Monday, March 30, 2015

Levi: 8 weeks

Likes: his fuzzy gray blanket (especially against his face), his wubbanub, staring at lights in the ceiling, flying on airplanes (lulls him right to sleep! He only made a single peep on each flight to and from Chicago. Thank goodness!), standing on my lap and holding his head up like a big boy, being held & snuggled like the sweet baby he is.

Dislikes: eating and sleeping with a stuffy nose, being in his carseat when it is not moving, getting shots! 

Quirks & Habits: He is quite the smiley boy these days. However he tends to look past me and smile at the wall! Still ridiculously cute. 

He is still a spitter upper. He doesn't spit up after every feeding. Mostly at night...all over my bed! And without fail he spits up all over me immediately AFTER I shower and get dressed. And yet I rarely change into a new clean outfit. Its a good thing I don't get out of the house much.

Reasons why I am currently smitten with him: This one feels like a cop out but I promise it isn't! Every day I fall more in love with this boy as I watch his siblings love and adore him. It's the sweetest. Hannah multiple times a day tells me "I want to keep dis baby". (I'm glad she feels that way...because he's clearly here to stay!)  And holding Levi is the first thing Charlotte & Isaiah want to do in the morning as well as the last thing at night along with many times in between. One night Isaiah even came to bed early just to have extra time holding Levi. (Typically I hold Levi while reading the girls' bedtime stories, but that night Isaiah took that job.) Charlotte will even hold him while he is fussy if I REALLY need to get something make dinner or clean up someone's potty accident! Its funny. During this pregnancy I was worrried that this fourth child would somehow off balance our family. And now 8 weeks in I can clearly see those worries were silly. Instead this fourth child has balanced our family. He makes us complete in ways I didn't even realize we weren't complete.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

friends and stuff

I will be the first to admit that I am SO VERY EXCITED to say goodbye to winter for THREE YEARS!!! Its pretty much all I have been dreaming about since we opened that envelope last Friday. I spend far too much time studying the 10 day forecast for our future residence....because it is just so dang beautiful! I can barely wrap my mind around the idea of mid-seventies in mid March. What?!! That's craziness. Craziness I am excited to embrace. Mentally I have a list a mile long of things we will NOT be moving with us. Like snow pants and boots and mittens and really thick sweaters. Sleds. Shovels. Snow shoes. Just about a month ago I was uber frustrated with Isaiah for losing his snow pants. Now? Who cares! See ya later snow pants. It was nice knowing you. No need for those in Texas!

I can hardly wait to embrace life in Texas. Sunshine and warmth. Flip flops and swim suits. (Well admittedly my post partum body isn't quite ready for swim suits but mentally I am ready.) I have a theory that mothers of young children that live in warm climates are happier than us moms that have to endure winter. I am excited to test out this theory. I mean getting outside every day without bundling up like an eskimo?! That just sounds heavenly. 

However all this sunshine and warmth comes at a price. And that price is leaving all our family and friends. Taking our children and uprooting them yet again!  It isn't going to be easy. Saying goodbye never is. Even when we know it's what has to be done. In the long run it is the best thing for our family. 

See. The thing is these friends have been supporting us for a long time...

They've been cheering us on. And loving our kids like they are their own since each one was a baby. Friends like these don't come along every day. 


We've been blessed beyond measure by these friends. And while I'm excited for this next adventure I'm sad to be moving so far away from these friend. My people.  Friends that feel like family.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Match Day was by far one of the most bizarre days of my life thus far. A day filled with many, many emotions. I could hardly sleep the night before. I was too excited (plus Levi was HUNGRY after all that traveling). Joe slept like a log per his usual. But then of course in the morning I couldn't get myself moving and out the door on time. (Sorry Joe.) 

We did however make it in time for the breakfast and opening remarks. However we could hardly make it across the room to get the breakfast because...THE BABY! Everyone wanted to see the baby. It's was as if they had never seen a baby before. In their defense med students don't get out much. Their world is a pretty small bubble. We did eventually eat. And fed the baby. 

The class president ended his speech with the Hunger Games' infamous line. "May the odds ever be in your favor."  And then we all started the slow (and eerily) somber "march" across the school to the ballroom where THE ENVELOPES would be handed out. It felt like we were marching to our death. 

And then began the longest half hour. Time draaaaaged. And the room was a buzz with nervous energy. Mine included. 150 students plus their families waited. Everyone chatted and snapped pictures. I did too. All around the room there were computer screens counting down the minutes until 11am. With fives minutes to go the envelopes were handed out. A little less talking. (If nervous energy could be contained and used we could have powered the entire school.)  But still many pictures snapped. 

Joe may or may not have tried to read his match location through the sealed envelope. It wasn't possible. And then just like that we were 10 seconds away and everyone was counting down. Because Joe was holding a very sleepy Levi, I was holding the envelope. And when it was time I slowly and carefully opened the envelope with Joe watching on. [Side note: I am not sure why I opened it so carefully. The crowd was cheering and I was still opening the envelope!]

Finally reading the words that Joe matched to Texas brought immediate tears to my eyes and rendered me absolutely speechless. (For the first time in my life!) In that moment I was immensely proud of my husband. Prouder than I have ever been. His dream was coming true. His hard work had paid off. It felt too good to be true. And he still didn't know! I'm not sure what he was thinking watching me cry. And I am shocked he didn't rip the letter out of my hand. Instead he allowed me to process the information and hand him the letter once I was ready. I had no words. He had to read it for himself. He was happy!

I am not sure why I was so shocked to read TEXAS on that paper. But I was. I mean I had a strong feeling that is what I was going to read. So much so that I had packed a "Don't Mess with Texas" romper for Levi. And yet...seeing it written definitively in ink was SHOCKING. To know without a doubt where we are moving. 

And then the fun began. Announcing our match to anyone and everyone that would listen. All of Joe's classmates reactions were the same. "Oooh! Texaaaaas???" As if we had just told them we were moving to the moon. No one knew if this was a good match or not because Joe had such a straight face and I was in shock! We were quick to explain that this was very good. Joe LOVES the residency program and is thrilled to train there. Not yo winter! No snow and cold. Beaches and sunshine! Um...yes please. 

During this entire process there was a camera man roaming around the rooming filming the chaos. My parents, Joe's parents and my sister (along with her family) were watching the live stream. And because of this live stream our families learned of our impending cross-country move as Joe placed his pin on the map on TEXAS. They watched in shock! Admittedly this wasn't how I planned to tell them. But in the end it might have been for the best. They had time to process this news on their own...because (for obvious reasons) not everyone thinks this move is great. 

The rest of the afternoon was spent eating cake and drinking champagne. There was a fancy shmancy lunch in which Joe was inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society. Levi slept through it all. I took pictures. And was even MORE proud of my husband as the I learned he was voted into this society by his classmates because he is "a physician they would bring their family to for medical care". That speaks volumes. 

And then it was done. And we were exhausted. So we took a nap. And dreamed of sunshine and beaches. And the emergency department. The places we will spend the next three years. 

Naively four years ago I thought the biggest hurdle to becoming a doctor was getting into medical school. Ha! How wrong I was. There isn't just one hurdle. And getting into medical school does not guarantee one becomes a physician (as evidenced by the classmates that didn't make it to Match Day - either because they dropped out or didn't match). First there is two years of grueling class work. Then rotations. And boards exams...not once but twice! More Rotations. Rotations. And then audition rotations! Last but not least there is applying and interviewing for residency. Each and every step presents its own unique challenge. But eventually it happens. Each step is complete. Each hurdle crossed. Sometimes flying high above it and other times just barely...limping by. And for us Match Day was the light at the end of that long dark tunnel. It was the moment we knew each hurdle had passed. We had made it! In 74 days my husband will be an emergency medicine physician. An intern. And that is why we have declared Match Day THE BEST DAY OF MEDICAL SCHOOL. I'm so glad I didn't miss it. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015


Looks like it will be a 1,000+ mile move!  We are SO excited!!! Goodbye cold and snow.  Hello sunshine and warmth!! 

TEXAS here we come! (Well in a couple months.) 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

a single envelope

Levi and I are currently sitting in the airport waiting for our flight to Chicago. To join Joe for MATCH DAY. I am excited and nervous. Mostly excited. Excited to spend the weekend with my husband. Excited for the break one child will be. And of course excited to find out where will be moving! Where we will be living for the next three years. 

Nervous for the same reason. Tomorrow at 11am (ie noon eastern time) we will open an envelope to find out where we are moving. It's such a weird system. Joe has already signed a contract with a hospital commiting himself to work there as a resident. He signed the contract when he submitted his rank list. And yet we don't know where. At least not yet. Tomorrow we will know. 

To be perfectly honest I am not all that nervous about the location. Sure a move 20 miles across town would be A LOT easier than a move 2,000 miles across the country! But the location is actually a moot point. Because I know regardless of where we end up we will "bloom where planted". Because "home is where the heart is" and all that clich├ęd truth. I know these to be true from experience. In nearly 12 years of marriage we have moved 10 times. And every time we find our home. Because when we are together we are home. 

I don't actually know how I will react tomorrow when we open the envelope. Will I cry? Will I laugh? Maybe both?! Will the location fill me with joy and anticipation or dread? I don't know. But I do know I am ready. Or at least as ready as I'll ever be! 

And so is my flight companion!

Here we come Match 2015!!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Six Weeks of Magic & Messes

Somehow it has happened. My newborn isn't a newborn anymore. Instead he is a 6 (almost 7!) week old smiling BABY. Try as I might I can not squeeze him into newborn clothes or jammies anymore. It's 3 month clothing only for this big boy. Thankfully his cry is still newborn-ish. Filled with squeaks and squawks. And he still melts into my arms...albeit a little longer and heavier. It's not quite the same as holding a newborn. But I still love it.

This transition into babyhood has me thinking about and reflecting on the newborn stage. And since the newborn phase is intrinsically intertwined with the post partum phase of course I am thinking about that as well. The good. The bad. The beautiful. Even the ugly parts. 

Overall it's a wonderful, almost magic filled time. A time in which not only a brand new baby is welcomed into the world but a new family is created. Everyone's world shifts on its axis just a little bit. (OK sometimes a lot!) And there is just so much love and awe for this tiny person. It's amazing how much you can love someone you've just met. So much love your heart swells until it feels like it will surely burst!

But it's also a cruel time filled with many tears. Tears from baby and mama. And often older siblings as well. Hormones are raging. Debilitating at times. Add to that the numerous and prolific bodily fluids needing to be contained and cleaned up. Again from baby and mama! And sleep has become a thing of the past. Good, quality sleep feels as obtainable as keeping up with the laundry or showering daily.  Don't even get me started on all the new mom worries! Is baby too hot? Too cold? Not sleeping enough? Sleeping too much? Am I starving my baby? Is this much spit up normal?! (Yes even fourth time "new moms" have these worries!) Seriously, it's a recipe for disaster.  

And yet somehow time passes. We keep snuggling. And nursing. And crying. And changing diapers. And pads. And loving. Lots of loving right in middle of the mess. Because newborns and post partum mamas are messy. Its equal parts beautiful and horrific.

I have to laugh at myself because with each pregnancy I convince myself that THIS post partum phase is going to be perfect. I am going to embrace the mess. I am going to love my baby and my body. I won't cry. Or at least only tears of joy. I won't become a sleep deprived irrational mother. I will shower daily. It will be beautiful. I will treasure every minute. Because it goes by SO FAST! It's a good dream. But it just isn't reality. Living life with a newborn is perfectly imperfect and quite messy! 

Truth be told, I cried a lot these past six weeks. I was a mess despite my best intentions. I tried to love my body. Really I am in awe of what it did and what it is continuing to do by nourishing Levi. But loving my body when I barely recognize it is hard. Even harder is cherishing every moment when I am SO tired I can't even speak coherently. I cherished a lot of moments. Just not all of them! And I'm ok with that. 

Was it a perfect six weeks? No. But despite all the messes it was still pretty magical. It was our first six weeks together as mother and a family of six. Six of the longest, hardest and best weeks of my life!

*I've decided (after surviving four newborn phases!) that babies start smiling at 6 weeks in order to give us sleep deprived mamas a ray of hope. That it is worth all the work. That we can survive. It's like the light at the end of the tunnel. That and cooing. Two sweetest baby milestones!

Monday, March 16, 2015

the BEST text!

I was in the Walmart check out this morning with a crying baby and two donut crumb covered girls when I received the news. It was a text from Joe and it simply said:

Matched! Now stop worrying. 

It immediately brought tears to my eyes. Big fat tears of JOY and relief. 

He matched!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can't believe how amazing it feels to know that my husband's dreams are coming true!!! He will be an emergency medicine physician!!!! All of his hard work has paid off. And I couldn't be prouder. 

And in just a few days we will know WHERE these dreams will come true. Where he will train to be an emergency doctor. Honestly though I don't care so much about the where. I am just so happy and ridiculously proud of my husband!!! 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Blogging through it.

"It" being the funk I am in right now. Funk actually doesn't seem like a big enough word. Not enough significance. Because when you sit in a dark room nursing a baby while a baby because your toddler won't take know you are in a funk. 

I blame THE MATCH and the lack of sleep. And let's be honest, Hannah's 50% failure rate at properly using the toilet is definitely contributing. I'm a hot mess. 

Time is absolutely standing still. All of the worst case scenarios for Match week are running through my head. And when I am not obsessively worrying about next week I am critiquing the heck out of myself as a mother. 

I am impatient. I get frustrated. And angry. And sad. (And I'm not just referring to this week here.) Clearly I am not cut out for this mothering gig. I am not the RIGHT mother for these children. I am failing each and every one of them. I just know it. Isaiah yells at his sisters too much...and I know exactly where he learned that. Charlotte is far too attached to me and extremely emotionally labile. I don't know how to change either of those things. Though I really want to. Hannah won't use the toilet ("because it's white") and sleep times continue to be a battle of epic proportions. Clearly she needs more love and attention.  But I just don't have it in me. I'm spent. Nothing left to give. And Levi...I can't get him to sleep in his own bed at night. Which obviously is contributing to my over tired state. But I'm too tired to work at making changes. 

I'm a mess. 

My kids are a mess. 

We aren't doing so well emotionally. This waiting for Match is sloooowly sucking the life right out of us. It's taken me from a mediocre mother to a failing one. It certainly is killing my blogging. The thing I really love doing...writing about and recording life. The blog is pathetic these days. (I'm sorry.) But it's the best I can do. It's so bad I thought about taking a hiatus. But Joe, my ever supportive cheerleader, encouraged me to keep going. To push through the funk. To blog through it. 

So this is it. Me pushing through. Admitting that I am falling apart. Hoping its only a temporary funk. Hoping that after next Monday I can go back to my mediocre mothering and blogging. Carry on as usual. 

Until then I am hitting the road. Me and my little falling apart army are getting out of town. We are going to see friends. And daddy. We are going to distract ourselves from the worry and the wait. And we are going to pretend to be sane. 

And this is how I have prepared for battle...

Because a solo road trip with four children is a battle (or so I imagine it will be as this is my first time with all four kids). Plus I have the DVD players locked and loaded. Ready for hours of mind numbing entertainment. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Texts of our Lives

Get it? It's a little play off of "The Days of our Lives". Because these days (i.e. Joe in Illinois. Me in Minnesota.) our main form of communication is via text messaging. With a little bit of FaceTime mixed in for funsies. And by "fun" I definitely mean Joe listening to complete chaos while each child takes a turn holding "daddy" (i.e. my phone). I am pretty sure he spends more time looking at the ceiling and floor than actually interacting with our children. Fun, right?  But I digress. 

The text messages. They pretty much tell the story of our life right now as I tend to be quite prolific with my messaging. Probably excessive really. Sometimes they are desperate (irrational) pleas to "come home!"  Other times it's simply asking for advice from my co-parent. Like should I allow Isaiah to go to school with face paint on or not?!? (I scrubbed it off at the last minute.) Other times it's updates on our mundane life. Many times these texts are brimming with frustration as I solo parent. "Hannah had another potty accident!!" But I do try to include the cute and funny things that happen as well. It can't all be doom and gloom all the time. 

Well that one was doom and gloom in the moment. Later I saw the humor in the situation. Much later. 

And another...

This one is just plain cute...

This is (unfortunately) a very common scenario these days. The girls LOVE using Levi's stuff for their babies...

Scares me almost every time. Even when I am holding Levi!

And this last one was a text conversation. But since Joe is opposed to putting up his picture on the blog (without his prior authorization) I will recreate without the picture...

Me: Hannah wants to see you. 
Joe: {sent us a lovely picture of himself...a "selfie"...walking into the hospital...all dressed up fancy shmancy with his white coat and stethoscope}

[ I showed Hannah the picture. ]

Hannah: Oh! He doctor now?

Not quite baby girl! But soon. Very soon. Like 86 days soon! However Joe doesn't actually want to attend his graduation. So there's that. I get it. It will be a big hassle and expense to transport our entire family back to Chicago for what will likely be a very long and boring ceremony. BUT it's kind of a big deal. One I feel deserves to be commemorated (regardless of the hassle)! Plus I want closure on this whole four year roller coaster of an experience. I want finality. I want to be present at the moment my husband is declared a doctor. Because dang-nabbit we have worked hard to get here (especially him!). And if we don't go I am afraid it won't feel official. Like it didn't happen. It's like the "if a tree falls in a forest but no one is there to hear it, did it actually make a sound?" dilemna. If a medical student graduates but isn't at the ceremony is he really a doctor?! 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sleeping through the night?

"Nope. I like to sleep through the evening. A solid four to five hours and then wake up right after my mom goes to sleep."

"That way we get quality one-on-one time together. I'm thoughtful like that!"

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Initiation by fire.

Two weeks ago my parents (and their dog!) left for Montana. They went to my brother's house to help them prepare for baby #6's arrival and they have been there ever since. Then last Sunday Joe left - for Chicago - to complete the last 4 weeks at his school (technically at the hospital near his school). Meaning I have been ON MY OWN for the past six days with all the kids for the first time! To say I was a little nervous at the beginning of the week is a major understatement but (*spoiler alert*) we made it! I lived to tell the tale...

Day 1:
I cried before Joe left. I cried when Joe left. And then I cried just a little more after Joe left.

Then I put on my big girl pants and played with my kids. I also bathed and fed them. And put them all to bed by myself (and felt kinda like super woman accomplishing all of that!). Then as the perfect ending to my day I cleaned half a bathroom (the non shower/tub half). Finally day one gradually became day two as Levi and I partied (aka nursed and rocked) ALL NIGHT LONG. 

Day 2:
Miraculously I woke in time to get Isaiah to school on time WITHOUT yelling at anyone and no speeding. Loading everyone up in the van in the freezing temperatures for the one mile drive was NOT my favorite activity. But I did what had to be done. Then upon my return home I cleaned the shower...with toilet bowl cleaner! (Ha. It was the only cleaning product I could find that contained bleach and I was expecting company. And I assumed my company was not accustomed to the level of filth we live in these days. I wouldn't recommend this cleaning method.) Then I showered. And felt like a million bucks despite my lack of sleep. That feeling lasted...umm...maybe two hours?! I dragged my self and the kids through the rest of our day - which included a second grade concert. Isaiah's moment to shine was brushing the dinosaur teeth on stage.

Day 3: 
Our day started too early. I tried to deny it. But lying (laying?!) in bed with two squirmy children for an hour is NOT restful. I gave in and got up and reminded myself that I had two hours of uninterrupted sleep earlier in the night. Surprisingly we had an excellent (snowy) day filled with (unexpected) visitors. Visitors that brought food! Visitors that shoveled my snow covered driveway. And visitors that ate the food with us. And more importantly filled our evening with fun! I may or not have allowed the children to eat more cookies than dinner;-)

Day 4: 
And those cookies were lost at 2am! (Just to clarify there was throw up everywhere!) Looking on the bright side, Isaiah finally got his much overdue 3 AM! 

Side note: Isaiah sleeps with 14 stuffed animals, 4 pillows, 1 blanket and 1 comforter on a full size bed. Guess how much of that was also covered in vomit?! Pretty much all of it. Oh the laundry! It nearly killed me. 

Thank goodness I pulled together a small village to help me survive the day. Joe's sister watched the kids (including the sicky) while I went to my doctor's appointment in the morning and she dropped Charlotte off at school. And Joe's brother subbed in as the "parent" for Hannah's last parent-tot gymnastics class! 

Day 5: 
We all stayed home to contain the sickness. We made it to the 24 hour mark without anymore vomit. To celebrate I did more laundry, boiled toothbrushes, and bathed my children. Then I showered. I momentarily dozed off in the shower. Upon exiting the bathroom I discovered Hannah had polished off  Isaiah's half eaten breakfast and Gatorade! Erg. So much for not spreading germs.

Instead of folding the mountains of clean laundry I decided to trim Hannah's hair. I trimmed and it looked good. Then I trimmed some more and it didn't look so good! Why I thought this was a good idea?! I don't know! I blame the cold and snow and sleep deprivation. 

Day 6: 
I swear our house had a revolving door which was great for passing the day away as we were ALL home ALL day for the third day in a row (darn "report card marking" day). First there was a food drop off by my mentor mom at MOPS. Then we had a fun and (slightly) chaotic play & lunch date with friends...8 kids ages 7 and under. Next my cousin and her husband stopped by for a few hours of baby snuggles as they passed through town. And last but not least Joe came home!!!!! Followed shortly there after by my dad and his dog...apparently two weeks of waiting for baby was long enough for him.

Day 7:
Consider this the epilogue to my solo week. I slept in!!! I nursed the baby. Then I slept some more. I nursed the baby again. And again I slept. I somehow managed to drag myself out of bed before the clock struck noon. 

Lastly the long neglected laundry was finally folded and put away.