Sunday, January 1, 2017

Dealing with Tantrums

     I've been realizing a pattern in what I do that seems to work with my children dealing with tantrums or crying spells.  I'm not sure if it'll work for anyone else, but I thought it might be a good jumping off point for someone.
       This morning Elise and Tyler were fighting over some coloring pages she was sure were hers and he was sure, were his.  Finding his handwritten marks that meant they were his, I handed them over to him, to which Elise wailed and wailed.  After Taison tried to get her to stop with distractions and hugs, I remembered how sometimes my kids just need to cry for a bit and then with a few hugs or words they can move on.

1. Decide what is right- If both are to blame, they can both go sit for a while to calm down. If one is right, then expect sadness from the other.
2. State the direction-"You need to give that back. We can't get more right now but maybe later."
3. Let them be sad but not for too long.
4. Hug or hold for a few minutes then put down.
5. Let them cry for a few more minutes, then state it's time to be done crying.  For some reason my kids needed to know sometimes that it's ok to feel sad, but now it was time to be done crying.
6. Try to get them talking-Talking will help them slow down their breathing, and think things through. Ask them why they are sad. 
Wait a few moments then state how they are feeling and why for them.  "Why are you crying?" (usually mine don't remember)  "You are sad because you wanted those kitty pictures."  
Ask a question about details- makes them think carefully about their answer, a distraction from crying. "Did you want the kitty picture with the girl in it or the bow?" 
7. Restate the directions and why- "Should we print some more off later today?  Ok maybe we can do that later today.  Right now we need to eat breakfast."
8. Move on to another topic- "I can't believe Christmas is over.  Should we keep up the tree a little longer?  Maybe we could put it away next week. "  "Tomorrow you boys start basketball practice.  You can practice shooting baskets after school today."

Things to Avoid
Trying to talk to them over their loudest crying
Holding them the whole time they cry
Not holding them or hugging at all makes them feel too alone
Giving in to what they want
Trying to distract or bribe them during their loudest crying

And lastly, understand that
Tantrums usually relate to 3 things
1. You didn't feed them when they needed to
2. You didn't put them down for a nap or bed when they they needed it
3. You've been off in your own  world too long, not paying attention to them.
If you can keep tabs on these things, chances are it will nip a whole of crying in bud and help these little guys feel better.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Article of Faith Help

     Working in Primary at church is always such a joy!  The children are eager to learn and especially in the older age group (Senior Primary or 8-12 year olds) they want to learn the gospel of Jesus Christ in more depth and gain their own testimony or special witness of him. 
      As part of the goal to help them along that purpose of coming unto Christ, the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a wonderful program called the Faith in God Program.  At home children and parents can be led in discussion about worthiness, faith, what it means to keep the commandments by passing off these simple goals.  By the time a child is 12 we hope they have worked on these goals and completed them to earn their Faith in God Award certificate.  It's not much and it's not fancy but it represents the effort a child put into trying to set spiritual goals for themselves.
         But all too often, children get to their 12th birthday and haven't worked on it with their parents.  Or haven't memorized the church's Articles of Faith to make them eligible for the award. 
     In an effort to encourage them to memorize their Articles of Faith, we started the "13 Club".  It's a simple poster hung on the primary wall titled "The 13 Club- Learn all your Articles of Faith to join the 13 Club!. Then we'd add pictures of the children who have passed off (learned) all 13 Articles of Faith.  It started off mostly with children just about to turn 12.  They'd come to us as the Primary Presidency and let us know they had passed them off.  We'd quiz them in the hallway on a few and then take their picture on our phones, print them off on regular paper at home and at the next Sunday in opening exercises announce they had joined the "13 Club", taping their picture on the poster.
          To help them break down learning the Articles of Faith in easier chunks, we decided to coordinate with Activity Days and Cub Scouts to all learn the same Article of Faith that month.  We opted to start in January with the 13th and work our way backwards, doubling up in December on the easiest two.  We made simple bookmarks for each Article of Faith to be printed out by the teachers and cut in thirds to pass out to the children.  Then  den leaders and Activity Day leaders would spend 2-3 minutes each activity reciting, reviewing, and practicing the Article of Faith for the month. 
          Even then the progress was slow.  But when the beginning of the year came around, we asked the Primary teachers on Sundays to get on board and dedicate 2-3 minutes a week on practicing the Article of Faith in class.  The kids became SO excited to learn them all!  The competition especially with the boys was a big motivator. 
         Along with the teachers and Tuesday night leaders, we keep parents in the loop by sending home the bookmark and including in the bulletin and RS emails what Article of Faith we are working on.  Now each month, a couple of children have passed them off!  It's been amazing to see even young 8 year olds learning them all so quickly.  The goal is for all of them to learn them this year so that next year we can focus on something different, but when they come to the age of their birthday, they'll easily receive their Faith in God Award. 



Helping Young Readers

   Today for Elise's story time, she picked some Phonic Readers that I'd forgotten.  As I read to her the simple stories I remembered how I stumbled across these greatly appealing early reading books.  When my oldest struggled with reading in the 2nd grade, his teacher offered to lend me these easy sets of readers called the Clifford Phonic Fun Reading Program.  Each set had about 8 books that progressively got harder.  And there were 3-4 sets I believe.  As he began reading them, he was motivated to read because he knew the characters.  I also made sure to record a few episodes on our DVR so he'd continue to feel that familiarity.  I had tried other Easy Readers like the Bob Books and other Phonic readers but he really didn't seem to like them at all, not liking how each book had different characters.  When we picked up the Clifford books each day, it was like we were coming back to an old friend.  By the time he reached the last set, he was reading at a solid 2nd grade level!  I was excited!  He could finally handle a chapter book series like "The Magic Tree House". 
      Going back over the process of teaching my kids to read, I've done the same thing over and over again.  About at the age of 4, I slowly start lessons from Teaching a Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, an old book from the 70's that gives simple short lessons with a script to help you as a parent know what to say.  I didn't do these lessons in consecutive days, just a few a week or a month, whenever I remembered, not worrying too much about the writing portion until they were older.  By the time they came to Kindergarten I tried to get them to at least Lesson 30.  During our reading homework that year, I'd intermix their reading from the Clifford books and the Lesson book until they got to about Lesson 60-70 and stop there.  Then during 1st grade I'd have them finish reading all the Clifford Books. 
         The next step was to transition into the "Magic Tree House" books by reading a chapter a day with me over the summer.  After that, they seemed to be confident readers picking out some of their favorite books from school, book orders, book fairs and characters they were into like Star Wars Easy Readers from the Library.
        They've enjoyed series like "The Rainbow Fairies" series (3rd grade girls), Hank the Cow dog Series (3rd-4th grade boys-start by listening to a book on CD in the car first), Nancy Drew (4th-5th grade), Hardy Boys (5th grade and beyond), The Lemonade Wars Series (5th-beyond).  At first they didn't really like reading and meeting new characters, so trying out a series and sticking with these same people made them more invested.  For their first series of 20-40 books completed, I'd usually let them pick out a game from Game stop.  This might seem opposite of the purpose but it truly motivated my kids. :)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Winter Memories

    Winter has full of sweet memories, too many snow days if you ask me but lots of chances for sledding.  So no one felt left out, we texted all our neighbors what time we'd head out to our neighborhood hill.  There were SO many kids and there was LOTS of fun falling, crashing and snow face-planting had by all.

 With the drainage pond fence at the bottom of the hill, the rule is, roll off the sled before you crash. :)  I played the role of spotter at the bottom of the hill, yelling to them when to roll off, while other moms helped everyone share the sleds at the top of the hill. Thankfully another injury free year!

 One of the post-sledding parties, Clash of Clans style! (Jon and Ashton's favorite online game they play together.)  And sledding days wouldn't be complete without White Tortilla Soup!  Yum!

 Poor tiger had to get dressed for the winter.  He spend a lot of time indoors and was very hyper a lot of the time.  He decided his new favorite place to sleep is under our bed.

 To celebrate another snow day, I decided instead of being grumpy to make something yummy.  It improved my mood being stuck at home with the crazies yet again.
 This is my attempt at using my new curling wand.  It was fun to experiment but the heat is rough on my thin hair so it'll only look like this on Sundays for church, I think.
 Jon's birthday!  He wanted apple pie for his "cake" so I made one for him.  I forgot how much I LOVE apple pie. 
 Our favorite buddy/babysitter-Lindsey!  Elise loves any time she gets to see her!
 Science Fair time!  All the kids participated in Science Fair this year!  Corynn opted for an experiment about pumping oil with the help of other liquids.  This spray bottle was filled with aquarium rocks, vegetable oil and hot, cold, salty or soapy water and measured with this graduated cylinder.  She got 1st place and was able to go to Districts.  So cool!
 Elise getting a fingernail painting before church one Sunday.  Jon's so cute!

 Taison got his Wolf!  I've never seen someone so self-motivated to get his scout stuff done!  He's driven to get as much as possible!  It's amazing!

Elise loves hugging her special buddies-Annalee and Avery! 

 Basketball season was so fun this year!  Taison and Corynn both tried it out for the first time and made SO many improvements!
 Such fun seasons, teammates and parents to chat with each week!  Corynn was awesome at defense but couldn't seem to be confident with the ball. Her team worked hard all season to help her get a chance to score!  The last two games she scored 5 shots!  We were SO excited and I think she got a little eager to keep it up!
 Corynn's 5th grade Character Biography project- She chose Sacajewea who she's loved and researched since 2nd grade.  She loves Native American Indian things.  We had fun turning a brown oversized dress from Salvation Army into this dress by cutting the fringe on the bottom and sleeves and turning a dark brown t-shirt into the purse/satchel. Beads from Walmart, and feathers from Michaels, she was all set.
 Corynn and Ashton playing around with the camera and the hill behind the fence. They are quite creative!

Doing Dishes

        After 13 years of being a stay at home mom and running around trying to get things done, I've found a way to get the basic things done so my house looks normal most days.  After the kids leave for school, if I give myself about 30 minutes to do dishes and clean the counters, the world seems less stressful and more beautiful.  I don't really like doing dishes more than once a day, and with our family of 5 kids, I can usually get things in one load.  I  don't have time to do dishes until after the kids are in bed at night and the noise often keeps the littlest ones awake.  So I prefer to do them first thing in the morning after they go to school. 
        As silly as it sounds, I've realized that there's been a pattern to my dishwasher loading that seems to make things faster for me.  First I get all the cups out of the sink and into the dishwasher.  Their strange shapes make the dish pile seem larger than life and overflowing.  While I'm doing that, I find an already dirty bowl and fill it with water and set it on the counter.  As I'm hunting for cups, I put all the silverware and spatulas in the bowl to soak. 
        Next I rinse off the plates and set them off to the side in a stack.  As they sit there, the rinsing them off seems to give them enough water to soften any hardened food.  Bowls go in next, then the plates which have hopefully had enough time and with a quick scrub the food seems to come off quickly.  Then bigger bowls go in.  Then I scrub the left sink clean and hand wash the pots and pans, or bigger bulky items and set them in the sink to dry.  Last I pull the silverware out of the bowl of water, give them a passing scrub and put them in the dishwasher.  I use a Scrub brush from Pampered chef that lasts for years and when the dishes are loaded and ready to turn on, I put the scrub brush in the dishwasher near the plates.  It always come out clean and ready to go again. 
          Then lastly, I wipe down the counters and do a quick de-cluttering and run a broom around the kitchen. When I come home from errands, or preschool or staying home getting other things done, it's SO nice to find the dishwasher done, the pots and pans all dried and the counters reflecting clean.  Somehow having a clean kitchen, makes the rest of the house seem not so messy.  :)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

When Can a Child Be Left Alone?

A friend asked me where I got my age listings for babysitting.  In 3rd grade, our students get taught how to stay at home and be safe.  They also come home with a flyer listing these ages.  They differ from county to county but they seem to be somewhat the same, give or take a year. 

Here's what our county recommends.

Child Supervision Guidelines

Before being left alone children need to be trained in self-care techniques such as knowledge of how to deal with: emergencies conflicts with friends/siblings handling loneliness/boredom personal safety simple first aid and fear. They must know how to reach a responsible adult if needed.       

Ages 0-8: May not be left unsupervised
Ages 9-11: No more than 1.5 hours alone – days only
Ages 12-15: May be left alone all day
Ages 16-17: May be left alone all night or over the weekend 

Babysitting Guidelines:

Ages 12-13: May babysit children up to 4 hours
Ages 14-15: May babysit over 4 hours – not overnight or over weekends
Ages 16-17: May babysit children overnight or over the weekend 

Learning Over the Summer

      School is almost out!  And the time for lazy days are upon us.  But only a week or so of laziness seems to be good for me and the kids.  We need a little bit of structure, something to work on each day to earn time playing video games, etc.  Every summer I get asked what I do with the kids.  So here it is.  It keeps changing but the basics stay the same.
        I remember my mom ordered summer time kits with workbooks from different subjects for us to do.  They were simple and the topics somewhat interesting to me as a little girl.  It seemed to keep our minds fresh and once school started we weren't behind but almost a little ahead, which is where I'd like my kids to be.
        So every summer I order Reading workbook and a Math workbook for each of my kids' past grade level material.  The one I have used two summers in a row is called Spectrum.  I order them online because the supplies in teacher stores, Staples or Walmart don't always have the exact years I need.  If a particular child needs help with phonics, word study, spelling or writing instead of reading, I might opt for that instead of the Reading and Math.  The format is pretty basic, almost boring with multiple pages of practice.  But that's what I want.  No frills just practice.  My kids usually get through about half of it during the summer.  Then I have the rest of the book for long extended sick days or extra practice during the school year if they are doing poorly in a particular area.
         Before the kids can have morning screen time in the summer, they have to get at least 2 pages done in both workbooks.  Since they've already learned the subjects during the school year and it's just a review, I can have everyone work quietly for 20 minutes or so, take a break, let them play, be involved in a sport or outing and then work on the other workbook for 20 minutes.  I feel like that covers us most days for school work.  What's nice about the workbooks is we can do them in the car waiting for another's class to end, at the park, or on the go on our way somewhere.
        After lunch, we have our Quiet time for about an hour while Elise naps, a time when the kids go to different rooms in the house and play with toys or read.  The idea is that they get some time alone without anyone bothering them, and without me needing to intervene.  It's the core rejuvenating time of my day, that's for sure.  :)  It's become so popular among Jon and I that we live for that time on the weekends if we are all home.
         If their workbooks are done, I break out the Disney movie of the day, my choice so there's no arguing.  It gives me a chance to clean and get ahead of the game.  On the rare days we aren't going to the pool in the afternoon, we spend a little time playing in the neighborhood, backyard, inviting people over for play dates or riding bikes.
       If there's time and I have energy, we might launch into our other method of group learning, the Theme of the Week.  At the beginning of the summer I ask the kids what they want to learn about.  Topics range from dolphins, scorpions, horses, geography, to the topics I like to revisit every summer; tree identification, the constellations, break out the mini microscopes and a simple sewing project.  We get out the calendar and give one topic to each week.  It looks like this.

Mommy School Themes
Week 1- June 24th -28th – Identifying Trees- map out trees in neighborhood
        Geography- South America
       Read aloud- Box Car Children
Week 2- July 1-8th- Astronomy- Star Party-July 8th
                                  Geography-South America
                                      Read aloud- Unlikely Heroes
Week 3- July 9-12th- Microscopes/Maturation for Ashton
                                     Geography- Europe
                                      Read aloud- Fable haven
Week 4- July 15-19th-  Inventions- Build a Go-cart
                                      Read Aloud- The Secret Garden
Week 5 July 22nd-26th-Cooking-lemonade stand
Read aloud-
Week 6- July 29th-Aug 2nd- Sewing
Geography- Asia
                                      Read Aloud- Little House on the Prairie
Week 7 Aug 5th-9th – Paper Airplanes/Maturation for Corynn
                                      Geography -Asia
                                      Read Aloud- The Tale of Despereaux
Week 8 Aug 12th-16th - Bones
                                      Read aloud-
Week 9 Aug 19th-Aug 23rd – Ocean
                                      Read aloud-
Week 10 VA Beach Trip-
                                      Read aloud-
Reading & Writing Goals
Book Series- Read a book or two a week
Animal Studies- An animal book each week, Write a report on it

      To begin the Theme of the Week, when we go to the library we check out a few books about the topic.  Then that first day I read out loud one of the books.  Sometime during the week we might do a  craft where we draw the thing we are talking about, print out worksheets online or if I'm particularly excited about it, do a craft with it.
        Honestly last summer all we did was briefly talk about the topics except a few.  For the week on Astronomy we made constellation flashcards where we punched the constellations out using a pin and held them up to a flashlight.  Each year I have the goal to stay up late with the kids and find the stars we've learned but the nights being so late, I feel exhausted and ready for them to go to bed.  Maybe this year... :)
      A few times we've done lap books, a cute file folder you glue little pocket facts inside on a topic.  It's like making your own board book.  The kids look at them every once in a while and remember what we learned about the topic.  It's kind of like a learning scrapbook.
       I have goals of reading these books out loud to the kids but I only average one or two a summer, reading to the kids when Jon comes home or in the car on a road trip.
        We actually filled out simple outlines of the countries last year and briefly told them what I knew about the countries.  At the end of the week I'd give them an M&M for every country they wrote in a blank continent map.   That was fun.  Not sure how much they'll remember this summer.
           I basically try to do just enough school that I don't feel like the kids are getting lazy.  Anything I feel like their public education is lacking that particular year, I use the summer to fill the gaps.   Sometimes that means working on story writing and editing, sometimes it means geography or more cursive practice.  This year I want to do more cooking with the kids and science experiments.
        And when we don't feel like doing it, we don't worry about it.  I love rebelling against my own lists.  :)  It's really fun.  But if I don't have anything there as a beginning, I get annoyed with the kids' boredom turned into fighting turned into house destruction.  ;)

Simplifying Chores..Again

       During the school year our lives get so busy, I feel like my kids hardly help around the house.  Too many days in a row of craziness and our house is a disaster.  Afternoons are filled with activities, lessons, and church.  But a few days a week the kids do a couple of things that help keep our house clean.  I feel like with a little bit of their help, we can manage the chaos and the mess.  I used to do job charts while I was teaching the kids how to help clean, but they are getting it down so they don't need the visual reminder.
        Depending on when the sport events are, we give those days the easiest jobs.  The more empty evenings the longer the jobs. Right now our mellow evenings are Mondays and Wednesdays.  Before they can have "screen time" they have to get their homework, piano and the chore done. 
          So Mondays the kids fold their laundry and put it away. Tuesday they work together to empty trash cans.  Wednesday they clean  and vacuum their area on the main level.  Ashton has the family room, Corynn the living room, Taison the kitchen table area, and Tyler is to help Ashton.  (I use the "Cleaning your area" chore right before people come over to get the house looking better quickly.  It's very helpful!)   Thursday night we usually forget.  Friday, they pick up their rooms and vacuum so that the weekend doesn't feel so awful and messy.
       If there's something that's really dirty like the bathrooms, floors, sinks, bird cage, etc. we do one of those things on a Saturday together.  But other than that, the cleaning is pretty minimal.
           Just having the kids help me clean these main area make my life much simpler. Jon and I just have to keep up with the dishes, meals and kitchen counters and everything else seems to be OK. 
     Waking up this morning to a spotless main level reminded me how much I love it when my kids clean.  They are finally getting good at it and at their video games too. :)

Friday, June 6, 2014

Start the Play and Walk Away

            Today after yet another fight between my youngest two, I remembered something that had helped a while ago.  Fights between the kids seem to happen after 15-20 minutes of being left to their own devices. When the breakfast rush is over, and I get absorbed in the tasks of the day, cleaning, organizing the next of life's tasks, etc. my preschoolers usually play and are ok.  But after about 20 minutes, the noisy, unkind screeching begins.  I realize I haven't talked to them for a while even though they have been playing in the same room as I have been working.
       I realize I need to be more engaging, reading books with them, playing a favorite song and singing with them or just intervening a little more often.  The idea that came back to me today was to sit and play for a few minutes.  But being busy, I usually just end the fight and get back to work on something.  Today, I decided to sit and play.  The cars in the Little People Houses seemed the theme of what they were already playing with, so I sat and helped the cars talk.  "I have to take a nap." (Snore, snore).  "Let's go have breakfast." (cars down to the main level room, some car knocks on the front door "Who is it?" type of thing. 
          The kids squabble over who gets the house, so I start more conversations in the Little People barn.  "Good morning, cows." (to a white colored car"  "Moo." "The chickens are sleeping, shhh!" (yellow car in a corner)  It's silly but fun.  After a couple of minutes sitting by them, the key is to release  yourself from the play and let them take it from there.  And honestly, I'll get bored if I "play" much longer. :) I get back to work for another 15 minutes and sometimes it actually works and the kids are happy.  A little interaction seems to go a long ways.   And leaving the play and sitting back, gives them the chance to be creative without me continuing to steer the play.  It cracks me up to hear Elise giving her toys voices now, in an oh-so high pitch sound.
        Sometimes reintroducing toys or ideas to them is necessary.  I'll try looking at the house with new eyes, seeing what's really here that I can use to help enrich their days.  Once I even went around the house writing down the ideas as I saw them to use over the space of the month. Like the playdough that's tucked in a cupboard, the puzzles in the basement, the dolls and their clothes, the blocks, the trains and tracks, the bikes and scooters, the sidewalk chalk, the old kites, the beanbags, bowls and spoons for drums, the lego's, the balls in the back yard, the sand box and army soldiers.  And starting the play and walking away, like starting a mini story, can help the kids remember what fun they had with those things.
         Making a schedule for the toddlers has always been another things that's helpful.  Not anything super set in stone, just a time when they can watch a show, get read to, have their lunch and nap or quiet time.  For us an outing every other morning is about right.  Our favorites are a quick 20 minute trip to the library, a walk in the neighborhood, meeting up with friends at a park, or being out doing errands.  Most of the time, our daily in's and out's (appointments, shopping, meetings for service organizations and church) seem to be enough to keep my kids busy. 
           But sometimes I wonder, am I really talking to them?  Am I really being engaging or just directing them from event to event, in and out of car seats, eating meals and getting them dressed.  I struggle knowing what to say to them, how to chit chat on a preschooler level.  It's good for me to remember. Belting out their favorite songs in the car can help them share the joy of language without the effort of figuring out what to say.  Reviewing what the events they just did and what's coming next can be good filler.  At lunch or meal time, sometimes I remember to talk about their favorite things, foods they ate, toys they played with, a show they got to watch, things we picked from the garden or saw in the back yard.
            When I'm really in a rut of running around like crazy and not paying attention to the youngest kids, I feel like I need to slow down for their sake.  Free up my schedule to  I have more down time so I can be refreshed enough to enjoy them.  Because being a parent is really awesome and I don't want to get so busy that I forget that.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Dealing with Miscarriages

       The past couple of years we have felt like having one more person in our family was right.  Last spring, I found out I was pregnant at the same time my sister announced her first pregnancy.  It was a sweet joy to be able to share the weeks talking about our common experience and excitement.  Around 7 weeks along, she started bleeding.  Scared about the possibility of miscarrying she went into her doctor.  And about a week later I started bleeding.  Thankfully her bleeding stopped and the baby continued to grow while mine did not.  It seemed to get worse.  Over the next week it began a reality and experiencing my first miscarriage was a shock. The post pregnancy emotions were really intense and I felt up and down for a really long time.   I was grateful that my sister didn't have to deal with that sadness her first pregnancy.  A few weeks later I felt back to normal but was a little more leery about telling people I was expecting when we decided to try again a year later.
         We found out we were expecting shortly after a trip back west to see my family for my Grandpa's 100 birthday.  We thought it would be fun to surprise everyone at the reunion and were going to keep it a secret from our family until our family reunion 4 months later.  Once we got to our 10 week appt, I gave into Jon's yearnings for a new mini van with the 8th seat, a 2014 Honda Odyssey with all the cool gadgets he wanted for our trip this summer.  Jon's parents set up a Fall vacation to come visit us a week before the expected due date and so they wouldn't feel jipped to miss seeing the baby, we gave up the secret and told them we were expecting and then called my Mom and Dad to tell them.  Since I was showing, I started telling neighbors, church friends and friends I'd see regularly, trying to keep it quiet thru other media like Facebook so it could still be a surprise for our siblings and extended family.
         A week later, on Thursday I went in for my 15 week OB appt and the intern couldn't find a heartbeat.  After my regular OB came in and tried thru various machines, ultrasounds, each time the mood became more somber and quiet.  I knew it was for real.  Thankfully Jon had the day off already for his blood work test and Tyler's 5 yr check up.  He had dropped me off to run errands and was there with me within minutes of me finding out.  I was able to keep somewhat composed before I left the office but spent the rest of the day in shock and tears.  The doctor said I would probably miscarry sometime next week but with Jon's once a year trip scheduled for that week, I knew that wouldn't be the safest thing.  He offered to give me a cramping medication to help things progress over the weekend but when he checked on the drug's administration requirements, anyone over 12 weeks had to be admitted to the hospital when giving this drug.  Lucky for us, he had c-sections scheduled for the next day at a new hospital, a hospital that allowed miscarriages to be seen through Labor and Delivery instead of the ER.  He offered to have me come in there and use the cramping medicine to be monitored there. After another ultrasound to determine the age of the baby and take other pictures that day, we registered for the hospital trip the next day. 
      A young working sister in the ward who we use a lot for babysitting was able to come over that morning to get the kids off to school and a member of the bishopric came to the house to cover Jon's seminary class that was meeting in the basement.  She later dropped the younger two off at a dear friend's house.  We left our house about 6:30 AM and got to the hospital to get admitted by 7 AM.  Coming in to Labor and Delivery was hard, walking past the nursery, and the framed pictures of babies and cute baby hands and feet.  The room though state of the art and large, seemed sterile and unfriendly at first, a place where I would become unpregnant without the blessing of a baby.  The nurses were truly angels though as they brought me tissues, explained the process of what I would feel and what would happen.  They all talked with such gentle tones and sensitive words.  I was so grateful to have nurses who were experienced dealing with miscarriages. 
      My OB who has delivered three of our kids was extra amazing.  His kindness and sensitivity was stellar.  He administered the first dose of a cramping drug and could give me another dose every 4 hrs.  He told me it might take until the late night or early next day before my body excepted the drug and I delivered.  I got an IV to keep my blood sugar up since I wasn't allowed to eat anything.  Though I did discover that if you eat ice chips fast enough, it does fill up your stomach and make you not feel quite so hungry. (Why didn't I realize that with my other 5 deliveries? :) Jon and I spent the day away playing cards, he taught me poker :), and we watched more TV than we ever had.  Thankfully I had just started a new book and it was a wonderful retreat from the cramping and pain. 
        About lunch time I was able to receive my second dose, and after taking a kind of a nap, Jon left to go get lunch.  Waking up I prayed, asking Heavenly Father to allow my body to accept the medicine and to move things along so I could be home that night to rest in my own bed.  When Jon came into the room, I got up to use the bathroom and my water broke, which surprised me, I didn't think that would happen.  Shortly after that the bleeding and passing clots began.  My nurses called my Dr in and the baby passed quickly.  The placenta was still attached so the doctor clamped off the umbilical cord and said I'd need more time before it was ready to detach.  The nurses took the baby away asking if I wanted to see it, but I wasn't sure if I would feel too scared.   Later though I did feel brave enough.  They cleaned him up for me and brought him back wrapped in a baby blanket.  He was 4 inches long with the tiniest most amazing hands I'd ever seen, about the size of my pinky fingernail.  They asked if I'd like a ink impression of his hands and feet and I did so they made me a little scrapbook page with his weight .5 lb, time he was born, 3:22 PM and date.  We couldn't think of a name so they titled it Ellsworth baby boy. 
      A few hours later the dr was able to get the placenta out and the risk of bleeding out was past.  He had a technician come do a couple of ultasounds to check that all the tissue was out.  About that time, back labor started so the nurse gave me a  pain medicine that made me feel very loopy and out of breath.  That initial feeling came and went and I was able to rest and later eat by 7 PM.  That was very nice!  Jon was amazing through the whole process.  He held me when I cried and let me joke around when I didn't feel like crying.  We walked up and down the very short halls after wards when I was feeling better. 
        The nurses asked me what I wanted to do with the baby's body.  I wasn't sure.  Pathology at the hospital would run a few genetic tests, then cremate the body and through that away.  Or a mortuary nearby did cremations for free for miscarriages.  We opted for that.  When I was finally released and we packed up to leave, it felt awful leaving his little body in our room, leaving him behind, but knowing we'd get his remains a week later, made me feel a little better.  
           The nurses talked to me about how grief would feel, that sometimes I'd just need to cry, other times I'd feel angry, and other times I would feel happy and it was ok no matter what I was feeling.  Those few simple explanations really helped me.  Later I felt like it was important to mail them thank you notes through the hospital for the gentle ways they helped me through that day.
        We were able to make it home by 10 PM that night and I slept so deeply and woke up feeling pretty good.  I spent most of the day sitting or in bed, taking another cramping medicine to get my uterus back to the normal size again.  I was able to manage on just Ibuprophen or tylenol.  Jon kept the kids busy with play dates and  neighbors and friends from church  poured blessings upon us with meals, cookies, flowers, visits and help with the kids.  I stayed pretty isolated the first few days not wanting to see people to avoid them seeing all the emotions I was feeling.  But a visit from a dear friend, allowed me to retell the story, cry and laugh and feel SO much better.  Phone calls with my Mom, sisters and friends made my burden lighter a little each time I talked about it.  Texting really made it easy to talk and be understood while feeling these emotions.  :) 
        We felt so loved by everyone's simple acts of service. Like the neighbors who snuck over while Jon was away at church with the kids and mowed the front and back yard or the friends from church, school and neighborhood that would drop something off.   Every time someone would surprise us with some type of service, I'd feel the love of the Lord cradle me through all these feelings.  I felt as though their kind words and well wishes shielded me from the full effects grief could have of bitterness and anger. 
        Every day I have felt exponentially stronger and happier.  Jon left for his trip Monday because my bleeding was at a normal pace and I felt strong enough to handle getting kids off to school, etc.  Meals have continued from neighbors and friends and I haven't cooked anything besides breakfast in over a week.  :)  The hard part has been feeling sad while my kids are crazy hypser and realizing they won't understand or be able to contain themselves for many years to come, but Heavenly Father has helped me be patient and survive.  Sad moments still come but they don't stay long and I'm not afraid of them coming in front of others anymore. 
           Our family had a group camping trip scheduled for that weekend. I felt tired and overwhelmed at the idea of packing, but the perfect timing of neighbors helping me arrange everything in the van and friends helping me haul some of our things made getting there easier.  Once we got there, Jon met us there from his trip, everything came together well.  The kids played, I was distracted and had fun sitting around with friends chatting.  On our way home, we had a stop to make, to visit the Mortuary that had cremated our little boy's remains.  The sadness that had almost been forgotten came back.  I thanked the man at the funeral home for doing this service for us instead of leaving him at the hospital.  He said they wanted to make sure every little person got the attention they deserved.   As he handed us the small felt bag that help the very few ashes, it made it all seem complete and done.  I didn't feel like I had forgotten too soon or allowed myself to smile too quickly.
          Hopefully this has made me understand others better and what they go through when they grieve.  A past VTing companion told me two weeks ago that her husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and she has three small children..  As I went through my struggles, I knew it could be a lot worse.  Our loss is not the same of hers might be.  And I have SO much to be grateful for and so many ways I can still help. 
          I have been surprised at how many women have come to me, expressing their similar experiences and understanding my feelings.  It has helped me to see how these experiences really do humble us, make us more open to understanding others and bridging gaps.  I feel sad that others had to experience this alone or without a Dr's care.  It would seem so scary and traumatic. I'm grateful for the timing everything had.  The hospital just recently having opened up, finding out I was going to miscarry before Jon left town so I wouldn't have to deal with it alone.  I'm grateful for the era I live in, giving women the chance to grieve miscarried children, allowing a little extra time then in the past.  People seem more understanding and more careful in their comments.        
            Anyways, that's my very long winded story.  I wasn't sure if I should share it.  Last week it seemed too personal to share.  But now I feel like maybe somehow this can help someone else or maybe it's what I need to be able to do. (Sorry if it was too graphic.)