A letter to my oldest child

Monday, September 26, 2016

Dear Ayden,

I'm sitting here looking through baby pictures of you- my sweet and sensitive first little baby boy, and I can't for the life of me believe that we just celebrated your twelfth birthday last week. It's been 12 years since you forever changed my life and made me a mom, a job I always knew I wanted but didn't realize how hard it would be and how quickly the years would slip by. From the very beginning, everyone was telling me "Cherish every moment- it goes by so quickly." I knew they were right, but it didn't really hit me until I sat there watching you blow out your twelve candles.

You were always my "easy" baby. As a newborn, you were so calm and content- we could take you anywhere and you were always a happy, chubby, bald little man. People were always complimenting your sweet demeanor! You'd smile at everyone. 

As a toddler you were my fearless little adventurer who always kept me on my toes. When we went to the park you were always the kid getting hurt and our play dates usually ended with me almost having an anxiety attack when you'd fall off the slide, get your fingers stuck in the playground equipment, flip over backwards on the swings, and refuse to get back into your stroller so we could head home. You had so much energy and always wanted to explore and have fun- you definitely kept me on my toes!

Your little sister Lily arrived when you were just 3 1/2, and that's when I realized how truly blessed I was that you came first- you were such an independent, self sufficient little guy. You made the transition from a family of 3 to a family for 4 so easy, and you loved your baby sister something fierce. From the moment you laid eyes on her you were mesmerized, and you two have been pretty much inseparable since then. You were such a caring big brother who was always looking out for Lily, and you always included her and let her tag along like your little shadow. You helped teach her to walk, talk, and do all of the things she watched you doing.

Watching you head off to school was like watching a piece of my heart leave me. Lily and I both had such a hard time with it and we didn't know how to make it through the day without our Ayden. You were so excited though. You loved school right from the very start and you excelled at every grade and subject with ease. I loved watching you develop a love for reading, learning, and making friends. 

And now here we are- your last year of elementary school and one year to go before you're officially a teenager. I can't believe how quickly those years slipped by. You've grown to be such a smart, silly, fun-loving kid well on his way to becoming a responsible young man. I'm so proud of all that you do at home, in school, at church, and with your friends and family. Here's why:

I can count on you. As a family of 6 now, with three younger siblings, I count on you so much. You've kind of become my right hand man around the house, always pitching in and picking up the slack for me when things get crazy. Most of the time now I don't even have to ask- you just jump in and do what needs to be done. That's just how you are though- you volunteered to be a crossing guard and help keep the little kids safe on their way to and from school. You campaigned to be on ASB and won, and you did an awesome job last year by making your school a better place. You put so much hard work into it! So many people depend on you and you're always stepping up to the plate when something needs to be done.
You love learning. You've always enjoyed school and learning new things has come so easy to you. Reading has never been a chore for you- I love that you share my love of reading! Now I can share my favorite books with you and we can "nerd out" together, discussing our favorite characters and getting excited over the same plot lines. You're always receiving academic achievement awards at school for your awesome report cards and perfect attendance and your teachers are always raving about you in our parent teacher conferences. You're even pushing yourself by joining some new clubs at school, like Lego Robotics and Coding. I love that learning is fun for you!

You're funny. Making people laugh is probably one of your favorite things to do, and I absolutely love this about you. You definitely get your sense of humor from your dad, which is what made me fall in love with him too. You're going to make some young woman laugh for the rest of her life when she marries you- she's going to be so lucky to have you! You're always making people smile.

You're creative. I'm always blown away by your creativity- another trait you get from your dad. You can draw anything and love expressing your creativity through a pencil, pen, and paint. Some of the artwork you've made for me will be treasured forever...long after you're grown!

You're sweet. From the very beginning to even now, as a big, mature, grown up 12 year old, you're still sweet. You've never been afraid to show your feelings and emotions- something that is going to be such a help to you as you navigate this big, scary world. Having a huge heart like you do and being able to show and express your feelings is an amazing trait to have, especially for a man. 
For all of these reasons and more...I love you Ayden. I'm so proud of the boy you are and the man you are becoming. I've loved watching you grow up and I can't wait to see all that this life has in store for you! I know you are going to do some great things. I'm so lucky to be your mom. 



I've teamed up with Yoplait Go Big to share what makes tweens/teens amazing. Do you have an amazing tween? Make sure to tell them what it is about them that inspires you! Write them a letter like this and give it to them (or read it to them, if you think you can do it without sobbing like a baby like I did). For a chance to win the spotlight for your tween, check out the new Go Big Facebook page and submit your letter there. Go Big will select three tweens with amazing stories and give them a platform to show the world (full contest rules here). 

Yoplait Go Big is a brand new yogurt pouch that I found at Walmart, designed specifically with teens in mind. They're made with real fruit and just the right amount of sweetness, with no artificial colors or high fructose corn syrup, contains real fruit, and is a good source of calcium. Go Big pouches have just the right amount of yogurt and it fuels the amazing in amazing teens to help them crush it- every single day! Just grip & rip for the perfect on-the-go snack!
My tween loves the strawberry and mixed berry Go Big pouches. They make for a great quick breakfast that he can grab on his way out the door on busy school mornings. Just grip, rip, and go!

I bet your tween is amazing too. Head over to the Go Big Facebook page and share how your tween inspires YOU! 

The 3 week blur- a birth story

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Hello world! I know I haven't blogged in a while, but for good reason- baby number four is here!

OK, if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram then that doesn't come as much of a surprise, since I've been spamming the interwebs with cute baby pictures for 3 weeks now, but I figured the ol' blog still needed an update. 

Meet baby Josiah.

Isn't he adorable?

Josiah was born on August 31st, 2016 at 11:34am. My due date was September 8th, but because of my high blood pressure issues (again) and horrible kidney problems my doctor gave me the option to induce a little early. Eager to be out of constant pain, I went in at 6am August 31st to be induced. I had joked this whole pregnancy that baby number four was going to come quickly...that I'd walk into labor and delivery and he'd just fall right out. Well, it was pretty close! I was admitted at 6am, had my water broken by 7, and the pitocin started at 8am to make me dilate more. When the pitocin started I sent my husband Shayne home and check on the kids. His mom had come to stay with us for a few days so she was at our house getting Harper up and the big kids off to school. I knew we had a few hours before I'd be fully dilated and sitting around the hospital isn't much fun for anyone, so I shooed him off to go help his mom and kill some time while I rested and hoped for a nap.

By 10am my contractions were coming quickly- about every 2 minutes apart, and they were starting to hurt pretty badly. The nurse came in to check me and I was only at 4cm dilated. I was already at a 3 when I came in, so that meant I'd only dilated 1cm since they started the pitocin 2 hours before. Wow, I definitely had time for a nap with this little slowpoke. The anesthesiologist came in and gave me my epidural and I could feel the pain and tension melt out of my body as the medicine took effect. This was my fourth epidural and I'm not ashamed to say that I absolutely loved them all! I had such easy, pain-free births that went pretty much perfectly, and I hoped this one would be just the same. Around 10:25, after the epidural kicked in, we stopped the pitocin because I was starting to contract a little too much.

I called Shayne around 11 and updated him on what was going on. He was at the grocery store picking up a few things for his mom and the kids for dinner and said he'd be coming back to the hospital after that. I assured him he could take his time, that I wasn't even halfway dilated yet, but that I was feeling some weird pressure. I joked that it felt like the baby's head was coming out, but that it was impossible at only 4-5cm dilated. After I hung up with Shayne I started texting some of my friends and family with updates. I had a handful of people I was keeping updated all morning, giving them the play by play and keeping me busy while I passed the time. Texting, SnapChat, and The Real Housewives of New Jersey is what I was doing while my labor progressed!

Anyway, I hung up with Shayne, started texting my friends, and after about 5 minutes of that weird pressure I was feeling I decided to call the nurse and ask her to check me again. It was 11:15am when she told me "OK, the baby's head is right there and you're fully dilated. Call dad and tell him to get back here right now and we'll call the doctor."  And then all three nurses in the room jumped into action at the same time and started setting everything up for the delivery at warp speed.

I called my husband back, who was still at the grocery store, and told him to come back to the hospital immediately. "Do not bring the food back to the house- just get in the car and get here as fast as you can because it's baby time NOW!"

Then I texted my friends. "It's time!" 

At this point I kind of panicked. The fact that I went from 4 to 10cm in less than an hour shocked the crap out of me- I suddenly felt unprepared! I mean, I was just sitting there watching RHONJ two seconds ago and now they were telling me it was time to push, but that I can't push until the doctor gets there. What?! I got a little scared and emotional and started to cry as I pulled my long hair up into a bun and put on some chap stick...I had to get into baby-pushing mode. I kept telling myself I could do this and to just not push yet (I really wanted to push). My husband was probably flying down the freeway at that very moment and my doctor was just across the street at her clinic's office, but those few minutes I had to wait for them seemed like an hour. When my husband finally rushed into my room, followed by my doctor about a minute later I was so relieved. I could finally push! I really, really wanted to push (did I mention that?) My doctor threw on a gown and some gloves, sat down in front of me, and said "OK, let's have a baby!"

Exactly three pushes later and Josiah was born! Honestly, I didn't even break a sweat and it was the easiest labor I've ever had. He surprised us all with how big he was- 7lbs 8oz and 21 inches long, because he was measuring small at my last ultrasound and he was born a week early. If I would have gone up to my due date he would have been my biggest baby! Ayden and Lily were both 7lbs 9oz and Harper was only 6lbs 7oz (she was 2 weeks early).

As soon as he was born they laid him on my chest so we could get some skin to skin. I remember thinking how long and skinny he was, and he looked so much like Harper! We sat there like that for about 10 minutes before he started nursing like a champ- it's crazy how babies know exactly what to do after they're born.

Soon after his delivery they moved me to a bigger room so the kids could come visit and meet their new brother. Harper was a bit overwhelmed, both because of her excitement to see me (since she woke up that morning and I was already gone at the hospital), and also the surprise and excitement of seeing a baby. I was a bit overwhelmed too when I looked around the room at these four children and thought "Holy crap. These are all mine." 

We only stayed at the hospital that one night and went home the following afternoon. Josiah passed all of his newborn screenings and checked out perfectly healthy, so as soon as the doctors gave us the go-ahead we were out of that place! I was so tired and just wanted to lay in my own bed. I had only slept for one hour and spent that whole night staring at my adorable new baby boy and was eager to get home to shower, eat some real food, and spend some time with my husband and kids.

We've been home for 3 weeks now. It's been a complete blur and I feel like it's been mix of 3 days and 3 months all at the same time...the days and weeks with a newborn and sleep deprivation pass by so quickly and it's hard to keep track of the time. It's been quite an adjustment and we're still trying to find our "groove," but I see a little routine forming and I feel like I'm getting a smidge better at momming with four kids. Not great- but better. It's been some of the most challenging weeks of my life- more on all that later in another post!

That's it for now...I'm afraid I've used up all of nap time (Yes- the baby and the toddler are both sleeping at the same time- see? I'm not doing all that Duty calls! 

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