Month: November 2017

A page from the M family diary

It’s been a while since I’ve written one like this, a travel story from our family vault.  I don’t know how well these posts fit in with the overall cohesiveness of my blog, but since I don’t keep a journal, I enjoy looking back on these to read later.  So that’s why it’s here.

This trip caught us by surprise.  We only found out, with about two weeks notice, that N would get Veteran’s day off.  And with a baby coming at the end, but not the very end, of the school year, and a job that just started a year ago with a clean slate of vacation/sick days (i.e. very little), we have tried to use them sparingly.

So we jumped at the chance to take a mini-trip, though it almost got spoiled by a rainstorm.  Yes, the Tuesday before we left, I woke up (around 1am #murphyslaw) to an unmistakeable dripping sound coming from our kitchen.  There were at least six spots in our kitchen ceiling where the rainwater was dripping in and pooling onto the floor below (our NEW floor, mind you that we had just laid in March).  N and I worked quickly to mop up and contain the water, puzzled as to why this was happening, especially since there was a bedroom (and not a roof) directly above the most worrisome drip.

Since then, we’ve seemed to diagnose the problem (and will be getting a new roof and ceiling out of it, it seems), but of course the timing couldn’t have been worse and made us question whether we should continue on with our trip plans or just throw in the (soggy) towel.

Thankfully, my dad stepped in and was able to be at our house while we were away, to meet with insurance and roofers, and the like.  We took off across I-40 as soon as we had eaten breakfast and tried not look behind.

Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge was our ultimate destination, with our first stop being a picnic lunch in the Great Smoky Mountains.  The last hour or so of the drive was through a small town and across The Tail of the Dragon, which I later found out is an infamous stretch of road known well to motorcyclists who love the thrill of the twists and turns.

I’m not one who becomes car sick easily, but with babies growing me, I’ve always been a little more prone to feeling it.  Plus it was nearing lunchtime, which for some reason, my pregnant self confuses hunger with nausea, so I was ready to be at our destination and out of the car.  We were just at the entrance of the park when we thought we were turning into it, but instead onto another 15 mile stretch of twists and overlooks into the great park itself, but nowhere to actually breach the interior.

To compound the frustration, our cell phones completely lost service about a mile from the entrance, which meant we had no navigation nor any idea how long this road would be, other than the mile marking signs along the way.  It was just like being back in the 1990’s again, and as bad as I imagined.

Finally, we made it to the end of the parkway and were able to use more signs to guide us, more directly, into the entrance of the park.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t a good parking/eating/hiking area immediately, so we kept driving.  We began to see signs for Cade’s Cove picnicking area so we blindly followed along, hoping for the best, at the end of another long and twisted 7 miles.

But we reached the end and it was as if the Heavens opened all at once.  There was a row of picnic tables, evenly spaced, with a nice bathroom (another thing on our wishlist during the last hour of the drive), an ambient stream coursing along a shallow riverbed, and beautiful sunlight streaming through the gorgeous, gilded autumn trees. We had arrived.

We ate lunch and enjoyed the sights and sounds of God’s beautiful handiwork. I don’t think there could be a more ideal picnic spot on the face of the earth.  We could hardly finish our lunch before the girls were begging to play in the stream (though we shooed them away as it was too cold, and possibly dangerous).  Instead, we followed the stream backwards, and uphill, hiking up a short incline and stretching out our car legs.  It couldn’t have been a more beautiful fall day with the leaves’ burnt reds and oranges and beginning to cover the ground.

On our way back down the incline, we saw a pack of wild turkeys, who were completely non-plussed by the sight of us, and continued to scavenge crumbs off the ground while the girls watched in fascination.

Around 4pm, the sun was beginning to arc into its descent and we decided to make our way down and out of the mountains. I’d seen a Sweet Shop at the entrance to the park and had promised the girls a treat on the way to our hotel.  We continued to navigate by signs, with no luck from our phones, and discovered, to our dismay, the shop was closed. We continued to blindly drive, back the way we came, hoping we would see signs for Pigeon Forge or our phones would pick up soon.

About ten minutes later, we began to read hand-lettered signs on the sides of the road, hand-tacked to poles.  It was a shop promising fudge and ice cream and all the delights a Great Smoky Mountain tourist could want. N pulled over the car, finally, in front of a shack with signs promising, “worth the stop”.  We eased the girls inside, only to find no ice cream, old and oddly-wrapped fudge, and a bowl of ring pops for a $1 each.  (MG also discovered a very old looking box of sweetarts with a garage sale sticker of $2 on the lid).  Adorning the shop were also lots of rocks, crystals, and other breakable items, right in the eyesight of Sib.  We quickly backtracked and found our way back to the van where we promised the girls we would find something better than that.

Luck was on our side about 5 minutes later when we passed a very touristy, but still an actual building promising homemade fudge and other delights.  Inside was decorated with Christmas overkill and long, counter height tables with open jars of all kinds of sauces and jellies for customers to sample.  They also had about a dozen barrels filled with assorted, old-fashioned candies, though the girls ended up choosing fudge after a free sample.  A first for them.

Shortly after, our phones finally kicked back into gear and we were able to successfully navigate our way to Pigeon Forge.  Our hotel was located at the end of a long strip of crazy looking museums and dinner theaters.  The girls kept asking if each one was Dollywood, but each time we would say no, and promised it would be better than they could imagine.

We specifically chose our hotel for its promise of a grand, indoor pool and its suite style rooms.  We willingly pay just a little extra for the extra room and when we are traveling with a pack n play and not a great out-of-crib-sleeper, it feels worth every penny to us.

As soon as we got checked in, we had to go to the pool right away.  This one was perfect because it had a 1.5 foot deep pool, shallow enough for Sibby to walk around in, a small splash pad, another shallow pool (only going up to 4 feet), and then two, two story tall water slides that started indoors, went outdoors, and then finished inside in a wading pool.  I immediately wrote off the slides, thinking the girls would be too afraid of them.  They both summed them up and said they weren’t interested. That was fine because we had a lot of swimming to do.

But about 15-20 minutes later, MG made up her mind that she wanted to try it. I thought for sure she would chicken out after getting to the top of the stairs, but instead she launched herself into the very dark tunnel and exited about 6 seconds later. She said it was awesome  and continued to go up and down, over and over again.  Well LB was not going to be left out so she had to try it too.  Once again, I waited for the moment where she would back down gracefully from the stairs, but she flung herself into the tunnel, cheeks full of air, and held her breath the entire way down.  She, too, declared it awesome, and went again and again.

An hour and a half later, we were worn out and ready for dinner.  I’d called ahead to a pizza place and they delivered to our room.  The girls took a warm bath and then devoured their extra-large slices.  N and I strategized breakfast and decided that Paula Deen’s restaurant would be our #1 choice.  He called to ask for reservations, wait times, etc.  They said they stopped serving breakfast at 10:30 and that there was usually never more than a 10 minute wait. Perfect.

Sibby was beyond exhausted at this point, having only caught a short nap in the car (ironically on the 15 mile detour that soured our pre-lunch dispositions).  She willingly went into her pack n play, but when N went back into the room to retrieve something (per my request), she was set off into a fury of tears.  The only thing that would calm her down was to rock her and she quickly fell asleep on me in our darkened room, something she hasn’t done in months but brought me quickly back to her baby days.  It was a sweet moment I savored for about 10 extra minutes before texting N.  We ended up moving her pack n play into the main room and the rest of us into the bedroom as it was past the girls’ bedtimes at home.

We pulled each one into a bed with us and N began telling stories, from our first date to our engagement, to the story of our day that very day.  We had to keep shushing the girls as their giggles got too loud.  It was a sweet moment for me, being with just them for a little bit, a taste of the old days.  Man, do we love our Sib, but she brings down our average a bit, (though it won’t always be that way), and it was nice to have some alone time with the oldest.

We all fell asleep somewhere between 9pm-10pm, and I prayed Sib would successfully make it through the night.

Sadly, my prayers were not answered as I had hoped and the first wakeup began around 1:30am.  Disorientation and diaper changes claimed the next 4 hours of sleep for me, and some for N as well. Thankfully, she did a final four hour stretch until about 9am.  The girls slept that late too, which was awesome, and promised a good start for the day.

We assessed the time and decided to go ahead and pack up our room since checkout was drawing near, then we would go visit Paula.  We also had to buy DW tickets at the front desk, so by the time this was all completed, we were leaving our hotel at 10am.  We rushed over to the restaurant, which was a 15 minute drive.  I hurried inside, asking for our name to be put on the list, but they said the earliest we could get seating was 11am and they would be serving lunch.

With great disappointment, we moved on and began the hunt for another place.  But at this point, it was nearing 10:30 local time, when most restaurants stop serving breakfast and begin transitioning to lunch.  There were a few dedicated breakfast houses, but on a saturday morning, they all had hour long waits.

Finally, we passed another little shack, of sorts, and hoped we would fare better than our shack experience yesterday.  As it turned out, they had a table immediately open for us and served breakfast all day.  We eagerly accepted.

After a smorgasbord of biscuits and gravy, inch thick pancakes, froot loops for Bea, and an omelette for me, we were happy and satisfied.  And it was time for Dollywood to open!  Perfect timing.

And…as this has already grown long and detailed, perfect timing for me to stop here. To be continued…

-smk

October

1) September is waning and with it, summer.  I know autumn officially started last week, but there is usually nothing heralding its entrance, save for the ever darkening evening hours, which always makes me a little sad.

The pool just recently closed, but the temperatures have stayed high.  I, for one, don’t mind them in the eighties, and welcome their presence for as long as possible. My heart says stay but my mind knows that October is just around the corner and with it, 60’s and 70’s, goosebumps, dark suppers, and a reluctance to leave the house past 6pm.

2) And now October is waning.  It was a good month, indeed, with summer-like temps, a pumpkin patch, company, touring through a fabulous parade of homes (twice), and accumulating baby things.  Yesterday was October’s last day, but perhaps its grandest, with sugar rushes and cute little girls dressed up in costumes befitting of their fantasies.  October is a good month to be a parent.

3) November is here now and will bring with it a much anticipated family trip, holidays, holiday prep, shopping, and on the final day, a very important birthday (MG).  Yes, November is probably my favorite month of the year, though I dread the cold and darkness.

But we will make the most of it and the girls will still make their way outside most days to play, while the sun is still high, and enjoy the fresh air while they can.  The good Lord knew and I feel much more at home here in the South where the cold temps don’t begin until December and winter doesn’t linger beyond its welcome.

I feel a little behind the eighth ball having a baby coming in (early) March.  I’m much more suited to May, when I have 5 months after the holidays to nest and prepare for the incoming little one.  But come January 1, we will have more like two months.

Two months to create a big girl room for Sib, take a babymoon, sew some pieces for the newest (I’m definitely behind on this aspect, as with Sibby, I had begun sewing for her around 13 weeks.  This time around, I’ve been more caught up in making things for the older girls), and put the final touches in place for her arrival.

A good friend of mine just had her fourth, a baby girl, this week and it reminded me of the goodness that comes with the new additions.  And how good I hope and desire this to be.  I want to do it all perfectly, from the name, to the announcement, to the coming home outfit.  Though these won’t be important to others, they will be to me.  And they are what I dream about and have focused on, perhaps unnecessarily so, each time.

For some reason, and I know I’ve shared different aspects of this before, I’ve felt a hesitancy with this one.  Maybe it’s because it’s so certain she is my last. And I feel both a paralyzing desire to do it perfectly and also an equally strong desire for it not to end.

Maybe it’s the lack of planning that ushered in her arrival and  I still feel so caught up in the life swirling around me that I’ve been unable to give her her proper due.

If that’s the case, January will certainly be a good time to slow down and focus on finishing this race well, and to my own fantasized standards.

For now, I look outside my window.  It is 1:15pm and both of my two at home are quiet, which allows me a small measure of time to be so as well.  The leaves are surrounding my window, hesitantly turning, but still mostly green and furthermore glued into their proper place.  It doesn’t feel like baby season, not yet.  It feels like the end of October and the beginning of November.  And for now, that is exactly where I want to be.

-smk

Grapefruit-ful month

Five months (today) or 23 weeks (tomorrow) and baby girl is now the size of a grapefruit!

Crazy. This month has brought a lot of exciting milestones: the anatomy ultrasound, the halfway point, & the point of viability.  Plus, she’s getting very big with her movements and predictable in the timing of them (like always when I’m lying down)

I shared this on IG (@030318babysurprise), but our anatomy ultrasound  at 20 weeks turned up a slightly abnormal heartbeat called a PAC.  My doctor didn’t seem too concerned about it, but I will have to have an echocardiogram done in about 10 days (basically a high level ultrasound), to determine if there is anything more concerning about it.  The structure of the heart, itself, looked good, and she reassured me that many babies outgrow it (some even before birth), as well as a few adult friends of mine saying they have it to this day and it doesn’t slow them down.  Out of all the things to turn up on an ultrasound, it feels probably the least alarming, but I still hate the fact that there is something there at all.

The halfway point of this pregnancy technically came at 20 weeks, but I think it should be more like 22 weeks, seeing as how we didn’t find out for the first 4 and that would leave us with 18 & 18 on either side of 22.  Either way, now we are beyond both of those, which means we have less time left in this pregnancy (Lord willing) than we started with.  Unbelievable!

I certainly wouldn’t mind an earlier babe this time (somewhere between 39 weeks and 41 weeks sounds ideal).  And one of my biggest prayers this time around is that I will not have to do another induction.  While the planner in me loves the thought of being in control of the date and having everything lined up in order for it, I know my mental state going into those too well and struggle with that aspect of it.

When people ask me how I’m feeling, I usually say one of two things: 1) about as good as it gets for me during pregnancy (we are about to tip the scale to the bad side again…). Or 2) I’m doing fine physically but not mentally.  This pregnancy, more than the others as I can recall, I have struggled with fear (but only for labor and delivery), excitement (well lack thereof), and another missing piece of the joy of nesting (a combo of life being so full right now and also the lack of control I had over this one)

One thing that has been very present from the start of this pregnancy was a strong fear about labor and delivery.  I realize that encompasses about 6 hours, give or take, of a given pregnancy, but I could not stop thinking about.

Prior to getting pregnant, every time I heard a traumatic birth story or was reminded of the pain, I rationalized it away, thinking I’ll never have to do that again.  I even remember saying aloud, directly after Sibby’s birth, “I’ll never do that again!”, although by the idyllic hospital day two, I was already recanting my words.

This time it felt forced upon me, and I think that was part of the fear. I did not choose this, this time.  I did not want to do this again.

Things came to a head about 2 weeks ago when I clicked over to YouTube to watch (someone I admire’s) birth story, which turned into an unexpected traumatic epilogue and showed a lot of live footage of labor (contractions and hospital stuff). The fear came up from the subconscious right into the foreground and gripped me so hard, I did not know if it would leave or not.  I realized then that I needed to turn the fear over and release it so that I could move forward with excitement and love for this baby.

I read a book intentionally dealing with fear and pregnancy (though I would not recommend it), and have spent a lot of time in prayer about it.  Ever since that night, I’ve not had the gripping fear again, it has been replaced by peace.

The nesting and excitement piece I mentioned makes me a little sad, because usually that is my go-to pregnancy emotion and the thing I look forward to during the darker moments.  I believe part of this is me over-thinking everything (I’ll go into more detail on this in a later post).

Anyway, despite these lagging emotions, I have been able to accumulate a few necessities for this baby.  I found good deals on a new carseat and stroller (still keeping our double BOB, just needed something less cumbersome for dr appointments and errands with 2 under 2–yikes–still scary to say that).  I’ve been thinking of the “little girls’ room” (vs. the big girls’ room) and how to decorate it.  And just this week I’ve started sewing a few little things for a new baby layette.

This month I have de-graduated my running back to walking.  My initial goal was 24 weeks but 22 weeks was my stopping point.  Physically, it just became too much but I’m thankful that this weather has stayed so pleasant and I’ve been able to stay very active still.  So far, I don’t notice any difference with this pregnancy that involved running versus my other ones that involved only walking, so I’m not sure it made much of a difference.  Hopefully, it will be easier to graduate back into it though, postpartum, since I didn’t take so much time off from it.

Another, rather unpleasant, side effect from this month was a bad stomach virus that gripped me for about 48 hours.  Just to prove how pregnancy doesn’t well suit me, even in the second trimester, I didn’t even realize I had anything until the side effects starting coming from all corners of the earth. I just thought the cramps I was feeling were normal pregnancy pains for me (because they are, especially in the evening).  Anyway, I get one or two of these things every pregnancy, AS WELL AS, morning sickness, which makes me think God is just trying to cure me of my fear of puke.  Well, it’s working.

Aside from that unpleasantness, I’ve been enjoying cooking this month and haven’t been too bothered by food.  Occasionally, I’ll get a bit of heartburn, but nothing to write home about yet. As fall enters, I’ve been spending some free time on Pinterest, planning soups and slow cooker meals, and dreaming of the holidays.  Although I’m not 100% myself, I’m thankful that I’m feeling pretty good for a pregnancy and I’m excited about all of the festivities to come with very excitable little ones.  It’s nice that while we have our go-to traditions, they are still young enough, and transitions have come often enough, that we haven’t been locked into too many things yet.  Each year feels like a fresh start to try and see what sticks best for our family.

Four months and counting, and thankful for every one I get with my last “homegrown” babe.

-smk