Friday, December 22, 2017

Beaty Family Christmas Letter 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

Christmas Eve at the Thompsons

December 2017

Dear Family & Friends,

For a third year in a row, I write from Tennessee! That’s a record for us, much to Jake’s dismay and my delight.

Jake had a busy spring going to various Homesteader and Survivalist expos as a vendor. He sold many copies of his book, Winter’s Comin’ (available on Amazon!), and expanded his wares to include t-shirts he designed as well as the chairs he has begun making out of wood. He ran Great Wave SEO (internet marketing) until recently. In July he was offered a job he couldn't resist, quite out of the blue, as Service Department Manager for his first SEO client. Bringing order to a department, learning more about cool cars, and becoming a favorite of the mechanics are just a few of the things he does at Art & Speed Classic Car Gallery in Collierville! He often bikes to and from work and the entire family and cats excitedly await his arrival home (while he braces for it, ha). We recently celebrated 5 years of marriage - I'm so grateful for him!

I got busier throughout the year as I went from parenting a newborn to yet another busy toddler. And with Jake gone all day for the first time since having kids...let’s just say it’s different!! My home school now includes 4 students while I keep the youngest two out of the cat food and toilets. I was also honored to serve at the births of my first doula clients this year and have several more due soon. Living so near my parents, who love helping with the kids, helps me keep my sanity!

The boys’ paperwork was an ongoing “side project”. US citizenship paperwork came through about a year after we applied, then Social Security numbers after 4 months (instead of the quoted three weeks—that was a lot of fun!). Once we had those numbers, we could apply for insurance and begin the necessary rounds of dentists and doctors and therapists that everyone needs!

Joel, age 14, is super pleasant to be around. His basketball team earlier in the year was almost undefeated, as well as his fall soccer team. He really shines on the soccer field and would often get most or all of the goals for his team, same as in Bolivia! He works a steady pace in school and gets good grades with little drama—something this mama appreciates. We marvel at his patience with the little ones and his diplomacy when they are challenging. It's almost always quiet when he's the one in between the car seats in the far back of the car!

Michael, age 14, is still a bundle of energy, curious, and talkative. Or, as Jake likes to put it, being around him is like sticking your head out of a car window while going 100 MPH! While school is not his “thing”, he is great at math and I rarely need to help him with it—something else I appreciate! He keeps up with all the NFL teams and statistics, and has become quite the fishing fanatic. He could pretty much fish or work on the aquarium in their room all day long. His boundless energy serves him well in a house full of toddlers, and he's a favorite playmate!

Jake's parents flew Joel and Michael to Washington for a great summer visit at their home and with their three boy cousins. They had a blast!

Samuel turned 13 this year. He also loves anything to do with fish and is Michael's main fishing partner! Since March he’s slept at my parent’s house around the corner, where he’s a much calmer kid, and visits us most days. We’ve learned to give him the option of opting out of social events and activities. After years of trying to find the right professional to help us help him, we finally have a good male counselor on board for individual and family therapy. A couple of months ago, we also got an official diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Learning about FAS has helped us make sense of 90% of our challenges, as well as manage our expectations and thoughts to the future.

All three are playing for a local church’s basketball league and we can’t wait to watch their first games next month!

Sophia turned 4 in October with a ballerina party. She helped me plan it for weeks and loves all things ballet and dance! Dancing and singing around the house, especially with any of us for an audience, are some of her favorite things. This month she was a Marzipan Sheep in two Nutcracker shows. I about fainted from cuteness overload!! She begs to do school and I know that I’m going to greatly enjoy teaching her as she grows. Sophia and Lydia are best of friends and worst of enemies, while she is ever the doting big sister to Callie. Overall, she loves them and helps me keep an eye on everyone!

Lydia, 2 ½, is quite easily the most photogenic, loudest, and messiest child I have ever met! She is finally communicating more, if in “baby talk” that we never had with Sophia, which is helpful except that it seems she began her talking with the phrase: “I want (fill in the blank)!!” The week before she turned two she finally learned to say “Sophia” and hasn’t stopped yet. Many pictures I take show her staring adoringly at big sissy. Potty-training was a rough journey still in progress, but made easier with Sophia’s encouragement and supervision. She’s our affectionate child with a tender spot!

Our 23-pound baby, Caledonia Grace, turned one last month! Everyone loves her, and she loves us back in her sweet baby ways. She crawls lightning fast, cruises around furniture, loves finding anything but a toy to play with or chew on, and babbles even more than Sophia did! After a quick succession of three illnesses in February, Callie has been very healthy, for which I am very grateful. I must have 1000s of pictures of this baby! 

When people tell us what a beautiful family we have, be it at church or somewhere else, Jake often replies with “Thanks, but please pray for us when you think of us.” I would finish with the same request! Thank you for your friendship and encouragement to our family.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Jacob, Jennifer, Joel (14), Michael (14), Samuel (13 ½), Sophia (4), Lydia (2 ½), Caledonia (13 months)

July 1 Family Picture (I was so glad to finally have a new good family picture!) 

August 2017, Florida Beach Trip

 The guys, looking all Hawaiian! 

Caledonia's First Birthday


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Beaty Family Christmas Letter 2016

Beaty Family Christmas Letter 2016

Dear Family & Friends,

I began writing this letter by reading previous years’ Christmas letters. It was fun to reminisce as I read my descriptions of each member of the family. And certainly, the past few years have been a non-stop whirlwind of change and growth! This year was calm by comparison. We continued to learn about life in the United States as we explored our surroundings in Tennessee. 

Jake’s most exciting moment of the year was seeing his book published! After a multi-year process, Winter’s Comin’ became available September 15, our one year anniversary of moving to the US. Hurry over to Amazon to get it! So far there are paper and kindle versions, with an audio version to be read by his parents in the works. Jake has enjoyed radio and TV interviews, homesteading events, and lot of interesting conversations with people as he promotes the book—his first of many, for sure!
It’s been a challenging year to provide for our family. During that process, Jake started his own business from home, Great Wave SEO (Search Engine Optimization). He has learned a lot about himself and about being in business, Number One being the constant effort to obtain enough clients! One of those is a nearby classic car gallery, where he has done a lot more than just marketing, such as helping show and sell the cars, develop processes for the business, and driving cool old cars for weddings! Another “trade” client allowed Jake and the three boys to attend boxing classes at our local UFC Gym, an activity they greatly enjoyed for a few months.  Speaking of, Joel and Michael are now learning how to build and design websites, a potential component of the business! 

As one could imagine, my life is full of caring for Jake and our six children. Much of what I do is normal for any homeschooling mom, while some is due to the special needs of our sons. Jake and I took an eight week class at the beginning of the year titled “Empowered to Connect” and we have a shelf full of very helpful parenting books that I read when I can. My other constant challenge is keeping up with the busiest, messiest, loudest pair of toddlers I have ever met!! Having Jake often home is my saving grace.

In late January, I decided to pursue birth doula training, as I love learning about pregnancy and birth and talking to other women about the experience. I expected to be serving pregnant clients by year’s end, but instead in March (on our 4 year anniversary of meeting each other) found out I was expecting…another baby! That news modified my timeline, although I continued on with DONA International’s outline of training and making contacts. It turned out to be a wonderful experience while pregnant, especially discovering local resources. 

Joel (13) continues to do well in school and has developed an enjoyment of reading. He is incredibly talented artistically. He puts together some amazing Lego creations. You name it, he can make it, with moving parts, motors, etc. In sports and games, he learns quickly and is quite competitive. He has just begun basketball practice with a local church team and we look forward to watching his first games next month!  

Michael turned 13 the month after Joel and is growing like crazy. A jumping party complete with lots of friends seemed to suit our most active, extroverted son! In school, he’s a math whiz kid! Reading and writing are a real challenge, but he plugs along and aims to do well. I’m extremely grateful for my Mom’s help grading and teaching him most of the year—a lot more tolerable for him than listening to ol’ mom! He has developed a passion for football, often playing outside with his brothers or neighbors, and waiting impatiently to watch every Seahawk game with Dad.

Samuel turned 12 on June 12…the same day his beloved kittens were born! We brought them home in July, on Joel’s birthday, and Samuel has been busy ever since caring and playing with “June and Julian”. He had a long hair phase for several months this year…we’re glad that’s over! We were blessed with a grant from The Homeschool Foundation which provided for several lessons with a private tutor experienced in dyslexia. He also qualified for English as a Second Language classes at the local school and began in November…right around the time he got new glasses! It’s been a busy year.

I’m occasionally asked if the boys miss Bolivia. If they do, they won’t admit to it. I guess it’s better than the alternative! They think everything here is better, want to forget everything Bolivian and Spanish, and I’m apparently the only one who would be on a plane ASAP for a visit if a thousand dollars fell in my lap. Around mid-year, Casa de Amor’s US and Bolivian administration changed hands, and is now called “The Sunshine House”. Look them up online to see and contribute to the work that continues!  

Sophia is as spunky and bossy as ever! She never ceases to amaze us with her verbal skills. Everything is more fun with Sophia around! A few of her favorite things are playing dress-up, sensory play of any sort (especially with water), telling little sister what to do (or not!), reading books, talking about letters and numbers, and doing “school”. I love watching her participate at library store time. Her curious mind keeps us on our toes! 

Lydia can best be described as a tornado of activity. Very sweet, very “physical”, loud, and absolutely fearless!! There’s no rest when she’s awake as she gives new meaning to “gets into everything”! I’m glad for all the sets of eyes to help me look out for her. She wasn’t shaken at all by the arrival of a new sibling, but since she’s such a busybody, she has spent lots of happy time getting extra attention at Nana’s, especially from Aunt Sarah who adores her.

All the kids thought #6 would be a boy. We decided to leave it a surprise, but the greater surprise than having a 3rd girl in a row was how she showed up! While we had planned for another home birth, the short labor caught us by surprise and Caledonia “Callie” Grace arrived into my arms on 11/20 at 2:43am, just a few minutes after Jake called the midwife! Perhaps all my doula studies and training this year of the birth process and how to make it a positive experience channeled into hers. Caledonia follows our naming theme for the girls (name ending) and was my maternal great grandmother’s name. Jake especially loves how unusual it is. For the first few days, one of the boys called her California and Sophia called her Sally, ha! They now have it figured out and we’re loving our sweet new baby who seems so tiny compared to her 30 pound sisters. 

 Callie got to "model" for a local photographer...and Mommy got free pictures, yeah!

Our Washington cabin trip in February (first time for the kids to be in so much snow - they loved it!)

 At the Thompson lake house in Texas for July 4th (first time for my relatives to meet my kids - they were loved!)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Jacob, Jennifer, Joel (13), Michael (13), Samuel (12 ½), Sophia (3 years), Lydia (20 months), Caledonia (1 month)

A few links, if you'd like to explore beyond this letter...

Great Wave SEO 

Winter's Comin'

Sweet Memories Doula Birth Services 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Daddy's Quilt

It's become a fun tradition to pose our babies in this white basket, with Jake's baby quilt.

Caledonia, 10 days

Lydia, 9 1/2 days

Sophia, 9 1/2 days

I totally wouldn't have remembered the "9 1/2 days" part,
except for looking up my last blog post on this subject, when Lydia was born. :)

Other sweet pictures of Callie sleeping in the basket:

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Callie Grace's Birth Story!

Our sixth child and third bio baby was due on 11/16/16. Fun date for a completely unplanned pregnancy! 

As it turns out, I am not very patient when it comes to waiting. I didn’t find that out with the first because she came 9 days early. Waiting for the second about did me in, and labor even began the very evening after her due date! I had to wonder what I was complaining about when that day came and passed with this one. During the last 10 days, I had 4 different afternoons of 8-12 hours of irregular contractions, usually starting after taking a walk. I alternated between despairing that it was ever going to lead to anything and also knowing they might help labor go quicker and one of these days… They wouldn’t fade away at midnight! Each day it happened, they were a little more uncomfortable or even painful. I hadn’t experienced this before and it was emotionally and physically draining!

November 18 going to sleep and November 19, Jake got an earful about how weary I was of my giant belly and achy body as I ran after two busy, messy toddlers every day. At lunch he asked how I was doing and I said I didn’t know, but it seemed my belly was hurting off and on. I hoped my frustration was hormones signaling the beginning of something serious!   
That evening, needing some comfort food, I threw together a crowd pleasing meal of Banana Juice (Bolivian style) and homemade pizza. Sometime during the preparation (I estimate 5:30—didn’t bother to look at clock), I remember pausing to look over at Jake, playing with the kids in the living room, and thinking, “Hm, something has started up again… And they are rather painful.” I told Jake as much during dinner, but didn’t want to raise our hopes.

Afterwards he insisted on bringing in the birth pool and setting it up in the bathroom. I just said “no water yet!”

 Callie, the day after her surprising arrival

While watching the babies in the bathtub after dinner, I flipped through “Active Birth”, one book I never finished with the other pregnancies. Around 8, the girls were protesting moving towards their cribs (as usual) and being too needy for me to deal with patiently so I quite abruptly turned the process over to Jake. Contractions seemed to be awfully frequent for just having started!  I decided to hop in the shower to get them more manageable. Also, timing them seemed a good idea since it was nearing bedtime.

 The saying on my calendar "Be happy for this moment" seemed very appropriate for November!

I sat on the birthing ball and enjoyed the hot water pelting my back while simultaneously timing on the handy-dandy app and reading news on the phone. They did slow from every 2 ½ -3 minutes to every 4 ½ while in shower. Better! But we were still going. (Let me just say, this was the first time I have successfully timed contractions! These iPhone apps are amazing.)

I went downstairs and made the last snack on my list: Almond Butter Oatmeal Bars. Jake joined me in the kitchen as I cleaned out and scrubbed fridge shelves and drawers—more nesting! This baby has been the best thing ever for our house, seriously! He had already set out the oats to soak for breakfast with all of the accompanying bowls and spoons. A comforting sight, his Saturday night ritual. I wondered if there would be another mouth to feed come morning.

I decided to warn my mom. No sooner had the message delivered than she called to ask more questions. They were still on the road back from the day’s barrel race. The kids were already in bed, anyway—too late to send them there to sleep, if we did decide this was “it”.

Finally at 9:30, I texted the midwife and her assistant, in case they wanted to go to bed earlier. Settling into our room, I looked at the “in labor” checklist, and Jake started helping me work through them occasionally as I started to need to focus. I was beyond a simple massage—had him go right to the double hip squeeze. Not sure it helped much, but was better than nothing. Mainly, the heat of his hands was calming, relaxing, and good distraction. Sometime around here, I realized they were radiating around to my lower back—a good sign!

Around 10:30, I wrote a photographer from the Bradley childbirth class to tell her baby might be born the next day!

As a last sign-off before bedtime, I wrote birth team at 10:56: “Definitely having some good, frequent, painful contractions. We’re going to try to sleep but I don’t think I’ll be very successful at it.” I was asked frequency/duration and Jake guessed even before we timed: 1:50 apart, lasting 34 seconds. And even though the midwife replied that contractions that short aren’t usually doing much, baby was probably just rotating, I knew that mine don’t often reach 60 seconds. These were painful enough to be doing something alright! Her comment did help me envision baby moving into a lovely position during contractions, something that was a worry since baby's head wasn't pointing the best way for birth.

She again said they could come or wait a bit, totally my call as I know my body. I replied at 11:11pm: “We’re handling it fine so far. I’d prefer for everyone to get some sleep if they can!” (Because that was my plan, too! I just couldn’t stomach the thought of another exhausting marathon birth like Lydia.)

Jake went to bed, at my insistence. I was still too much into “nesting” to give it up just yet, as well as processing that this seemed to be something. I cleaned, picked up, and rearranged our bathroom, maneuvering around the birth pool. I leaned over the counter to sway and breathe through contractions, and decided that even though I missed Jake’s company, I was being more “macho” handling them without anyone around to complain to. I’d just focus through them and get back to work!

Right at midnight I blew out the lit candle in the bathroom and came to bed. I set up a third pillow (from the usual two) between my legs, simulating the peanut ball to keep my pelvis open even while lying down.

This was a very miserable part of the process, so tired and yet such painful contractions every few minutes. I felt very alone and was having a bit of a pity party, chatting with God frequently, something along the lines of “Woe is me, why couldn’t at least every other baby be born during the daytime?!” If Jake had woken during any of my movement during contractions, he would have gotten an earful, too! Luckily, he didn’t! He said later he couldn’t go to sleep until I came to bed.

I was a little worried about not using gravity to my advantage by lying down. Consolation to me was 1) if it was going to be as long a birth as the last, I needed the rest even if it slowed things down, and 2) Bradley method!! The famous “side-lying position”! They taught it for something.  

As the minutes wore on, it seemed like I was able to get into a little deeper sleep in between contractions. Sometime near 1:30, I realized that I was trembling. (Sign of transition, I questioned myself?! NO, it COULDN’T BE!!) I had switched to my right side after a bathroom break, thinking how hourly change of position is good, probably even when side-lying, when I got a message at 1:33 that seemed to actually wake me—a surprise, with such difficult contractions. It was the photographer, checking in. (Little did I know then she should have come right away to make it for the birth!)

Deciding I was pretty wide awake by now, I went downstairs to thaw birth drinks (should have done that WAY earlier) and to cover up the snack I’d made, now cool. (Supposedly for those at the birth, but I never got to put everything out.) It seemed like walking around was making contractions just pile one on top of the other (ugh, transition!). They also gave me a flashback to the end of Lydia’s birth, or even Sophia’s, that awful “I can hardly deal with this, I need RELIEF” feeling that I would have when midwife Katrina would have me get out of the birth pool near the end and move around. That made me think, “Ah-ha! That means I’m far enough along for water!”

Since I needed something fast, I thought I’d just jump in the tub till needing to wake Jake. After adding “Serenity” oil to the diffuser, and almost immediately deciding the smell was too overpowering and I couldn’t handle it (hello transition again), I got in even before it was full, desperate for help with the pain. So I was probably there from 1:50-2:10, eating the one labor pop I’d brought upstairs with me and wanting to drink the tangy coconut labor drink (which still wasn’t thawed by the time I got out of tub with baby much later!). It seemed like so much longer! I visualized baby coming down, trying to relax everything, even shaking my hands out as I’ve learned from doulas, and know that each one was closer to the end and my baby! For a couple of them, I visualized the waves of Florida, as if I were standing back on the beach, watching them roll and thunder in. Nothing too fancy, I was too out of it for that, but it helped. I had the feeling that I would like music or Jake talking me through contractions. The nighttime silence had become deafening. I’d rest my forehead or cheek on the edge of the tub with the little rest I had in between. As I told Jake with a bit of a laugh the next night, I was cursing everything about natural, un-medicated births, and why in the WORLD I had chosen such a profession as birth doula, when this was about the worst thing IN THE WHOLE WORLD!! Clearly, out of my mind—a good sign during birth! (And sentiments swung back the other way to something like “CHILDBIRTH IS THE BEST THING IN THE WORLD!!!” by the end. :) )

Jake noted that I woke him at 2:11.  As I leaned over him, I flung out something like, “I need help…I just really need help now…sorry…OWW!”  before another contraction. I asked him to fill the birthing tub. He was having a hard time with the length of hose he had to work with. He would come over to help me through contractions, using some of what he had learned in the Bradley pages I copied for him (although he already knew a ton), then turn the water back on. In other errands, I asked him to turn on “Childbirth in the Glory” on my computer, which had never been shut down, and he lit the candles by the bathtub.

 The Bradley Childbirth Method - highlights for partners

This whole time I was thinking the midwife probably needed to be notified, I just wasn’t verbalizing  very well at this point. It took 19 minutes to gasp, “Get help here!” I thought it was time to find out what was going on. Ha—we were very quickly about to find out!

Jake called her at 2:30. I had been timing, which was good because she asked: 1:42 minutes apart, lasting 54 seconds. As I recall, literally right away I got noisy. “Pushy”. Like Jake said later “I thought uh-oh, these are sounds I hear at the end!” I was moaning loudly and told Jake after the first one that it felt good to do so. The contractions had definitely switched gears. 10, anyone?! I didn't want to admit it, but we were in 2nd stage and I knew things were getting serious.

Jake mentioned that I could go ahead and get in the birth tub as he continued to fill it. While those words at the other births were met with joy and relief on my part, this time I also had doubt. It was going to be a feat to move me, so overwhelming were the sensations I was having. Jake offered me his hand to get out, but another was already upon me and I held up a hand and shook my head to signal “not yet”. Good thing, too, or baby would have been born onto the bathroom floor!

Somewhat unbelieving what I was feeling, I reached down and literally felt a dramatic “pop”. Jake was out of my sight somewhere so I think I fairly shouted at him “MY WATER BROKE!! IT BROKE!!”

2:42 message from Jake to midwife: “This is Jake. Her water just broke.” She replied that she would be out the door in two more minutes but it would take her 30 to get to us. It was also 30 degrees outside, our first freeze this winter.

Not knowing Jake had messaged, as busy as I was pondering this very clear sign of real labor (yeah, I’m slow), I asked Jake if he knew what time it happened, and that he could record it in the contraction timer app. Where? The drop of water sign. Okay… Was it a big or small gush? Clear or not? Oh my, all the questions! We laugh now, but I was not laughing then. Who cares! It broke!!

Strange as it sounds, I don’t remember the contraction that accompanied the next development, because it was so shocking, and painless. I was still very much hung up on “Cool, the water broke, this is going somewhere”, when, wait…. I yelled something about crowning, then “THE HEAD…THE HEAD IS OUT!!” Jake, probably still messing with the phone (can you tell we were enjoying modern technology with this birth?!) calmly replied, “It’s fine”. He had responded perfectly. The words struck me just how they needed to, washing through my body. Why yes, it was fine, we were in this to have a baby, after all! I relaxed but kept my hand there, and in mere seconds, I felt her whooshing out of me and into my waiting arms. Totally, completely, indescribably experience! None of the all-consuming pain, pressure, and burning of the previous “land” births, where I felt obligated to inform Jake how much it hurt, in case of any doubt on his part. In my studies to become a doula, I was inspired to “breathe out” this baby instead of actively pushing. I just never thought it would happen without any thought or concentration on my part, especially with all the concerns about her positioning! Baby really birthed herself. If the herbal tincture I took daily the last month called “Gentle Birth” had anything to do with it, that’s some potent stuff!

I swooped her out to cradle her in my right arm, patting and rubbing her like crazy, looking up joyously at Jake. I was babbling away to the baby and him nonstop, about how quickly she had shot out of me. A “butter birth”, indeed! I asked Jake if he’d caught the time, and he had: 2:43. We were already done! And holding our beautiful baby! She was calm as could be. So much joy! And just the craziest realization that we’d done it, perfectly alone and intimately, just as we’d dreamed of but never would have planned. I’m so grateful for Jake’s presence of mind and his full support of this crazy but oh-so-good home birthing business.

I didn’t waste much time adjusting baby and trying to peek around the umbilical cord to finally know to call this baby a “he” or a “she”. As I studied the tiny face more, I thought to myself, “That face belongs to a girl”…and it did. I told Jake and don’t remember his reaction. It was like, “Okay, we know girls!”

At 2:44, Jake was already messaging the midwife: “Baby is born. Girl.”

She replied at 2:46 “Is she ok? Coming”

Jake replied in quick succession: “ok, she’s ok, not crying, a few noises”

Lynda suggested rubbing her with a towel. I thought she looked just perfect! She was relaxed, yawned, nestled so sweetly into me, and prepared to sleep. As Jake said later, it was like she didn’t realize she’d been born yet. However, Jake insisted that we hear her cry. I tried but it bothered her, so I went back to cuddling. This was the ideal peaceful, gentle birth, that our Kiwi midwife for our other two hoped I would experience someday (we couldn’t birth into the water in Bolivia due to contamination).

Our next concern was how little cord we had to work with, so I couldn’t actually bring her to my chest and cover with a towel to keep her warm while we waited for more assistance.

Jake hoped on my computer to see if our midwife in New Zealand was online, as it was the end of the day there. Remarkably, she was, even though she told me later she would usually have been offline by then. She gave us advice about keeping baby warm.

Meanwhile, I was studying our newest, grateful that her tiny body seemed just perfect! No birthmarks or strange scars or lines—or worse—from the purported amniotic band spotted at 20 weeks (and only at 20 weeks).

I didn’t feel like I’d just had a baby. However, I did start to really ache from sitting in the tub the past hour. The birthing pool would have been much more comfortable in that regard, although scary because we wouldn’t have been able to pull baby up high enough and I would have had to get out immediately, with no time for the peaceful “after glow”. The after contractions were also particularly uncomfortable and long lasting.

Speaking of glow, Jake switched on the red heating lights in the bathroom, so our first pictures have an eerie red glow to them. 

I tried nursing, per Kiwi midwife’s suggestion, but it was too awkward to hold a good position with the limited cord length, and baby just wanted to rest, anyway.

Jake had called my mom, who later reported she was standing before she even answered, ha! My parents came right away, Dad waiting downstairs until he got the all clear. They pulled in right behind the midwife’s assistant. So great to have them so near and involved! Mom said they are making up for missing the last two.

Cutting the cord!

It was a relief to see Kimberly, the midwife's assistant, appear at my side! She suggested draining some water, passed me a towel to hold baby easier, and went to work getting out the items of the birth kit stowed in our bedroom. She had soon clamped the cord, very well drained of blood now, and Jake cut it! I was so glad that we kept him more rested and sane during this nighttime birth, not fainting away at the end like at Lydia’s, completely exhausted. 

Straight to Dad's arms from the tub 

The placenta was studied (no sign of any band or abnormality), I showered, baby nursed well, got checked over, and was weighed by Daddy in a cloth sling. Another surprise: she weighed the exact same as her sister, 8 pounds, 1 ounce! That makes it easy to remember. Blood type—same as her daddy and sisters. I would need a Rhogam Anti-D shot.

Newborn baby check after we'd had some good skin-to-skin time

Daddy providing some light as Kimberly and Lynda (l-r) work on her umbilical cord

She still hadn’t made more than a peep. I think we finally heard her cry the next night when I didn’t start nursing fast enough (she kinda ate all night long)!

 Still couldn't believe - she's HERE!!!

After such an exciting night, I didn’t know if I’d be able to settle down to sleep, but did from around 5:30 to 7 something, when I heard Sophia calling from her bed. Jake got up and said he could go out and prepare the Sunday oatmeal and no one would know a baby had been born overnight. But Joel had in fact overheard, probably the noise in the hallway as Jake directed visitors in during the wee hours. 

 I've never seen Sophia so somber... So glad she quickly became herself again!

At around 9am, when my mom came back, bearing gifts in the form of every newborn girl outfit and blanket she could find at Target at 8am, we brought the kids in to meet their new sister! The boys were unimpressed that it was another girl, Sophia was quiet and processing (either that it was a girl, or another real, live baby!), and Lydia was boisterous as usual! She protested loudly when we had to pry the baby away from her tight grasp. 

 Lydia wants to lug her around like she did our kittens, before they got too big!

Jake and I have talked over and processed more parts of this birth than either of the last two. Part of the reason, I suppose, is we are comparing all three experiences. Each one was so unique, just like the children born! Birth #1 started at night and ended by afternoon—less than 15 hours total. Baby #2's labor began one evening but truly kicked in by the next morning. The next day (middle of the night) and 18 hours later, we finally had a baby! Baby #3’s labor was just 9 hours and only half of that was intense (and 1 ½ hours of that I was half asleep!). As much as I dreaded going through labor again already, it couldn’t have gone better! And now I’m totally fine with doing it again… Although I do need a break to concentrate on my big family!!

Visualizing your ideal birth is something doulas talk about, and we had to draw ours during doula training 3 months ago. It’s very interesting to think how this birth went down just the way I drew it! All the family at home, yummy food on the table, with my birth books all around, me and husband cradling baby alone…   

Daddy is completely smitten and says she’s his favorite baby! He loves how she responds positively to his affection, and I love watching them interact. The other two had distinct ways of responding to Jake while in the womb that remained true after birth, and this one had her own way but I wasn’t sure what it meant. Jake was just sure that she got still to hide or because she was afraid of him, but turns out she was just freezing to listen in wonder! That’s what she does now outside.

Meeting grandparents in Washington via skype!

He says she looks like she just hopped off her surf board in Hawaii, with her bleach blonde mop of hair. He says the coloring is thanks to me, quantity thanks to him—a joint effort, which I love!

Since he thinks I'm a wee bit crazy for already talking about the "next one", he has made up an acronym with her initials: "Can't Get Better, CGB". :)

After two very Beaty babies, Callie most reminds me of my mom. Or me. Especially when she cries, for some reason? Mom says she’ll have to get out my baby pictures.

Joel and Michael ask to hold her and will do so for a long time. They are baby pros by now! As to Lydia, on the other hand—we keep her chunky 27 pounds as far away as possible!!

Sophia often mentions how much she loves her new baby. The first two days she was saying “Sally” instead of “Callie”, and then decided to call her Caledonia, like Daddy (who is eating up having the first unusual name of our bunch, and it’s growing on me, too). It’s the cutest thing to hear her say that big long name! 

 Our first day together

I’m eating up her newborn tiny-ness, so fleeting with Lydia, even while imagining how much fun it will be when the three sisters can play together at all the different stages.

If you don’t hear from me for a while, you can imagine why!!

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Beaty Bunch!

And then there were... THREE!

Three boys...

...and three girls!


 Michael (13), Joel (13), Samuel (12)
Lydia (19 months), Caledonia (1 day), Sophia (3 + 1 month)

Caledonia "Callie" Grace Beaty

Caledonia: "Of the Scottish highlands" and "hardy people", also the name of Jennifer's great-grandmother

Grace: God's favor (Latin), beauty and joy (Greek)

Born at home on Sunday, November 20, 2016 at 2:43am

Weight: 8 pounds, 1 ounces (3.66 kilos)

Length: 20 1/2 inches (52 cm)


Our sweet, peaceful baby

 Little blondie!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Jake is a Published Author!!

Ever since I met Jake he has dreamed of writing books. When his two year contract at Calvert School in Cochabamba ended (June 2014), he began! He rigged up a sheet at one end of the living room to give a bit of separation from his desk and the 1200 square foot apartment with 4 children living in it. Then he went to work! Many evenings and free moments since, he has happily typed away, sharing the first story aching to be told.

After more than two years of writing and research including interviews, searching newspaper archives, cabin visits, and work with an editor...

"Winter's Comin': A Lifelong Dream Fulfilled" is published!

Proof-reading the final copy in read-aloud sessions with the kids

Today is Jim Beaty's birthday (my father-in-law), the one the story is about. Why don't you make his day special and give yourself a few days of an inspirational read by obtaining a copy or two? (Christmas is also comin'! I think it would make a great gift for the man who already has everything.)

To order on CreateSpace, click here

To order on Amazon (Prime, anyone?!), click here!


Saturday, July 30, 2016

July 4th and Texas!!

On almost the last day of July, I finally get up pictures from our wonderful July 4th trip to TEXAS!!

The whole original Thompson crew was there, plus new additions to the family:

What a great picture! Seeing it made me realize "Wow, we're a big group of people now!"
We've definitely expanded since my childhood visits.

This is the first time I've been in Texas since pregnant with Sophia. Now I was the same pregnant again (about half way) and several children richer. It was the first time for all of the Thompson relatives to meet all five of my children in person!

Cousins together again!
Jessica and Christopher; Travis and Taylor
Emma, Jennifer, Sarah, Heather

AND, there are actually TWO other tiny people in this picture... We found out on this trip that Jessica is due early next year! It's the first time I have a pregnant cousin - fun!

 A cousin picture collage hung in the lake house dining room. Great memories!

A selfie attempt as we got underway on our 11ish hour road trip. For sanity sake, we sent Samuel in the (quiet) car with Nana and Pops and crew, and my sister Sarah came with us. She loves our little ones and laughs heartily at Jake's jokes!

Lydia getting out some of her abundant energy at a gas top in Texarkana

Sophia was again the show-stopper with her favorite rolling backpack, purchased in Cochabamba right at a year ago

We had SO much fun on and in the water! The lake house is on Lake Granbury and also has access to a community pool.

Sophia as the "capitana", not a far fetched role, ha

This is the same paddle boat my sisters and I used many years ago...

Don't let the life jacket fool you! There was no way we were getting in the middle of the lake with the world's busiest and least cautious 1 year old, even though (or perhaps because?) she LOVES water and getting wet.

This is the closest she got, a quick pose with Joel to say she was on the lake a minute! Even here she is squirming to get down and run around.

It was so much fun to go out in the boat!! We all left inspired to get a lake house and boat of our own, ha.

 On the pontoon boat Pops rented for the day

 Enjoying the new experience!! Samuel often opted to stay back at the lake house, but he did have some fun out
Joel getting up on skis - on his first attempt!! My cousin Travis gave them lessons. Michael also did well.

Happy face!

 Loving a swim with Daddio

 Sophia LOVED the boat and lake!! I was glad we managed to keep her from getting sunburned...

...if not always awake. :) She (GASP!) missed her nap this day, but caught a little snooze by Daddy.

And a lake house summer tradition - Heather's birthday!!! 
 I love all the July 4th decorations

  Sophia and Lydia ready for cake

And then, because our travel plans had us missing all the firework shows, we planned to get a peek at a local country club's show a week later. But alas, a huge thunderstorm moved through right as it was to begin and it was canceled.

The birthday picture with Aunt Heather, better late than never!

Instead, we did sparklers in the garage while the rain poured.

And, just because this is the closest I got to getting pictures of the babies in their July 4th best...

At a classic car show in Collierville
Sophia is a champion poser and quite enjoys pictures, but Lydia must be contained!