A couple of the best moments of my day were at the very beginning and the very end… Waking up to my 3 babies snuggling into bed with me this morning was great. I’m so thankful for our not having to rush around getting ready from the moment we wake up. Morning snuggle time rocks! Then tonight, hearing my 2 year old pray on his own before bed… “Dear God, Thank you (for this) day. Thank (for) Daddy. Thank you (for) Mommy. Thank you (for) Mia. Thank you (for) Sean. Thank you (for) Kai-Kai. Thank you (for) Mommy. Thank you (for) Daddy. (In) Jesus name, Amen.” He (leaves out) a few words here and there, but I’m sure he’s being understood. It was also cool that he was feeling double thankful for Mommy and Daddy. 🙂 So thankful for our family!
My Grandma Peny lived a full 88 years. On September 5th, we received a call that she had suffered a massive stroke and that there was very little chance of recovery since her brain was continuing to bleed. She didn’t want to be hooked up to any tubes or machines, so the hospital staff did a wonderful job of keeping her comfortable until she passed away in her sleep early in the morning on September 10th.
The day after we heard of her stroke, the kids and I boarded an Amtrak train and headed to Kansas. Our train ride lasted approximately 17 hours. We arrived in Lawrence, Kansas early on September 7th. After settling in at my relatives’ house, we headed to the hospital to see Grandma. Before we walked into her room, I was a little worried since I didn’t know what to expect when I saw her. We walked into the room and she immediately started waving her right hand for us to come nearer to her. She was so happy to see us! She was still the same Grandma as ever, except she couldn’t talk and no longer had use of her left side. She greeted me with a sweet pinch on my cheek and pulled me closer for a kiss. She greeted the kids with the same, except for Kai… she also had to get in some pinches on his cute chubby thighs. The kids got to sing to her, and she saw how Kai would dance whenever we would sing the song she taught them. She even would try to smile and talk a little that day. We spent 3 days going back and forth from my Uncle and Aunt’s house to the hospital to be with Grandma Peny. During those days, more relatives made their way to town to say their goodbyes and tell her how much we all loved her. As each day passed, we could see her getting more and more distant as the bleeding in her brain progressed. By Sunday, she was no longer waking up… just resting peacefully. During all those days, her hospital room was constantly filled with family. All of us in there laughing and crying, talking, and reminiscing. The sounds of her great grand kids laughing, playing and sometimes crying. It was like our last family reunion, but in Grandma’s hospital room. I guess in a way it was our last family reunion with her here.
The hospital staff was wonderful. They made sure that we had everything we needed. They kept us fed, kept us informed, and kept us comfortable. There were A LOT of us there, so it was no easy task. They commented on how it was so nice to see so much family there for Grandma in her last days. It really was a blessing to get to say goodbye and tell her how much we loved her, and how thankful we were to her for everything that she had done for us. So many times, we miss out on that kind of “closure” when our dear ones pass away.
For her memorial service, Grandma wanted us to celebrate her life. While there were still some tears, there was also some laughter, poetry readings, and some singing. Grandma had written a poem that told of everything that she wanted at her funeral and burial. That was Grandma… always in a poetic mood. She wanted “How Great Thou Art” to be sung at the closing of the memorial service. That was her favorite hymn. She even wrote down the particular verses that she wanted us to sing. She wanted 6 doves to be released at her burial. After calling around to some local pet stores, my Aunt found out that 6 doves were not that easy to come by. Something funny happened when she called one of the stores. She told the person at one pet shop that she needed the doves for a funeral. They said that if she wanted that many, she should have called the week before. In the nicest way possible, my Aunt told them that she didn’t know that her Mom was going to die, otherwise she would have called earlier. I know that is something that Grandma Peny would have gotten a kick out of. 🙂 So since we had no real doves, my cousin Joyce made origami doves. The doves were attached to some green balloons (another request of Grandma’s was that everyone release a green balloon at her burial) and released into the sky that way. She wanted 6 doves, one for each of her kids. After the doves flew away, the rest of us released green balloons into the sky. The great grand kids put red roses on her casket, and some of us also put origami tulips on top as well. Grandma was always making origami bouquets or cranes for people. After the funeral, we all headed back to my Aunts house for a fish boil. That was another one of Grandma’s favorites… fish. If you ever spoke to her about eating fish, I’m sure she was happy to offer up the fact that the fish eyes were her favorite part, and that she saved them for her “dessert”. She loved fish heads.
My Grandma really lived an incredible life. She was a teacher in the Philippines, until she retired. After that, she moved to the USA and taught in Wisconsin until she retired again. How many people do you know who have retired twice? She also LOVED to travel. She traveled all 50 states in the US before she began traveling abroad. In her international travels, she managed to visit every continent except Antarctica.
My mom and I had the pleasure of traveling with her to New Zealand and Australia in 1999. She had originally invited just my mom, but the 2 of them let me tag along as well. Actually, I told my mom that she couldn’t go unless I could go too. It was always my dream to go to Australia. I got to live my dream and share it with my mom and Grandma. I’m very thankful that we got to share that trip together. We were known among our tour group as “The 3 G’s”… The 3 generations.
My Grandma was also a poet and author. She wrote her memoirs, and wrote books filled with her poetry and compiled quotations from various sources.. She wrote a poem for each of her grandchildren. She even wrote a poem about my cat, Callie. The 2 of them were buddies. They shared a love of fish, and Callie loved it whenever grandma would come visit us.
I didn’t get to grow up living close to my Grandma. She lived in Wisconsin while I lived in Virginia and New Mexico while growing up. I didn’t really know her well when I was younger since we didn’t get to visit very often. But I knew she loved me. I don’t remember any birthdays passing without receiving a card from her. She would always enclose a check for the amount of your age. I loved that. As an adult, I got to know her better. She spent a few winters with us in New Mexico to escape the cold winters in Wisconsin. She said she was like a bird that would migrate south for the winter.
She started my LOVE of Scrabble. I learned so many new scrabble words from her. My favorite is “JO”… it means “sweetheart”. She had a great vocabulary due to the fact that she was ALWAYS doing crossword puzzles. When she would visit us, she would sit in the recliner and do her puzzles. Anytime that she got up, she would stash her pen in the crossword book, and then put the book between the recliner cushion and the armrest. I used to get annoyed at that because the pen would poke out and make pen marks on the furniture. Thinking about that makes me laugh now. I think I will start stashing crossword books and pens in between the furniture cushion.
Every morning, she would greet us with, “Good morning pretty rosebud! I pray you tell me true… to be as sweet as a red rose, what must a body do?” And we would have to reply, “grow and grow and grow!”.
New Mexico has great skies for most of the year. Whenever it was a cloudless day and we would go outside, Grandma would dramatically sweep her hand through the air to draw attention to the sky, and proclaim, “Not a cloud in the sky!”. Even if she did it everyday of her visit, she would do it. Nathan and I still say that to each other.
I think about my Grandma everyday. I miss her so much. Things happen in my life and I still think, “I should write Grandma to tell her about that… she’d like that story.” She loved her family to no end. She was generous with all she had, and to all around her. She was brave to come to a new country alone to try to establish a life so that she could bring her kids here so that they would have a better life. She taught us the importance of getting an education, and always said that it was something that no one could take away from you. Even after retiring, she was always learning something new. Tai Chi, Yoga, Singing lessons… you name it. She enjoyed life and loved to try new things.
She and I took singing lessons together back in 2003. I have a fear of singing in public, so the recital that we performed in together was pretty much the end of my singing career. We sang, “Goodnight, My Someone” as a duet at the recital. I still sing that song to my kids at bedtime.
My Grandma Peny was really, really cool. I may not have always known it, but I’m glad I figured it out eventually. There’s so much more I could say about her… the stories about her hiding in the Philippine jungle from the Japanese during the war… yeah, she did that, and so much more. I’m so glad she was such an avid writer because I get to read her memoirs and poems and rediscover what an incredible woman she was. She recorded our family’s history, and how our family came to be in the United States. If she wasn’t so brave, she would have never come to the US. Then my mom wouldn’t have come later and she and my dad may not have ever met, and I wouldn’t be here now… So thanks, Grandma! 🙂
Happy 4th of July!!! Unfortunately, we live somewhere with extreme wildfire danger, so we aren’t allowed to set off any “fun” fireworks. We plan on watching a city firework display at my in-laws house tomorrow night. It will be a good view, but the actual display is a little ways off, so you don’t get to feel that “boom” rattle your bones… I LOVE that. 🙂 Some of my best summer memories were watching fireworks near the waterfront in VA… seeing the fireworks and the reflection over the water is wonderful!!! I always miss living in Virginia Beach whenever it’s time for fireworks. Hurricane season… not so much. And the mosquitoes… totally don’t miss those! If NM was beachfront, it would be the perfect state for me… it’s hot in summer, cold in winter, mountains with snowboarding/hiking/camping, not many skeeters, there’s the Rio Grande, big lakes… Anyways, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, Happy 4th of July, Everyone!
This year has flown by so far and most of it has been a big sleep deprived blur to me. I’m so thankful for pictures because without them, I’d probably think I was just nursing a baby for the whooooole first half of the year. Oh wait, I mostly was… but no pictures of that… that would be weird.
Kai is now 9 months old. He’s on the verge of walking!!! He has actually taken a step and a half in recent days. Not long now, then it’s serious baby chasing time. He’s still not sleeping through the night. DON’T recommend letting him cry himself to sleep to me. The other night, I forgot to turn on the baby monitor, so I didn’t hear him wake up during the night. I slept really well, until 7, when I noticed it was light outside. I went to Kai’s room and I heard him whimper crying with that hyper ventilating “sniff, sniff”. Now keep in mind, he pretty much ALWAYS wakes up at 3:30 am or 4 am every night. Poor thing had probably been crying for HOURS… and never once did it occur to him to just go back to sleep. I picked him up and nursed him, and he was knocked out so quickly because he was so exhausted… Yep, I pretty much felt like the worst Mommy EVER. His poor little voice was hoarse that day. 🙁
Sean and I are still finishing up 2nd grade in our homeschool… we AREN’T running late. We follow a round the year schedule where we school for 6 weeks, then take a week off. This way, it allows for vacations throughout the year during non-peak times, and reduces our burn out. Plus, we (meaning I) don’t have to suffer through so much stinky review after 2 months of brain coma during a summer vacation. We should finish around early or mid August, then have 2 to 3 weeks off before beginning 3rd grade.
Mia will be starting pre-K this Fall. She turned 3 in January, and has been asking to “do” school. I originally planned on waiting until she was 4 to start, but I think I should take advantage of her enthusiasm. I’m a little skeered to start schooling 2 kiddos! I’m sure it will take some tweaking of our schedule to figure it out… By that, I mean I’ll probably really have to come up with a schedule and stick to it.
So yeah, it’s July! It’s mine and Nathan’s birthday month (We share the same birthday, yes we do!) and both our mommies have b-days this month too. Ugh… I’m turning 35 this month… I’m ALMOST old. I remember thinking my mommy was old when she was 36… SORRY MOM!!! That’s pretty funny, because anyone who knows my mom, knows that she will never grow
up old. 🙂 Love you, Mom!!!
Again, Happy Independence Day, America! Everyone please be safe, don’t start fires, enjoy those fireworks, and eat lots of hamburgers and hot dogs!!!
Things are starting to settle down after getting home from the hospital on 9/16. Almost 2 weeks after the birth of Kai, I’m starting to feel more like myself again and not have too much pain from the surgery. I’m weaning myself off the pain meds, and actually I was able to go most of the day without a problem. Nathan goes back to work on Monday. I’m a little nervous to be all by myself with the kids! Nathan has been so wonderful taking care of both me and the kiddos while he’s been home. I wuv him soo much!
We’ve gone to the hospital lactation clinic a couple times this weeks due to Kai’s weight issues during that first week. As of today, he is only 1.5 ounces shy of his birth weight and is gaining very well. I no longer need to supplement him with formula either, so I’m pretty happy about that. The first week he was born, the docs were concerned that he lost almost 10% of his birth weight. They even had us stay 2 extra nights because of it. 10% is the cut off of where they suspect there may be an “issue”, so when we left the hospital, I was instructed to nurse him and supplement with formula as needed. Our latest appointment was today and he has gained more weight this week than they had anticipated, and he is nursing just fine. After doing some research and talking to the lactation consultant, I learned that when a mom receives lots of IV fluids before a c-section, this can also raise the amount of fluids the baby gets as well. So after birth, the baby no longer needs all the extra fluid and promptly pees it out. Hence a rapid loss of weight. So it can appear that the baby is getting dehydrated and not getting enough to eat (based solely on weight), when in fact the baby is just fine and had just gotten rid of water weight. I think this is what happened with Kai. When we went in for the surgery, they put an IV in first thing, but we ended having to wait almost 6 hours before the surgery due to 2 emergency c-sections popping up unexpectedly. During that time, they had been pumping me full of fluids. So there you have it.
In other news, My hubby and I will be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary next week on the 29th! It’s been a wonderful 10 years. The traditional 10 year anniversary gifts are tin and aluminum, so perhaps we will be exchanging these as gifts. Actually, we said we won’t exchange gifts because, really, how can you top a new baby as a gift?? 🙂 Or maybe we’ll make tin foil hats for the whole family.
I’ve been terrible about writing on here lately because Facebook status updates are just so much easier and quick. But sometimes, you need more than 420 characters to get your thoughts out. Or so you think. Nathan already blogged about pretty mych everything I was going to say about our weekend… So here ya go. Yep, hard to believe that Sean’s already old enough to lose his first tooth! Where did all the time go? Time went really slow while he was a little one and wasn’t sleeping through the night yet, but after that, it’s like time has sped up soooo much!
Aside from that, we’ve been keeping busy with school. Sean is zooming along through 1st grade. He also just started a homeschool PE and Art class through our local County run community center. We had initially started a PE class through UNM, but he quickly got bored with that because they didn’t have them doing anything really fun, plus, we had to pay for parking every week which added up, and didn’t make all that much sense for just 30 to 45 minutes. Oh yeah, and it was really early in the morning. This new class starts just after lunch, and is offered 2 days a week instead of just 1, and it’s only $10 a month. Good deal.
Mia is now 21 months old. She’s lots of fun and is starting to talk a little better. Whenever you ask her where something is, for example, her shoes, she responds with, “Shoooooes! Where are yoooouuuu??” She looooves animals and we always hear, “awwwwww, doggy!” when we drive by a dog park nearby. She doesn’t like being pestered by her brother, and makes it very clear when he is invading her personal space, by screaming. We’re trying to break her of that habit (screaming)… it’s pretty annoying. And for some reason, that gives her brother even more motivation to pester her.
Nathan and I celebrated our 9th anniversary back in September. It’s been a wonderful 9 years being married to him. Again… time has flown by! 9 years already!!! I love that man… *sigh*
On Saturday, I took the kids to a Lowes Build and Grow Clinic. Sean built a periscope out of a kit with wood, nails, and plastic mirrors. He really enjoyed getting to hammer pieces together and watch it take shape. He’s been expressing a strong interest in learning how to build things, so I think going to the clinics at Lowes would be good for him. They also hold kids’ clinics at Home Depot on the first Saturdays each month (I think). Mia was content to sit in her stroller and watch all the big kids wielding hammers. We already signed up for this Saturday’s clinic too. Sean will build a snowman. I wish I got to do that kind of stuff when I was little.
The induction didn’t go so well and I ended up having a c-section on Friday morning, January 30, 2009. Mia Iliana Alter was born at 5:28 am weighing 7 lbs., 7 oz. and measuring 20.25 inches long. She was so quiet the first day of her life… we thought we had birthed a child that was a total opposite to Sean. But she showed her real colors later that night ;-). We have another impatient little eater on our hands! When she decides she’s hungry, she sure lets you know… loudly! haha! She’s so precious! Sean is being a wonderful brother to her already. He’s helping us out so much and he thinks Mia is pretty cute. His first reaction to seeing her was “awww, she’s so cute, isn’t she!?”. The novelty soon wore off once he realized that we got the Cartoon Network in my hospital room. LOL! As expected, Mia has day and night flipped around. She was always kicking me and waking me up or keeping me up at night and was pretty quiet in my belly during the day. That’s how she is now that she’s here too. She wants to eat every 1 to 2 hours at night, and rests easier during the day. I’m sure we’ll get the schedule worked out soon enough. We’re just glad to be home. The recovery from the c-section was rough at first, but it’s getting better continually. I’m already feeling much better and am very thankful for the prescription pain killers. My husband has been AMAZING through all of this. He has been taking wonderful care of both me and Mia when we were at the hospital and since we got home too. I don’t know how I would have gotten through all this without him. God really blessed me with a wonderful husband. You can see pictures of Mia HERE
I’ve just passed the 35 week mark… Just a handfull of weeks until my due date. Things are going well, but I’m very busy going from appointment to appointment every week. I’m still dealing with the gestational diabetes, and that’s being managed okay, although my sugars were off this past week due to having a cold, but nothing really major, thankfully. Right now, they’re having me come in for fetal Non-stress tests twice a week, ultrasounds for aminiotic fluid index every week, ultrasounds for checking baby’s growth every 4 weeks, and now I’m seeing my doc every week for prenatal appointments. Lots of trips to the clinic and hospital each week! But all the appointments are making the time fly by even faster. I’m getting big. I can no longer close my winter coat over my belly! All the testing is going fine and baby seems to be doing well. She’s often very active during the ultrasound appointments, so I’ve not been able to get a really good ultrasound picture of her. The issues with my placenta being too low have resolved as well, so that was good to hear that I wouldn’t be required to have a scheduled c-section. I finally started packing my bag for the hospital. I can’t decide what clothes to bring for baby to come home. I can’t remember: is it okay to have baby wear a onesie when they still have the umbilical stump or should I bring a t-shirt instead of a onesie? Nathan and I toured the new OB/Labor & Delivery/Mom and baby units of the hospital. They’ve got nice, all PRIVATE rooms now. With Sean, they only had a certain number of private mom/baby rooms and they were filled when I was admitted, so I had a shared room. Nathan couldn’t stay with me since it was a shared room. This time, he should be able to stay with me overnight and they even have daybeds and sleeper couches to rest on. Glad I don’t have to be alone during the first nights… I remember that was pretty hard. Nathan and I were also talking about how women often say they “forget” how painful having a baby is. Well I said that too, but during the tour, when they showed us the beds in the labor/delivery rooms, it reminded me how much I appreciated the anesthesiologist who gave me the epidural. I just remembered pain… lots of pain when I saw the beds. haha! So that’s what’s going on. Not much longer to go. We’re excited to meet this little girl and I can’t wait to hold her in my arms.
Our Lad is sick at the moment. He’s come down with a super coughing consumption virus. He sometimes has these coughing fits and then starts to panic and can’t catch his breath. He actually woke up this morning and had a big cough and his lips actually turned a little blue. Not good. I called the nurse line and the nurse said that if he has another one of those blue lipped episodes, we should take him to see the doc, but so far he hasn’t had another.
Did you know that New Mexico has a 24/7 nurse line that you can call for medical advice even if you don’t have health insurance? 1-877-725-2552 That number is handy for us folks that have wee ones that get sick every winter and we’re not sure if a cold is serious enough to warrant a visit to the doctor. yeah, free medical advice = good.
We had a wonderful week of vacation at the church camp meeting in the Sacramento Mountains and visiting Nathan’s Gramma in El Paso. Now it’s time to get back to our routine. I already miss Nathan now that he’s back at work. The trip was great aside from a few navigational problems. It was HOT in El Paso but great weather in the mountains. I played a lot, a lot of volleyball and listened to some great lessons. Met some great people and just had an all-around blast. I wish they had camp meetings more often! We just picked up the cat this morning from her vet’s office where she was boarded. She’s been very purr-y and I think she’s happy to be home. Sean was petting her and she started purring. Sean said “I made Callie burp, mommy!” instead of saying he made her purr. 🙂 funny boy! We also got to take Sean to the zoo in El Paso. They have a sea lion there that swims up to the glass and if you touch the glass, he tries to bite you through the glass.
Did you see that weird guy walking down the street from Costco with a big HDTV on a flatbed cart? It was strange… he was just walking down along the sidewalk, down the road from Costco with the big thing on the cart. Well, I saw him. Oh yeah, I also married him. 🙂 We bought a new tv yesterday and it wouldn’t fit in the car, so since we live less than a mile from Costco, Nathan asked to borrow the cart and walked it all the way home. It was a sight to see… I regret not getting a picture of it. Nathan was so excited to get the new tv that he couldn’t sleep last night, so he went ahead and left for work 2 hours early. I think it’s cute when he gets excited about gadgets… it appeals to my geeky side, I suppose. Anyways, thankfully, the TV seems to work fine, so we don’t have to return it… that would be a huge pain the walk it back to Costco!