Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Every Nativity Needs an Elephant.

Betsy's preschool put on the original Christmas story, modified slightly to accomodate a more modest cast size of four. Then the angel's relunctance won out, leaving us with only three. All the same, it was super; is there anything like watching your children play make-believe?

Joseph entered first. That cutie in the background was our shy little angel who
took the day off. I think even watching the performance may have been traumatic for her.

Mary followed, and dropped the Babe in his little manger. Betsy peeked her head out, leading with the classic "Hi, Momma!" line all shepherds used in salutations. In a daring move, she chose to break with tradition, carrying an elephant instead of the tired, cliche sheep.

Mary watches over baby Jesus. I may or may not tear
up every time I see this picture.

Understandably, she seemed a bit apprehensive about admitting a
certain shepherd with an elephant in tow.

Betsy loses some patience waiting for the recitation of the story to
wrap up. Or me taking pictures, who call really tell?

Joseph, looking deep in character but actually waiting
for his mother to finish taking pictures.

After my eccentric little shepherd needed some costume
adjustments, Mary insisted on the same.

About ten seconds after this picture was taken, the elephant and our Lord and Savior bunked together. As near as we can tell, Jesus was happy to share. Check out Joseph's smile, too.

Merry Christmas from our cuties to yours!

(the other cutie)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

feeling appy?

So I might have a small obsession with phone apps. Yes. And because not only am I obsessed, but I believe I can be so dang helpful to everybody else, I'll disclose my favorites. Which, I should mention, are free. Everybody knows I'm a cheapskate, so you probably already guessed that, but still. Consider yourself informed.

1. Voice Recorder (by Google) I know most phones come with this app already, but the one on my Samsung Galaxy was abysmal. So I downloaded this one, which for a dollar upgrade, can convert the files to mp3s. I read books to Avie or have conversations with Betsy on said recorder. I can send them easily to a million different places (gmail, texts, evernote, bluetooth, etc.) and turn them into ring tones. These recordings are ridiculously sweet, sickeningly sentimental, and when Avie doesn't want to take a nap, I play these for her and she listens calmly until I thinks she's ready for the crib.

2. Citation Index This app makes my phone worth however much Scott paid for it, all by itself. I could never do it justice, so just check it out and spare yourself the superlatives. Until you start using it yourself, then heaven help us, you'll be using them too.

3. LDS Tools Because it makes my calling ten times easier. It's like having the ward stake list on speed dial without actually having to sift through all the numbers in your phonebook. You can organize said lists by calling, and there's even an option to have all the numbers in the stake available to your caller ID.

4. DLR Lines/MouseWait It's the rides at Disneyland, not the wait that I want to remember. I guess I lied when I said all my apps were free; DLR lines is $1/week or $7/year, but the data on park busy-ness levels and the amount of statistical data that has gone into this makes it more than worth it. It tells you how long the lines are, how long they'll be in 15, 30, and 45 minutes, and when they'll peak during the day.

5. Evernote I like to make myself think I'm organized, and this is a big key to a successful fake-out. Seriously. It's got lots of bells and whistles and deserves a post all by itself, although it will never get one. So just check it out on your own, then sing my praises for a week.

6. Savings Cents with Cents I haven't had this app long, but it already saved me $50 on Avie's carseat, so take that, spending-hours-researching-everything-on-Amazon-and-getting-totally-sidetracked-so-that-it-takes-me-three-days-to-complete-said-research.

7. Kids Learn to Read/All IntelliJoy Apps They're delightful for the kids, and they really are teaching skills. And Betsy thinks she's died and gone to heaven when she gets to play with one of these after finishing her homeschooling. Which, okay, is really just a reading lesson, but I like to make it sound like I'm more amazing than that.

8. Photoshop Mobile I like pretty pictures, not scary ones that look like they were processed by a blind man.

9. I'd say Google Maps, but I still get lost. I have faith one day we'll work together in some united way instead of the constantly argumentative relationship we currently have. I'm reminded of my Grandma and Grandpa and how they were when we'd drive to yard sales. Sitting in the back seat with the two of them arguing over which way to turn -- we still laugh about it, and they died a decade ago! Funny the stuff you miss. Although I doubt I'll miss Google Maps when I find something better. Or have a car with GPS.

10. You can't end a list at 9. No wait, you can. If that's all you've got. I guess I could add Kindle (not even going to link, that's absurd) and Gospel Library, but that's kind of a given. I like the Scripture Mastery app, but also kind of a given.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Not Quite the Trip I Had in Mind...

A couple of months ago, Scott told me I needed to get the girls out of his hair so he could tackle remodeling the bathroom.

Ahem. Finishing the remodeling that started a year ago. Possibly two. With things like this, it's best for the marriage if I don't really keep track. (For the record, he is even more kind. He never keeps track of how much laundry or cleaning he does. That's how I know I married up.)

So, I pack up the girls and our clothes and a bunch of car snacks and prepare to go see Memaw and Poppa. It's only a 1o or 12 hour drive. And I so have never done anything remotely like this. But whatev.

Just before leaving, Scott asks me to drive him to his work truck, which was parked in Springville. So he hops in the car too, and I figure we'll just say our goodbyes in a couple of miles when I drop him off.

And that's when the coolest thing ever happened. A surprise vacation. That sweet man got a week off work, had made crazy intense arrangements, extra packing, purchased necessary foodstuffs (Larabar, how I love thee) and managed to have absolutely everyone in on the secret. And we were heading down together. To go to Disneyland. Well, and other places. But what else matters? Disneyland is everything.

P.S. Surprise vacations rock.

Waiting for a show at Sea World. Which was totally created by tired parents who just wanted to sit down for 30 minutes and recover.

When we went last February, we found this awesome Indiana Jones hat and decided to pimp it out with ears. I'm crazy about it. So is he. (Scott. Indiana Jones is busy.)

Check out that castle!

Waiting for Small World

All decked out for Halloween!

The girls' hats are simple and matching. No frills. I think it's actually their vintage style circa maybe 1960s? I love seeing them!

Holding his girls. Or at least the little ones.

I think we all know how cute this is.

Betsy feeding the goat.

Avie shows warranted caution about the sheep.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Oh, let's NEVER do that again.

When the girls were sent home from the ER on April 5, I thought it meant everything must be more or less okay. By that evening, my natropath took one look at them and insisted we travel immediately to Primary Children's Hospital. Even though we'd pass easily half a dozen other hospitals on our way, he said that's where they'd need to be. He was right.

Within an hour of our arrival, Avie was sedated and intubated, then wheeled up to a crib in room 2325 of the pediatric intensive care unit. I pumped every 3-5 hours, slept either by her side or in the hospital's PICU parent dorms, survived on snacks in the PICU nutrition room, and rushed between the third floor and the second as I tried to keep up with both girls' needs. (And just because a child is in a state of chemically induced sedation does not mean she doesn't need her Momma!)

She maintained her looooooong nap for a week, during which time her nurses dolled her up with cute accessories (blankets and bows.) Only in retrospect can I talk about an event as traumatic as intubation with any cheery words like accessories and long naps. I have never been so busy, so sleep deprived, so full of we-will-do-this-thing-drive. I watched Avie's PIP and PEEP numbers incessantly, monitored each breath with her machines, sobbed when the PEEP went up and tried not to get too elated when it went down. You just couldn't trust that it would stay down. One would think there's nothing like losing your power, your role, your duties as a parent, and handing them over to a nurse.

And they would be right. But during that intubation, it was I who spoke to her. And miraculously, she heard me. Then she spoke to me, and I heard her. And that dialogue is a mother's job more than anything else. We kept each other going. She learned things in that PICU, things about truth and light and discernment. And me! I did too! Truth is truth, so there's no point in getting yourself in a dither if you know everything will be all right in the end. You just might have to remind yourself of that fact from moment to anguishing moment.

When they extubated her, the joy I felt was almost like giving birth again. Seeing those eyes -- open, aware, and anxiously looking for me -- I was Momma again! It would be my hands changing her diapers, my arms holding her, my breasts feeding her, and once again my shirt sleeves stained with baby food. Hallelujah!

Betsy was taken to the children's ward, where she would spend the next 6 days watching every Disney movie known to man, rejecting disgusting hospital food (except ice cream) every few hours, and coloring, coloring, coloring. And screaming every time the nurses came for her albuteral treatment. She's a Daddy's girl, and Avie can't live without her Momma, so I'm afraid I didn't get to spend much time with Betsy to begin with. Only when Avie was in a pretty stable place, and Daddy was back at work, did I really venture down to Betsy's room with short trips to the PICU instead of the other way around.

Betsy's trip ended up being a week, and Avie's was 11 days, 8 of which were in the PICU. I'm still decompressing and trying to learn all the lessons I believe I can from this experience. Primary Children's was the perfect place. Our nurses were the kind that were truly called to their profession. What a blessing it was to be in such nurturing, capable, skilled hands.

Monday, January 3, 2011

No, not dead. Not even maimed.

Yes, yes, yes. We're still alive. If this blog is pretty much your only source of Shea news, you're in sorry shape. (That is why I own a phone. Blogs are all about time wasting.)

I hardly know where to begin. Scott began his real-life career more than a little while back -- when Avie was just a few weeks old. That's right, he's a real-life transportation engineer! He loves driving his sporty, brand new work truck around, and gets a special thrill as he throws on his emergency lights and drives "off road" to observe construction progress. I can't say I'm thrilled we worked so hard to get a master's degree just so he can wear a steel-toed boots and a hard hat, but he assures me it's a white hard hat. That means he's a white-collar worker, he says. It's a pretty good life for a man's man, and I know more about transportation engineering than I ever thought I'd care to.

He's actually still working at the Home Depot. This means he's spent the last 8 months usually working at least 60 hours a week, and often tops off a little over 70. It's pretty painful, I won't lie. I always knew I married an optimistic man -- someone's got to balance me out, right? -- but I really don't know how he does it. He spent much of the year leaving at 6 am and not arriving home until 10 pm. We get this little half-hour window to throw food at his face before he takes off for the Depot, and he is positively lively. Energetic beyond reason. So, apparently, when I said it was painful, I meant for me.

I really miss adults. In the absence of real conversations with people my height, I've had time to perfect the art of preparing homemade broth, cultured vegetables, and other forays into healthy cooking. Then there's sugar-free living, cloth diapering, and Book of Mormon storytelling. Not so much decluttering, but I keep trying. At any rate, I've cut down on my bon-bon eating considerably.

Avie is getting big. Well, older. Big might not describe her for quite a while yet. She is our delight, and I just don't know how I'll ever cope with her growing up on me. The first year of a child's life is simultaneously the quickest and the slowest of a parent's life, meaning some days do feel really long; some night do feel endless; every month does feel like a blink. She is a dream. She radiates the sweetest smile and giggle and happily shares it with the world. That little soul is the embodiment of contentment, and considering what a tough time we had with her pregnancy, I consider it a special gift from a loving Father in Heaven. Like a small assurance that he took care of her when, for all my efforts, I couldn't.

Betsy is our singer, our reader, our cook, and our singer. She is thoroughly two-and-a-half; always unexpected. Usually, it's a delightful kind of unexpectedness that creeps from her mouth. Sometimes it's an unexpected misery with considerable volume. Some of our most recent surprises include these:

(Betsy) "N-O, N-O, N-O, N-O..."
(Momma) "What are you spelling, honey?
(Betsy) "Daddy."

(Momma) "King Noah did not go to church. He didn't share. He didn't believe in Heavenly Father."
(Betsy) "Him need a time out."

...Well, I'd love to wait and post once I can find pictures on our old computer's hard drive (buried somewhere in the depths of our new computer) but I'm just not that handy. I really do set a new year's goal to write in here more often, and get back in the habit of reading the blogs of those I love so hopefully you'll see more of me on here in the future. Assuming there's anyone left who reads this. (Let me know you're out there, won't you?)