Thursday, December 27, 2012

1 week old and our Christmas

Cupcakes one of my awesome sisters made for the hospital!
Charlotte is now 1 week and 1 day old.  I cannot believe a week has already passed.  It feels like just yesterday I was complaining about the extra weight, the heartburn and feeling her kick and twist in my belly, wondering how big she would be and what she would look like.

I still can't believe she was 8 lbs and 10 oz.  Look at those chubby thighs.  When we left the hospital.  She had dropped to under 8 lbs.  Despite nursing every hour and a half, she lost nearly 9% of her body weight.

She was born just absolutely perfect. 

Kaitlyn was absolutely in love with her from before she was born.  Samantha was more apprehensive.  Once we got home, Samantha was in love.  She hasn't stopped kissing her, wanting to rock her and getting so irritated with me for not letting her just carry her through the house that she screams and pouts.

From the moment she was born, she found the most perfect place on my chest to rest.  Thanks to an amazing husband, this is how we get to spend most of our days.  He handles everything else, letting me heal, Charlotte nurse and lots of cuddling.

Because she came home at such a lower birth rate, and with a higher bilirubin rate, we had to take her for a weight check and bilirubin check the day after we came home.

She gained some weight and was at an even 8 lbs.  Her bilirubin was still slightly elevated, but under 10, so we went back home.

Christmas Eve morning, I had to go to the OB's office to have my staples removed.  Not gonna lie, it didn't feel good.  I go back in 2 weeks, but so far my incision is healing really good.  I'm hoping when I go back, the scale shows a smaller number... We left the office, and showing Miss Charlotte off to the staff that worked so hard to get her here full term and healthy, and went down a floor to see our amazing pediatrician.  I love him.   

Charlotte was at 8 lbs still, but since she hadn't lost, there were no complaints.  According to their measurements, she was already at 21 inches long.  And her heart murmur was already difficult to hear.  He predicts that by the time we see the cardiologist it will be completely gone.  She goes back in 2 weeks for a well baby check.

We spent Christmas Eve with Dusty's side of the family.  The girls were ridiculously spoiled and I sadly didn't have the energy to take nearly as many pictures as I would have liked to.  I was pretty darn sore still and more than a little exhausted.

When we got home, we set up for Christmas.  Originally the gingerbread men were going to be going away presents from Jinx the Elf, but I was sore, exhausted and pretty much lost all motivation to write the letter, set it all up and make it look right.  All of the presents had been in a large box in the living room to keep Samantha out of opening them over and over again.  So, we took them out and piled them by kid.  The pretty paper in the back is mine from Dusty.  I was spoiled and got everything I had even mentioned wanting for the last few months: A new serger, an awesome bread machine and a bias tape maker.  I was not only surprised but am super excited to get healed and have a chance to play with it all.

Kaitlyn woke up around 7, ready to see if Santa came.  Or so she said, I knew and had already heard her walk out there to check.  We told her to wait it out.

By 9, she had us convinced that it was a good time to force Samantha awake.  It took some time, lots of talking and convincing her that it was time to get up.  It may have also taken the bribe of a candy cane.

Instead of running to her toys, she ran to Kaitlyn and sat next to her just smiling.  Until Kaitlyn started opening gifts.  Then, Samantha started wanting to rip into hers.  I didn't get many pictures because I took video.  A lot of video that I need to upload.

Kaitlyn got everything she asked for.  A ridiculous amount of Monster High Dolls, rain boots, clothes, new jacket, DVDs, an Adventure Time journal, books and stuff I didn't even remember buying.  She had asked Santa for the Abbey Bominable plush Monster High Doll, Monster High DVD and Toralei doll and Santa didn't disappoint.

Samantha got a new Barbie Doll (maybe she'll leave Kaitlyn's alone now), legos, Elmo Kinex, Bubble Guppies movie, Cailou doll, lots of clothes, puzzles and some Melissa and Doug toys.  Santa brought her a new Radio Flyer Tricycle which she is in love with.

Charlotte got clothes and Santa brought her a basket of things babies need like bottles, pacis, wipes, soft toys and things like that.  What else can you get a 6 day old baby?

Our morning was going perfect, we were going to even make it to my parent's house on time.  About 5 minutes before it was time to leave, Kaitlyn ran in to tell me that Samantha had gotten into a bottle of bubble bath.  She dumped the entire thing on herself, her pretty Christmas dress, the rug in the playroom, the floors near the rug, and the basket of Charlotte's presents.  Samantha needed a bath, the carpets had to be cleaned, the hardwood floor had to be cleaned and I had to clean the presents that could be saved.  So, we ended up running about an hour behind.

We arrived in time for the girls to be spoiled yet again. 

Kaitlyn's favorite gift was probably the box that announced we're all going to Disneyland. 

I was really excited about getting a picture of them all together in matching outfits.  This is the best Samantha would cooperate.  Shortly after, she had some dinner, and then fell asleep 15 seconds later and would not be woken up.

Since Christmas, we've been at home.  Resting.  Relaxing.  Dusty has been taking care of grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning and taking care of the older girls.  He's also been great at finding us great things to watch on Netflix. 

My only jobs have been to sit, rest, nurse, cuddle and change diapers.  I think it has really helped with the healing process.  Today, I actually went most of the day without any pain meds at all.  I gave in at 8:30 and took a Vicodin.  I also think that all of the resting and cuddling and nursing is helping me have a really healthy milk supply and Charlotte look like she's growing just fine and dandy. 

I think one of the biggest surprises coming home has been how big Samantha seems.  It feels like we went to the hospital with a larger baby at home and came home to a giant.  She's just so big in comparison.  Her head is ginormous and her legs are so heavy.   She's adjusting pretty well.  Only a couple times has she cried because I couldn't pick her up.  If only she would sleep at night, we would have things perfect around here.

Our pediatrician is a firm believer that babies shouldn't go out much for the first month.  He pushes it even more so during cold and flu season.  And I see absolutely nothing wrong with following that advice.  I feel a little bad about keeping Kaitlyn in for the majority of her break, but, I also know that she has so much new stuff, she is far from bored.  Not to mention the frequent visits from our wonderful family and friends to keep her occupied.

If we could only figure out how to slow down time, all would be well.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Charlotte's Arrival

On Wednesday, December 19th at 12:49 PM, Miss Charlotte cried her way into the world weighing in at 8 pounds and 10 ounces and 20 inches long.

We were scheduled to arrive at 10:00 am for a Noon cesarean.  We arrived at about 10:05.  They were beyond ready for us.  The triage bed was all set up and we were good to get all of the pre-op stuff in.  I wasn't even there for 5 minutes before the anesthesiologist came in to talk about pain relief, complications and all that good stuff.

At noon, I was ready to go.  I had my 2 bags of fluid in, my hair net on, camera set up for Dusty, antibiotics in and was just waiting for the doctor.  He arrived at about 12:10.  We said our good-byes to the girls and the rest of the family and I walked back while Dusty started getting himself prepped for surgery.

Last time, the spinal was fairly easy.  This time, it wasn't.  It took a few times to get numbed enough to do the spinal.  The spinal took 3 tries.  I was so upset.  I was almost ready to back out of a cesarean and beg for a VBAC.  An amazing nurse, deep breaths and relaxation later, it was in.  I was laid on the table, the rest of the prep was done and I started to have a panic attack.  The heartburn was awful.  I couldn't breath.  I wanted to sit up and felt like I had to sit up right that second.  I needed up, I needed to be free, I wanted Dusty and I thought I was going to pass out.  I felt like I was falling.  My blood pressure dropped and I was having a panic attack.  I was given some meds as well as oxygen and within a minute I felt a lot better.  I am sure that it helped that Dusty was able to come in about that time as well.  When he walked in, they had already made the first incision.

It felt as though it was taking forever to feel the familiar pushing and pulling to get her out.  Turns out, there was a lot of scar tissue.  It was taking forever to get her out.  Once it was time to get her out, moments after my doctor had said he wasn't expecting her to be that large (my last ultrasound estimated her birth arrival at about 8 lbs 2 oz, bigger than our biggest by 5 oz), he then said "whoa, this may be a world birth record for you.  This is a big baby."  I heard her little gurgles.  I saw her go to the baby nurse.  They started cleaning her up and kept saying how big she was.  They asked if I had a guess.  I could barely talk and wasn't comprehending a lot at this point and said I had no idea.  Then I heard them say "8 10" and couldn't understand what they meant.  That could not possibly be her weight.

So, I asked Dusty how big she was.  He repeated to me she was 8 lbs and 10 oz.  I was amazed.  I still am.  I remember thinking "Holy Crap, I hope those Christmas outfits fit her ok!"  Then, they told us she was 20 inches.  And her head circumference.  Which, I don't remember.  I felt as though my ears were completely full of fluid.  I was thankful Dusty was there.  He held her really close to me so I could smell her, kiss her face and rub her arm with my free finger. 

My doctor continued to joke and while the assisting physician asked for my consent (for like the 8th time in 2 hours) to continue with the tubal, he had already removed a lot from one.  He said when he does them, he does them right.  There will be no accidental pregnancies or stories of tubes growing back together.  I was finally out of surgery around 1:30 or so.  Once I was in recovery, Dusty was there with Charlotte and the girls were able to come back.  Charlotte was starving so we had started nursing.  Kaitlyn was so excited that she had blue eyes and Samantha was not at all interested in what we were doing or hard.  Slowly our family came through, one at a time, and we were able to get some rest.  I felt so tired and I couldn't figure out why.  I held her to my chest for a few more moments before Dusty followed her to get her first bath and got a mini nap in.  We ended up in recovery until about 4:30. 

We then got into our room.  I had already asked about a dozen times if we could please have a private room this time.  We ended up not getting a private room, it was a shared room, without a roommate.  But, they said they would do their best not to give me a roommate. 

We met our nurse, got our things set up (including a couple things- like her garland for her bassinet I never took pictures of) and welcomed more visitors.  The pain this time was so much worse than with Samantha.  I wasn't expecting it to be pain free, or easy at all, but I don't think I realized it would be so much more painful.

Charlotte was born grunting.  She was noisy.  As, not only all of our babies have been, but also as many cesarean born babies are.  This nurse began to give me a bit of a lecture about having repeat cesareans (which I ignored since she obviously had not seen my chart and had no idea what she was talking about as it pertained to me) and I began to grow frustrated for the first of many times.  After a couple hours, she decided that she really did not like the grunting and wanted to take her to the nursery to be observed by a pediatrician and get a pulse ox exam.  While I did not think it was necessary, I am a better safe than sorry person and allowed it.  She returned about 30 minutes later with a perfect reading.

We continued to share her with family and nurse her.  This baby caught on quick and hasn't stopped.  She nurses for quite a while through each hour. 

By 9, the last of our visitors left and they wanted her to have another round of testing in the nursery.  Just to confirm her pulse ox, be weighed and all that good stuff.

Our first night went well.  She nursed and slept, slept and nursed.  I was personally physically miserable.  I was just in a lot of pain.  Our night nurse seemed sweet enough, but I really wish we would have had another nurse.  She was really hesitant on giving pain medication until I could eat.  Wouldn't give me food until I could pass gas and did not understand that I already had passed gas, hours previously, regardless of how many times or different ways I explained it. 

At midnight, she wanted me to get up and walk, clean myself up and all that good stuff.  I obliged.  I was, however, frustrated that 12 hours post op I had yet to have pain meds, and she did not empty my catheter prior to us walking to the bathroom.  So, I had to carry my IV lines, a heavy bag of urine and waddle to the restroom.  Once there, she realized she had forgotten the things I needed, and had waited too long to check my bleeding so there was a mess everywhere, I was tired and just about to cry.  Eventually, everything and everyone was clean and I got 5 mg of Norco to hold me off until morning. 

At this point, I was so upset with my nurse.  There was a strong communication issue.  She did not want to give me pain meds until I could eat.  I couldn't eat until I could pass gas and she didn't understand me when I repeatedly told her I had passed gas plenty of times (classy, I know.)  She didn't seem to understand me when I answered questions, and in pain and out of breath, I didn't want to answer everything 2-3 times.  Or, she would ask questions that either didn't make sense or were not necessary.  An example was when she asked if this was my third cesarean.  I said yes.  She asked if it was my first baby.  I said no.  She asked how many of what we had.  I explained that we had 3 girls now and a son that passed away to SIDS.  She responded that she knew that from my chart while she chuckled.  I didn't want to chit chat anymore.

Charlotte nursed a lot through the night.  She would nurse at least 1/2 hour every hour.  When she wasn't nursing, she loved skin to skin and she would tolerate being in her bassinet for 10-15 minutes.  By 3, I was pretty darn tired and asked for a pacifier.  The nurse insisted it would harm our breastfeeding attempts, I assured her I wasn't concerned.  Charlotte loved the pacifier.  She slept for nearly 3 hours.  I slept inbetween vitals being checked, labs being drawn and housekeeping cleaning the room.

Thursday morning, my doctor came in and thought everything was healing nicely.  Charlotte's doctor came in and thought she was looking good, but noticed a heart murmur.  He wanted an echocardiogram to be on the safe side.  A couple of hours later, the nursery nurse came in to take Charlotte to do a couple of tests on her blood pressure and oxygen levels.  She was returned in about 1/2 hour and doing well. 

Most of the day was spent trying to walk, battling pain, taking a shower, visiting and nursing the baby.  By about 2:30, she was taken in for her echo.  Instead of taking the normal hour, it took two because the machine stopped working halfway through.

Thursday night went pretty good.  I napped in between feedings.  I slept for about a half hour while she was in the nursery for her well baby check.  We had the same night nurse.  She came in and said Charlotte had lost 8.4% of her body weight and if she lost more than 10%, there would be problems so we should supplement with formula.  I did not object and requested some.  I knew that otherwise it could mean we stay longer, we go home without her or other complications could arise.

A few hours later, we still hadn't received formula.  So, I asked for it again by calling the nurse.  She asked why and if I wanted to sabotage breastfeeding.  She came into the room.  I explained my reasoning, explained I was not concerned with nipple confusion and cared more about her gaining enough weight to go home.  We received the formula.  She ate some and spit nearly all of it up.  We slept on and off most of the night.  She had a few more really good poops and did give me a good 2 hour stretch around 4 which was really appreciated. 

At around 7:30, my nurse came in.  She asked if we would be ready to go home tomorrow.  I told her, I was and would even be happy to go home today.  She said ok, she'd talk to my doctor.  But, I beat her to the punch.  When my doctor came in, I told him I'd really like to go home.  He did an exam and felt confident I would have the same level of care at home.  He wrote orders that if the baby was discharged today, I could be too, or I could be discharged tomorrow if the baby would be ready then.  I just had to return to his office on Monday to have my staples removed.

When the baby's doctor came in an hour later, we went over the cardio results.  They found 3 "tiny" holes in different chambers of her heart.  But, both himself and the cardiologist feel they are benign.  He said if we agreed to return for a weight check tomorrow (Saturday) and Monday, we could go home today.  We would be following up throughout the year with the cardiologist and repeating the echo when she's a little older.

By 11:05, we were in the car on the way home.  I was discharged a little over 48 hours from when we first arrived to deliver and about 46 hours after delivery.

Being at home has been way more comfortable and I am absolutely looking forward to catching up on my sleep.  Starting now.  :)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tragedy in the World * Labor Pains

It goes without saying that the events that took place today are beyond heart wrenching.  A young man made the choice to pick up guns and use them as a terrorist would.  He opened fire against those that worked every day to make our community a better place and innocent young children.  He selfishly took the lives of more than 2 dozen before taking his own life.  And we may never know why.

What we do know is he was obviously a sick individual.  We know that he was a complete and total monster.  I believe that he should absolutely rot in hell.  He should not be remembered as anything other than a complete and total piece of scum.

Innocent lives were lost.  Little ones will have Christmas presents under the tree they will never open, lists that never went to Santa and Elves that will never be found.  Little kids are going to miss their best friends.  Lives are forever changed.

This is not a time to discuss gun control.  This is not a time to react on emotions and assume that if all guns were off the street these things wouldn't happen.  And this is not a time to make up facts about gun rights.  These are things I feel very strongly about and I find it disgusting that people utilize tragedies to push their own personal agendas.

Some of the things I have read on facebook have disgusted me to the point I've had to "hide" people.  Really, I think it's best to just avoid facebook for a few days. 

My thoughts, my prayers, my good wishes are with those affected by this tragedy.  I pray for their peace, I hope for their healing and I wish for nothing more than for those poor little ones to reach a point of happiness in life, despite this tragedy.


At 2:30 this morning, I was up.  Cramping.  Having to use the restroom non-stop.  I was up every hour.  It was miserable.  At 5:30, I took a bath.  Followed by some tylenol.  It helped a little bit.  By 11, I was having some contractions.  Nothing too timeable.  Just irritating.  The cramping though was horrible.

At 3:00, I started having some sharp cervical pains.  Enough for me to cry out in pain just about every time it happened.  I told Dusty I wanted to go to the hospital.  My mom picked up Kaitlyn from school and Samantha from our house and Dusty took me to L&D.  Shortly before we left, I lost my mucous plug and the pain increased.  We got to L&D by 4:30.  I was on the monitors.  Contractions were showing up on the monitor, going off the charts every 5 minutes.  The nurse checked me, my amniotic sac was in place, and I was dilated to one.  I left my urine sample and it was decided that I would be monitored until 6:30 and checked again.

Well, the nurse got busy, by 7:00, I was checked again.  Still at a 1.  With a pretty bad urinary tract infection.  The thought is that perhaps the contractions are being caused by a UTI.  So, we're starting antibiotics with the hopes to get to Tuesday.  They are really not a fan of doing cesareans before 39 weeks, so that's where we need to get.

I must say, I think if you're going to have a cesarean and face that recovery, you shouldn't be forced to have labor too!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

This time next Wednesday

We will be holding a sweet princess in our arms.  Not just any princess, our third princess.  A teeny tiny baby with 10 little fingers and 10 chubby toes.  She'll look up at us, snuggle into us and will know that we are her parents.

I had my 38 week appointment today.  My last OB appointment.  It was the last time I have to step on the scale and wonder where it will stop.  I gained an even 42 lbs overall this time around.  My blood pressure was good (which is amazing considering that I had both Kaitlyn and Samantha with me and they were setting bad examples for each other left and right and had me doing my best to keep my patience), my urine dip was clean, and my cervix is still in the back.  Because it was in the back, we didn't check for dilation.  Why risk irritating it and getting labor started when we don't need to.

We discussed the surgery.  I was hoping that I could be discharged a little under 72 hours instead of anything more.  Looks like that probably will not happen.  I feel very fortunate to have such a great relationship with my doctor.  I also feel very confident in knowing that he will take my care seriously.  And I am beyond glad that we can have honest discussions about my care.

Because of my increase in blood clots this time around, I ended up staying on baby aspirin longer than I did with Samantha.  I stopped it with her at 36 weeks and had my cesarean at 39w3d.  This time around, I stopped it yesterday, at exactly 38 weeks with surgery scheduled at 39w1d.  It is also looking increasingly likely that I will be on heparin after surgery to control any clotting as well as compression stockings.  And while surgery is on Wednesday, I'll likely stay until Sunday.  Boo.  Boo to that indeed.

To be honest, I'm not nervous at all about surgery, not nervous about how time will pass (I know it will be far too quickly), or recovery.  I'm nervous about having a newborn in the house.  For obvious reasons.  I have a great doctor, great support and despite losing a son whom we love so much, I know that we are incredibly blessed.

Soon, we'll be sharing Charlotte's first portrait.  I cannot wait to see what and who she looks like.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

38 weeks pregnant


Another week has passed and we are a completely normal (well, just about), full term, pregnant family.

I'm ready to go.  I'm beyond ready to go.  If I went to my appointment tomorrow and my doctor asked me if I wanted to go ahead and deliver right then, drug free, I would probably say yes.  As long as there was enough time for Dusty to get there.

I'm sore, I'm tired and I'm ready to see who she looks like.  I'm ready to see if Samantha "gets" it.  I'm ready to see what our routine will be like.  I'm ready to find out if she really is a lot bigger than her sisters were.  I had a dream last night that she had blue eyes.  Like, really, really, really blue eyes.  Bluer than Kaitlyn's.  It could have had a lot to do with watching Breaking Bad before bed and hearing a cashier describe one of the character's eye color...

But, we're on the 8 day countdown and I have no doubts that next Wednesday is going to be here before I know it.  Considering I haven't done much shopping or wrapping since last week, I really need to get to it.  I just really need to find time to go by myself, it's getting harder and harder to get Samantha in and out of the car, in and out of baskets and then entertain her while I try to even look at my list.  I end up exhausted and giving up an hour and 1-2 stores in.  I need a marathon shopping day!

Tomorrow I have my last doctor's appointment.  Tonight I take my last baby aspirin.  We are at the end.

This week, I've managed to get the girls pictures done, our Christmas cards finished and all ordered and sent.  Kaitlyn only took 3 pictures before she said she was done.  1 her eyes were closed and 1 she was being goofy and said that I had to never share it because it would ruin her life.  But, for the first time ever, Samantha was super excited about having her pictures taken.  That NEVER happens.  So, I took advantage of it.  It actually makes me want to drag the lights in and do her 2 year pictures that I haven't done yet...  But, I haven't...

 It's amazing what the promise of a candy cane can bring...

We're still doing Elf on a Shelf.  Kaitlyn goes back and forth still between believing and not believing.  When Samantha notices it, she giggles, but she doesn't really seem too interested.

As the photo suggests, some days I have more enthusiasm than others.  So far, the elf has read stories to Boots and Swipper, has dangled from Kaitlyn's Christmas chain and left a special North Pole Apple (it was a Fuji, but Kaitlyn swears it tastes like snow and candy canes), taken a nap in our glitter garland in the living room, hidden in the cherry candy canes, used snow to write on the bathroom window, left Kaitlyn a letter while bathing in marshmallows (which Kaitlyn snuck way too many of), dangled from the ceiling fan in the playroom after bringing back candy canes he made himself, hidden in the garland in the kitchen and finally wrote out a message in chocolate chips on the dining room table.  

So, we've managed to both stay busy and relax.  Since this is our last weekend before we had in a newborn, we have nothing planned.  I'm hoping it stays that way, I am exhausted!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

37 weeks - Full Term

This is what full term looks like.  On me at least.

I agree with the new train of thought that 38 weeks should be considered full term, and all babies deserve to get to 39 weeks.

That does not mean that I am not going to celebrate this amazing milestone.  I am just about a normal pregnant lady now.  It's about darned time!

Today, there are 2 weeks left until delivery date.  I have only one more prenatal appointment.  I will be having my third full term baby.  How awesome is that?  And terrifying.  I have absolutely no idea how time has gone by so fast or how I am going to accomplish everything I need to in the next 2 weeks.  And of course, there is the possibility she can tell me that she disagrees with the day we've scheduled and wants to be born sooner than that.  Which , I wouldn't really complain about.  ;)

I had my 37 week ultrasound this morning (at 37w1d) and my weight gain is at 38 lbs.  Not too shabby.  Let's see how long before I'm back to normal.

My exam showed that my cervix is still long, closed and baby's head is not engaged.  But, my contractions are on the stronger side and were fairly consistent, even in the office.  Since they are only every 12-15 minutes apart, it's possible it's the very early stages of labor, or it's just an irritated uterus that has been down this road before.  Either way, if I go into labor before the 19th, my doctor is ready to deliver.

I'm getting pretty uncomfortable.  I have cramping just about every day.  My thighs and pretty much from my neck down is super sore all the time.  I'm exhausted, but not tired.  If that makes sense.

We're almost ready for Christmas.  I need to get one more thing for Charlotte from Santa (I decided that there really isn't much you can get a one week old from Santa, especially when she has 2 older sisters, so I am doing a basket of baby necessities, pacis, new bath stuff and so on), a few things for Kaitlyn, a few things for Dusty and then just 6 more gifts and I'm done.

Despite Samantha's best effort for us to not have any presents wrapped, I've now re-rapped most of them at least once.  Instead of making the mistake of putting them under the tree, they are now boxed up until Christmas Eve.

My bag is packed, I even made Charlotte a gown for the hospital with a matching garland to put around the bassinet in the hospital:

I have the bag for the girls packed.  I have my tubal paperwork with me at all times.  I'm hoping that I can get Christmas cards out by Friday, and shopping finished up next week.  Then, all we have to do is have a baby!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Elf on a Shelf

This year, I'll be honest, it doesn't feel that much like Christmas time yet.  Even though the house is all decorated, the Christmas lights are up outside and shopping is a little over half done.  I told Dusty I think it has a lot to do with preparing for Charlotte's arrival.

But, with only 3 weeks left until my due date, and only 16 days left until my delivery date, and the knowledge that I could easily go sooner than that, I'm tired, sore and feel like a gross, waddling penguin most days with no desire to put on anything other than sweats 10 times too big.  My feet hurt, I'm swollen, I have heartburn and I just cannot battle the mall and craft fairs and so on right now.  I feel terrible for it, but I just do not have the physical energy.

To make up for it, I plan on doing twice as much next year (yeah, we'll see how that goes with a 1, 3 and 9 year old...) and introducing Elf on a Shelf to our family.  I figure it would be Christmas magic I could add without leaving the house and walking excessively.

Originally, I planned on bringing the elf in the day after Thanksgiving.  That's when we usually do our Christmas decorating.  But, Thanksgiving was so early this year, and Dusty thinks it's ridiculous to decorate before December.  So, I opted to wait it out a little.  We would decorate on Saturday the first and the Elf could arrive on the 2nd.  Sure, not a traditional day, but oh well.  It works for our family.

I had a long list scheduled of what the elf would do each morning.  It included a lot of cool photo ops and factored in the fact that it had to be left higher than Samantha can reach.

Yeah, what I didn't count on would be the fact that for the last several nights, I'm still fighting to get Samantha to sleep at midnight, even when naps are skipped and she is sufficiently tired.  She just hates to actually go to sleep.  I also didn't factor in the fact that she would take such an interest in ripping open the presents under the tree, or that Kaitlyn would be feeling so dramatic the last few days or how much decorating would wear me out.  Who would have thought that putting 90% of the ornaments on the tree before realizing you put on the wrong lights and having to then weave out those lights and put up the new ones, in addition to decorating the other "main" rooms of the house would be so freaking exhausting.

Luckily, I had already typed out the letter a few days in advance, the elf had already been delivered and all I had to do the first night was stick it in the tree, put out the letter, some paper, the book and some new jammies and I could go to bed.

This is day 1:

Our letter:

Which reads:

Dear Kaitlyn and Samantha,

Every year, I pick some of my favorite, although sometimes naughty elves to spend the holiday season with  different families.  These elves are just learning about Christmas and really need your help.  They help me by  keeping really good notes about your behavior, and you help them by teaching them about the magic of Christmas time.  You also help by setting good examples of how we should behave all year long.

Since the elves I send do not know a lot about people or about Christmas, they are not always that great about staying safe. I really need both of you to help me keep this little elf safe and sound!  One way to keep the elf safe is to make sure you never, ever even think about touching the elf.  Touching him will cause him to lose some of his magic and then he will not be able to fly around every night to make his reports about how you are doing.  This would make your elf very sad indeed.  Elves are very shy  little creatures  when he knows you’re awake.   His voice is so soft and he is just a young one at almost 475 years old!  Can you believe his birthday is December 10th? He will not talk to you, but he may leave
you notes if you make him feel at home enough.

I decided to send Jinx the elf down to be a part of your family.  I chose Jinx for a few very special reasons.  I’ve watched you both all year and have had so much fun watching the both of you grow and go on so many adventures.  Jinx loves reading and being read to.  His favorite foods are marshmallows and apples.  He really likes the Bubble Guppies and is known to get into some tight spaces in order to make sure he can see everything.

On Christmas Eve, Jinx will come back home with me after I leave your home.  If Jinx has a really good time, he  might be able to come back next year!  I can’t wait to see you both at the end of the month and to meet your new baby sister!  I sent down a book all about Jinx and some new pajamas for each of you!  I  hope you remember to mind your manners,keep your rooms clean and be nice to your mommy, daddy, each other and all of your family and friends so Jinx has a good report to give back!  I can’t wait to get your Christmas letters!  I sent some of my special stationary down with Jinx so you can get started on those letters!  Merry Christmas girls!

Our Elf this morning:

Kaitlyn has enjoyed looking for him.  But, she says she only believes it about 50%.  She says it just doesn't make any sense.  She wants to know why it doesn't blink, why it doesn't move throughout the day, and how it can go an entire day without eating.

I am probably going to have him write a letter saying he's embarassed but sleeps with his eyes open, like Kaitlyn and Samantha both do, he's nocturnal, as most elves are and see how that helps.  Samantha does not care at all about him.  Which, I figured.  Samantha did write all over the letter Kaitlyn started to Santa, which led to her bawling and explaining she was taking Samantha's paper so now Samantha can't write a letter.  Which means I'm going to print out more paper.

Kaitlyn is also having a hard time understanding why Santa cannot make Monster High Dolls.  I explained they are trademarked and Santa has building elves and shopping elves.  The shopping elves buy the things they aren't allowed to make.  This all started because she wants a particular Monster High Doll.  A doll that normally goes for $20 (which, I already think is excessive) that is hard to find anywhere (regardless of Target's website and App saying it's in stock, the store clerk saying they have it in their hands and getting there to discover they are lying bastards who do not care that your belly is ginormous and the last thing you want to do is drive to every one, get a 2 year old in and out of her car seat only to discover they do not have it) and therefore selling online for $100-200.  Um, no thanks.  This Santa is not spending that much on a doll.  A doll she may not even care about in 6 months.

So, here's hoping Samantha goes to sleep at a decent hour tonight so I can get caught up on my sleep and get the energy to do something a little more creative...