I finished the Thankful All Year project! It was an amazing year with so much to be thankful for. It has also been a very difficult year filled with heartache and stress.

I hope you’ll understand why SoSaysKit will need to be on indefinite hiatus while I focus on other areas of my life. I do hope to finish out the Thankful All Year project posts and upload them to SoSaysKit but I’m not sure when I will be able to devote the time and energy.  

Thank you, so much, for being great friends the last few years. I hope your journey takes you on beautiful adventures! 

Falling gracefully- as always, 


Posted in Uncategorized

Day 178: Why Improving Birth Matters To Me.

This was a traumatic birth experience but this isn’t intended to scare anyone. This is intended to make you question the common practices in place in many hospitals. It’s intended to make you think about what a normal birth is and should be. How you can make choices to increase your chance of having a normal, successful birth. This is taken directly from my original blog post (on our old family blog). It’s what I wrote in the days after Dex’s birth when everything was new and fresh in my mind and still overwhelming. After the original birth story I’ll share what I learned in the weeks, months, and years later. Dex’s Birth Story April 21st 11:15 am Progress for Sure

After two weeks of no developments, we are sure things have started rockin’ and rollin’. Over the weekend signs of labor had increased so we went to our appointment with lots of excitement and anticipation. Once there however, it was quickly determined that I have not dilated or effaced further. The only change that did occur is that my blood pressure was pretty high. So Doctor O. is having me hooked up to the monitor for an hour to make sure the baby isn’t stressed.
1:00 pm Commiseratory Lunch
Because I am pretty depressed after our appointment we decided to go to the restaurant that cures ails and heightens good news. Mexico Viejo brought little more than instant chimichanga gratification.
2:45 pm
Kai got ready to go to work to my dismay. I try not to show how upset I am but of course Kai knows. He offers to stay home but we both know that he needs to go. I am starting to feel pretty nauseous, tired and just pretty off but chalk it up to the little progress my body is making.
5:00 pm
I get a surprise phone call from Kai, he’s headed home. I didn’t realize that I had sent him a text requesting him to do this. I was more concerned by the fact that I had actually asked him to come home than the fact that he actually came home. I’m still pretty upset so we decided to lie down and try to relax since my blood pressure had been pretty high earlier.
8:00 pm
I woke up from relaxing feeling like crap. I’m irritable and nauseous but I know I should eat something. Since Kai is home it means that it is his responsibility to forage for dinner. I didn’t want anything we had at home so Kai went to the store to get some dinner makings.
8:30 pm Water… Breaks…??
My water broke but I wasn’t sure because it didn’t gush, trickle, or drip. It just wasn’t and then it was and then it wasn’t. To everyone who said I would know… I didn’t. You lied. I called Kai to explain what happened and see what he thought. We decided I should wait a little while to see if it kept happening. By the time he got home, I was almost convinced my water had indeed broke but called the hospital anyways to explain to them, just in case I was crazy. The nice nurse on the phone laughed really hard and said to come in and congrats, we’d have a baby soon!
9:00 pm Water… Broke…??
We get to the hospital and are taken to a Labor/Delivery/Recovery room to make sure my water balloon had actually burst. The test was false but in a weird way. They have a yellow strip that turns blue when in contact with amniotic fluid. My test turned green. They hadn’t seen that before so they thought maybe it was a problem with the strip. We waited a little while until Dr. O. came and did a painful pelvic exam and retested. Success! Blue means go. Dr. O. let us know that the labor was underway. Kai and I keep saying how surreal everything is now that’s its actually happening. I can tell Kai is really excited and doesn’t seem nervous about his role for the next several hours.
Dr. O. gets to the hospital and I am starting to have mild contractions. I’m examined and we find out I am still only 1 cm dilated and 50% effaced. Strange since my water broke. That usually doesn’t happen unless you are further along than that. I am bummed but Kai reminds me that it is really happening and I’ll start dilating soon. We joke with Dr. O. and the nursing staff about our stubborn baby. Always has to be his way. We start walking the halls waiting for things to get going for real.
April 22nd 12:30
Contractions seem to be coming 5-7 minutes apart and are increasing in intensity. I decide the whirlpool sounds pretty good at this point and jump in. Immediate relief. I start feeling pretty good about the whole natural childbirth thing and Kai and I keep joking about women complaining about nothing. Contractions keep increasing and Kai keeps me breathing through each one. I can’t believe how well both of us are doing. We talk about our friends from school who recently had a natural birth and how right they were- you just have to remember not to fight the contractions. Thanks for the advice by the way.
1:00 am
I have to get out of the whirlpool in order to do some paperwork and get hooked up to the monitors for the routine status check. I get out and immediately want to get back in. Hello real labor. After I’m on the monitor for 30 minutes I should be able to get back in the whirlpool. Contractions are about 4 minutes apart and getting stronger. Kai and I talk about how well I’m doing and how fast things are moving. We both hope I take after my sisters with fast labor and the nurses laugh at the thought of a first time labor going fast.
1:30 am
Have been on the monitors long enough to establish contractions coming 3 minutes apart, my heart rate is a little high, and my blood pressure is going up and down. Baby has a high heart rate but that’s pretty normal at this stage. They decide I need to stay hooked up to the monitors for a while longer to make sure our levels don’t get worse. Kai keeps me laughing and breathing through each contraction.
2:30 am
Contractions are 1-2 minutes apart and very intense. Both our heart rates keep maxing out on the machine setting off the alarms. My blood pressure rocks back and forth between too high and too low. I start thinking seriously that this isn’t going to happen without some kind of intervention and talk to Kai about our options. Kai is so supportive but encourages me to do what feels right. Dr. O. comes in and explains the baby is head down but is face up which means bad back labor. Even knowing it will be even more painful than I thought, I decide to try to keep going as long as we aren’t putting either of us at risk.
3:00 am
I decide it’s not going to happen. I can barely tell Kai that I want the epidural even though we discussed it earlier. I know he won’t be disappointed but I worry he’ll push for me to work through another contraction. Then another. I know I can’t take it anymore. Contractions are coming so fast now and I’m scared because the alarms on the monitor keeps going off constantly. I can’t move or they lose the baby’s heart rate. I’m getting really scared. Kai and I talk and decide it’s our best option at that point. Kai reassures me and comforts me. We both know it’s better this way. Our stats continue to be alarming. We know it will be at least an hour before I can get the epidural because they have to give a certain amount of fluid before. I’m hooked up to the IV and wonder if the baby and I will make it through the hour. Kai keeps my mind off things by talking about what the baby will be like. I know it must be hard for him to keep so calm.
3:45 am
Anesthesiologist arrives and begins explaining the process. I listen carefully to his instructions because I don’t want a botched job. Kai comforts me as I breathe through several contractions during the epidural process. The epidural goes great and I start feeling relief immediately. Our stats begin to even out, although they stay a little on the high side. Dr. O. explains that my contractions may slow down a bit but knows we want to stay away from Pitocin.
4:00-6:00 am
Kai and I try to rest as we wait for the contractions to do their job. They are now 30 seconds to 1 minute apart. Things have stayed on course and there is no need for Pitocin. Thanks to the epidural I get a good nap in while Kai tries to rest but can’t quite calm down enough. Dr. O. checks me out and I’m 8 cm and 100% effaced. It won’t be long now. We joke around with the nurses and Dr. O. They can’t believe the crazy funny things that come out of our mouths.
7:00-8:00 am
Dr. O. checks me out and decides it’s time to push. Kai and I are so happy that the epidural didn’t slow down labor at all. That had been our big worry and the major reason we had decided to try a natural childbirth. The baby hasn’t moved all the way down yet but that’s pretty common. Our stats have been going up again but it’s probably just because things are moving along now. I can’t feel anything and rely on Dr. O. to tell me when to push. Kai and I crack jokes and banter back and forth. We are both worried about the alarms going off on the monitors but try to comfort each other through our quirky sense of humor.
8:00-9:00 am
Contractions are no longer showing up on the monitors. Baby’s heart rate keeps maxing out the monitor and my blood pressure rockets between high and low. The nurse tries to determine contractions by feeling my abdomen and we go with what she says. I push when I’m told and breathe when I’m told and worry that it’s not good enough. Kai looks scared but keeps praising my efforts. Our cell phones keep ringing with family members wondering if the baby is here yet. Dr. O. decides to start Pitocin to try to get the contractions back on the monitor. We had discussed in our appointments that we wanted to avoid Pitocin but Dr. O. says we have no choice now. They keep increasing the dose while I keep pushing each time the nurse feels a contraction coming. Dr. O. starts talking to us about decreasing the strength of the epidural to help me push. The baby still hasn’t moved down and both of our stats are high. I don’t even look at Kai, we both are thinking the same thing. Whatever it takes, the feeling in the room is we just need to get the baby out as soon as possible. The nurse turns down the epidural and we wait for a contraction to come. I can’t feel anything still, that is one good epidural. Still no contractions on the monitor. The nurse keeps turning it down and another nurse keeps up-ing the Pitocin. Our stats are maxing out the monitors which makes the alarm go off constantly. I keep hoping they will just turn the sound off since a nurse is watching it anyways. Dr. O. suggests turning off the epidural because it isn’t wearing off fast enough. Kai keeps me focused and I keep pushing and breathing when told. I throw up all over myself and have to have my gown changed. I’m feeling pretty crappy what with the pain and now there’s a substantial amount of puke in my hair. I start feeling a lot of pressure and Dr. O. looks relieved. A nurse comes in and asks Dr. Olson to step into the other room. Apparently, another woman is in labor and has decided it’s time to push. Dr. O. moves between our rooms and I hope one of us has a baby soon. I start feeling the contractions again, the epidural is wearing off.
9:00 am – 12:00 pm
I can now feel everything. I vaguely notice nurses coming and going. Each time they come back they have some kind of machine or device with them. I feel like I’m screaming and swearing but everyone keeps saying how well I’m doing and how focused I am. Kai is the only reason I’m still breathing and pushing. I tune everyone else out and just listen to him comfort me. I can tell he’s scared but he’s holding it together. He gets yet more phone calls from our family wondering if the baby has arrived. I wish we had thought to turn our phones off. The contractions seem constant and last forever. I joke with Dr. O. that I’d like that c-section now. She laughs but I’m pretty sure we all are thinking this isn’t going to end well without surgery. When I began pushing, the rate was 3 – 10 count pushes per contraction. Now the contractions last so long the rate is 6 – 10 count pushes with enough time to get 2 deep breaths before the next one. They suggest I move into a different position to help the baby come down. He still hasn’t moved down an inch. I tune out the alarms and struggle to move to a new position. Much worse. I don’t want to do this anymore and tell the nurse. She thinks I mean the position. I beg for them to get the baby out. I throw up again. I can’t listen to the alarms anymore. I can’t keep pushing. We aren’t getting anywhere. Dr. O. comes back from the other labor room and I am sobbing and screaming (Kai tells me later that I was actually scary quiet). She agrees that it’s time to call the surgeon for a c-section. She has the nurse turn the epidural back on. We are all relieved that it’s almost over. We will have to wait a while for the c-section because there are surgeries already underway.
12:00-2:00 pm
I can’t feel the epidural working. I keep screaming that something is wrong but everyone keeps telling me I will feel better soon. I keep telling them it’s not working, it’s all wrong but they aren’t listening. The nurses are exchanges looks and I can’t tell whats going on. Kai keeps me breathing. I can’t do anything else but tell them it’s still not working. I’m terrified the placenta is going to rupture or I’m going to have an aneurysm or the baby is in too much distress from the intense contractions and long labor. I keep praying that they will figure out that something is wrong with the epidural and that the surgery will happen soon. Someone finally gets the epidural turned back on. The nurse who was in charge of it wasn’t familiar with the new system and had been pushing the delay button instead of the dose button so I obviously hadn’t received any relief yet. I throw up again, just in time to talk to the anesthesiologist again. It finally kicked in just in time for the surgery room to be released. The other woman in labor apparently was in distress as well and Dr. Olson was trying to establish who needed the c-section first. The other woman ended up pushing her baby out just when it was decided that we needed the surgery room now.
2:00 pm
I’m wheeled to the surgery room for prep while Kai gets gowned up. I’m terrified. I overhear so many things about what is going wrong with me and the baby at this point, I just want to shut down. I meet Dr. E. who will perform the surgery. The anesthesiologist banters with Dr. E. and I joke with them to keep from losing it. I suddenly feel sick and black out. They have to stabilize me and I feel like I’m not going to make it. Finally they let Kai in and he looks like he’s thinking the same thing. We try to joke but I’m so out of it I know I’m not up to my usual level of wit. They start the surgery and I hear Dr. E. say they may have to cut the other way because of the way the baby is wedged in there. Since they had already made the normal bikini line cut, I got very freaked out and threw up all over myself yet again. Kai saw more than he wanted to because the curtain didn’t go high enough to keep it from him.
2:40 pm Dex Noah is born. 7 pounds 8 ounces. 20 inches long.
It took several nurses and interns to get the baby out because of his position. I hear him cry but everything goes black. I keep hearing people talking and try to tell Kai to go with the baby. I wonder if this is it and am just glad the baby is crying. I feel a burning in my arm and open my eyes and see Kai with our baby watching him get poked and prodded. Something is wrong and I’m bleeding more than usual. Kai brings the baby over and I get to see him and I try to talk but can’t quite get the words out. I get to kiss his little head before they take him away. The nurses grab Kai and pull him from the room. He doesn’t want to go but we had talked about possible situations before and he knew I wanted him to stay with the baby. I black out again and when I come to they have the bleeding under control and I hear Dr. E. telling the interns about my ‘remarkable ovaries’. Apparently I have beautiful internal lady parts. I get more shots and more drugs in my IV before they finally take me to the LDR room we started in. I see Kai’s parents there and see them smiling and talking to me but I don’t recognize them. I tell the nurse I think they are in the wrong room. Sorry Mike and Jacquie. I think I was a little out of it. They hook me up to more monitors and wait until I’m stable before letting me hold the baby. I barely remember them setting the baby next to me in the bed but I will never forget my first real look at the baby. He was wide awake and looked perfect. I was pretty sure they had taken me to the wrong room. Our baby shouldn’t have a full head of brown hair and be so beautiful. They took him away too soon but Kai got to hold him for a long time and sit next to me.
April 23rd – April 25th
Lots more drama for me. I have nightmares about the delivery and can’t sleep most nights while we are at the hospital. I am too tired from the long labor and blood loss to talk to anyone. I have a lot of fluid retention because of all they had to give me before, during, and after the surgery. Kai is the go between for all family members. Some of the nurses make me feel like I am doing everything wrong. I hate the night because that’s when those nurses work. The day nurses are all great and supportive and watch our stats carefully. They answer our questions and don’t make us feel stupid for asking.
April 25th – June 23rd
Dex is jaundice so we get sent home with a BiliBlanket for a week. By his next checkup he’s ok. We have several appointments that first week for both myself and Dex. We moved. I graduated. Kai got burned on a job. Dex got blessed at church. I started work at NMC. I quit job at NMC after one week. We both go to interviews. I get a job at HFS. I’m not sure it will work out but I’m trying. I’m having a hard time dealing with everything that’s happened in the past 2 months and don’t want to be away from Dex. Dex is diagnosed with Milk Soy Protein Intolerance (MSPI). First step cut out milk proteins from my diet so they won’t be passed through the breastmilk. He’s still a little fussy/screamy after every feeding so next step is to cut out soy proteins. If that doesn’t work we go to a Pediatric GI specialist to have tests run. Possibly start formula. It’s all worth it.
What I learned later about certain aspects of my labor and delivery is still raw 5 years later. I have tried writing this down several times but I still just can’t get it out quite right. I’ll also share some pertinent links with evidence based information.
Some Things I Wish I’d Known/What I Learned Later:
  • Dilation and effacement aren’t the only signs of labor that are important. A combination of position, consistency, effacement, dilation, and fetal station all combine to show your progress. And 40 weeks is your estimated due date. anywhere between 37-42 weeks is full term. 
  • My water hadn’t really broke. I had a forebag which had a leak (this actually also happened with Gus with my forebag rupturing on Monday and my water breaking on Friday and Gus being born on Sunday). When Dr. O. gave me a pelvic exam and retested the strip I wasn’t aware that she broke my water without my consent. In a meeting later she admitted that she didn’t think to ask because we were 39 weeks and at the hospital already thinking I was in labor. She didn’t think we’d mind. We had discussed not wanting induction several times throughout the pregnancy. If we had known it was just my forebag we would have gone home to wait for labor to actually begin.
  • I thought I was ready for labor. I thought just knowing that countless women give birth naturally and just wanting to would be enough preparation for a natural birth. I didn’t realize how much fear and blind trust would interfere with my labor. I didn’t realize that child-birth really is a business and that sometimes there are common practices in place that are not in the best interest of mothers and babies.
  • I didn’t know how long a normal labor lasts. I thought I had a really long labor but it was actually pretty short. We had taken the birth class offered at the hospital and were told that anything over 12 hours is considered failure to progress and if I didn’t have the baby by the 24 hour mark then I would most likely have a c-section to be sure baby and I both survived. I remember the nurses telling me how lucky I was the Dr. O. was willing to let me go past that 12 hour point. Please see this Evidence Based Birth information for “Failure to Progress.”
  • The early stage of labor can last a really long time. It’s best to do this stage at home where you can eat and drink and move around freely and without the stress being in the hospital can bring. I went in and had my water broke without my consent and started labor from scratch. I hadn’t eaten since lunchtime and I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything after we were checked into the hospital. I went more than 24 hours without eating or drinking, doing the hardest work I’ve ever had to do. Not brilliant. More evidence based info on eating and drinking during labor. Typically doctors will tell you to come to the hospital when your contractions are 5 minutes apart, each lasting for 1 minute, for 1 hour (5-1-1). Our birth class with Gus suggested waiting until closer to 3-1-1 or 4-1-1 so we didn’t arrive at the hospital waaay too early. 
  • Being in water can really help with labor pains which is why I was so excited to be granted permission to get in the tub when I was having contractions 5 minutes apart. But I had to get out in order to be hooked up to the fetal monitor instead of them coming to me in the tub and doing intermittent fetal monitoring where I was most comfortable.
  • According to the inquiry later, the fetal monitor they were using was defective and was giving incorrect readings when it would pick up anything at all. That’s why they kept me in bed longer than the 30 minutes we were told and why alarms kept going off. It would have been simple to swap it out for a working one but no one thought to check until after I was out of surgery. I was strapped to a bed and told not to move during the worst part of labor. Having now been through this stage of labor with Gus I can’t believe how long I held out before having the epidural. It was torture and made the pain of labor so much worse than it should have been. Here is some information about continuous fetal monitoring. It is not an evidence based practice regardless of the fact that the monitor used for me was defective. 
  • Dex was head down but ‘sunny-side up’ which can mean intense back labor. Laboring in bed instead of being able to move around and listen to my body most likely prevented him from ever being able to move into a better position. Because of the position I had to maintain for most of labor Dex ended up stuck and unable to move down. Because of the later use of Pitocin he became very stressed and we did indeed need an emergency cesarean. 
  • I got the epidural before I was in active labor which increases the risk of having a cesarean. New ACOG guidelines set active labor at 6 cm dilated instead of the 4 cm previously considered active labor. They also suggest letting labor progress longer without interventions and to allow for longer pushing stage. 
  • Having an epidural obviously can make pushing more difficult since you can’t feel anything. My pushing was ineffective due to the epidural, the defective monitor, and it can take a little while to get the hang of it.
  • I already knew I wanted to avoid Pitocin but our doctor said we didn’t have a choice if we wanted to have a healthy baby. When I received my medical records and had our new doctor review them we learned that I was given far more Pitocin than was safe. We also learned that the added stress is what most likely caused me to code on the surgery table (which was why Kai was rushed from the room right before I ‘blacked out’). 
  • One of the nurses was new and didn’t know how to turn the epidural back on. I was left in the care of the intern while Dr. O. was with the other laboring mother. I was having intense Pitocin induced contractions for almost 2 hours before someone else figured out that the epidural was never turned back on. 
  • I was given extra fluid because of the blood loss (it was so much they debated doing a hysterectomy but were able to stop the bleeding) but it was double what I should have received which caused more problems. 
  • I passed several softball sized clots in the days after the surgery but was told by nurses that it was normal and I shouldn’t come back in. When I mentioned it at our week check up for Dex we were rushed to ultrasound to make sure I wasn’t hemorrhaging.
  • Dex was jaundice after birth and this is pretty typical for labors involving Pitocin. 
  • It’s been 5 years and I still have nightmares. I had Veda 15 months after Dex was born and that repeat c-section caused even more trauma and emotional distress. 

I wish I had read normal birth stories. I wish I had stayed away from shows like Birth Story. I wish there had been more than 1 person in my life who had had a normal birth. I wish I had researched labor and birth as much as I did every rare and far-fetched thing that could go wrong in pregnancy. I wish my doctor had used evidence based practices. I wish Kai didn’t have to wonder if he would lose me on what should have been the happiest day of our lives. I wish I didn’t feel like I was robbed of precious moments. I wish this wasn’t how I remembered becoming a mother. I wish I didn’t resent my in-laws for being able to hold Dex before I got to. I wish I had been empowered and treated with respect.

My story isn’t uncommon. In fact it’s pretty typical for birth in this country. When I confronted the hospital about some of the things we had learned the representative told me that aside from a few mistakes and malfunctioning equipment Dex’s birth was considered normal. A labor induced without consent, practices that are not evidence based, interventions leading to an emergency situation that very nearly killed 2 people… normal.  
I’m thankful I learned the truth. I’m thankful I learned a lot about myself and my own strength. I’m thankful for the health of my two cesarean birth babies and being alive to see them grow.  The knowledge that Dex’s cesarean birth was an entirely preventable emergency. That Veda’s cesarean birth could have been a VBAC. That you have to stand up for yourself and be your own advocate. That you have to ask questions and be prepared to make informed choices.  That my body wasn’t broken. That I could bring life safely into this world by trusting my body and surrounding myself with professionals who I could trust, who used evidence based practices to ensure my success. I’m thankful for my husband. I’m thankful he kept us going in the dark months after Dex was born and the years it has taken us to recover from those traumas. I’m thankful he trusted me and encouraged me and empowered me everyday. I’m thankful that because of the example of others I can share my story and encourage other women to become informed. To empower themselves. To stand up and improve birth for our generation and our future generations. 
Please contact me if you need resources to find the best evidence based care options for you, information on how I prepared for my natural vaginal birth after 2 cesareans (VBA2C), or if you’d like to help improve birth for other women. 
Posted in Thankful All Year

Day 177: Adventure Party!

Here are some highlights from Dex’s 5th birthday party. He has been a fan of adventure for a long time and recently we introduced him to Indiana Jones. Holy cow! His little mind was blown. I got pretty much all of these ideas from various sources on Pinterest with most of them coming from this blog.

Kai dressed up as Indiana Jones and gave the younguns some lessons on how to be adventurers. After they completed each lesson they received a clue to find a treasure.

Lesson #1: Adventurers can’t find a treasure without a map. Mark your path to begin our adventure!

Kai had roughed out maps on butcher paper and the kids filled in their route with red marker, a la Indiana Jones travel transitions.


Lesson #2 Explorers must be quick on their feet. Each of you must steal the golden idol, replace it with the bag of sand, and run before being hit by the boulder! Once each explorer has accomplished this task you will receive the next clue.

We had the ‘altar’ hidden in our garage and made it a big reveal when we opened the garage door. Our golden pineapple housewarming present to ourselves stood in as the idol. It was a pretty easy task to avoid the exercise ball boulder but imagination was the best part of the party. Kai said this was his favorite challenge because he got to throw the exercise ball at all the kids, hahaha!


Lesson #3: Creepy crawlies happen to be part of every treasure hunt. Each of you must crawl through the snake pit and spider web to get the next clue.

The snake pit and spider web had several incarnations before we were forced to abandon our grand ideas and go with something simple. Veda said this part was her favorite challenge of the party.


Lesson #4: Explorers must be ready to evade enemies at any time! You have 1 minute to find a disguise before your new passport photos will be taken.

We had a basket of hats and other accessories inside the little play house. We didn’t expect to have 13 kids so it was a little crazy to have them all grabbing their disguises. This was one of my favorite parts of the party.


Lesson #5: It’s time to cross the alligator river! Run across the bridge without falling to receive the next clue.

This is where the awesome water blob came into play. We got the tutorial for it here and it really was crazy easy. The longest part was waiting for it to fill up. Some tips for next time though: use 6 mil instead of 4 mil and don’t have 13 kids ranging in age from 18 months to 12 years old play on it if you want it to last more than an hour. It didn’t last long but they had a ton of fun while it did. I was just glad it lasted through the challenge!


I didn’t get many pictures from the rest of the party. My camera was acting up and things got really crazy with that many kids!

Lesson #6: Head to the sands of Egypt for an archaeological dig. Once everyone has found a gold coin you will receive your next clue.

This was just a sandbox with gold pirate coins, fake diamonds, brooches, etc. hidden in it.

Lesson #7: All this work makes an adventurer thirsty! Head to the table for a special drink… 

            OH NO! You’ve been poisoned! Quickly find your antidote before it’s too late!

We had a table set up with dixie cups of Izze sparkling juice. For the antidote I put the same juices in little vials. This was Dex’s favorite part of the challenges because he got to pretend to be poisoned.

Lesson #8: *An explorer must know how to use a whip. Each of you must practice knocking over targets. Once each of you have mastered the whip you may move on. *As an adventurer you might have to avoid poison darts from the natives. You must learn how to use blow darts. *Adventurers must think on their feet. Sometimes they need a distraction. Use these pom guns to send up a flare.

*We printed off Lego Indiana Jones villains and taped them on empty cans for whip practice. *The blow dart guns were made from 1/2 inch pvc pipe cut to 12 inch lengths, sanded, and wrapped in duct tape to look like bamboo. The darts were velcro Nerf darts. *The pom guns were made using this tutorial by cutting pool noodles to ~4 inch lengths and then covering one end with a balloon and taping it in place with some duct tape. To send up a flare you just put a few craft poms (or mini marshmallows supposedly work too) and pull and release the balloon. (I just realized that I put the balloons on wrong but they worked great anyways, haha. I cut a little off the open end and stretched it over the pool noodle instead of tying it off and cutting the round end and attaching that end to the pool noodle. The tied off end would give a better handle to grab to release the poms but just pinching the balloon end worked fine. Oops.)


Lesson #9: Well done adventurers! You have found all the clues and it’s time to finish this mystery.

We had a treasure chest filled with some random things I spray painted gold, necklaces, bracelets, rings, mini flashlights, mini compasses, etc. We didn’t get a photo before the spoils were divided amongst the adventurers. After the treasure was pretty well demolished we put out a snack of fruit, cheese, crackers, water, and more Izze drinks. The kids snacked and played with the different parts of the adventure course. Then we called them around for cupcakes (Dex has had banana cake for his birthday cake every year so far and I plan to continue that tradition.). For those I just decorated them with some of the gold pirate coins I had got for the treasure box.


It was a pretty awesome birthday party and even though it’s not really our ‘thing’ to do big parties it was so worth it to see Dex having such a great time!

Thanks everyone who came and made it so amazing! We love you guys!

Dex, you’re the best 1st bear cub we could have asked for! We are so blessed to have you in our family.

*I bought all the coins, jewelry, and most of the hats from Oriental Trading Company. The pvc pipe from our local hardware store, and just about everything else from the Dollar Store.
Posted in Thankful All Year

Day 176: Let’s Paint.


I feel like Kai’s first semester of grad school (which began the same time we moved here and Dex started preschool and we started cloth diapering) we all just fell into an amazing routine and everything went smoothly and everyone was happy. Then we started getting sick and had holiday breaks and the snowpocalypse that would never end. After all of that this semester has seemed impossible to get into the swing of things. It’s almost over and I’m constantly struggling with cooking, cleaning, laundry, everything. My best laid plans for all of those things that worked so well before have been proven ineffective without the proper motivation. That being some kind of general human avoidance of living in squalor.

On top of the general state of filth, I’ve barely done anything with Veda for Tot School. Every day we drop Dex off his preschool on a farm and Veda asks what we will be doing for Tot School. Mondays are always out because we go grocery shopping which leaves 2 days a week for her to have some kind of project, game, craft, etc. just for her. And I’ve just sucked. I was finally able to convince Veda that grocery shopping was a Tot School activity by printing off some BINGO cards with grocery items so she is on the lookout for certain things to cross off her ‘list’. When Dex is with us they race to see who will be able to cross off all the items first. Super, super awesome!

Other days she colors or does a workbook activity and we call it good. Some days she watches a movie. I’m thinking homeschool would not be a good option for us. Today though, today I suggested painting and her face lit up with excitement. We used to paint several times a week but somewhere along the line we just quit getting it out because it seemed like so much work.

We’ve got so much to do today to get ready for Dex’s birthday party tomorrow but taking a little time to do something special with Veda was totally worth it. I forgot how much she loves painting and helps with every step from getting all the supplies out and cleaning up at the end. I’m so thankful for little things that make her day. It would have been so easy (and usual) to brush her off because we have other things to get done. But the rest of the house will get cleaned up well enough. The laundry will get started and somewhat finished. And staying up late to finish the activities for Dex’s party actually works out better for me anyways. It’s worth it to have her smile and paint me a beautiful picture just for my desk.

What are you thankful for today?

Posted in Thankful All Year

Day 155-175: Things Got A Little Away From Me.


My Grandpa passed away about 3 weeks ago and we’ve traveled the 4 hours back home a few times since then. I’ve been keeping up with my Thankful All Year post its and a few sentences in my journal most of those days but taking photos and posting wasn’t possible most days due to sheer busyness and lack of consistent internet connection. It’s been hard to grieve and visit and celebrate and go about our day-to-day lives the past few weeks. In the past 3 weeks we’ve had an eventful ER visit for Gus (which was horrible), Grandpa’s visitation and funeral, 2 doctors appointments, a baby shower, Easter, Earth Day, and Dex’s birthday. Each time we got home from a visit we all were sick for a couple of days, getting better just in time to leave again. It’s just been tough. I’d like to back post a little bit for each day I missed but I’m just not sure I’ll be able to with all the other things cooking right now. Great things are on the horizon. 

Thank you for all your condolences and warm wishes for my family and thanks for sticking with me. 

What are you thankful for today?

Posted in Thankful All Year

Day 154: Protection.


I ran to Target today to grab a few things and my card was declined. First came a moment of embarrassment and then immediately there was quite a bit of concern. Why would my card be declined? Oh my gosh, what happened to all of our money? I calmed myself down and remembered an email I got a while ago that my card had been involved in the big Target Fraud scandal around Thanksgiving. They said they’d be sending me a new card and I promptly forgot about it until that moment. I explained I needed to call my bank right away and they suspended the sale while I tried to find a quiet spot where we would be out of the way.

While not the absolute most annoying thing in this situation but realllllllly annoying was that my bank has the voice command feature when you call them. So if anyone is talking in the background it doesn’t know which voice to listen to. Super awesome in a busy store with 3 concerned children wondering why we didn’t take our sacks. I confirmed my account balance was more than enough to cover my purchase and asked five or six times to speak to a representative. I pushed zero to cut through the voice crap and then had to go through it another five or six times because it had to know why I was calling. OHMYGOSHI’MGOINGTOSCREAM!

I finally spoke with someone who said my card had been cancelled because of the Target Fraud situation and I should have received a new one a few months ago. A few months ago. A few months ago. Well… I obviously hadn’t received it and that was very concerning to both of us. As I was verifying my information with the bank someone came and asked me to come talk with them for a bit. Um. What? Sure let me just haul my 3 children off to be interrogated by someone while on the phone with my bank trying to make sure my identity hasn’t been stolen. That’s all awesome sauce.

It was pretty awesome trying to deal with them and the bank while Gus had a blowout all over himself and me. Solid morning. Thanks for the memories. And it didn’t escape my twisted sense of humor that this all started because I had to shop at Target during that stupid window of time that those card numbers were stolen.

We finally got it straightened out that I wasn’t in possession of stolen cards and it was just a simple mistake and all our cards attached to our checking account are now cancelled just in case. I was able to pay for my purchases with a credit card. It all worked out. Fraud protection will be watching our account, again just in case. I’m pretty thankful for that. Even with a really horrible experience, I’m glad they are on top of things.


What are you thankful for today?

Posted in Thankful All Year

Day 153: Have I Mentioned?


Ok, I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned I have awesome friends. I also mentioned the off feeling I’ve been having lately. I can’t really explain it. I think it’s my anxiety coming back or maybe a little depression. It’s so hard to say with my history and my family history really. I just feel like things aren’t quite right. I feel like something bad is going to happen and I’ve been having nightmares again. Definitely something is up. Well after I mentioned it to my friend (and she most likely realized I’m seriously a crazy person) she brought dinner over to me today so I wouldn’t have to worry about cooking and I could take a little break. She’s kind of awesome. It was just what we needed and since I didn’t have to cook or clean anything up I was able to have a nice long bath and then watch a movie in my room. Seriously between her and Kai, I was super spoiled. Thanks friend!

What are you thankful for today?

Posted in Thankful All Year

Day 152: No Judging.


I love having a friend that I know I could call up anytime for help or to talk or to watch the kids, whatever. My friend had an appointment so her youngest son, who is Dex and Veda’s age, came over to play for a couple of hours. Their family had come over on Saturday to help us with our yard work and my house was a mess then because I called spur of the moment. I knew they were coming over today and my house was still a mess. I also hadn’t been grocery shopping yet so we were pretty bare in the cupboards and fridge. I had both clean and dirty laundry piled up to deal with and dirty dishes in the sink. And I didn’t really care at all. Not in a “I don’t care about life” kind of way. In a “I’m totally comfortable with you seeing my real life” kind of way. It was definitely a first for me. I don’t think even our immediate family has ever seen our home not clean or at least picked up.

And there was no judgement. It was nice. My friend could tell I was feeling weird though and I was trying to explain this off feeling I’ve been having. Normally I’d just put on a smile and say everything was fine but I didn’t. And there still wasn’t judgement. Just understanding and hugs. I’m pretty thankful for friends that don’t care if my laundry is folded and put away immediately or if I’ve got exactly zero napkins or paper towels because we switched to cloth napkins and they are all dirty. I’m thankful they didn’t care that I threw together some spaghetti with bacon, butter, lemon juice, and parsley and called it lunch.

What are you thankful for today?


Posted in Thankful All Year

Day 151: Zombie Apocalypse.


You know how much I love zombie movies and apocalypse, dystopian, etc. storylines. It’s a lot. Instead of ’emergency preparedness kits’ we have zombie apocalypse kits. Not because we really believe it would happen but why not have a little fun with being prepared for an emergency situation, right?

I’ve been wanting to get back to exercising for a while. I know I’m not my healthiest right now and I want to feel good again. I don’t want to get sick all the time, I want to feel better emotionally and physically, I want my clothes to fit better. Kai and I had been talking all winter about doing Insanity again. Obviously we didn’t follow through. It just wasn’t a good fit for us right now like it has been previously. I was afraid it would be a little too intense right now since I’m so tired from breastfeeding all the time and we’ve been so sick again this winter. We both wanted to get outside into the fresh air and take that time for ourselves. 

Enter the zombies. Recently I heard about an app called Zombies, Run! that mixes a storyline with your own music to make running a little less boring for people like me who don’t really zone out.

“Run for your Life from the Zombie Hordes! Zombies, Run! works anywhere and at any speed. We immerse you in an action-packed game and story mixed with your own music, whether you’re jogging in a park, running along a trail, walking to work, or even running on treadmills. And if you want a serious workout, turn on thrilling zombie chases that force you to speed up to escape the hordes!”

My asthma really sucks lately so I’ve just been walking quickly from the zombie hordes but it has been really entertaining to follow along the story. “You are Runner 5. Hundreds of lives are counting on you. You’ve got to help your base rebuild from the ruins of civilization by collecting critical supplies while avoiding roving zombie hordes. Can you save them and learn the truth about the zombie apocalypse?”

Pretty fun. They’ve also got a 5K training app that continues the story line and I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing that when I run walk quickly through these first season missions.


*Zombies, Run! has no idea who I am and I’m not getting any compensation for talking about the app. I just thought it was really fun and wanted to share it for my thankful post today. :)

Posted in Thankful All Year

Day 150: It’s a brand new day.


When we got out of church we all just wanted to get out of the house and be outside. We stopped at home quickly to change our clothes and make some sandwiches and then we booked it to the park to have a picnic and play. We stayed a couple of hours I think and it was just what we needed. When we got home I decided to take a long walk and when I came back Kai went out for a run. The kids played outside collecting fake bugs and making chalk pictures on our driveway. It was so relaxing and nice to spend almost the entire day outside.

What are you thankful for today?

Posted in Thankful All Year


Living in Iowa with my husband and 3 kids. Trying to live a conscious life.
Falling up the stairs of life... gracefully.

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