Saturday, January 18, 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Hang on to your drawers because I've got a lot of catching up to do! I hope you had a Merry Christmas! We traveled to California for Christmas to celebrate with our family there. That's right, me and Michael and five kids on a plane. It started out innocently enough as we journeyed two hours from home to the Orlando airport...




Yep, that is my husband, one hour in, already exhausted. Had to pull over and let me finish the drive.

We made it to the airport and the dreaded trip to the check-in counter. This is sometimes the most challenging because not only do you have all the kids, strollers, etc, but you also have all your luggage. Although we had it all worked out, a sweet couple who was watching us pull kids out of the car, asked us if we could use some help. Right away, I was encouraged at the kindness of strangers!

We took a bathroom break before getting in the security line. A lady in the restroom saw that we had twins and gave me a "Thing One" and "Thing Two" set of onesies for the boys! She had just purchased them in the airport gift shop and didn't have time to take them back before catching her flight and, by her words, she "didn't want her husband to see them." I was touched she was giving them to me and happy to prevent a domestic squabble.

We dropped off our stuff and got in the security line. This lady's head almost exploded.


Traveling with 5 kids is so fun because of the reactions of people. Sometimes humorous, sometimes rude, sometimes baffled. It's a lottery of emotions really! But HOW can you not think this is adorable?

 
 

On the plane and headed to Salt Lake City to get our connection to Fresno. We took up two rows!




We made is to California in one piece with really only a couple of hiccups, mostly poop related. I'll spare you. 

Every Christmas Eve, the kids and I make sugar cookies for Santa. I use a recipe that my best friend gave me and these cookies never last long! Madison was really into the process this year and helped me every step of the way!







 
Noah showed up here and there during the process... I believe only checking to see when he could sample the goods!
 
Christmas Eve at the California Pedreiro's is always a lot of fun! The tradition is to open presents on Christmas Eve. This year we got a special visitor:
 
 
Santa had picked up a Portuguese accent along in his travels, and my mother-in-law was really fresh with him! I really admire my in-law's spunk and determination to make their grandkids smile!
 
Poor Jaxson. The boy just wasn't himself on this trip. I'm not sure if it was just being out of his element or what, but he was cranky the whole trip, which broke my heart. I hate that he was so out of sorts and that the extended family didn't get to see he awesome little personality. He is my best sleeper, but he likes to sleep by himself, in his own room. Madison and Noah will sleep anywhere, because they are usually crawling in bed with us, something we do battle with every night! But my Jax, my good sleeper was out of his bed and couldn't get much sleep at night, making for cranky days. Here he is on Christmas Eve, right before bed:
 
 
Poor baby. Traveling is hard on the little ones sometimes. I love this picture because it is complete reality.
 
Christmas Day we all got together for lots of fellowship and eating of course! A special moment was when Michael's only living grandparent took a picture with all of her great grandchildren from Michael's parents union:
 
 
Priceless I think. Note Jax's expression.
 
We stayed for a week and despite the non-ideal situation of Michael's heavy traveling due to work, that travel throughout the year provided enough airline miles for us to go see our family for FREE. What a blessing!
 
We had one big snafu on the way home. Due to a slow de-icer in Fresno, we missed our connection to Orlando in Salt Lake City. They then re-routed us through Detroit and ultimately to Orlando. An extra plane with 5 kids, sure. Only issue is on the last flight our seats were not together. Noah had to sit in a row behind me by himself and Michael and Hudson were a few rows up. At one point Noah said, "I want to sit with you Momma." So sad. I explained he couldn't but I was right here if he needed me. I looked back after take off and he had laid in the woman's lap next to him and fallen asleep. That young woman was a saint. Assured me it was perfectly fine and he was welcome to her lap. I am so thankful for her kindness! He slept on her for the whole 2 hour flight! I looked back once and she was asleep as well. The kids were such troopers. They like riding on planes, which I'm grateful for!
 
 
It took us 14ish hours to get home, but it was a wonderful trip. I can tell you, now, going anywhere with all five seems like no big deal compared to flying with them!
 
We got home on December 30th and rang in the New Year with my family celebrating my brother's birthday and welcoming 2014! So far this new year we have had lots happen. Michael's brother AJ and his wife Jillian welcomed a son, Cristiano! He is so precious, and makes me want to have another! Really. I'm not going to, but I so loved being pregnant every time and LOVED those magical moments when they were so brand new.
 
Jaxson has lost his best friend... his pacifier. We knew it was about that time. I wasn't planning on weaning him the day it happened, but we were down to two pacifiers and he lost one and the dog chewed up the other. SO... we said good-bye and to my astonishment, he transitioned smoothly. Such a big boy! Mastering the potty will be next.
 
Michael and I started a workout/diet program together. We are following Shaun T of Insanity fame. His new program is called T25 and it's 25 minutes a day/six days a week of sheer torture. We are managing though! It's fun to workout with him when he's home!
 
So, in a very big nutshell, that is how we wrapped up 2013 and how we are doing in 2014. Last year will always be memorable. We had a very big storm blow in with the twins arrival, and through it all, God carried us and proved His great love for us. I realized again that I can't do anything without Him. That He is my strength. I know He has wonderful things ahead for this year. We are looking forward to our 10 year wedding anniversary, the arrival of some very special babies (not ours), some visits from friends who live far away, and a wedding! God has blessed us in ways we don't even know. I'm so thankful for Him.
 
Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Doo doo on your finger?

I can't wait until I'm done breastfeeding. I can't wait until everyone is potty trained. I can't wait until Jax doesn't use his paci anymore. I can't wait until the older ones can follow rules the first time.

I do this far too often than I care to admit. During the routine of my day, and the stresses that come along with having small children, I wish these times away. I sometimes get overwhelmed to the point where I'm literally wishing their childhood away. I certainly don't mean to do that, but it's exactly what I'm doing.

One of the most common things I'm told by older parents is, "It goes by so fast". I know that is true, it's already happening. It seems like only yesterday my life was this:


Here we are... Me (holy heifer), Michael, and our first born baby! It was the most captivating, magnificent, overwhelming, first year of parenthood ever. Eight months into her first year of life, I saw this:


Little baby Noah, cooking away. I remember being so excited to be having another baby. But, as I've come to learn, more babies brings more responsibility and more things to do. As my days filled up with those responsibilities, their earliest years simply evaporated.

I'll sometimes be holding one of the twins and try to remember Madison, Noah, or even Jax at their age, and the memories are sometimes few. I hate that. Thank goodness for photos and videos, so that I can remind myself of things like this:

video

I don't want to miss a thing, so why do I consistently wish away those mundane things? I mean, I realize that I'm human, and who really wants to change dirty diapers? However, with dirty diapers comes little tiny babies who rely on you for everything and look at you as if you are their entire world. With breastfeeding comes very intimate moments with sometimes smiley faces so appreciative of what you are doing. The challenging moments of babyhood reveals the sweetness of the bonds between parents and children.

One day they won't want to sleep in my bed, or hug me in public, or ask my opinion for everything. That day is far too close for comfort. To all those parents out there with doo doo on your finger or puke in your hair, I salute you and ask that you embrace the moment and enjoy those little babies... right after you clean yourself up!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

All About Noah

I'll never forget the first time I looked into the big beautiful eyes of my first born son. It's hard for me to believe that moment was five years ago.

A new family of four. Disclaimer: I am not one of those women who look amazing during or after childbirth, so pardon.

Madison's first meeting with Noah.

He was born November 13, 2008 at 12:36 AM weighing 8 pounds, 11 ounces. We didn't know he was a boy until he arrived.

Here were some guesses to his gender/time of birth/weight/length.

Michael and I named him after the biblical Noah. We hope that our Noah will be a humble, honest, noble, loyal, faithful man of God, just like his namesake.

His first try at food was an epic failure.

That's nasty Momma.
He's got the biggest, deep brown eyes that are accompanied by some impressively expressive eyebrows.

Dapper.
He didn't really take a pacifier, but to this day, he has to play with my hair while he drinks his milk or goes to sleep. I know he's five, but one day this little habit will stop, and it will make me sad.

He started walking at 10 months, and when his first birthday arrived, his nose and the cement connected.

Noah on his first birthday.

Delicious... the cake was good too!

While his little brother Jaxson is known for his curly hair, Noah did it first! He had very curly, blonde hair and got his first haircut in October of 2009, two weeks before his second birthday. I haven't seen a Noah curl since. :(

Look at those blonde curls!

Just like little brother Jax, Noah's curls got tighter when he was hot!

By the time he was two, he looked like a little man and was starting to get the traditional "terrible twos" attitude!

Noah on his second birthday.
Noah is very compassionate and is quick to comfort his little brothers and Madison. It's so sweet to witness the softer moments.

When he was a baby and still nursing, I started calling him "My little Kiki Monkey". No idea where the nickname came from. It got shortened to "Kiki" for the longest time and then we would just sporadically call him "Keek". It's been a while since I've called him that... which again, makes me realize how fast he's growing!

Noah on his third birthday.
This was shortly after I taught him to wink.
Madison and Noah are only 17 months apart and have a pretty tight bond. It is precious how they tell each other I love you before bed. They can fight as hard as they love, but I hope they always are this close.

Yeah that's a cooler. We too poor to get a swimming pool. Ha!
He loves all things Super Mario Brothers or Angry Birds!

Noah on his fourth birthday.

For the longest time, and still occasionally, when life didn't go Noah's way, he'd slump his shoulders, hang his head, and walk really slowly away. He also has an ability when he's frustrated, embarrassed, or annoyed to give a look...

Still incredibly handsome even when he's being naughty.

He loves to fish, and he loves to play baseball. I hope he continues to do both.

So serious.

So determined.

He started school this year and his favorite thing is homework. No kidding. When I tell Madison to do her homework and if he doesn't have any, he lets out an "AWWWW!" When he has homework, he says, "YESSSS!" I hope his enthusiasm for learning continues and he turns out as smart as his Daddy one day.

First day of school this past August!

My most favorite thing about him is his heart. Every night when he says his prayers, he says the following things:
"I'm thankful for Daddy, Mommy, Madison, Jaxson, Carter and Hudson."
"I'm thankful for everybody in the whole wide world."
"In Jesus's name... Amen."

I hope he always loves God, and loves people. Happy birthday Noah. We love you!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Bewitching Hours

During the week, when Michael's out of state, the hours from 4:00pm to 11:00pm are the most crucial in my day. I say that because it is what happens in these few hours that can make or break me. The dinner to bedtime routine requires a lot of organization and attention to several different things at once. On top of the normal stuff, we have T-Ball practice Tuesdays and Thursdays and gymnastics on Wednesdays. Due to these activities, every night is not equal, but I try my best to keep everyone on a schedule.

Tonight broke me.

About 4:30pm, I realized I needed to pump in order to get ready to leave the house at 5:15pm for gymnastics. Jaxson was napping, Madison and Noah were jumping on the trampoline, Carter was asleep in his bouncy seat and Hudson was in his, just chillin. As soon as I start doing my thing, it's like a switch in Hudson goes off and he starts fussing. Noah comes to my rescue and entertains him until I'm done. I send Madison to her room to get dressed, and start to get bottles ready. Jaxson is still asleep, so I have to go wake him up from his nap. Cue the desperation... I get it. He feels the same way about being woken up from a sweet slumber as I do at 3am. However, ain't nobody got time for his hissy fit. I finish getting the twins bottles ready, get Madison's water bottle, some snacks for the big boys, get the twins in their car seats and put in the car, get Noah and Madi in the car, and come back in to get a screaming Jaxson, still laying in his bed.

As he's crawling over the console in the car to get to his seat, he slips and lands face first in the floor board. That brought his fit up an octave. We get to gymnastics and Madi runs in ahead of us. Jax is no longer crying, but cranks it back up when I tell him to get out of the car. Noah's standing by me, the twins are both in their car seats on the pavement next to me, and it starts to rain. I finally get Jax out of the car and he's mad because I can't hold him. I have a car seat in each hand and finally get everyone inside.

Jax sits on my lap. What's that smell? Please, no. Oh yes. It is. I look in the diaper bag for a diaper for Jax, but only find diapers for the twins. I mean, what to do. I can't leave the twins and Noah sitting there by themselves to take Jax to the bathroom anyway, so we suffer through it... it's only an hour class.

Gymnastics are over and we get home. I get Jax changed, finally. I decide to make breakfast for dinner because it's quick, and my kids love it. I put the twins in their jumpers and get to work on the eggs. I hear Hudson cough and Madi scream, "Hudson's sick! He throwed up!" Madison usually is more animated than necessary, so I assume it's his normal spit up. I go check. Projectile vomit all over Madison, Hudson, and all over the jumper. His puke hits the jumper on the music box, so those sweet little lullabies that is plays start sounding like a CD skipping. I'm cleaning him up when I smell those eggs I walked away from.

Ok, so we are all at the table now, eating our dinner (new eggs). I get up to get Noah some more orange juice. Jax spills his drink all over the place. Carter and Hudson are fed up with the jumpers and screaming. I start to work on bottles and go get bath water ready.

Those jumpers are laxatives. I don't know what it is, but EVERYDAY, the twins blow out their diapers in those things... tonight was no exception. So, good thing it's bath time.

Twins are clean, and having their bottles. I make an executive decision that the older kids are clean enough, and don't get a bath. Madison starts screaming. She's gotten a splinter deep in her heel. I go to work on that... 15 minutes later, we get it out. Jax gets put to bed and I put Carter to bed. Hudson is still eating. I take Madison and Noah to bed. We are saying prayers when I hear Hudson crying. I go check, but it's actually Carter. So I bring him back in the room where Madison and Noah are and they freak out... "Why is the baby here?" Just relax. Say your prayers before I FLIP OUT.

Carter starts to nurse so I can get him back to bed, only he feels the need to talk about it. Madison and Noah are giggling hysterically, and I start wondering what size straight jacket I need.

Finally get everyone to bed and I call Michael back who had called me in the chaos. He says, "How was your night?"

Here is the deal people. The majority of the time, I can handle this crew pretty good. But there are moments of the day, and in some cases a whole day, where one versus five doesn't work out for me. I love these little people and I know they'll only be this little for a little while. I know how very blessed I am to have this big, beautiful family, but some days, you gotta just call a spade a spade. They won today.

I'm not writing for you pity, I'm writing for your prayers! Ha! No seriously.

If you have kids, I'm praying for you tonight too. It doesn't matter how many you have, you probably need a break every now and again too.

I have neglected my blog lately because, well, have you been reading this? But, I have to admit, it feels good to put it out there and let you other worn out parents know that you are not alone! We are doing a wonderful thing raising these kids, but it's ok to admit to being tired or frustrated from time to time. That doesn't make you a bad parent, it makes you an honest one.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Match Made in Dairy Heaven

This morning, Madison and Noah left with Michael for the World Dairy Expo! For those that don't know, the Expo has a very special place in our hearts. 

In 2001, I was on the dairy judging team for Colorado State University, and Michael was on the team from Cornell University. The national dairy judging contest is held there at the Expo in Madison, Wisconsin each year. I first saw Michael on a farm where the teams were invited to practice. I later discovered that Cornell's team was staying in the same hotel as our team. Over the course of our week there, we got to know each other a little bit and we even tied in the reason's division of the contest. Looking back, I think it's terribly ironic that of all the individuals at the contest, he and I tied in reasons. Now, he whipped me overall, but hey, I was the real winner for meeting him. (Insert your best AWW here!) We parted ways at the end of the week, and I really thought we'd never see each other again.

Cornell's Team - The won the whole contest that year!

Colorado State's Team

Once I returned to Colorado, I just couldn't get him off of my mind. We reconnected through email, and the rest is history. So, of course the Expo brings back wonderful memories for us. While we were still dating and dreaming of the family we would have one day, we both agreed that our first girl must be named Madison, in honor of the city where we met. We've gone back every year since, in some way. First, he and I went back every year. When we had our Madison, she came with us. When we had Noah, it started to get a bit more complicated, and expensive, so the trip became a chance for Michael to take the kids as a special trip. Two years ago, Michael decided to take just Madison. Last year, he took Noah. He's already mentioned that next year he wants to take Jaxson for the first time. I'm not even bitter that I don't get to go with them. I love that it has become a special trip for Michael and the kids.

Madison made the paper her first trip to the Expo! She was 3 1/2 months old!

Two years ago, the paper called us to be part of a series highlighting couples with love stories surrounding the Expo.
We thought we were the only ones! Ha!

Madison woke me up this morning by getting about an inch from my face and saying, "I'm so excited!" She and Noah were already up and dressed when I got out of bed, and as I said good-bye to them all, I'm telling you, I think Michael was the most excited.

I love that he loves them so much.  That he wants to make these special memories with them, and that he knows how important it is. Michael's work schedule demands him to be away from home for the majority of the week, every week. Carving out special dates, lunches, and trips with the kids like this is so important for them, and for him. I hope they are having an amazing time and I can't wait to hear all about it when they come home!

I had no idea when we met how incredible Michael really was, or what an amazing husband and father he would be. I realize how blessed I am that God orchestrated our romance.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

I Win Mother of the Year, by a Hair

"Mother of the Year" has become the sarcastic phrase we modern Mommies use to describe situations in our everyday lives that would make June Cleaver cringe. To be nominated for Mother of the Year, you usually did something, or your children suffered in some way due to your unpreparedness, laziness, or general lack of observation. I've been nominated several times in my short six years of being a Mom. I've had an infant roll off the bed. I've fed them fast food twice in one day. I've gotten all the way to church only to realize that one of the kids has no shoes, or hasn't brushed their hair.

The past week brought two really big nominations for me. Everyday around 2:15pm, I tell Jax, "time to go get Sissy and Noah from school," to which he excitedly puts on his shoes, walks to the garage, hits the button to put the garage door up, and crawls in the car. This day, I was strapping the twins in their seats and I hear Jax push the button on the garage. Almost immediately, I hear the scared cry. If you are a parent, you have learned that each of your children have several cries in their repertoire. You can easily distinguish if it's a cry that needs your attention, or one that is just trying to get your attention. As soon as I heard it, I knew something was wrong. I ran around the corner to find Jax hanging from the bottom of the garage door that was parked at the top having risen up. Somehow, Jax thought it appropriate to catch the bottom of the door as it went up. There he was, not moving a muscle, hanging, crying that scared cry. I'm very thankful he didn't let go and fall back, and needless to say we had a chat about how dangerous that door is. My pep talk must have been super convincing, because the next day, he hit the button and ran over to touch the door. I don't have a cute picture of Jax hanging from the door, because I'm not really trying to win this Mother of the Year thing.

As if that wasn't enough to scare me, Thursday brought another opportunity for me to feel super. I was playing with Hudson and noticed his toes on one foot looked swollen and red. My first thought was he had gotten bit or stung by something, but upon further inspection, I saw it. A hair. You know, like a hair from your head, wrapped tightly around the base of this baby's middle three toes. It looked as if it had totally cut the circulation to one of his toes. I panicked. Unwound the hair that was impressively tight. Not only was it tight, but it has cut in enough to cause the skin to be broken and infected underneath. A hair. I almost didn't want to call the pediatrician and admit that I wasn't observant enough to notice my baby's toes about to fall off due to a hair. Michael and I took him in, and thankfully he gets to keep his toes, but he did get a prescription for an antibiotic. The nurse assured me that she's seen this before. I hope she was being truthful and not just trying to keep me from going off the deep end due to my gross lack of observation. I did take a picture of this one.

I know. Nasty.
 
Nobody feels worse about this hairy situation than I do. Now, if this had been my first child, I would have beaten myself up over it, and not that I'm any less upset about this now than I would have been with my first little one, but I've learned a lot about this Mommy thing. I'm going to mess up, a bunch. Even with the best of intentions, stuff happens. As much as I want to control every situation, I can't. All I can do is learn from my mistakes and now, always check for hair between their toes.

Monday, September 9, 2013

When we found out we were having twins, Michael and I decided that we would find out their genders. This was a new experience, having never know the gender of the previous three until they made their grand entrances. I was excited to plan a gender-specific nursery for the first time. However, when the boys surprised us and arrived early, we hadn't done the first thing to prepare for them.

We had been in the NICU for about a month when I saw a Giggle Magazine in the lobby. I was thumbing through it, and saw an ad for a "Kids Room Makeover" where Giggle and Campus USA were giving one family a total room makeover. The nursery I wanted them to have was the last thing I was worried about, but I knew with hospital bills mounting, they wouldn't get what I had dreamed. The deadline to enter was the very next day, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

Three weeks or so later, we got a call that we were a finalist for the contest! After an interview, we were chosen as the winners! I am not gifted at putting together Pottery Barn type rooms, so having a professional designer in our home was awesome. Brandi Catalanotte from La Notte Design came to take a look at the room and chat with us about what we wanted. We totally let her have free reign. I simply told her we wanted something they could grow into, so no cartoonish stuff, and something serene.

The result was breathtakingly beautiful. LOOK AT THIS!






Every time I walk into that room, I am aware of the gift it was to win this contest. How God's provision is so satisfying. I sometimes think He is so big that He could care less about little things I care about. But just as I care about the smallest detail in the lives of my children, that is how He cares about me and you. He can provide in ways that you never dreamed, if you are smart enough to surrender the selfish thinking that you can do it alone. It was just a room, but to us, it was a burden lifted, and confirmation yet again that my God cares deeply for us.