Sunday, March 12, 2017

Count down to close

I truly am grateful that we found this little rental house in Choteau when we needed it. Really, I am. It is conveniently located and has technically fit all of us and all of our stuff, which no other rental we saw could have done. Yet, I admit, I am eager to move on. Many of you reading this may have come to take certain luxuries for granted. Perhaps soon, I'll forget they are luxuries and be tempted to take them for granted as well. So now I document them lest I forget.

When I stand in front of a sinkful of old dirty dishes, or find myself trying to cheerfully motivate a child to face the mountain of dishes, or attempt to wash dishes with a baby on the hip, or even look at a "clean" kitchen with a huge heap of clean dishes spilling out of the dish drainer and across the counter to dry, I get so excited about having a dishwasher again!

When I step on the sharks and boats in the bathtub as I shower, I get so exciting for having a master bathroom all to ourselves, with our very own shower! Talk about luxury!

When I am vigilantly following Oliver around the front yard (since the back yard is barely existent) to keep him out of the puddles just off the sidewalk in the busy highway, I am so excited for a fenced yard on a quiet street at the edge of town.

When I trudge out into the snow, back and forth between the house and the car with the little boys and the groceries, I get so excited for the ease of an attached garage!

When we're all sitting at the dinner table and I realize I forgot the salad dressing, so I ask Hazel and Max to move so I can open the fridge, or Elodie literally climbs over Oliver to get to the sink to get herself some water, or we invite company over and squeeze them around the table, I get so excited to have plenty of space for our family and friends to not only fit around the kitchen table, but to comfortably get in and out of our seats.

When Xander is getting upset with a younger brother, AGAIN, for destroying some irresistibly amazing Lego creation while he was at school, I get so excited for Xander to have his own bedroom, with an actual door!

When Kaleb wakes up in the middle of the night and I really think he doesn't need to eat, and would probably just fall back asleep if I let him fuss for a few minutes, but then one of his dear roommates, Hazel or Elodie, comes in to beg me to just please get him and feed him so they can SLEEP, I am grateful that in the new house, he can sleep in the office and have his "own room" with a door!

When I trip over coats, backpacks, and shoes as I'm trying to walk downstairs to the basement, or hear Max ask me why I put his boots in the freezing room again (our truly arctic entryway), I get so excited for a spacious, heated mudroom!

When I wedge myself into the little closet-sized laundry room to stuff the clothes into the dryer, I get so excited for a beautiful, custom, well-designed laundry room.

When I walk into my bedroom and it's covered with a heap of partially folded laundry, again, I get so excited for the simple laundry basket shelf in the new house that will help me to prevent the mountain from ever forming in the master bedroom.

When I bump into the exercise bike squeezed into our bedroom, I get so excited for the basement family room with ample room for a little spin bike.

Needless to say, I'm counting down the days. Five. Yes, 5 days until closing and moving day!

Friday, March 10, 2017

7 is 7

My 7th baby is 7 months old! And he happens to weigh 17 lbs 7 oz.

He is a delightful baby who uses his charm to get plenty of attention. There phrases are oft repeated in our home: "He is just so cute! Kaleb is such a sweetie! He is adorable! Ah, look at Kaleb, he is so CUTE! Listen to how I can make him laugh!"

Just in the last week, he learned how to intentionally, frequently roll over. Fun and exciting, but sad to say goodbye to the stays-where-you-put-him phase. He can now roll himself right into trouble, bumping his sweet head on furniture and getting stuck in awkward places. He can sit up for brief periods of time all by his growing self, but he quickly tips over. Soon he'll master that milestone too and really earn the title of independent sitter.

As far as sleeping goes, I'll just say that I had a lot more success with wise sleep principles back when the baby had the luxury of having his own room and there was no crying domino effect. Those nights when he does sleep all the way through, I am amazed by how refreshed I feel in the morning! When I've been pacing the dark house and catch myself wondering, "why won't you just sleep?!" I snuggle his darling little body and feel a surge of gratitude, peace, refreshment, and love. Such tender moments.

What a precious stage.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Spice of Life

Kaleb loved the Thai Curry. 
Max, Oliver, and even Hazel thought it was too spicy--it is a real Thai import after all. Yet Kaleb lapped it up. Atta boy, Kaleb. Way to make your mama proud.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Dear, Delightful Daughter

Thanks to our sweet little kindergartner, Hazel, Family Home Evening was an absolute delight this week. She loves to write and do projects and plan ahead and make up games and be in charge. She had a simple assignment, scripture, which most of us just kind of look up and read last minute when it's our turn. But she remembered that responsibility as soon as she woke up Monday morning and asked for helping in looking up the primary scripture of the month, with paper and pen in hand, ready to copy the verse down. To help us memorize it, she recopied the whole verse onto her white board easel.

Then she gave each of us a turn to erase a word or two, lavishing us with not only verbal words of encouragement and praise for erasing well-done, but also presenting each of us with a badge that she had made beforehand. I had no idea that she had put all of this preparation into it, and she was just so delighted to see it all come together as she carried it out and the whole family actually followed her every direction. These little reward "stickers" were cut, pasted, and even had little rolled up masking tape bits all prepared on the backs, with messages like, "Good Good" and "Good Jobe Good." Dad thought the badges were best displayed on the forehead, and that stuck (pun intended), so we were all reciting Mosiah 2:22 with little paper words of affirmation taped to our foreheads. Sweet moments!

Last week when we went on a walk through the spring-melt puddles, Hazel was super lucky and found a whole dollar on the sidewalk! I asked her if she thought we could find out who it belonged to, and since we couldn't think of a way, I told her she could keep it. Later, I found this heavily-taped, homemade, handwritten envelope that said, "To: Mom and Dad." When she presented it to me, I discovered her dollar and all of Max's money in it (a quarter and a nickel). I humbly asked why they were giving all of their money to me, and they said it was to help buy our new house because they knew it cost a lot of money. I was so touched by their generosity and selfless examples! It is truly no wonder that Jesus taught that we must become as little children to enter his kingdom.

Hazel and Max are best buddies. Watching them play and giggle together just melts my heart. When Hazel was not feeling very excited about going to the Saturday morning basketball skills session for K-2 kiddos at the school, remembering how she had gotten hit in the head with the ball twice at the last session and not made a single basket, I was at a loss for how to inspire her to try. I mentioned to her that next year, Max will be able to go with her and maybe she would be able to show him how to dribble, jump stop, and shoot. She perked up at that thought, cheerfully got ready to go, and did her best the whole time. I'm excited for them that they get to have lunch and recess together at school next year--one of the benefits of a little rural school!

I loved a tiny little note that Hazel gave Max last week. It was two tiny little hearts, decorated with marker and fastened together with excessive amounts of tape, naturally. Written on the back, it said, "To: Max, my BFF From: Hazel." That's all. But did she need to say anything else? These two interact so beautifully together these days, whether Hazel is reading him books,

playing with paper dolls (made by their talented cousins),

or playing dinosaurs, legos, sharks, or some imaginative princess-superhero combo "game." They are oodles of fun at this stage and so I'm treasuring it while it lasts!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Five in Line's Gotta Fight for What's "Mine!"

Oliver loves the kitchen step stool. He is quite convinced that it is HIS stool, one that he occasionally let's his short mom take a turn on to reach the top shelves in the cabinets. IF she asks nicely. That little stool gives him freedom, the ability to be involved in what's going on and to take care of his own needs--how he wants it, when he wants it. It's an independent toddler's dream. Especially for a toddler who seems to dream of becoming a chef. (And hearing a 2-year-old correctly identify that I "need. a spatuwa" when I put a tortilla on the cast iron pan is nearly cuter than I can bear.)

The other day, Oliver pulled the stool to counter, reached my cup, moved the stool to the sink, turned on the faucet, filled the cup with water, climbed down, and put his drink on the stool. Xander walked by, saw the water, and casually took a drink, unaware of who had filled the cup. Oliver told him who was boss, "No! Go take a nap!" He worked hard for that water! It was HIS! A boy's gotta defend his turf with so many siblings around!

Unfortunately for me and Max, shouting hilarious toddlerisms is not always enough in said turf-defending. Oliver and Max now love the same toys--sharks, trucks, Legos, dinosaurs, airplanes, superheroes, you-name-it--and frequently NEED the exact same one at the exact same time. When emotions were running high a couple weeks ago, Oliver began turning to the teeth, repeatedly, and that was not such a good arrangement for Max. So I figured I'd give him a "use your words" tool for when he was feeling threatened by an insistent Max who was grabbing or otherwise trying to wrangle a toy from his little brother's grasp: a nice, firm "Back off, buddy!" About a week ago, I was happy when Oliver started to shout that at Max rather than going straight for the bite. "Back off. Buddy!" We've held "back off" practice games where we take turns saying, "back off, buddy!" and scooting back and admiring just how far back they scooted, giving so much space to that brother! Wow! I was almost feeling like maybe this was working when Oliver turned it on me and started shouting, "Back off, buddy!" whenever I approach to change a diaper or insist on some other unpleasant task that he is simply not in the mood for. Hmmm. It is so lucky for both of us that he is so crazy cute when he says it!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Kaleb Daniel arrives on due date!

You all know that I'm not good at making a long story short. I'm great at making a short story long, though. So rather than dive into an inevitably lengthy narrative about Kaleb's blessed and timely arrival, I will stick with a timeline.

July 20: OB appt, baby still breech, schedule External Version for Monday
July 20-25: Pray that baby will turn on his own, perform many awkward poses and stretches to encourage baby to flip to head down position
July 25: Drop all five kids off at the Bishop's house to play with his good family all day, report at hospital in Great Falls with Aaron for the version procedure, discover that the baby is still breech, wait a lot, then endure an intense but brief procedure involving the doctor and nurse pushing really hard on the poor baby, SUCCESS! Like a spring, he feels like he's about to flip right back into the breech position, so Doctor and nurse instruct me to wear a maternity support belt in restrictive fashion atop my uterus to squeeze him in and to stand up and walk for the next three hours, no sitting for the hour drive back to Choteau until 3 hours of gravity and walking help him engage in the head down position. We comply.
August 2: bring the girls to OB appt while Aaron keeps the boys for some guy fun, baby still head down but not fully engaged so keep doing what you're doing (wearing that squeezy band day and night, walking, and praying lots), barely dilated to just over 1 cm
August 9 @ 10am: drop off all 5 kids at my kind visiting teacher's house since Mirien's travel plans were slightly delayed and she was still en route, drive with Aaron to Great Falls for OB appt
11am: appt delayed 3 hours due to my doctor having had her baby the day before and her Midwife fill-in attending a delivery right then
2pm: return to clinic for appt, baby still head down and fully engaged (woohoo, freedom from uncomfortably squeezy band!), membranes stripped, dilated to nearly 3 cm, so we walk around and I eat Jalapenos to see if we can get things going while we're there in Great Falls,
4pm: Walking around Sam's club, contractions are just frequent and noticeable enough to make me wonder if it'll turn into the real thing, but not progressing enough to convince me, so we head back to Choteau
5pm: pick up kids, Xander makes tacos, we tidy up and make beds for our guests
6:45 pm: Mirien and Jillian arrive! Taco Tuesday, get guests settled, enjoy their company, Jillian tucks Hazel & Max in bed, try unsuccessfully to figure our how to watch Olympics via streaming, mild contractions continue
11:23 pm: Go to bed wondering if I'll be able to sleep through these contractions or if they'll progress into active labor
August 10 @ 12:23am: contractions have been consistently every 5 minutes for the last hour, and I haven't been able to sleep through them. Is it because they are more intense or just because my mind can't stop wondering if this means we should head to the hospital soon so we don't cut it too close with a long drive? I get up and print out the shipping label for my first eBay sale ever, package up the Ooma device, and get it all ready to ship, just in case, so I can assure shipping within the required 2 days. Find Hazel's card for Great Grandma Lowe and finally put a stamp on that, too. When distracted, I don't notice and time every contraction, meaning they are pretty mild.
12:50 am: Back to Bed
1:50 am: Contractions  have been consistently every 5 minutes for the last hour, and I still haven't been able to sleep through them. I feel like we need to head to the hospital, though I hate to wake Aaron up because the contractions are still so mild. But if I was dilated to a 3 in the early afternoon, and I've been having regular contractions, by the time I get to the hospital in an hour I figure I'll probably be dilated to a 5, so I decide it's a go. I don't want a miserable hour-long drive. I wake Aaron up anyway and tell him it's time. With barely more than a word, he gets our things into the car. I wake Mirien up to tell her we're leaving.
2:02 am: We drive off for the hospital. Contractions are now every 4 minutes, but not uncomfortable. Aaron is exhausted and just drives. I breathe and relax comfortably. The trip feels calm and easy.
3:04 am: We arrive at the hospital. My contractions still feel mild enough that I opt to park the car with Aaron and walk up to the door. I comment that it feels weird to be at the hospital when I'm at such an early, easy stage of labor.
3:27 am: After the initial registration stuff, the nurse checks me declares that I'm dilated to a 3. So disappointed!! I feel like I shouldn't have woken Aaron up for this. He reassures me that I did the right thing. Since we came all the way from Choteau, the burse and midwife come up with a plan: monitor for 30, walk for 60, monitor for 30, check again. If progressed, admit. If not, send home. I can hardly describe how disappointed and deflated I felt. I mustered my courage and faith and prayed for help in moving past the negative woulda-coulda-shoulda thoughts. I feel reassured that it will all work out and I trust.
3:47 am: The monitor shows I'm having contractions every 2-3 minutes, so the nurse has me get up to walk the hall of the Labor and delivery unit. We walk around and around and around the loop, pausing to breathe and squat and maximize every contraction. I finally convince my poor husband that he doesn't need to wear himself out by walking with me--I'll need his strength later! He goes to rest on the chair in the triage room. I keep walking, thinking about how I had been hoping that once I was in the security of the hospital, I would actually be able to relax enough to catch a little bit of sleep. Nope, I'm walking and walking and so so tired after not a minute of sleep all night. The hallway is about 2 minutes long at my pace, and I stop at nearly the same place each loop to breathe and maximize each contraction while praying very fervently for the Lord to bless my labor to progress so I won't have to go home and wonder more and more about when to come back. I feel the contractions increasing in intensity and feel so grateful.
5ish am: the triage nurse finishes with another laboring mom who came in and brings me back to the monitor from the halls.
5:15ish am: The tocometer shows that my contractions have increased in intensity and are about 2 minutes apart, so she checks me. I'm dilated to a 5-6! Hooray! Prayers answered! Admitted to a L&D room.
6ish am: The Midwife arrives and checks me. I'm dilated to an 8. She offers to break my bulging bag of waters. For some reason, in my exhausted state of mind, I was still enjoying the breaks between contractions too much and didn't feel ready to leap ahead to the increased intensity that I feel after my water is broken. I figure I can break it on my own when I push after being fully dilated. Aaron continues being the amazing, wonderful, encouraging support that he is during intensifying labor. I love that man!
6:20ish am: Contractions have gotten much more intense and I'm wishing I had let the midwife break my water. We call for the nurse and ask for the midwife to come back. She's stepped away, downstairs eating breakfast. Too bad for me, but she did look completely exhausted when I saw her, she definitely needed some fuel. Nurse checks me, dilated to 8-9. I try to push during a contraction, though I don't have the urge, just to see if I can break that water and get things moving. Doesn't work. I'm so tired and it feels like it's taking so long. I start begging for Aaron to do something to help me find a comfortable position because nothing is remotely comfortable during contractions!
7:05ish am: Midwife returns, checks me, I'm nearly complete. She breaks my water. Very soon I feel the urge to push and push very exuberantly, remembering the feeling of relief on the other side and craving it. In the intensity, I remember Meredith calling it the ring of fire, I push like I mean it!
7:18 am: Baby boy is born and I feel an amazing flood of awe, relief, disbelief, gratitude, joy, wonder, love, and concern. His complexion is a bit dusky and his face is rather bruised from his rapid descent. Sorry, little guy.

7:30ish am: The baby nurse takes him over to the warmer to suction him some more and give him some blow-by Oxygen to get him to pink up. His initial Apgar scores are a bit low, but he responds well to the nurses efforts and scores fine after about 30 minutes. While they're taking care of our sweet, miraculous baby boy, I rest and realize that while my exhaustion made it feel like it was taking a long time, it was actually only about 4 hours since we got to the hospital and I was only dilated to a 3. Amazing. Intense gratitude. 7:48 am: Weighed in at 8lbs 9oz, 22inches long--also thankful that he didn't follow the previous pattern of each successive child being larger than the previous one. Oliver was 9lbs 4 oz!

6ish pm: Over our celebration dinner in the hospital, complete with Sparkling cider, Aaron and I finally decided on a name for the little sweetie: Kaleb Daniel Dahle.

Then we just enjoyed the baby honeymoon in the hospital and tried to recover from the sleepless night, relishing the feelings of gratitude and wonder as we cuddled our sweet little Kaleb. How wonderful that I was able to travel to the hospital in the comfortable condition of early labor and still hold my baby in my arms just over 4 hours later! Such a tender mercy from the Lord in the timing of it all! He answered the prayer I've been offering ever since we decided to move to Choteau, with the OB care an hour away, that I would know that it was time to go to the hospital in time to get there comfortably. It just amazes me how fully he answered my specific prayer. I knew it was time to go.

Mirien had just arrived 7 hours before, so I could leave with the reassurance that my 5 kids were well-taken care of at home. She could only stay for just under a week, so this timing maximized her ability to help when we need it. My mom had wanted to come help, but the baby was due the week they needed to report for their mission, so she had delegated helping to Mirien. With her busy family, she also didn't have huge flexibility in the timing of her visit, so the Lord blessed her for her willingness and me for my parent's willingness to answer the call of a mission and made the timing just perfect.

Further, I was blessed to have the sweet baby stay head down for optimal delivery and recovery. I did not have to have a C-section and the more difficult recovery, so it was fine that Mirien could just stay for a couple days after we got home from the hospital, because my recovery has been so easy.

And of course a huge highlight was seeing the siblings' joy and excitement upon meeting their little brother!

When we got married, Aaron and I discussed that we wanted 7 kids. We figured it would be great to have 7 kids in 10 years. According to the Lord's will and timing, of course. Our 7th was just born and Xander is 11, so pretty close. 7 kids eternally, 6 to raise. Wow. Amazing that we're to this point. We will just see what the Lord has in store for our family in the years to come.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

One Shoe and and One Shoe Off

Aaron was off in Helena fulfilling his National Guard Duty to country. While it's a bit close to my due date to feel totally comfortable having him 2 hours away, we felt fine about it and had a loose "meet at the hospital" plan, which would have required some serious begging for help on my part, in place just in case. Aaron had the Beast with him so he could camp in it rather than spend moolah on a hotel, so Xander and Elodie were planning to bike to church since we wouldn't all fit in Little Red. Seeing as how I really want to do what I can to get labor going in its own good time, I decided to put the other kids in the stroller and walk to Church. It was a lovely, cool morning after a rainstorm, and I was excited to enjoy it.

We were actually doing really well at getting everyone ready early enough to walk and arrive on time. We had a girls' night Saturday evening, putting the girls' hair in rags and painting finger- and toenails,

and we had even made time to undo the rags and kinda fix the girls' crazy, unevenly curly hair.

I was feeling pretty good as we were gathering our stuff and heading out the door at 8:23, even if my big blue dress was tight around my middle this week. I put on my supportive, neon-salmon tennis shoes for the walk due to my terrible third-trimester tripping and twisting tendency

and begged Xander, Elodie, and even Max to help Hazel find her other sandal. Well that sandal was good and lost and NO ONE could find it. Hazel sat with one sandal on and one sandal off, passionately declaring that she might as well NOT got to church because she couldn't find her other sandal and she did NOT want to wear her white Sunday shoes because then no one would be able to see her pretty toenails!! Tragic.

I tried reasoning briefly, I tried searching, but both to no avail. She stormed outside, still with one bare foot, and refused to get in the stroller and continued her expressive rant. She still really wanted to ride Max's bike, despite her footwear issues. I grabbed her matching Sunday shoes and ruffled socks, in addition to my own Sunday sandals to change into upon arrival and we tried to head out. At this point, I wondered if we should just drive since we now had under 20 minutes to make it, but the little boys were both already happily sitting in the stroller, ready to go, so we stuck with the walking plan and headed off. Hazel had angrily thrown the one sandal into the garage and was walking down the gravel alley barefoot, weeping and wailing, as I tried to coax her to just squish in with her brothers in the stroller. Oh what a spectacle we were! Eventually the sharp rocks convinced her to climb into the stroller, and I calmly told her that I had her shoes and socks when she was ready for them. About halfway to church, she had calmed down and told me she was ready to put her shoes on. She is such a sweetie--she comes around to reason just fine when she's given her own time to do it rather than feeling forced by someone else's timetable. Unfortunately, time constraints are real and it was 8:59 when we were walking up the hill in the Church parking lot. We made it to the door right at 9:00, but I still had to get the kids out and change my shoes. My shoes, my sandals, plural. But where was the other one? I searched under and around all of the scripture bags in the stroller storage compartment, and verily, verily, I say unto you, there was but one sandal in the midst of it. One of them must ahve fallen out unnoticed on the walk there. (Yep, Xander and Elodie found it near the school on their ride home from Church.) What? Really? I only have one sandal to wear?!?! Oh the irony! It was so funny I couldn't help but explain to the kind sisters who were holding the door open for me and trying to help me get all my stuff and corral my three little kids inside.  I had a quick choice to make--I could follow Hazel's initial attempt and just wear one sandal with one foot bare, I could walk in to Church completely barefoot and pregnant, or I could wear two vibrant tennis shoes.

Yep, the tennis shoes won out and we paraded in to sacrament meeting late, right up into the third pew that Xander and Elodie had saved for us when they arrived on time after their uneventful bike ride. Spectacle much? Like I don't get enough attention just "still being here" this hugely pregnant.

I must say that this only served to intensify my desire to not have to wear this big blue maternity dress to Church next week! Oh please let this baby come this week!