Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

I am so happy to be a mom. I have not always loved motherhood, but I am glad that I have learned to love it. Today, Caleb made a potholder for me at church, and it came with a card that said, "For a Hot Mama!". I think it is awesome. Natalie made a "butterfly" foot print for me at church using her feet. It is on a canvas and I can hang it up in our house. Both of the kids have been kind to each other, which makes me so happy. Rick and Caleb surprised me with a super awesome gift. They are planning a trip with our friends, the Dargers, who I just love. It was a wonderful surprise.

Today, I felt reassured that being a mom is a great job. Many times it is hard, but watching my kids grow up brings me so much joy. I am also super blessed to have such a great husband. Rick makes this parenting job so much easier for me.

One last thing...Ella is 4 months old today, and she is full of smiles, laughter, and love. We all love having her in our family!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Ella...Our Wonderful Surprise!

It has been way too long since I have posted on our blog. Seminary happened, and my blog went out the window. But, I have graduated from seminary again, so why not start the blog up again.

Probably the biggest thing that has happened in our family is that we have a new baby in our life. Ella Grace Wolfgramm is a little over five weeks old. She slept until 5:45 am this morning, which was a dream come true. Now, I am just waiting for the rest of the kids to wake up.

Here is the full scoop on Ella.

Last May, Rick and I realized I was pregnant. It was the last week of seminary, and I suspected I was pregnant, because I started feeling more tired, and my appetite had picked up. I did not want to know for sure until seminary was over. So, I waited for the last day of seminary to take the test, and sure enough, I was pregnant. My dear friend Julie and I had also decided to go to the Plaza Hotel for breakfast that morning. It was sort of a "let's do this before I move away" kind of event. So, it was this beautiful exciting day when I found out I was pregnant. Rick and I were surprised, because we were planning to move in another month, and we were going to wait to get pregnant until after the move. I guess Ella was ready to come earlier than that.

Ella is our third baby. The first two babies were born in New York state, and they were both c-sections. After Caleb was born, I was so devastated that I had to have a c-section. I remember feeling like the size of our family would be limited because of the c-section. I hate to say this, but I really think if I had a different doctor, we could have avoided the c-section. I was emotional and angry about what had happened. Eventually, I learned to accept that everything would be okay, and I was happy to have a healthy baby.

Natalie was born in New York City, and she is super proud to tell everyone that she was born there. When I was pregnant with Natalie, I really wanted to find a doctor who was willing to deliver by VBAC. It was a challenge to find a doctor in NYC who delivers by VBAC. Eventually, I found a great doctor. I even felt like I was guided to find her, and I felt confident that everything would work out as it should.

The pregnancy was easy and uneventful. But, I went into labor the same way I did with Caleb. My water broke at about 11 pm. We rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night. A doctor I had not met before was on call. I labored until I was dilated to a seven. I received an epidural, and the baby's heart rate went down. I was so bummed that the same thing happened again. The doctor on call quickly decided we were going in for a c-section. Even though I was disappointed, I was better at coping with a c-section delivery this time. After all, I had done this before.

By the time baby number three came around, I was all prepared for a c-section. The standard was that you could try a VBAC after one c-section, but after two was not recommended. In many ways, I felt relieved, because I knew what to expect this time. I was ready to walk into the hospital, and have a baby an hour or two later. I was excited to avoid the labor pains.

When I was about three months pregnant, my uncle Steve, who is an OBGYN, told me that doctors are now performing VBACs after two c-sections, and that the standard had changed. I could not believe this. I entertained the thought for a little bit, and I asked my own doctor about it. But, by this time, I really was done with the whole idea of trying a VBAC. My doctor was not too excited about the idea of attempting a VBAC, and I didn't want to go through all that emotional drama again.

My pregnancy with Ella was healthy, but it was not as smooth as my pregnancy with my other babies. When I was at 32 weeks, I had some bleeding, and I spent the night in the hospital. Fortunately, the bleeding stopped. I still don't know for sure what caused the bleeding, but the baby seemed to be okay. I was told to take things easy until I was closer to my due date. From that time on, I had a number of contractions. Most of them were Braxton Hicks type contractions, but every once in awhile, I would get some that were more painful.

My doctor scheduled my c-section with the hospital one week before my due date. That made me a little nervous, because Caleb came two weeks early, and Natalie came one week early. I was a little confused about my due date, but we scheduled the c-section to be one week before the due date we thought was most correct. Rick and I thought there would be no way I would make it to my scheduled section, and that I would probably go into labor early again. I was hoping to avoid labor all together, but I figured I could handle a little bit of labor time until we got to the hospital.

On Thursday, January 12, I started to feel heavy contractions. It was about bedtime, and Rick thought I was just trying to get out of putting the kids to bed. I wasn't sure if this was real either. They were definitely more painful. Some of them were really close together, but I remember one set being about 13 minutes apart. My doctor had said that the timing did not matter as much because I was going to have a c-section. She said that if I start to have painful contractions, I should just come in right away. We called our wonderful neighbor Leslee to come stay with the kids until Rick's dad could get here from the Tri-Cities. And, Rick and I raced off to the hospital.

Rick and I both wanted to have this baby before Friday the 13th, and it looked like we would, because we arrived at the hospital a little after 9 pm. This was my third baby, and it was the third time I went into labor and the doctor on call was not the doctor I had been seeing all along. Dr. Rowles was on call, and I had heard really great things about him from a number of people. I felt more at ease with him than I did with my other "backup doctors".

I came into the hospital totally in labor, and I explained to the nurses that I was supposed to have a c-section, but it wasn't scheduled for 8 more days. They asked me about my last two deliveries. When they found out I had sections for my other babies because of the epidural, they told me that normally that isn't something that requires a c-section. I knew that, but that is just the way it had worked out. The next thing I knew, we were in a triage room, and a team of doctors and nurses came in to try to talk me into a VBAC. Seriously, there were three nurses, a med student, a resident, and Dr. Rowles all came in and said they thought I should try a VBAC. Rick and I were a little bit in shock. Seriously! We always wanted to have a vaginal delivery with our babies, but it seemed like we had to convince everyone else around us. This time, the medical team was trying to convince us. My initial thought was no, but they seemed so confident that this would work. We called my dad, who discouraged us from doing a VBAC, but he also wanted us to make the decision. Rick and I prayed about it as people were coming in and out of the room. We decided to move forward and try it out.

It was amazing, because everything went as smooth as it could go. I think the nurses and doctors really wanted to make the VBAC work. My anesthesiologist was extra careful with the epidural. I think she gave a smaller dose over a longer period of time to make sure the baby's heart rate did not go down again. This time, my water had to be broken, which was different than what happened with Caleb & Natalie. After a night of waiting and laboring, Ella was born at 7:02 AM on Friday, January 13th. At that moment, I did not care that our baby was born on Friday the 13th. I thought this was the luckiest thing ever to happen to us.

When Ella was born, I remember feeling so excited that the VBAC had worked. Rick was the first one to call out, "It's a girl!" That moment was so wonderful. Rick said it was the happiest he had ever seen me. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. They immediately put Ella on my chest, and I was able to cuddle with her for a whole hour. It was wonderful. This was the first time I was able to hold my baby right away. With the other two, the babies were rushed off to get testing done, and I was rushed off to recover. This was the first time Rick was able to cut the cord. It was really wonderful.

Ella was born right at dawn. The sky was just coming to life. I felt like she was a little miracle. I had completely accepted that it would be okay to have another baby by c-section. I was okay with it. But, I feel like Heavenly Father gave us one of those tender mercies by letting Ella come by VBAC. My grandmother texted me that she thought my Grandpa Robison was there helping make sure everything worked out the way it should. I think she was right. My grandpa passed away about six months ago, and he was an OBGYN. I also think he was watching over us to make sure everything worked out alright.

Ella Grace was 8 lbs 6.5 oz and 19.5 inches. She weighed the most of all my babies, and she seemed as sweet as could be. I am so grateful to have her in our family, and I am so grateful for the blessing we received by having her come in her own surprising way.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Natalie's "Big Apple"

Hi everyone. Niki has asked me to document an amazing event that I witnessed just a few days ago. I had recently returned home from work on a pleasant New York evening, Niki was making dinner, and I didn’t want to waste the good weather. I gathered the kids, some bubbles, and sidewalk chalk and took the kids outside to the stoop. As I was entertaining Caleb and Natalie with bubbles and sidewalk drawings, Caleb was eating a fist-sized red apple. After he had eaten his fill, he kindly gave the remainder to his little sister who had been eyeing the apple the whole time. At this point, Caleb took over the bubbles and chalk, allowing me to sit next to Natalie on the steps of our stoop. My attention was initially directed to Caleb, but it quickly swung to Natalie who cupped the apple in her two little hands and nibbled away with her six baby teeth like a chipmunk. I watched in awe as she rotated the apple in her hands chomping around the perimeter. Soon she made her way to the apple core, then she began to eat the core. My first impulse was to stop her, but my curiosity got the best of me. I wanted to see how far she would go. I just watched her as she ate the CORE, SEEDS, and even the STEM! I couldn’t believe my eyes! My 17-month-old daughter had eaten the whole apple! She just sat there with her contagious smile. I scooped her up and took her straight into the house and told Niki, “I think this little girl is ready for some dinner.”

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Busy Weeks and A Peaceful Sunday

Our New Busy Life

I have not written much, because we have been busy lately. I started teaching early morning seminary, and it has been wonderful! I love it, but as I anticipated, I have had to let go of some other activities. Most of these activities are not that important anyways, so it has been good for me to filter out what is not a high priority in my television. Writing in this blog has also taken a hit. Hopefully, I will figure out a way to still write during this busy year.

From August 20 to September 18, we had three sets of visitors. It was so fun for family to come visit. We love NYC, and we love our family. When family come to visit, it is like we are on vacation too. We get to do fun tourist activities with them. The highlights of this month of visitors included:
1. Going to a Mets game with Kayla and Trent.
2. Eating out at yummy places with David and Talia. I especially loved going to Serendipity. The frozen hot chocolate is worth the wait.
3. Seeing The Addams Family with Sherrie, Maren, and Keilani.

We were so happy for our visitors, because we are not able to travel much right now. Our funds are low, and plane tickets across the country are pricey. We are so thankful that these people were willing to come out. We have a line up of visitors for the Fall, who we are also looking forward to seeing.

Teaching on the Fly and Listening to the Spirit

At the beginning of church today, the Bishop came up to me and said what every member dreads to hear. "Our third speaker isn't going to make it today. Would you be willing to share your testimony with us?" He said I could talk a little about seminary, or whatever I wanted to talk about. Now that I am teaching seminary, I do feel more capable of just talking about the gospel at any given moment, but I was still anxious about this situation. What should I say? Should I talk about what it is like to teach seminary? Should I talk about how great the kids are? Should I talk about the Savior or Joseph Smith or the Doctrine & Covenants? Should I talk about serving in the church and doing things that are hard? All these thoughts were rolling around in my head. I was anxious for the first 20 minutes of sacrament meeting, and then I knew what I should say.

I decided I would talk about part of the Plan of Salvation. My seminary lesson on the Plan of Salvation did make an impact on my life, and it would be easy for me to bear testimony about it. I specifically wanted to talk about what it means to "act for ourselves and not to be acted upon." This is found in 2 Nephi Chapter 2. We spent some time discussing this idea in seminary. I like this concept, because this is one of our big tests in life. Once I decided to share this scripture and bear testimony about it, I felt completely at peace. So, I listened and enjoyed the first twotalks.

The first speaker also talked a little about the Plan of Salvation. He ended up giving a longer talk than anticipated. The second speaker was my friend and neighbor (who I did not know was giving a talk today or the topic she was speaking on). Keep in mind I had already decided what I would say. She got up and she started to speak about Agency. She specifically mentioned this idea of acting for ourselves and not being acted upon. I was so amazed, because her talk was so similar to the ideas that I felt I should share. She also mentioned the Plan of Salvation. By the time she finished her talk, we were out of time, and I was not needed to speak after all. I was fine with that, but I was really impressed with this whole experience.

I felt anxiety when I did not know what to say, and then once I realized the right thing to say, I felt peace. The amazing thing is that the message I was prompted to share was the message my neighbor was ready to share. I hope this makes sense. From this experience, I learned that the Spirit can guide us, and when we are guided in the right direction, we will feel peace.

Learning from the Scriptures

I also learned some great lessons in Gospel Doctrine today. I didn't expect to, because I was watching Natalie and Rick was in a YM presidency meeting. They keep scheduling these during Gospel Doctrine. Any way, the last time I was alone with Natalie during Gospel Doctrine I was hardly able to listen to the lesson. Today was different. We were talking about Isaiah ch 40-49. I really didn't expect this to make an impact on me, but it did.

To better explain this, let me start from last Sunday. Caleb has been having a tough time with me not being in Primary any more. Last Sunday he was "kicked out" of Primary. I don't think he was being disruptive. I guess he was acting sick, and they thought he wasn't well. He was just fine. He just didn't want to be there. A couple days later at school, Caleb ended up yelling loudly at the teacher who was teaching that day. He was so angry, and he came home super angry. At one point that afternoon I put him in time out until he could calm down. I frequently do this with him, and he will calm down in about five minutes or so. On this day, he was not calming down. After about 20 minutes of him being hysterical, I had to hold him until he calmed down.

So, I have had a rough week with Caleb. The following thoughts have been going through my head...How many times do I have to tell him not to yell inside? How many times do I have to tell him not to antagonize his sister? When will he be able to behave appropriately? When will he be able to act for himself and not be acted upon? I can't wait for the day when he will be able to make his own decisions without my help. Will he be able to make good choices someday?

Okay. Back to Isaiah. These are some of the scriptures we read, and they seemed to speak directly to me and these concerns I have had with Caleb. Isaiah 40:28-31. The Lord never gets weary of us and our mistakes and our slowness to learn. If we wait upon the Lord, then we can also develop this strength and not be weary. I have felt weary with teaching Caleb, but I should call upon the Lord and try to be more like him. I should be more patient with Caleb's learning process.

Isaiah 44:3-4. Just as the Lord can pour water upon him who is thirsty, he can pour his spirit upon our seed and bless our offspring. And they (the offspring) shall spring up. I do worry about Caleb, and wonder if he will ever get it. Will he understand the gospel someday? Will he behave appropriately someday? I need to trust in the Lord and the blessings of the temple and know that he can "spring up" and be blessed with the Lord's spirit.

Isaiah 46:3-4. There is a metaphor here of the Lord carrying the house of Jacob from the womb until they are of old age and have grey hairs. It seems like the Lord is being compared to a parent, but really he is greater than a parent. Most parents look forward to their children moving out when they are 18, long before their children start getting grey hairs. The Lord will carry us our whole life. This is consistent with him never being weary of us. Maybe I shouldn't look so forward to the day of being relieved from caring for my children. The Lord is willing to carry us our whole life. What great love. I should also try to display this love.

Last one...Isaiah 49:15-16. Again the Lord is compared to a parent - specifically a mother. Can a woman forget her child? She may, but the Lord will not forget. He has engraven us upon the palms of his hands. Our walls are continually before him. This may sound a bit sacrilegious, but I feel like my c-section scar is "engraven" upon me. It is just a reminder of bringing these children into this world, and knowing that I am their mother. The real message here is that the Lord will never forget us and our walls are continually before him. Can I love as the Lord does and continually be aware of the walls my children face? At this point for Caleb, it is behavioral, but someday it could be more serious.

There were many other wonderful passages we talked about today, but these were the ones that spoke to me.

To anyone still reading, sorry to write such a long post. I just had an uplifting day, and I wanted to write it down so I don't forget it.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day - The Unofficial End to Summer

Today was one of those rare occasions when every member of our family was home. To celebrate this day, we took advantage of the public pool. It was the last day the pool would be open until next summer. We had to seize the day and brave the pool, even though we were a little worried about how warm it would be.

At the beginning of the summer, I hoped that Caleb would be able to swim by the end of the summer. He is super great at jumping into the pool. Maybe he is too great at it, because when we go to the pool, he likes to jump over and over again. In fact, as I am writing this, I am realizing why I have had a constant bruise on my arm all summer. When Caleb normally jumps into the pool, I am holding Natalie, and I try to catch Caleb with one arm. That one arm has had a bruise on it for most of the summer. I just realized why. Back to swimming. Today we had Rick in the pool with us, which made things much easier. Rick was helping Caleb swim, and then I asked Caleb to swim to me. I tricked him a little, because as I saw him swim closer to me, I kept backing up to encourage him to swim farther. He finally gave up swimming to me, and swam to the edge of the pool instead. We estimated that he swam about 12 feet on his own! It was so awesome. He was proud of himself, and Rick and I praised him with huge grins on our faces. We were unable to convince him to do this again, but we were still super proud of him.

Natalie is also quite the character at the pool. She loves the pool, and even if Caleb and me get cold, she still stays warm. The cool water doesn't seem to bother her. There is about a 1 foot edge on the pool that is covered by the water. Natalie loves to sit on the edge and crawl along it. She amazes the people nearby, because she can lift herself out of the pool by holding onto this edge and she can ease herself back into the pool. She just holds on to this edge, even though there is 3 feet of water below her. Don't worry, I am normally within arms distance of her. She also likes to "jump" into the pool, just like her brother, and then lay on the cement with him when he is drying off. At the beginning of the summer, a lady at the pool taught Natalie how to wag her finger in a "No, No, No" fashion. It is pretty cute. I should probably try to record it and post it on here.

Our pool day was cold, but it was fun to be together as a family. Caleb and I did get cold, and then we laid on the cement to dry off. The cement was so warm after the cool pool. As I laid there smelling the ground, I had memories of my own childhood and swimming. I was amazed at how relaxing this was. Seriously, everyone should try it, even if you are an adult.

This past weekend David & Talia visited us. We had so much fun with them exploring NYC, and eating at some of the most delicious restaurants. I especially enjoyed holding their baby Landon. He was so sweet and innocent. He reminded me how fast babies grow up. Caleb especially loved playing with David, who he referred to as a "big kid" and Caleb was the "little kid". This might have confused Caleb a little bit, because he was surprised to find out Landon was David's son. He didn't know "kids" could have sons. Talia and I also had a much needed girls outing to Serendipity 3 for the best chocolate drink I have ever had. It makes me smile to think about it.

The pool is closing. David, Talia, & Landon left. The leaves are starting to change...a little bit. Summer is ending. Caleb swam about 12 feet. Natalie learned how to walk this summer. It is a good thing Fall is so amazing around here, otherwise I would be more sad for summer to end. We are also looking forward to a visit next week from Grandma and more aunts. Yay! Maybe we will hold onto summer a little bit longer.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Natalie's Pivot Trick and other Talents

Natalie is walking all over the place now. Sometimes she looks like a sailor drunk on milk as she toddles around our apartment. Now that she is walking, her pivot trick has died out, but I want to remember that she used to do this all the time. This video showcases her talent...

What else is going on with Natalie at 15 months? Well, we think she will be an obedient child. Many times, I ask Caleb to do something, and then I notice that Natalie is trying to follow through with my directions. For example, if I ask Caleb to put his shoes on, many times he acts like he doesn't hear me. I will start to get impatient, but then I will turn around and see Natalie is picking out her shoes and trying to put them on her feet. What a sweetie.

Recently, I heard Natalie wake up from a nap. She wasn't crying, just chattering in her room. I sneaked into her room to see what she was up to. It turns out she was talking to a stuffed animal in her bed. I couldn't understand what the conversation was about, but she seemed to be happy about it.

Now that Natalie is walking, she has a new favorite place in our apartment. It is the fridge. Poor Natalie, how much longer until I don't tease her about food. She loves to pound on the fridge until Rick or I go and open the door for her. Sometimes she just likes to look in, but most of the time she wants a glass of milk.

Natalie is also following in her brother's footsteps with a love for books. She loves to look at books. Many times she will grab a book and climb onto Caleb's toddler size bed to read to herself. She even likes to babble to herself while she looks at a picture book...many times the book is upside down.

At this moment, my family is trying to make some new house rules that have to do with bedtime. Caleb suggested, "No stepping on people's heads." Good rule Caleb. I better go join them.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Called to Serve

A little over a week ago, our bishop called me up and wanted to meet with Rick and me. He requested to come by our home, which is a little out of the ordinary compared to other callings that I have received in the past. He didn't even say he was coming to call me to something, he just said he wanted to come by and visit. When he came, he started to talk to me about what my time schedule was like and whether I would be willing to serve more in the church. I really had no idea where he was going with all of this. Rick and I are planning to move away in less than a year. It didn't make sense that he would call me to be a president of an organization, and I doubt he would make a house call to place me in a presidency. I really wasn't sure what was going on. Rick anticipated what was happening, but I didn't understand until the words were actually stated. "We are considering calling you to be an EARLY morning seminary teacher." Early morning seminary...I was in a bit of shock.

I have had a range of emotions go through my head since that evening. The first was definitely shock. The next thoughts I had were a sense of possibility. Rick and I could make this happen. Logically, I could attend seminary and be home before Rick had to go to work. Our kids sleep through the night (for the most part), and I do not feel overwhelmed in other aspects of my life right now. Yes. I could do this. I told the bishop that I probably could be a seminary teacher, and I even thought it could be a great opportunity for our family. He told me it WILL be a great opportunity for our family.

The next range of thoughts to go through my head had to do with doubt and inadequacy. How could I be a seminary teacher? Sure I know the scriptures, but there are so many other people who seem to know them better than I do. I thought of my previous seminary teachers who seemed so much more experienced in life than me. I thought of trying to prepare lessons and wondering when and how I could realistically do this. The doubt definitely came in, but I tried to not let it linger.

Soon after my doubtful thoughts I began to be excited again. I was going to be teaching Doctrine & Covenants and Church History. I have a great opportunity to study Joseph Smith and the restoration of the church. I thought of my connection to church history. Our family has been to most of the church history sites, which I thought would be useful as I teach this year. I also thought of my own family history and how great it will be to understand more about my own ancestors and their role in the restoration of the gospel.

Even though this excited feeling had crowded out my doubts, I still felt a twinge of anxiety over the task of teaching five days a week at 6 AM! A couple days after the bishop visited with me, our friend and neighbor - who is also on the high council - came by to officially extend the calling of seminary teacher to me. He immediately set me apart. I don't remember the specifics of the blessing. It extended to our family and to my students. The thing I remember the most about this blessing is that my feeling of anxiety was gone. It has been gone ever since. Now, I am excited and at peace with what this year will bring.

In preparation, I have been reading the RS/Priesthood manual on Joseph Smith. Previously, I had only read a couple chapters in this book, because I was attending Primary the two years that the RS studied this book. I am enjoying this manual and I am gaining a stronger testimony of the restoration of the church. A couple thoughts that have stood out to me are: 1 - The church was restored line upon line and 2- The Book of Mormon was essential to the organization of the church. Rick's mom also sent me a book that I started reading entitled "Becoming a Great Gospel Teacher". I have only started this book, but it looks promising, plus it is endorsed by Sherrie, a Great Seminary Teacher.

I realize there are some things I will have to sacrifice to make this calling work. I might be watching less television this coming year. I just got back into reading novels since Natalie was born. I am worried that my novel reading will also be put on hold. And, I started this blog. I hope that I will still find time to write. I love writing our "Family Journal" in this blog.

I do think the spirit has been preparing me for this. Even though I was shocked to learn about this new opportunity, the thought of teaching seminary had crossed my mind before. I would even say teaching seminary has crossed my mind a handful of times. Each time, I thought, that would be cool, but I quickly dismissed the thought. Who really dwells on the idea of teaching a class at 6 AM? I think the spirit was preparing me. The week before this call, a friend of mine from high school reminded me of a female seminary teacher who was truly a great teacher. I was reminded of the great impact she had on the LDS students at my high school. Lastly, the day the Bishop came to visit us, I attended institute that day. The class was all about Joseph Smith, and we watched a seminary video. The video was new. After the class, I thought how wonderful it would be to teach seminary and see all the other videos on the DVD. I also wished that I had been to more institute classes to learn more about Joseph Smith. As my shock was wearing off, I was reminded of some of these thoughts, and I realized that the spirit really had been preparing me for this calling.

Today, we got a new bishopric in our ward. It is satisfying to realize the great work the previous bishopric has done, and it is exciting to see the hope and testimony of the new bishopric coming in. I love that our church functions through volunteer service. People are willing to serve, because of their testimony of Jesus Christ. That is why we give of our time to help bring others and ourselves to Christ.