25 May 2009


... our little Alice. She arrived at 3:06am on Tuesday, May 19th. She weighed in at 7 lbs 15 oz (our biggest one yet, but only by an ounce) and was 20 1/2 inches long.

We'll give you the quick version, as I'm sure none of you (particularly the men) are interested in all the details! I started into labor Monday afternoon, yet still had a lot to do! I ran downtown to deliver something, pick up Jeff, and eventually, we dropped the kids off at the Hillmans. This picture was taken right before the kids were to go to Grandma and Grandpa's and they were a little excited about everything. I was excited too, and as you can see, very pregnant!

The whole thing went pretty smoothly, even when we thought my contractions weren't coming fast enough and we might be going home (which I had come to peace with), the doctor decided he didn't want to send me home if I was already nearing a 5. He broke my water and we were on with it! We always do a post-epidural "feeling like a million bucks" picture because honestly... being numb feels like a million bucks after working through all those contractions. Especially after your water is broken. Ouch.

About 4 hours later, she was born and I was SO thrilled to hear that little cry. She was just perfect.

Alice was our first baby born in the middle of the night, and we were exhausted! We had the best nurse who just took care of everything and thank goodness, because some of it is still a little blurry. We all slept once we were up in the recovery room, but I couldn't wait for my kids to come early that morning so they could meet her. I'd promised Jack he would be the first one to hold her after Jeff and me. They were SO excited. As you can see my mom just brought them, pajamas and all, and I was glad she did. I missed my kids all night long, but I was so glad they were at home in their own beds.

If I was worried about anything, it was how Jane would receive not being the littlest anymore. Much to our relief, she's been completely protective and attentive to little Alice. She doesn't like when we have to take her away (which could mean out of the house to a doctor's appointment or just out of her arms), and she loves to check on her while she's napping. Jane and Jack both want to be by her as much as possible which does make it hard when I'm trying to feed her, but I wouldn't change a thing! Notice Jack's mischievous face in this photo... the kids loved that hospital bed!

The hospital care was fantastic at Intermountain Medical Center, but I couldn't wait to get home to my own bed, my kids, and nurses not coming in every couple of hours to check my vitals. Enough already! So, we left the next day and it felt SO good to be home! Especially since my Alice was coming home for the first time. After we named her, my mom went home that night at embroidered this little blanket for her. Very fun.

Jeff's been off for the week and it's been so nice to all be together as we start the adjustment. The kids have loved the company and have done well with all the changes. They loved playing in the sprinklers in this beautiful weather, and I loved that we can enjoy an almost-done backyard where my kids stay close by! I remember loving when it got above 80 degrees (my mom's requirement) and we could run through the sprinklers.

Alice, overall, has been my healthiest child yet. She passed all her tests the first time and we just learned today that her billiruben count is low enough that she won't need lights to fight off her mild jaundice. We had to do lights for a few days with both of the others, so this was a special surprise! But, we did need to take her to the lab yesterday to get her count checked, so we decided to make it our first family outing and picnic at a nearby park afterward. It was such a beautiful day, and the Murray park was the perfect place. They had a really unique playground, ducks along the little river, lots of shade, and plenty of space for Jack and Jeff to throw the frisbee. It was so nice to be OUT! I can't stay in very long and keep my sanity! Alice slept in her seat the whole time and we got home just in time for her to eat (it takes me a while to master the art of discreet public feeding each time!). It worked out perfectly. Jane LOVED this spinning ring and stayed on it most of the time. There were all kinds of spinning toys here, I kept waiting to see someone get sick, but everyone was having a great time!

I love Sundays. Today was no different, except Alice and I didn't get to attend church, of course! Jeff and I got the kids ready and as I was scrambling to iron Jeff's shirt (we're so out of our routine!) and get things ready, I let Jack watch Alice for me. I could hear him and Jane from the laundry room singing something to her, and as I got closer, I realized they were both singing "Feliz Navidad". Why? I have no idea, but she wasn't complaining! Alice is SO lucky to have an older brother and sister.

Overall, we're doing really well. We feel really blessed to have such wonderful families who are so concerned with our well-being. Jack and Jane have loved being with Grandparents and cousins through all of this and I'm sure it's helped make this whole change a lot smoother. I am feeling quite good and am looking forward to getting back into a routine as Jack starts school on Tuesday.

More than anything, I've been overwhelmed by feelings of absolute gratitude for our little Alice. She's already become such an important part of our family. When she was gone for a lab test with Jeff the other day, Jack was complaining that it was "just like before" because she was gone. I didn't think we were so bad off before, but he's right, it's even better now. As he was holding her the other day, he even confessed that he felt bad that he had said he wanted a baby brother because he loved Alice so much. It's amazing what a six year old can feel and express.

When Jack was born, I remember being SO excited for all the things he would get to do in the coming years. I was anticipating all his firsts, and although I loved him as a baby, it seems like I was so excited for him to grow up! Now, since I have two kids who are older, I just want Alice to stay little. Can she just stay one week old for longer than a week? I just can't get enough of my almost-edible child. She lets me kiss her endlessly and reminds me of everything good. I know I can't keep her little, so when I really think about it, I do look forward to watching her little personality develop as she gets older. Wish me luck as Jeff returns to work this week and reality sets in! Mother of three... really?

14 May 2009

It had to happen sometime...

We initially started this blog simply to keep in touch with family as we ventured to Thailand for two years. We've been home for almost five months now, and although we miss and think about our priceless experiences in Thailand daily, we also realize it's time to move on.

We know that Thailand will always be a part of us now. We will never forget the kindred spirits we met, or the way our lives have changed because of them. We came home a different family than when we left, and not just because we were two years older. Our focus on each other has intensified, our view on life has become broader, and our priorities are clearer than ever. Our experiences gave us a fantastic boost in the right direction, and we hope to continue that way as we learn together and grow with each new challenge that comes our way.

So, although it's hard to leave anything Thai behind (seriously, we still have chopsticks the noodle guy on our soi gave Jeff one night), such as the origin of this blog, we realize that life goes on. I thought this was probably a good time to officially start our blog makeover, well, at least it's title (so I can actually read it), as we start an entirely new chapter in our lives. One that we know will also motivate us to become a stronger and more balanced family. Life goes on... and what better to do than simply enjoy it?

11 May 2009

Last minute fun

A lot changes when a new baby enters a family. Don't get me wrong, we can hardly WAIT! But, the same thing that happened just before Jane arrived, happened to me recently. I started to feel a little guilty about how my time will be divided when this little one arrives, and how it will affect my other children. A big part of me has been wishing I could make time stand still, while the other part is wanting to get on with this birth thing so I can hold my baby girl outside my body and introduce her to her big brother and sister. It's been a great time for Jack to be off track, as we've enjoyed an entire week of playing outside (can I officially thank the man upstairs for this beautiful weather?), enjoying no-schedule days, and just doing whatever we want on a whim. My kids are so fun.

Among many, one highlight was going to our first, real soccer game. Jack gets tickets for playing in the city league, and although Jeff had a rehearsal that night (he has started playing with a community orchestra and is really enjoying it), the kids and I had a great time together. I don't know anything about soccer, so me trying to explain what's happening on the field to Jack was comedic. Anyone that has any experience with the game would have had watery eyes (at least that is what happens to me when I'm extremely embarrassed for someone else) as they listened to me try and answer Jack's question about what was happening. But, there really is something exciting about live sports (even if you don't know what's going on), and I was happy to see that Jack was soaking it all in.

I also had a fantastic Friday-Saturday getaway downtown with the girls in my family. If I was on top of it, I would have gotten all kinds of pictures. I wasn't. Thank goodness I know Joanna was, so I'll link to her blog once she gets all the fun pictures up (hint, hint). It was nice to visit uninterrupted, eat at a quiet restaurant, and shop until we were ALL done. I felt so blessed to be surrounded by such amazing women, particularly as we celebrate motherhood today.

I think this was my first night ever sleeping away from Jane, but luckily, I knew she was in good hands. Jeff filled them up with donuts, soda, a movie and a whole day of fun. How could they possibly complain about all that? Plus, it will be good practice for when I'm at the hospital (minus the junk food, I hope).

I thought about not posting tonight because honestly, our next big thing will be when our baby arrives. Plus, there's something about being nine months pregnant that makes a girl tired. I've been waiting and waiting for the "nesting" stage, but it just hasn't come. I haven't even painted ONE thing (unless having my mom do it counts). For now, I'm just trying to enjoy my family of four, because we've been four for a while. We've experienced a lot together in the last three and a half years. We're pretty comfortable as four. This will be our biggest adventure yet, no doubt. But as we all know, with change comes growth, so we say, let's get this show on the road. We're ready for her.

We'll keep you posted.

04 May 2009

Birthdays galore

April and May are big birthday months for our family. Joanna's is first, then Grandma Rich, Jack, and me. TODAY is my father-in-law's, followed by my sister-in-law, and hopefully not TOO far away will be the actual birthday of our new little one. We've had a GREAT time celebrating together, as always.

For Joanna's birthday, she met Vanessa and I at the Discovery Gateway Children's Museum. We had a fun time letting the kids play and play until they had seen all they could see. That museum is fantastic, and even with the Monday morning crowd, we all loved it! This was the first in our series of "cousin camp" (which one of you Ottleys coined this phrase?) days together that we hope to really get going once the kids are out of school. I'm already getting anxious for the time together!

Do these kids look like they're having fun, or what?

Grandma Rich turned 98 on the 20th and is doing amazingly well! We were so happy we could celebrate with her and a lot of other family members who were in town. We've lost count on how many great-grandkids Grandma has (they're still coming!), but I think she's going on 4-5 great-great-grandkids, which is pretty impressive! Anyone know the number for sure?

She's aging so gracefully, and although she keeps wondering why she's still hanging around, I'm certain she's here for a reason, and I LOVE still having her as part of my life. It wasn't until I lived ten minutes from her home and was suddenly a stay-at-home mom with Jack, that I really realized how much I love this woman. We had weekly visits where I got to hear all about her days as a young mother, while she watched my son grow little by little. I loved hearing her stories of how she would tie my Dad and little brother Gordon to lengths of rope and attach them to the front porch so they would be safe while they played in the front yard. I'm going to have to try that one.

We took lots of pictures at the birthday dinner, but none really turned out great. I did love the way Jane and Grandma are looking at each other in this one. Jane really loves her great-grandma and even requests to go and visit her.

Is it just our family, or is there a program at every gathering in other families too? Here, we got some of the grandkids to play the twinkle variations together, which they'd never done before, so it was quite a hoot to watch. Vanessa kept them together pretty well, and it definitely made me think I need to start our cousin group lessons.

Have I ever said how much I love my sisters? I do. They are incredible. And aren't they beautiful too? We have too few pictures as adults together (although when you consider how many we have as young girls in matching dresses, maybe this is just to even things out). I was happy that dad took this one of us, even if we (meaning myself) weren't looking or feeling like such hot stuff. Pregnancy can do that to you, I guess.

Jack had a great birthday. It was nice that it landed on a Saturday so we could have as much time to do whatever we wanted. I did, however, take ice cream cones into his school class the day before, which was pretty exciting for a bunch of six-year-olds to be eating ice cream at 9:30am. I'm such a good mom [to be read with sarcasm]. I feed other people's kids ice cream before lunch. Jack was ecstatic.

For Saturday, we had a nice, relaxed morning where Jack and Jane could play with his new birthday stuff, build forts, watch a movie just because, and NOT need to even clean their rooms. They were in heaven. He had a soccer game at noon, which Jack was very excited about. His team even scored a goal this game, yay! We're not even sure who bumped it in, but you can bet we rejoiced that they could have that small success! We'll post soccer pictures as we get more into the season (this was only game two).

Jack chose to go to Jumpin' Jacks for the afternoon where he and Jane jumped all over everything until they were all worn out, which of course, we love. Jack's a little crazy on this stuff, and as you can see, simply sliding down wasn't an option. He had to jump as high as he could, so he'd touch the slide only at the very bottom. He was loving it.

We had a nice, quiet evening at home, eating homemade hamburgers and watching the movie "Holes", the movie based on the book Jack and I just finished reading. If we hadn't read it first, I don't think we would have watched it, but Jack loved seeing all the characters that we'd read all about (the book is awesome, by the way), and was only disappointed that in the movie you can't see the black teeth and white tongue of the yellow-spotted lizards. He remembers WAY more details than I do.

He requested a Batman cake about six months ago, and didn't change his mind until last week. At that point I decided it was too late to switch to the Green Lantern. Batman it is! That will give me a year to think up something fun for the the Green Lantern (and find out more about who he even is!), although I'm sure he'll change to something even more unknown to me by then! I was happy he was so excited about the Batman cake, despite how simple it was.

Mimi and Papa spoiled Jack with a chainsaw, complete with safety goggles. Any kind of tool is a hit with this kid (just look at that mischievous look in his eyes!). He even slept with it for the next few nights until he realized there were just a few other things that are a little easier to cuddle with! I have a feeling this will be one of those toys that's always out.

Grandma and Grandpa Hillman created a "genius kit" for Jack which consisted of a big bucket filled with things for Jack's inventions: rubber bands, pipe cleaners, twisty ties, yarn, scissors, cardboard, stencils, fasteners, paper clips, and even a sign for his door that reads "genius at work". It's kept him busy for hours already, and he's come out with some really fun things. Talk about putting his imagination to work! I'm sure we'll have some good invention pictures coming up in the near future.

My birthday was just three days after Jack's and I can honestly say it was one of my favorites. Jeff took the day off, made me breakfast in bed, and was super-sneaky (I mean, SUPER sneaky) in planning a fun-filled day. We even enjoyed a nice, quiet lunch eating Thai food, which I've missed terribly. It's a whole different thing to pay $8/dish here vs. $1/dish there. Ouch! But, I have to admit... it was good! Jeff got BIG points for pulling this day off without a hitch. He treats me way better than I deserve! Our camera, at this point, was MIA, so no pictures of the fun day, but still LOTS of good memories.

Jeff and his dad spent two evenings this last week working on the plumbing in our basement bathroom. Dad's a pro, so this was the first thing Jeff hasn't had to learn how to do himself. Jeff loves working with his dad (and who wouldn't? He's completely enjoyable!), and even with the few set-backs they had, they were still all smiles. It's awesome to see Jeff get that satisfaction that only comes from succeeding at something challenging. Or, is that just happiness from getting to use a blow torch? Either way, I love watching these men happily at work.

Amidst all the fun, I'm still quite pregnant. I'm officially due in just under two weeks, and I'm feeling pretty good. This pregnancy has no doubt been harder than my other two, but I'm so close, it's hardly worth complaining. We're all very anxious to meet this little one and start a new chapter of our lives as a family of five. I'm also anxious to lay on my stomach once again. I love that feeling. We'll keep you updated!