Friday, May 29, 2009


We are finally home! Bethany did great on her overnight trial, nursing with Mommy all night on Wednesday evening. She had not been taking the bottle well at all, any time this week, and most of her every three hour feedings had been given passively through the NG tube (tube going through her nose, directly down into her tummy). BUT, she has been nursing like a champ for the last two days while I have been at the hospital. This overnight trial was her final test and ticket out of the hospital. She passed with flying colors, even waking up on her own every three hours, and nursing at least 10 minutes each time and actually gained an ounce of weight by morning. My milk supply is absolutely insane (5-6 ounces every 3 hours), so 10 minutes is more than enough for her little body to handle, as her requirement for size is a mere 1-1/2ounce!

Grandma C picked us up from the hospital FOR THE LAST TIME Thursday morning, Tubby finally saw his baby sister for the FIRST TIME, and we opted to stay at their house in the cities one more night, as I had two appointments the next morning in the cities (and am still under orders not to drive = my mom would have had to drive out to Waconia the next morning, pick me up, and drive us all BACK to the cities....yuck). We enjoyed a calm afternoon at the house, with several naps(mostly taken by me), and finished our evening with a fantastic array of Indian food from India Palace, compliments of Grandpa. YUM!

Bethany slept well in a makeshift bed I prepared for her out of the same bathtub I had used as a baby. Laura and Tubby slept peacefully on the floor in my room, as they had for so many nights in a row.
I enjoyed the first night almost at home with my baby sleeping quietly beside my bed, waking every few hours to nurse and pump.

Waking up in the morning and NOT going to the hospital was WONDERFUL! So many days of getting up and going at 8am with my dad, being picked up at 2pm by my mom and two little ones, crashing and napping in the afternoons on the couch before inhaling a quick dinner, then back to the hospital at 6:30-8pm, only to do it all over again the following day. Sitting in uncomfortable chairs in the hot nursery trying to recover from abdominal surgery with nowhere to rest, being told how to take care of my own baby, following some ridiculous and unnatural feeding schedule, and actually having a limit on how much I could hold her. Most of the nurses were very nice, but the overall atmosphere was not nearly as welcoming or as family-friendly as the NICU with Laura had been. So very glad to have escaped with my baby and to have that road now behind us.
After our morning appointments were completed, we continued the drive to Waconia......and rolling in at just about noon, we were FINALLY HOME!!!! The rest of the day was spent settling in, setting up Bethany's new deluxe swing, resting comfortably on the couch, greeting a few visitors, welcoming a meal from my MOPS friends, Grandma helping to restock the kitchen with groceries, finding just the right spot for all the baby essentials like diapers, blankets, and pacifiers, and most of all, learning what it is like to be a family of 10! Which today meant LOTS of baby holding!!!

After 17 days away, it's SO GOOD to be HOME!!!!

Oh, and Happy Two Week Birthday, little Girl!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Anniversary Date

Today is our Anniversary. Seventeen years have gone by, with so many things to look back upon, and so many things to look forward to. Wow.

We celebrated by meeting up for a "date" at the hospital.....with all 8 of our children. Our wonderful nurse (who has been my favorite so far), was kind enough to allow for our annual Anniversary picture, despite all visiting policy rules. Bob and my mom lined up all the kids by the back door, staged very nicely for a photo shoot, the nurse had camera in hand, unplugged Bethany from her monitors, and we slipped out the neighboring back door for a VERY quick (like 60 seconds or less) photo shoot. It was great! Poor Tubby was asleep though, so he STILL has not yet seen his baby sister, as he is too freaked out to wear a mask to come inside to visit. (all siblings 12 and under need to don a mask, and only get to visit once per week....our day is Saturday, which happens to be today!)

Awwwww......aren't we such a cute family?

The kids got their 10 minute chance to hold their sister again, coming in pairs into the nursery. Bethany slept through all the commotion...even Laura's shrill little non-stop voice couldn't awaken her today. Bethany was dressed in her new knit bonnet, made by one of the nurse's mothers. I think it is absolutely adorable and fits her "Bethany Clementine" name perfectly:

We all barged into my parent's house after the hospital visit for a straight from the grill Anniversary BBQ, including a glass of wine, at a table for two at Chez Grandma & Grandpa's! We have rarely even gone out for our Anniversary, so this has been quite a special one, indeed. It has been so wonderful seeing Bob and the kids two days in a row....I miss them all so much. This separated family thing is NOT for me. It is very hard and sad. Not one to enjoy being separated from my children, even for a short amount of time(like, 2 hours), this is simply NOT FUN. Laura and Tubby have been staying here with me which certainly helps.
Tubby is so cute, and Laura has been my "mother hen", taking care of ME. It has been quite sweet. Bob is doing a fabulous job at home with the other independent five. But he returns to work on Tuesday, and it does not look promising that Bethany will be out of the hospital by then. Poor girl is still an institutional-made slug. It is so discouraging, as she had started out so strong. They literally have turned her into an incapable 34(now 35)weeker, when she had started as a very capable one. Anyhow, this is a post about our Anniversary, not one on "How They Wrecked my Baby". I AM trying to move beyond that now.....

The kids play so nice together, and it is just so much fun to see them all interacting. Tubby was so sad when they all drove away last night after our surprise pizza party (which included a surprise guest, Papa Don)....he just stood at the door, quietly pleading, "Gung-gung?(his word for Michael) Vroom-vroom?" He wanted so badly to go with them. So tonight, Bob took Laura and Tubby back to the house to play for the next few days with their siblings. Though I will be sad for the next two days without them, I know they are going to have a great time at home.
Thank you Bob, for a great Anniversary Day, and for being such a loving, supportive, caring husband! I love you!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Baby Bethany

Bethany Clementine Juliann Zajac blessed our lives on Friday May 15, at 2:53pm.
Weighing 4pounds, 14 ounces.....18.5 inches long.
A tiny little girl with velvet soft, dark brown hair, and dark, alert eyes. Long fingers and toes. A dainty little mouth and nose. Perfect. Little. Sweet and strong.

We are in love all over again.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

Mother's Day is better than my birthday. It is the one day I can count on where I get to sleep in, and actually REST a good portion of the day. The kids make me cute cards, give me great hugs, and actually DO appear thankful that I am their mom. It is a day to experience the best of both worlds...having my kids with me, while simultaneously relaxing. A difficult feat, to be sure.

After a great Mother's Day sermon,( devoid of the previously scheduled "antichrist" content that had been originally planned following our study in Daniel....can you just imagine all the mother-in-law jokes capable of being embedded in THAT? ) we headed to my parents' to park ourselves for the day. Grandma ? and Lyle met us there also, for great BBQ, a trip to the park, and games of croquet. I enjoyed the comforts of the couch, which was MUCH needed after Melissa's big weekend. Melissa, too, was still quite tired, and spent her day lying on the plush living room carpet, playing with the new supply of Barbies. Laura was her typical, constantly demanding self, but it was so nice to have a collection of other adults for her to hound after, instead of just me. Tubby was so content to play with all the building toys...we barely heard a peep from him all day. I don't know what the big boys were doing....hanging out on the other couches, listening to their Zunes and iTouches. Speaking of which, besides all the beautiful cards, Michael gave me some dark chocolate he had biked across town for the day before, and Bob gave me my own iTouch! I now will have something to do during those long monitoring hours! I have tried reading during those times, but I am always far too distracted by the actual monitoring that I can't focus on anything else.....darn it all for understanding those heart rhythm strips anyhow!
So, Bob, thanks for the love, the great kids, fabulous support, countless backrubs, and always way too nice presents.

Pam, thanks for the gift of your son, and the love you have raised in him.

Alex, thanks for being such a great first kid, and such a beautiful Christian role model for your many younger siblings.

Michael, thanks for the chocolate, and your willingness to try out nearly anything fun and exciting in life with me.

Jonny, thanks for being so dependable and willing to help at every moment in time...and especially for being the kiddo caregiver in my absence.

Melissa, thanks for showing me how much the little things in life are to be appreciated and cherished.

Crispy, thanks for being the calm in every storm, and the never-ending unwavering helper and comforter that you are.

Laura, thanks for showing us the beauty of life, and the miracle of God's graces through your vitality and spunk.

Tubby, thanks for the overflowing joy you have brought to my heart, every minute of your tiny, lovely existence.

And Mom, thanks for the gift of life, and the raising of myself to be the mother of all these wonderful little people...without you, there would have been none of the above!

Happy Mother's Day, everyone!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Golden Girl

Not quite sure who came up with this "golden birthday" idea long ago, but it sure has gained a lot of hype with school-aged kids. Melissa tends to talk about her birthday plans constantly, from the time Jonny has his birthday at the end of October, until her own birthday arrives on May 9th. Guess who is turning nine on her birthday this year, leading to even more elaborate plans than usual?

Since the opening of the American Girl Doll store at MOA earlier in the fall, that was the most obvious choice for her party. She and the neighbor girl will spend endless hours playing with their dolls, and never seem to tire of it. The dolls go outside, inside, to the park, to hockey games, shopping, everywhere the girls go, they go. We had a wonderful dinner with them in December to try out the new store and bistro. Yum and fun.

Melissa's Friday started out with beautiful "golden" flowers from Grandma C, and a few balloons. She brought rainbow colored cupcakes to school, dressed in a pretty yellow daisy dress she picked out at the store last week. In the afternoon, she came home on the bus with three friends from school, and the real celebration began!

In case you were wondering, a PARTY booked for two hours at the store costs $485 dollars for eight kids. Um, not so doable for us. We opted for the much less expensive route of a reserved dinner for just a few of Melissa's closest friends, and the Grandmas too. The girls had a nice time, the dolls were still treated to their own drinks and eats, and the adults went away happy and full. I enjoyed conversing and catching up with my good friend, Tracey, and my darling godchild, Lizzie, who it seems I have not seen in FOREVER. We were still able to purchase the signature cake for a modest amount, which included free ice cream. Followed by a lengthy window shopping experience through the rest of the store, the girls had quite a nice time. Melissa was glowing as she walked through the aisles, eager to spend her $70 of birthday money on some new items for her dolls. After finding just the right things, her doll was treated to getting her ears pierced (for an additional charge, of course). The other girls were good sports, helping Melissa to make wise purchase decisions.

Contrary to the silent ride out to the mall, the girls were bouncy, giddy, and LOUD, as they sang Hannah Montana songs during the 45 minute ride home. It was such a contrast to the earlier ride....these girls were wired! Once at home, Daddy came to the rescue and played some crazy, wild game in which he ended up drawing all over arms and feet, like silly tattoos. From the couch in the other room, I could hear all of their giggles and yelling quite clearly...they were having a great time. Exhausted, the girls fell asleep before 10:30pm, and awoke promptly at 7:20am, as usual. I pulled them away from their busy doll play long enough for some homemade waffles and pancakes with all the fixings: fresh berries, syrup, butter, and whipped cream. Does it get any better? While I had planned on driving them home early in the morning, everyone was playing so nicely, and also keeping Tubby and Laura entertained....I didn't have the heart to mess up their fun. By 2 pm, I had parents calling me, looking for their kiddos (I guess they all missed them?), so it was time to call the party officially over.

My girls rested for the remainder of the afternoon, and Laura threw a two hour long tantrum from being overtired. We had poppy seed chicken, salad, and fresh rolls as per Melissa's birthday dinner request. We then spent some special time getting her ready for the much anticipated Father/Daughter dance Saturday evening. I curled her hair, put her in a pretty dress, and painted her fingers and toes. She looked so pretty! Daddy dressed up nicely too, and let Melissa pick out a tie for him to wear. She chose SpongeBob, because "it would be funny." Apparently, Melissa was a bit overwhelmed by the amount of people at the dance (over 200), but Daddy tried his best to get her into the groove. By 8:30pm, she was simply too exhausted to make it longer after her big party evening the night before. Their early arrival home allowed us to celebrate her special day one more time with lemon poppy seed, lemon filled cupcakes (homemade, of course), and her favorite chip and mint ice cream before heading off to bed.

Good-night, our golden Princess! Happy Birthday!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Oh, To Be a Grandma

Grandmas get all the glory around here. Yep. Nothing gets the kids more excited than the statement, "Grandma's coming over!" That simple phrase is followed by wide-eyed excitement, jumping and shouts of "YAY!", multiple trips to the window watching for the special Grandma vehicle, and Tubby walking around the house calling out, "Mah-Mah! Mah-Mah!", as loud as his little two-year old lungs will allow. And no matter how long or short in between visits, the excitement level is always top notch.

My mom has been coming over at least once a week for the past few months to help out, let me rest, and to play with Laura and Tubby during the day. This has been the biggest help, as Laura spends most of every day begging for someone to play with while all the kids are at school, and somehow becoming perfectly incapable of finding something to do on her own. She is also one of those kids where you "give her an inch and she takes a mile" the days that I succumb to her pressure of play, even with solid limits on time, become a never ending tyraid of "let's play this, let's play that", and so on. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE playing with my kids, and I WISH there were nothing else in my day to get in the way of that. But, I do NOT have a maid, a cook, or a laundry service, or someone to wheel me around from place to place on a mobile bed, so bummer on a world of constant playtime. While we have been going to Abbott 2-3 times a week, Grandma has been meeting us down there(sometimes with Grandpa,too), and miraculously keeping the kids entertained in the boring hospital for hours on end.

Grandma fits the bill of a perfect playmate. She somehow has the energy to be enthused, captivated, and entertaining.....for hours at a time. She is fun, kind, loving, and funny. Not boring, like Mommy! She will read books, play dollhouse, make believe with stuffed animals, play with cars, and even play video games. And she's even good at it!! She also brings treats, buys McDonald's for lunch, and other great after school snacks. Oh, and when Grandma gets to sleep over, the girls' excitement bubble is almost enough to lift the roof! She does the dishes, scrubs floors, and would do the laundry if I had any organized to go. On therapy days, she makes dinner for everyone while Melissa and I are gone until dinner time. A few weeks ago, Melissa stated she liked it when I was in the hospital for so long (more than two weeks). Because then Grandma comes over to take care of them and makes them breakfast before school. I guess she is tired of Zbars and granola she needs to inhale in the truck every morning on her way.

Grandma ? drops by when she can, and is greeted with the same enthusiasm. She is immediately attacked by little arms pulling her this way and that, demanding her attention and playing talents. She will go anywhere....upstairs into the messy pit of danger (their room), the basement to ride plasma cars, down to the park to play in the dusty rocks. No rest for her at this house. No visit is complete without one of the kids begging her to take them back to the farm for a few days.

Both Grandmas are terrific supporters of kids' activities (as are Grandpa and Lyle when they are able to make it)....and the kids are usually treated to a nice sized cheering section, even without their own siblings in the audience. They come to plays, hockey games, long-winded school concerts, special days at schools, special fundraising events, award ceremonies, you name it.

Grandmas are pretty great......I look forward to being one someday. I only hope I have even half as much energy as these two do!!!