Tuesday, December 25, 2012

End of year/Christmas letter

2012 Christmas letter

2012 was a great year for the Yerkes family. We had some big events, and some small, big changes and small. I feel like with Facebook, blogs, and things like Instagram, everyone already know what there is to know about our family, so I am just going to talk about the things that felt most significant to us, and in no particular order.

Family- We had a nice surprise in March when we realized we were going to have another child. We had been thinking about it, but were surprised to find out I was pregnant. I guess when you open your heart even a little to something good, God steps in and makes it happen. And we are so glad he did because Cydney (CC) has been such an incredible blessing in our family. I am still in awe over how much I love this child, and how full she makes our life feel. I am also thrilled by how much her brothers and sister love her too. Dillan constantly asks to hold her, but like most guys, the second she starts crying he hands her over…and says she is hungry. Lexi thinks she is the cutest little thing (high praise from Lexi). Derrick is now affectionately being called “smother brother” because he can’t seem to leave her alone.

Church- The Church is such an important part of our lives, and one I do not talk about much. I love the Gospel, and feel so grateful for what it adds to our lives, for what I know, for the comfort and peace it gives me when I think of my children and their facing the world we live in. This year our family scripture study has been much more consistent than in the past, and more enjoyable. The kids being able to read means they can follow along better, and read some of the verses themselves. My calling has widened my view and helped me work harder at helping my kids relate to the scriptures and apply the gospel principles in their daily lives. If there is one thing that has become glaringly obvious to me this year it is how far from perfect I am, and how much the Atonement means to me. Dillan will be getting baptized this upcoming February, and that has made both Brett and I feel even more strongly about how important it is to make sure he understands what baptism is, what it means, and how wonderful that blessing is.

Money- This is something that feels significant to many people, and Brett and I are no exception. This year was different for us. We decided to stop using credit cards all together. We made a budget, read Dave Ramsey, as well as many other finance books, and decided to make some changes in our habits. We have loved the results. We have less “stuff” and will likely go on fewer trips, but we feel great!

Jobs- Brett has worked at Harvest for the past four years, and in November we felt really good about him making a change. There was little to no room for advancement or growth in that position, so he put in his two weeks. He is currently serving at Ruby River while we look for something that is a better fit for our family than Thanksgiving Point and the restaurant business in general. As for Rachael, I am still working, though less than I have in the past. I have great clients, and still LOVE my job, at least most of the time.

School- We were really excited when Lexi got into the same French program as Dillan. The year started out rough as Lexi was WAY behind grade level. Fortunately, we were able to get her a great tutor, and with private session2-3 times a week, she is now doing really well. Dillan is still excelling at school, and LOVES to read. He reads everything! Lexi still prefers television to reading, but is doing much better than she was at the start of the year. They both are doing really well in French, and it is so much fun for us to hear them chatter away in it. Derrick is in preschool, and loves the social aspect of it.

Vacation- Vacation is very important to our family. We started the year off right with a fun family cruise in January to Mexico. It was so nice to spend a whole week just playing with the kids, not worrying about school, cooking, cleaning, etc. In April Brett and I were fortunate enough to be able to go to South Africa, and visit where Brett served his mission. What an amazing experience. We saw wild animals, played in the ocean, learned of the culture, and best of all got to visit old friends from when Brett served thirteen years or so before. During the summer we stayed closer to home and visited Yellowstone for a few days, enjoying the geysers, wild animals, and most importantly the resort pool! We were also lucky enough to spend a week in Salmon canoeing, river rafting (floating), four wheeling, fishing, cooking, and just having fun.  These trips were significant to us because of the fun, the family time, the sharing of stories, and sillies, and the creating of new memories!

Another thing that was new to us during 2012 was the making of freezer meals. Since I spent what felt like the whole year pregnant, it meant I spent the whole year feeling crappy, and having NO energy.  Thus, in order to save my children from a diet of only cereal, I had to make sure I had food on hand that would be fast, easy to prepare, relatively healthy, and tasty! When I had good days I would make as many freezer meals as possible to get us through the bad days. We now have a collection of favorites, and life at dinner time has been greatly simplified.

Some favorites from the year:
Brett- Playing softball!
Dillan- Piano
Alexis- Friends
Derrick- Netflix!
CC- Mom

We hope next year we can continue to grow, learn, and experience challenges that make us stronger better people. We are so grateful for the many people in our lives, both family and friends, who have made this year so great for us. We have felt so much love, support, and friendship, and hope you have felt the same from us!

Love, The Yerkes Family

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pressing pause

One of the things I am most grateful for today is the fact that nursing my baby MAKES me press pause, several times a day. I am a goer, a doer, a mover. I have always struggled to take a step back, take a moment and just enjoy. I usually think about the next thing on my list, the million things that don't get done.

I am feeling very grateful today. Having a baby has put me behind in a lot of areas. Today I am okay with that. Today I just want to snuggle my kiddos, hold my baby, stare at her beautiful face, and enjoy this time of year.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Counting my blessings

I went back to working this week. Whew, hard. Brett is transitioning into a new job and doing some stuff on the side so I have literally only seen him for about an hour and a half all week. Plus he can't talk on the phone at all at either job, so I don't get my daily chat/vent/catch up that I am used to. I am sort of stuck at home, because taking a newborn out is unwise, and who has the energy? Needless to say, this has been a challenge for me, the perfectionist, efficiency master. What normally takes me an hour is taking me three. My home, which is far from perfect normally, is looking worse for the wear, and my poor children, other than CC are probably feeling slightly neglected. And my work, well I need to adjust my productivity expectations.

Yesterday was tough. Really tough. I tried to work ALL day. Every time the baby fell asleep Derrick needed something, or some crisis needed to be managed. My car broke down (I had just had the radiator replaced,  and while it was fixed properly, not enough coolant was put in, so it overheated) on my way to get my kids from school, and I was stuck in a freezing cold car with Derrick and CC for an hour, until a good friend came and fixed it. Lexi missed piano lessons, and I lost an hour of time I just didn't have. My kids didn't like the dinner I fixed, Dillan had a meltdown, I never made it to the store, so I had no fresh food in my house, and I felt exhausted. I really felt like I couldn't take five minutes for myself, and I needed some "me" time, but CC was screaming, Dillan was crying, Derrick was desperately seeking attention, and Lexi was off making messes. Let's just say it was not a super mom day.

This morning I tried to start fresh. Brett woke me up in time for family scriptures, then he was out the door with the kids, and off to work for the day. I did some picking up, took care of baby, grabbed a shower, and got Derrick out the door for preschool. I needed to run to the bank, so I did that, and then decided I would take CC over to see her Nana, who just had a surgery and is not too mobile. I grabbed my laptop as I was running out the door, hoping to maybe take advantage of having my hands free to get some writing done.

It was wonderful. Nana and Pop held the baby, I wrote more articles in an hour and a half than the entire day before. My Father-in-law was heading to the grocery store, so he offered to do my shopping, so I gave him some money, and was able to check that off my list. I got home and there was a lovely gift from someone I do not know well for the baby hanging from the door knob. Derrick was happy to play in his room so I got a quick nap in, then Brett was off in time to get the kids from school so I did not have to take the baby out in the cold. I started thinking about dinner and realized a sweet neighbor had given me a freezer meal, so I pulled it out to defrost. I wanted a treat, and found a key lime cheesecake we had ordered from someone for a school fundraiser. My kids ate well, they played together nicely, did their homework, and I got some fun time in with baby and Derrick. What a blessed day.

While adjusting to the slower paced life of having an infant, I can honestly say I am feeling very blessed, if a little stressed. We have been so blessed to have such generous friends, neighbors, and family members. The ward brought us dinner after the baby, and then several neighbors and friends also offered, which has really lightened the load for me. Many friends and family members have called to see if we need anything before they run to the store, which makes life much easier for me, as dragging a little one out in the cold is not ideal. We have been overwhelmed by the many thoughtful gifts, cards, and gestures from friends and family, but also from people we do not know well. Even though it is December, and money seems to be tight for many, people have gone out of their way to share in our joy and happiness at having this sweet newborn. You know you are blessed when your hand cramps up after writing out the many thank you cards for gifts, support, and love!

So despite a fairly challenging week thus far, I am counting my blessings tonight and feeling grateful, messy house, and incomplete work and all. And the five blessings I am most grateful for, Brett, Dillan, Alexis, Derrick, and Cydney!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Baby CC Birthstory!

With this being baby #4, and what we believe is our last child, Brett and I decided that we would try a different approach to the birth. We originally started this pregnancy with the OBGYN group that we had the other 3 kids with, but after some issues with their billing office, I decided that a change might be in order. Who wants to stress over billing? Pregnancy is challenging enough without the added pressure of a billing office that can't seem to figure out what you owe and why. So we took our business elsewhere. Deciding where was not easy. I wanted good quality of care, but did not want to move from one baby delivery factory to another. So we did some looking, and I decided I might want to try using midwives. Most of the midwife groups in UT County are associated with OBGYN offices, and so finding the right group was a challenge. I opted to go with Better Birth. They are in Orem and SLC, have CNM's and others and a birthing center.

My reservations going with them was having the baby at a birthing center rather than a hospital. It took a lot of research and prayer to determine this was an option I could be okay with. I knew for sure I did not want a home birth, and was hesitant about committing to a facility I couldn't get an epidural in if I ended up deciding I wanted one. But I was pretty sure I wanted to try for a natural birth. Besides the cost effectiveness of this decision, the recovery is touted to be far better, and the experience very different.

My prenatal visits did not seem all that different from what I experienced at the OBGYN. The wait time was significantly less. I only had to wait to get in once and it was only for a few minutes. This I can appreciate, as waiting for over thirty minutes for a quick check never sat well with me. Although the midwives are available to answer any questions, and schedule a minimum of half an hour for you, I did not have many questions, as this is baby #4 for me. So most my visits were about ten minutes long. Another difference is the midwives never "checked" me at a visit. Even at 40 weeks, they just measured and listened to the heartbeat, got the baby position, and my vitals.

The Day Of:- WARNING- I am going to go into detail, so if you do not want to know..don't read!

This is right before I got in the car to head over and have her, about 12:45 pm
I started having contractions about 4:30 am. I woke up to use the bathroom, and had a moderately painful contraction. I got back in bed, but had a difficult time going back to sleep. After about 5 I realized I was having pretty regular contractions, so I decided to start timing them to see if this might be it. I decided to walk around the house, and take a bath because they say if you change activities, positions, etc. and they continue it is probably real. I was 2 days past due at this point, and while I know that is an arbitrary date, it made me more wary of the real thing versus braxton hicks.

By about 7:30 I was having contractions 4-6 mins apart for about 45 seconds to a minute. In the past my labors progress fairly quickly, so I decided to call the midwives and try and go in after the kids got to school. They asked me all the questions, and said to come in about 9. I cleaned my bathroom and the kitchen, and tried to make arrangements for the kids while Brett took them to school. We set it up for Derrick to go to preschool a few minutes early, and asked Gma Simmons (my mom) to pick him up. Originally Brett's parents were going to get the kids when we went in, but they work at the Temple on Tuesdays so they were not available.

We went in, and I was still having contractions every five minutes or so. They hurt, but not so bad that I couldn't walk or talk through them. The midwife checked me and said I was at a 3, but with the baby sitting so high, and my cervix still tilted back, that I should just go home, get some sleep, eat some protein, and try and get ready for when I am really in labor. I told her that I felt like I really was, and reminded her that I had tested positive for Group B Strep, and that I would need to be on the IV for 4 hours. She was fairly sure that it would not be a problem, and told me that they had other options if I hadn't been on for four hours, like a wash. I had done my research and the wash is not proven effective, so I let her know I preferred to be safe rather than sorry, and go with the IV. I felt like she blew me off, and sent me home despite my feelings. I was not thrilled when we left.

We called my mom and told her not to pick up Derrick, and tried to make a plan for the day. Brett and I went to the grocery store, and I had tons of contractions while we were there. We decided to get some snack foods, and stock up on cereal etc. for after. We also had to pick up a couple things for Thanksgiving. We rented a movie, and headed home. I was still positive I was in real labor, and was just trying not to be too anxious about it.

We started the movie, but I was having so many contractions, and they were getting closer together and more painful, so I had a hard time concentrating. I called my mom and asked her if we could just bring Derrick out. She asked if I wanted to wait and just bring all three kids when they got out of school. I told her I would rather just have Brett bring Derrick then because I did not want to stress over him if my water broke or something like that. So at 11:30 Brett picked up Derrick and headed to AF to take him to my parent's. I had also asked him to vacuum out the car. Right after he left, my contractions started getting harder, and closer together. I got a little worried. I called my neighbor to see if she would come over til Brett got home, but she was out. I called the midwives and told them I felt like I should come back in. They asked if things had changed much, and said they were there, so to come in whenever I was ready. I told them I was waiting for my husband to get back, but to plan on me in half an hour.  Then I called Wendi and asked if I could have her on the phone just in case something happened, I did not want to be alone.

Brett got home, and I got in the van, and we started to head over. At this point the contractions were about 2-3 minutes apart and lasting 1 minute 40 seconds. And they hurt. Bad. I had to mentally talk myself through them, reminding myself that the pain just meant that the baby was that much closer to coming. I had one huge contraction just as we were leaving, and had to have Brett stop driving because I was unable to finish buckling my seat belt. I had one on the way, and one as soon as we got there, and the place is only five minutes away or so.

Right when we got there my dad called to see how I was, and I was in so much pain I could not talk. he was worried that I was alone, so he called Brett to make sure he was with me. I tried to get out of the car and walk into the birthing center, but had a contraction a few steps away from the car. I had to lean on Brett to keep from falling over, and was doing my breathing that I had been practicing. One of the student midwives came out to see if I was okay, and told us to come over to the birthing side of the facility.

They lead me into an exam room, and the main midwife came in to check me. I had a contraction right then, so she pushed on my legs and tried to help me through it, and then hurried and checked me. I was at a 6. I had another contraction right after and it hurt even worse. I asked if I could maybe get in the tub, since it is supposed to be very soothing, and a natural epidural. She said she would run it and get my IV ready, if I wanted to change and use the bathroom. I had Brett help me into the bathroom, and started to change but my contractions were basically on top of each other at that point, so I mostly just tried to get through them.

I sat down on toilet, and had this horribly painful contraction. I felt like I would never be able to make it to a ten at that rate. So I told Brett I couldn't do it, and wanted to go to the hospital. He reassured me, and then I felt what felt like fire go through me, and I just wanted to push, push, push. I felt my body tear some, and the baby drop from up in my ribs to all the way down. I could feel her head between my legs. I told Brett, "She is coming." At that point we were by ourselves in the bathroom, and I was worried I was going to have her into the toilet, but I was in so much pain I couldn't really verbalize this. Brett later told me that he didn't really believe me because they had just checked me and I was at a six, but he was being supportive, so he just held me, and tried to make me calm. I tried to get up and knocked something off a shelf on accident, and the midwife came in to make sure I was okay. I told her "She is coming" and she reassured me and asked if I could walk across the hall to the birthing room and tub. I said, "No" but she said I could, and so I basically leaned all my weight on Brett and walked the ten steps across the hall. I was miserable. When we got into the bathroom where the tub was being filled, she told me to lift my leg to get in, when I did she could see that the baby was indeed coming, and not just crowning, but her head was a good inch out. She yelled for the other midwife, and had me sit, then said, "Go ahead and push, she is here." She took my hand and had me feel the baby's head, and said, "Push honey, quit holding back, just push." So I did, and out she came.

She was blue. So they pulled me out of the tub, and had me lay on the bathroom floor. She wasn't breathing, and wasn't making any sound. I was soooo scared. They told me to hold her, talk to her, and just stay calm. They gave her mouth to mouth, and grabbed an oxygen tank and mask. I couldn't help thinking that I had made a mistake and killed my baby because I went with a birthing center not a hospital. But I was wrong to think that, they were very qualified to take care of her, but it was scary. I was wet, cold, and couldn't really see the baby. I was laying on a cold hard floor, and couldn't verbalize what I was thinking. It only took a few minutes to get her breathing, and she pinked up right away, and started crying. Best sound ever!

I passed the placenta, and they let Brett cut the cord. And they covered me with a towel and got one for my head. Then they had us move into the room with the bed. It was weird to stand up on my own and move around right after giving birth. They let me just hold her and cuddle her. It was different. We called to tell people know she was here and when they asked about her weight and size we did not know because they hadn't measured yet. After they got me all stitched up and situated they weighed and measured her. She was 8 lbs 8 ounces, 21 inches long, she was born at 1:19pm (about 15 minutes after we arrived at the birthing center), and is totally perfect!

After that they left us alone to eat, sleep, and enjoy our baby. It was really nice. I had no pain medication at all at this point, and asked for an ice pack and some ibuprofen. Then just enjoyed resting and staring at the baby with Brett.

We went home around 6:30 that evening, and the kids came over around 7 to see their new sister for a few minutes before they were off to the grandparent's so we could get some rest and recovery time.

All in all the experience was great. I felt great after, and found the recovery has been so much better this time around. I will say that going from a 6 to delivered in ten minutes is not something I would wish on others as it hurt really really badly, but I am not sure I could have made it much longer, so I am grateful it was such a quick process. I am also extremely grateful we made it to the birthing center at all. It was a close call. I wish the midwives would have listened to me, and kept me when I had come in four hours earlier. I need to be more insistent when I know. It is my body, and I knew I was in true labor, but I doubted myself, and let them send me home. The result was the antibiotics I was supposed to have taken were still in the hallway when the baby was born, and I barely got there in time. But I can't complain too much because I hate IVs and we did make it, and she is perfect.

A few days before I delivered, my cute toes for baby, and my favorite pregnancy snack!

Our last night as 5!

Being overdue is no fun, and trying to keep a good mood and be a good mom when you are uncomfortable and in pain is not easy. Brett and I had talked about trying to go on a date, or do something to get out of the house and get my mind off being pregnant still but I kept feeling like we should do something with the kids, not just Brett and I. So we decided to take them bowling.

I made dinner, and we ate together, and then headed to Miracle Bowl a little while later. We rented shoes and paid for two games. The kids got their balls, and we set everything up. We got bumpers for the kids, and the dinosaur thing that helps the small kids roll the heavy balls a little faster.

We had a great time. Derrick got a little sick of it after about four frames. He just wasn't as into it, and wanted to play arcade games and get food from the snack bar. But, he was bowling pretty well. Dillan was getting super frustrated because Derrick and Lexi both had better scores than him. Lexi was just having fun. She was trying to bowl like a big kid, and the ball was excruciatingly slow going down the lane, but she had fun! Dillan is such a perfectionist that he had a really hard time, and was not too happy that he had the lowest score in the family. At one point Derrick bowled a strike and I was worried Dillan might lose it. It was a great opportunity to talk to him about being happy for others, and to just have fun. Brett and I are both really competitive as well, so I understood him, but we have been working as a family on just being kind and happy for one another. Love those little teaching moments.

We decided we probably wouldn't make it to two games because Derrick was done, so we asked if we could get passes to come back for the second game another time, and we took the kids for milkshakes at In and Out!

It was a really nice way to spend our last night as a family of 5. On the way home the kids reminded us that we hadn't read scriptures that morning (I wasn't feeling well, so I did not get up), so we read them in the car while driving home. We decided to call it Family Out Evening! Little did we know that the next day our family would get a little bigger!

Grandma Clawson update

My sweet Grandma passed away today. She had a hard but wonderful life. She lived longer than two children, which breaks my heart. I can't imagine losing one of my kids, especially as a baby. She raised a large family, cut coupons, made things from scratch, and worked hard to make the grandkids always feel special and welcome. She had diabetes, and struggles with health. And while I know and will remember these things about her, the thing I will remember most is how much fun she was. I shared some memories earlier, but want to share just a few more.

Lexi took a while to get teeth, and Grandma used to joke that she would leave her dentures to Lexi in her will.

Dillan visited Grandma once and she did not have her dentures in, Dillan asked her if it was because she did not brush and floss as a kid. She said yes.

Grandma always plied the grandkids and great grandkids with goodies, and yummy foods. She would cut coupons for treats just so she would have them on hand for the kids. I always loved sitting by her in church because she had Bit O Honey in her purse, and to this day it is a favorite candy of mine.

She loved sports, and if you wanted to get in a heated conversation with her, you just had to bring up the Jazz, Cougars, or Politics.

I can't write more right now, so I am just going to share a few photos from last night, and say that I love her, and admire so much about her.
 Grandma meeting baby CC. She woke up to see her, and was so sweet.
 My Grandpa, an amazing man, who works hard, and although rarely shows much emotion, was strong, sweet, loving, and so tender with my Grandma. You could feel the love he had for her like it was a tactile thing. He spoke softly, caressed her hands, checked on her comfort, gave her tender kisses and displayed affection I have never seen before. It was amazing to see so much shared love after so many years. She continuously reminded us not to forget Grandpa and to make sure we take care of him when she can't. I am so proud to be part of that love even in a small way.
A four generations picture. CC at 2 days old, and Grandma on her last day. Life and death, so very hard to see it in such a clear contrast. It made it easier to have such a sweet baby to love on when I started getting super sad.

Great Grandma Clawson

My Grandma, Grandma Clawson, has had poor health for years, but it has really gone down hill this year. A few weeks ago she had a big surgery and has been in and out of the hospital since. Yesterday she took a turn for the worse, and after some hard decisions, they removed her feeding tube. The family all gathered last night to say their final goodbyes. It was a very somber occasion. I am still a hormonal mess from my pregnancy, and I had a hard time keeping it together. She is such a neat lady, and I love her so much. I can't even imagine life without her. 

Here are a few memories and characteristics I love about her:

I moved into Grandma and Grandpa's house my senior year of high school. And they made me feel so welcome to live there. Grandma would pack me a lunch and snacks every day. She knew how much I loved cucumbers, and always made sure I had plenty. She is the most thoughtful woman. She always makes sure she has the favorite snacks of the grandkids and great grandkids. She would buy Gushers just because she knew I loved them. And, whenever Arby's had their roast beef sandwiches on their 5 for $5 deal (I know this is a long time ago), she would buy a bunch and freeze them, then she would reheat it and have one ready for me when I got home from cross country practice. She always knows how to make everyone feel so special. These are just a few of many examples of how she would take care of everyone. 

Grandma is a great cook. She loves going through recipes, and sharing her "secrets" for making things taste good. She wasn't shy about using the good ingredients, like butter, cream, and sugar! She has always been such a great example to me of using what you have and making things great. She has always been amazing at using her produce and growing an amazing garden, canning, and preserving foods for use later. She exemplified the adage, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." She was a homemaker, cook, and so much more!

Grandma can be described as plucky! She is opinionated, and funny, and has a generous heart. One of my favorite memories is of her rewatching BYU football games, and being just as into them as if they were live. She hasn't slept well in years, and would often stay up in her chair and watch television at night. She would watch games from the eighties, the good years, and on several occasions woke me up by screaming at the refs on the television when they made a bad call. I love it! We watched the 2001 World Series together, and that was one of my favorite things. My friends knew not to call if the games were on. I am a Yankees fan now, because of Brett, but back then Randy Johnson and the Diamond Backs were my #1 team, and Grandma loved them because Mike and DeAnne are from AZ. We had so much fun. 

A couple weeks ago when we went up to visit Grandma in the hospital she kept telling me that she was going to die and get to meet my baby (I was pregnant at the time) before I would get to. I told her that if she did to tell her to come quickly. Grandma said, "No, I am going to tell her to take her time." She is too funny! When we went to visit her last night she was pretty out of it, in a lot of pain, but I brought CC so she could see her because Grandpa kept telling me that she has been asking about her. She woke up briefly, kissed her, told me she was beautiful, and how happy she is for our family. She shared her love for us, and thanked us for being in her life. It was so sweet. When we visited her at her home a week or so ago she told Brett how much she appreciates him, and how much he has meant to her. That she loves him. She gave each of my kids love, and made them feel special. She has a way of doing that. She remembers everyone's birthdays, their favorites, and stories. I don't know how we will all stay up to date on what is going on in the family without Grandma. She kept us all together and informed. 

I am so grateful for the love and example she has set for me. I so glad each of my children got a chance to meet her, and the three oldest got to know her. I wish we lived closer. My Grandpa gave her a blessing and told her she was a daughter of God and could return to him now. It is hard to think about life without her, especially for my sweet Grandpa, but I am so glad we have eternal perspective, and the gospel because I know that last night won't be the last time I get to be with my Grandma.

This is such a jumble, just like my emotions, but I needed to get some of it out. I am going to miss her so much!