time, but the idea of doing this after this little guy makes his appearance sounds horrendous. The putting on weight and getting a huge belly doesn't really bother me so much; it's everything that goes along with it that I don't like. I decided to make my own list of what I hate about being pregnant:
-the pelvic pain: not everyone experiences this, but for me, it's pretty much like someone is taking a jackhammer to my pelvis constantly. It got nearly unbearable a few weeks ago, and I could hardly walk for a few days. I almost though I was going into labor early with as bad as it hurt, but fortunately it improved slightly after a few days. It's worse at night- getting out of bed to pee every 2 hours (or less) is quite the painful ordeal.
-having to pee CONSTANTLY- ever before you get very big, you have to pee a ton more, but when I get toward the last couple months, I have to pee sometimes every 30 minutes. I can usually hold off longer at night, provided that I can get to sleep before the urge hits, but then it's a contest to see if I can make it to the bathroom before I lose bladder control. So far I have always won..... except for one morning when I was sick and coughing really hard...... fortunately I hadn't showered yet.
-acid reflux: I've tried being careful about what I eat before I go to bed, not eating before going to bed, avoiding certain foods, and it doesn't matter. I basically am constantly walking around (or lying down) with the feeling of a pool of vomit sitting in the back of my throat, which makes for an unpleasant sore throat in the morning. So, bring on the Sriracha, it doesn't make a difference! Fortunately, it immediately goes way once baby comes out and my stomach moves from the back of my throat to where it belong. But going 3/4 of a year with constant heartburn really blows.
-belly is in the way of everything: I accidentally ram my kids with it all the time. I try to help Madelynn with her hair- BAM! oops, sorry I knocked you off the stool or caused you to run into the wall. Gotta be careful when cooking over the stove- don't want to light myself on fire. I knock things over all the time, run into walls and doors.
-immune system surpressed, but you can't take anything! This is the one irony that drives me crazy- being sick when pregnant is significantly more unpleasant than when not being pregnant, and my immune system is already suppressed, so I catch something every 2-3 weeks. And there are so many things I can't take! Oh, if I could just take ibuprofen for some of the pain, it would be heavenly! Even alternative remedies you have to be careful with- there are essential oils and other natural remedies that you have to avoid as well, so it can be difficult to find alternatives to the more traditional go-to remedies. Like Kava- oh, if I could take kava, sleeping would be so much easier. It just seems cruel that you feel exponentially crappier, and have less options for dealing with it.

    There's more than that, but I want to write about dancing now. Madelynn had  her winter dance review at Kearns High today. Considering their reputation for being an uber ghetto school, they had a pretty amazing auditorium, and actual dance studios in the school. I would have loved to be able to take dance classes as part of my schedule during high school! I felt like I had taken Madelynn to the Little Miss Sunshine pageant times a thousand walking around, and there were some pretty obnoxious dance moms there. Like the one a few rows ahead of us that screamed "GO MACY!" throughout the ENTIRE performance of her daughter's dance. I'm glad that Madelynn wasn't in the class, and feel bad that all the parents who attempted to record that dance have to hear a crazy woman screaming constantly and not the music. Most parents chose to get their screaming out as the dancers were taking the stage and shut their mouths as soon as the music started. Except for the occasional random scream. The exception was the 6-7 year old breakdance class- I have no idea what music was actually playing because it was constant screaming and whistling. It was so bad I had to cover Ian's ears so he wouldn't freak out, and I think I may have some noise induced hearing loss from the shrill whistling from the people behind me. Yeah, real classy, guys. Madelynn's class was great, and I was able to record the entire dance with no random interruptions of screaming throughout the dance so I could send it to Nate and my mom and others who were unable to attend. A dad sitting in the row in front of us even made his daughter scrunch down in her seat while I was filming it so that she wouldn't get in the way of the video (she was really squirmy and standing up a lot, sitting on top of the flipped up seat, but her awesome dad made her cut it out just so I could get a good shot, which was awesome. The rest of the time I didn't care, because I could see fine over her.) Madelynn was the best dancer in her class- honestly. I can say that, because none of the other parents of the kids in her class read this blog or even know my name. She was perfectly on rhythm and remembered all the moves. I definitely want to keep her going in dance, but maybe at a less sparkly foofy insane costume weird dance moms studio, if that's even possible to avoid in Utah. Plus, the cost of the costumes are insane, and what the crap am I supposed to do with a bunch of sequined leotards and feathered boa skirts (to make it's appearance at the spring review, at least the feathers that don't end up all over the carpet).

     Ian was very excited to see his big sister dance, and was a delightful audience member. I am apparently a horrible mother, though, because I didn't get her a giant bouquet of flowers to present her with at the end of the performance like all the other girls got, so she pouted for about an hour afterwards. Apparently taking her to get donuts and cinnamon rolls afterwards isn't good enough. It brought me back to Valentines when I lived in Utah when I was younger and girls in THIRD GRADE were getting boxes of chocolates from boys. Multiple boxes. And by middle school, it was bouquets of flowers, balloons, and teddy bears delivered to you in the middle of class by the boy you were "going out with" and then you carried it around the rest of the day so the rest of us would feel like crap and go home and cry because we were losers for not having boyfriends at the age of 11. I would hope that's been reigned in by now- it was getting so bad that parents were having flowers and chocolates delivered to their daughters so they wouldn't feel like crap on Valentines Day. And if the boys in Madelynn's kindergarten class bring her boxes of chocolates and flowers on Valentine's Day, I will hunt them down! Well, more like their parents, because Madelynn is SIX. And the boys already are smitten with her- I watch them when I take her to school. She is everything I wasn't socially at that age- friendly, outgoing, and socially competent. And blonde. Fortunately extremely nice as well, but I still have that fear in the back of my mind that she will grow up to be a "mean girl." She's pretty sensitive to when others are mean, though, and it really bothers her, so at least for now we're good.
    Nate unfortunately had to miss her dance recital because he was in Oregon at his Grandma's funeral, which was actually happening at the exact same time Madelynn was dancing on stage. His Grandma passed away on Monday of complications from pneumonia (went into septic shock and caused kidney failure). It wasn't exactly expected, but not unexpected, either. She did live to the ripe old age of 92 and has been looking forward to being reunited with Nate's grandpa for a long time, and also Nate's mom since she passed away 18 months ago. He drove to Medford with his cousin on Thursday after work, and will be home tomorrow evening. I'm making a high-end dinner of hot dogs when he gets home. (Well, I did get good stuff- brats and kielbasa). I was really nervous about him leaving when I'm this far along in the pregnancy because I wasn't sure how I would be able to handle everything on my own, and also a teensy worried that my body would decide to go into labor while he was gone, but the kids have been mostly great, with only a few meltdowns (mostly from Ian- I swear 3 is a much harder age than 2. My kids are easy when they're 2- it's when they turn 3 that they get difficult.) And so far, no indications that baby is going to make a slightly early appearance, so I think we're good. (knock on wood that my water doesn't break tonight). I've even been able to sneak naps in, which I basically can't survive without at this point- turn on the movie "Hairspray" and my kids are hypnotized for a good chunk of time and Mommy can pass out on the recliner just a few feet away. This is probably the only time I've been anxiously looking forward to the weekend being over.
Oh whoops, my water just broke. Off to the hospital! Okay, not really. I probably won't be posting anything on here until I've got a new baby in my arms, because I don't know how much longer I will be able to write a coherent sentence between now and then, and also because I pretty much want to nap all the time and eat oranges.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The grumpy list

It's been a bit of an off week for us. Nate's students have been insane and also compulsively lying to him (I swear I turned in every single one of those assignments that has a zero! I mean, I um, lost all of them, Why won't you give me credit for work I didn't turn in?) , the kids have both had their 3rd GI ailment since mid-October, and I've been in a lot more pain and discomfort. So I made chocolate peanut butter fudge. But still, it's that time of year that's a bit of a mixed bag, especially since 2011, and being here hasn't helped make it any better, so I have decided to make a list of things that are currently making me grumpy at this point because it's cathartic. Also, I might mention pee, blood, and my uterus:

-CHRISTMAS ADS: I like Christmas- music (traditional songs, not the really annoying modern ones that are uber-obnoxious), but it's also unpleasant being punched in the face with "BUY, BUY, BUY" as soon as Halloween is over. Virtually everything that showed up in the massive amounts of black friday ads looked like garbage. The expectation for the size of gifts has gotten so out of control, I am just glad that my kids are still too young for me to worry about them demanding iPads, video games consoles, cell phones, and automobiles. And they will never get them even if they do, unless they want an old atari found at a thrift store or hot wheels. Personally, I think the best gifts involve either something edible, something handmade, or an event, like going out for ice cream or to a lucha libre. Or offering to take your kids for the night so that your husband can stay the night with you in the hospital after you have a baby so that you don't have to take care of an hours old newborn by yourself right after having your insides ripped out while also having psychotically painful contractions as your uterus shrinks.Which brings me to:

-BEING PREGNANT: I do not like being pregnant, but I keep doing it because I'm rather fond of the end result. It hurts really bad. I have really bad pelvic pain that gets increasingly worse with each pregnancy, and I am desperately hoping this is the last time I am pregnant because I am not sure that I can handle the pain getting any worse. I am also to the point where I have pretty much constant acid reflux, whether I'm lying down, siting, or standing, because I think my stomach has migrated into my ribcage. Or possibly to the top of my sternum. So far, this baby doesn't seem to be sitting on my sciatic nerve like Ian did, but I've still got 10 weeks to go. The leg cramps are unpleasant and back pain are unpleasant., and bending over to pick something else is an ordeal. I look at my belly and think, wow, it still has a lot bigger to go- I think all of my clothes are going to rip apart by the end of this. I got one of those back/belly support velcro bands, and that's hit or miss. It also puts more pressure on my bladder, but sometimes I wear it just to keep my pants up. I also miss my brain- I swear I can feel my brain cells taking off. About this time of the pregnancy, I also have unexplained issues, which takes us to:

-PEEING BLOOD: With every pregnancy I've had, I always have unexplained bleeding at the beginning of the third trimester. With Madelynn, the cause was never determined, but an ultrasound did reveal that I was having pre-term labor, so I was put on bed rest and medication to stop contractions. I still ended up being induced when I was full term because the doctor was worried about me going past my due date with the issues I had been having. With Ian, I had bleeding and contractions and had to stay the night in the hospital, but then they stopped and cause of bleeding was never determined. I was also induced 5 days after my due date with him (that was at my request, though, because I was desperate for my Dad to meet his first grandson before he died.) I thought I might escape it this time, but nope, last Friday I randomly started bleeding- not enough to warrant rushing to the ER, but enough to be concerning. Since we are only 10 minutes from the hospital and this seems to be a common occurrence, I insisted on driving myself to labor and delivery to get checked out so the kids wouldn't have to get dragged along and be traumatized. After tons of tests, I was told I had been peeing blood and had a UTI, and was sent home with a prescription for an antibiotic. But then was told a few days later after lab results came in that I didn't actually have a UTI either and they had no idea why I was peeing blood. So glad I get to pay a butt load of $$$ (and that's WITH insurance) to be poked and prodded and told that no one has any idea why I was bleeding.

-THIS IS THE PLACE- If you are from here: I had somewhat of an idea of what to expect when we moved here, since I had lived in this state for a few years when I was younger. I was hoping that the culture of being very insular and wary of outsiders had changed since then, or maybe it was just a Cache Valley thing. Yeah, no. If you're not from here, you are an outsider and most people are so involved in their own lives that they really don't give a rip about you. This is partially due to the fact that we chose the wrong area to live- the majority of the people near us are from here, have their entire families here, and why get out of your comfort zone when everything is already peachy? Madelynn has had 1 playdate since we've been here. I've tried to set up a couple others, but there hasn't been any follow through on the other end. Ian was the only kid in his preschool that didn't have a huge family gathering to go to, because our family is either dead or living in another state. We did get invited to dinner once, though- by one of Nate's old friends from high school that also happens to live here, which means that they were outsiders, too. People are perfectly nice here, but only associate with you within the context that they know you from. If they know you from church, they will talk to you at church, but you do not exist outside of Sunday between the hours of 9 and 12. It's kind of like the little kid that thinks his teacher lives at school. There also is a bit of a doomsday mentality here- I constantly here about how the world is terrifying, getting worse all the time, the end is near, so stay inside and stock up on your food storage and keep your children away from the evil influences of the world. And maybe home school them. I have heard multiple people refer to anything outside of Utah as "the mission field" WTF? To that I say- there has always been plenty of evil in the world, so go out and be the good influence. We are trying to find an area that is more receptive to "outsiders" (yeah, you wouldn't think a Mormon would be considered an outsider in Utah, would you). I am terrified of anything major happening to us here, because I don't know if anyone would help us out. I'm just glad this pregnancy hasn't had any complications, because I absolutely cannot go on bed rest here with two young kids, and I'm going to start freezing a bunch of meals at the beginning of February so we have something decent to eat.

-HOW MUCH IT COST TO GET HERE: We had paid off both of our credit cards. And then we realized we were moving to Utah, and had to spend a few thousand dollars to get here. Moving is expensive. It's not so bad when you move someplace that you are excited to move to, because then you can say it was worth it. I am still waiting for that feeling, right now I feel more like I spent a bunch of money so someone could give me a bad case of diarrhea. With what it cost to get here, we're not going to be packing up anytime soon, and are trying to make the best of things. Okay, it's not completely horrible here, but it's not home. And it's not green. And we're not 1 hour from the ocean. And I can't go out to my backyard for a snack when I get hungry; I don't even have a backyard to go out to. Taking a pay cut to move somewhere where cost of living isn't actually any different than where we came from wasn't so fun, either, but at least I am fairly fond of my job and it's significantly less stressful than my last one, so it's okay. We pretty much knew we were going to have to leave Oregon for one place or another thanks to something called the Spanish Orela, but that doesn't mean we had to be excited about it!

-TINY CHAIRS: Adult chairs do not exist where I work. The only people who get comfortable adult-size chairs are administrations and people that work at the district office. Teachers get whatever happens to be the size of the chair their students sit in, unless you teach really little kids, then you get an extra 1-2 chairs that fit 9 year olds in your room for your "big person" chair. You must bring your own chair (and then hope it doesn't disappear). I am going to start bringing a camping chair with me to work because I'm getting so big that it's incredibly painful for me to sit in the chairs built for preschoolers. I am usually given the option of sitting in the "big" chairs, but those are still too small and also painful to sit in.

-NON-EXISTENT MATERNITY LEAVE: Utah is a right to work state, which basically gives employers the right to screw you over. Utah was also ranked as the number 1 worst state for women due to discrepancy in pay, not enough childcare providers, and lack of women in high-ranking positions, to name a few. My district has no maternity leave policy- there's a big sign that says so in the workroom where my mailbox is. I am only protected to use up to 10 days of sick leave (of which I have already had to take from sick kids and being sick myself), have the option of using my personal leave, and can request and additional 15 days of unpaid leave. I am not protected under FMLA because I don't work full-time and I haven't been employed with the district for a year. (I picked the wrong country to have babies in). That means that basically I can take a little over a month off and still have my job protected. But I do not recover that quickly and am planning on taking a full 12-week leave. I could get fired if my boss felt like it, but fortunately she's also a mom and is understanding of people having babies and is supportive of me taking whatever time off I need, even though she doesn't have to be. Granted, in my field, even if I was cut from my position, I could easily find another one or do teletherapy.

-APARTMENTS: We really really really wanted to rent a house, or at least a townhouse, when we moved here. But alas, none of the rental companies would either answer there phone, return calls or show us houses because we weren't moving here for a month when we came to look at places. I have found that the not answering phones thing is a fairly common and irritating habit of many here. So, that meant we were pretty much stuck with getting an apartment, and drove around just hoping to find something decent. And of course, none of the communities had any available townhouses, so we were stuck with a flat. And those really obnoxious vertical blinds in front of the sliding glass doors and a carpeted dining room. It's super fun picking out cereal that has become encrusted in the fibers. We also seem to have managed to end up in the building where everyone around us smokes, which means that during warm weather, we can't enjoy sitting on our porch without inhaling turd air, and the laundry room vent picks up the smoke from the outside and sucks it into our laundry room. The neighbors above us also apparently have pet dinosaurs and are believers in the cry it out method with their baby, which is not very considerate at 3 am. And have some sort of piece of furniture that is constantly getting rolled across the floor, I have no idea what in the world they do up there, other than I know their children are fond of jumping off the furniture, but maybe they don't know because they're always outside sending us cancer clouds. I know that part of the issue is that the soundproofing between the our ceiling and their floor just sucks because it's a large apartment community and developers like to cut corners to save a buck or two, but there is no reason that it should constantly sound like a herd of dinosaurs stomping on our heads.

Well, I feel a little bit better. Sometimes I think I am a total ass for feeling upset and not particularly cheerful, but it's okay that I feel that way. We all have our struggles, and there will always be someone who has it worse off than you, but that doesn't mean that your feelings aren't legitimate. I think it's important that we recognize and accept how we feel instead of feeling guilty for feeling a certain way, and also recognize and accept how other people feel as well.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Confessions and rolls

I have to confess three things:
1. I love tootsie rolls. A lot. Even though we just went through way too much candy over the past few weeks, I bought a bag of tootsie rolls on halloween clearance yesterday- the big, chunky ones. I have been eating them all day while my son has been vomiting. Okay, not at the same time he has been vomiting, because that would be terrible.
2. I didn't vote today because I'm not registered to vote in the state of Utah. Nate and I really don't want to get Utah driver's licenses or license plates, and are holding off until we absolutely have to. We do have liberary cards, though! I also am pretty sure that my vote is meaningless in this state, where politicians show up to high schools and tell students that college is stupid and that the state actually has plenty of money that it could spend on education but it won't because of Common Core. (Read more about that in a future post on my other blog.) It's hard to put the effort into doing all of the things necessary in order to vote when you are a small blue dot in a sea of red and your ballot might as well be used for toilet paper. Were I still in Oregon, I would have most definitely voted. Also because voting by mail is awesome.
3. I am starting to like it here. Sure, there are things about this place that are messed up, like a lot of really psychotic drivers (I had a guy freaking out on my the other day driving behind me because I was going the speed limit. Through a neighborhood. I'm not really into hitting people with my car.), church is quite different here- rather than the "Be a good example and love everyone" mentality that I am used to, we get a lot of "The world is a bad place, the end of the world is coming soon, we're all being personally attacked, etc." It's really strange. And the view of the pillaged Oquirrh mountains is rather dismal. But, we are meeting some pretty cool people that I am pretty sure aren't insane, there's a lot of amazing hiking and skiing (even though I can't ski this year and doubt I will ever get back into alpine skiing since the last time I went I was 13), tons of fun events and places to go, great parks (our kids are obsessed with Liberty Park), and if we do need to escape, then the Salt Lake airport is nearby. Plus, yesterday it snowed a ton up in the mountains and they look awesome covered in white. A huge improvement in the areas that have been cut away for the sake of minerals and granite countertops. I sometimes feel like a fish out of water, literally, because I actually like rain and am probably really some sort of amphibious creature, but the increase in sunshine has been good for the mood. I get really sleepy and lethargic when it's rainy and overcast, as much as I love it, and I am better about being alert when there is more sunshine, even though it kind of burns.

Now, onto the part about rolls:

I have an amazing roll recipe that must be shared. It's from my maternal grandmother, and I use it a lot. They're great dipped in soup, slathered in butter and jam, and if you make them huge, they also make great buns for sloppy joe's. It's also a great dough to use for making cinnamon rolls. If you are part of the Fryer clan and haven't had these before, you are missing out! Mine aren't the prettiest, but taste pretty darn good. And here you go:

Grandma Fryer's Roll Dough
1 pkg yeast
2 cups hot water
1/4 cup margarine
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
2 eggs
7-8 cups flour

*note: this recipe makes a LOT of rolls. When I made these a couple of days ago, I halved the recipe and still have a few leftover rolls.
Dissolve yeast with a little warm water and sugar. Combine hot water, margarine, sugar, salt and eggs in large mixing bowl. Add two cups of flower and the yeast mixture. Mix, then add enough flour to make a soft dough. Don't add too much flour-- it should still be a little sticky but not too hard to handle. Put in a greased bowl and let rise until double. Punch down dough and let it rest for 15 minutes before shaping into rolls or bread. Let rise again after shaping. Bake rolls at 425 for 12 minutes.

I sometimes get impatient and don't let mine rise enough, but they still taste good.

On a final, unrelated note, kids grow up too fast. Madelynn decided to start losing teeth this month, and has lost her bottom two central incisors. She's our little fashionista with opinions galore, is an amazing big sister (she took Ian to the bathroom this morning to throw up while I was in another room), has an amusingly high vocabulary, and likes tootsie rolls just as much as her mother. And now she is this big and is very proud of her new sparkly boots: