Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Parade was…Wet.

Our city has a 4th of July celebration every year, the weekend before the 4th. It's a multiple day event, and there are several different activities to participate in. There is a cute little parade on Friday evening, and anyone in town is welcome to be in it. I think all you have to do is register ahead of time. People can walk, ride a bike, 4-wheeler, golf cart, ride a horse, drive a car, make a float…anything you can think of. It seems like it would be fun to try, I just haven’t yet convinced myself to do it. Maybe someday? For now, I’ll stick with just WaTCHing it.
This crazy weather, though, made it a little interesting. It was gloomy all day, and rained on and off. Of course, when the parade was to begin it was really cold and a bit rainy. I planned to just sit in the car, but threw some lawn chairs in the back, just in case, and the kids brought their umbrellas as well.
There were actually a lot of people just sitting in lawn chairs, getting wet! So, we ended up doing the same, and the kids got to use their umbrellas.
After a little while, though, I developed a plan. I opened the trunk, and we used it as a rain cover! I felt smart. But, then I did see other people doing the same thing. I guess, as they say, great minds think alike.

Anyway, it was fun. And then it ended. And then we went home, and went to bed…and then the sun came out! …And dried up all the rain.

The next morning, Saturday, was the annual firefighter breakfast. John is the Assistant Fire Chief so he gets to help out, and had to be to the station at way early o’clock.
The kids and I were able to sleep in, relax a little, and then headed to breakfast around 830am-ish. It’s a nice little breakfast, and fun to have the fire fighters and EMT's cooking for everyone.
After the breakfast there is a carnival, that apparantly starts at 930am. For some reason I thought it was starting at 9am, and so when we finished eating (at 9am) we walked over to the park. I was boggled by how little people were there, and the games and stuff weren’t really doing anything. I just assumed they were running late, but later found out I was just EARly.
I only bought 6 dollars worth of tickets, because I wanted to get Malachi home for a nap. Our first stop was, of course, the BOUncE House. Anything big, colorful, and full of air is definately a must. Ati was super excited about it, and Eli wasn’t sure what to think. He wanted to go to the balls, wherever that was?
Ati gave her 3 tickets and went inside. She had a blast, just couldn’t get enough of it. Eli then decided he wanted to try it, but he was so hesitant. AFTER he paid his 3 tickets, I spent 10 minutes trying to convince him to actually go in. He finally put his head in, and looked around,

and then came back out. After some more in and out, he did manage to go in all the way,

and had a fun time; it just took a LOT of convincing.

After Eli was in, Malachi decided he wanted to try it. I hadn't planned on having him go in, but I put him up to the door to look inside. He was so excited that he started to crawl in, and the lady tending told me I could go in with him. I considered it, then Tad finally decided he wanted to go in and said he’d watch Malachi. So I let Tad be in charge. They all had a lot of fun.

After the bouncing we moved on to the “super-tall-blow-up-slide”. Strangely, Ati, who’s normally afraid to try anything scary, was gung-ho ready to go on it. She paid her tickets and went right up.

She had so much fun that she went way more than the allotted 3 times (shh, don’t tell). Tad also went on it a bunch.
Eli at first wanted to, he actually ran over to it? but just after he paid his tickets he had a change of plans. So, here we went again, more convincing and pleading. He finally got up on it and walked as far as the stairs, but turned right back around.
After more annoyed pleading I decided to just carry him up and slide down with him. I made the decision and followed through with it so quickly that I don’t think he had time to realize what was happening.
Boy, he is HEAVY! Especially climbing up a steep flight of blow-up stairs! I was going fast enough that my adrenaline helped me up, but I nearly didn’t make it. Once at the top I heard a slight protest but didn’t give him time to think; I flung us over to the slide (where some other kid was hesitating; he had to quickly get out of the way before we plowed him over), and down we went. I might have been holding my breath, I don’t know, but it was actually kinda scary! I tend to not do well with heights, and it’s been a while since I’ve been up high. I really didn’t have time to think about either, but I can see why he wouldn’t want to do it.
I didn’t dare try it again; my extra adrenaline strength wouldn’t last to get us back up those stairs. Luckily, in the meantime, my other 2 kids were just happily sliding along, many, many times…so, I didn’t feel cheated by paying for Eli, who wouldn’t even go on it.
By that time, we were almost out of tickets (they each had one left) and Malachi was ready for a nap-he made sure EVERYone knew it, too. We quickly found one more game to play, and then headed for home. The kids were sad to be leaving so quickly, but I felt good about not staying too long and “invoking the wrath of the over-tired little…people”.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

JOY to the pool

We went to the pool last Monday, June 22nd. It was the second time we’ve gone this summer. It’s actually been a fun thing to do. I’ve never been a regular pool attendee (usually just at hotels) and I was very nervous about taking all 4 kids by myself. But it seemed to work out alright. I wasn’t exactly alone, either, I did go with a friend, who also has a bunch of kids-although most of her kids are a little older than mine, and not so dependant and drownable.
The first time we went I didn’t bring any floatation items. I, for some reason, thought they weren’t allowed. Come to find out that they ARE allowed, so I made a mental note to come better prepared (you can also bring your own snacks!).
Trip #1:
The first time we went (the first hour) was a lot of fun. I did have to keep a close eye on Eli and Malachi, because they were both candidates for drowning, and at one point Eli nearly did. He decided to take off his arm floaties and follow Ati into the deeper water. It wasn’t too deep, but just barely deep enough that Ati could reach and Eli couldn’t. I was only a few feet away, but I was holding Malachi, who also didn’t have floaties. As soon as I saw Eli’s little head bobbing up and down, barely staying above the water, I rushed over to him -baby in arms- and snatched him up. That was a little unnerving, but we all survived it.
Just about the time we were getting ready to leave, Ati started having a melt-down, from being too hot for too long, and tired, and whatever; she’s fragile, to say it nicely (when she’s “melting”, anything that can go wrong, does go wrong-in her world-and you’d think the end is upon us; drama, drama, drama). So, I had to get them dry and changed, all the while trying to keep Ati calm-which wasn’t working too well. She even ended up slipping in the bathroom, because the floors are so wet and slick, and she hit her head on the floor. I couldn’t blame her, at that point, for being upset (but it didn’t make it any easier to deal with). Eli, somehow, also slipped in the wet bathroom, after Ati did, and he too joined the choir. Malachi was way past his nap time, and Tad was also hot and tired-everyone singing in unison. It was a crazy hour of whiny, screaming, little…people. “Wee wee wee, all the way home”, they screamed. It was great fun; fun indeed.
Trip #2
Needless to say, I wasn’t too excited about how the second trip would go. But, I kept an open mind, and hoped for the best.
Having the floating stuff helped tremendously. I didn’t have to be paranoid about anyone drowning, and could actually relax and enjoy myself. I had Malachi in one of those yellow baby boat thingies, and I had another baby boat that was really tiny, that I ripped the bottom out of while we were there at the pool-with my teeth none the less-and let Eli use as a “ring”. It worked really well that way. They were all joyous. I also brought “boogie boards” for Tad and Ati, and they had a lot of fun with those.
The pool is really neat, it’s set up with a little kid area that starts out very shallow like a beach, and gradually gets deeper. Even Malachi can crawl around in it without floaties. That’s what he did most of the time on our first trip. He thought it was great fun! The deep part isn’t even too deep for Ati, and she can barely touch throughout the whole thing. She’s pretty much fine on her own; plus I can see her just about anywhere if there was a problem.
I even remembered to wear sunscreen. Last time I got pretty burnt on my shoulders and back, and was sore for a week. The kids were fine because I remembered to goop it on them, but I have a hard time putting it on myself. I since bought some of the spray on kind, and was able to spray it on myself. It was actually kind of funny, because I didn’t get my whole back, so you could see the parts I missed as I did get a little burnt around the edges. The kids were all thoroughly protected. I coated it on them really well, except for Tad, who happens to be allergic to sunscreen, and so he got a little burnt. Turns out he’s even allergic to the aloe vera spray I put on him after he got burned. I’m thinking it’s an isolated ingredient (possibly phenoxyethanol-who?), but haven’t figured out what to do about it.
Well, this second jaunt to the pool turned out to be a LOT of fun; All around. They blow the whistle at 3pm, and make everyone take a 10 minute break, so that’s usually when we leave. We took that time to relax, and eat some snacks, and dry off a little.
Then, we calmly got changed, and were very careful around the slippery bathroom floor. Even the ride home was calm, and relaxing. It was WEIRD! I was waiting for the melt-down, for the crying, for the screaming…it didn’t come! We got home, and were able to have quiet time with NO resistance; soo unusual.
All was well! Happy day! JOY, to the POOL!
Of course, it didn’t last. A raging storm was brewing, and it did unleash its fury. But...we won’t talk about it right now; we’ll just savor the “happy times”.
Yay for happy times!

Here's Eli and Malachi enjoying cake before going inside:
(it was also a birthday celebration for a friend)

I ended up only getting pictures out of the water, AFTER swimming; didn't want to get my camera wet, I guess

Malachi enjoying a chunk of concrete:

Malachi enjoying Eli's "ring".

FLOatiEs are even fun OUT of the water! Eli had to follow Malachi's lead..

Saturday, June 27, 2009

.the soothing sound of the swing.

We went to the park recently, just down the road a bit. It was a nice little "get out of the house" moment. Malachi LOVEd the swing. He was so cute and content. I tried to capture the moment. Of course, while this was occurring, there were 3 other monkeys on the loose. Oh well, I did find them eventually.

Gotta love the squealing sound in the background.

Ati had to try it out, too

Why wear shoes? I just can't seem to keep them on this kid..

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The rains came down, and the floods came up…

…and the house, and the sand, washed away. Yep, true story, it actually does happen, in real life.
Who would’ve thought that living on a mountain would put you in danger of flooding- from sudden and unexpected tidal waves of pouring rain? I know that I sure didn’t think so. Logically-my logic at least-the rain would run along and flow happily by, and down the mountain; just like that OTHER primary song “give said the little stream, as it HurrIED, DOWN the HiLL”.
Apparently, in real life, if you aren’t at the very tip top of the mountain-and especially if you have uphill facing window wells-you are still in the at risk category of possible flooding-due to sudden and unexpected tidal waves of pouring rain.
The story goes like this:
The unusually rainy weather we’ve been having has oversaturated the ground with water; naturally.
Saturday afternoon we had a very sudden down pour of rain. It was CRAZY rain! Out of nowhere! I don’t know about the valley, but at least up here on the mountain we got it good.
Not being at the TOP of the mountain proved to be a disadvantage, and apparently all the water that fell on our uphill neighbors had to HURRY DOWN the HILL-taking with it everything in its path.
Of course, it didn’t just TAKE everything, some things it did leave. Like the sudden and unexpected-but yet temporary- aquariums in our uphill facing basement windows. That was a pleasant surprise. And, unlike those fancy store-bought aquariums that everyone wants in their offices, these ones were undesirable, far from water tight, and definitely not filled with pretty fishes. Our new-and temporary-aquariums were filled with mud and bugs. We then experienced further enjoyment as the water seeped through the very non-energy-efficient windows, down the walls, and across the carpet.
Fortunately, we are no strangers to flooded basements. So, although it was very unpleasant, irritating, and discouraging, the actual flooding was definitely not a new experience. The new experience, however, was that of OCEANs pouring down the mountain. Previous flooding has always been related to other various, and unnecessary, situation: like not having rain gutters, overwatering plants against the house, busted water heaters, broken hoses on the washing machine, cracked drain pipe from the dishwasher, eroded tile in the upstairs shower, broken toilet seals in the upstairs toilet, etc, and so on. Yes, this was a new one to add to the list of “how to flood your house” (maybe I’ll write a book: “house flooding for dummies).
It’s been a while since we’ve had a good flood, so it was sadly discouraging; something, also, to add to the list of “why NOT to buy THIS house”.
So, it rained really hard, there was a lot of water, and a raging river developed. It came down the mountain, through the neighbor’s garage, and straight down our drive way. I guess it’s pretty silly to have a house built on a down slope from the street. Somehow water filled up the window wells, miraculously didn’t even go under the garage, and then rushed around to the backyard.
It took with it layers of mulch from along the fence, and continued right across our once lovely sand box; leaving ribbons of mulch throughout the sand. The raging river proceeded to wash large amounts of sand into our downhill neighbors’ yard. All my garden boxes flooded, the grape vines were peeled off the fence that was supporting most of their weight, and the new tree rings that I had just tilled and fertilized were filled and spilled.
Luckily there were only two rooms in the house that flooded. One of which is an unfinished food storage room, so there was minimal damage there, and most of the water drained into the concrete floor. But the water that came in through that room initially spread to the next room over and seeped through the wall. The next room over happens to be Ati’s room; the second room that flooded through the window.
So, unfortunately Ati’s room got it the worst; and Ati is not one capable of handling her emotions in any type of stressful situation. The water came in so fast that it poured over the window ledge and down the wall. It also flowed straight down, behind the sheetrock, soaking the insulation and spreading further sideways along the wall. It soaked her curtain, her pictures on the wall, and about two feet out onto the carpet. She had a dresser and bookshelf against the wall that have water damage on the bottom. Also, the closet is full of water where the storage room leaked through.
Because water damage is not a new thing to this house, we decided to just dry it out and move on (In any other house we would replace the dry wall and insulation, and replace the carpet-but who’s to say it won’t just happen again? and there’s so many other repairs to spend the money on). We moved Ati out of her room, cleaned the window sill and wall, and ripped up the carpet. There is a fan blowing on it around the clock. It’s starting to stink like mildew, and it’s really bothersome to live with. We keep spraying it with Lysol and leave the windows cracked to ventilate better.

It may or may not be getting better, but we’re expecting it to take a while to completely dry out. We may end up replacing the damaged drywall and insulation anyway, because we happen to have some material left from previous projects. It wouldn't be too difficult, it’ll just be a matter of getting around to it.
In the meantime, Ati is sleeping in Tad’s bed and Tad is sleeping in the family room. It took a bit of adjusting at first, but now it seems to work out alright. Ati was very emotional and displaced when the flooding first happened. Until she was told she could sleep in Tads bed (which was very exciting for her) she was an emotional train wreck: freaking out, screaming and crying about everything. Giving her something new and fun to focus on seemed to calm her down, at least initially. We’ve talked about just moving her into Tads room permanently, after everything’s put back together. She likes the idea, but she’ll be sharing the room with Eli and we haven’t quite decided if it will work or not. This is our test run. It would probably be good for her to learn to share a room; she’s always had sleeping problems and had to have her own room. She seems to be sleeping better most of the time, so it might be ok to at least try it out. The other possible problem with putting her back in her old room is the fear of being flooded again. She’d have a hard time getting over it, and it may cause further trauma for her.
It turns out we weren’t the only ones to be affected by the storm. Quite a lot of the town had flooding of some kind or other, but I’ve been surprised to hear about all the homes that actually had indoor flooding. At first I just assumed that it was just our house because there is EVERYthing wrong with our house, and it is ALways flooding and damaged in some way. I slowly learned of damage to our friends and neighbors, but then I heard that there was a lot of complaining at the city council meeting last night about homes being damaged. People want the city to install drainage systems. That would be great, but who knows if it will actually happen.
It's funny how something so unexpected can sneak up on you and then permanently change life; not only the way you live, but also the way you think. We went from having a slightly rainy, yet pleasant, afternoon, to experiencing a natural disaster (even though it was only a small scale disaster). It causes one to reevaluate planning and preparedness, to feel sadness and frustration, and to appreciate that: “it could've been worse".

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Scrapbooking...hmm...Let's go Digital!

I've thought about-and on occassion attempted-traditional scrapbooking. But, I really just can't be bothered with it. It seems to take so much time, space, and money!

Just been playing around, but here's an attempt at the digital version...who knows, maybe it'll be a new time gobbling obsession...

...yay for time gobbling obsessions!

Edited to Include:
One more, for good measure...or because I just can't stop!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Weaners BEWARE.

This last year has been a really good one for me, physically and emotionally. I’ve been more happy and more healthy, more often.
Strangely, over the last month and a half to two months I’ve been way “off”. Things just haven’t been right, and they’ve been slowly and progressively getting worse.
At first I blamed it on all the projects we’ve been working on and just being exhausted from that. Then, I thought maybe it had to do with school being out and having all the kids home all the time; added to the already exhaustness of too many projects. When preschool ended, a week or two before elementary school got out, I also stopped exercising as often because I couldn’t go walking while Ati was in school; just had too many babies at home. So, being overworked, over kidded, and under exercised made a good excuse for a recipe of depression; sort of.
Then, the last two weeks have been extremely hard, to the point of me wondering “what’s the point?” of anything. I‘ve been so tired, so down, and soo unmotivated.
I started a new form of birth control about 2 weeks ago; Nuvaring. It’s hormonal, which I hate, but my doctor recommended it because it’s a lower dose of hormones and supposedly women who have trouble finding the right kind of pill do really well with the ring. So, I was excited to try it out. Well, almost immediately after starting it was when things got really low for me. I could hardly get out of bed, really moody all day: angry, sad, frustrated, anxious.
Of course, after several days of things not “letting up” I began to question and research and then blame the ring for my “depression”. Except, it didn’t make complete sense because this had already begun building (although I was unaware at the time), even before starting the new hormones. I only last night realized that it had been building, and until that sudden realization was completely blaming the birth control for my “issues”. I was still being optimistic, however, and decided I would give it a month or two to let my body adjust to the change. I realized it would probably, hopefully, only be temporary and that I would be ok after a while. Unfortunately I have read many horror stories of women who put up with depression for years, being on hormonal birth control, and finally had to quit the hormones to regain any amount of mental stability. So, with that in the back of my mind, ive been optimistic but also skeptical and doubting. I’ve had a terrible time going back and forth, trying to figure out what I want to do for birth control. If my body can’t handle the hormones there are very few other options. SUCH a difficult decision to make.
Well, with all that said, interestingly enough, I had a realization last night. When john and I were talking about it, he mentioned that he can tell when I’m not doing well because of “what we have for dinner”. That’s when I thought back and realized we’ve eaten a whole lot of macaroni lately! Ramen, sandwiches, chicken nuggets, and take out. Those have all been the main focus of our menu for quite some time now. Over the last month and a half, or so, I’ve put effort (and only minimal at that) into dinner maybe 2-3 times. That’s how I know it’s not (just) the birth control.
So, my little, slightly defective brain started dusting off some cobwebs and put a few things together. One major factor that I forgot to factor because I didn’t realize it was so MAJOR: I’ve been gradually weaning Malachi (from breastfeeding, of course)! The last month and a half has been the most dramatic. I went from 4-5 feedings a day to just 2, to just one, and then finally, the day before I started the new birth control was my very last time. So! There it is! Weaning can cause similar effects to PPD (post partum depression). I did a lot of reading about it since that realization, and have found that it is actually quite common, and totally makes sense! When you’re breastfeeding your body produces large amounts of oxytocin, a chemical/hormone that causes your body to relax and feel calm (among other things). Even a gradual weaning will cause lower levels of oxytocin, and various hormonal changes in the body. A breastfeeding body is still a breastfeeding body, no matter how often or little you are nursing.
Coincidentally, I: 1. Completely weaned, 2. Started a brand new form of hormone, and 3. Started my period (for the first time in over 2 years)… all on the Exact Same Day. Talk about hormone overload!
Happily, now that I’ve sufficiently self diagnosed my condition I can now go on my way to recovery from my hormone addiction/imbalance. It’s funny how just realizing what the problem is can make a huge world of difference. Today, I already feel so much better. More energy, optimism, and motivation (still irritable and emotional, but we can’t ask for everything, can we?). Of course, it’ll probably take a while to get back to feeling “right”, but I’m at least on the way. And then there are still those “other” issues, like kids being home from school; just the thought of that is exhausting.
In conclusion, as I say “Weaners BEWARE”. You may experience an unusual and unexplained amount of tiredness, sad feelings, unmotivation, pointlessness, and just all around “not rightness” (not to mention increased amounts of time on the internet, doing pointless, obsessive, and never ending research). But, it’s ok, and it’s (probably) normal, and it will (probably) go away.

*It all adds up:

With this being my 4th baby, I was wondering why I’ve never realized this in the past. Well, I believe I have. After Tad was born, I only nursed him for around 10 days, so any depression was blamed on normal PPD. Ati nursed for 1 year, but just after she turned a year we moved. During the weaning process I blamed it on being exhausted from moving, and other life things. But, at that exact time I was really depressed, unmotivated, and so so tired, all the time. I remember once I finally started to exercise and actually feel better was when I got pregnant with Eli. Then, Eli nursed for a year, but I was actually pregnant with Malachi when I decided to wean him. So, I of course blamed any and all issues at that time on the new pregnancy.
There you have it, case solved! Yay, now let’s all eat cake!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

We ALL need Olive Fingers...

...don't ya think!

Malachi's first experience with olives. I thought I should educate him on proper olive etiquette. He sat in amazement and marveled over his new discovery.