Thursday, September 5, 2013

Life at the Hospital

Spending a couple days at the hospital with just my little Clara was great. The girls and I made a little heart garland to decorate her bed with. The nurses all thought it was really cute. 

Of course there were big sister visits. Isn't this picture horrible?! However, it's about as good as it gets when it comes to girl group shots. I don't take a lot of pictures at the hospital, I always look horrible. Give me a couple days and I start looking normal again. :)

 Justin on the other hand always looks very dashing holding his baby girls. 

 I could not get enough of Clara in the hospital. I hardly turned the tv on, I just sat at watched her. This hospital had these cute little dinosaur blankets which I guess is fitting because apparently they discovered dinosaur bones around here. 

One weird thing about this hospital is they didn't put little shirts on the babies. I brought some, but Clara had some spit up issues and all of the ones I brought got dirty, so baby girl had to be naked a lot.Good thing we had lots of blankets. 

Emily LOVES to hold Clara. She would hold her all day long if she could. Lyla on the other hand would not hold her at the hospital. "Baby Clara is too heavy" is what she would tell us. 

Finally we got to take her home. My mom stayed with the girls so it was just Justin and I on the trip home. We stopped by his clinic and showed Clara off to his co-workers and then had lunch at Cafe Rio before taking Clara to her new home. 

Clara Alice Van Dusen

This was our first time going to the hospital not knowing for sure what we were going to name our baby. Ever since we knew that she was a girl there was one name that we really liked. Justin particularly liked it, but as the months went on, I wasn't quite sure I LOVED it. 

A couple of days before we had her we were exploring name lists on the internet. I came across Cora, which had a nice to ring to it, but with Downton Abbey being so popular right now, I just couldn't do it. (Plus Justin didn't like it.) Then I read Clara. It had a great ring to it and I couldn't forget about it. Justin gave me the okay and I started to play around with it. I asked the girls what they thought and Emily really liked it. Lyla said, "How about we name her Claire-Beara". 

The first day and a half at the hospital Justin and I toyed around with both Claire and Clara, trying to decide what was best. We (I- with Justin's permission) finally decided on Clara, and if she turned into Claire, it would be 'for short.' 

We decided when we first had Emily that middle names were going to be family names. Alice is my Mom's Mom, and we thought it fit beautifully with Clara. I hope Clara is like my Grandma Alice. She is hardworking, compassionate, faithful, and has devoted her life to her family. 

Every day that goes by, I love the name Clara and my baby Clara even more. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Our Newest Baby

Moving to a new town 34ish (?) weeks pregnant is a little nerve wracking. You have to unpack your life, try and make friends, find a doctor, help your kids make friends, get use to new schedules, etc. etc. 
We are really blessed that a lot of this happened pretty natural. Justin did most of our unpacking, one of my best friends in Boston connected me with her cousin who lives here and we (and our kids) became good friends quickly, Justin really likes his job, the girls are happy with rural living, life was just pretty good. I did pick a doctor who I wasn't exactly thrilled with. She was kind of odd, and I decided that wasn't quite what I wanted in a baby doctor. After reading internet reviews of the doctors here, I found one that I thought would be a good fit. I went to my first appointment with him at 38 weeks and 2 days. (Way to wait until the last minute).
My meeting with him was awesome. He was calm, relaxed, confident, and didn't make me feel like an idiot. (We are, and recognize that we are, EXTREMELY lucky in that childbearing is not a struggle for our family) so all of my 'issues' are pretty first world problems. My due date has always been September 2, which I really liked. I wanted a September baby (hello sapphires) and it would be fun to have a baby on Labor Day. 
Here's one time I was reminded, "You aren't in Boston anymore." My doctor told me that he would be happy to step in for my prenatal care (basically deliver the baby), but he would be out of town for the holiday weekend. So if I wanted him to deliver her, he would be happy to induce me a few days early. Early induction??? Had not ever crossed my mind with this baby. I BEGGED and PLEADED with Lyla's doctor, but she said "nope." Anyways, I went home and Justin and I decided to do it. Hurray for no middle of the night surprises and awkward phone calls for childcare. My mom was incredibly awesome and once again said she would come early to help with our girls. 
Tuesday, August 27 rolled around and we woke up in the morning and got all ready to go and "pick up a baby from the hotspital" (as Lyla says). The girls got dropped off at their friends house and we got to the hospital. I FORGOT MY CAMERA!! I had 3 dumb magazines, a knitting project, and 4 outfits for the baby, but forgot my camera. Sigh, good thing I have a cell phone??
A few hours later my mom arrived. She has an incredible friend who works for an airline that gave her a standby ticket to use so she could be there for the delivery and then to help me with my girls (I am the most spoiled girl on the planet & I need to write a thank you card.)
So with inductions there isn't much to write about. They are pretty straight forward. I had an incredible nursing staff, probably my best yet. 
I always get really anxious RIGHT before the baby is about to come, sure enough this time too. I'm not sure why, it's like this huge surge of emotion hits literally in the last minute before each little one has come. It always surprises me. Sweet little baby decided to come in about 3-4 minutes of pushing. Have I mentioned 
There was one exciting moment. Apparently the baby's umbilical cord emerged before she did, which 99.9% of the time results in running down the hallways towards an emergency c-section, but didn't with me. The baby just followed right along with no problems. The doctor kept saying, "That was incredible." "You don't see that everyday." "You guys (the student/resident) may never see that again." Ever since we had Emily, Justin jokes that my body was just made for having babies, maybe there is some truth to that. 
So out pops our messy little bundle of joy. She had the same general look as her 2 sisters. I was pretty exhausted so I laid back, took a little rest and let the staff and her daddy take over from there, and just loved my little one.

Our lovie weighed 7 pounds .09 ounces, to be exact. 
She was 19 3/4 inches long.

From then on out, she was one of the most content babies there ever was. Oh, and of course, most beautiful babies there ever was too. Instant Love.

 I asked the nursing student who was there what kind of nursing she wanted to go into. She was thinking NICU or lactation specialist, but she said after my delivery she was seriously thinking about labor and delivery. My babies are just that awesome. :)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Lyla getting ready for baby...

3 weeks until my due date. Well, 3 weeks and 1 day to be precise. I'm having my own little panic attacks that luckily are over silly stuff like crib sheets and getting the baby's pictures taken. Luckily I have Lyla around to ease my tension. Here's a couple gems from my little jewel.

*My belly button is protruding out of my stomach and she LOVES this. Constantly she'll push on it and say, "Does this hurt? does this hurt? does this hurt???" or "Your belly button is out like mine." or "I wish I had a baby so my belly button could be like yours.

*"Mom! The new baby is going to STEAL my polka. I am going to cry, and you have to put her on time-out, ok?!"

*"MOM! I found the baby a present!" As she runs in with all of my newborn pacifiers in her mouth.

*"Can we name the baby 'Nemo?'"- asks my original baby Nemo.

*Mom, I am still your baby. I'm not a big girl."

*There was of course the day that she was preparing to kick my stomach after I held her hand there and let her feel the baby kick. "I was just gonna kick the baby back."

*"I will share my crib with the baby. I will snuggle her all night."

Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston Marathon 2013

If you are my friend on Facebook or around me in Boston, you know that I was STOKED for the marathon this year. No, I was not running it. I have no clue that that will ever happen, but I was still going to be involved this year.

In January I signed up to be an official volunteer. I just wanted to be a part of this cool event, even if it meant handing out water, stuffing race bags, anything.

As race weekend approached I learned that there is an Expo the 3 days before the race. For date night, Justin even agreed to go with me. We had a great time scouring the booths, watching video clips, and just enjoying the atmosphere.

My shirt/souvenir from the expo. 
I decided to take the girls back the next day and they had more fun than Justin and I. The vendors like to give kids stuff. They scored cow bells, little tattoos, stickers, snacks, posters, all kinds of stuff. We left as it was getting crowded and I noticed that the finish line to the race was all set up. SWEET. We walked down to it and I let the girls run across it and explained as best I could what it was. They've been to my races before, so at least Emily understood. You could tell who the runners were because they had their "race bags" with them. Emily wanted to know why I didn't have a race bag. I decided the best answer was, "I have a baby in my belly, so I can't ran that race this time." After the finish line, we went to Sugary Heaven and I let the girls each pick out a piece of candy. Then we headed home.

Monday morning bright and early, my friend Jen picked me up (at 5 am) and we headed out to our volunteer spot: the starting area!!! (Not the official starting LINE- that was almost an entire mile away). Our job title was Clothing Check. Since the starting line is far away from the finish and most runners take buses out from Boston, they have personal belongings they want to get back at the finish line. There were 3 waves of 18 school buses for the runners to load their belongings onto. Each window of each bus was designated for a set of 50 runners' bibs numbers. Runners were responsible for finding their appropriate window and passing their bags through. We would make sure the bags were in the right spot and would be ready for pick up at the finish line.
I LOVED these giant signs all over. Eek! Made me think that someday I want to run this.... 

My "official" volunteer swag. 
My friend Jen and I after our shift.
I worked on the Wave 1 buses, which meant the elite runners. It was pretty fun to see their intensity. It was great to wish them well and yell, "Have a great race!" through the window. At this point in the day there was so much excited energy. The wave 2 and 3 runners just as much fun to be around, after all they were running the BOSTON MARATHON! Our shift ended and Jen and I headed home.
Jen and I on our empty bus- before the craziness.

Our bus! 
When I got home, I knew I wanted to go cheer runners on. Emily said she wanted to come, but Justin wasn't interested, so he and Lyla stayed home to take naps. Emily and I went and met up with some friends who have a great spot they go to every year. This particular year, they had a family member running, so it was exciting to cheer for her as she passed.

Justin and Lyla, enjoying their afternoon.
Emily ringing her cowbell for the incredible runners.
Believe it or not, Emily wasn't too excited about sitting on a sidewalk and ringing her cowbell for too long. Once our friends' cousin passed, so they packed up to go meet her at the finish line. Emily asked me if we were going to go as well, and without even thinking the words, "No. The finish line is too crazy for kids." came out of my mouth. We loaded up and went home. Didn't think twice about. (*this is the unusual part of the story for me. I'll get to that in a minute.) We got home and I promptly fell asleep on the couch. I woke up when I felt my phone buzzing and saw that my brother called. First instinct was to ignore and call him back when I was done sleeping, but answered anyways and he was calling to check on Emily and I. I didn't even believe him, when he told me there had been an explosion at the finish line (not that people joke about that kind of thing or anything). I started surfing the internet and not finding very much, when DUH! I live in Boston, all I have to do is turn on the tv. Sure enough, there was plenty of footage. I promptly called my friend who I'd just said goodbye to as she headed to the finish line and when she DIDN'T ANSWER, I didn't panic, but of course texted and was relieved to hear they were A-OK.

Wow. From this point on in the day, time flew by. By Emily and Lyla pointed out the finish line and that we had just been there. There, RIGHT BY one of the blasts was the candy store we were at. Emily saw a picture and said, "Wow, I'm glad we weren't there today." It was kind of a bizarre afternoon.

Since I'd been posting pictures on Facebook and Instagram all day, I recently so much lovin' from friends and family all over the country checking on Emily and I. I was so grateful to report that we were safe and sound on our couch. As a death count of 2 came in my heart sank. As I saw pictures of people severely injured my heart sank. As I thought of all of those runners this morning, I'd smiled at told them, "Have a great race!" or "Have a great day!!" I just thought, this day has turned out awful for them! There they were, walking aimlessly around the streets. There was no celebration, they couldn't find their families, some were on stretchers and in wheelchairs. It was unbelievable. I JUST saw them. They were just getting excited to run the BOSTON MARATHON! It was suppose to be an awesome day they could brag about forever.

**I was so impressed that within minutes, the women I go to church with had already sent out an email basically asking people to "check in." I am going to miss these women like I never thought possible.

Then, personally the saddest news as of yet came in. That was that one of the deaths was an 8 year old boy. I can't even go there. 8 years old means he was taken there by his family either to support someone they love, or his parents wanted to have him experience something really special. Both of those things my kids do. My girls come to my races and meet me at the finish line. I took Emily to this race today, so she could be a part of something incredible. Same as that little boys parents. I don't know.. I just can't go there really.

Anyways. I have not wanted to be overly dramatic about this horrible event or even go through "what if" scenarios, that clearly did not happen. I even felt a little guilty when I would read that people prayed for my family, I mean we were Safe. We were fine. There are hundreds of other people that aren't. HOWEVER, as I was decompressing tonight my mind was opened a little and I found a GIANT tender mercy.
Sharing a special afternoon of something I love with one of the people I love the most in the world. 

I love being IN THE ACTION. I want to be front row at fireworks shows, I want to eat at delicious restaurants, I want to experience things. Especially Boston things, since we are moving. On a normal day, I would have seriously considered taking Emily down to that finish line. We were three miles away, right by a train stop that was a straight shot there. No problem. Just me and Emily, no problem. I might have still decided that even though she wasn't really into it and I didn't want to drag her around, but it would have EATEN at me all afternoon that I was going to miss something exciting. The fact that none of that even went through my brain is really quite colossal. Would we have been front and center at one of the blasts? Probably not. Would I have exposed my daughter, my unborn daughter, and myself to possible danger and at least a scary image or 2? probably.

What started out as a fantastic beautiful day, ended in tragedy. I hope even those injured will be able to find some resemblance of peace in the next few days.

 Thank you Heavenly Father for proving to me AGAIN, that in a real "situation" you will relieve all anxiety and help me make good decisions and protect my family.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Easter Egg Dying

We were a little late with our Easter egg dying this year. Thank goodness I boiled them ON Easter, or else it probably wouldn't have happened. We dyed them using Kool-aid this year. The picture I got the idea from produced these very vibrant eggs, so I thought it would be awesome. Ours did not turn out so much as vibrant, but totally funky. It's all good though because the girls had a great time doing it, and it's all about the process, not necessarily the result... right??!!

I only had a dozen eggs to dye, so once Lyla dyed all of hers, she re-dyed them again. 
Emily did multi-colors on hers. Some of them turned out really pretty, "like sunsets" she said.

Not really sure how this happened, but after the eggs dried some of them looked like this....
Sometimes I wish I could just video tape our lives, so this video isn't anything super, it's just the girls being themselves.

Random Comings and Goings

It rains a lot here. It snows a lot here. All of the girls in the house own a lot of boots & coats. This particular day I thought Emily looked rather adorable, so I took a picture. Enough said, right?!
 Market Basket is our favorite grocery store, but for different reasons. I (Allison) love the cheap(er) groceries, especially the produce. Lyla LOVES that there is a horse and a mini carousel outside that she gets to ride every time we go to the store. Emily always gets left out since we go while she's in school, but we'll get her there one of these days.
 Park Days. We have been lucky that spring is starting to peek its head out here. We've been to the park a few times. If you look close in these pictures you will also notice that Lyla has to dress "fancy" every. The first picture is complete with sparkle boots, sparkle tights, hat, and fancy beautiful dress. 

 This is the only picture I have of Lyla and her BEST friend. You can never tell her that Sophia is her friend without being corrected. In fact, you can't mention that anyone is her friend without being informed that Sophia is her BEST friend. Gotta love a best friend. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Minor Complication

A few weeks after Lyla had her tubes put in, she caught a cold. Runny nose, fever, the works. Since she had her tubes though, I didn't worry too much about it. Luckily though, a few days into the cold was her post-op appointment for her tubes. I say "luckily" because the cold had cause her tube to get clogged and basically not work. I didn't even know that was a possibility. Since it was caught early enough the doctor could dig the 'gunk' out and make her good as new. Had he not done that it could have made the tub obsolete and they would have had to remove it and put in another one. To prevent it in the future, he gave me a prescription with a few refills of drops to put in her ears if/when she gets colds in the future.

Special thanks to my camera girl Emily. I didn't even know she was taking pictures of Lyla. They had to strap her to a Papoose board while the digging went on. I was busy trying to distract her by telling her a story. Lyla is so tough she didn't cry at all, she just seemed very surprised by the whole thing. I've said it once and I'm sure I'll say it a million zillion more times, my Lyla is one amazing little girl. 

Tonsil Time

After a long history of ear infections, snoring, and grumpy kids the girls FINALLY were scheduled for a couple minor surgeries. Emily was getting her tonsils and adenoids removed and tubes put in her ears. Lyla was just getting the tubes put in. 

I scheduled them both on the same day, and since my Mom declared me a crazy person, she planned to fly out and help with the girls. 

In preparation we bought popsicles, fudgesicles, ice cream, yogurt, and borrowed a Vitamix to make smoothies. Emily was STOKED!

Morning of we checked in at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. They gave us a whole room for the day and here was our incredible view. 
 We all had to change into fancy clothes. The girls looked really cute in their little gowns. 
Justin went with Lyla while she got her tubes put in. When she woke up from her anesthesia she was super snuggly and sweet. She came back up to the room and watched cartoons while we waited for Emily to be done. 
I went down and met Emily when she woke up and the experience was not the same as Lyla's. I cried a little when I saw her because she had already woken up and was so unhappy. She was in so much pain, with no real understanding of why or what happened. This particular cranky Emily was unlike anything I've ever seen in this girl. Any time a nurse would talk to her she would glare at her and then turn to me and say, "Why is this person talking to me?" through clenched teeth. I tried desperately to get her to sleep, because that seemed to be the only thing to keep her from crying. Eventually they put her on a some pretty heavy painkillers and she was able to relax a little bit. 

Being at the hospital that day was basically like being at an all-inclusive resort for Lyla. She was in no pain, so she got to lay in her own bed that she could control and watch Disney Jr. and Nickelodeon (we have neither channel at home). Every time a nurse would come in Lyla would say, "I have another popsicle pease? red one?" It was very much like me laying by a pool saying, "I have another strawberry daiquiri pease?" haha. She was very sad when we had to go home. 

This little monkey also enjoyed relaxing at the hospital, but not quite as much as her sister. She liked that I snuggled her on the bed for a couple hours, but that was about it. When it was time to go, she didn't want to go though. I don't blame her all that much. 

Life at home was pretty rough at first. Emily did NOT want to take her medicine and Lyla did NOT want her ear drops. I ran out of Lyla's ear drops a few days early and when I called the pharmacy to see if I could get more, cash price for the drops was like $200 or something crazy like that, so thank goodness the insurance company ok'd it. 

Grumpy Emily stayed around for a little bit. A couple funny things she said were, 
"I thought it would be bad, but I didn't know it would be THIS bad!" 
"I wish Lyla had gotten her tonsils out instead!"
"I am never ever ever going to feel better!"
I felt so bad for her.

Another benefit of having grandma come is she brought a craft for every day she was here. Here the girls are painting horses. Thank goodness for Grandma, because I was all set to snuggle and sleep the whole time. 
We made it through. Grandma went home and I only cried a little bit. The rest of recovery went well. Well enough that a week later the girls and I decided to go to Arizona for a vacay. So glad that's over. Let's cross our fingers for good health in the future.

**One last note. It's interesting how something minor puts life into perspective. A tonsillectomy is really not that big of a deal, but as a parent there are still a lot of emotions felt, seeing your child in pain. It broke my heart just thinking about the parents who have truly sick children and have to go through those emotions day after day. I am truly grateful for the good health of my family and have so much more respect for the mothers and fathers or any caregivers whose lives are affect(ran) by health issues. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I Love You

Emily had her first crush when she was 2.5. It was pretty funny to me, because she had lots of friends who were boys, but there was something different about one. One day she even said, "I am going to be a princess and Kimball will be my prince." Then in preschool word got out that her and a boy were smooching and Justin and I put the kabosh on that. Then there was an actual wedding ceremony that took place during playtime one preschool morning, and the rest of the year all of the kids recognized Emily and the friend as married. Anywho- we've had this lovey stuff in our lives for a while. Luckily things are turning around a little bit.

I was going through my phone one day and found a video Emily took of her playing with one of her friends. They were new friends and they were being really goofy. All of a sudden this interaction takes place:

Boy:"Emily, I love you."
Emily:"what?! You're weird! Oh, what's your name again?"

I think I am going to keep the video forever.

Today Emily was playing with one of her boy friends. They are eating a snack and this is what I overhear:

Boy:" Emily, I wish I could be you."
Emily:" why?"
Boy:" because I love you."
Emily: "seriously, you're weird."

That's my girl.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

I Want to be an Artist When I Grow Up

Emily's preschool had Art Masterpiece month in January. They each selected their favorite Van Gogh paintings and painted them. They are now on display in our town library. All of the kids did FANTASTIC. We (the parents) were beyond impressed at our kids skills. At one point this month Emily told me, "I want to be an artist when I grow up. But, I definitely don't want to be a broccoli seller." 

Emily's painting is the Starry Night picture that is right above her head. 

The whole class.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Emily's 5th Birthday Party

For Emily's 5th birthday we combined all of our favorite things. Princess, Barbie Charm School, Fancy Nancy, & Pinkalicious. 

Pinterest has all sorts of fabulous ideas, but Emily wanted to be IN CHARGE of her party. While I did a lot of the details, she planned the food and activities. 

For food she picked our pb & j sandwiches. Fancy Nancy says sandwiches taste better with fancy toothpicks, but we negotiated and made crown sandwiches instead. Strawberries with chocolate, grape kabobs, frosting & sprinkle pretzels, and a bunch of fancy eclairs and things. 

Princess Punch. 
This was hilarious because Lyla was in love with it. She would try and get every last drop of punch out of her glass before begging for more. It was really cute. To fancify drinking I got stemmed glasses (thank you dollar store) and added ribbon to them. The girls got a kick of it. 

We made a fancy ceiling with giant puff balls. 

I really really wanted some fancy cupcakes or a fancy cake, but Emily really wanted one of their activities to be decorate cupcakes. So here are the plain cupcakes before the girls turned them in to works of art. 
finger nail painting
 Princess story time
 Book balancing
This one was pretty funny because it was really hard. We started out with each girl having one book to balance and just about no one could walk with it. Then we switched and tried to see how many they could balance. It was pretty cute watching these really determined little girls try and figure this out. 

Crown decorating.
I didn't take good enough pictures of the girls doing this. They made some pretty intense crowns. There were all sorts of patterns going on, but my FAVORITE moment was when one of the girls was getting picked up she said, "You know how Beth (big sister) says things are symmetrical? I made my crown symmetrical." You better believe she had a symmetrical crown. 

 Happy Birthday Princess Emily