The Vasey Reunion: Here Come the 6'5" Blond-child wielding Wyomingites

Next: A short story, based on one of my all-time favorite children's books (and true events from the life of this family I happen to know).  If you haven't read The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant, check out the video at the bottom of this post, or go buy a copy now!
 * * *

It was the summer of the year when the relatives came.  They came up from Wyoming, and South Dakota, Colorado, and Oklahoma.  They came over from Oregon and Idaho too.  They left when the kids were almost old enough to be tired of such things as family reunions, but not quite.

 They traveled all day on Monday and almost into the night. And when they arrived at Palmer Gulch where the relatives were, they tumbled out of their minivans and SUVs and fell into the arms of their Aunt Robin and Uncle Jeff and their cousins Matthew and Ashton, Abby and Dillon.  They promised never to get into another car so long as they lived.

Then it was hugging time.  Oh those relatives!  You had to go through one big Uncle Ralph hug, two Cali hugs, and a Christie high-five before you could get from the porch to the fire pit.

The relatives stayed in cabins and cooked dinner together every night over a tiny stove and an oven that would burn the chicken.  But they didn't mind.  They were too busy talking and laughing and hugging and trying to make baby Olivia giggle. 

The relatives hardly took time to unpack.  They climbed all over Mount Rushmore in the hot sun and made the tourists wonder where had these giants come from, just how many blonde children did they bring with them, and why were they all wearing red t-shirts?

The swimming pool was too cold, so the relatives packed up their sodas and turkey sandwiches and went to Silvan Lake instead.  The most ambitious cousins followed Mike, Dan and John far out into the water and around the big rock, while the others stayed behind to watch Cole and Addy and Olivia make rivers in the sand.

There wasn't a sport that these relatives couldn't play.  The basketball game seemed to go on for hours; which could be attributed to the family's strong spirit of competition and a certain stubbornness.  Everyone cheered as little Landon got a good shot at the wiffleball.  And the winner of the epic game would be debated for years to come.

At night the relatives spent some time reminding each other about the old days.  They could remember times when Grandma Vera would cook great big dinners for her four boys and Grandpa George.  Jenny and Lisa count recount, again, the tales of Johnny Free Porker and the talent shows of years past.  The younger ones wondered how life must have been growing up in Wyoming with no internet and phones that couldn't even take pictures.  The older ones listened to stories they had heard before but loved to hear again.  And when Grandpa Dick couldn't remember, cousin JoAnn helped to fill in the historical accounts with as much accuracy and as little fiction as they could manage.

After they had eaten up all their pancakes and drank up all their soda and beer and River Ritas, it was time to go.  So they packed up their bathing suits and volleyballs and loaded their tired children into their carseats.  Ryan and Anna started planning their weeks ahead with the grandparents in Oklahoma, and Hannah tried not to cry as little Jakey came up and hugged her tightly around the leg and said bye-bye to Olivia.  They all agreed that two years was far too long to wait until the next reunion.  But they resolved to spend the time preparing their talents and honing their wiffleball skills.  

As they drove away, they thought about their homes back in Oregon and Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado.  They wondered if their friends had missed them and if their gardens had been watered.  But they thought about the relatives too, missing them.  And they recalled the lists they had made on the last night; of the peak of the trip and the pit.  But the peaks far outnumbered the pits, which mostly consisted of a few bedbugs and general agreement that they missed the relatives that couldn't come out this summer.  The next reunion would be even bigger and better.  And they could hardly wait.



WellMama Fundraiser 2013!

Final count: $360!!Thanks everyone so much~
hmv
-- 
4/1/13

What a wonderful birthday it has been.  I turned 31 on the 31st!  My Golden Birthday (and a very powerful one, according to Urban Dictionary).  So what has my powerful birthday brought??  Hold on to your hats, we are up to $270 in donations!!  And I reached my second goal of 10 donors.  That's ten amazing friends or family members that not only took the time to read my rants on the amazingness of WellMama, but also sent in some cash to support the cause.  It blows me away.

I will leave the voting open for 1 more day (today!).  If you did not vote, please do so now!  So far Jake's blog post choice is winning by a slim margin.  I will probably post on more than one of these, so let your voice be heard!

Once again, to donate: WellMamaOregon.com 

And to learn more: keep scrolling down... 

And to see my beautiful face in all it's birthday glory:


-------- 
3/27/13
UPDATE!  I have received 4 donations and I am glowing with gratitude!  Thank you, LV, NB, JF, and AP.  Your identity is safe with me (of course, you can comment below or share your thoughts on Facebook, I just try to keep it anonymous when I'm posting about other people).  :)

I'm not yet to my goal, but we are making progress!  Thanks, all!
---
3/25/13

Friends,

It's time for something new and fun at the HMV Blog.  As you are no doubt aware, this is my birthday week.  Now instead of spending all week deciding on how to celebrate this momentous occasion, I am just going to come right out and ask you to do something really great:

Please consider donating to a charity near and dear to my heart, WellMamaOregon.com.

I've been getting involved with this group, and it would mean so much if you would send a little love our way.  (How involved did I get?  Well, you can find out here...)

And if you do, you can VOTE in the poll you see above!  Once I get a few votes, I will publish a new blog post on the topic of your choice.  So we all win!  WellMama gets much-needed funds, I get my birthday wishes, and you get a sweet slice of HMV ... probably an embarassing slice of truth-telling cause I just know you all are going to pick that one.  I just have a feeling.  I know you people.

So what is WellMama?  Well, WellMama is just a great little nonprofit.  We are dedicated to helping moms that are struggling with mental health issues.  We tell mamas that they are not alone.   We provide free support groups for moms or expecting moms.  And we are reaching out to dads too.  But none of this important work can be done without financial support.

Maternal mental health is such an important and often overlooked issue.  Clearly it is an issue that speaks to me.  And I would so appreciate your support (read: money).

My birthday fundraising goal is $250.  We can do that!  And you can help me achieve it!  My second goal is 10 donors.  If 10 of my friends donate, that would be very encouraging.

Click "Donate Now" on the home screen.  After you enter your donation, you can leave a message on the second screen.  I get to see these come in (only a few people do, it doesn't get posted to Facebook or the internet).  So feel free to share why you are donating.  You can dedicate your donation to a new mom that you know, or a new family (it's not just the mamas that benefit from maternal mental health & wellbeing)!  Or an older mama that you know.  We often hear "I wish there was a group like this when I was having kids and struggling on my own."  We are really building something great over here.

Thanks for the love, my friends.  I will update you as the donations and votes come in!  (Please send them in!!)

~Hmv

Baptism: August 26


Stationery card
View the entire collection of cards.


August 26, 2012:  We introduce Baby O to a Community of God-fearing Catholics (who don't always believe in or follow Catholic rules, but nonetheless think that Jesus was a pretty awesome dude and don't mind gathering in His name now and then to celebrate God and each other and in this case, Olivia!)

30 years young

Tomorrow I turn 30 years old.  But I feel so young.

Gratuitous baby pic

When I look at my friends' pictures on Facebook, and I see them hugging and snuggling and playing with these little babies, I think, when did we get old enough to have kids of our own?  What happened?  Weren't we just graduating college and getting our first jobs and going off to grad school and failing to give up our bad habits?  Drinking too much, sleeping too little, and eating whatever we happened to have in our poorly stocked refrigerators that day.

That JUST happened, right?  No?..

At some point in the last 7 to 10 years I guess I grew up ... some.  I mean, I'm just 30, not like I've got it all figured out.  But I did manage to buy a house, and find a pretty awesome husband, and graduate-- twice.  (Well, technically I've graduated four times in my life if you count 8th grade graduation, which I should, considering what a miracle it was that my mother didn't maim me several times throughout junior high.)

But I often feel like a stranger in my own life.  Or an observer.  I find myself looking around and saying, "this is not my beautiful house!"  "This is not my beautiful child."  "My God, what have I done?!"

I swear, there are still mornings where I wake up and think, did I really have a kid?  Is she still here?  Or did someone much more responsible than me finally show up and take over?  Someone is going to come marching in here one day and declare, "This woman does not even wash her SHEETS on a regular basis, how is she going to raise a child?? And have you seen her fridge?!  Apple juice, ketchup, and Chianti does not a meal make."

Well, that's not entirely true (I don't keep Chianti in the fridge, who chills red wine? And who buys Chianti anymore?).  I don't really doubt my parenting abilities that much.  I've done alright.  At the end of the day, I love that little monster more than anything else in the wholewideworld.  And because of that, I know I will mostly get it right.  Where it counts.  The love is too big to fail.

It's just that I feel so young.  And this, dear readers, is where you get to see how vain I really I am.  But I don't feel young because I am just SO drop dead glamorous; I just feel like the time has flown by so fast that 21 was not that long ago.  23 was like last week.  And now I go to bars and the young waitress doesn't ask for my ID and I'm thinking, ummm, HELLO!  Aren't you forgetting something?  Maybe she thinks that we have a class together or something because she is taking a HUGE risk here.  Huge.

Ok so I'm not in my twenties anymore.  That's ok.  It really is.  I have decided that I am not the kind of person who approaches their 30s with fear or dread.  30 is the new 27, that's what I say.  30 is fun and sophisticated.  It's young enough for well-fitting jeans, but old enough for a little stretch in the waistband.  It means being mature enough to say, "Yes, I wear Spanx and no, this isn't my natural hair color, but I'm going to do what I like now because the list of people that I'm still trying to impress is dwindling, and I am comfortable just being who I am.  I am simply too old and unwilling to try and be anything else."

Which reminds of this song ...  haha ... Happy Birthday, me!


~hmv

Employed!

Aaaaaaaat last ... I am employed!  This insanely long, painful, boring, frustrating, emotional roller coaster has come to an end.  It has been:

10 months
22 job applications
6 coffee dates
4 networking events
160 internet job searches
19 different cover letters
12 rejection letters
4 interviews
1 unemployment application
1 unemployment denial
and one networking event that led to an introduction that led to an opportunity that changed it all around and gave this pessimistic Eugenian hope.  Finally!

This is an issue that has consumed my life for a painfully long time.  But this will be a short post.  Why?  Well, being unemployed is tough.  It is embarrassing in a way.  And it is just not a reflection of the way I really see myself.

Finally I have gotten a glimpse of the life I have been wanting to live.  I wanted to be a working mom.  I want to use my law degree.  And now I can.

I will be at the University of Oregon's Office of Risk Management, managing workers' compensation claims.  If you want more details let me know.  If you are interested in my unemployment story, I will tell you.  But not right now.  I have been carrying a lot of anger around over this situation, which began when I was 6 months pregnant.  Now it feels like a weight has been lifted.  Like justice has been restored.

And to everyone who helped us out during this time, your support has not gone unnoticed.  Our friends and family have just been so generous. 

We have an abundance of love and support.  We are absolutely up to our ears in it.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

~hmv

While You Were Nursing

(Does anyone remember the awful 90's movie on which this title is based??  Anyone...?)

In the last six months I've spent a LOT of time nursing.  I've nursed on the big comfy chair in the nursery, on my bed at all hours of the night, on a folding chair in the backyard when the weather was nice, at friends' houses and grandparents' houses, and mostly on our couch.  Probably hundreds of hours on the couch.  Hundreds?!  Yes.  Hundreds.

Our little spot on the couch
Newborn Olivia after nursing on the "Brest Friend" pillow

Looking back on all the time I've spent nursing, I realize that I've come a long way with this "motherhood" thing.  The first time I nursed Olivia she was about 30 seconds old.  She had just been placed on my chest after the craziest journey of her very-short life.  I didn't have time to realize that I didn't know what I was doing.  It just sort of happened.  Magical, really.

Magic baby nursing!

After that there was a couple days of "honeymoon nursing" where the magic continued.  Nothing really went wrong, nothing was too challenging.  Just insert boob aaaaand go!  I was in mommy heaven.

Reading and snoozing on our chair in the nursery (breast pump on the left)
But the music died on Day 3 or 4.  My milk came in, which is a nice way of saying that my boobs engorged to the size of small basketballs, and it completely freaked me out.  And it hurt!  Suddenly nursing turned into a comical feat of acrobatics.  Like trying to place a beach ball into someone's slightly open mouth.  For her it was like drinking from a fire hose.  We had issues.

I got lots of help from the lactation consultants.  Odd as this sounds though, I didn't fully accept that I needed help for a long time.  Because of the weird honeymoon period, I thought we really had it figured out.  Other moms might need help, but not me and Baby O!  We were clearly pros.

Not the case.

Nursing a baby is a natural thing, but it certainly doesn't come naturally.  Moreover, there are so many women with amazing advice to give, why not ask for help?  When I reached out, I found a wealth of information that made my life so much easier.

In the first couple months I could often be found playing Words With Friends on my phone as Olivia nursed (I did this a lot at night to keep me awake.  Plus my friend Sarah was nursing her son at the same time, so we would play at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning when no one else was updating.  It kept things interesting, and I never felt alone.)  One day I mentioned having breastfeeding issues to a friend on Facebook.  She recommended The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding - an amazing book that I read cover to cover.  I'm not sure if she knows how much that meant to me ... maybe she will now.  I read a tattered library copy of this book, which made me feel even more a part of this great community of breastfeeding women.  How many other struggling, searching moms had found this book before me and poured over it like I did?

Olivia on the breastfeeding pillow a few months later

My Grandma Lois (for whom Olivia is named after) talked about this time in her life when she reached out to other women; it was after her husband (my Grandpa Frank) had died.  I can't remember all the details, or why she was not near her close group of friends.  But she wasn't, and she needed people to spend time with, if for no other reason than to get out of the house and think of something other than being sad.  She said, "sometimes you just need to find a friend to do little things with - have coffee or go for a walk - she does not need to be your best friend."  The point was: find people.  Don't rule someone out because you don't have much in common or because you can't foresee a long friendship in the future.  You can find a great deal of happiness over a small cup of coffee with an unlikely friend.

This advice has been a godsend to me in the last six months.  Through nursing troubles, and the doldrums of being a stay-at-home mom, and some flat-out baby blues, I've reached out and found many unlikely friends.  Some may turn into best friends, but some will move away or go back to work; some live in different cities, and some I've just met in passing.  If you are reading this, and you've offered me some advice in the last six months, I am probably talking about you.  And though I don't know how to say it when I see you at Baby Clinic, or at the mall, or when you stop by the next time you're in town, I really really appreciate you. 

Two of my favorite ladies.  You are my rock(s)!
[breastfeeding break] ....... and I'm back!

Now, with regard to nursing, Olivia and I have come a long way, but we are by no means pros just yet.  I am proud of one small accomplishment, though.  Olivia can now nurse in bed with me side-by-side, and she can latch on without my help.  Perhaps you have to be a nursing mother to appreciate this, I don't know.  But if you knew where we started, when every latch-on was a delicate process involving shifting, positioning, and ultimately freezing in place for the duration of the feeding; you would know that we've come a long way.

But we are not pros.  Why?  Well for one thing, I've never been the kind of mom that could gracefully nurse in public.  You know, the moms who whip the nursing cover over their shoulder while quietly placing babe to boob, and no one is the wiser?  For us, its more like a rodeo/peep show.  Olivia tears the nursing cover away and screams at the boob as it comes flying out of my shirt.  I need one hand to hold her, one hand to guide boob to mouth, and one hand to hold the cover in place ... it just isn't going to happen.

Do me a favor friends, if you see a mom nursing in public, just wish her well and don't judge.  I'm sure she's doing the best she can with the hands that God gave her.

All in all, I am super happy that I chose to breastfeed Olivia.  We've had our challenges, but I've always thought of it as a team effort, and I'm just as proud of her as I am of me.  We have seen a ton of benefits too; she's never been really sick, she's had NO problem gaining weight, and its saved us a boatload of money.  And I get to spend a little time every day staring at my beautiful baby girl in my arms.

Full.  And happy.
What a view!

~hmv

New mother, old mother

We took our first plane ride with Baby O over Thanksgiving to Spokane.  You can't imagine two people more prepared for an event that would only last 50 minutes.  60 minutes max!  I had Olivia strapped into the Ergo carrier (a great baby product) as I walked through security.  When they took my bottle of breastmilk -which according to my research, is perfectly fine to take on a plane- I watched them like a hawk.  Having passed the breastmilk-bomb test, we carried on toward the gate discussing our plan to feed Olivia as we took off and descended, which is supposed to help babies' little ears.

Well, in the end Olivia slept happily through most of the flight.  My research and preparations and discussions with other moms had been helpful for pretty much one thing: keeping me calm.  And keeping my shoulders more or less relaxed as I held her and nursed her in my tiny airplane seat next to Jake, whose shoulders were similarly half-relaxed.

In my four months of motherhood I've noticed one thing that separates new moms and old moms; I think it's in the shoulders.  New moms hold their babies high with anxious shoulders.  Old moms hold babies with ease, like the baby was somehow a part of them that could not drop or break or even cry.  They are fearless

I started to notice this at a wedding we went to when I was about 6 weeks postpartum.  A few "old" moms asked to hold Olivia, and of course we were glad to oblige.  (They were not "old" as in elderly, but rather experienced.)  I remember watching one woman hold Olivia up high over her shoulder and pat her gently on the back, which she seemed to love.  I copied this technique immediately.  When my mom and my mother-in-law visited I watched them with the same kind of intense fascination.  They are naturals!  (Her Grandpas are naturals too, I have to say.  But this post is a little female-centric...sorry fellas.)
Grandma Lynnette holds Olivia as she's fussing at a restaurant.

Grandma Robin reads to Baby O with Grandpa Ralph looking on proudly.
When Olivia was first born there was about three days of honeymoon parenting.  I don't remember having any real difficulties with breastfeeding, diapering, holding, or anything else that needed to be done.  Issues started to arise after my milk came in, which often happens, and luckily we had support from the lactation consultants at the Birth Center.  But I noticed that my shoulders ached from holding her and changing her and when I breastfed, I tried so hard to find a perfect position and then hold it as still as possible so that nothing would go awry.  Unrealistic, I know.

The other tension I carried around was all these high expectations I had (and still have, to some degree).  I am a person who likes to research EVERYTHING.  When I don't know an answer, I need to find out.  So having a screaming baby who can't communicate any of her needs created a pretty stressful situation for me.  I tried to listen to old moms who said that babies just need to cry sometimes, and it's ok to set them down from time to time to get something done ... but I found this advice hard to follow.  It's getting better now.  But it's still hard.

The thing that old moms forget is that new moms are not biologically wired to let their babies cry.   We are hormonally programmed to quickly respond to our babies' cries.  But we are tragically ill-equipped at decoding them.  That takes time.  Hearing Olivia cry used to send my shoulders up to my ears in a heartbeat.  I still tense up at the sound of her cries, but it's a little easier.  Her needs are not so immediate now, and I can somehow interpret the cries better. 


"Why are we taking a picture of this?"  Olivia crying before the game.
Olivia crying to the hum of the shower.
 How did this happen?  I don't know exactly.  As I said to my good friend Missy a few weeks ago, "she is better now, but *I* am better too."  I am relaxing.  I'm not judging myself for not knowing what I don't know.  I'm a new mom!  And sometimes I just make it up as I go along.  And as a result, sometimes I find something that works.  Other times I copy the amazing moms I see around me, and that yields some success as well. 

I love being a mom, and I know it will get better and better.  I will be an old mom too someday.


Confident mama
~hmv

Who does Baby O look like?

I've assembled a few baby pictures of me, Jake, and our sisters.  Lets see if Baby O has inherited any of our good looks... 


Newborn Jake


Newborn O

Newborn Hannah


Newborn O

Awake Hannah
Awake Olivia



Squishy Olivia
Squishy Jake


 Bath pictures are funny.... especially mine!  Yiiiiikes.
Bathtime Hannah
Bathtime O
Bathtime Jake


And how about our parents?  A pretty good looking gene pool, if I do say so...

Hannah's parents
Jake and his dad


It is hard to explain why I see so much of Amy Lou in Baby Olivia.  Maybe its the cheeks?  This picture is a good example....
Absolutely adorable baby picture of Amy Lou
Adorable pic of Baby O

I don't have as many good pictures of Aunt Maren.  Maren was just a beautiful baby.  And pretty funny....as you will see.


Ahhh-Olivia

Ahhh-Maren
Another cute one of Maren

 Olivia obvious got her screamin' skills from Aunt Meggie... hehe.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!
AAAAiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!
Oooooooooooooo!!!
 

Crazy day

Just had a crazy day.  The kind that makes you think, I'll remember this someday and laugh.  Well, no laughter yet, but I didn't want to forget, so let's recount it...

10pm last night: Got to bed early, things are looking up!

1:15am: First feeding of the night.  Goes well.  Except that right breast hurts like someone punched it.  Did my baby get super strong and take a swing at me when I wasn't looking?  Probably.  No time to overthink it, must sleep more.

2:00am: Still awake, and cold cold cold!  Did Jake crank up the AC?  I've been shivering all night, but my skin feels hot.... oh no...

2:15: Take temperature.  100.2 degree.  Crap.

2:45: Still awake.  Temperature 101.0 now.  Double crap.  Skin is as hot as a firecracker.  Wake up Jake.  Try to think of what to do next while being extremely sleep deprived, and did I mention that Jake is sick?

2:50: Thoroughly convinced that I have mastitis (an infection of the ducts in the breast tissue), I send out a few messages in a bit of a panicky hurry.  Mom: "please come early tomorrow, I need help, I have an infection."  A friend and lactation specialist: "what do I DO?!!  My boob is on fire!"

3:30: Second feeding.  Still no sleep.

4:00: Finally back asleep!

7:30: Third feeding?  I think?  The sleep was so sweet I lost track of time and space.

7:45: Baby reminds me that she too is not feeling well and needs to be burped.  In fact, the doctor said to keep her upright for 30 minutes after every feeding.  (She may have acid reflux.)  At this point, "keeping her upright" is loosely interpreted as "lay her on my chest while leaning back on a stack of pillows in a state of half-sleep."

10:00: Time to wake up and get up.  Nurse baby.  Read messages.  Lactation friend: "So sorry to hear that.  Get lots of rest, fluids, and vitamin C.  And call the midwives asap."

10:01: Call midwives.  Get prescription for the mastitis (I was right!).

10:02 - 1pm: Not sure what happened around this time.  I never know.  Its the black hole part of my day.  It usually involves nursing, trying to clean up, watching TV while nursing, Facebook, trying to shower or wash my face or at least wipe yesterday's mascara off before baby needs to nurse again, and eating.

1:30pm: Realize that Mom will be visiting soon and my house looks like a Babies R Us exploded in here.  Try to tidy up.  Baby screaming.  Genius idea: put baby in the sling and carry her around while I carefully keep tidying.  Success! ... but back ache...and did I mention I have a fever!?

2:00: Off to the pharmacy to get the meds.  Pharmacist's window looks like a gold beacon at the end of a looooooong hallway.  Will this walk ever end?!  I realize that I am due to take my Ibuprofen again, and it has reached emergency status.  Everything hurts.  Walking.  In.  Slooow...motion.  Get in line and ask the nice grandfatherly man behind me to watch my baby in the cart while I hop around the corner to get some Ibuprofen.  This literally takes 5 seconds, but it feels like a half hour.  And I'm back, whew!  Everyone's accounted for.  Thank you, grandfather dude.

2:23: Drop off cart.  Grab baby in car seat, bag, wallet, and meds (in two hands, somehow), and get back into the car.  Desperately open the Ibuprofen and take 3.  That only leaves 997 pills in the bottle because did I mention I was at the Costco pharmacy?  I'll be set on the Ibu for the next 10 years.

2:35: Made it to baby's doctor appointment 5 minutes late.  Pretty good, for me.

2:45: The doctor is actually a 15-year-old female version of Doogie Howser.  She proceeds to tell me that my baby may or may not have acid reflux but her symptoms don't really require medicine and "we wanna keep da babay offa da medicine if we can."  Speak for yourself, Doogette.  I wanted medicine.  Baby wanna not scream in mommy's ear every time she burps.  But ok, we'll keep an eye on it and let you know if it gets worse. 

2:50: Uh-oh.  Baby needs to nurse.  Dr. Howser MD tells me I can nurse in the room, which is nice, but I have no pillows, no towels, and no way to cover up.  So I just go for it.  Baby keeps detaching because of my poor grip, and every time she does a hilarious stream of milk just keeps running out and usually hitting her in the face.  This makes me laugh, but Dr. Howser is not amused.  She leaves the room, probably to re-up her birth control.

3:30: Back home, finally!  Putter around (seriously, what do I even do when I'm at home?  I don't know.)

4:00: Realize that I haven't really followed any of the advice I got -to rest and get lots of fluids- so I try to catch up on that in one hour.  Mom comes over for a couple minutes and I ask her to go pick up Jake from work.

5:15: Everyone's back at the house and we make plans for dinner (take out), which turns out to be really nice.  Spend some time in the backyard with Mom and Denny and Baby O, who is in a great mood tonight.  Weird.  The meds are already starting to work on me too.  So the day ended pretty nicely I guess.  Who knows what tomorrow will be.  Everyday is an adventure in this crazy house.

hmv

Baby picture extravaganza!

Here is an abundant cornucopia of adorable and entertaining baby pictures.  Yay!  Can you believe its only been 3 weeks?!

Moments after she was born... precious and perfect.

One very happy daddy.

Baby O takes a break from the boob for a few minutes.  She is SO tiny here.

Our first outing!  We made a fast trip to the BiMart pharmacy and picked up a few things.  The trip was short, but surprisingly overwhelming for me.  I guess giving birth really takes it out of you!


Jake & Grandma Robin

The one where she looks like I did when I was a baby.  So sweet.

 Gotta put in this great picture of me and my sisters and Mom.  They came down the weekend before Olivia made her grand (late) entrance into the world.  How I wish my sisters could have been there to see her, but of course they were there in spirit.  We had a lot of fun in my last, gigantic days of pregnancy.

 The Eugene fam + Amy Lou, all the way from DC!

The beautiful flowers we received from Jake's coworkers and Jake's parents.  Our house looked so cheerful!
Grandpa Ralph 

Jake and Lil O at our first trip to the birth center after the birth.  They weighed her and everything looked good.  She was the youngest baby there by far - just 5 days old!

The Vaseys - Baby O is about 4 day old here.

Chilling with Daddy

...and Mommy

One of our days off together we went to Hideaway Bakery.  It was a great trip out of the house for me (I was getting a little cabin fever).  We had caffeinated beverages (a first for me, in a LONG time!) and cookies.  Life is good!


Daphne jumped up on the chair for story time.  Suuuuper cute.

A little visit from Cindy and Todd.  Cindy nearly got Olivia to sleep, even though she was screaming for milk.  Baby whisperer!


Lil Olive, lounging in the afternoon.

I can't stop taking pictures of Jake and Olive...so cute!

The "Baby Olivia" sign from my cousins, Katie and Tera Rock.  It has been up since before her due date.  Makes it feel like a party in here!

Nap time!

Another day-off adventure: the rose garden.

The gardener cut this rose for the baby.  I loved it!


Aunt Meggie comes for a visit, and Joe's birthday.

Grandma Robin with Baby O, at our first sit-down restaurant.  It went pretty well!  I was so nervous though.  Lately I've been scarfing down all my food so I can get back to her.  Even if she isn't fussy - its a little silly.  I need to slow down and chill out.

Party baby!!

Video of Baby O

Here are a few videos we have taken of Baby O.  I will continue posting them as I can.  For some reason the larger videos won't upload.  Perhaps someone can explain that to me sometime....Shane??


This one (above) is a little compilation of various videos - including her first bath!


Jake did this one night and it made her coo like crazy.  So cute!  So I had to make him do it again for the camera.


Here's little Olive doing what she does best - lounging and cooing and being incredibly adorable.

Maternity photos

Check out my maternity photo session.  It was really fun to take these pictures.  I felt like a star.  Maternity pics can be tricky and sometimes turn out funny.  Perhaps because the pregnant body can look a bit awkward.  But I think these turned out pretty glamorous and artsy if I do say so.

  
~ hmv

OK, this is getting a little tough

Ok already.  Its been nine months.  I can see why this gets to be a bit ... rough at the end.

Two days ago I went for a 15 minute walk and returned with the worst pain in my right lower back.  It's still there.  I can't describe the ridiculousness of my maneuvers just to get up off the couch, pick something up off the ground, or get out of bed.  It was hard before the back pain, when I just had a 15 pound bowling ball in my stomach to contend with (and more weight elsewhere).  Now it is comical. 

And apparently it's no picnic for Baby O either.  She's in there stretching and kicking like a caged animal.  It literally feels like she is running laps at times.  Are you ready to come out, little one?  I'm ready when you are!

I hate to complain about pregnancy.  I've tried to make a concerted effort to embrace all the changes; I love my baby bump (even if it is more like a baby mountain right now) and I'm not afraid of the weight gain, or the six different bras I've gone through, or the swelling hands and feet.  I trust the process.  I know it will end at some point, and I will probably miss it.....most of it.  And it makes me a little sad that Jake doesn't get to feel our baby moving around from the inside.  So I should be grateful.  But Jake's still got a lot of things going for him, like the ability to lie down on his stomach, or make it over to the kitchen in under 60 seconds.

The one thing I hear now more than anything is "oh my, you look like you are so DONE!"  Or variations ("You look like you're about to POP!").  Well, that is not exactly how I feel, even if it is how I look.  I'm not done with the pregnancy, I'm still enjoying it ... for the most part.  But I am "so done" with the comments from strangers.  I've played the part of the cute-bellied pregnant lady for months now.  No one else gets comments about their size while in line at the post office.  My turn is over!

The thing is, I have a lot of things I could be upset about, but I don't want pregnancy to be one of them.  Having this baby is the greatest gift of my life.  When I'm stressing out about my job search or my neverending to-do list, I like to look down at this massive belly and just be grateful.  It helps to keep things in perspective.

Ahh... just two more weeks.  (More or less)

Dear Olivia

My dear sweet Olivia,

I cannot wait to meet you.  Your dad and I have been waiting for months.  In many ways, we have been waiting our whole lives.  Because I get the feeling that once we see you, we will feel that life has truly begun.

There are so many things I want to tell you and show you.  The ways we have prepared for your big arrival.  It is hard to imagine anything else I could have done to prepare.  We've done childbirth classes and prenatal visits to the nurse-midwives, read several baby books and even more magazines, articles, and websites; we've had five baby shower parties (FIVE!), gone on many shopping trips, and received even more gifts.  In your room we have one hand-painted tree on top of two coats of blue paint, one semi-difficult-to-assemble crib, your dad's repainted baby furniture from Grandma Robin's house, a big comfy chair from Aunt Meggie, and a bookshelf from Aunt Amy Lou.  And lots of toys, books, clothes, blankets, soaps, lotions, and just about anything you might find in the baby isle at Walgreens.  All we are missing, is YOU!

And Olivia, as I write this, you are turning and kicking inside of me.  You always remind me that you are there, waiting to join us too, getting bigger and stronger every day.  We are content to wait until you ready to come out, but oh how exciting it will be.

As you will someday understand, parents have fears too.  We get worried that we don't know everything we need to know, that we may make decisions for you that won't turn out well, or that we will somehow let you down.  It is only because the love we have for you is so so big.  We can only hope that we'll live up to our own great expectations.

Olivia, if there was one thing I could tell you now, it is how much I love you.  Bigger than the moon and all the stars.  I love you more and more every day.  You are perfect in my eyes.  And I have not even seen you yet.  I already know that you are the greatest love of my life.  Come out and see us soon, sweet girl.

-Mom

Everyone needs a hobby

Everyone needs a hobby.  As it turns out, I kind of like gardening.  I didn't think I did.  But then we bought this house with a huge yard and lots of places to plant things, and Jake's folks got us started with a boatload of plants.  I found it was kind of fun to watch things grow and try out new plants. 

Our front and back yards look 100% better than when we purchased the house.  Here, I can show you:

This is the crapbasket that was our house before we purchased it in 2009.  Eck!

As you can see, the backyard looked like a boring display of grey with a wippy attempt at a garden.  Well, ok, the garden was actually in pretty good shape.  There were tomatoes and pumpkins growing ... and then we let the whole thing go.  Now it looks like a jungle wonderland where Daphne (our dog) likes to pretend she is on safari, like a vicious lioness hunting for squirrels and neighborhood cats.  Its our way of letting her "get in touch with her roots."  Here it is after I mowed down the jungle:

... sad.

 But fast forward to Spring of 2010 and WHOA!!!  This looks like a whole new house.  Beautiful.  The envy of the neighborhood!

 Is that a BERM!?!  You betcha.  Oh and what a cute doggie there in the back.

 I planted these lilies all by myself and they sprung up beautifully.  They came up again this year, which is truly amazing considering that I had no idea what I was doing, and primarily relied on rain and hope to keep them going.

 These guys added a pop of color in the front of the house.

Now its Spring of 2011, time to get back out there and keep the beauty alive! 

 See?  The lilies are miraculously back!  And I planted some dahlias around the outside to see if they would make it.  Dahlias are probably my favorite flower, but they are very needy.  Apparently you are supposed to dig them up during the winter and bring them inside, tucked in, preferably in a little cot, or your own bed (if you TRULY love them).  Needless to say I did none-of-the-above last year, and the poor little guys froze over and died in a fit of agony.

 Potted plants are SO in right now.

 The berm is back!  With tulips too!

 This new addition is from the Vaseys.  I added fake flowers, but I'm working on replacing them with the real thing...

 I decided to save a "ton" of money by planting my own lettuce basket.  First attempt was a total failure.  Second attempt looks good so far.  One plant died a couple days ago.  Total yield so far: 3-4 edible leaves.  Total savings: -$15.90.

 Composting is another great way of telling yourself that you're going to save a bunch of money, when in reality you've just added a big upside-down garbage to your yard.  Still, this idea is not a total waste.  It has produced some usable soil, and I bought it on the cheap from craigslist.  It reduces our regular garbage by approximately one tiny bucket of food waste per week.  Most of the compost comes from yard clippings and weeds.  Hey, there's nothing like turning your waste into something you can use .... someday ... hopefully ... right?

 More plants + cute dog.

 Jake is such a manly man!  (That's an electric cordless lawn mower.  It saves the earth but it has to be charged after about 3.5 minutes of use, so yeah....pretty tough!)

Aww, here I am.  Cute as a button.  Well, I hope baby O. will appreciate all the hard work I put into this place.  And all while she was inside of me.  I can't wait to play with her on the grass and watch the flowers grow, and make her laugh and see her smile, and marvel at the way things change.  Beautifully, of course.

~hmv

Belly pictures and other happenings

Time for some more belly love... here are a few updates in belly growth and other things going on in the life of ME...
 Ultrasound, 3/17/11.  
Laying on my back has been extremely painful these days, and 3/17 was no different. 
But I was determined to tough it out so we could see our little GIRL! 

 3/17/11 @ the Birth Center.
This morning as we were getting ready to go to the ultrasound 
appointment, "My Girl" came on the radio.  It was a sign!
 My mom and Denny came for a visit on 3/18.  It was so fun to see mom and talk about all things pregnancy.  We learned that a lot has changed since she was pregnant with me and my sisters.  Turns out that drop-side cribs have been completely recalled for safety reasons.  Well, guess who put ALL her babies in a drop-side crib.....THIS WOMAN did!  



Whoa belly!

My sister Maren came for a visit in February and we took her out for chicken wings (her fav).  We decided that just trying one or two varieties would not be sufficient, 
so we ordered 36 wings in 6 different flavors.  They had a ball! 
... until the heartburn set in.

 21 weeks

 22 weeks ... growing growing!

 Not best photograph ever taken (sorry), but check out these adorable Ruffle Buns!!! 
Jake got them for my birthday and I just LOVE them. They really serve no purpose,
other than total cuteness.
 A little birthday celebration dinner with our friends. 
Never thought I'd be 29 and having a baby.  Seems young.  Or maybe its perfect? ... I can't decide.

 ...and then I had the baby.  The End!
Just kidding :)  Our friends Sarah and Shane had little baby Evan on 3/21,
and he is just perfect.
Well, that is about it for now.  Hope all is well out there for you.  I love that you are reading my blog and following along in this little adventure.  I truly mean it when I say that I welcome all advice and comments.  It takes a village, right? 

~Hmv

Check your body image issues at the door

Have you ever stared down a bathing suit with such intense disdain that it seems you could burn a hole right through it?  Of course you have.  I've held that stare many times at many items of clothing.  And once, at the entire Brass Plum section of Nordstrom.  (Whose body are they making these clothes for?!  And why do they even bother labeling some of them "Large.")  I once told the poor helpless attendant at Forever 21 that they needed to start carrying triple extra-large.  I wasn't kidding.

So now that I am pregnant, things are .... better, for the most part.  Weird, huh?  I feel very "natural" being pregnant.  Hard to explain, but I feel like all my little insecurities have taken a back seat to baby-making.  I am doing what I am supposed to be doing, what I am built to do.  Even the additional little dimples that have cropped up, unwelcome, in places that make no sense; those little marks are signs that things are changing.  Stuff is happening!

Everyone has their insecurities.  For me, its always been my belly.  So it is strange that I love having this huge growing belly now.  I look at it proudly and think, "ah, so this is what I was getting ready for.  I made room for you, little baby!"  Ha!  If you are like me (constantly dieting or trying to eat right), you may have wished from time to time that you could just get off the treadmill, take a break, and eat what you want without counting every calorie.

Well, I've found the solution to your problem and its called Getting Pregnant!

Okay, just kidding.  There is a "time out" aspect of pregnancy, but there is also a "holy moly your body is growing, stretching, and morphing to gigantic proportions" aspect too.  Mentally, that is a lot to prepare for.  You may tell yourself that your body NEEDS to grow, and those dimples are NOT going to stick around forever, but the fact is, it's not always so easy to convince yourself.  It is not ALWAYS fun to watch your body morph to larger and larger proportions, don't get me wrong. I guess I've just gotten to a place where I am at peace with it.

Of course, there is another piece to this puzzle in my case.  I happen to be married to a man who loves my growing body just the way it is, pre- or post-pregnancy.  Jake is amazingly supportive.  (This is where this blog post gets a little mushy....pardon me.)  The other night as I was staring in wonder at my massive, swelling tummy, Jake said, "its just amazing what you are doing, what your body is doing."  He is not the kind of person to get hung up on body issues - to him, its just all part of this amazing journey.  We know that some things will spring back into shape, and some things will forever look a little different.  I guess its a good metaphor for our whole lives from this point on, right?

One thing will be for sure: I am a lucky, lucky gal.

From the children's book, The Nativity. I love the pictures in this book - the way that Mary and Joseph stare at her growing belly - reminds me of us!

How does the belly grow...

My belly has passed the point of no return.  Tonight as I was getting ready for my workout class I was talking to Jake, and I turned sideways for a moment.  He goes, "Whoa, you can DEFINITELY tell that you are pregnant now.  No doubt about it."  Well, see what you think...

13 weeks:

17 weeks:

19 weeks:

Cool stuff!  I'll keep posting some pics as we go along.  I'm glad I started at week 13 - even though that's basically how I look on any given day after lunch.  Haha!

~hmv

I'm out there and I'm lovin it!

Well world it is official! I really look pregnant now. The first non-friend non-family member told me "congratulations" with the obligatory self-belly grab. I was so excited I almost started crying. Of course, the other day I saw an ad for pacifiers and almost started crying...so maybe it doesn't take too much these days.

It is just nice to cross that threshhold from 'just looking kinda chubby' to 'that girl is definitely pregnant!' And its always nice to hear congrats and share the joy. Even with a perfect stranger. Who has just become my FAVORITE stranger.

So that is all for now. Just a happy little update from out here in Bend, Oregon. The best thing about coming out here for work, aside from the fantastic locals, is the food. I love every restaurant here! Given the time, I could eat at every one. And with my newfound appetite I could probably do it in a single day. With that, I will now sign off to eat this amazing curry (@ Typhoon!).

Hmv
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