Saturday, November 20, 2010

Kari's baby

Originally, we'd wanted to make a trip out to California in the summer, but that never ended up working out. But my wonderful friend Kari, who may as well be my sister, was due to have a baby in the middle to end of September and she thought it would be fun if I could be there when her baby was born. Being the most amazing telepathic fortune telling momma I know, she was able to predict over a month ahead of time when her baby would be born. She was thinking the weekend of September 17th so she said that if we were able to come out, we should try to come around that time. It worked out for us to go out that weekend and lo and behold, Chloe was born on the 18th!

Kari took Hypnobabies via the home-study course. She is so in tune with her body and just has generally great intuition about things. I was pretty sure that if anyone could achieve pain-free birthing with Hypnobabies, it was Kari. As we talked about it during our pregnancies, I became more and more convinced that she would be pain free. I was so excited to see how things turned out for her!

Her hubby, Glen called me (and I'm so grateful that he was brave enough to call me at my in-law's house in the middle of the night!) at around 2:30 in the morning on Saturday and said that they were at the hospital and that Kari was at a 5 and that they would call again when things were closer. Glen called back a little before 4am and said that Chloe had been born around 3:30! The next thing out of Glen's mouth (he'd been a bit skeptical about the Hypnobabies thing) was, "Hypnobabies ROCKS!!!!" Then Kari got on the phone and told me a little about her birthing experience. She had done so great and had no pain right up until pushing when she lost her focus a little bit and started to feel some pain. But she made it!!!! I'm SO proud of her!
Doesn't she look AMAZING for just having had a baby a few hours earlier!?
We went down in the morning when everyone was up and ready and we got to meet little Chloe.
Proud Daddy. He was SO proud of Kari, too. He loved telling people how great she'd done with NO drugs!
Even though Landon was only 3 months old at the time, he was SO much bigger than a brand new baby. Mom and baby were doing great and they went home the next day.
Oh, and Kari MADE her own hospital gown! It was beautiful!
We got to visit them again at their house and join them for dinner. It was so great to see Kari and Glen and their cute, growing family! We love you! Congratulations! And sorry for taking SO LONG to post about your wonderful day and amazing accomplishment!

On a side note, my sister Gina had her baby Russell on March 29th. Landon was born 4 days shy of 3 months later on June 25th. Chloe was born one week shy of 3 months after that on September 18th. Interesting....

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Volcano

Alternate title: Overwhelmed at how behind I am and therefore procrastinating

I've gotten SO behind on my blog, but everyone seems to be commenting on how behind they are, so I must not be the only one whose life is catching up with them. At any rate, I have some sewing I want to get done but I have to wait until Raelin is asleep so I can go in her room where my sewing table is and turn on the light (she'll sleep through anything). So I figured I'd at least get started.

So, in September (you see how behind I am!) we went to California and on the way we stopped outside of Barstow and camped for the night. Well, we kinda just threw some sleeping bags out on the semi-level ground and crashed. I love summer.

In the morning we went to a volcano that is off the 40 freeway for a morning hike and to hunt for lava tubes. Brice and I had gone hiking there when we were dating and afterwards we went ring shopping for the first time. A memorable trip! Brice remembered that when we were there last, we'd had to hike all the way around the volcano to get to the place where the tubes are. So this time he thought we might be able to get there faster if we parked off a different road and just crossed the lava fields instead of going all the way around the volcano. Well, it was good in theory, but we forgot one small detail: the lava tubes are right around the base of the volcano so it really is MUCH faster to go around the volcano than to hike across the whole field of lava rock. So this was our starting point:For any of you who have never traversed lava fields, think Armageddon's asteroid. "Scariest environment imaginable. That's all you had to say. Scariest environment imaginable." Strictly speaking, the environment wasn't so bad since we started out early in the morning, but it did start getting hot by the time we headed back to the car. As is evidenced by our beet-red faces. (You can't really tell in the picture, but Alaina's face is super red. Raelin is the only one who got Brice's skin through and through--the other kids all turn red in the heat like I do)
The terrain is the scary part. Mostly for Ryker. Poor guy. He fell over and over and over and over again. And every time, the unforgiving lava rocks scraped and gashed and generally tore him to shreds.
(this picture was taken days later; I should have taken it sooner, after it all scabbed over but before it had started healing)
He'd cry for a second, but then true to Ryker-form, he'd pick himself up and carry on. He has an indomitable spirit. I admire his courage so much. He's such an example to our family.

On a sensory note, it was interesting to watch his progression because the first hour or so consisted of him falling and falling and falling some more, but then he'd gotten enough sensory input that his balance was better, his motor planning was better, and his coordination was better. He started falling less! But before long, he started to get tired and then the repetitive falling recommenced.

So anyway, we hiked and hiked and hunted and hunted. The kids were getting tired but we hadn't found a good lava tube yet so we pressed on. Finally we found a lava cave, but I wouldn't quite call it a tunnel. It was open at both ends and it was about 50 X 200 feet. The ground was soft and sandy. And it was SHADY! We rested there for a bit and enjoyed the cool cavern. It would have made a great campsite. We continued hiking and the kids started complaining and whining and I was about done with that so I was getting interested in heading back. We'd been out there hiking through some of the toughest terrain I've ever hiked (and we'd forgotten to bring boots--just sneakers which were all pretty torn up by the end of the day, especially Ryker's) for several hours and we were out of water and it was getting hot. But we hadn't found a good tube yet. Brice and I split up. I think I had Landon at this time and Brice had Alaina, both in carriers. I took the two older kids and Brice just hunted speedy fast while the kids and I kinda moseyed. Raelin started losing it. She was getting so whiny and complainy. At one point I wanted to just run and look at something that looked promising for a second and I told Raelin to stay where she was while I ran ahead with Ryker and we'd be back in a minute. I partly just needed a break from the whining! I took a slightly deviated route back and called to Raelin to meet up with us (we could see each other almost the whole time). Out new route took us to a big indentation in the terrain and there was a smallish opening that looked like it might be something (even though there was a dead, dried up rattle snake at the entrance--we broke the rattle off and kept it as a souvenir--but we forgot to grab lava rocks!!) but I couldn't be sure because there was a big drop that I couldn't manage with Landon. I called Brice (cell reception! Yeah!) and had him come meet us. He went in and lo and behold! We found one! COOL! It was SO nice and offered a respite from the ever-increasing heat. We played around and crawled through the tiny tunnel at the end and Brice put the kids and Zuma up on a ledge to explore around. It was really cool! Sometimes we went single file through narrow parts and other times it opened up into big caverns. We got to the end and there was a sign in registry and everything. I'm guessing Landon is the youngest person at 2 and a half months to ever make the registry. And Zuma may very well be the first dog. Incidentally, it's making me really sad to go through these pictures and remember what a trooper she was on this trip now that she's been lost and missing for a month and a half. We sure do miss her. Ryker still prays every day that she'll find her way home. Such faith. I know God hears his/our prayers; I just hope it's in His plan to answer them the way we want Him to. Again. He's a very generous God to our family. But that's a topic that deserves it's own post but may be too special to publish on the Internet and would be more appropriate to write in a personal journal, but note to self: record the miracles from God in our life of late.

Back to the volcano expedition. We headed out of the lava tube and back across the endless lava field in the heat with no water. Not five minutes after we got out of the lava tube, I saw an opening that was probably another one, but we just didn't have it in us to explore that one. I really wanted to but I saw the logic in just going back.

It was a LONG hike back. It really tested us. All of us. Well, not so much Brice, but I don't do well in the heat (it triggers migraines) and I'd just had a baby less than three months prior and another one 17 months prior to him and I'd been carrying one baby or another for the past three hours. I was exhausted. And if I was exhausted, imagine how the 5 and 6 year olds felt! Their little legs had to go a lot farther than I did. We were helping the kids as best we could but they had to do most of it on their own. Raelin had been carrying the backpack for a lot of the trip, but she was just done with it. We'd tried it on Ryker but quickly realized that it was unfair to add that to his sensory burden. So I carried Alaina and the backpack and Brice carried Landon. Alaina whimpered the WHOLE way back. She was hot and tired (even though she'd managed a nap on Daddy's back on the way in) like the rest of us even though she hadn't been walking much. Ryker was falling and falling. He'd still pick himself up, but sometimes he'd cry about how this wasn't a good idea and we should never have brought him on this hike because it wasn't a good one for him with all his falling. But then he'd be all chipper a few minutes later and say, "This is SO cool and fun! Thank you for taking us here!" Until... We were going down a steep part and he'd asked for my help. I held his hand for a few steps but then it just got too much for me to have Alaina on my back, the backpack on my front and hold Ryker's hand, supporting a lot of his weight AND try to get myself down this thing. I told Ryker he'd have to do it alone. The instant I let go of him he crashed and crashed hard. It was downhill and jagged. He got pretty torn up. His legs were already a wreck, but this arm injury was from just that one fall.(the pictures of Ryker's war wounds totally do NOT do them justice! His legs were a tangled web of scratches and cuts and gashes)
I hauled him up into my arms and carried him for 100 yards or so until we got to Brice. Brice took Ryker from me and piggy backed him for a long while with Landon in a carrier on his front. Poor little guy. It took him quite a bit longer to recover from that one.

Once I put Ryker down I picked up Zuma. Brice and I had both been carrying her intermittently on the way back because her poor little feet were hot and you could see her prancing around on the black rock trying not to burn. Fortunately, she came away from the adventure unscathed, but that surprised me, what with the heat of the rocks in combination with their aggressive, skin-shredding properties.

At some point, I realized that the only way to finish this outing was to cheer and encourage the kids. It lifted my own spirits as well to talk to them about it. It was a really character forming thing for Raelin. It was... There are no words for it.

Raelin is typically very blaming and feels like everyone and everything is out to get her (wonder where she got that from...), but with this, she realized that the only way to end her misery was to walk. And the only person who could do anything about her problem was her. She saw that Mommy and Daddy were suffering right along with her and that no one was doing this TO her. We were all in the same boat; us against the hike.

As we talked and made up stupid songs (just keep walking, just keep walking. Thanks for the inspiration, Dory), her attitude started to improve and she stopped complaining and whining. Well, she still complained a little but it was more of a trying to be funny kind of thing like I do a lot rather than complaining in earnest. I talked to her about how I was thirsty and hot and tired and Alaina was heavy and I just wanted to sit down but that I knew if I did, it would be too hard to get back up. So I'd decided to just hike as hard as I could to get myself out of here. I think she started to see the logic to that and it helped her press on. I was so impressed with her and so excited and proud of her to see her build some character in that way.

We made it out of the pure lava and got to where it was sand with still plenty of rocks to maneuver, but it was quite a bit easier. We were getting closer and I asked the kids if they knew how to run a race. They said they didn't. I told them that you run and run and run until you just think you can't run anymore, but you don't stop, and then, when you see the finish line, you run just as fast as you possibly can. Ryker immediately started running. I called out to him to wait and told him that this is more like a walking kind of race. After a few minutes, though, we were close enough that ZUMA started to run!! Ryker said that Zuma was winning and I told him that he could run with her if he wanted. So he did! Raelin did too. I walked. I'd put Alaina down about ten minutes prior because I just plain couldn't carry her anymore. Brice advised against is because it would slow us down, but I told him that I just couldn't and that he could go on ahead if he wanted. It's been a LONG time since my limits have been pushed like that. All in all, we hiked for 4 hours and went at least 5 miles over some of the roughest terrain imaginable.

But it was worth it.

Worth it most of all to watch the growth in my kids. To watch Ryker maintain his good attitude despite the physical difficulty it presented, to pick himself up physically and emotionally every time he fell. To watch Raelin choose to have a good attitude, the RIGHT attitude when her normal tendency is to hate life. This is something she gets from me that I've overcome over time, but it pains me to no end to see her go through the same things I did--to feel like no one likes her and that she just doesn't measure up. It was just a miserable way to live and I don't wish it on anyone, especially not my own kid. We make a very conscious effort to teach her about choosing our attitude and perspective on things and about giving people and life the benefit of the doubt rather than feeling like everyone just wants us to be miserable. We talk a lot about not being the victim. This was a prime opportunity for her to feel like a total victim and to feel like it wasn't fair and that it was too hard and that she was defeated. It was one of the highlights of my life as a mom to see her choose, instead, to have character that day. Go Raelin!!! I love you!