Thursday, September 26, 2013

It's always fun when Grandpa (and Grandma) come

One of the perks of having a new baby around is getting spoiled with lots of visitors! This past weekend we were lucky to have Jeff's parents come stay. Having family in town gives us an excuse to get out and explore a little bit. We took them to our tried and true favorites (Crystal Bridges, the Five and Dime, and the Walmart visitor's center) and then to some new hang outs. Friday we tried out Fast Lanes, a bowling alley/fun center. We had so much fun racing go karts and playing arcade games that I've already purchased a groupon to go back sometime. On Saturday we took a short hike to a "waterfall." I think we actually missed the turnoff for the waterfall but ended up here instead which was at least equally if not more fun.

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At first the kids were having fun just splashing around a bit.

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But as they got more daring...

we broke out swimsuits and let them dive in.

Savannah thought the terraced rocks would make a nice slide, but it wasn't as smooth as she'd hoped.

Grandma spent a lot of time during her stay on Sawyer duty, which I think made them both pretty happy. (And gave me a chance to play with the rest of the gang!) She also did all the cooking and dishes single-handedly the whole time, which included a birthday breakfast--cinnamon rolls!--and dinner for Jeff. Between the generosity of friends and neighbors and my amazing mother-in-law, I didn't have to break out my apron until Sawyer was 2 weeks old, and even then it was to throw together freezer meals. I have been super blessed and very well taken care of these past few weeks!

We had such a blast with these two. Our kids have some of the greatest grandparents in the world! They got up to see them off at the bus and were there when to pick them up when they got home, and even met them for lunch one day despite an hour and a half break between Savannah and Logan's scheduled lunch times! (Kindergarten eats lunch at 10:20 am--that's still breakfast in my book!) Another highlight of the trip was going to the hospital to meet our new cousins-once-removed. Nate (Jeff's cousin) and Laurel welcomed twin girls last Saturday and we got to see them at just one day old. I was glad they came while Bryan and Susan were here so they could meet them, too.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Brothers and sisters

Due to a prompt 24-hour discharge, we didn't have time for many visitors in the hospital, but the girls managed to make an appearance the morning after Sawyer's birth. Savannah was home from school that day due to a lingering fever, so this was as close as she got.

Logan didn't get to see Sawyer until that evening after we came home from the hospital. Logan has been waiting a long time for a brother so it was a sweet moment when they finally got to meet each other. I can already see a lot of similarities between these two (they make all the same faces) and I know they will be good friends despite their age difference.

As a side note, on the day of Sawyer's birth Logan went home from school with a neighbor and spent the afternoon there. He must have been dying for updates because my neighbor was texting me every few minutes with a new question from Logan. Although it would have been fun to save the gender reveal for when the kids actually met Sawyer, I couldn't bring myself to hold out on them any longer. So Logan found out he had a new brother via text. What can I say. It's the 21st century.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


I love newborns. I love how peaceful and still they are, and how they quietly observe the world around them one tiny bit at a time. It seems like they know so much more than we do, but are keeping their secrets to themselves.

I love how much they depend on you, and make you feel both loved and important. Even when I am exhausted from interrupted sleep or bouts of crying, I am so honored to be mother and caretaker to these sweet babies. With every diaper change or bath or feeding or quiet moment, I am grateful to be able to serve a tiny person.

I love that they can't talk back, or hit, or throw, or purposefully ignore me. Their innocence is overwhelming, and makes it impossible not to love them in the purest, most natural way. I know all those other things will come in time, but for this short period they are completely perfect and I intend to enjoy every second.

I love their tiny features, because even when they are nearly tipping double digits at birth, they are still tiny. And when they have monkey toes that can wrap around your pinky, they are still the cutest monkey toes in the world.

But more than anything, I love this little newborn, for joining our family and bringing us so much happiness. Whatever negativity I may have expressed at your painful entrance into this world, it was worth it. I would do it 100 times over if that's what it took to have you.

I love you, little guy.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sawyer's entrance

On September 9, 2013, we experienced a miracle for the fourth time. Sawyer Lynn Pendleton was born at 2:55 pm at the Northwest Medical Center in Bentonville, AR. He weighed a whopping 9 lbs 12 oz and was 20.5 inches long. If you want to know more, keep reading, but I'll warn you now it's long and detailed and may get a little too personal.

To adequately tell the story of Sawyer's birth, I have to first explain that by the time I became pregnant this fourth time around, I was starting to get a little bored with the whole process. I'm not suggesting that pregnancy and childbirth aren't incredible experiences every time whether it's the first or tenth, but my pregnancies are so routine that I felt the need to switch things up a bit just for my own sanity. My last 3 pregnancies/births have been more or less the same story: textbook pregnancy, induction during the 39 week, epidural right away, out comes big baby. I was just hoping for something to make things a little more exciting. Plus, I was a tiny bit obsessed with having no regrets in case this was my last rodeo. Over the course of 9 months, I decided on two things that I wanted to be different this time:

1. I didn't want to find out the gender.
2. I wanted to experience labor the "normal" way ("real" contractions, as much of labor at home as possible, not being stuck in a bed, etc.).

In order to accomplish these two things, several others were eventually added to the list such as no epidural, no Pitocin, and no scheduled induction. I worried about how far overdue I might go if left to my own devices, but was determined to do things my own way.

Well, the day of my due date rolled around and aside from moderate contractions pretty irregularly, there were no signs of impending labor. We took a hike as a family and went to a preparedness event sponsored by our church, but at the end of the day the only thing I felt was exhaustion. By the next evening I was so uncomfortable that sleep was pretty much out of the question. I talked to my parents that night via FaceTime and my dad told me that he had seen a pregnant elephant recently and was convinced that he had never seen an animal more pregnant and uncomfortable than that... until now. I was so done with being pregnant that I was willing to try just about anything (short of Pitocin, of course).

The next morning I had an 8 am doctor's appointment to have my membrane's stripped. First they stuck me on a monitor to measure contractions and I watched for 20 minutes in disappointment without a single peak. The doctor came in, measured me at 6 cm, and stripped my membranes. He then told me he strongly encouraged me to meet him at the hospital in a few hours to break my water. In his words, he didn't want me "walking around in public like that." Still not quite sure how to interpret that.

So I headed home, packed a bag, and got the girls ready to take to take to Alyssa, who had rearranged her schedule at a moment's notice and was working from home to take care of our kids. Did I mention Savannah was home from school with a fever? Yeah, awesome timing, but Alyssa is a total saint and didn't even bat an eye. The whole time I was getting ready, the contractions started coming strong and close. I've heard a lot of stories about membrane stripping not working, but it was working and working fast this time. By the time we dropped the girls off and made it to the hospital, they were coming about every 3-4 minutes. Jeff didn't think that was good enough--he really wanted to see my water break on it's own--so he parked as far away as possible and made me snake through the rows of cars on our way to registration. Once inside, we had to wait about 30 minutes before we made it up to labor and delivery, all the while I was feeling those contractions coming strong enough to bring tears to my eyes. At that point I remember thinking, "So this is what labor feels like."

Ha. Ha ha ha. Famous last words.

I finally made it to labor and delivery and they took me to a room and immediately hooked me up to an IV and monitors. I was so irritated because this was exactly what I DIDN'T want, but I had been warned that it was hospital procedure to take some readings at first but I would be able to get up soon. So there I was, flat on my back, lying still to not disturb the heart rate monitor, and suffering through ever-increasing contractions. Jeff was still trying to be my comic relief, cracking jokes with the nurses and making commentary about the size of contractions on the monitor, but I was too focused to laugh. Just when I thought I might be able to get up soon, the doctor came to break my water.

At that point things really started getting fun. Suddenly the contractions intensified by about 10-fold. I was still stuck on my back because getting up too soon could result in a cord prolapse. And on top of that, it felt like every contraction came right after the last, never giving me a second of rest. I could not find a single position in that hospital bed that helped, so I just cried and gave in to the horrible intense pain. When I was finally given the go ahead to get up, I hardly had the strength to do anything. I managed to get out of bed and walk around a bit, but I felt like collapsing when the contractions hit. I tried the birthing ball but it wasn't helping much, so I tried leaning over the side of the bed, but that didn't help either. At that point, I realized I was majorly under-prepared for this. I had hoped I would get a nurse that would be sympathetic and know a few things about natural labor, but I was not so lucky. It was as though I had decided to tackle a race without any training, and my body was paying the price. My mom had warned me that intense pain always makes her throw up so I should be prepared for that. Turns out I have the same reaction. Eventually I ended up back in bed. At least there when my body gave out (which I was sure it would) I would have something to catch me.

It was some point during this stretch that I was ready to cry uncle. If I had had any strength at all, I probably would have grabbed Jeff by the shirt and yelled at him to run and get the anesthesiologist as fast as he could. Instead, the nurse offered some IV pain killers that could "take the edge off" for a while. Yes. Please. Now.

I'm pretty sure it was Fentanyl that she gave me, although I was a little out of it so I can't be sure. Whatever it was, I think I got the placebo version, because it didn't help at all. I didn't feel an ounce of relief and the edge was very much still there. The only thing I might attribute to the drug is it seemed to slow the contractions just enough to give me 30 seconds of reprieve in between each one. Luckily, the end was near.

I honestly felt like I had been in that delivery room for HOURS, but within 90 minutes of the doctor breaking my water, I was ready to push. At which point another myth was busted: pushing is not easier than labor. It's just different. It was like someone had been punching me in the arm for an hour and now they were punching me in the leg. It didn't hurt less, but at least it was different. Looking back now, this part was actually kind of cool. Yes, it hurt like I was being ripped open from the inside, but it was amazing how I could feel everything. With an epidural, I had always been told to push, and I would try to make my body do what I thought was pushing, but I never could tell if it was working because I couldn't feel it. Now there was no question that I was doing something, and I could easily tell when I was pushing the right way vs. the wrong way because I could feel the baby move through the birth canal. It was completely amazing and amazingly painful all at the same time. The nurse got the head about halfway through, then the doctor took over and in a matter of minutes, my baby was out. And, oh! What a glorious moment when I felt him leave my body! I don't think anybody could have prepared me for how happy I would be at that exact moment. In an instant, all the pain and stress was gone. And it wasn't that I was overcome by my new baby (that feeling was somewhat delayed until I had rested a bit), it was simply the contrast of one moment to the next.

I've heard that some people can get up within minutes of delivery in the absence of drugs, but I could not even imagine budging from that bed for at least an hour. I was so exhausted and drained that I couldn't even hold my baby when they brought him to me. I knew he was big, but he felt like a dead weight in my arms. I finally asked them to take him away and clean him up while I rested. A few hours later, after a nap and a shower, I was ready to take in my baby and have those sweet first moments with him.

Now, a week later, I am able to reflect on the whole experience and ask myself if it was worth it. It was definitely a new experience, so I can check that off the list. Would I do it again? Heck, no. Some things you only need to do once. Would I encourage someone else to do it? Sure, if they really wanted to. But for heaven's sake, take a class or hire a Douala.

I should also mention the fun of not knowing the gender. From day one, I have felt like this was a boy. At a 12-week ultrasound, the doctor slipped and mentioned that he thought it was a boy. During the last trimester, three complete strangers told me I was having a boy just by how I was carrying. So when the nurse told me "It's a boy!" I didn't really react. Now, if it had been a girl, I would have been really surprised but finding out it was a boy was actually a little anticlimactic. Nonetheless, I am totally thrilled.

I will post some other pictures soon. Sawyer's poor face was so bruised and swollen for the first day or so. He doesn't even look like the same baby anymore.

First football game with Dad.

And just a little candid moment to keep it real.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Labor day visitors

I had originally thought it would be a fun twist to go into labor on Labor Day, but it was not to be. So instead, we were thrilled to have some visitors come for the long weekend! Jeff's brother James and his family flew to Dallas then drove 6 hours to come visit us. If that's not love, I don't know what is. When they originally planned this trip, we were still living in Oklahoma and the drive would have only been 3 hours, but they are totally awesome and still came even when we doubled their trip.

One of the things that drew us to this area was the beautiful trail system throughout the city. We wanted to take the "other" Pendletons on our favorite walk, but it took 3 tries before we finally made it. The first try we pulled into the parking lot, only to realize we had cut ourselves short on time and had to turn around and leave. The second try it started to rain just as we were getting out of the car. The third try was the charm, but we ended up spending most of our time in the art museum and only went a little ways on the trail. We did, however, find this cool pig that all the kids wanted to take pictures on.

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Correction: all the kids wanted to take a picture on it except for Jack...

As part of our other Labor Day festivities, we went to our ward breakfast (where James and Katy had to explain that they were visiting-- it's hard to tell because our ward was just recently formed and a new face is pretty common), the boys--Jeff, James, Logan and Jack--went golfing, and we made s'mores with our Shepherd cousins. It was a wonderful day with just enough to stay busy but not get too tired. The next morning we had to say goodbye to our visitors, but we are so glad they took a detour and came to see us.

P.S. To help get us out the door Sunday morning, I volunteered James to finish painting the girls' nail polish so Katy could get herself ready. He did a great job. I think he may have missed his calling. (Sorry James, I couldn't resist posting this.)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Another school year, another school

If I thought I liked going back to school as a kid, that was nothing compared to how I feel now. I love my kids and I love spending time with them, but I also love having an occasional break and after 3 long months, I was ready for that break.

My kids are super resilient to change thanks to our multiple moves recently and were thrilled to be starting at a new school once again. The most exciting change this year is that Savannah gets to ride the bus! She was SO excited and didn't want me to drive her on the first day but I insisted. I did let her ride home on the bus that first day and she was thrilled.

So far I really like Savannah's teacher and feel like we are going to have a great year. Kindergarten is all-day, for which I am especially grateful. I think both Savannah and I would have had a hard time adjusting to half-day after she'd already done a year of all-day school.

New school, new teacher, new friends... none of it even phases Logan. I think Heavenly Father blessed me with an extremely social and adaptable boy as my first child to get through these transition years and help his younger sibling adjust with equal ease. Whatever Logan's faults may be, he is a great student and his teachers love him. He thrives in settings with structure and rules, so even though his handwriting may need work and he tends to skip words while reading, he'll always be engaged and on task while in the classroom.

As a second grader, Logan is right in the middle at his K-4 school. This is a big year for Logan, especially since he will turn 8 during the school year and be baptized a member of our church.

This is probably one of the best shots I have of Logan's current tooth situation. After losing his first two teeth 18 months ago, we haven't seen much action. Then all at once everything started falling out at once. He lost one tooth on top, then the other, and another on bottom, and now two more are loose. Poor kids won't have any teeth left! His gap on top cracks me up because people keep asking how many teeth were there. Since he already had a gap between his front teeth, it seems hard to believe that he's only missing 2 teeth in all that space! I secretly love his toothy smile and hope his permanent teeth take their time growing in.

I'm so glad these two have each other at school. Their bus driver assigned seats and they are sitting next to each other, but they told me that they like it. Logan brings two books in his backpack each day, one to read aloud to Savannah and one to read to himself. When Logan is around, all of Savannah's shyness is thrown out the window and she has more confidence (and silliness) than normal. Thank goodness for older brothers.

First world problems

My family loves strawberry freezer jam. My kids won't eat any other kind (not grape, peach, berry, or even store-bought strawberry) and Savannah eats a PB&J pretty much every day. Therefore, we go through a LOT of strawberry jam. Just before the move we ran out and almost died. Not really, but Savannah started asking me daily when I would make more jam. I told her we would just as soon as we moved. Well, then we moved and got busy unpacking and strawberries weren't on sale that week and ...

One day when we'd all had enough, I decided I didn't care if I paid double for strawberries, we were making jam that day! But just to test our luck, I stopped at Aldi where strawberries are on sale at least 2/3 of the year and lo and behold, there they were for $1.50/lb. Good enough for me!

Well, after all that anticipation and waiting, Savannah insisted we make the jam ASAP. I made a batch and we were all happy and everything was right in the world again. As I did the math, however, I realized that to get through a year I would probably need to make at least 3-4 MORE batches of jam. ('Tis a ridiculous amount of sugar, I tell you. Don't do the math.) So back to the store we went. This time the girls wanted to help.

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They are good little helpers for the most part even if things do take longer and get messier when they are around.

One interesting fact I learned while making jam this time. I was introduced to the world of freezer jam through my mother-in-law, who swears by MCP pectin. I've tried them all now and I do like MCP best because it makes a thicker, less watery jam. It turns out that MCP is made by Sure-Jell, who also makes another type of pectin (simply labeled Sure-Jell). Although I can't find anything indicating they are different in their description, they call for different amounts of fruit and use different ingredients in their jam recipes and a google search confirmed their formulas are different. So basically, Sure-Jell decided to make two different types of pectin but markets them exactly the same with one small difference: MCP is only distributed on the west coast. Bah! Why, oh why? I was fortunate to have a few boxes my wonderful sister-in-law shipped to me to get us through, but I am totally baffled and frustrated why I can't buy MCP here. Guess I'll add that to my list of things-to-buy-when-I-visit-Utah.