Seth and I got home from the hospital yesterday and now that we've spent some time seeing his face, we noticed something interesting.
I've mentioned before that among Grant and his siblings, there is a Small, Medium, and Large version of the same brother. Grant is the Large.
Among our own family, we've had a trend of our children either looking like me or looking like Grant. We call it "Lady Puppies" and "Tramp Puppies" because at the end of Lady and the Tramp, you see them together with their puppies and instead of being mixed, which is what typically happens when dogs breed, there are several puppies who look just like Lady and one that looks just like the Tramp. And I couldn't quite tell whether Seth is a Lady Puppy or a Tramp Puppy because while I definitely saw traits that are one or the other, it was difficult to say if he favors one.
Until we got home and feeling so sentimental, I started looking at newborn pictures of his older siblings. We definitely have a matched set here:
The top picture is Elliot, an hour or so after his birth. The bottom is Seth, not more than 10 minutes after his own. They look pretty dang similar to me, especially when compared to the brother between them:
Though we figure that for now, our set is more of a "Large" and "Extra Large" one...two pounds makes quite a big difference in the size of a brand new baby...
This morning Ashley woke me up a little early to give me some great news: she had been laboring through much of the night and was pretty much ready to be taken to the hospital. We arranged for someone to watch the kids and headed straight down. On arrival the nurses skeptically asked how we know we are in labor. Are you kidding? We are professionals at this. Well, Ashley is.
We proceeded to the room where Ashley got down to the business of laboring.
Such a good sport!
Labor was a few hours...three or so. Then it came time to push. I expected this to be our easiest birth (Ashley isn't sick, she went in with a great attitude, and she has four babies worth of experience under her belt) but the delivery part was unexpectedly hard. Like real hard, even if it was a relatively short 12 minutes. I was a little confused by how much trouble she was having, actually. As our baby came out we learned why...he's a monster. (Yes, that's right, HE...none of us knew the gender until today).
Welcome to Seth Verdell Farnsworth, born today around noon
He's a wonderful, healthy baby. We are both gaga about him. Really, he seems more like a several month old baby, and has the sweetest disposition.
You can see that he's a little large in my arms. That's because he arrived weighing a whopping 11 pounds 3 ounces. Yes, you read that right. He's the biggest newborn you will ever run into. 23 inches tall. The nurse said she could easily imagine him crawling as he is. She also said the placenta was absolutely enormous. What a weight off Ashley's back, so to speak!
Mother and son are doing great. This was a natural birth with no epidural or anything and with no complications other than some unexpected frustration with how difficult he was to bring into the world. All things considered, Ashley is due some serious congratulations and respect.
The first few pictures out of the box that include mommy aren't 100% fit for the internet, but if you have ever wondered what an 11 pound, 3 ounce baby looks like moments after birth, take a glance:
The doctor said he was just a hair off of setting the record. I'm not sure whether that means the hospital record or more likely her own delivery record, but he is quite the special baby any way you look at it, and in so many respects. We are super delighted to welcome him to the family.
I knew I hadn't posted in a while, but wow. I didn't realize I'd gone multiple months without any action. There were a few technical difficulties with uploading new pictures but mostly...it's just been a pretty crazy Summer and Fall, y'all. Like, moving a family of 6 halfway across the country, getting settled into a new house that's while spacious and in good repair is a long way from our ideal home so there's always something we're working on, and preparing for a 5th baby in 6 years in a brand new location with no built-up support system is just no joke. It doesn't help that the elementary school bell rings at 7:35am, which is more than a full hour earlier than it did at the old school, and I most often blog in the evenings. Evenings are really, really short when you have to get up before 6am.
Which are all, of course, very much First World Problems. But blogging and other non-essential tasks have been very much put aside. Actually...plenty of essential tasks have not gotten necessary attention as well..but, I'd rather be up to my eyeballs with busy in this blessed life I lead with my wonderful husband, our amazing children that we just can't stop multiplying, and all in our sturdy, safe home that we're all building together than on my own with heaps of time to do whatever I pleased.
But. On with the show.
I had been hoping to complete the record of our visits with people in Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma before backtracking, but those stories will have to wait.
Of course, before we had those visits, and after our long, hard winter, we had one last Spring in Pennsylvania. It was a pretty fun time. A SUPER cool thing about having a lot of kids really quickly is how fast your family turns into a big group of PEOPLE who hang out and interact and do stuff together. Awesome!
It's always fun to see them be friends. Kendra has been reading books to her siblings for almost a year now, and it's really, really cool to watch.
Such beautiful matching girls!!
The Farnsworths' very first Pinewood Derby!
Epic bed head.
Bridget is just the most delightful person! Though she's also very wary of strangers so we'll often tell people how friendly and happy she is only to present her and she gives the newbie the stinkiest resting stink face you've ever seen.
She is also 100% DADDY's girl. Like, sometimes it hurts my feelings a little bit to see how much she prefers him and reflect on how she always has. But then again, one of the sweetest images in my memory is always going to be one of my husband loving on our children. It just makes my heart swell up so much it seems like I can feel.
Three of the brother's in Grant's family have such a striking physical resemblance that it has many times been said that they're all the same, just in Small, Medium, and Large. Here are Medium and Large as a matched set on Easter.
Their sister is in there, and they're not very patient. I taught her to lock the door for privacy. I know about needing privacy when using the toilet. I've been on the other side of this door many times myself.
Elliot finally upgraded out of the same model of cable-temple glasses that he'd been wearing since he was less than a year old into big boy glasses!
We were able to make one last trip out Dayton to visit Grant's brother and his family, which was SUPER nice to do--we loved living driving distance from them and while now we're a good driving distance from other people, we definitely miss the access to these awesome Farnsworths. Bridget is quite a bit younger and smaller than the cousin closest in age to her, and it was really cute watching him assert himself as NOT the baby in the group.
Baby Selfies! They never get old.
We were able to hit Chuck E Cheese with some friends just after school finished, it was pretty fun.
One story that is not photo documented was our saga in house-buying. In mid-April, I took a trip out to Texas and scouted out a bunch of houses in a number of different areas. We went under contract with one that felt like a pretty great fit for us--it was in a decent location to be a not-horrible commute, it was a large upgrade, but not among the largest we'd seen, it was nice but not so nice that we'd get mad at our kids for being kids and wrecking things from time to time, it was in a culdesaq that was on no-outlet street so VERY little traffic, and also right on a trail that lead to a big running path, and the price was significantly lower than comparable larger houses.
Long story short, the seller had legal issues that prevented him from selling the house so our closing date came and went with no house becoming ours.
We tried not to panic, but it was CRAZY stressful.
So, we sent Grant down this time to go out with our realtor and get a different house the first weekend of June. Unfortunately, almost all of the houses that I'd seen were gone. And several great options were bank owned, which were out because we wouldn't be able to wait (bank owned properties are optimal for people who already live in the area, not people on a timeline and a short one at that). And in a whirlwind of a trip, he found us another house that was significantly bigger and nicer than the first one--and as fate would have it, we met a previous tenant of the first house who gave us some insider information about it that made us grateful to have dodged a couple of bullets.
We did our closing remotely, and to GREAT relief had no problems with the transaction. We even got to keep our moving date.
And here we have some VERY celebrated signed papers for our very first house! Seven years of marriage, a fifth baby well on the way, and pretty weird to be adult enough to be home owners.
The very next day, I loaded the kids up while Grant stayed behind and handled the move.
And thus ends the pictures of our time in Pennsylvania. Our family grew and changed so much in our time in that town and apartment...while we look forward to new growth and adventures down here in Texas, that place will always be significant to us.
The next morning, none of the kids slept in nearly as late as I hoped they would. Paxton was the first one up, which wasn't a surprise, a little before 8am, and even from another room, the others followed about an hour later. But, they were all certainly cheerful and still excited about being in a hotel, so I went with it.
The hotel we stayed at had a free breakfast, so I had the older two put on their shoes, strapped the babies into the double stroller, and we rolled over to the breakfast room.
Now is just as convenient time as any to note that ANY time during the ENTIRE trip that we were not in the van or a hotel room, I had the babies strapped into the double stroller. It made getting in and out of the van take almost 10 minutes longer. It made getting through any closed manual door a big hassle. But it was a HUGE sanity saver to have them strapped into place any time I was physically vulnerable. Paxton, while dear to my heart, is a flight risk. Kendra needs little direction in public and Elliot needs a bit but is very good about following it...but Paxton is pretty content to go where ever he wants when ever he wants and you really have to stop what you're doing and physically direct him because he's two and even the best and brightest two-year-olds struggle with following verbal cues when they're in new and thus exciting places. And at 14 months and tenaciously walking, Bridget also needed to be strapped into a seat.
So, we took a look at the breakfast options and then I parked the stroller at a table in the line of sight of the food. I helped the older kids get their food first, then I made a trip for the babies, and then finally got something for myself.
And again, the kids all handled themselves beautifully in public, doing nothing but charming the other guests around us. They all ate surprisingly well, too, so I felt really good about the start of our day. With that, I filled up the milk cups and we headed back to the room to get dressed and ready for our day.
The rest of the morning was a little hairy. The kids were all still SO enthralled with being in a hotel, but enthralled kids tend to be quite active, and I was trying to get myself and them ready, while also preparing for another day of travel. I asked my mom to call the room because a huge selling point was the novelty of the phone. They did enjoy it, but it didn't provide as much distraction as I was hoping it would, but we got out the door and to the lobby desk to check out.
Only when I turned away from the desk to grab my keys, I couldn't find them. They weren't in my purse. So I started searching through the bags I'd put on the luggage cart and no luck. It took almost half an hour and two trips back to the room to find them--in my desperation to keep the kids entertained while I got everything ready for the day, I'd handed them to Bridget and they'd wound up in one of the drawers of one of the dressers in the room. It was a rough experience because I was flustered that it delayed the start of our traveling for the day and I actually go a little nuts when I can't find something I have recently had in my hands. I'm pretty sure it's part of some undiagnosed neurosis, but it doesn't pop up very often and doesn't last long when it does, so I try to handle it by taking good care of my keys.
Keys finally in hand, I took the kids out to the van and buckled them up and then pulled up to the lobby door, where I left our things on a luggage cart. Then I took some time to clean out the mess from the day before and get situated for this day before heading out.
Being in a van, there was a bit of a logistical situation with how to effectively meet the needs of all the kids while still trying to make good time. The first thing to address was Bridget, as she'd proven to be difficult to care for even with an extra pair of hands in the vehicle to take care of her while I drove. I decided to put her in a front-facing seat. I know that the current recommendation is to keep kids rear-facing until at least two and as long as physically possible after that. I know that many parents have kids Elliot's age who are rear-facing. But the legal requirement is 1 year, and Bridget's birthday was 2 months before our trip and after a lot of very careful deliberation, I decided to put her in a front-facing seat so that she would be able to see more (and be more entertained) and so that I would be able to hand her things from the front seat. I also brought the rear-facing carrier with us in case I changed my mind. Paxton is already front facing on the passenger side of the middle row in the van, but I could reach him very easily, too, so the babies were good.
For the older kids, I decided to give them most of a days worth of snacks at the beginning and let them choose when to eat it. I had other things I could distribute when we loaded up after stops, and I did but I started each day with giving them both a full water bottle, a full snack cup, and a loaded "lunch bag".
About a month before we left, my mom sent us these, preloaded with treats she knows the kids like. I knew when saw them that I wanted to use them for the road trip, but I was having a hard time figuring out how. Then a day or two before we left, I came up with the idea of not worrying about letting all the kids benefit from the bag and just giving them to the older two, who would be able to open both the bags and the containers in them without help. And voila! The problem of passing snacks to the older kids was solved! I filled the cups with things each kid prefers and packed a bag of chips and two bags of fruit snacks in each one and handed them to Kendra and Elliot. Elliot was so attached to his that he had to bring it with him EVERYWHERE. The whole trip.
And so, though getting off much later than I wanted to, we finally pulled out of the hotel parking lot at noon with yet more rain drizzling down on us. Though when I opened my email to get the address of the hotel I'd picked for that night to plug into the GPS, I realized that I never got a confirmation email for that hotel stay, which probably meant that my reservation didn't go through. Since we were going to be on I-70 all day and I didn't immediately need directions to the city where we'd be staying, I went ahead and decided to call someone for help than try to handle it myself.
My sister-in-law Debbie, whom I'd just seen the day before, was very happy to sit at her computer at home and figure it all out for me, and we got another suite confirmed at the same hotel I'd chosen in Columbia, Missouri, though not without me needing to pull into a gas station parking lot to fish out my credit card to read to her.
I hoped that the stop was just a fluke and that we'd be able to easily cross the rest of Indiana without needing another one. Oh, how I hoped.
Not long after stopping for the credit card, Bridget suddenly got unusually fussy. I tried handing her several different things, but it was obvious that whatever was bothering her, the things I was passing her were not cutting it, so I listened to her and found another gas station, less than an hour's drive from where we'd started that day and stopped for the second time.
And it's a good thing I didn't just let her cry it out and chalk it up to a sleepy baby, because there was a real problem. I'd given her a pouch of yogurt and instead of eating it...she had doused herself in it. When I opened the door, I found a ridiculously sticky baby! So I stripped her down, grabbed a clean outfit out of my easily accessible stash of extra clothes, and wiped down her carseat before unloading everybody else and heading into another gas station. I ended up giving her an all-out bath in the sink of the bathroom, and doing my best to rinse off her dirty clothes. Once she was situated, I had us all take a potty break for good measure because even though we hadn't covered much ground to show for it, it had been a couple of hours since we last went at the hotel. I decided to splurge and let the kids pick out drinks--I could definitely use a Diet Coke at this point! I felt like such a rock star...
...until we had to stop less than an hour later due to overfull bladders. Kendra had chosen a 24oz bottle of Gatorade and she drained the whole thing immediately. Things got really urgent right after we had passed Indianapolis and it took us a while to find a place to stop, but we got it taken care of.
I wish I could say that was the last stop in Indiana...but it totally wasn't. In fact, our next stop was so long that we all got out and use the bathrooms, came back and filled up the car, and then had to go in and use the bathrooms again!
We only needed one more potty break in Indiana...but then we had to stop again at the first rest stop across Illinois border. So, it should be no surprise for me to report that we needed 5 hours to travel just over 150 miles. But, I had my brain firmly wrapped around the fact that traveling with kids meant I'd need to stop a lot and I was crossing into a new time zone and gaining an hour on the clock, so it was all good.
And, because I fueled up at a couple of these stops, (ever optimistic that this time we'd be able to cover significant ground before needing to stop again) we zipped right through Illinois and well into Missouri, only stopping again less than an hour from the hotel! I saw a Wal-Mart and decided to grab stuff to feed the kids at the hotel that evening since we'd be getting in significantly earlier than we did the night before.
There were even still a few rays of light in the sky when we got there! The kids were squirrelly again and this room was significantly smaller, and without an actual door to separate the rooms, which was suboptimal, and we were all pretty cranky. And when I told Kendra that Paxton and I were sleeping in the big bed and she and Elliot were sleeping on the sofa, there was much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth...poor thing was the only one who hadn't napped in the car (not that others weren't still pretty beat). Luckily the sofa had a chaise lounge along with the pull-out bed, so I put her on the pull-out and separated Elliot onto the chaise lounge so they wouldn't disturb each other in the significantly smaller pull-out bed.
We slept in a little, but didn't have as good luck at the breakfast serving lots of things the kids were willing to eat, but luckily I had options that I'd brought in that case so this time I just loaded up with things and brought stuff back to the room and fed them there. And I had the good sense to turn on the dang TV while I got everybody ready for the day and packed up our stuff so they weren't so wild (packing up wasn't tooooo crazy because I put everybody's clothes for the trip in a large laundry basket in the back of the van, and then I pulled out what I'd need for the next day when we arrived at the hotels and put them into a small carry-on bag, so even though I was dealing with five people's worth of clothes, I was only dealing with 1 day's worth at a time).
Our departure from the second hotel went much more smoothly, in part because I kept very close watch on my keys, and in part because I'd figured a few things out from the day before. And we were off significantly earlier in the day than we were the day before. I did need to stop for gas, but I just paid at the pump and left the kids in the van and we made the rest of our drive without potty breaks--we'd stopped in Columbia, Missouri which is about an hour and a half outside Kansas City, and our final destination was less than hour outside KC.
Driving through Kansas City is always a thrilling experience for me because it was a very common destination as my paternal grandmother lived there, and it is very much like coming Home. In fact, my grandmother's backyard faced I-70, and we drove right past it. And then going through downtown Kansas City and hearing Elliot call my favorite skyscraper there a castle was pretty fun. Paxton noted that, "Oooooh, it's dark in here!" and "Mommy, look! It's tunnels!" when we were going through sections with lots of overpasses, which I remembered thinking similar things when I was driven through them. And then outside the city, the kids started spotting signs with Jayhawks on them, the mascot of the University of Kansas with which I affiliate even though I haven't graduated (YET), so they all know what Jayhawks are. I loved it! Sharing my own childhood with my children...it was awesome.
We got to Lawrence, where we'd be staying, just in time for lunch so we met my Mom at a McDonald's with an indoor playground. We arrived the first day of a major heat wave, and while it had been a pleasant 68 degree when we got into the van in Columbia, when we got out in Lawrence, it was 100 degrees. And plenty humid. As we got out of the van, Kendra announced, "Mom, it is HOT here. Like...REALLY, really hot." And she repeated similar observations the whole time I got her siblings unloaded. All I could think was that we were heading a LOT further south where we'd experience a lot more of this level of heat...the poor thing.
I took this after the peak heat of the day, it really was 100 degrees when we got there!
Mom showed up at the restaurant while we were finishing up our potty break in the bathroom, and we had our meal before showing them the playground. I'm not entirely sure who had more fun...the kids getting a chance to really run around and play, or Mom watching and hanging out with her grandchildren. Both of my parents just light up around our kids in a way I've never seen them before, and it's really, really satisfying to observe.
We stayed at McDonald's a really, really long time. I figured that the kids had spent the two previous days mostly cooped up in a car, they could use the exercise. When we'd had our fill, we went over to Mom's place to hang out for a while before heading to where we were staying to get the kids tucked in for some good sleep (hopefully).
And! We did it! The bigger part of driving was OVER. Now we could settle in and start making our rounds...