Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I have wheels.

The case of the missing keys is closed. Not solved, but closed. In fact, I'd like the file sealed permanently. You see, we had the van towed to town today, and we had the dealership make us two new keys. We don't get a keyless entry remote. That would have been an extra $300, apparently. So we just have two keys. And now that Mike has wasted nearly a whole day sitting around town waiting for the keys to be made, and we have spent a ridiculous sum of money replacing something that should never have gone missing, I don't ever want to find the missing keys. You see, my sanity may just completely dissolve if I turn around this afternoon and find that they are sitting somewhere in plain sight, mocking me. If we spent over a week searching for them and did not find them, I don't ever want to find them. I want them to be so well hidden that there is no way we could have avoided spending the money to replace them. Well, other than avoiding them getting stolen in the first place. But even that is a stretch. It seems that nothing is safe in this house, or even in this yard. There is nothing our boys cannot get to. It reminds me of the movie Ocean's 11. They broke into the most highly secure casino imaginable, but they did it. Any barrier can be broken. Any security can be breached. Nothing is impossible. My boys have taught me that.

I suppose the good news is that the van is home and is now drivable. That means I'm slightly less trapped than I have been for the last week. Slightly. Lauren has me pretty tied down right now. If she isn't eating, she wants to be held, so I can't get much done. The boys are testing me and fighting each other, and it is a challenge. In fact, I'm not doing that well at it, to be honest. The house is still a disaster, and not for a lack of effort on my part. But imagine having several hours' worth of work to do and only a handful of five minute increments to do it in. That's what it's like with a young baby. Yesterday I was proud of myself because I decided to "wear" her. ("Baby wearing" is a fancy term for using a sling, wrap or other baby carrier to strap your baby to yourself and go about your daily life carrying the baby, but with your hands free to do other things. I'm not sure why there is now a term for it, as people have been doing this for decades and I'm pretty sure even centuries. But it's a very trendy thing to be doing these days, and people who do it refer to themselves as "baby-wearing" moms, or dads.) Anyway, I have a carrier called a Trekker, which I have had since I had Cody. None of my babies liked it when they were young, and perhaps that is why I have never been one to constantly wear my babies. But yesterday I had to, so I got out the Trekker and put Lauren in. I was met with instant resistance. She did not like it, and so I got to listen to her scream into my face as I tried to make cookie dough. Eventually, she fell asleep against my chest. It was very cute, actually. But, all good things must come to an end. I had to take her out because I could not have her in there when I was putting cookies in and out of a hot oven. I tried to move her carefully, but she woke up and was once again hysterical, which meant it was then time to feed her. I baked one pan of the cookies before that happened, and then I had to feed her while the hot oven sat empty. Sigh.

I love my baby, and I love holding her. But there is always a certain element of guilt when I sit around doing nothing, watching my house get messier and messier. That's where you're at an advantage with your first baby. If you have to sit around holding the baby all day, but you have no other kids, there is nobody running around adding to the disaster, which means that you don't get further and further behind. Sure, you might fall behind on the dishes, and maybe you don't make any delicious meals for your husband when he gets home from work. I haven't made supper in months. Wait, that's not totally true. Twice since Lauren was born I tried to make lasagna, but both times Mike ended up having to take over because I needed to feed her. Once I made pizza dough, but Mike did the rest, including rolling it on the pans (the worst part), and doing all the toppings and the actual cooking. I made a roast once. But all I did was put it in the oven. Mike did the rest, including the potatoes, the gravy, and carving the roast.

You see? I am tied down. But now I have wheels, and even though realistically I will still be just as useless as I have been this last four weeks. (Or more like two months.) But now I can go get the mail if I want to, or just go for a drive. I have to take four kids with me, because Mike is too busy to watch them right now. But with the van, that is actually possible. So I am just a tiny bit less trapped than I was, and for now, that's enough.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

CSI Manitoba

Being a desperate house-mom is a multi-dimensional experience. It may sound like a simple job, but don't be fooled. Sure, we have our stereotypical duties. Clean the house. Make the meals. Take care of the kids. Keep track of all things school-related. Those are simple tasks. Not easy, but simple to understand. What they don't tell you is that this position requires police training. That's right, the proficient house-mom has extensive skills in negotiation techniques. But I have discovered that negotiation skills are not enough. Interrogation techniques must be acquired and mastered and one must become a full-fledged detective. Apparently I am no Nancy Drew. I currently have multiple investigations open. The top priority right now is the case of the missing van keys. Several false confessions have been obtained by an innocent looking three year old. Looks can be deceiving. We have followed all leads and so far have met with nothing but dead ends. The interrogations continue, but no new evidence has been uncovered and this is fast becoming a cold case.

We have a new division here in our investigations. Perhaps I will begin posting these cases as they happen, in case the general public is able to assist me in any way with their resolution. Don't get all excited. This is not crime stoppers. I will not pay anyone for the information leading to the resolution of a case. I will, however, pay handsomely for my van keys. So here are photos of our outstanding CSI cases.

This first one happened several months ago and may be the most disturbing crime scene I have come across yet. We have a suspect but no leads so far and as such, no arrest has been made. The  following is the scene I discovered in my kitchen on March 9, 2012. This is not for the faint of heart. Here it is.

We are not yet sure of the perpetrator's intention in this gruesome act. Was he sending a message? Was he craving a snack? Or did he just feel like slaying a potato that day? One thing is for sure. We have ruled out an accident. This crime was definitely deliberate. Ironically, though the kitchen is covered in fingerprints, we have not been able to prove who the culprit is, so this spud remains unavenged, and probably will remain so for all eternity unless the sicko turns himself in. 

You see? My sleuthing skills are no good. I have a case from March that is as yet unresolved, not to mention the terrible case of the missing keys, which is only four days old, but way too old for a case of its nature. And now I have a new crime scene from this morning. Once again, this one was committed by someone who is psychologically...uh, not average. According to my training in profiling, this one could easily have been committed by the same perpetrator as the terminated tuber. Again, the motive behind this crime is a mystery. Was it another message? Was it done as a work of art? Or was this one the result of sheer boredom? All good questions with no answers. Though not as disturbing as the previous pictures, these are certainly odd. Here is a look at the scene I found in my boys' bedroom this morning. 

Sort of reminds me of Sid, the evil neighbour kid in Toy Story. I don't know whether to be concerned that one of them takes pleasure in torturing inanimate objects, or to buy him a wind chime for his next birthday. Either way, I need to hone my policing skills. I may not be able to change the world, but maybe I could at least make this house a safer place, at least for the non-living items among us. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Everybody loves a good mystery...

True or false? Does everybody indeed love a good mystery? I suppose there is at least an element of truth in that statement. As a child, I read the Bobbsey Twins books, and Trixie Beldon, and a few Nancy Drew ones as well. (For some reason I didn't get into those as much. I might have tried them out when I was too young. Who knows?) Anyway, yes, I enjoyed them. And I love a good suspense movie or book, as long as it is not too graphically violent. I'm a wimp about violence, particularly since becoming a mother. So why do we love mysteries? Maybe it's because it forces us to exercise our brains. Or maybe it's because we are always hungry for answers, and there is something satisfying about uncovering the truth.

I will tell you what is not satisfying. A mystery that has no answer. Or at least a mystery that cannot be solved, even if the answer is out there somewhere. That's what we are facing here in our home today. I doubt very much that words can adequately express the levels of frustration, anxiety, anger and complete hopelessness that has accompanied our lovely little mystery. Here's what happened.

This morning, I decided I would go on an outing. I was going to drive to the ghost town where we pick up our mail. It was to be a quick outing, but a satisfying one for me, given that I was going to go alone. Completely alone. Picking up the mail is about the only thing I can do completely alone these days because it only takes about half an hour total, sometimes only twenty minutes, so there is no worry about Lauren needing me before I can return. So yes, I was excited about my little excursion. I decided to let Cody come along, as he had done some major cleaning for me earlier in the morning and his brothers did not lift a finger to help, even though I asked them to. I was in a hurry, as a flood inspector was coming to re-assess our place in light of my appeal of their decision to deny us assistance.

I wanted to drive the Subaru, because it's kind of symbolic of independence. It's not the family vehicle, if you know what I'm saying. But Mike told me the Subaru was at the farm, where he left it yesterday when he went there to pick up our tractor. (It was there having some work done.) Well, okay. My "just me", non-family-vehicle excursion was now me and my firstborn, in a minivan, but still it was a break from the house and some of the chaos. I couldn't find the van keys, so we went out to the van to see if they were in there. They were not.

At this point, I was mildly annoyed. I was working with a time limit, knowing that Lauren was going to be hungry in a matter of about ten minutes. I went inside and searched the usual places. The key rack. Nope. Well, that's not too unusual. We can't use our key rack because our boys steal the keys and go into the vehicles. Scary. So I looked in the next place we keep the keys, which is on our bookshelf, ironically, on top of my Trixie Beldon books. Nope. Okay, I searched the top of our dresser in our room. No keys. By this time, I was getting upset. I could see the minutes ticking by, and with them, my opportunity to get out of the house. We began a thorough search. Half an hour later, no keys, and no outing. I knew it was too late. We looked all over the kitchen counters, behind the TV, in the couch cushions, under our bed, under the boys' beds. Nothing. We searched the inside of the van, knowing the boys love to sneak in there. Perhaps I had left the keys in the ignition on Saturday. I don't do that, but what if I did? We did determine that I was the last one to drive the van, so the responsibility pretty much rested on my head.

We interrogated our boys. Cody, being six and much more mature than his brothers, was quickly eliminated as a suspect. He understood the dire nature of our situation and was eager to find the keys. Jamie and Micah were more challenging. Our barrage of questions was met with unsatisfactory answers. First, denial of any involvement. Jamie was adamant that he had nothing to do with the keys and that he was not in the van yesterday. His eyes did not look innocent, but sometimes Jamie looks guilty when accused even when he is not. After many questions and asking the same question in a million different ways, I decided to believe him. Micah was next. He started with denial as well, and then quickly shifted gears to blame. Jamie did it. Hm. That sounded promising. If Micah is blaming someone else (usually Jamie), it means he did it. Good. We began asking him where the keys were. He kept saying the same thing over and over again. They were under the ground hiding in the sandbox. Really? He buried our keys in the sand? The thought was disturbing, seeing they were attached to a keyless remote entry thingy. (I'm sorry, I don't remember the technical term.) We began digging through the sandbox. We did not find the keys. We checked the other two sand box areas. (Our land is pure sand, by the way.) Wow. No keys.

The inspector came and went. Lunch came and went. On and on we searched. We began looking in the same places over and over again. Through every pocket of my purse. Through every pocket of the diaper bag. The key rack. The book shelf. The dresser. The kitchen. Not surprisingly, the keys were still not in those places. So we began looking in more silly places. My underwear drawer. The change table. The garbage that had been taken outside yesterday. The camera case. The cedar chest at the end of our bed that gets opened approximately once every six months. Inside the boys' shoes. Nothing.

The search has been on, more or less, since 10:30 a.m. It is now 7:30 p.m. Nine hours, and still no keys. Mike even drove the Echo (which was devoid of any van keys) to the farm to check inside the Subaru, after Micah changed his confession to say that he had put them in there. Nothing.

So, it seems we simply have no van keys anymore. We bought it used and it came with only one set. This means we have no vehicle. No family vehicle, anyway, so only one adult can leave the premises at once, and never with all the kids. It also means the only way to get a new key is to call a tow truck to come all the way from the city out here (40 minutes each way) and have our van pulled to the Toyota dealership, where they will charge us exorbitant amounts of money to reprogram a new keyless remote thingy, and create a new key for us. This will cost hundreds of dollars. At least. And the sick part is, after spending that money, we could come home, lift up some random toy somewhere and go, "Oh! There it is!"

I am so utterly fried by this situation I am barely coping. This is just another blow to the bank account. And it's stupid. And it's my fault, somehow, because I was the last one to touch the keys. And I either left them in the ignition, or I put them somewhere obscure, or I left them out where the boys could find them. I feel like a complete loser. In fact, in this particular situation, that's exactly what I am. A loser. Because that's what I did. I lost them. And this is not like losing a sock, or a toothbrush, or something inexpensive and replaceable. No. This is going to be a very expensive loss, unless we can find the keys in the next few hours. And frankly, I'm sick of searching.

So, I have decided that mysteries are overrated. In fact, I think I hate them. Or maybe it's just that this one is not a "good mystery". Either way, I think I'll pass.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Lauren is now twelve days old. I feel like time is flying already. It feels like only a few days ago that she was born, likely because our hospital stay was extended longer than usual. I'm happy to report that Lauren is doing very well, eating, sleeping, gaining weight...and yesterday for the first time since arriving home she pooped. Haha. We were getting quite concerned, as it had been eight days, but it seems she is on track now.

I am slowly getting better too. No more fevers, and my antibiotics are now done. I am still very tired, which is normal too for this stage, but I am maybe a touch weaker than I would be if not for the low hemoglobin. Our nights are not too horrible. She usually only wakes up twice to eat, and as long as she settles easily afterwards, we do all right. Last night was not a good one. Lauren was good, but Micah was in our room literally five times, complaining of nightmares and then simply not being able to sleep after that. I think he is feeling really insecure right now. He has not stopped whining all morning so far today. I am feeling sorry for him and wondering if he needs a really good cuddle.

As for me, I could use a good outing. We did go to the library yesterday, for the first time in three years. That's right, the last time I had a membership there was right before and right after Micah was born. Shortly after that I stopped going because it was too hard to chase Jamie (19 months old then) and carry a baby around too. Going to the library is an exercise in containment. I would not go without another adult, unless somehow I went completely alone. Now that I have four kids, going anywhere completely alone is bound to be a rare occurrence at best. So we all went together. Mike started with the boys in the kids' book section, and I was there too. Then I snuck off to find books for myself. This is a very small town library, so it should not be overwhelming, but for me it is. The adult fiction books are all lumped into one section. There is no dividing it into categories like suspense, drama...etc. So if you don't know what authors you like, it's pretty overwhelming to just start scanning the many shelves at random. I did manage to snatch four books up before Lauren had a diaper issue and Mike had to take her out to the van, where we left her diaper bag, to change her. At that time, I was back on containment duty.

And so ended our trip to the library. I figured four books was still something of a victory for me, and they should certainly occupy me for a little while. I should have gone to the library when I was still pregnant, but no matter. I have some reading material now, and a brand new membership that should be good for a year. The boys were thrilled to get some books to read too, so all in all the trip was well worth it.

But I'd like to go somewhere else. I'd like to go to a lake somewhere. Somewhere beautiful and quiet, that smells fresh like pine trees and clean air. What I wouldn't give to breathe the air at the top of the mountain again like last summer. That was the best air ever. But a serene, secluded lake would be so nice right now too. I miss Lake of the Woods. I have not been there in seven years. That is just too long. When all our kids are older, even just a little older, we will do trips like we did last summer, on a regular basis. I look forward to that. For now, I will have to try to at least exit the house a few times a week. Hopefully that will be enough to keep me sane and ward off depression.

I'll end with a few more pictures of Lauren. In the first one, Cody is holding her. This is a frequent occurrence these days. He always wants to hold her, whether she is happy or wailing. It's very sweet.

These next three were taken last night, at 11 days old. She is wearing a sleeper that two of her brothers wore. It is very cozy and sweet, one of my favourites. Cody never wore it as we got it when Jamie was a baby. She is too big for newborn size, because she is so long! But 0-3 months is working, so she at least has a little bit of a wardrobe to work with.

On that note, I'm signing off for now.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A New Family Member!

It has been over a week since I have posted in here. Of course a lot has happened since then. On Monday, July 30th, at 10 days overdue (7 days overdue according to my original due date, which they suddenly started using), I went to the doctor. It was a different doctor than I had previously been seeing, as mine was away on holidays. The doctor gave me a report that pretty much said there was no way I was having the baby any time soon. I left in tears, discouraged and extremely, extremely uncomfortable. That night, as it would happen, I went into labour.

I don't think I'm going to share the entire labour story in here. I will give the condensed version. I was woken up all night by painful contractions until just before 3 a.m. when I decided to stay awake and start timing them a bit. (I did drift to sleep between them.) They were ten minutes apart. After two hours of this, we called Mike's dad who came to stay with our boys and we headed to town to the hospital. It was confirmed there I was indeed in labour and my water was very ready to break. I was only 5 cm dilated but they figured it would happen very quickly once the doctor broke my water. He did so at 9:30 a.m. Things went downhill from there.

Though my labour progressed in intensity and pain, my body did not progress any further, and my baby refused to descend at all. By 2 p.m. this was cause for concern. We needed to make sure baby was coming out because there was meconium (newborn baby poop) in the water when they broke it. That's dangerous for the baby. Anyway, they got an obstetrician involved and he asked me to get an epidural to see if that would relax my body enough for the baby to get into the right position. Everyone figured once that happened, it would be a speedy delivery. I agreed to the epidural.

Let me just say that my second and third births were done with no epidurals and that is the way I prefer it. I tried one with my first, but it failed, so it was a miserable experience. This time, to my great surprise, the epidural actually worked. It was administered around 3:30 p.m. By then I was in terrible pain, completely exhausted and very discouraged knowing all the work I was doing was not doing a darn thing to bring me closer to birth. The epidural brought such complete relief I was in awe. I finally dozed off a little and drifted in and out of shallow sleep for a while. It was a balm to my body and my nerves. So I understand now those who sing the praises of the epidural. I really didn't want it, but my labour was never supposed to be as long and difficult as it ended up being, so it really was a blessing in the end.

A lot of this is blurred and I don't have my times straight, but here's the gist of the rest. I was told if this epidural didn't do the trick (they used an I.V. to administer oxytocin as well to increase the frequency and intensity of my contractions), I would have to have a c-section. That was my worst fear. (Other than losing the baby, of course.) I was very upset and cried at that news. Every time they came to check on my progress it was the same. I was 7 cm dilated and baby was not descending. At 6 p.m. they agreed to wait until 8 p.m. and then make a decision. At 8 p.m. my doctor returned and I still was between 7-8 cm. The baby had come down a little, but not nearly enough. He decided to give me another hour. By then my epidural was no longer doing anything for the pain and I was in the worst agony trying to make it through the contractions. Just before 9 p.m. I had the urge to push and I told the nurse. I thought I'd be fully dilated for sure and the head would be right there, but no. Still at 8 cm and the baby was high. I was so upset. I just wanted the doctors to return and just do the c-section already because I couldn't take any more. My doctor returned shortly after 9 p.m. and checked me. He confirmed what the nurse said, I was at about a 9. They told him I was pushing involuntarily so he decided to let me try pushing. I cried with relief at that point. I did my very best, at my most exhausted ever, to push that baby out, and I did it. At 9:52 p.m., our baby girl was finally born. Her name is Lauren, and she was my biggest baby yet at 10 pounds, 4 ounces and 23 1/2 inches long. (Oh, and contrary to what one might assume, I did not require any kind of episiotomy, nor did I tear at all.) I could not believe she was that big.

I would have updated all of that sooner, but the day after Lauren was born something went wrong with me. I started having violent, out-of-control shaking along with high fevers. They found out my hemoglobin was down to 76 (normal is 140-160) and I had to have a blood transfusion. That lasted all night the night after her birth. I assumed I would be better after that, but I was not. The fevers and shakes continued. My hemoglobin went up to 92, which was better, but not great. The next day it was back down to 85. It has been a very scary and emotional time as we have tried to get me better and get me home. On Friday we begged the doctor to discharge us as my nurses had seemingly grown sick of me and ignored me all that day. I was not getting any treatment in the hospital, so why would we stay there in extremely uncomfortable quarters, away from our boys? The doctor agreed and I had to return the next day (yesterday) to the hospital for another blood test. I did, and it is now at 86, so very, very low, but I am considered stable, so I am home with my family. I will be checked again Tuesday morning, provided I don't have an emergency before then. I am feeling better, but it is disconcerting to know I am hovering on the brink of needing a second blood transfusion.

Our week has been difficult, but we love our little Lauren. The boys are smitten with her. We all are. I will try to post some pictures of her.

Here's Jamie with his long-awaited sister in the hospital.

And Cody, whose first comment was "I can't believe we finally have our first sister!" Mike and I quickly amended that she was their ONLY sister.

Jamie with Lauren at home finally.

And Micah, adoring her too.

This was taken today when she was having some awake time.

Hopefully I will have more fun posts soon. I will be tired for a long time, so I might be absent some more. But this is our little complete family!