Thursday, November 15, 2012

In which we hit the road...

Our family is getting ready for a road trip to visit all our friends in Delaware for a Thanksgiving spectacular that will be one for the record books.  I don't know who actually keeps a Thanksgiving record book, but if there were one---this upcoming celebration would certainly qualify for the "epic" category.  I mean, how often do you have a Thanksgiving where your friends butcher their own turkey in their backyard for your consumption? My point exactly.

So in honor of our upcoming roadtrip, I thought I'd tell you the tale of the first roadtrip to Delaware we took this summer with all 5 kids in tow.  It started out great.  I packed activity bags for each child--complete with snacks, little toys, coloring supplies, and drinks.  Everyone was geared up for the 14 hour drive, and off we went.  The first several hours passed uneventfully until we crossed into Ohio, when things went horribly, horribly wrong.  From the back of the van I heard the unmistakable sounds of someone starting to wretch.  That someone was Eloise, and when I turned to look at her she had the expression of complete panic that says, "I cannot control what's about to come shooting out of my face"! Before I could do anything to help her, she began to barf.  Not just a little barf--but the kind of barf that comes in waves, and covers every surface within a 3 foot radius.  As quickly as I could I rolled down the window and threw the diet coke out of the giant cup I had in order to have an empty vessel in which to contain the puke.  I crawled over the seats to hand it to her and she managed to get the remaining vomit in the cup.  That's when Seth informed me that we were 6 miles away from the nearest exit.  Under normal circumstances 6 miles is no big deal, but when you have a sobbing child covered in their own sick holding a cup of partially digested McDonalds, while the other passengers in your car are inhaling the scent and sitting next to oozing puddles of it---6 miles might as well be on the moon for as far away as that seems.  I tried to calmly tell Eloise that we were almost there, and to just hold on....just hold on....when Oliver suddenly yelled out, "I'M POOOOOOPING!!!"   There's a point at which your brain stops processing news like this, because to do so means that the next logical step would be to throw yourself out of the moving vehicle.  So, my brain just kind of ignored that comment until we pulled into the rest stop parking lot and Seth and I just stared at each other for a moment before either of us could speak.  We were going to have to divide and conquer here, and Seth claimed he would throw up if he had to clean up the puke--and so the task fell to me, while he went off to deal with Oliver and his pooped-in-pants.  Armed with only wipes, a water bottle, and a nearby trash can, I began by the extracting the cup-o-puke.  Then I removed the vomit-covered child from the car, and peeled her out of her clothes.  Next I hosed her down with water and wipes and found new clothes in the suitcase.  Last, but not least, I began the cleaning of the car.  I did my very best to rid the car of all chunks and remnants and goo left in the wake of the puke tsunami, all while holding my breath as though diving under water.  I occasionally came up for air, and after some 30 minutes later we finally went into the rest area to use the bathroom, get some water and find some dramamine for our very motion-sick daughter.

Once inside the bathroom stall Eloise told me that she needed to poop--but couldn't.  You may remember my story about DisneyWorld and the severe constipation Eloise had that resulted in us giving her several doses of adult laxative in order to finally get that girl to poop.  It was a miserable couple of days with her, and I was not, I repeat NOT going to do that again on this trip. So I looked Eloise in the eyes and I said, "We are not leaving this bathroom stall until you poop."  I then played the role of poop-cheerleader-meets-drill-sargeant while Eloise grunted and pushed and wailed and screamed while trying to poop.  At one point I was pretty sure that someone was going to call Child Protective Services based on the horrible sounds coming out of our bathroom stall.  I implored her to just get that poop out, and it would all be over! This all lasted at least 20 or 30 minutes until finally she screamed in such a way that I knew the end was near.   As the world's largest man-sized poo-log finally plopped into the toilet, her face instantly turned from sheer terror to a beaming smile as she shouted "GOT IT!!!" 

Now that everyone and everything was clean, Eloise was properly drugged, and Oliver was under strict orders to not poop his pants, we all piled back in the car and set our sights on Delaware once more.  A few minutes into the drive I happened to look over at the dashboard which clearly read, "9 miles to empty".  Of all the things we had done at that rest stop, getting gas wasn't one of them.  Now the real trick was going to be finding another exit before running out of gas.  I remembered passing a sign that said, "Next Exit 33 Miles" at one point earlier in the trip...but I didn't remember how long ago that had been.  The next several minutes were spent in silence as we all just hoped and prayed we would find a gas station before running out.  When we finally saw the sign for an upcoming exit in 3 miles it was as if the heavens opened and angels sang the Halelujah chorus.

The rest of our trip passed uneventfully, and was actually fun enough that we are going to do it AGAIN! This time I will be armed with Dramamine, and a puke kit.   So Happy Thanksgiving everyone! May your travels be free of bodily fluids, and your hearts be full of gratitude!

Monday, October 1, 2012

In Which I Wait

You know that thing you do when you want to talk to your friend, but hold off on calling them because you think to yourself, "I'll wait until I have more time so we can talk for awhile" but then you never find more time? And then you say to yourself, "Now I really have to wait until I have more time to talk since so much time has gone by, and we have SO much to talk about" but then even more time goes by, and even more happens in your life, giving you even more to talk about with your friend, but now you really don't have enough time to talk since there's so much to cover.  Yet you'd love to talk to them right now IF ONLY YOU HAD THE TIME TO TALK?!  Yeah, that's basically what's happened with this blog.  I think about blogging--and then I have the aforementioned conversation in my head, only insert the word "blog" for "friend".   Stuff has happened, people. Lots of stuff.  Roadtrips, and reconnections, and reunions, and other stuff that doesn't start with the letter "R".  Things like summer, and parties, and houseguests, and homeschooling (yup, homeschooling). Now it's fall, and more things are happening, and I want to tell you about it.  I want to remember how hilarious my kids are right now.  And how perfect last weekend was.  And how much I love the people who come visit us.  And how much I love pumpkin things (although I'm pretty sure we've established how much I love pumpkin).   So that's why I need to write it down.  And I will.  When I have more time.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

In Which I Mean It

Seth and I recently celebrated a big milestone--our 10th wedding anniversary.  I'm not going to make this a super lovey-dovey post, but let me be clear:  Seth Malley is the greatest. And I'm the luckiest. He makes being married to him a total joy.  In honor of our ten years as married folk, I thought I'd share the top 5 things I've learned being married to Seth

5. Go to bed angry.  Whoever said you should never go to bed angry was probably never married to an actual human person.  The later you stay up ticked off at someone, the worse it ends.  So go to sleep. Whenever I employ my own advice I almost always wake up the next morning and think to myself, "I know I'm supposed to be mad about something....but what was it?"  If you can't remember what you were supposed to be mad about, that's a good sign it was probably never really a big deal to begin with.  If that doesn't work, then perhaps you could try Seth's second line of defense: In a very dramatically smarmy voice, as though you're saying it over the soundtrack of a Color Me Bad song, say to your spouse, "Girl (Boy), I know you were wrong, but I forgive you."  It's always funny. Always.

4. Never ask the hard-hitting questions.  When Seth and I were newlyweds, I asked him the most loaded question of all-time.  I asked, "If you could change one thing about me, what would it be?"  Think of how horribly the answering of that question could have gone! I'm not sure what I was hoping he would or wouldn't say in response to that, but I know I definitely wasn't expecting what he DID say. After an alarmingly long pause (during which I was sure he was deciding which of my faults he would wish to change first) he said, "I wish you were a ninja."  That is the single best answer any guy has ever given any girl when she asks a stupid question like that.  The moral of that story is: don't ask stupid questions that will most likely end poorly for one or more parties.  But if you are asked such a question, be armed with a response as good as Seth's.

3. Learn to speak their language. If you've ever read, "Love Languages" you know where I'm going with this.  Early on in our marriage I remember having a conversation in which we both felt frustrated with the other because we weren't feeling like we were getting what we wanted emotionally.  I don't remember the specifics, but I do remember complaining to Seth that he didn't say nice things to me often enough, or verbalize in the way I wanted all the things I wished he would.  Seth told me he didn't feel like I showed him I loved him enough in the things that I did.  We finally figured out that I felt most loved when he verbalized emotions, and he felt the most loved when I did little acts of service.  Both of us were trying to show our love in the way we wanted to be shown.  Once we realized this, we could both appreciate the other's language.  Recognizing this has been hugely helpful.  Also, when in doubt--just do and say lots of nice things to people and they will generally feel loved.

2. Laugh. A lot.  When I met Seth we were both missionaries and I had a very serious boyfriend at home "waiting" for me. As the time drew nearer to my return home, I shared with a group of missionary friends the doubts I was having about my future with this boyfriend.  I explained that although my boyfriend wasn't particularly funny, or appreciative of humor in general, or of the opinion that Will Ferrell was funny at all---I guessed that it wasn't something important enough to complain about.  After listening for awhile Seth finally said, "I don't understand that at all. I plan to laugh with my wife everyday.  I want to be 65 and cracking her up."  That was a pivotal moment for me.  I had a very sudden realization that I wanted to be the person he was cracking up in the decades to come.  Thankfully, as it turns out,   I was the person he wanted to make laugh everyday for the rest of his life, too.  He has made good on that promise and I'm positive that laughing together is one of the reasons we are very happily married. 

1. Live like you mean it.  One of the greatest lessons I've learned in life came from trying to yo-yo.  I was struggling to get that blasted thing to come back up to me, and Seth said, "Yo-yo like you mean it!"  With the next attempt I flung that yo-yo like a boss, and whaddaya came right back to me.  I realized that I had been hesitating slightly with every attempt, but when I finally gave it 100%, I got the result I wanted.  Now I know that may sound a little simple,  but really, try substituting any activity in place of yo-yo-ing.  In our house you'll often hear us say, "Like you mean it!" when someone is trying to do something, but not really committing.  When you really get down to it--it's the difference between making something good, and something great.  I often tell myself to "parent like I mean it" which to me entails not checking out, or just going through the motions, but to really make sure I'm engaged and connected to my kids and making the most of the moments that matter.  The same thing applies to any relationship.  Be married "like you mean it"! Be a friend "like you mean it"! Be whatever you are "like you mean it!" When we stop holding back and really commit to whatever it is we're doing, we get the results we want.

I can look back on my life and see the decisions I've made and the paths down which they have led me and I can truly say that marrying Seth is the absolute best decision I have ever made, and that I love him more today than I did the day I married him.  Thanks to my snootchie pootchie for making my life so sweet.  I can't wait for the next ten years.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tales from the (basic training) Crypt

I recently had an article written about me in a local paper regarding my time in the military and it got me reminiscing about my early Air Force Academy days--the good, the bad, and the really bad.  This blog is more of a journal entry for me (and has been sitting unpublished for a year, so feel free to ignore.

There's a common saying about the Air Force Academy "It's a good place to be from, but not a good place to be at". Not surprisingly, life at a military academy isn't always fun (marching to lunch everyday, 24 hour credit semesters, cafeteria food, lack of free agency, taking orders all day every day, and my entire freshman year with few exceptions are some of the things that come to mind) and yet, I believe experiences are what we make of them.   

Basic training was much like you see in movies.  The goal is to break you down individually and then rebuild you as part of a team. With that said, they aren't always able to destroy all your individuality or personality. As I began basic training,  I was under the impression that the cadre (the older cadets running it) could physically punish me and that I couldn't do anything about it.  So naturally I worried that my particular brand of humor might make someone want to punch me in the face and knowing they'd have free reign of my face, I wasn't that excited. Imagine my relief when I found out the unlike the boot camp back in 'Nam and they can't just willy nilly hit you.  Once I discovered that fact, I knew I could handle what they could dish out, because really, they can only make you do so many push-ups.  Here is the best example of my first day and my mindset - all 30ish of us basics get thrown into a room and are told to get to know each other and become a team. We've been yelled at, physically challenged, had our heads shaved, forced into matching uniforms, been mind gamed, etc, so everyone was a little off. So amidst the chaos, I jokingly told everyone to "quiet down because I had the conch and it's my turn to speak". That's when I knew who would be my friends for the next 4 years (people who laughed) and those that I didn't care about (those who didn't).  During this meeting where we introduced ourselves for the first time, the only thing that I remember was that Thomas Bozung said that his nickname in highschool was Donkeyballs. What?!?  Ok, so not only are you behind the curve already because your last name lends itself very nicely to be changed to Bozo, but the first thing you tell people you've just met and will be spending the next 4 years with is this nickname?  That's not even considering the fact that you're starting fresh in college in Colorado (he's from Michigan) and no one you know is here, but still you decide share with everyone that your nickname is Donkeyballs. Well played Bozo, well played.

So we were only allowed to write letters home for the 6 weeks during basic.  We got to call at the halfway point and then during freshmen year we could only call home on the weekends and that was only if you had phone privileges.  Mind you that the internet was just really starting as was technology - the seniors pretty much had typewriters because my computer was top notch and it was a 133 MHz speed machine.  In order to send them we had to put them on a clip outside our door. I had a theory that all the postcards that the military gave us to use was so they older cadre could have fun laughing at what we wrote. So I designed a very scientific experiment to test out my hypothesis. I wrote 2 letters - one postcard and one sealed letter. On the postcard I told my parents that the cadre took all treats that were sent from home and ate them in front of us. So I asked them to send a box of brownies made with Ex-Lax to 'teach them a lesson'.  In the letter I explained that they read all our postcards and so please send brownies but leave out the Ex-Lax. So a week later a box of brownies showed up at mail time. Standing in formation the cadre took the box from me, looked inside and then got big smiles.  They then instructed me to eat the entire box right there.  So I started grubbing and sharing with my fellow basics. Guess who has 2 thumbs and was the hero of the day? That's right, this guy.

There is evidence of my heroism at least one more time at the obstacle course.  Part of the many obstacles including a 30 foot rope climb with 2 ropes free hanging right next to each other.  Now remember that this was 1996 so I was a little more awesome back then, I was a lotta pounds lighter, and I had a 25 foot rope in my backyard that I climbed 20x everyday in the summer, so it was my thing. One of the cadre starting telling a tale of someone he knew "Donkey Kong" the ropes, meaning climb up using both ropes with 1 hand on each and using no feet. I stated I could do that, he disagreed, and so a gentlemanly wager was made involving him giving me candybars for everyone and my side of the bet was something that didn't matter because I wasn't going to lose. So (drumroll) I did it, and knowing that he was to cheap to follow through, I let him off the hook if our squad could eat the entire dinner meal "at rest". This meant we could eat the entire meal without someone yelling, asking annoying questions, or sitting at attention, only having 7 chews, eyes straight ahead, no talking, know, like a normal person. So yeah I was a pretty bid deal.  But I definitely got in more trouble and quickly lost my hero status. 

For some reason cadre don't like being laughed at when they're yelling at you. Go figure.  So one time someone screwed up for something and they crowded us all into one room to clean up after the Jordanian exchange kid Bashar Smeir. They had trashed his room and we all had to fix it. It should be said that all foreign exchange students had important parents in their home countries - Smeir's dad was a general in the Jordanian Air Force. It should also be said that Bashar not only had a last name that could be changed to Papsmeir, but he was the harriest person I've ever seen in my life, like a middle eastern desert bear. He shaved his neck down to where his chest hair started...gross.  Side note, we also had a exchange student from Honduras named Gloria Spanishlastname.  Gloria's home country of Honduras flew P-51 Mustangs, which the US flew in WWII and Korea, so she had a lot to look forward to.  Also there are like 7 foreign kids out of 1000 and we ended up with 2 non-English speakers.  Like usual I digress, but anyways we are thrown into Smeir's room and told to take care of the mess.  Most people are freaking out, but I state that "I smell pizza".  You may think that I just one day magically developed my ability to plan for my next meal, but this super power didn't happen overnight.  So I went straight to his closet and found a stack of pizzas.  Turns out the cadre get bored watching us do pushups too, so they threw a little party since we were halfway thru with basic and they would be switching out and frankly didn't care anymore.  They gave us a TV and the choice of watching a few movies or the Olympics.  Let's see, watch Princess Bride for the 1,000,000 time (but first time not at a Mormon party, bonus) or watch the 1996 Olympics.  All the nerds picked Princess Bride, and so that's what we watched.  A few were disgruntled, so we asked that we take a halfway break and turn on the Olympics.  When we switched over, we found out that Michael Johnson had run the 200m in 19.32 for a new world record.  Track was important to me at the time, the previous 200m record was set in 1979, and Johnson's record stood until 2008, so it was a pretty big deal and we missed it.  And this is why I hate The Princess Bride (not really, but it makes the story better).

Final glory day story - so same situation, people yelling, I'm laughing, they get mad, yadayada.  so this time the older cadet decides to take all the freshmen on a 6am run before breakfast, class, etc.  But wanting to teach me a lesson, he pulls me out of the formation and demands that I run satellites around the squadron with him.  Imagine a military group running together in formation just like you've seen on tv and in movies, and then 1 guy is running circles around the entire formation while they keep moving forward.  But you can't just make a freshman do this themselves because that would be hazing, and its hard to close the doors on the outside, so go back to your visual picture and see 2 guys running circles together around the entire squad.  So I already mentioned this was a few pounds ago and a few years ago, but also I ran cross country & track my freshman and sophomore years at Air Force.  But older cadet apparently was lost in his own world and didn't realize this, even though his roommate was on the varsity team with me.  So I ran as fast and as hard as I could and he couldn't keep up.  Finally we're running up a Colorado hill (which means mountain) and he has to stop and catch his breath on the side of the formation.  Not wanting to lose this moment and my status as a team player, I took the opportunity to run circles around him while he was catching his breath and getting a drink.  Later my teammate told me that he heard about this from his roommate and informed the guy that he was an idiot.  Of course I was punished other ways, like a really low Military GPA reserved for people caught underage drinking or to stupid to pass military knowledge tests or me, but he never tried to run me to death again.

All in all I have fond memories and good friends forged thru trials and common adventures.  I wouldn't trade those for anything.  Except more brownies.  I would consider trading them for brownies.  

Thursday, May 17, 2012

In which we celebrate

I had to do a quick post about how we celebrated Bennett and the twinkies' birthdays this year.  We had a ton of fun planning two really easy parties that were big hits.  So first up--Bennett's party:

We are big, "Minute to Win it" fans in this house--easy, fun and quick games that anyone can play using stuff you generally have around the house.  So it was an easy choice as the theme for Bennett's party.  Chanel made a DVD of the "blueprints" for each of the games,  and the kids (about 12 in total) each played the seven different games we had ready.  The rest of the kids cheered each other on as they tried the different challenges.  Once we were done with games we had pizza, rootbeer and cupcakes. For the last 20 minutes or so the kids all played an epic nerf gun battle and ran around like maniacs.  As their parents came to pick them up, they all left sweaty and with giant smiles.  Easiest party ever!

The birthday boy playing, "Face the Cookie"
The super talented Michelle makes these cupcake toppers for us--Rad, right?

Some of the decor

This is the DVD Chanel made using Bennett's picture. It is super fly. Yeah, I just said fly.

 The party favors: personalized water bottles filled with pixie sticks

The twinkies' party was based on an art theme.  We saw a groupon for a person to come and do face painting and art projects with the kids, and we knew that was the perfect thing for a boy/girl party full of 5 year olds.  As a very happy coincidence, Michelle (of cupcake topper fame) called me on the day of the party to tell me that she had access to a giant Clifford the dog costume, and would we like have him make a guest appearance at the party?  When would you ever say no to that?!  So, in addition to art projects, face painting and playing...the kids also had a dance party with Clifford (who was really Karl Browning and his sweet dance moves).  Fun was had by all, except maybe the one kid who thought painting was "dumb" and said of Clifford, "That's just a guy in a costume".  What a buzzkill!

 Rainbow Push-Pop Cakes that were even more delicious than they looked.  Had I known how good they would turn out, I would have made like 20 more just to hoard for myself.

Friday, April 27, 2012

In which I eat my words. Again.

"Never say never". It's a fairly common phrase.  One of those clichés that became a cliché for a reason--because it's true.  As I get older it seems I find myself cringing at memories of times I've said, "I will NEVER ________", because as it turns out--I've gone on to do many of those things.  Most of the time, my hasty judgement was born of lack of education.  I will be the first to admit that among my serious flaws is my judgemental nature.  Why, oh why is it so hard to stop judging?  Why do I feel the need to attach absolutes to things with phrases like, "never", or "always", or "I can't believe it"?  Sitting here I can see just how stupid that sounds, and yet, give me a topic and I'm likely to have strong opinions about it, and most likely my inital response will be to think that other people's opinions on the matter are wrong. Or stupid. Or both.  Putting that in writing makes me sound like the world's biggest brat.  Yet I have to think that perhaps I'm not the only one.  The good news is: I'm trying really hard to change my wicked ways, and employ more phrases like, "sometimes, and "on occasion", and "I can understand that".  Here are just a few of the things I swore once upon a time I would NEVER do (and probably said that anyone who did was weird or crazy)

"I will NEVER have a natural birth":  "Why would I sign up for pain when I have the option to have a baby pain-free?" I would sarcastically remark when I heard about people having babies the old-fashioned way.  I went into my first labor with one mantra: "Give me the juice!" I'm pretty sure I also said things like, "They don't hand out medals to people who did it naturally". What I totally disregarded was the concept that birth can be a monumental experience in someone's life, and they just might want to actually be an active participant in bringing a child into the world.  Another concept I totally missed was that when we numb pain, we also numb our ability to feel joy.  Nowadays I look at birth in a whole new light. We have choices, and dozens of reasons that factor into those choices. Those choices aren't wrong. They are personal. And you won't find me trying to make someone feel bad for any choice they make in that regard. 

"I will NEVER buy a minivan":  I remember distinctly saying to my college roommate, "If I ever drive a minivan, just shoot me." Thankfully she hasn't shown up on my doorstep to assasinate me, because you know what I'm driving these days? A wicked awesome Toyota Sienna.  Prior to this sweet ride, the Malleycats rolled in a giant Suburban.  When things started to go downhill with the 'Burb, Seth suggested we look into a minivan.  I resisted. Oh how I resisted.  "But it's just not as cool" I would whine.  What I didn't recognize was that I lost my "cool" about 5 kids ago.  You know what IS cool? Getting double the gas mileage, having all the kids be able to get in and out of the car all by themselves, and not hitting cars on either side of us with our automatic sliding doors.

"I will NEVER do Crossfit":  About a year and a half ago Seth joined Crossfit--a very intense exercise program that I would describe as one part workout, two parts torture.  When he would tell me what the WOD (Workout of the day) was, I would often say, "You are completely crazy. Why in the world would you do that to yourself?"   I told myself I could NEVER do something like that. I was too weak, too out of shape, too chicken.  Five kids in 6 years has done quite a number on my body, and I've spent years either being pregnant, or trying to lose baby weight only to get pregnant again.  I'm not hating on my body--it's done some incredible things, namely producing 5 little humans.  But suddenly I had the thought, "What IF I did Crossfit?" And just like that, the seed was planted.  So about three weeks ago I started, and it is to date the scariest thing I've ever done physically.  I have fear, panic and a little dread before every workout. But I am ALWAYS glad I did it, and I'm so excited to get stronger.  The only "never" I tell myself about Crossfit now is that I may never not be sore again.

Other things I happily eat my words about:  Homeschooling.  Once upon a time I thought people who homeschooled were weird, and their kids weirder.  Now I think they are not only the bravest people I know, but among the most selfless and awesome and their kids are brilliant and fun and not a single bit like the socially awkward kids I imagined came out of a life outside the school system.  I often toy with the idea my own self, so don't be surprised if I add that to the list of things I said I'd never do that I changed my tune about.

I can't wait to see what I eat my words about next!  How about you? What did you swear you'd never do that you changed your tune about? 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

In which I give birth to Don Knotts

I recently gave birth to Don Knotts. To truly tell the story of his birth I'll need to back up about 2 weeks before he was born. I was pregnant; Yea, verily. In case you've lost track, I've had 4 other kids, two of whom came out I'm familiar with pregnancy and its long list of pros and cons. I know I've signed up for 9 months of vomiting, less-than-stellar bladder control, narcolepsy, and intense cravings (this time around it was sushi, and yes I ate a LOT of it) but somehow this pregnancy kicked my butt in a way none of the others did. And considering that out of the last 16 months, I spent 14 of them pregnant, I was reeeeeeally ready to have this baby. My uterus seemed to feel the same way- considering about a week and a half before my due date I started having contractions. After my experience of enduring a week of early labor when pregnant with Oliver last time, I was determined not to be duped by "fake labor" this time around, so I decided to just ignore all contractions until, well, I couldn't ignore them anymore. It wasn't until one day when my contractions started coming about 5 minutes apart for a few hours and I started to feel really intense pressure that I thought I should call my midwife to let her know my status. She agreed that it sounded like things were progressing, and awhile later my sweet nurse, Karen came over to assess the situation. We sat and chatted for a few hours, and determined that this labor wasn't going anywhere fast, and if something changed later that day to give her a call. Sadly nothing did change that day...but a few days later my hopes were high again as the contractions started coming regularly--about 2 minutes apart and with increased intensity. I waited as long as I thought was safe before calling my midwife again (Seth was really not interested in catching this baby by himself) and a short time later Christina and Karen arrived and we started to prep for what we thought would be the birth of our baby. Within a few hours or so the contractions stopped coming regularly, and then finally stopped altogether. What was going on?! Aside from feeling completely and totally miserable with this non-stop early labor thing, I was no longer sleeping longer than 20-30 minutes at a time-- leaving me exhausted and spent. The only hope I could cling to was that this couldn't possibly last forever, and honestly--having my midwife and nurse hang out all night was kind of like a fun slumber party...except the boy we were hoping would crash the party never showed up. It seemed that during the days my contractions were totally haphazard-never falling into a pattern or really increasing in intensity, but at night they would pick up and hover on the brink of unbearable as the rest of the house lay sleeping and all was quiet. I would try my best to sleep through them--but that was mostly impossible...and so I would go lay in the tub, or take a shower to relieve the pain--but as the sun would rise, my contractions would gradually fade, forcing me to face yet another day still in labor-limbo. This went on for about another week--with one more midwife/nurse sleepover thrown in there as they responded to yet another phone call of mine telling them my contractions were 2 minutes apart and I was having a hard time coping with the pain. Much to my dismay, however, it all came to a stop at some point leaving me both babyless and frustrated beyond imagination.

I was now a week and a half overdue, and the clock was ticking. Despite all the signs pointing to a baby coming soon, I never could get into the active labor phase. Christina thought the cord might be wrapped around the baby's neck, preventing him from really descending into the pelvis fully--preventing my body from really getting to the next level of labor. She explained that the baby wasn't at risk because of the cord, but that what often happened in that situation is that the baby would stay high until everything was fully dilated before making a straight shot out of there to minimize the time spent getting squished around the neck. Realizing that we were running out of options (I had done everything that alleges to bring on labor, including very powerful herbs--none of which helped) she asked if I would be willing to try acupuncture. I told her I was willing to try anything at this point!

The following afternoon I walked into the acupuncturist's office and was invited to get comfortable on the bed using the giant body pillows however I liked. She then proceeded to place about 30 needles all up and down the side of my body, from head to toe. In case you're wondering if acupuncture hurts (like I was) the answer is no--you hardly feel it at all. Once the needles were in place she explained that my limbs would likely feel very heavy and I would want to take a nap. She encouraged me to do so, and that she would be back to check on me in about an hour. For a brief moment I thought there was no way I would be able to sleep like that--but I didn't get to finish that thought because I promptly fell fast asleep. At certain points I would wake up enough to realize I was having a contraction, but never enough to take me out of the deep relaxation I felt. When the acupuncturist returned I thought it had been maybe 10 or 15 minutes and she was just checking on me--but it had, in fact, been an hour, and that was the most I had slept in weeks. I left there deeply relaxed, happy....and in labor.

As we drove (Chanel had the good sense to insist I not drive myself that afternoon) the hour home from the acupuncturist, the contractions were like clockwork. The contractions themselves were very intense, lasting a minute and a half and coming every 3 minutes. So I did what every woman in labor does: I demanded Chipotle and Jamba Juice (Chanel, of course, marched into Chipotle and announced to the people behind the counter that this burrito was for a woman in labor and to make that burrito on the double!) And then I called Karen, my ever patient nurse to say that this was it. The real deal. I was going to have this baby. Tonight.

An hour later the contractions were still strong and steady and my midwife Stephanie was on her way. The kids had been farmed out for the night to the Browning's and I knew they were in good hands, allowing me to just focus on what I needed to do. Once Stephanie and Karen arrived they strongly encouraged me into taking a walk around my house to keep things moving. I stopped every minute or two to have major contractions--holding on the banister, the chair, the wall and to curse them for making me walk around. I could feel the contractions down my legs and I did my best to breathe and relax through each one. I have no clue how long any of this lasted. It felt like time was on hiatus, and I just lived inside each contraction. This is about the time things got so intense I went to my zen place--where I just listen to my music, close my eyes, try to relax through contraptions and ignore everyone else. That helped me get through that stage of contractions until I started feel intense pressure and the need to push. I knew I wanted to have a water birth, so I got in the tub and everyone else just found a spot to hang out on the bathroom floor. I mention that because at no point were Stephanie or Karen telling me what to do or how to do it. Having only had hospital births before, I kept expecting them to give me directions, or tell me what to do--but they just sat back and let me do whatever I wanted. When I told them I felt like I needed to push, they simply said, "ok". They occasionally gave me some encouragement, but for the most part everyone was quiet and just let me do my thing.

By this time it felt like the contractions never stopped. At one point I blurted out, "Why do I feel like I want to sing, 'She'll be coming round the mountain when she comes?!" No one could really answer that question since I quickly moved into making those horrible primordial noises only women pushing a baby out make. I had envisioned being very quiet and focused while pushing, but obviously that plan was replaced with straight up yelling, which is what I did next. I managed to say, "I don't know what to do!" to which Stephanie calmly responded, "Whatever your body wants to do." I was near tears as I said, "I don't think I can do this" and then I remember distinctly thinking to myself, "I will never be able to get this baby out". Moments later his head was out. Karen said, "His head is out--feel it!" and so I reached down to feel his head--which was (and will remain) one of the most shocking and mind-blowing experiences of my life. In a hospital you're laying there on your back, not knowing what's actually happening on the other end and relying on a nurse to tell you when to push and for how long. This time around I was sitting in my tub, fully aware of what my body was doing--and yet having no control over it. And here was this person's head coming out and suddenly I had this insane urgency about getting the rest of him out, yet no matter how hard I pushed I couldn't get him out! Again I had a very distinct thought, this time it was "I will live forever with half a baby coming out of me" and seconds later out he came and Karen again said, "Reach down and get your baby!" I reached down and brought up a giant squishy baby.

There are more emotions in the moment a baby is born than at any other time I've ever experienced. Pure joy, utter exhaustion, wonder and awe, shock, elation, concern, and overwhelming love all come crashing together in one instant leaving me no choice but to weep. I held him as Stephanie undid the cord around his neck (suspicions confirmed) and as Karen handed me towels and started rubbing on his back. We sat there for awhile as we rubbed him down and looked at his squishy face and we all commented on how big he was. Eventually Seth cut the cord and took the baby while they helped me back to my bed. That's when things started to go wrong.

After the placenta came out, Stephanie could see that the bleeding was severe. Something wasn't right. She pushed on my abdomen to try and stimulate my uterus to contract and clamp down, but it wouldn't. Then she manually tried to clear my uterus of clots or any placenta that didn't detach--but that's where I'll stop with the details. If you asked me which I would rather do--give birth to a ten pound baby, or endure the aftermath of my hemmorage again, I would birth a baby in a heartbeat. It was horrible for so many reasons. Physical pain being the top of my list. But the uncertainty of what was happening was very scary for Seth. He is a man of action and does not like feeling helpless--which is exactly how he felt as he watched them work on me. Thankfully they were well-equipped with the proper medications to help stop the bleeding and injected them. But as a safety measure 911 was called because Stephanie explained that if the bleeding didn't stop within the next few minutes, then I would need to be transferred to the hospital. By the time the EMT's arrived (6 huge men all huddled in my bedroom) the bleeding was under control and I didn't need to go to the hospital--though it was a long night of monitoring me, getting IV fluids, and making sure I was out of the woods.

Since my recovery has taken a little longer thanks to a copious amount of blood loss, I had the pleasure of doing basically nothing the first few weeks but holding, feeding and loving on this amazing baby while my loved ones have picked up the slack of cleaning, driving kids to and fro, and otherwise making sure things run smoothly around here. It makes me so grateful for the people in my life who love me, and so grateful to be back to full health and able to take care of my family.

Babies are strange creatures. They take over our bodies for 9 long months, cause extreme agony while coming out, require round the clock attention to their well-being and turn our lives upside down and yet; there is beauty in sacrifice. To sacrifice for the ones we love is to understand on the smallest level the kind of love our Savior has for us. I guess that's why I feel nearer to God with a little baby in my arms than most other times. To have played a role in creation is humbling and both the greatest pain and pleasure of my life.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

In which I fall asleep at 8 pm on New Years Eve

I promise this is the last post I'll squeeze in before posting about the baby. I can't resist sharing one of our favorite family traditions wherein we pick a country and spend New Year's eve there learning about the culture, the food and most importantly: the mustaches.

This year the Malleycats "travelled" to Mexico--Ay-yi-yi!

The menu:
Chips and various dips--chorizo and cheese dip, salsa, guacamole
Shrimp tacos with homemade chipotle mayo and handmade tortillas
Grilled Skirt Steak Tacos with tomatillo sauce

The beverages:
Homemade Horchata
Jarritos in every flavor

The Dessert:
Homemade Churros

After dinner, it was our intention to play some traditional mexican games, but somehow the kids started their own game called, "you be the donkey and I'll ride on you"...which they took turns doing for long enough that I completely passed out on the couch. And when I woke up, the table was cleared, the dishes were done, and we were ready to light sparklers for the "countdown"

After a night of partying in Mexico, El Guapo and his banditos were all tuckered out.

In which I have to post chronologically

According to my calendar, it's February 22, which means my baby is now three weeks old. I don't know what kind of time warp I've been in where three weeks can go by so fast that I can't even post to say, "Hey...we had a baby", but I guess the phrase, "better late than never" applies here as good as any.

But before we get to the baby...I have to maintain some sort of chronological order here...which means backing up to Christmas. Yes, I said Christmas. I realize that no one (and I mean no one) enjoys anything to do with Christmas in February. And yet, I'm gonna post lots of Christmas pictures. And you're gonna like it. Or not. Either they come.

We took the kids to Macy's for breakfast with Santa. It's apparently quite a big deal around here. I had never heard of it before, but Chanel assures me it was on her bucket list her whole life. Who knew?! So we got the kids dressed in the Christmas finery and headed downtown to enjoy the Macy's window displays and eat some french toast with Santa. Sure it was ridiculously overpriced and undertasty....yet like most things that involve my children's happiness, it was totally worth it.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

In which the Malleycats go to Disney and more!

Let me preface this whole post by stating that yes, we know we are insanely lucky to have been able to go to DisneyWorld twice in the last 2 years. Let me also state that no, we are not made of money. We have our dear friend, Becky, who works at Disney and her insane hook-ups to thank for making it so we would basically be idiots NOT to go. This time she sweetened the pot by getting us all tickets to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter too! I mean, who would be stupid enough to pass that up?!

So off to Disney we went, but not without a few hitches. Due to a work conflict, we pushed the entire trip back a day but were luckily able to do so without too much trouble in terms of reservations. But when yet another work conflict came up and would push the trip back yet again, it was decided that Seth would have to fly out a day later than the rest of us and miss one of the days in the park-- which was a very doable plan C. Chanel and I could easily manage the kids on a flight (they really are super easy going travellers) and Seth would arrive the following day about 1 in the morning. So we got to the airport with plenty of time to spare and things moving along nicely. About 45 minutes before the flight Eloise decided she needed to go to the bathroom. It then became obvious that this little girl was all sorts of constipated. I mean like, hadn't-pooped-in-who-knows-how-long kind of constipated. So for the next 40 minutes Chanel and I took turns sitting in an airport bathroom with Eloise who was feeling awful. When the plane was getting ready to board and poop was clearly not imminent, we forged ahead and got on the plane. The flight was uneventful and we landed in Florida around midnight. Obviously by this point the kids were dragging a little, but were being such champs. We headed down to the rental car area where we were scheduled to pick up a mini-van, after which we would drive to our condo and crash for the night! That is not, however, how things went. First of all, what is with the rental car process??! Why does it take one million years to begin with? And that's assuming there are no hiccups along the way. I waited for ages and ages until finally someone helped me. And by helped me, I mean informed me that there were no minivans available. I expressed my confusion at that being the case when we had specifically reserved just that. The guy assured me they would find another 8 passenger car for me, so we all continued to wait as patiently as possible. Eventually the guy announced that he had found us an Escalade and proceeded to tell me that even though he upgraded us to this luxury car, he wouldn't charge me for it. I expained to him that as nice as that was, it still wasn't going to fit all of us and our stuff in it, and he wasn't doing us any favors. Only because Seth wasn't there yet was I confident we could squeeze us in for the night and then we would worry about trading it in the following day. Finally around 1:30 in the morning he sent us over to the garage to pick up our car so we could be on our way. With four verrrrrry tired children in tow, we finally got to the garage, and spotted the Escalade just as another family was packing their stuff into it!! They had double booked the same vehicle for two different families, and we were about 30 seconds too late. So, back to the office I went where I waited for another full hour before they decided to give us some dumb Mercedes SUV that was even smaller than the Escalade. However, by 2:30 in the morning I no longer cared and just wanted to get the kids into a bed somewhere. So we made our way to the appointed vehicle only to discover what? You guessed it....another family putting their stuff in it. I gave the car rental guy a look that said, "if you don't get us in that car in the next 2 minutes I will ninja chop you in the windpipe" so he made the other family get out of the car and we began the process of the piling people and stuff into the equivalent of a really nice clown car. In the end, we managed to get everyone in a seatbelt, even though Lincoln was balancing a suitcase on his head, and bags were stuffed into every free corner. 30 minutes later we arrived at the condo and put the kids out of their misery.

And that's how we STARTED our vacation.

The next morning came ridiculously early, and we had scheduled ourselves to be at Animal Kingdom for the Donald Safari breakfast which meant we had to be ready and out the door by 9 am. I don't know about yours, but my children don't actually function well on 5 hours of sleep. And neither do I. But we managed to get there and enjoy our delicious breakfast (and if you ever wonder which dining experience you should have while in the Animal Kingdom, you most definitely want the Donald Safari breakfast buffet. It's ridiculously good, and you won't even be able to try everything there is it's so huge). That's when things started to go downhill. I realized that I hadn't actually brought any diapers or wipes into the park. This came to our attention after Oliver took the deuce of the century of course. So Chanel went and bought solid gold diapers and wipes from the parenting station, or at least you'd think they'd be made of goooooold for how much they cost. Oh, and speaking of pooping, Eloise had still NOT pooped by this point, making her both miserable and totally horrible to be around. She was the biggest growly-gus you've ever seen. By 11am I was ready to cut my losses and just go home, but by some miracle everyone got a second wind and we managed to really enjoy the rest of the day at Animal Kingdom.

Bennett was chosen as the Lion Leader in the Lion King Show. He led the audience in a round of roars. Not a shy bone in that kid's body.

I won't give you a detailed report of the rest of our trip, but the overview is thus: We did finally get a minivan instead of the Mercedes clown car, Eloise did finally poop (after laxatives, stool softeners, and apple juice galore--she's gonna love reading about that someday), we did finally get naps, Seth did finally arrive and join the fun and we had a fabulous time. Some of the highlights include:

* The Not-So-Scary Party at the Magic Kingdom where the kids got to wear their Halloween costumes and trick-or treat around the park

* Breakfast at Cinderella's Castle with all the princesses

*Riding Tower of Terror 7 months pregnant at Hollywood Studios, meeting the Toy Story Crew, Oliver's awesome meltdowns, and Seth's reuniting with Tigger at the Crystal Palace

*The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Pumpkin juice and butterbeer at Hogsmeade, choosing wands, Hogwarts and the general awesomeness of it all. I have to say it's not super little-kid friendly, but it sure is cool.

A huge thank you to our dearest Becky Baird who is not only an ambassador of awesomeness everywhere she goes, but who is just generally a wonderful friend who makes everything better.