The Children’s Museum (A Picture Post)

We bought a membership to the children’s museum this year and have been enjoying it so much.  On Friday my mom went with Max, Lily, Molly, Gus, and me and we all had a very fun time.

Max and Molly, high up in the climber.


Really high up!


Even Grandma got into the climbing action.


The whole crew, about two stories up.


Gus crawled around on the floor while the kids were perched up high.


The girls picking flowers. You can see both of their curls so well here. Molly has big soft waves. On this day I had twisted Lily’s hair into big ringlets instead of the wild tiny ringlets she usually sports. This helps to keep her hair from tangling as easy.


Max went up to these chimes and started playing Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring to the astonishment of many of the parents around. He walked away frustrated because it wasn’t a true scale and he couldn’t get the song in tune.


Gus is old enough to start enjoying the exhibits as well.


Molly painted ricks with water while the other kids ran through the noodle forest with Grandma.


Next up was the Fort Room.


We ended the morning in the Art Room. Molly painted the rocketship.


Lily and Grandma made letter art and a collage, and Max held his very own puppet show.

And then we headed home, tired and hungry for lunch and naps.  But we will be back another day!

Milestones in Gus’s Life

At two and a half months, Gus weighs in at a whopping 14lbs, 5oz.  Which is somewhere around the size most of the kids were at 4 months old.  Big guy.

He still wants to be held nonstop but this week both of these things occurred, even if they were short lived:

Gus with paci
I bought just one more pacifier type to try, and he likes tolerates it more than the others.  So that is something…

Then this – with the help of the above pacifier:

He sleeps
You can’t see his face, but he is sleeping.  Sweet, sweet naptime, while not even being held.  Yes, he is sleeping on his tummy.  I know, I know.  But that is how my children sleep.

He is starting to enjoy a little (very little!) bit of down time trying to bat at his toys or watch his brothers and sisters play.  But mostly he wants to be held BY ME and jiggled or nursed all day and night.

Happy New Year 2012!

The new year began for me with picking up kids from the family New Year Party.  But then came sleep in a toasty bed.

New Year Morning

In the real morning (not just counting when the clock turns to AM) I found the little ones (mostly) happily coloring and keeping (mostly) quiet while the older kids slept in.

Around the lunch table, we toasted the new year with sparkling cider and a “Please, let it be better than 2011!” and everyone shared their resolutions.

Molly: Nurse
Lily: Say a Hail Mary Every Day
Max: Be more careful to be neat in his seat work at school
Tessa: Pray a decade of the Rosary every day
Ben: Run more
Posy: Get a job
James: Purposeful practice of his music, eat healthier
Jay: Go on a date night once per week (I like that one!), keep his truck cleaner
Me: Read 12 books (1 per month – or more if possible), and blog more

Last year I tried the Picture a Day challenge and didn’t last very long with it.  This year I am trying a more modest approach with a goal of 2 picture based blog posts per week.  I think that will be much more doable.

Gus is 2 months old

Augustin, 2 months 1 week

Gus had his 2 month well baby visit today and, aside from being another Groft with ridiculously sensitive skin (covered in contact dermatitis or pre-eczema), is as healthy as can be.

Our doctor was entertained during the visit by Molly and Lily who crawled around on the floor and acted like cats and dogs.

Gus’s 2 month stats:
13lbs, 4oz
23 inches long
15.75 inch head

He is a sensitive guy and gets overwhelmed easily in loud situations. He wants to be held all the time and only rarely will sleep after being put down. He hates the car, I think mostly because he is not being held. Most of the hair he was born with has fallen out and he is pretty bald except for an old man fringe in the back. When he is not fussing he is full of smiles, so I think he has a bright, happy personality just waiting for the tough newborn stage to pass. He loves to be naked and have his diaper changed. Even when fussy, he will often smile when put on his changing table.


Our Chaotic Days

My arms have been perpetually full lately.  I have had tons of bloggable thoughts that have slipped through my grip as I waited for the time to set Fuss Gus down and really type some things out.  But there is no time that will just happen.  Gus has been passed off to Ben for the moment, and from the sound of things is not yet screaming, so here is my moment.  I must blog as fast as I can, blog like the wind…

Here is a sample of how life looks like in our home right now.

On a weekday the alarm goes off on my phone on my nightstand.  I hit snooze a couple of times and Molly starts begging to nurse.  But Gus is still nursing, so Jay takes Molly to the bathroom, wakes the rest of the kids, and tries to convince Molly to eat some oatmeal for breakfast.  I finish nursing Gus and reluctantly crawl out of bed.  Very often Gus will stay asleep in bed for a few minutes.  This will be the only time during the day that he will sleep without being in direct contact with a body (usually mine).

Jay works on fixing kids’ lunches and breakfasts while I seize the moment to jump in the shower, get dressed and comb my hair. I might even have enough time to brush my teeth.  Sometimes Gus is up at this time and gets passed around to whoever is least busy while I shower.  Then I nurse Molly while checking email on my phone, Gus is changed and nursed, potty stops are made and with much hustle and bustle, everyone is loaded into the car by 7:20.

We drop kids off at their respective schools and head home to start our day there.  After getting home I nurse Gus and Molly, attach Gus to me in the sleepy wrap, try to eat breakfast  and make an attempt at the laundry or other household chores.  James usually handles the kitchen in the morning.

And then… and then I can’t really say what happens.  That is the frustrating part of my time right now.  I know I breastfeed quite a lot.  Help Molly go potty, change Gus’s diaper, think about how I should switch the laundry and ohmygosh I’ll need to make dinner, what should I make?  I find shoes, kick the girls out of the kitchen a few times, sometimes I even get Molly and Lily’s hair combed.  In and out of the car for preschool co-op or a doctor appointment or an errand.  I listen to Gus scream any time he is in the car or not in my arms.  But the morning is nebulous and passes in a fog of bouncing the baby and a vague feeling like there is something I should be getting done.

The lunchtime passes and we eat a little bit too late for Molly to have an effective nap.  It never fails, I can’t get lunch on the table on time, even though I haven’t been able to quantify anything (besides nursing) that I have done all morning. So I give up on the nap and put a movie or show on for the girls.  In the blink of an eye it is time to load everyone in the car again and do the pick up routine.  So I have to find the girls’ shoes (again) and make sure they are wearing essentials like, oh… underwear, change a diaper, make little people visit the potty and we are off and running.

Once home again, everyone is famished and needs a snack.  So the kitchen is ransacked and they all scatter, lest they get asked about homework.  Thankfully this means that Molly and Lily will have someone else to play with for a while.  So I nurse the baby (duh!) and sort mail, finally switch the laundry, make some phone calls, ponder dinner again, and look at all the things left undone again today.

Jay gets home, the older kids get home, and the house is running now at full volume.  Poor sensitive Gus begins to get overwhelmed with the commotion just as dinner prep is becoming crucial.  But somehow, it gets done.  Only occasionally do I give up and resort to pizza.

Then the party starts.  Dinner is the best time of day.  It’s loud, it’s messy, someone always hates what was made, and someone declares it their favorite, someone spills, someone drops their fork.  Poop or vomit are discussed, inevitably.  When dinner is over, it gets about 75% cleaned up and then it’s homework time.

Homework time is filled with Max’s protests, Lily and Molly begging to color or do workbooks, Ben trying to sneak to one of the computers to watch something on Netflix and get on Facebook, Tessa slinking off to her room – I hope she is doing homework in there, Gus fussing and needing a quiet and dark room, and either Jay or me presiding over the whole thing trying to keep things on track.  Kids get shuffled into baths and showers (sometimes) and get a book (usually) and then its bedtime.

A bedtime snack is begged for, teeth get brushed, medicines and water bottles are passed out.  One parent sits in the little kids room and one rocks Gus.

After all that, we are exhausted and brain dead and ready for bed ourselves.

So there you have our “typical” day.  But few days are fully typical around here.  Sometimes there is a meeting for one of us in the evening.  Sometimes Jay’s schedule is different for the day or he is out of town.  Sometimes kids need rides places in the evening or a trip to the store for emergency school supplies.

In the midst of this chaos, this post has taken me fully two days to write.  Part of my purpose in writing this was to show you why I plan to post much shorter posts.

I’d like to include some acknowledgements here – of people who make these difficult days easier.  I offer my sincerest thanks to:

Jay – he gets me through my days and allows me to have a crazy meltdown now and then when the frustration gets to be too much.
Lucy – she’s always available to be a grown up to touch bases with when I feel like I have been sucked into the Twilight Zone of Toddlerhood.
Meg – who brings my older kids home from school and prevents an hour of baby screaming, brings a playmate for the little girls, and is always available for an interesting and stimulating conversation.
Nana – who bails me out when the kids need a ride if I can’t get to school in time.
And last but certainly not least: James – who is another set of hands around the house whenever he can be.  He knows when I am losing my mind and jumps in to help.

Gus’s Birth Story

Welcome Baby Gus

Well, he took his sweet time, and he’s been a handful since his birth, but he is finally here and as snuggly as can be.


Gus was born on October 12 at 9:26pm weighing 8lbs 7oz and 21 inches long.


His birth story actually begins with his daddy’s pain.  Jay had been experiencing GI symptoms and joint pain for weeks and we finally were able to get him in to see his GI doctor.  The doctor was concerned with the way his symptoms were shaping up, so he recommended a colonoscopy ASAP – the first availability for that was Friday October 14, which just happened to be my due date.  Jay made the appointment, knowing that I usually have the baby well over a week before my due date.


And then the days began to tick by.  We rounded the weekend before the due date and I began to panic.  Saturday night had looked promising – contractions kept me awake most of the night but never got quite close enough to call the midwife and petered out as morning dawned.  Thankfully, Sunday night was quiet and I got a good bit of rest.


Monday morning I began to panic.  I couldn’t very well have a baby while my husband was having a colonoscopy or doing the prep involved.  The prep (er, bowel cleanse) was supposed to start Thursday afternoon, and here I was still very pregnant.  I texted Jay and told him that if I hadn’t had the baby by Thursday morning we should cancel his colonoscopy.  I felt horrible, knowing that he really needed this, but I needed to know he would be feeling well enough to help me through labor.  I also talked to the midwife, who suggested we try castor oil and stripping my membranes.  So we set that plan in motion.  Castor oil went down the hatch at about 1:30pm, I think.  Out of the pure exhaustion that followed later that week, I forget the exact timing of things that night.  But contractions started, my midwife came, night passed with a stuttering labor, and labor died out near morning.  It was very frustrating to say the least.


The next day (Tuesday) was full of the usual busyness of a full household, with not much time to rest.  Night came and labor kicked up again.  Second verse, same as the first… contractions, midwife, pool set up, no sleep, then near morning it all stopped again.  Well, mostly stopped.  I still had sharp, painful contractions, but only every half hour or so.  I rested while I could, but I couldn’t sleep because of the contractions.  I called a friend who is a chiropractor and asked if she would come over and adjust me.  I just did not feel at all up to going anywhere.  I hadn’t slept for 3 out of the previous 4 nights, and was in enough pain that I wanted to stay home.  She was able to come over in the late afternoon and found that I was badly out of alignment.  She adjusted me carefully and told me to sit on the birth ball for a while to help keep things lined up.  She left sometime between 4:30 and 5pm.  I sat on the birth ball and the contractions began to get harder to handle.  After about a half hour there I moved to the couch to lay on my left side and try to get more comfortable.  It didn’t help much.  Jay was home from work by now and fed the kids dinner.  He came in to check on me and all I could do was cry.  I was so tired and so afraid of just laboring all night again.  After about another half hour, I had Jay call the midwife.


She was over quick as a wink, knowing that at anytime things could go quickly.  She probably arrived sometime around 6pm.  I was in so much pain with contractions I told her I didn’t want any cervical checks.  She could see that things were indeed progressing now and told me she would only check me if I wanted her to.  I moved to a rocking chair in my bedroom.  In between contractions I had no pain and mostly just relaxed, enjoying the break. I went to the bathroom a few times, sipped on water, and had contractions.  Jay got things set up in between my contractions and softly rubbed my face during them – that was so calming and really helped me to remember to relax.


The birth pool was already set up from the previous night and we had left the heater on to keep it warm.  It turned out that the heater worked a little too well – the temperature of the pool was hovering around 104 degrees, too hot to birth in and too hot for me to be comfortable even laboring in.  (Ideal temperature for a birth pool is 98-102.)  Jay could have brought the temperature down by emptying part of it and refilling with cooler water, but I really could not imagine going through contractions without him right near me.  I decided I wanted his closeness more than I wanted to get in the birth pool.  So he stayed right at my side.


I moved to the bed sometime later and began to get ready to really do this.  Like usual for me, though, I didn’t want to push.  I was really hoping this time would be like Lily’s birth and I could wait until a couple of little pushes would get him out.  I imitated the positions I labored in with Lily.  Eventually my midwife reminded me that Lily was a girl, was early, and probably much smaller than Gus was going to be and I would probably have to work harder this time.   She was absolutely right.  I got in a semi-sitting position and she put warm compressed on my perenium.  That helped me to focus, but the sensation confused me a bit and made me feel like he was moving down when he really wasn’t.  After a few wimpy pushes, I asked her to go ahead and check me and see what was going on.  She did and found a little lip of cervix holding Gus back.  She had me push while she moved it out of the way, which worked great.


Then I hit a wall – that wall in labor where there is so much pain, and pushing only hurts worse, but pushing is the only thing that will possibly shorten the time of pain. But after the previous days without rest, my coping skills were all used up. I could not bring myself to push.  I cried, I refused to do it, I just could not bring on more intense pain.


Jay and my midwife encouraged me to try some different positions.  I tried the birth stool, which was excruciating, and eventually ended up in a hands and knees position.  It was so hard to move because contractions were so close and moving triggered a new one.  So I would have a contraction, scramble into a position, only to have a contraction begin before I really got settled again.  But once I was kneeling and had my arms resting on a stack of pillows in front of me, Gus helped me out a little.  He moved.  Oh hallelujah! He moved!  And that helped me to push.  And once he moved, he didn’t stop.  I cried.  I said I couldn’t do it.  My daughters, scared by my crying and protesting, had left the room.  But I did it through my own protests – I pushed as hard as I could.  After a few pushes his head was out.  But he didn’t come sliding out like other babies.  I had to push hard for his body to come out too – it was like pushing out another head. (His chest was 15 inches around, the same as his head.)


But then it was done.  He was out.  He was behind me and I couldn’t see him yet, but the midwife’s first words were, “He’s big!”  Then she and Jay helped me to sit back down and move my leg over him, so I could see him and hold him.  He was big – for one of my babies anyway.  He barely cried, but was pink and alert right away.  He took a little while to start nursing, but he got going after a few tries.  I was so relieved to hold him in my arms and that this seemingly endless labor was finally over.  It truly was one of my hardest, if not THE hardest labor and birth, and I was a whining, crying mess all through it.  I am so grateful to my amazing husband for being my rock all the way through it.


Jay was able to have his colonoscopy as scheduled a couple days later.  It didn’t bring us any answers to his issues, but did help to rule out some possibilities.


And now, a month later, it is already a bit of a blur.  Gus is beautiful and has already put on three more pounds, mostly because he nurses all day and night and can’t bear to be put down for any amount of time at all.  That has made writing this out very difficult.  But he has been smiling at us – directly at our faces – since just a few days old.  He is so snuggly and loves to be in the sling or Sleepy Wrap.  The kids adore him and I am cherishing his days as a tiny newborn.  They will fly by so quickly.

Here he is at 1 month old, already 11lbs, 8oz.

Gus 1 month