Monday, August 28, 2017

2017/2018 First Day of School

OK, so it's not really our first day of school for the year, but tomorrow is our first day back to co-op, and also it has been the first opportunity that I've had to snag some photos of the boys, so we're calling it our "first day."  The reality is that we started back to school at the beginning of July so that we could get into somewhat of a groove and check some days off on our attendance before Evelyn was born.  So in August we've taken three weeks off enjoying our new baby and today we drug out our books again.  The flexibility of homeschooling is kind of amazing!

So here's our boys for their first day photos.  I love comparing at the end of the year and seeing how much they have grown. 


Leeland's first day of 2nd grade....


... And Hayden's first day of Kindergarten! 

Love these big boys and couldn't be more proud of them already!  We changed up our school day schedule a bit in July along with some of our curriculum choices and I have watched them flourish. Also, they have both jumped into football this year,  (flag for Hayden and tackle for Leeland)they are growing and learning the sport and working hard.  I'm a little nervous with a two year old and newborn under foot, but I'm also incredibly excited for this school year and the blessing it is to get to see all of their "lightbulb moments" and learn alongside them.  We have some big goals, and lofty plans for the year with lots of fun planned along the way.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Joel's 2nd birthday!

This week, our little guy who in the past has often been referred to as "the littlest Kroh" turned 2.  Our Joel is wild, free, and fierce, but he's also independent, loving, hilarious and kind.  He's grown SO much over the last year since his first birthday and he's taught us that while toddlers can be exhausting, they can also be incredibly fun.

We celebrated his actual birthday with some chocolate "eclipse donuts" and spent the day hanging out at home to watch the eclipse.  He loved the donuts but was mostly clueless about the whole birthday thing.  Haha!


When you're 2, you can get away with diving right in. 



Eclipse ready!

Anyway, almost a week later we had his party.  We originally chose the weekend after his birthday knowing that we would have a newborn baby and fully knowing we would need that extra week to prepare ourselves and the house for hosting.  For the most part, we kept things pretty simple this time for our sanity... and again the whole newborn baby thing.  Had to make it all about the "choo choos" for him though, because that's kind of his thing right now. 

His invites were ordered here on Etsy and printed at Costco, and cut out to look like tickets.  (Address blacked out obviously.)


Dinner served could not have been more simple-- take out pizza, salad, and I made The Pioneer Woman's cheese bread. 



So I made both the regular cheese bread recipe and also the olive cheese bread-- ya'll, you have to try the olive cheese bread!  Nom! Nom!


Dessert-- chocolate cupcakes fashioned in a #2 train track. He actually ended up rolling the train through the icing tracks while we sang "happy birthday".... it was so cute!  And the birthday train, I got for a steal on Amazon when it was marked down.  The little cake on the back plays the tune of the Thomas theme song and Thomas has a little party hat on.  


Then a minor mishap-- see those wooden train whistles in the background above.  Well, we have a dozen of them and they sat on the counter all evening and never were given out.  Mom fail!  They were supposed to be parting gifts for the kiddos at the party.  Thankfully, all of our party guests were family, so I can now take a sharpie and write the names of all of the little cousins on them and pass them off as I see them next.  So dear family, get ready for train whistles!  You are very welcome! 


Sweet Joel, you keep us on our toes and bring smiles to our faces daily.  To see life through your eyes  each day is inspiring and reminds me to slow down and relish in the little things.  You are smart and strong, and your laugh is most infectious.  We love you so much big boy!  


HAPPY 2ND BIRTHDAY JOEL!



Saturday, August 19, 2017

Evelyn's Birth Story

So I should preface this post that it will have some "birthy" details and if you aren't into that sort of thing, you may just want to scroll through and look at the pictures and move on.   These are the stories though that years from now, I love to look back on and read and I've written them out for each of the kiddos, so why stop now.  

If you're also the type to be into the birthy details, here are links to the boys's stories should you be so inclined to check those out too.


It's funny, if you have ever been in the position of expecting a little one before, you hear it all the time that "every pregnancy is different."  And this pregnancy was definitely different.  I blogged about it previously when we were awaiting the big anatomy ultrasound to find out if we were expecting a little boy or a little girl.  So I shouldn't be shocked that labor was a bit different also.  (And subsequently my feelings about labor being different too.)

So let's start as we were nearing the end.  Of course as you get towards the end, you get down to the once a week appointments and things suddenly feel so real.  I'm not sure what it is about the weekly appointments bringing out the realization that a baby is coming and is coming fast.  (Because you know, you haven't had 8 months previously to prepare for this sort of thing, right?)  So in the past as we neared the end, I denied cervical checks because I just didn't want to know really.  I think I learned with the excitement of expecting Leeland that the cervical checks were more of a disappointment than a help.  At the end of the day, you can walk around a few centimeters dilated for weeks and nothing happen, OR you could go from 0 to 10 in a matter of hours, so why bother being checked.  But for whatever reason, at my 39 week appointment, I decided to go ahead and get checked.   Probably curiosity as I had some prodromal labor again in the last weeks just as I had with Joel.  On top of that, I was feeling hopeful that the end was near as my body was just feeling DONE.  So at 39 weeks and 2 days, I was 2 centimeters dilated, 60% effaced and baby at a -1 station.  The midwife followed up with the big question of, "do you want your membranes stripped?" and I said "sure."  

Now, not that I need to explain myself here, but I will go through some of the things that I was feeling as we neared the end.  I'm typically not the person to want an intervention-- I like for things to run their course and try the best I can to do things naturally.  I don't even take medication or do anything when I have a headache.   But with that said, I was really struggling this go round.   Some of this was physically-- I was having LOTS of back pain, and not getting much sleep at all because of it.  And some of it was mental-- I had tested positive for group B strep for the first time ever, and on top of that I have a history of hemorrhage after birth and with the last two labors going so quick, I was mentally and emotionally fearful that we would not make it to the hospital in time for the antibiotics I needed and that I would bleed out.  Irrational?  Maybe!  But if there was ever a time to get away with being completely irrational, isn't it at the end of pregnancy? (Ha!)  

So here we are, 39 weeks, 2 centimeters, baby low and had my membranes stripped.  I had my membranes stripped when I was pregnant with Joel also, but it didn't happen until I was 41 weeks.  With Joel, that late in the game, it was only a couple days later that labor began, so I sort of thought that maybe, just maybe, we would be in labor by due date.

Instead, 40 weeks came, and baby was still just as cozy as could be.  More prodromal labor in the days that followed having my membranes stripped, but nothing productive and contractions always subsided within an hour or two.  

40 week bump
My next midwife appointment was at 40 weeks and 2 days.  To say that I went in feeling defeated is an understatement.  I knew that I had went way over due before.  (Joel was 9 or 10 days past due date.)  BUT I just wasn't feeling it this time.  The midwife asked that I do a non-stress test so that we could check on baby to see that all was well being past due, which Evelyn and I passed with flying colors.  Then once I got into the exam room with the midwife, I lost it a little bit.  (Remember, I can totally get away with being irrational at this point, right?)  Amongst the tears, I expressed my fears-- I felt like with each pregnancy labor had only gotten faster, and with the GBS and hemorrhage history I was scared.  Also let's not forget that Joel was over 9 pounds and the thought of another giant baby just didn't sound great to me.   Add to that the feeling that my body was just drained, and I was ready to be done.  Totally different attitude from being pregnant with Joel.  I went late with him which was frustrating, but I held myself together with him and was more than willing to let nature run it's course for as long as it would take or I would be allowed..... And now here I was, crying to the midwife and begging for them to induce me.  I hate pitocin, and yet here I was begging for it.   

At the midwifery practice that I go to, they won't let you be induced prior to 41 weeks unless it's out of medical necessity.  They didn't feel that any of my reasons for wanting an induction were out of necessity and they sent me home saying that they would be in touch with the 41 week induction date. I went home frustrated, and anxious.  At this point when we got the call about the induction appointment, I was almost hoping that baby would hold out for the induction.  They set it for Monday the 14th which would have been exactly 41 weeks, and I know that it sounds totally crazy for me to want to stay pregnant until then, but the fears were real.  Even as a person who tries to live life as naturally as possible, I know that there are times when medical intervention is needed and when you've heard nurses talk about just the possibility of a blood transfusion after having your previous baby, it plants a seed and a fear for the next one for sure.  

Fast forward, the next couple of days went by so slowly and Daniel and I both felt like I was some sort of ticking time bomb.  More contractions here and there but never closer together than 15 minutes and always ending within an hour.  Daniel stayed home from work for the week thinking that he wanted to be close by in case of a quick labor, and we finalized "on call" plans for kid care.  It mostly just felt like our life was on hold as we didn't make any plans or go much of anywhere.  

So Saturday night around 9pm contractions began again.  They were regular at 15 minutes apart, but they weren't painful at all.  Just enough to feel uncomfortable and frustrated.  Honestly by this point because this had been happening off an on for weeks, I didn't consider it being the real deal.  Plus, induction was set for Monday and family and kid care had been set and ready for Monday.  I timed them for an hour or so and paced the living room some, and then we decided that I would go try to get some rest.  This could be a tease, or it could be real and either way, I would need some sleep.  I closed my eyes for about an hour and woke to a contraction that was more painful.  Still in denial that this was going to be real, I went to the bathroom, and came back to bed to change positions and get more comfortable.   Within 15 minutes, another came.  And after another 15 minutes, another.  While these were more uncomfortable than the last, I still wouldn't say that this was the worst pain so I still had some doubts about them being the real deal.  I got up and came out to the living room to tell Daniel that I had been timing them and wasn't so sure. (It was around midnight.)

Within the hour, they began to get more intense. BUT what threw me was that with the intensity growing, the timing got a little chaotic.  I've always known labor contractions to be in regular intervals and moving closer together, but here I was getting one at 15 minutes, then a 12, then a 17, then a 10 etc.  They were gaining in intensity and pain, but I was having a hard time timing them.   Upon Daniel's insistence, we went ahead and called my Step Mom and packed the car with my bags.  It was 1:30am when we made the call, and my Step Mom arrived to our house right before 2am for us to hop in the car and go.  By the time we were on the road, contractions were coming every 5-6 minutes and felt much more like the real deal for sure.  

Once we arrived to the hospital and got checked in, we were ushered to triage to be checked and for the decision to be made on whether they would "keep" me.  The nurse checked my cervix at 4cm and there were signs that I had my "bloody show."  We waited in triage as contractions were coming every 4-5 minutes.  I spent much of the time hunched over the bed while Daniel rubbed my lower back.  I had been complaining of back pain the majority of the pregnancy, and here I was in labor and feeling it ALL in my back.  The nurse got my IV of antibiotics going for the GBS and we waited on word of getting a room.  It turns out that it was a busy night for the hospital staff and at one point the room that they were about to give us was given away to another patient who had just walked into the hospital at 9 centimeters.  It took about an hour and a half before I was put in a wheelchair and wheeled to a delivery room ready to have this baby.  I was in pain, but I was feeling confident that we had made it to the hospital and that the IV had been started.  

Once we got to the room, Daniel started some music for me on his phone and got me a birthing ball that I could sit on and hunch over the bed.   I sort of assumed this position because it was the one that was most comfortable with Joel.... but little did I know that that labor would be not only a bit different, but it would also be the hardest one yet.  There's some confidence going in to having your 4th child that you can conquer it because you have before, but she was definitely the most difficult and most painful of all.   (Also at some point once we got there, I was checked again and was now at 6 centimeters.)

As I continued to complain about my back pain, the nurses thought that a new position would be most helpful.  They expressed they they thought looking at my belly and hearing my pain that she might be crooked or laying funny and that might be what was causing the pain to be in my back so much.  They arranged some pillows and helped to get me rolled into the bed and into an "exaggerated SIMS" position which is part of the miles circuit.  While my back was still hurting with contractions, I appreciated that this took some pressure off my legs and arms and I was no longer holding myself up and wearing myself out.  As things continued to get more intense though, I began with the "I can't."  

Typically the "I can't" phase is pretty common for transition and I had given Daniel specific instructions to not let me give in to an epidural which he expressed to the nurses.  While I argued with them about what I could handle, they did their best to accommodate me and also keep me on course and I was offered some fentanyl via my IV.  The nurse explained that I would still feel contractions, it would only take off the edge and that it would only last a short time.  (Apparently she specifically said about one hour, and I missed that detail but it was told to me later after Evelyn was born.)  The fentanyl was a blessing.  I could definitely still feel the contractions, but I was able to shut my eyes laying there in the exaggerated SIMS position and rest my body just a little bit.  This was the first time that I had ever been in labor in the middle of the night, and everyone who knows me, knows how much I cherish my sleep so to say that I was wiped out and exhausted by this point is an understatement.  

I wasn't aware that the fentanyl was wearing off at this point, but after an hour or so, the contractions got more intense, and felt like they were coming in rapid fire, and I was feeling pressure like I might have to use the bathroom.  The nurses assumed my request of asking to use the bathroom could be a sign that we were ready to push and had me hold off to be checked.  I was 8 centimeters and incredibly uncomfortable no matter how I moved.  I got situated on all 4's with the bed upright and hanging on to the top of the bed, but even this was not ideal.  The back pain was unbearable, and my arms felt so weak from sheer exhaustion.  The next little bit is kind of a blur for me because the pain had totally taken over, but at some point around here my water broke, but I was told that my cervix still didn't seem open and ready.  However, as I was basically barking at the nurses about my back and the pressure I was feeling, they knew it would happen soon.  (Bless all of you labor and delivery nurses who have to be so kind and patient in times such as this when you're basically being growled at!)  

The nurses called my doctor in to get his thoughts.  I was just so tired at this point, and my back couldn't bear much more.  He agreed that even though we weren't completely "systems go" that we could try to push just a little bit to see if things would open up.  I gave a push on the next contraction, and they found that my water hadn't broken entirely and so they proceeded to clear that out of the way in hopes that it would open the cervix further.   Gave another push on the next one and the nurse made a comment along the lines of "if he needed to step out", to which he replied with, "No, we are about to have a baby any minute."  A few more growls and possibly a scream along with the next two contractions (and pushes) and our little Evelyn was out!  

She was placed on my chest immediately and after a minute or two, Daniel cut her umbilical cord.  
It was 6:09am.  



She had finally arrived, and the pain was all worth it.  And I totally apologized to my nurses.  They really were awesome!  And here we were with our little lady, the day before our induction was scheduled.  God's timing is definitely better than ours, and of course I should have remembered this from when Joel arrived the day before his scheduled induction.  

Evelyn Susan
7 Pounds, 10 ounces and 21 inches
Born August 13th. 






Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Cherished Gift

My Mother passed away when I was a child long before she got to meet any of her grandchildren. I think about her often and wonder how life would be if she were still here, or what she might think about her daughter getting ready to have her 4th child.... but also know how much missing her has shaped me, grown me and taught me how short this life really is.

Daniel and I agreed that if we were ever blessed with a little girl (which we honestly didn't think would happen) we would give her the middle name Susan after my Mother. When I found out a couple months ago that my Mother's wedding gown was still around, I was thrilled and knew it needed a purpose other than sitting in a box and set out to make Evelyn a little something with some pieces.  

This is Evelyn's dedication gown. The dress and bonnet itself is a gift to Evelyn from my Step Mother and my Dad. And I chose to embellish it with lace trim from my Mom's gown. A perfect blend of both old and new, and a cherished gift because of each of the hands that took part in it-- the dress my Mother wore 35+ years ago, that was kept by my Granny for so many years, the hands of my Dad and Step Mother for gifting us with something new specifically for this precious little girl on the way. And my own hands that sewed it all together. It isn't perfect sewing. And after being stored for so many years, while the lace brightened a lot, it isn't perfectly white as it once was.... BUT, it's the perfect gift for Evelyn. And I foresee that it will be a cherished gift for many years to come.






With lots of lace and embellishments left in the wedding gown, I'm still brainstorming other ways to use it to make keepsakes for my sister and I and even a little something for my teenage niece.... but for now, I'm just completely smitten with this dress that is so small, and yet so big too!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Train Table Makeover

Well, I have no idea why it took us 3 boys to get there, but it seems we have one "choo choo" obsessed little man on our hands these days.  I have no doubt there will be a Thomas birthday party post coming in the next couple months!  When a used train table popped up on one of the local buy/sell/trade pages on Facebook recently at a decent price, we decided that we would hop on it knowing that it would make all of Joel's dreams come true.  (And of course the big boys would be thrilled too.... they just aren't quite obsessive as the little guy currently is.)

The table came to us in used condition and was priced as such, so naturally I wanted to give it a little facelift before we brought it into our living room.  Here's what it looked like before--



More off white than white, and several scuffs along the tops and the sides, but nothing that a little paint couldn't correct.  I had the man of the house sand it all down for me so that I could get to work.  We already had some no VOC white paint that we have used on some previous projects so we stuck with keeping the table itself white.  Then after he sanded down the table top, I used some acrylic paint from Hobby Lobby to paint a more traditional train table "scene" on top.



Once the scene was set, I passed the baton to the man for the poly coat.  The only downside to pregnancy is feeling a little helpless in situations such as these when I'm not "allowed" to complete the project that I want to do.  I have this little bit of impatience about me and I like for things to be checked off of my list.  Surely I'm not alone?  .... Once the poly had a couple days to set and dry in this NC humidity, we brought the table in for the big reveal.  The big kids knew that we had the table, knew what it was and knew that we had painted it.  HOWEVER, Joel was clueless as to what this large piece of furniture hanging in our garage was, AND the big boys had no idea that I snagged some really awesome train tracks, trains and accessories at a great price from a friend to complete the package.  Here's a peek of it all moved in--



Look, no large scuffs all over the sides anymore!  And of course a drawer full of trains because the trains overfloweth. 



And the reveal to the kiddos will put a smile on your face today-- 
.... That sweet tiny voice saying "choo choo" and taking it all in.  That's what we hear most of the day whether it's begging for Thomas to be played on the TV, telling us to "rea" one of his Thomas books to him, or it's just lining up cars, boxes or buckets to make them a choo choo.  I think I have a feeling of how the boys will spend their day today and it's been fun watching them liven up and imagine together around the table this morning.