Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving with the Gordon's

We were delighted to have some of our best friends come visit over Thanksgiving!  Besides the usual Thanksgiving festivities, there was a whole lot of playing & bonding going on between our kids!  To say that Jake is extremely fond of Jereme is a gross understatement!  And, Jereme played the big brother role very well!

Our girls requested a Chopped competition while the Gordons were visiting, modeled after the Food Network show called Chopped.  Jereme & Shanan teamed up against Zaynah & Alyssa.  Ali did the shopping & came home with the "basket items": salmon, jicama, citrus, ginger, & cashews.  It did get pretty heated in the kitchen, but the good news is that no one got hurt, the food was not overcooked or undercooked, & they figured out how to work together!!  Fantastic, really!  And...there was some really, truly tasty food at the end of it all. :)  Seriously, it was great to see their creativity at work!  

Jereme and Shanan working hard in the kitchen
The final lineup for the Chopped competition, we had one last commercial before we announced the results
Team Jereme/Shanan on the left, Team Zaynah/Alyssa on the right, judges were mixed and awarded a tie.

Greg, Jereme, & Zaynah also went skiing with Steve, Shanan & Alyssa.  Shanan enjoyed skiing with friends much more than just with Steve & Alyssa.  Everything is better with friends, right?? :)

Great day for skiing, it wasn't even that cold
Alyssa posing on the slope

All in all, it was a great visit.  It was truly a treat to have the chance to spend Thanksgiving with friends!  We miss you, Gordons! :) 

Thanksgiving Dinner with pecan pie for dessert that Alyssa made
We had a lot of fun playing the 'Let's Dance' games on the Wii

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Grandma, Grandpa and Uncle Jon come to Utah for a visit

We were honored to have Grandma, Grandpa and Uncle Jon fly out from Pennsylvania for a visit.

Jake had fun jumping all over Grandpa

During their six day visit, we spent most of our time just hanging out.  There was lots of game playing--everything from Apples To Apples to Liar, Liar.  Uncle Jon played lots of Barbie's with Genna.  The kids can always count on Uncle Jon to play whatever they want him to play.  The kids also had loads of fun taking distorted photos of everyone using our borrowed iPad.  It took a lot of willpower to resist posting some of the crazy pictures here.

iPad fun
We did go twice to the park to let the kids burn off some energy, and give Grandpa a reason to get some walking in.  The girls gave Grandma a makeover, which she tolerated.  Grandma got plenty of time to hold Katie, which is the real reason she came :)

Getting a makeover
Star of the show
Enjoying some October sun

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hubacher Visit

While traveling full-time, we met this incredible family in Louisa, Virginia at a Civil War Battle Reenactment of the battle for Trevilian Station.  The Hubachers' oldest two girls are the same ages as our two oldest, and they really hit it off & became fast friends in just a couple days before we took off again.  And, Philip fell head-over-heels in love with Genna in the same amount of time. ;)  Over the last year, they have stayed in touch via letters primarily, as well as email.  Thanks to their friendship, the Hubachers decided to take a cross country trip to come see us & meet Katie.  Wow---that's one long trip to make by car with five kids!

Katie was just shy of one month old when they visited.  To say it was a little crazy & chaotic with 10 kids & 4 adults in the house goes without saying, right? :)  Shannon was great about helping out in the kitchen, cutting up fresh peaches every morning (our neighbors' peach tree lost a huge limb & we scored a LOT of peaches as a result!)--YUM!--and making lunch every day they were here, not to mention taking out the trash 57 times a day or so (we still only use a small trash can from our rv days). ;)  Dwight also mowed the lawn for Steve!  There was a LOT of play going on--playing the Wii, playing at the park, playing in the mud, playing games, playing American Girl dolls, playing 3-legged races in the back yard, & hula hoop making!! There was also some serious competition over Genna's affections between Philip & his little brother Levi!   Whew, it was action-packed!.

A rock, we must climb it

Besides lots of play, Steve also took them up the mountain to hike to Cecret Lake.  I admittedly stayed home with my three littles & enjoyed some peace & quiet.  We also took them to In-N-Out, & then Shannon & Dwight treated for roller skating.  Again, I stayed back this time with Katie & Jake for some more peace & quiet. :)  With baby number five, I no longer feel like it's a race to get back into everything I was doing before; I give myself more grace to adjust & figure it all out.  I've found that's super important for my sanity in the early days where sleep is scant & the other littles are more dramatic thanks to their position in the family getting bumped by the latest addition.  

Cecret Lake
We even got together with the Hubachers' friends that had moved to SLC several years ago, the Grinsell's. They were kind enough to invite both of our large families over for dinner & s'mores!  And we were able to commiserate on some of the challenges of living in this area.

We are so glad you guys came to visit, Hubacher family!  As one of the challenges of living here has been the difficulty of making friends, it was so heartwarming to hear Alyssa say, "I had forgotten how much I enjoy spending time with kids my own age!  It was so much fun!"

3 legged race in the backyard
We went skating on the second last night
Genna made great strides, she was determined
Jake holding a real doll baby
Time to say goodbye
They are going to miss each other

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Fishing with Friends

(By Steve)  One of the first things we did when we moved to Sandy was to join a church.   We have been going to the Rock Church and have really enjoyed the solid Biblical teaching and the friendships we made.   We joined a small group the first week we started attending because my first day there just happened to be when they had tables setup to entice people to join a group.   In the group we joined we met our friends John and Lori Duddleston and their daughters Sam and Carly.   Jake took a big liking to Uncle John and did his best to make him wish he tried for that boy :)

Jake is very fond of his Uncle John
We were honored to be invited by them to come up to Washington Lake on their annual labor day camping trip.   John has a large 5th wheel like ours, but we were only going to tent camp this time.  Since Linda had just had Katie, there was no way that she could go, so I bravely decided to go with the other four kids.

We passed this waterfall right before the campground
Washington Lake is in the Uintah mountains which is about 90 minutes East of Salt Lake.   It is way up at about 10,000 feet in elevation.   It is on highway 150 which leads to the highest point in Utah and the Flaming Gorge area of Wyoming.   

We had planned on going there Friday night and then stay all day on Saturday, and then leave Sunday morning.   Those plans changed when John called and told me that they had been having a cold rain that looks like it will continue for a long while.   We decided to be smart and just go up on Saturday for the day.    The trip up there is gorgeous.   It is always so nice when I can get out of the Salt Lake valley, for some reason when I do, I feel like I can breathe again.

Alyssa caught the second most fish
When we got there, the weather actually started to clear up a bit which was nice.   Everyone was telling us how much it had rained over night.   The first thing I did was to take all the kids fishing.   Of course I knew that Genna and Jake would grow tired of fishing very quickly.   After about 30 minutes Jake could not stop crying, so I left the big girls and took the two little ones back to the RV.   They spent the rest of the time being spoiled by Sam, Carly and their friends.

By the time I got back to get the girls they had a sting of trout that they had caught.   I was surprised and impressed.    All together I think that Shanan caught seven fish, and Alyssa caught five fish, and me, well I caught only one fish.  It wasn't for lack of trying though.    While we were fishing, within 5 minutes the winds picked up and the temperature dropped 20 degrees and chased us back to the RV.   We struggled to clean the fish in the cold and then retreated back to the RV.  

Shanan had to clean all the fish, since she caught the most
For dinner John, Lori, and Jim cooked up an amazing dinner.   John cooked the trout and they were amazing.   Lori made delicious fish tacos and Jim made the most incredible shrimp I ever tasted.   He kept saying that they didn't turn out well, but I couldn't imagine them tasting any better.   

The rain came down on and off, but the campfire carried on.
We all had a wonderful time, and are very thankful for our friendship with the Duddlestons and that they invited us to spend the day with them.

Hanging out inside during the rain

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Introducing Katherine "Katie" Joy Zavocki -- Birth Story

Success and Relief, Katie is just minutes old. 39 weeks exactly, our little Katie made her grand entrance!  As previously mentioned, we had friends we met on the road in town visiting.  We had a great week hanging out, and I got my wish that this baby girl would stay put so that we could just enjoy visiting.  On their last (planned) evening, we met them over at the RV park for swimming & dinner.  When I exited the pool, I had the sneaking suspicion that there was more "water" running down my legs than should be.  After a hasty trip to the bathroom, I confirmed that my water had broken, a brand new experience for me as with the previous four, my water had either been artificially ruptured or had broken with pushing.  When I told Steve, his eyes got very big, & some mild panic started to ensue!!

We walked back to the Henson's RV, I texted my midwife & told her what was up, and she called back to basically say that she wasn't 100% convinced that my water had broken (I was convinced), but just to keep her updated, try to eat dinner & maybe grab a nap, if I could.  When I told her we were out with friends, she told me there was no need to rush home.  I relayed the info to Steve, who was still looking very uncomfortable.  Lisa had made a yummy dinner, so we all ate (I insisted on eating outside), though there was definitely some excitement & tension in the air.  Steve was hustling & bustling around, trying to make sure the kids ate & all our stuff was rounded up.  We realized that we had both vehicles, the van & truck, to drive home, as Steve had come to meet us straight from work.  He was super nervous about me driving back, but I wasn't having regular contractions, so I assured him I'd be just fine, and if not, we'd be following each other, so it would be easy enough to just switch over to one vehicle & have Kyle & Lisa come pick up the truck.  Sooo...amidst much hustle & bustle, we took off for home, me sitting on a pile of towels, since every time I stood up or shifted positions, water started running down my legs. ;)

I didn't do it on purpose, but when we got off at our exit, I accidentally went the wrong way...which totally freaked Steve out.  When he called, I assured him that all was well.  Being in the van with an easy-to-see clock helped me to keep track of contractions.  I noticed they were about 5-6 minutes apart, but super short, and mostly felt like braxton hicks.  In other words, if my water hadn't broken, I wouldn't even think twice about them.

Linda about 1 hour before Katie was born
Upon arriving at home, Steve was wound super tight.  Jake had fallen asleep on the way home, which seemed ideal, except that when Steve attempted to transfer him to bed, he roused with much yelling, & it was apparent there would be no more sleep for him given the circumstances.  There was some yelling, there were tears (from me & the kids), even sobs (me, after all, emotions were high).  Steve was flipping out, super bothered that our midwife was not on her way yet, and had trouble understanding that I wanted to wait 10 minutes to confirm that contractions (which, mind you, were light & short) didn't stop upon arriving home.  In ten minutes, as promised, I texted my midwife, informed her that contractions were 5-6 minutes apart, short, & varying intensity.  She replied that she'd finish eating her dinner & head our way.

With that, we headed to the basement to begin preparations for the birth.  No matter how much advance prep you've done, there's always some last minute stuff to arrange.  With little jobs for everyone, everyone calmed down & settled into a groove.  Jake & Genna were racing through the house, with much noise & excitement.  Meanwhile, I'd texted my best friends from Texas & asked for prayers for peace & unity & a smooth delivery.  We all gathered together as a family & prayed for the birth.  I think I'll always remember that.  Even my kids that always seem to defer & say they don't have anything to add, prayed for me & for this baby.

Linda in hard labor which didn't last long
I hung out on the bed in the basement, on my knees with my bum up in the air as my midwife suggested that baby was likely posterior since I could feel a bit of tugging on my tailbone with contractions & hopefully this would encourage her to turn.  I chatted with my friend Leslie on the phone, so you know contractions were still not intense.  Heather, our midwife, arrived & checked on me & baby & proceeded to do her thing.  A bit later, I had my first "true" labor contraction.  Heather came over to check on me again & began rubbing my back.  While she was rubbing my back, she & Steve chatted, & I remember hearing the girls come in & chat, as well.  Contractions were strong, lasting about a minute each, four minutes apart.  Suddenly, I felt a pop & a gush of water.  Contractions jumped to two minutes apart, and I was feeling pushy.  Heather told me if I wanted to make it to the birth pool, I was going to have to run for it.  I couldn't move.  She again told me I needed to run for it.  Somehow, I made it off the bed, walked through the bathroom to the birth pool, got in, and started pushing.  I remember hearing Steve turn music on.  Apparently, the girls were still lighting candles when I came in, but I was oblivious.  Baby girl was out before the first song on the cd was over (less than 5 minutes)!  When I opened my eyes, I saw my three girls peering over the side of the birth pool.  Despite the speed with which it all happened, they managed to make it in time to see their baby sister come into the world!  Jake missed it, but he came down within a couple minutes.  My big girls were pretty quiet, but Jake & Genna were enamored!  So sweet to see them meet their baby sister for the first time.  And despite his age, Jake understood the baby was out, & my belly was now empty!  Okay, far from empty, but certainly sans baby!

It's crazy how fast it all happened.  According to Heather, active labor was 24 minutes!  If my water had not broken as a warning, there's no way she would have made it (she lives 45 minutes away).  Her sister & assistant arrived, washed her hands, put on gloves, and caught.   Even though we literally live just up the street from the hospital, I don't think we'd have made it!  Again, I love how God works out the details!

The kids arrived just in time to see Katie being born
So, although we dd not have a name chosen for this sweet blessing, we deliberated the next day & agreed on Katherine Joy.  Katherine means pure.  Joy comes from the Jars of Clay song "God Will Lift Up Your Head."  There were seasons in this pregnancy where I really struggled with a lot of angst about this baby.  We sang this song in church a fair amount, and I really felt like God calmed my anxious heart with these lyrics.  In particular, "Through waves & clouds & storms, He gently clears the way, wait because in His time, so shall this night soon end in joy, soon end in joy."  Indeed, Katie is the child I never dreamed we would ever have!  And even though this was not my easiest pregnancy, I count it all joy to have had the incredible privilege to once again, join with God to create new life & bring it forth into this world.  As all our children are, I know she is an incredible blessing from above, and I cannot wait to see what God will do in and through this little one!  We are one blessed family!  Welcome, Katie!

Dad holding Katie for the first time
The big girls can't get enough of their baby sister
Shanan and Katie are twelve and a half years apart
Jake loves to "pet" his baby sister
Katie on her first full day
Week old Katie sitting with Dad
Snuggles with big brother Jake who is potty training

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Visit with the Hensons

We're starting to feel spoiled with so many visitors after such a long hiatus without!  Another family we met on the road, the Hensons, told us they would be passing through SLC & would love to see us!  All of us were excited, but especially Genna, since she & Kylee hit it off in grand fashion in May 2012 when we met..  To add to the drama, we were waiting on a baby, but I was secretly hoping she'd stay put, at least until the end of their visit to make it easier for hanging out together.  Those first few days after a new baby comes are exciting but exhausting!

Best buddies
Kylee & Genna picked right up where they left off before!  It was so good to see great friends & enjoy their company, share food & memories.  Genna had her first ever (sans big sisters) sleepover at Kylee's.  She could not have been more excited!  Steve took them up to Cecret Lake, though I stayed back just because this baby is due any day & has settled nicely, making the thought of hiking in the mountains a bit daunting.  Lisa got her wish & saw her first ever moose -- a mama & baby, even!

All in all, it was a lovely visit, and it helped pass the time in these final days, when Steve asks me every morning before work, "So, are you going to have the baby today?" and every night says, "Don't have the baby tonight; I'm too tired!"

Gorgeous Cecret Lake, high up in the Wasatch mountains
We saw this mama and baby moose, the first wild moose that Lisa ever saw
Sunset as we were making our way down
And, to top the visit off, baby girl did indeed make her grand debut!!  The Hensons were going to leave on Friday morning, so we decided to spend Thursday afternoon/evening together for one last hurrah.  Steve met us over at the RV park after his training meeting, and while Lisa slaved away making dinner for us (again -- they totally spoiled us this visit), we all went to the pool with Kylee.  And, when I got out of the pool, I had the distinct sensation that something was awry...yep, my water broke!  Talk about adding some excitement to our final evening together!!  And, plans for Kylee to have a sleepover at our place got bumped.  But, we didn't have the baby at the RV park. ;)  And, Kyle & Lisa decided to stay another day to get to meet our brand new addition!!  If you want the details of how the birth went down, stay tuned for the next post.  It was amazing really how it all worked out.  It was sooo incredibly sweet to get to share Katie's birth with friends!  Love how God works out the finer details!

Final photo before saying goodbye; of course Jake had to be in it.
Lisa holding Katie, it was so awesome that the Henson's extended their stay to meet her.
Kyle deciding whether to try for another ;)
Jake had so much fun playing with Kyle