Saturday, July 20, 2013

A New Direction

This post isn't an easy one for me to write. I've been mulling it over for months now.  I really want to share from my heart, and that isn't always easy for me. This journey of parenthood gets increasingly harder as the kids get older. I'm discovering that most of what I thought  parenthood would be like for us is not in fact, how it actually is.  This is not a bad thing at all, it's just impossible to know what is best for your children, years in advance.  What's best for one family or child, is not always what is best for another. Even the ways Tony and I were raised are not necessarily the best way for us to raise our children. 

Tony and I both had great parents who raised us how they felt was best. Our parents are human, so I think it's safe to say, without any disrespect to them, that their parenting wasn't perfect. No parent is, or will be. However, they raised us as they felt led from God, and most importantly they raised us with a firm foundation in God and love for Him. That makes them excellent parents.  When we choose to do some things differently in raising our children, we are not trying to disrespect our parents, or say that the way they did some things were wrong.  We are simply trying to follow God's lead in how best to raise the children that He has entrusted to us.

Tony was raised a military brat. His mom is a teacher.  He has moved around frequently his whole life.  He has attended public schools, a DOD school, private Christian schools, and was home schooled his last last year or so of high school.

I, on the other hand, lived in the same area my whole life (with the exception of 6 months we lived in Kansas).  I was home schooled my whole life. Very simple and sheltered.

Because I was home schooled my whole life and was taught that public school was bad, I just naturally planned to home school my children. Natalie started school while we were living in Hawaii.  Hawaii public schools are...well, not good. Most of them are not air conditioned, and not a fully enclosed building (the halls are outdoors). The education is not great, and non-local kids can be bullied quite a bit. So for Kindergarten and first grade, our decision to home school was an easy one.  One child, an hour or two a day for Kindergarten, piece of cake.  For first grade we continued.

Then Savannah was born and grew into a toddling baby/toddler.  Gabbie got interested in doing some school also. Even though learning was easy and she is super smart, Natalie wouldn't stay focused. She wouldn't do her work unless I was sitting next to her, coaching her.  Gabbie wouldn't wait for me to help her with her work, she'd just take off with how she thought it needed to be done. Savannah would get into stuff. She needed the attention that is typical for a 1 year old. Yet first grade took longer than nap time lasted. Gabbie didn't nap.

Natalie hated school.  I hated trying to make her do it. I was constantly nagging her to hurry up and do her work, stay focused, etc.  We didn't enjoy each other.  It was a mess. By this time baby #4 was on her way and our time in Hawaii was coming to a close.  We were praying and seeking God and His will as this next chapter of our life was approaching.  We got assigned to Virginia, which happens to have very good public schools.  We were prayerfully evaluating how our children would be educated in the near future. At this time, I am not called to be a teacher. I don't enjoy it, or all the "extra" stuff that goes along with it.  I'd rather just get it over with and be done. And I don't enjoy, nor am I good at, the hands on, play type learning either.  I don't want my girls to feel the same way about school as a result of me being their teacher. I also feel that the younger two girls are not getting the attention and interaction from me that they need at such a young age.  Now that Natalie is going into 2nd grade, school definitely can't be done just during nap time.  I feel that in order for me to give the little ones the attention they need, the education of the older two suffers.  That's not ok with us.

Tony and I feel that God is calling us to send the girls to public school this year.  The school is on the military base where we live, and it's just for the kids that live on the base,which keeps it from being overly big.  That also means it is in a guarded, gated community.  It is about a mile from my house, and I can see the bus stop from my kitchen table. Which means that I don't have to get the little sisters out early in the morning or during naptime to drop off/pick up from school. 

I was raised with a very negative view of public, and even Christian private, schools.  So this is obviously a decision that most, if not all, of my family disagrees with. I've had to seek God in this area a lot!  The fact is, I know lots of wonderful people that have done great things for the kingdom of God that went to public schools.  They never went through a wild or rebellious stage.  I also know several home schooled kids that have totally rebelled and their lives now don't reflect their upbringing.  I know of some that made some very unwise decisions almost as soon as they graduated and no longer were under the strict control of their parents.  Home schooling your children does not ensure that they grow up with a fear and love for God.  That comes from their heart, and you can influence their heart at a young age, even if they are not home schooled.

I am now under the spiritual leadership of Tony.  He is responsible for the Spiritual condition of our family. As we have been seeking God  about what is best for our children, both academically and Spiritually, we have been given a peace about them going to public school.  They have both asked Jesus into their hearts. They love reading the Bible and going to church and AWANAs.  While it is important to shield our children from a lot these days, we agree that,

Parents cannot-and should not-try to isolate their children totally from the truth about sin and the subtleties of temptation. We should not cultivate the kind of "innocence" in our children that leaves them exposed and vulnerable to temptations they never even imagined existed. Our task is to teach them discernment, not raise them to be prudes.
Throughout the book of Proverbs, the naive ("simple" in many translations) are held up as negative examples.   
-John MacArthur, What the Bible Says About Parenting
We definitely want our children to have a holy innocence, but we feel that simply isolating them and cultivating naivete` isn't the way to go about that.  Even if your child goes to public school, you as the parent still have the greatest influence on their lives.  It is your responsibility to be good stewards of that. Going to public school will in no way alter my children's relationship with God in a negative way. As their parents, Tony and I are -and plan to continue to be- very diligent in carrying out Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Two great books I have read recently are What the Bible Says about Parenting by John MacArthur, and Going Public by David and Kelly Pritchard.  Going Public is about how your Christian child can thrive in public school.  I highly encourage both of these books.  I think anyone who has a child in public school should read Going Public.  Or even if you are considering it.  It resolved a lot of my misconceptions about public school.

I don't believe that public school is right for every family, just as I don't believe that home school is right for every family.  Some parents and children should not home school.  Right now, we fit into that category.  However, just because we feel God is calling us to put the girls in school this year, does not mean that they will for sure go to public school every year.  It is a constant area of prayer and evaluation.  Someday God might call us to home school again, or maybe private school will be an option.  We are just trying to be open and in tune to wherever He leads us.

We are all very excited for our new adventure this fall!  The girls get to ride the bus to school, and experience life away from each other for a few hours each day.  It will hopefully be a little quieter around here for a few hours during the day when daddy is trying to sleep after working all night.  I get to focus on the babies of the family for a few hours each day- teaching colors, shapes, ABC's, and all the other baby/toddler developmental and behavioral stuff.  After moving here and making the decision to put the girls in school, I have been presented with the opportunity to be involved in some Bible study leadership and women's ministry.  I'm still praying about where God is leading in this area, but I'm excited.  I'll keep you posted. 

Even if you don't agree with our decision, pray for us will you?  It will take a lot of adjusting and learning around here and it won't be easy.  But I'm pretty certain that following God and parenting were never supposed to be easy. ;o)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Charlotte-Part 2

Sorry for the delay between posts.  I didn't want the other post to be so long that no one could-or would want to-read the whole thing. Plus I had little people needing my attention.  I fully intended to finish the next day or so...but every time I sat down to write, someone needed to be changed, or fed, or something.  It's always something. Ha Ha!  It took me at least 4 tries to finish this post!

  The next morning, Friday, April 26th, after a mostly sleepless night we got up super early in order to be at the hospital by 5:45.  Charlotte had been super active during the night.  The last week or so, she hadn't been moving well.  I would have to sit down and really poke her in order to get her to move a lot of the time.  Needless to say, this caused me constant concern, whether it was needed or not.  So I was glad that she was so active, even though it was super uncomfortable and kept me from sleeping. It felt like maybe she was attempting to turn during the night.  I was unsure of her position for awhile after I woke up.  Before we left for the hospital though I was able to tell that she was still kicking low and her head was still behind my ribs.  We got to the hospital and check in and were taken to my room.  This was the first time that we had seen any of the L&D floor.  It was pretty nice.  Not as nice as where the first two girls were born, but nicer than Tripler, where Savannah was born.  I was bummed to find out that it would still be a couple of hours before the Dr even got there.  I was nervous, and ready to get the show on the road!  It took several minutes and 3 nurses to find Charlotte on the monitors.  They just couldn't pick up her heartbeat.  I wasn't worried, I could feel her moving the whole time. Every time they would get close to her, she would move away.  Little stinker. They finally got it on, and Charlotte mostly cooperated after that.  I was also having frequent contractions...but I'd been having those for weeks, and they weren't helping me out any, even though there were big enough to be picked up on the monitor.
Then came time for the IV. That's always one of the worst parts for me!  I have veins that roll, and it always involves lots of poking, and digging, and re poking.  The nurse asked the guy that was training with her if he wanted to do it.  Great... Tony asked the young Airman how long he had been out of Tech school, to which he replied, "A few weeks" Gulp... Oh the joys of a military training hospital.  I braced myself for the torture that was coming.  He poked me once...and was done!  I was by far the BEST IV I've had done.  I seriously wanted to hug him.  I was so relieved to have the first step of this very scary process go so well. The next couple of hours passed with lots of vitals being taken, IV fluids given, questions asked and answered, shift change, so meeting different nurses-the ones that would actually be with me during the surgery.  I met the anesthesiologist.  He explained about the spinal block that I would be getting and tried to ease my fears of it, since I had had such a terrible experience with my epidural when Gabbie was born.  He was super friendly and outgoing and worked well with the nurses and seemed to know a lot about more then just his job for the day, so I liked that.  I was given a bag of antibiotics, much to my disappointment.  I was STREP B positive with the first 3 girls and had to have antibiotics during labor with all of them...and then I always got thrush a few weeks later.  So...when I found out that I was actually negative for the strep B this time I was stoked! For a little bit anyway...until I found out that I was having a c section.  Even if I had been positive, I probably wouldn't have needed the antibiotics with the section.  Of course...Isn't that how it usually works?!  And now, since I was having surgery I had to have antibiotics anyway.  Bummer.
The Dr finally got there and came it to see me.  She kinda looked at me funny, and said that it appeared that the baby was in the right position, according to the ultrasound that was done. Sigh. I had to tell her how it was a mistake on the paperwork, and how as of yesterday she was still breech.  She was more than welcome to check though!  So she brought in the little portable ultrasound machine and checked. sure enough, still breech.  She was quite upset about the mistake in the paperwork.  "That's a big thing to get wrong." she said.  Yeah, no kidding! (I'm telling you, you do NOT want the government to take over everyone's healthcare!)
I told her that I wanted to just have the c section and not try to turn her first. She seemed disappointed a little.  I'm really so thankful that she was such a "natural" Dr.  She definitely wanted to help patients have a natural birth, instead of rushing to a c section. I liked that. She went over the last questions and details with me, and then left to get ready.
Finally the anesthesiologist  came to get me and walk me to the OR. I got an extra gown to cover my backside and away we went on one of quite possibly one of the scariest walks of my life. Ha ha.

The OR was much smaller than I expected, and full of machines and people with masks. I couldn't tell if I had met them before or not. The anesthesiologist came in to do my spinal and get me all hooked up to his machines.  Tony wasn't allowed to come into the OR until right before they started, so I had to go through all of this by myself.  I was quite nervous, and really wished that he could be there while they placed the spinal.  However, this is the point that he almost passes out every time, so maybe I was just as well off... I had to sit on the very edge of the narrow operating table. A nurse came around to help me perch there.  I asked if she was going to keep me from falling off. She was super comforting and assured me that she would.  She was about half my size, so I wasn't so sure. The anesthesiologist was quick and kept exclaiming that I was so skinny and that made his job so easy. Ha ha.  He had great bedside manners for dealing with pregnant women! He did a great job and next thing I knew he was helping me lay back on the table and strapping my arms down. I was still super nervous and wondering when the heck Tony was going to get there. My legs were getting warm and heavy, and people were still buzzing all around the room getting things ready.  I noticed at some point that I was laying with all of my bottom half totally exposed. Lovely.  I tried not to think about all the people that were in there while I was all exposed, until one of the nurses noticed a guy over in the corner.  "What is he doing in here?" He was fixing a computer or machine or something. Really??  They were slightly annoyed and made him leave. Whatever he was fixing could wait a little while they said. What the heck, random IT guy in my OR?!  It's one thing for all of these nurses and doctors to be there, they've seen countless people laying exposed on an OR table. I decided that going into an OR while still awake was no fun! I focused on the amusing conversation between the nurses. If I thought about what was about to happen, I could hear my heart rate picking up on the monitor. Finally all the prep work was finished. (They should really warn a person before putting in the catheter.  Just because you've had a spinal, they shouldn't assume that you can't feel anything. Cause you can still feel a little... and I could have don without that part being a surprise. ha ha)  the Dr was there along with a student Dr that was going to be assisting...and still no Tony.  At this point I was afraid that there were going to forget to tell him to come in before they started.  There went my heart rate again...
Finally they told someone to call him in.  I don't think I was ever so happy to see him!  He definitely helped me feel calmer. He talked to me and rubbed my face and made everything so much better!

They started the surgery. I could feel that they were doing stuff, but didn't feel any pain, thank goodness!  I was having doubts that they could really make it so that I wouldn't feel that they were cutting me open and taking some of my insides out! It seemed to take forever for them to tell me that they were finally about to get to Charlotte. In reality it was about 5 min or so. (Another thing, the Dr should really clarify when she says "rupture".  Especially when the last things she was talking about was something called a "bladder blade") Rupture, what rupture?!? Ahh...It was just the amniotic sack, whew!
Since she was breech, she came out feet first, and it took quite a bit of tugging and coaxing to get the rest of her out.  She was really lodged behind my ribs! (This just reaffirmed that my decision not to try to turn her was the right one.)  Tony got to watch over the curtain of her being delivered, which he said was really cool. I heard her tiny cries, they seemed so quiet and small to me! Then they lifted her up over the curtain for me to see. I only got a short glimpse of her before she got a big breath and let out a BIG cry...and them blood squirted from her umbilical cord all over my face!  Ha ha. They took her and Tony to the side of the room to do all the baby stuff they do, and the anesthesiologist  quickly went to cleaning off my face and glasses. I could hear Charlotte crying the whole time they were working on her. I was so thankful for healthy baby cries!
After a little while, Tony brought her back over to me.  I couldn't hold her, as they were still working on getting me put back together.  The Dr found a cyst on one of my ovaries that she removed, and I was getting my tubes tied since we had decided that our family is complete and they were in there anyway.  Charlotte had calmed down now that she was all swaddled up and in Daddy's arms.  Even though I couldn't hold her, the Dr was great about trying to let me have as much time with her as possible, and she had them untie my arms so that I could touch her. I'm so thankful that I got that Dr!  She really fought to keep Charlotte in the OR with me. She was a great distraction for sure! Tony tried to get Charlotte to open her eyes and look at me, but she did not want to at all! But he brought her close enough for me to kiss her, and as soon as I kissed her and started talking to her, her little eyes popped open and she turned her head towards me. The anesthesiologist took pictures of the 3 of us while we were waiting for the Dr to finish me up. I was getting nervous, as I was having some sharp pains in my neck. He assured me that this was normal, and was just a result of the air getting into my body cavity and all my organs shifting around. Weird! I also couldn't feel myself breathing, but thankfully I had stumbles across a blog of a woman telling of her c-sections and I read that this was also normal, as a result of the spinal.  It numbs everything below the boobs.  You don't really think about feeling yourself breathe...until you can't!  That's really strange too.

Once the Dr got everything put back in me and was ready to sew me up, Tony and Charlotte went back to my room, so that they could get Charlotte's weight and check her some more. I laid there trying to stay calm and just breathe. Ha ha. Finally I was finished and they wheeled me back to my room. When I got to the room Tony told me Charlotte's weight. 7 Lbs, 14oz. 19 3/4 long. she also had the roundest head and straightest little legs that I've ever seen on a newborn. Since she never curled into the fetal position with her head down, she wasn't all curved and squished like most babies. :)  Her nose was also a little crooked, due to it being stuck up in my ribs.  The nurses were quick to assure me that this would resolve itself, and it has.

She was my biggest baby. Except for Savannah, my babies get bigger each time. Natalie was 7lbs 12oz, Gabbie was 7lbs 13oz, and now Charlotte was 7lbs 14 oz!  They gain an ounce each baby! Charlotte was the exact same length as Gabbie. (Savannah was the odd one out, at 6lbs 8 oz, and only 19inches.  Her fluid was low at the end though, so she had stopped growing earlier.)

My experience at the Langley AFB hospital was great.  My recovery went well.  Charlotte was born at 8:47 am on Friday, and I went home on Sunday afternoon.  Not bad. After about a week I felt really good, and after about 2 weeks I felt almost back to normal.  I'm happy to say that I am only 8 lbs away from pre baby weight, and although I'm not back in my pre baby pants yet, I'm very happy with how my belly is recovering.  I was afraid that I would have a sagging belly forever because of the c-section, but that hasn't been the case.

 Charlotte is happy, and healthy, and very loved by her sisters! Savannah hasn't been jealous at all; she adores her "baby sissy" We call her "squish", since she is our squishiest baby. :) She was especially squishy in the hospital, since she was a c-section and all the excess fluid wasn't squeezed out of her. She lost a bit of weight in the first 24 hours, but it was all water. She completes our family perfectly.  She looks like Natalie and Savannah...But I can't tell what color her eyes will be yet.

 Life is fun, but challenging with 4.  I LOVE that they are all girls, and I love the spacing between them, even though some days are extra hard.  Adding #4 was definitely harder than adding #3.  I think that's mostly because I had 3 1/2 years between #2 and #3, and only 22 months between #3 and #4.  And also because Tony is back to working shifts, and doesn't get off until close to 7:30pm or later. (So he gets home around 8:00-9:30) Doing supper and baths and getting all 4 ready for bed by myself is challenging, especially since that is when Charlotte usually decides that she needs the most attention.  By the end of the 70-80 week we are all worn out.  We are finding our groove and schedule though...slowly but surely.

Hopefully I didn't bore anyone too badly...and if you are still reading, here is what you stuck with it for. Pictures! :)
           My sweet squishy baby
                                         All 4 sisters!
                                       All stretched out
                    Not a fan of the "outside" See her little nose? :o(
                                     With mommy and daddy!
                                     Snuggle time with mommy!
                               Savannah loves her baby!
                                         Ready to go home
                                Savannah shared her toys :o)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Charlotte Janae-Part 1

So after my last post I finally go to go to an OB checkup.  I got all my paperwork filled out and turned in and saw a Nurse Practitioner at the hospital.  I told her about how uncomfortable I had been and all the contractions that I had been having. So she checked me and I was still no where near going into labor.  No surprise really...I've never progressed on my own.  I was still hoping though! I had never been in so much discomfort and pain at the end of any of my pregnancies.  The baby and I looked good, and the NP put in a referral for me to have an ultrasound done at around 38 weeks to check the fluid, since Savannah's fluid was low at the end.  The clinic at our base didn't have any openings for an ultrasound, so I ended up having to schedule one at the Naval hospital 45 min away.  Boo.
 I finally got to see a midwife at my next appointment, at 38 weeks. Two weeks before my due date and that's the first time I got to see anyone that might actually deliver my baby.  For your appointments you see whichever midwife can see you, and when it comes time to deliver it's kinda the same thing. you don't have a set Dr unless you are a special case. I liked this midwife a lot.  She was super nice. She wasn't planning to do an exam to check and see if I'd progressed any, but I asked her to anyway.  Again, I had been having a ton of pressure and contractions and so much discomfort!  She measured me and then checked the baby's position.  While feeling for Charlotte, she said that her head must be way down "there", because she couldn't feel it, or... she thought she felt her head up by my ribs.  A few minutes and a quick peek with an ultrasound later and we discovered that we had a breech baby in there!  Suddenly everything about my birth plan changed.  The midwife brought in a doctor to explain my options to me.  There were a few.  They could do a procedure where they physically try and turn the baby. (Called an External cephalic version, or version. ECV) Then if the baby turned, they would go ahead and induce me so that she could be delivered while she was in the right position so we didn't risk her turning back breach. If the baby wouldn't turn, I'd have a c-section. Or I could just have a c-section.  I felt like a deer caught in the headlights...I went in expecting an uneventful checkup where I would find out that I was still forever away from going into labor.  Tony wasn't with me, as he had to stay with the girls. I suddenly had to decide what the plan was.  The wanted to schedule it for the following week, if they waited too long I could go into labor on my own. If I went into labor on my own and she was breech, It would require an emergency c section.  The Doctor that was going to be working on the day that they wanted to deliver was in the clinic that day and I got to meet and talk to her.  She actually had the most experience delivering breech babies! She felt that she could do a vaginal delivery with her being breech, but she didn't have enough people with that experience to be on her team.  And legally she couldn't knowingly do a breech delivery unless it was in more of an emergency situation. I immediately rejected the idea of just going in for a c-section.  So we made a plan to try the procedure first. I had a friend in Hawaii that almost had to have the procedure done so I knew that it was risky.  I asked the Drs about the risks, what little I knew to ask anyway. (If something went wrong with the procedure, I would end up with an emergency c-section)  They said that the risk was small and that they hadn't seen it happen often.  The Doctor scheduled me to come in the next week (at 39 weeks) and I left.
For the next few days I did as much research as I could on getting a breech baby to turn on it's own, and the ECV procedure. I was also feeling pretty silly for not knowing that she was breech!  It all made so much sense now.  There were lots of times that I told Tony I could feel her kicking my cervix...only to correct myself and say that I guess she was punching it instead? LOL.  All the pain and discomfort and the fact that she felt so much different that the others...I just blamed it on the stress and the move, and the fact that she was #4.  I had also told Tony that it felt like she hadn't gotten the memo that she was supposed to be curled up in there.  It felt like she was all stretched out.  Well, she WAS!  ha ha.  It gust never occurred to me that she was head up. 
In my research on the ECV I came across a couple of friends that had had the procedure done...and it ended horribly with traumatic emergency c-sections! (baby's heart rate suddenly dropping ) The Doctors said it was rare...but how had it happened to two people that I knew??!  I also learned that the procedure was best done no later than 37 weeks, so the baby wouldn't be so big. It was more dangerous if you had an anterior placenta, and if the baby was foot long breech. (Feet by the cervix vs. bottom next to it.)
 I had my ultrasound to check the fluid a few days after the check up.  The fluid was fine.  Baby was measuring over 8 lbs already  and a week ahead.  She had a foot lodged in my cervix and her placenta was on the top.  Her head was tucked behind my ribs so much so that the technician doing the ultrasound couldn't see any of her face, and couldn't get her to move at all.  The technician kept saying that she was squished in there.  This was on Monday, before I was scheduled for the ECV the following Friday.  After the ultrasound I was more nervous about the procedure than ever. I had a final check up on Thursday. I  saw a midwife first who told me that the ultrasound results that had been sent to them from the other hospital said that Charlotte was in the correct, head down position. What?!!  I told her that she definitely was not, and she could also tell by feeling that she was still breech.  So she brought in the little in office machine and check real quick.  Yep, still breech.  The hospital that did the ultrasound just failed to get that little piece of information correct. (government healthcare at it's finest)
I had to wait quite awhile to be able to see the Dr that was going to be seeing me for the procedure and delivery.  I finally saw her asked her about the risk, now that we knew all these things about Charlotte. Tony was able to be with me for this appointment so we both asked all that we could think of.  At this point I was leaning toward not having the procedure done.  The Dr still said that we could "try anyway"
I appreciated the fact that she seemed confident, but she had only met me once before.  She had never given me an exam or seen a sonogram of the baby.  She knew nothing about me, and seemed to dismiss all of the risk factors a little too easily, I thought. I really didn't know what to do.  The only things I knew for sure...I did NOT want an emergency c-section, and I didn't want to risk anything going wrong on Charlotte's end.  At all. We had no idea the position of the cord, or why she wasn't turning in the first place. Even if they could get her out within moments if something went wrong, even moments without oxygen could affect her for the rest of her life.  I wasn't afraid of the procedure on my end so much, even though I'd heard how very painful and awful it could be. The only risk to me was the placement of the placenta.  With it being anterior, it increased the risk of placental abruption which was dangerous for both of us.  Even after much prayer, I just didn't feel at peace with the procedure.  I didn't care at all about a scar from a c-section, but I was concerned about the recovery time.  I had 4 children to care for, and we were in a new town where we knew practically no one.  A long recovery time just wasn't an option. I couldn't get past the fact that I didn't have peace about it though, and my instincts were telling me not to do it. ( My intuition is almost always right)  So...two words that I never thought would apply to me, were suddenly my plan. C-Section. 
I suddenly had to be at peace with that.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Last Four Months

So, the last time I posted we were waiting on a date to leave Hawaii. Well we got that date approval to leave early. We could leave Feb 9th.  Next we needed orders, because in the military you can't do anything without "official" orders, even if you already know when and where you are supposed to be doing something.  Usually orders come last minute and you are left scrambling to get everything done on time.  However, we were blessed to get orders very quickly! So then we were busy with getting all the medical records in order, booking airline tickets, arranging to have Tony's car shipped, scheduling movers , etc. With Christmas and all that we were quite busy.

The movers came on Jan 21st. They packed and loaded our stuff for the next 2 days. Then we stayed in our mostly empty house with temporary loaner furniture until the end of the month.  The military has programs overseas where you can borrow the necessities like beds, table, and something resembling a couch while you are in the process of moving.  We were also able to borrow a box of very basic kitchen necessities.  It was very helpful.  At the end of the month, we were allowed to go stay in lodging for 10 days until we left the island.  We were so blessed to be able to get lodging on the pretty side of the island. We got to spend our last days in Hawaii on the very beautiful, tropical mountainous side.  It was absolutely wonderful, and the perfect way to end our time on the island.

During this time we were still looking to find housing in VA, and sell our van.  We had decided to sell our van instead of shipping it,  It had been on the island it's whole life, and as a result very much looked like an "island" van. (Quite a bit of rust)  The military will only pay to ship one car, so we would have been out a couple thousand dollars to ship it, plus it would sell for more in Hawaii.  It was a tough spot to be in though.  We needed to sell it before we left, but still needed it to get our family around.  Housing in VA was still looking pretty hopeless.  We couldn't afford to rent anything in a good area and the wait list for the Air Force housing was still super long.  So, we decided to check into housing on the Army base that is about 20 miles from the Air Force base. (It's actually a joint base with the Air Force, meaning that they function together under a lot of the same leadership, even though they are different branches.)  We really didn't want Tony to have to commute that far every day, but we were desperate for a house, especially with the baby coming.  Well Ft Eustis had a house available for us shortly after we would be arriving in VA!  We were so very relieved. We would be able to move in about 10 days after getting to VA. That sounded great to us, as we waited 60 days after arriving in Hawaii for a house. Meanwhile, we hadn't had anyone show interest in our van at all.  Tony got a power of attorney for a friend from work to be able to sell it on our behalf after we left the island.  We were still under a bit of a time crunch as we had to sell it before we arrived in VA and needed to buy another. Well...about 24 hours before we left the island a guy looked at it, loved it and bought it on the spot!  He lived on Kawaii, and was more than happy for us to keep it until we left the next day and then ship it to him whenever. God's timing was PERFECT!  We got almost as much as we paid for the van, and had Tony's friend ship it to the other island after we left.  So then we said goodbye to the special people that had truly been our ohana on the island for 3 years. That was the hardest part about leaving Hawaii...

We flew off the island at 10pm on Feb 9th.  We had about a 5 hour flight to LAX and then an 8 hour layover there. Thank God for USOs. We crashed there for the majority of our layover and took naps on couches. (We arrived at LAX at 3am Hawaii time) This mommy slept pretty much not at all on the plane. From LAX we flew to Colorado Springs. WE arrived in CO around 5pm (mountain time) to flurries outside of the airplane windows. The girls were super excited, but definitely not a fan of the cold! By the time we got our luggage and rented a van it was snowing heavily! The last time Natalie had seen snow was when she was 3, Gabbie was only 1, and of course Savannah had never seen snow, or experienced temperatures below 65.  So we were loading all our bags in the van and trying to get 3 car seats strapped in, all while getting snowed on.  The big girls were going crazy trying to catch snowflakes on their tongues and Savannah was SCREAMING, because she had NO idea what was going on!  I saw Savannah shiver for the first time!  It was both the saddest and cutest thing! We spent the night at a hotel in CO Springs and woke up the net morning to a few inches of beautiful snow!  The girls were still pretty excited about it, but only from somewhere that was warm inside.  The were COLD!  I couldn't believe that we got to see snow that soon after arriving back on the mainland.  We then drove the 8 hours to Amarillo.  The girls did great on the trip, aside from Savannah getting carsick once.  She had never been in the car for longer than an hour or so at a time. None of us were used to being in the car for long periods of time, but the trip was smooth and we left the snow (but not the cold) behind.

We arrived in Amarillo that evening, returned the rental van and got to see my family for the first time in about a year and a half.  It was so nice!  The big girls were so excited to see Mimi and Pawpaw!!  Even though Savannah had only really seen Mimi and Pawpaw on skype, she went right to them and acted like she had knows them her whole life!  Well, she had Mimi and Pawpaw backwards as to who was who, since she had only seen them together on skype.  ha ha!  It didn't take her long to get it straightened out though.  Mimi and Pawpaw were very quickly her favorite people for the next 3 weeks while we were there!

The day after arriving in Amarillo it snowed again.  Quite a bit this time and the girls were able to make their first snowman! We enjoyed our time in Texas.  My older sister was able to come up from Houston for almost 2 weeks while we were there and I was able to meet my niece for the first time! It was a bit of an adventure having 2 little girls under the age of 2 there at the same time.  We had lots of fun though, in spite of a virus making it's way around every adult in the house. It snowed one more time while we were there....this time a record breaking blizzard of 20 inches!!  Pretty much unheard of for Texas!  I don't think I've ever seen that much snow, and it left us with 6+ foot drifts.  CRAZY.  By this time, I was DONE with the snow.  I wanted to see a little snow once, but the snow had been hanging around us almost the whole time we had been on the mainland. The girls had fun climbing on the huge drifts and playing in the snow this time too, but they definitely had less enthusiasm for it than with the previous snows.

After 3 weeks in Texas it was time to continue our journey.  We flew from Amarillo to VA on March 5th.  We arrived late at night to more cold weather and rain. We had lodging on the Air Force base reserved there for 10 days.  We planned to go look at a van that we had found online the next day, but were unable to go that day because of...MORE SNOW!  It wasn't bad where we were, but the van was about an hour away and the snow was bad there.  So we were stuck in the hotel in our new city unable to go do anything for that first day.  The next day we went and looked at the van. It was pretty much my dream van, and I'd been watching it online for a couple of weeks hoping that it wouldn't sell before we could get there. And hoping that it wasn't too good to be true.  It was about 4000k below the blue book price, and we would never be able to afford one with all those features if this particular one didn't work out.  We took it for a test drive, and decided that it was indeed a good deal! (As much as you can tell about any used car from just a test drive anyway.) Buying a used car in our price range is always nerve wracking!  You just never know. However, we only pay cash for cars, so we had to stay within our range.  Our last 2 used, cash vehicle purchases were great for us, so we are hoping that this one will be the same!  We got a 2008 Toyota Sienna XLE Limited.  It has leather, heated seats, sunroof, dvd player, built in GPS and backup camera...almost all the fancy extras. It was pretty high in miles at a little over 100k...but since it's a Toyota it should be good for at least 100k more.  And like I said, in our price range we are limited.  I believe that God had our name on this van! I love it.

After about 9 days in the hotel we got the keys to our house, and all of our stuff delivered.  We have been busy getting unpacked and trying to get organized ever since.  It takes me a little longer with 3 kids and a big belly that prevents me from lifting anything very heavy or moving very quickly most of the time.  We haven't gotten to do much exploring of the area yet, but that's ok.  We have time for that. We are still waiting on the military to pay us what they owe us for the move.  We had to pay for hotels and plane tickets ourselves and get reimbursed for it. That was a few thousand dollars.  Looks like we could be waiting another month or so at least.

 I finally get to go to the Dr tomorrow.  I haven't been for an OB checkup in 8 weeks.  I am now 35 1/2 weeks.  Because of the move, the pregnancy has really flown by!  I haven't had time to focus on it, or getting ready for baby.  Hopefully I can do that now. :o)

We had a few minor bumps in the road on our very long journey.  They were minor though. God's hand was on us the whole time and he provided just what we needed, at just the right time.  We were concerned about the transition for Savannah, as she has always slept in her own house and doesn't sleep if she's not in her own bed.  She had a few rough nights, but overall did GREAT! Gabbie doesn't adapt to change well, but she is doing much better now that we are finally unpacked in our house. Saying goodbye to all your friends, living out of a suitcase and being homeless for 2 months while moving about 5,000 across the country isn't easy for anyone.  My girls have been troopers, and I am so proud of them!

I tried to just give basic details so this post wouldn't be the length of a book.  Hopefully someone made it all the way to the end! Here are some pics now! (Sorry about the picture size and quality...I don't have the original files)

               Gabbie standing on a huge drift. She is standing next to a bench swing! Close to 6 ft high.

                                          Walking on a pile of snow as high as the fence.

                                         Pawpaw shoveled a walk way through the snow.

                                                            Savannah is a little unsure...

                                                         Daddy and Savannah on the drifts

                                                   Savannah was over the cold and snow...

                                                             The girls first snowman!

                                                                 Sliding down the drift.

                                                  Natalie on the drift that ate the swing

                                                                          Fun times!      

                                                                     Look at that drift!
                                                     Our house in VA! (the one on the end)
                                                    My van! (Such a pretty color :0) )

                                                             The inside of the van

Monday, November 5, 2012

Little Conversations

I love listening to my girls talk to each other and play.  It's quite interesting sometimes.  The other day I heard this:

Natalie: "Gabbie, do you know the difference between boys and girls?"

Gabbie: "Girls have long hair, and boys have short hair"

N: "No, Boys are stinky and girls have boobs!"

She was as serious as she could be.  And for the record, I don't plan to tell her any differently any time soon. ;o)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

It Is What It Is

Today has been a rough week. I don't really know why.  Nothing major, just a lot of those little frustrating things that add up. It has also been a very long week!  Today is the first day this week that hasn't started out like a Monday.  Thank goodness for that. However, I have yet to really get anything good accomplished either. It's also the first day this week that I don't have anywhere that I NEED to go.  Having too many days on the go is not something I enjoy.  I kinda need to go to Target...but it's not absolutely necessary to do it today.  So maybe I won't.  We'll see... 
I had high hopes for this week too.  So far it is letting me down.  I really hope that it finishes out the way that I want it to though!

Last Friday we finally got our assignment from the Air Force.  We are going to Langley AFB in Virginia next.  I was disappointed when I found out.  It was very last on our list.  Our last assignment was the one that was very last on our list too. (Hawaii was not our original assignment)  I'm thinking that next time we make our list we should put where we really want to go at the bottom!  We weren't really surprised that we got it though.  The work that he will be doing there is going to be a lot of the same stuff he is doing here.  We knew that the AF tries to match that first, when it comes to moving people.  So no surprise that he was selected to go there.   Langley is definitely better than some of the other places that we could have been sent to, so I continue to focus on that and be grateful. There are really a lot of positives about there.  It's a great area.  Rich in history.  Three hours from D.C, super close to Colonial Williamsburg, and really just a TON to do in the area.  Not that we will have the money to do many of these cool things...but it's there anyway. Ha Ha.   We will be only about 2 hours from Tony's parents.  I am excited about that. They are already talking about getting a bigger car so that all the girls will fit in it, and getting a swing set. ;o)   The rest of his family is along the East coast, so he will be semi close to them also.  In the last 9 years, he's seen most of them only a couple of times or so.  I know he is looking forward to seeing them more.  Knowing that we will be 1600 miles from my family still makes my heart hurt.  I was really hoping to be within a 10-12 hour drive from there.  I have to remind myself that 1600 is still a lot better than the 3700 miles away that we are now.  Even though a 3 day drive will be NEXT to impossible with 4 young children, at least it IS possible, since there isn't an ocean in between.  And hopefully flying will be a lot cheaper too.  Not to mention shorter.  An eight hour plane ride  is not very much fun!  Seeing my family at least once a year will be better than only once in a 3 year period. Trying to stay positive!

  I'm really looking forward to seasons, and Chick-Fil-A, and craft stores, and just being back on the mainland again. Being close to Tony's family will be awesome.  Especially around the holidays.  Three years in a row we haven't been able to see family for the holidays and it is really hard.  We have some great friends here, so I'm grateful for that, but it's still not the same.  Hopefully we will get to see my family at the holidays soon too! And I am pretty excited that we will still be near the beach.  Every time I leave my house I see the ocean or Pearl Harbor.  I've gotten used to seeing the water, and I think I would miss it if I couldn't see it.  My girls will also get to say that they have been in both the Pacific and Atlantic ocean. (well, the first 3 of my children)  How cool is that??  My first time to ever see the ocean was when I was 20...So I think it's pretty awesome.

 I continue to be worried about the cost of living there, and how it will affect us.  We will be taking a $850 a month pay cut when we leave here, and I'll be honest and say I don't know where in our budget it will come from!!  We already live very frugally, with very little extra expenses.  If we can get in military housing that will help a LOT.  However, since it is a high cost area, housing usually has quite a bit of a wait list.  Because the baby is due soon after we move, we don't have a lot of time to wait.  I figure the latest that I want to wait on a house is April first.  Hopefully that will give me time to get unpacked and settled by my May 3rd due date.  Fortunately we are able to get on the wait list now, so hopefully in the next 4-5 months something will come open for us.  Please pray with us on that, will you?  It is a really big deal to me.  When we moved here we lived in a hotel for 2 full months.  It was unpleasant, but totally worth it.  However, stateside bases don't pay for you to live in lodging for that long.  They will pay for you to stay there for 10 days.  I figure that we will be able to pay for the rest of the month with the money that would normally go toward our rent.  After that...We don't know. Hopefully we won't have to find out!

We are still waiting to find out if the date change for our move has been approved.  Tony submitted the paperwork 2-3 weeks ago.  They told him that it would take about 2 weeks to know.  And about a week ago they told him the part that would take the longest was already done.  Hmmm....We're still waiting.  lol.  We know that it has been approved by his commander, but it has to go to 2 more commanders that are above him.  Tony has asked for a DEROS (Date of Estimated Return from Overseas) date of Feb 15th.  Which would mean that we would be leaving here by then, or possibly earlier in February.  We hope to spend a few weeks in Texas and get to VA the first or second week of March.  There are a lot of details to learn and figure out, so I hope we get our date approval soon!!!  The possibility that we have just started our last full 3 months here is crazy!!  It's very exciting, but like I said, LOTS to figure out in that short time and we are looking at the holidays coming up too.  That always slows things down a bit.  I'm already dreading the move.  It's such an ordeal.  Any move is a hassle, but with an overseas move it takes 6-8 weeks to get your car and all of you stuff to where you are going.  Since we are going all the way to the east coast I'm thinking it will take the full 8 weeks or more.  So you are homeless and living out of a suitcase for at least 2 months.  That is NOT easy with young children.   No address, so mail is on hold and everything. And that flight is long.  8-9 hours in the airplane just to get to Texas.   Then you add the time zone difference, and you get a bit of jet lag on top of going close to 24 hours with no sleep. I'm just ready to get it over with! :o)  But first...we need that date!  Come on Air Force!

Hopefully this week ending will bring the news that we are waiting for.  Also, Saturday we have an appointment for a sonogram to hopefully find out if we are having girl #4, or if everything in our house will be tipped upside down with a boy!  It's about the earliest that they can try to see gender, so I'm really trying not to get my hopes up in case the baby is still too small or uncooperative. If we can't tell, we will go back the following week.  With the way my week has been going, I would not be surprised if we are disappointed this week.  Ha Ha!  Trying to stay positive though, because surely something good has to happen this week!

Friday, October 12, 2012

The List

So it doesn't look like we will be getting the spot in Nebraska.  Bummer.  It looked pretty great.

So we waited for the list.  It actually came out a day early which was surprising.  I'm pretty sure it was one of the only times the military has been early for anything.  ha ha
So the only openings for Tony's rank and job are these...

Barksdale- Louisiana (Shreveport)
Ellsworth-South Dakota (Rapid City)
Hurlburt Field-Florida panhandle

Langley- Virginia (Hampton)
Minot- North Dakota
Nellis- Nevada (Las Vegas)
Tyndall-Florida panhandle
Whiteman- Missouri (Knob Noster/Warrensburg)

Cannon- New Mexico (Clovis)

We were less than thrilled.  None of these we consider to be great places, or places that we would want to go.  Never the less, we will be going to one of them, so we will have to make the best of it, and look for the positives in all of them.  Even with that, there are a few that we absolutely do not want to wind up at.  WE have left them off of our "dream sheet" in the hopes of reducing the chances.   This does not eliminate the chance by any means.  The Air Force will do what wants.  

The places we for sure don't want to go:

Cannon-  Even though it's only 2ish hours from my home town and where my parents live we've heard terrible things about the base and town.  Dirty drug town.  Also, I know what the weather and scenery is like and it's not pretty.  Ha ha. Also, it would most likely mean lots of deployments for Tony.  And, I've lived in that area for 25 years.  I would like to experience something new while we have the chance.  I will cry if we get sent here, no offense to my family. :o)  So, the positive for this place is only 1- Close to Mimi and Pawpaw.
Nellis - Middle of the desert and in Las Vegas.  I do not want to live in Las Vegas with children.  Have heard a lot of people that have been there saying that they wouldn't want to be there with their kids at all.  High crime rate. Positive for here-It's supposed to be a nice base and there are some really neat military planes and exercises that happen there. Housing looks nice.

Barksdale- Louisiana.   From what we've heard it is a dirty town also, and a friend that grew up there said she would never want to live there. Positive-It's in the south, and only 5 hours from my sister in the gulf of Texas.

Minot- North Dakota.  Need I say more?? ha ha  From what we've heard it's in a very remote area, fairly expensive to live there and COLD!   I found some positives today- only 50 miles from Canada.  I don't know anything about that part of Canada, but still pretty cool to be able to go there.  Housing looks nice, the schools on base are rated well, (We home school now, but don't know if we will forever.  Having a 2 year old and a tiny baby will make it hard.  Heck, it's hard with a 15 month old, and 4 year old.  It would be nice to have a good school  just in case. We take it a year at a time.But this post is not about that, so back on topic) Northern lights. 

These three places were left off of the our list in the hopes of not getting them.  We'll see how that works.  we are trying not to get our hopes up.

Whiteman- Missouri.  Tiny base in the middle of nowhere surrounded by tiny towns.  To be honest, I haven't found out much about this base yet.  70 miles from Kansas City, so not too far from a larger town, but possibly too far to go super often. I lived not too far from there once when I was a kid for about 6 months. It's a pretty area, but not sure if it's the same over in Missouri.   Positive-Check back later, I'm still working on that.

Langley- Virginia.  In the Norfolk/Va beach area. However, very expensive cost of living and really bad traffic.  Probably neither of those are as bad as it is here, but I've had more than my fill of awful traffic and having to pay an arm and a leg to do anything, including parking! Also, we get a cost of living allowance here, and we won't there.  Positive- Only 2 hours from Tony's parents, 3 hours from Washington DC and lots to see and do in the area. 

Tyndall- Florida Panhandle.  Heard the traffic can be bad, and I've had 3 years of summer.  I'd like to go somewhere with more of a seasonal change.  Haven't done a lot of research into this one yet either.  Positive- Nice weather, close to the beach. 

Hurlbert Field- Also in the FL panhandle.  About an hour from the above location. Haven't looked much into this one either.  Likely a high deployment base for Tony as well. Positives-We have good friends there, nice weather, close to the beach.

Ellsworth- South Dakota. This is actually my top choice. Cold and remote.  Probably not as bad as North Dakota. Positives- I have friends there,(from my hometown actually) they really love it.  Lots of people that have been there love it.  Seems like a cute, family friendly town.  Even though its a fairly small town, it has a Super Target, so I'm good. ;o)  Nice housing. Close to Mt. Rushmore. very pretty part of the country.

So there it is.  One of these places will be our home for the next 2 years or more.  Praying hard about it, and having to remind myself often that wherever we go is exactly where God wants us to be. He has a plan and purpose for us there.  Wherever we go will be closer to family than we are now, and cheaper to fly to if it's too far to drive.  We literally have a possibility to go almost all over the mainland USA.  From as far West as Nevada, to as far East as the coast of Virginia. (Doesn't get much farther east than that) As far North as northern North Dakota and as far south as Florida...with a few points in between.  We actually have little to no say in which one of these is out assignments.  Maybe that's a good this.  It's totally up to God. (And the Air Force, but He has control over even that)  

Now we wait. We will get an assignment anytime after the 18th...most likely after the 25th though.  It's going to be a LOOONNNGG couple of weeks!  Stay tuned!  (I'll be looking for more positives for some of these places while I'm waiting)