Thursday, December 30, 2010

True Christmas Highlights

Alrighty that I have all the details out of the way, I would like to take the time to jot down what I really loved about this Christmas.

1. Mark having a 3 day weekend. He is an insanely hard worker and his job is very demanding. It was wonderful to have him around all day and enjoy his company.

2. Making lots and lots of cocoa.

3. Watching Anna stare up into the Christmas tree, transfixed with the sparkling lights. It is the worlds greatest baby mobile.

4. Having the chance to shop for my kids and enjoy seeing them truly pleased by their gifts. We aren't regular toy shoppers throughout the rest of the year, so it's fun to have a reason to spoil them a little.

5. Mark got each of the boys a big nerf gun and he has spent alot of time running through the house with them and making up war games. The LOVE it. LOVE LOVE LOVE. I do not doubt that playing with their Dad will be the star of all the "What I did over Christmas Break" papers they will write upon returning to school.

6. The boys love to battle with their Bey Blades. When they release these tops into the "battle stadium", they call out in unison, "1..2..3...Let 'er rip!" Then they encourage their tops by exclaiming, "You can do it!" "I believe in you!" "C'mon!

7. Even though having a newborn is hard, I cherish those quiet moments of rocking my little Anna and having her sweet warm little body curled up on my chest and hearing her soft breathing. I especially love when she sleeps with her face turned up and tucked under my chin.

8. I have discovered that when it comes down to it, all my children are willing and capable of cleaning, cooking and caring for almost every aspect of our house. There have been days when I have spent hours upon hours stuck on the couch holding a nursing/crying/sleeping baby and they have efficiently kept us from drowning in dishes or laundry. They are amazing!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas 2010 Favorites

Oh my, what a Christmas we had this year!

For one thing, we have a new person in the house and she is quite demanding of our attention. It seems the Hufford Universe revolves around her and she's completely unapologetic about it.

After what seemed like an eternity, I finally managed to get her to go to sleep and lay her down on Christmas Eve. Then I tried to pitch in with the final wrapping and stuffing of the stockings. Then I took the opportunity to take a few photos of the tree and all the presents placed just so. I knew it wouldn't last long in the morning.

A couple of my favorite gifts under (and in) the tree:

This one says, "To: Mom From: Starts with M?" Ooooh....mystery!

And one of several love letters placed throughout the branches and even wrapped up under the tree:

Morning couldn't come soon enough for me. I am not in love with the newborn nights and just assume get up and get on with the day. We did have to tell Ethan and Mathew to go back to bed around 3 am and again at 4:30. That's a little too early.

About 6 am, however, I tiptoed down to the rocker and nursed the baby by the glow of the Christmas lights in an attempt to get her down for one more round of sleep before the festivities began. I was determined to be a participant and not a stressed out, sweating, rocking, back-patting spectator. Just as she was falling asleep, the troops arrived and began exploration of the stocking fare while Dad took his shower. Mark hasn't had Christmas bed head in years. It's a form of torture, I'm convinced. All parents must find a way to make the anticipation into a form of suffering. Mine opted for the "hot breakfast in bed" method. Once all fear of toaster electrocution has passed, I plan to follow in those same footsteps. But, for now, Mark gets to take his Christmas shower.

Playing with their finger flashlights while waiting for Dad.

And sporting their Christmas Eve Jammies:

The boys have passed over into the "man jammy" stage. Black and gray athletic pants and a cool, grown up t-shirt with a little sportswear logo on it. No crazy prints. Just understated coolness.

But at least I still get to find pink silky cupcake pants for some people. It's a comfort.

Now, please note that my camera is not cutting it these days. All I get is a bunch of blurry children running around. UNacceptable!

Now for the crazy unwrapping of the Christmas wonders!

Ethan scored a Big Barn Playset, a Storm Pegasus BeyBlade, new Bakugans, a RC car, a science kit and a Semi-Automatic nerf gun.

Mathew got a Pokedex, Beyblade Battle Stadium, RC car, Science kit, Bakugans and (of course) an identical nerf gun. Let the games begin!

Megan got a bunch of new Barbies, a Barbie Princess horse, an Easy Bake Oven, and a massive dollhouse to share with her sisters. It's huge!

Laney got Barbies too, but seemed most interested in her new dinos. Can you blame her? They roar.

Mark surprised me with a brand new camera. A Nikon D90. I am not as smart as this camera, so it will take some getting used to and I will have to make a real effort to learn how to use it so that it isn't wasted on me. But I have to say that even just getting it out of the case and pushing the is miles beyond what I have ever had before. Here's where I stopped using my old camera and switched to the Nikon. Good-bye blurry children.

Mark was gifted some very exciting dress socks, some equally cool man jammies, dress pants, a guitar power source thingy, a t-shirt or two and a Waterpik. sigh...I know, I think I got the better end of the deal this year.

But, he did get to do his annual burning of the wrappings *indoors* this year. Luxury!

Oh! And lest we forget...Anna made out better than us all. She got this killer stuffed Alligator. I covet it. Mark has officially dubbed her "The Annigator". (She also got a wipe warmer. What more can a 3 week old ask for? Warm wipes on the bickies make for a very happy holiday.)

For the rest of the day we avoided cleaning up this:

I did a whole lot of snuggling and rocking and bouncing and back-patting of this:

Mark spent the better part of the day out in the cold putting together the last gift.

The Christmas Trampoline.

*hmmm....a couple people seem to be missing in this last photo. Where did all the help go? Isn't there a story about a hen that wants to make some bread? I seem to remember....

Merry Christmas everybody! We hope you are safe, warm, and loved wherever you are and enjoyed your Christmas too!

The Tree

My favorite part of Christmas is unpacking the ornaments that go up on the tree. Each year we get them out and talk about each one and its special meaning. Most were given to us by friends or family. Each one reflects the personality, style or interests of the person that chose it. I let my kids pick out an ornament of their own each year and I keep a list of what they chose in our Christmas Memories book. It's so fun to hand them and ornament and tell them that it is theirs from when they were two years old or it was the one that Grandma sent.

A few of our favorites:

Laney's blue sparkly dino she picked out this year.

An angel garland my sister Lara sent one year.

A metal horse. One of many horses selected over the years by Ethan.

Mark's silver bell. His favorite.

Picture frame silver snowflakes of all my favorite kids.

One of the many uses of the purple vanilla scented binky.

Mathew's paper cup jingle bells he made in preschool.

The tree!

Is it just me....

...or does my baby have elf ears?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A very Hufford Christmas

Considering we were in a hurry to get to church, I didn't have any shoes on, I had just bribed Laney with a handful of marshmallows to get her to stop crying and it looks like a nuclear bomb went off in the background (my eyes!), I think these turned out pretty well!

Thanks, Mom!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The price of beauty

While we were in the hospital, one of the nurses glued a bow to Anna's head. It was truly STUCK and we couldn't get it off. While very cute, I was starting to get worried. It was impervious to water and soap. We ended up having it removed ten days later while she was at Children's Mercy. The nurse that took it off told us that she doubted we would ever have gotten it off without removing the hair and skin underneath it. Seriously? Who glues a bow to a newborn baby?

Monday, December 13, 2010

The cure is worse than the disease

When Anna was 8 itty bitty days old, it was time to take her in to visit the doctor. She was feeling under the weather and had not been herself for about 36 hours. She had been crying alot more that usual and it seemed she might have some painful gas cramps. She started to run a fever the night before and I was very glad to have an appointment already scheduled.

When we walked in, we did the usual weighing and measuring thing, but it was obvious she wasn't feeling right. She had started just closing her eyes and moaning. When they took her temperature it was at 102 and they told me to put her in the car and take her to Mercy Children's Hospital in Overland Park.

Now, I've never had a baby in the winter, so by the time any of them have anything, they are fat little 7 month olds. This was different. I've never had anyone tell me to drive straight to the hospital. And I admit it scared me. So I started crying. What else was there to do?

I drove her up to the hospital and had her admitted. The nurses took over and started to check her out. They took all her vitals and talked to me about what/who she had been exposed to in the 8 short days of her life. I cried. Then the doctor came in and explained to me that they were going to run all the tests they needed in order to figure out what was causing the fever. I cried.

She was just so little.

She was going to have to have a blood test, a urine test (catheter. ouch), RSV mucus test (fluid up the nose and then sucked out. blech.), and a spinal tap to test for meningitis (!! Spinal? tap? As in...tapping the spine? with a needle?).

I cried.

It was awful, but we know it was for the best and it was better to know and deal with the results than to risk it. She is just too little.

So they did the tests and she got through it, but she was exhausted. She slept forever when they brought her back to me. And then we had to wait. Two whole days in that room waiting for the results to come back and getting IV antibiotics just in case. She was so tired, I just held her and let her sleep while I watched hour after hour of the Food Network.

I think the board that was strapped to her arm where they put her IV in was the worst part of the whole thing. She was miserable and I couldn't wait for them to take that thing off of her.

In the end, she was fine. All the tests came back negative and they took her off the preventative antibiotics. I was a very painful, frightening, and expensive cold.

On the bright side, the hospital food was awesome and I had two whole days of quiet, which is a hot commodity when you have 5 little kids. We were also thrilled that one of the nurses was able to take off the bow that was permanently attached to Anna's head with some industrial strength solvent.

My mom was in town to help me with the baby, so that alone can be considered the best timing ever. She was able to get kids back and forth to school and generally save the day.

Unfortunately the only photo I have of her from this visit is this one Mark took of us. He calls it "Dualing Laptops".

She was probably researching bird-watching tours for her trip to Hawaii in the spring and I was probably avoiding writing on my blog.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The gingerbread train

This year we opted for the GingerTrain! Mark took over, as I was indisposed with the newest pup.

The most essential element to building a successful Gingerbread structure of any kind is dividing up the candy into 4 equal parts beforehand. You may even go so far as to make sure each has the same number of each color of candy. Don't underestimate their "fairness radar". Take preemptive measures!

Then...just go for it. Warning: Do not invest emotionally in the finished product. It's totally beside the point. The point is to have fun and sneak as much candy as possible without detection.

The new pup.

The final product with all the contributors. Mathew is trying out his "disgruntled" look lately.

The best part is taking it apart and eating it just moments after finishing it!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Miss Anna Jane

She's here. And she is so very little.

I was scheduled to be induced on Monday morning (Nov. 29th) at 6:30 am. In an effort to hold off labor until then and give my sweet parents-in-law a chance to drive up here from Arkansas, I had been parked on the couch for a full 4 days, watching an entire season of Australian Masterchef on my laptop (Those Aussies don't mess around. There are 86 episodes per season). It was great....for a while, but soon it was miserable and boring and made me feel unproductive and gross. The highlight was when I asked Megan to put something away and she took one good look at me and said (unashamedly) " are very lazy". It hurt my feelings and I tried to defend myself, but I had to admit I could see where she was coming from. I WAS very lazy.

Joe and Jean arrived Sunday evening and we had a nice time visiting and having dinner with the kids. I have to admit I was feeling a bit achy, although nervous about being induced, ready to get on with the show.

We all went to bed and I commenced dreaming that I was being bitten by snakes and enduring other painful situations...all centered around my humongous belly. About 2 am I finally woke up enough to realize that the pain was not merely a dream. After watching the clock for 5 minutes and clocking two solid contractions, I knew it had happened again. For the third time, I had managed to go into labor approximately 4 hours before I was scheduled for my induction. The other two pregnancies were natural, so those are pretty consistent stats, no?

Feeling very motivated to get an epidural, we alerted Grandma Jean that we were on our way and we headed to the hospital. It was only 5 minutes away and we were blessed with a nurse that believed me when I told her I go FAST. She busted through the paperwork, started the IV, did the labwork and paged the anesthesiologist. Here's a picture:

It looks like I'm saying something, don't know what, but I do know that that look in my eyes is fear. FEAR! I was convinced that I was destined for some major pain.

He took his sweet time and possibly went on a donut run between being paged and showing up to give me sweet relief, but I will forever honor his name because HE MADE IT! And it was awesome.

I took a little nap and poor Mark (very sick with a head cold) fell asleep in the rocking chair. The labor slowed way down and the nurse gave me a "whiff" of pitocin. Then out of the blue, I felt something change and it was time! The doctor came in, told me to push, then immediately said, "Nevermind!" In fact, his exact words were,..."keep not pushing, keep not pushing....and she's here!"

And there she was. All wiggly and warm on my chest. With her beautiful black Hufford-baby hair and perfectly pink skin. I really didn't realize that I was getting a baby out of this whole affair. A real baby.

The nurses cleaned her up and Mark cut the cord. Then I watched as they weighed her and gave her the once over and my sweet husband started to get teary because he can't bear for his little baby to be cold and crying and there's nothing he can do. I love that...he does it every time. I'm crying because he's crying because she's crying.

6 lbs. 11 oz.

She was born at 9:09 am and by lunchtime, she was already reigning supreme over her loyal subjects.

Megan and Laney came with Grandma and Grandpa after Kindergarten was over. I love this photo because of the look Meg is giving her dad. She isn't quite sure what to do with this little baby, but she knows where she can find reassurance.

Laney wasn't sure about it, but once Megan had taken a turn, she was ready to go.

Grandpa kept a distance because he was fighting a cold too. Grandma took a turn, and I couldn't resist picking this photo because it captures one of Mark's scary coughing fits. Poor guy. Nothing like welcoming a brand new baby and feeling like walking death. Although, now that I look at it, I can't help but be impressed with the steadiness in which he maintains his iphone usage during a wracking cough. Those are mad skilz.

Later on, Mark brought the boys and they were instantly in love.

They each held her at least 5 or 6 times before it was time to go. Barely giving the other a chance to get her settled in his arms before saying, "Ok. My turn!"

After that we settled in for the night from he_ _. I will never understand why there is always that one nurse that seems angry at the world and dead set on taking it out on the unsuspecting new moms in the maternity ward. She would bust into my room every couple of hours insisting on waking us both up and taking our "vitals". She would quiz me about when the baby had last eaten or pooped, eying me suspiciously and making me feel like a liar. It was a long night and although I was supposed to be there for another 24 hours, I wasn't about to go through that again. We headed home the next day and were greeted by hot chicken enchiladas and a beautiful green salad (a rarity around here).

And for dessert...a birthday cake! Joe and Jean were ready to celebrate Anna's birthday. Can you get any more thoughtful? I think not!

Thanks, Sarah, for the beautiful flowers! It was so fun to have someone come to my room with flowers for me. It really made me feel special. And they are perfect. Just what I would have chosen.

So there she is! We love her and we can't get enough of her sweet little face.