Friday, July 25, 2014

Carma's early outings

... and by 'Carma's early outings' I mean you might have to squint and look until you spot her carseat as evidence that she was really there...

So there's a neat new-ish (or maybe new-ish-ly remodeled?) park here in Nampa that we've hit up a few times now. Well, Chuck and the boys have gone a few times, Carma and I have gone exactly once. But it was fun!
This visit occurred on Carma's two week birthday, so she and I happily settled in on a bench and she slept and I watched my cute boys run around.

Our ward had some peach tree thinnin' to do in late May, which is always a good time. Thinning is a slow-ish going process, so it required multiple visits. I skipped the one three days before Carma's birth, but we made it out when she was two and three weeks old. Everyone thought I was trying to prove my pioneer heritage, but really I just wanted a hot dog and to supervise the work - which is usually all I get accomplished on orchard trips anyways :).
Jack loved the orchard, probably because all his favorite playmates were on hand!

We had a wonderful Sunday evening visit to my dad's house at the beginning of June:
Jack was especially mesmerized by the awesome landscaping in my dad's backyard; he helped water and picked a rose for me and narrowly avoiding falling into the pond whilst looking at the fish!

 And here's the only shot of Carma from that night, being carried back to the van by Grandpa! :)

 In a moment of slight insanity, I took the two little kiddos and joined some friends for a fun nature walk near Melba two and a half weeks after Carma was born. The walk itself wasn't too bad, about a mile with loads of really neat statues and signs and knick knacks to look at. The tricky part was JACK and his tendency to wander off into the wilderness or refuse to walk or hang out with a statue for ten minutes while I waited in the heat...
 But we survived and it was good to get out of the house and Tasha and I had a great time talking on the drive there and back, so it was worth it :). PLUS Emily got that suuuper flattering picture of me where it looks like I'm trying not to wet my pants, so basically a win all the way around.

 And finally, we had a special adventure at the beginning of June so Carma could meet Uncle Quinn and Aunt Eden and cousins Isaac and Leila!! Queden and co made a quick quick trip up for Summer's HS graduation and we sneaked in a lunch date with them, so fun.
 Too bad we made Eden take the pictures and not actually be in them, whoops! 
Isaac was darling and gentle with Carma and it was fun to see what a difference four and a half months makes - aka the age gap between cute Leila and baby Carma. 

Of course, the official record should reflect that Quinn's initial reaction to Carma was a sound of horror and confusion - her cute tiny head had flopped to the side in her carseat and Quinn was (rightly) concerned :). Once we got that straightened out... literally... he was all admiration. And now I'm even more excited to get all three baby girl cousins together this fall!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Swimming and tennis...ing...

Okay, sooo until I get the hang of this "blogging" thing again, I make no promises about the quality of blog posts in the meantime. There will be cute pictures of my children, but there may be little to no order, rhyme, reason, or wit that accompanies the pictures :).

STARTING with some pictures of tennis and swimming lessons! Chuck was home through the third week of June so I wisely signed the older boys up for lessons all through that month so maximize our two-stay-at-home-parent time. It worked fabulously well and now that it's July and a million degrees and we get loads too much screen time while I figure out this 'four kid' thing, I just remind myself of all the excellent fresh air they got in June!
It warmed my heart to see Clyde and Will enjoy tennis lessons so much - tennis was The Sport of my family growing up and it's still my favorite to play. The boys had lots and lots of fun - thanks to my dad for finding awesome racquets for them!!

Some shots of swimming lessons:
Funny thing: Will's instructor for the second round of classes in June at Lincoln Pool was Krista. She was also Clyde and Will's teacher for their Rec Center semi-private lessons back in April. And also Jack's teacher for toddler/parent lessons at the end of April. She might thing we're stalking her.

 The boys' classes were back-to-back which meant hanging out at the pool for an hour each day, leading to loads of fun photo ops:
 Possibly my favorite sequence of pictures ever. Jack is a nut.

All right, I feel like I'm back in the groove! Ish. Go team!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

four little Izatt babies

Boy howdy, I'm behind on the ol' blog. I have a litany of excuses (Chuck's back at work, four kids is no joke, we've had cute houseguests sleeping in the guest room/computer room) but it mostly boils down to the fact that it sounds like a lot of work and I'm lazy. BUT I feel confident that at some point I'll bust out of a bunch of posts and catch up.

In the meantime, I grabbed three photo collages I made after Jack was born of the three boys and stuck Carma in them. Behold:
I stick with my 'Carma looks like Clyde' assessment... 
(these are all 3-4 days old babies...in age order: Clyde, Will, Jack, Carma).

Little carseat-sitters, all around a month old:

  Aaaand all wearing the same onesie, around a month-ish old. So cute, right? And also evidence that Carma has the least amount of hair out of the four them, haha.
Oh man, I just love my babies. 

(Even the one fussing in her bouncy seat right now, sooo I guess that signals the end of today's blogging expedition. Peace out!)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Cuddling with Carma

Carma is a very snuggly baby (aren't all newborns?). Over the last few weeks, it's been so special to see the joy and comfort that she provides as she's passed around, and I've tried to record those moments. 

Here's a rundown of some of her visitors since we've been home and friends that we've encountered out and about:
Kara and Abram. Kara's go-to exclamation about Carma is 'she kills me!' (which I'm assured is a good thing) and Abram is soooo sweet and gentle with her. If only that would rub off on Jack a bit...

Karlina and Maren came over for such a lovely visit and baby-holding time. And as usual, Maren and I talked in great, scary detail about all sorts of baby/pregnancy/childbirth stuff but Karlina remained as unruffled as always :).
One of our favorite families stopped in for a visit; Clark was pretty intrigued by the wee baby. Carma will have quite the group of cute, slightly older boys to bat her eyelashes at in a few years...

I have so many sweet friends that have been so supportive during this pregnancy and their excitement about me having a girl has helped me be more excited about having a girl. Here are a few of them with Carma: Emily, Nicole, Kautri, and Paulina.
Okay, this made me laugh. Carma and I went in for my 3 week check-up and the amazing receptionist/office gal Jaiden (possibly not how her name is spelled...) promptly relieved me of Carma and had to be pressed to share her with the likewise amazing nurses, Bethany and Maria. Between the three of them, they kept her happy and loved and held all during my visit (minus a quick feeding) and Carma avoided being relegated to the car seat, lucky girl!

Carma has jumped right into the church routine and found plenty of friends both at Sunday meetings and out at the orchard a couple different nights when we went out to thin peaches (I sat comfortably in a chair and supervised... which is not that much different from what I do usually out there...). Left row, top to bottom: Dee and her sweet daughters Stormi and Kiki, middle row is Bishop with a photobomb by Dakota (Dee's son!) and the right hand row is DeArley and Heather.
Ohhh, these pictures make me happy. My wonderful Holly is in town and actually met Carma a week and a half ago, but I managed not to get a picture that day so I made up for it today when she came over! They snuggled and snuggled and Holly and I talked and talked and all was right in the world.

And now we get to the pictures that bring tears to my eyes - but simultaneously peace to my heart. I've talked about my friend Lara before; if you scroll down to the end of this post there's a recap of how our friendship started and if you scroll down a bit in this post you'll find the fun we had at Relay for Life last summer. Lara was diagnosed with colon cancer two years ago and embarked upon an incredible fight. She was brave and positive and used her diagnosis to educate others (here's a link to the news story she participated in - the story that precipitated my first late night visit to her house!) and spent her time with her beautiful family and not only did she 'get busy living' (the motto of a fantastic organization, stupidcancer.org), she was busy living meaningfully.

Lara is another one of those friends who has been so excited for this addition to our family - I still remember her smile when I told her I was pregnant last fall. In the midst of her bouts of chemo, she was always quick to ask how I was feeling. Shortly after Carma was born, Lara's liver began failing. Carma and Lara only overlapped on this earth for three weeks, but I will be eternally grateful that the Ames family shared some of that precious time with us:
Carma meeting Lara, Abby, Aiden, and Austin when she was 10 days old.

This next picture was the following week:
There's a line from a children's hymn that says "Some say that heaven is far away, but I feel it close around me as I pray." I felt heaven very near by as I watched Lara, with help from her incredibly devoted husband Austin, cradle Carma that morning. I consider it a privilege and a tender mercy to have witnessed the sweet interaction of these two beloved daughters of God, one who had just departed His presence and one who was being called home to it. 
[Here's a link to read more about Lara's life: Lara Marie Cawley Ames]

Babies are such an incredible gift - so sweet and cuddly and each brings such a special spirit. Carma's existence in our family and in our lives has already provided us with joy and peace and happiness and light, and I hope that ability to uplift those around her is something that continues throughout her life. I believe it will be.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

End of school WHIRLWIND

The school year ended... oh, about a month ago... coincidentally riiight around the same time we had a baby! It was a busy stretch of time for the Izatt family :).

End of school = field trips, hooray! Will's kindergarten class got to ride the bus (highlight of Will's life) to a cute petting zoo/farm in Caldwell, Babby Farms. And Chuck got to go along!
Will had a blast; he was a bit hesitant at first but warmed up really well to feeding the animals.
 Funny story: this camel apparently tried to eat Chuck. Like seriously. It opened its mouth and went for Chuck's head. Twice. Like, the top of Chuck's head was inside the camel's mouth. I know, I called him a liar at first also, but apparently the entire field group witnessed the occurrence, and Mrs. Keene and another mom both backed up the story when questioned.

 Just for fun, we'll use this uncropped picture (taken by Will) as an example of how Chuck would look now had the camel succeeded:
 So glad he lived to tell the tale, head intact.

 And now for Clyde's field trip! They took the bus (again, a highlight) to Boise and did a scavenger hunt and lunch and played at a park. Chuck wasn't an official chaperone for this outing (it was the last day of Carma's and my hospital stay) but he did sneak over to eat lunch with Clyde and hang out for a bit.
Chuck took a few pictures and then Clyde and his compadres decided to play a ninja/spy game and hide from the camera, leading to these adorable pictures of their sneakiness. Goofy kids!

These pictures are from the last couple weeks of school; one morning before the school day began the PTA hosted a "Pastries with Parents" event. I'm not sure if it was planned explicitly to see if the allure of doughnuts was enough to get the Izatt boys to school on time, but it worked!
Will's class had a 'pajama day' and he was more than thrilled to wear his Batman shirt to school. And I just love how cute Jack is as he greets his brothers each afternoon :).
As I said earlier, Carma was born the Friday before the last week of school, meaning that two of her first big ventures out into the world occurred the following Thursday and Friday for (respectively) Will's kindergarten graduation and Clyde's awards assembly.
It was so fun for the boys to introduce baby Carma to everyone at school. Miss Emily (top left and center) and Mrs. Holman (bottom left and right) were especially excited to meet and snuggle her.

 Here's our cute little kindergarten graduate:
(To the right is the school principal, Miss Christensen. We love her.)
 The program was so cute; the kids came out and sang a couple of songs (one with an accompanying dance number) and then each teacher said a few words before presenting the students with their certificates. 

Two things to note: As their names were read, the teacher also announced what that particular kindergartener wanted to be when they grew up. Naturally, Will's answer was 'missionary'. Secondly, the kids had practiced pausing up on the stand for a few seconds for pictures, so when Will got to the right spot, he loudly proclaimed, "Okay, you can take my picture now!" Chuck and I pretty much died laughing :).
  Some pictures back in Will's classroom after the program. Most of the students left with parents right then, but there was still technically an hour left of school and Will wasn't inclined to cut his kindergarten year short, so he stuck around and got some good quality time with Elle and Mrs. Keene!

 Ahhh, Mrs. Keene. I'm not sure who will miss her more - Will or me! I loved helping out in the classroom and getting to know Jen. She was the perfect teacher for Will this year; she was patient with him but also held him accountable and encouraged growth in his behavior and made sure he stayed busy and challenged and we just love her.
 I love her so much that I insisted on a picture of us together, despite the fact that I was six days postpartum. [Lots of people sweetly commented on how nice I looked and I was quick to share that comfort-wise, it was either this dress or athletic shorts pulled up high above my incision, Urkel-style, and an extra baggy t-shirt.... aka what I immediately changed into upon returning home :).]

The next day was Clyde's last day of school, and we got to attend an assembly to watch him receive his Accelerated Reader award. Clyde was a crazy reader this year. Crazy. Because he earned 70 AR points as a first grader, Mr. Eilers set a high but attainable goal for him this year (60 points)... which Clyde hit by Thanksgiving. And then went on to quadruple it, ending the year with 250ish points, thanks in great part to reading the first four Harry Potter books (we stopped him there; he gets to finish the series this fall), parts of the Indian in the Cupboard and Chronicles of Narnia series, some Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, and all five Fablehaven books. Harry Potter and Fablehaven were definitely his favorites and our copies are now falling apart as he reads his favorite parts over and and over.
 Kindergarteners don't usually participate in the AR program, but they make a few exceptions and Will was able to begin taking tests in January, which he loved. We sneaked into the library several times a week after school so that the boys could take tests and check in/out books.

Will made it through almost the entire Berenstain Bear collection (including a few of their chapter books) and a couple of the Littles series and ended the school year with 29 AR points.
 Mrs. Frazier sweetly made Will a certificate to match Clyde's :). She was such a great librarian and so patient with our many visits!

 And here is Mrs. Frazier presenting Clyde with his award at the assembly:

 We sneaked down to Clyde's classroom afterwards so that his classmates could see Carma and to get a picture with Mr. Eilers. Again, we completely lucked out - Mr. Eilers was the perfect teacher for Clyde's second grade year. He kept Clyde motivated and accountable and was so patient and understanding with Clyde's absences, especially last fall. I really appreciated the time I spent in the classroom and watching his teaching style and how well his students responded to it.
 Family picture- happy one week birthday to Carma! 
(Holy moly, I want to take a nap right now just looking at myself here...)

I've said it before, I'll say it again: I love public schools. I love Park Ridge. I love what a great year both of the boys had. I love caring teachers and staff. 

And even though it freaks me out and prompts a slight 'mychildrenaregrowinguptoofast' meltdown, I love seeing these side by side pictures of the boys' first and last days of school:
 Will, kindergarten 
August 2013 // May 2014
Clyde, second grade
August 2013 // May 2014

Thursday, June 12, 2014

TEN Years

Today is the tenth wedding anniversary of this stunningly attractive duo:
(it's possible that this is the best recent picture of us. Something we're attempting to rectify as part of our anniversary date later this evening...)

Ten years ago, Chuck and I had no idea what we were doing. We were young and impulsive and 'so in love' and stubborn and not prone to overthinking things - and I'm SO glad! I don't know if my 29-year-old self would be as carefree and optimistic and quick to ignore other people's opinions/warnings/dire predictions as my 19-year-old self was. I'm thankful that we didn't necessarily know what was in store or try to anticipate every possible situation or scenario life would hold. 

A year or so ago, I found an article online that detailed all sorts of relationship 'deal-breakers'; they ranged from funny (which direction should the toilet paper roll turn?) to practical (thermostat preferences - this one causes us trouble....) to serious (where do you celebrate holidays? how do you spend money?). As I looked at the list, I was so happy not to have found it while I was engaged - a couple of them might have led to second guessing our plans - mostly the one about 'do both of you like roller coasters?'. Thrilled that Chuck didn't discover my aversion until long after we were legally and lawfully wed!!

Chuck and I took a leap of faith when we followed our guts and the Spirit and got married. Throughout the last decade we've discovered (and let's be honest, created) multiple stumbling blocks - of varying sizes - that threatened to be our collective demise. I'm grateful that during those times, we held hands and chanted our favorite motto ("There's no way out, so we better work it out") and emerged on the other side stronger and happier. 

I'm so grateful for our marriage and I'm even more grateful that through the sealing powers of the temple, our marriage is eternal. This past week we've encountered two horrifically sad losses (one a good friend, one an extended family member of Chuck's) and as I find myself so heartbroken for their respective spouses and children, I'm reminded again of the crucial responsibility I have to nurture and cherish my marriage and protect and honor and be grateful for the time we have together.

I really, really love my husband. There is no one that I would rather have by my side in this life and the next. Chuck is amazing. On our two-person team roster, he is absolutely the MVP and I'm the poor schlep trying not to get bounced back down to the minor leagues :). I'm grateful for his excellent work ethic and his tenderness and his forgiving nature and his firm belief that we are equal partners in our marriage and as parents - and his willingness to back up that firm belief with his actions.

Happy 10th Anniversary sweetheart! I sure do love you.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Hospital Visitors Parts Two and Three: Friends and Medical Professionals

[the post title originally said 'friends and staff' but that made it sound too much like our gardener and chef stopped by to see us, which obviously would never happen - their place is in the yard and kitchen, respectively - so I opted for the more formal 'medical professionals'...]

Our hospital stay was pretty quiet overall (you know, when Carma's three older brothers weren't in the vicinity) but we did have a few friends stop by, which was lovely! Starting with Emily and Brenda, who came and cuddled Carma lots and brought lots of love from everyone at church:
Next up was the always sweet and darling Star! I've known Star forever - I used to tutor her when I was in high school - and she's come to the hospital to see me every time (maybe except for Clyde...) I've had a baby. We're horrible at getting together otherwise, so it's been a good excuse to see each other over the years! Carma loved being held by Star, and I loved the cute BSU dress and pacifiers Star brought as gifts!

Just as Star was leaving, the Haws family (well, all but Raegan) appeared! They were in the neighborhood for a doctor's appt and sneaked up, which was really fun. Brehner was pretty intrigued by the baby; I think he needs a baby sister, Tawny and Troy! :)

We had such a great experience at St. Luke's, and that was due mostly to the excellent doctors and nurses who took care of us. Starting, of course, with my dear ob/gyn! Dr. Klomp is such a dear; I can't imagine anyone else delivering my babies. He knows two of my uncles really well (one on each side) as well as my mom, and has known me literally my entire life - he delivered me 29+ years ago :). Really, what other doctor would hug me and tell me that he loves me at the end of every appointment?

Carma was actually due on Dr. Klomp's birthday, May 18th, but we obviously did the c-section two days prior. But that meant we were in the hospital on the 18th and got to see Dr. Klomp when he came that evening to check on me! I had a very high quality homemade birthday card for him and made him pose for more pictures :). I'm so grateful for what a good doctor he is and how well we get along; I always joke that I'll keep having babies just so I have an excuse to go see him regularly!

Next up is Elise, who was my nurse from pre-op to recovery and who was absolutely wonderful. She was calm and steady and friendly and professional and constant - it's always nice to know that the same person is there through every step of that process. (I remember when Clyde was born, I was going into the c-section right as the sweet nurse who had been with me all night was scheduled to go home but she ended up staying longer just to see me through, sooo sweet). Here are Elise and Carma right after we went up into our room from recovery:

Once we were in our room, we were blessed with Katherine as our nurse. We managed not to get a picture of her face, but here she is helping Clyde and Will use stethoscopes to listen to Carma's heart - isn't that so sweet and darling and nice of her? Katherine was wonderful; the few hours after a c-section are a fun wave of euphoria of having a new baby and being on some pretty potent painkillers, but there's also the realities of just having had abdominal surgery and then a whole bunch o' hormones mixed in. Katherine was sweet and got me everything I needed before I knew I needed it. Loved her.

Mari Lou! We had Mari Lou two years ago when Jack was born, and both Chuck and I were excited to have her again. Very friendly and competent and not afraid to do what needs to be done. She and I had a few chances to really talk (about families, babies, her granddaughter coming for the summer, etc) and it was really nice.
Ohhh, Marian. This picture gets me every time. Marian was another nurse that we'd had with Jack and loved; we were bummed to only have her for one shift this go-round. Marian was such an advocate for me and what was best; she was excellent at staying on top of my meds and was so attentive. She was really caught off guard when I asked to take her picture with Carma, but LOVED the result; she somewhat shyly asked if I could text the picture to her (which, of course, I did. I also included a printed copy with her thank you note, as I did with all of these). I don't know how to explain it, but my time with Marian was really special.

Kayli! Loved Kayli. We had her Saturday and Sunday, and ended up leaving on Monday right as she was getting on shift (see the next picture). Kayli was really fun to talk to and a great nurse. My favorite thing was how she brought us cookies every night :). She was so mad that her hair wasn't done on Sunday when we took this picture, haha:
Which is why we took this one real quick on Monday as we were leaving. Kayli also loved all the beautiful flowers that adorned my hospital room (my dad, Chuck's dad, and Brenda all brought me beautiful bouquets!) so we told her that she could have first dibs on the ones that we left behind for the nurse's station :).

And last but not least, Judy! [last that I have pictured, in addition we had several wonderful nurses/nurse's assistants, everyone was great]. Judy ensured that our stay ended with the same great level of care that we enjoyed the whole weekend. I especially liked that she told me I did NOT have to carry Carma down in her carseat on my lap; that Chuck could carry her, regardless of what transport said. (The transport guy didn't end up saying a word about it, he looked a little wary of me in general, smart man...).
And then it was time to bring our sweet Carma June home, hooray!