Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Elsie's First Day of Kindergarten!

Yesterday Jackson and Ansley started their first day in 3rd and 2nd grade, but today was another big milestone for our family. Today our sweet Elsie Miles went to Kindergarten! 
Elsie is our kid that can make a friend no matter where we go. If there are other kids somewhere, Elsie will have a "new friend" within minutes, so we knew that she would have no problem with the social aspect of school. She has been so excited about starting Kindergarten, and when we found out who her teacher is for the year, she only became that more excited because Jackson and Ansley kept telling her how nice that teacher is.  She has been fine with starting Kindergarten until the last couple of days and she told me a time or two that she "didn't want to go to school." My kids never went to any type of preschool program or anything like that, and I could tell that she was getting nervous about being away from me.  We would talk about all the fun she is going to have learning new things, making lots of new friends, getting to go to music class (since she LOVES to sing), and how she gets to ride the bus with Jackson and Ansley (which she is really looking forward to). She came to me last night and said, "Mama, I'm nervous about Kindergarten." I told her that is absolutely understandable, and that I always get nervous when I do new things, too. We told her that it is okay to be nervous, but that she is going to do great and have a wonderful day.  We then read "Countdown to Kindergarten," "Mrs. Bindergarten Gets Ready For Kindergarten," "Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come!" and "The Kissing Hand." We then drew our "kissing hands" on one another before we went to bed.
This morning when I went and woke her up, she jumped up and hugged me and seemed completely fine, and even excited while getting dressed and ready for school.  We took some pictures and then loaded up in the car. All the way there Jackson and Ansley were telling her all about the different things she was going to get to do at school and Jackson said, "This is so exciting that you are going to be at school with us!"
 Once we got to school she seemed fine, until we dropped Jackson off at the gym and started to go to the cafeteria to take Ansley and her to their class lines.  As soon as we turned from the gym and it was just Elsie and Ansley, Elsie grabbed a hold of Ansley's hand. She got to the cafeteria and then turned to grab mine. We took Ansley to her class line, and then I walked Elsie over to where her teacher was. By this point Elsie was squeezing my hand pretty tightly, and holding onto my arm as well. Her teacher came over and was telling her how much she loved her dress, and then she said, "Elsie, I see something on your hand. I know what book that is from and we're going to do something with that today." Elsie grinned and then we went and sat down and waited for the bell to ring. 
As we were sitting there she kept hugging me and I was trying to think of anything I could to talk about to keep ME from crying. You know what is not good for your emotions- having a baby and then less than a week later sending one of your kids off to kindergarten. Talk about an emotional mess! Once the bell rang and the teacher said it was time to go to class, Elsie grabbed a hold of my neck and I as I was prying her arms off from around me, I was trying to put on my biggest fake smile possible. I told her I loved her and that she was going to have a wonderful day. She had tears in her eyes and her teacher walked over to her and held out her hand and Elsie took it. My little blonde hair, blue eyed baby girl walked down the hallway and a piece of my heart broke knowing that this was a big step in letting my baby girl grow up. Elsie has such a huge heart and is constantly giving me hugs and saying, "Mom! I love you!" about a hundred times a day, and I am going to miss those precious moments throughout the day. I also worry because she has such a huge heart, she gets her feelings hurt so easily. When that does happen, she rushes to me with crocodile tears in her eyes, and does one of those hugs where she throws her whole body into my arms. I dread that first time she is at school and someone upsets her and I will not be there for her to run to, but I know she will be okay and will figure out this whole "growing up" thing just fine. 
As I walked out of the school the tears already started falling before I even reached my car. Eric had stayed home with Vada Belle and Felix since they both were still asleep, and when I got home I told him, "That was really mean of you to make a crazy hormonal woman try to drive herself home through all those tears." We both laughed (and I cried some more) as he hugged me. 
After school Elsie was so excited to tell me about her day and when I asked her if she missed me, she said, "No!" My mom was here when I asked her that and we both laughed and I said, "Not even a little bit?" She said, "No, Mom! I didn't. For real." and then started laughing. I'm so glad she had a fantastic first day! She said that her favorite part of the day was "everything except for when I got bit by a sweat bee outside." :) 
Look out world because our sweet Elsie Miles is growing up, and we know she is going to be something amazing! 

Monday, August 3, 2015

First Day of the 2015-2016 School Year!

Even though we have been out of school since May 14th, it still seems like it is way too early for school to already be starting back! Last night while we were trying to get everyone ready for bed, there were tears from Jackson, Ansley, Elsie (okay,and maybe a few from me, too) because they said they just weren't ready for summer to be over. Me either, kids, me either. Thankfully this morning both Jackson and Ansley had no tears and seemed excited about going to school.

Jackson is in the third grade this year! I'm dreading having to worry about the end of year test and letter grades, but since Jackson loves school so much, I know he will do just fine. When I dropped him off in the gym his morning, he was excited to see several of his close friends in his classroom. He gave me a kiss and a quick, "I love you, mom!" and joined in with a group of boys in his class.

 Ansley Kate is in the second grade this year, and is excited that she gets to change classrooms for the different subjects. She has been the one for the last few weeks talking about how excited she is for school to be starting back, but yesterday while we were up at my mom and dad's house and they were playing in the pool and on the slip n' slide, she got big tears in her eyes when we told her it was about time to go home. I asked her what was wrong and she said she wasn't ready to go back to school. I told her that I am just like her, and I get sad when fun things are over, but just because summer was coming to an end, that doesn't mean our fun has to.  We talked about some of our fun fall activities that we already have planned, and she seemed to feel a little bit better. This morning she seemed fine, and when I took her into the cafeteria to join the other second graders, the table that had her class only had eight students there at the moment, and all 8 kids were boys. Ansley squeezed my hand a little tighter and asked if I would stay there with her for a few more minutes. Her eyes started filling up with tears, and I kept talking to her about random things to get her to laugh and to keep her from crying. Thankfully a little boy that we are neighbors with that is a good friend of Ansley's is in her class, and then three more girls came in right about the time they were ready to go to their classroom. She gave me a hug and seemed just fine as she walked down to her classroom.

Before leaving the house Jackson and Ansley took a quick picture with Baby Felix and Elsie while Vada Belle was still in the bed.

Since school was only a half day today, I asked the kids what they wanted to do for the rest of the day, and to no surprise they chose to go to Mamaw Dianne's to play in the pool! Jackson said he wished everyday at school was like today and that they would just have to go a half day. He said that then they have plenty of time to play at home, too! Me too, buddy, me too! 
Elsie starts Kindergarten tomorrow, so I'll be posting even more pictures from the first day of school then. Here's to a wonderful 2015-2016 school year! 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Felix Phipps Clifton

Welcome to the world to our fifth precious child, Felix Phipps Clifton!

His birth story:
I was never quite sure of my exact due date because I never had an early ultrasound. According to my "dates," I was due on July 23rd, but according to my first ultrasound at the doctor's office (which was when I was twenty weeks), he was measuring to be due on July 16th. Just like his four older siblings though, he was in no hurry at all to make his appearance. Both of those dates came and went, and even though I was huge, swollen and miserable, I was having no labor pains at all. I went to my doctor's appointment on Tuesday, July 28th (5 days past my due date), and was bummed to hear that I was still "almost at 2 cm." and 50% effaced (that is what I was two weeks earlier when they checked me). Dr. Andrews asked if I wanted her to strip my membranes to see if that would help me to go into labor, and I said to do anything that she thought might help bring labor on. She did, and then said I was now at 3 cm. and 70% effaced. She told me to come back in on Thursday and I began asking her about when they would want to set up an induction. I did not want to be induced, but Jackson and Ansley start school on August 3rd, and Elsie begins Kindergarten on August 4th, and I was so afraid that I would be in the hospital on their first day of school, plus I already knew he was HUGE and I didn't know if my feet, ankles and legs could possibly swell anymore without just popping. When I said all of this to her she says, "Oh, I can induce you tonight." I was not expecting to hear that, or the immediate "YES!" that came from Eric before she could even finish her sentence. It was about 3:45pm when all this is happening, and I was trying to figure out how I could get all the kids, who to shuffle them here and there, go home and get our bags, and be back at the hospital by 6:00. I asked her when she went off call and she said that night, and that she wouldn't be going back on call until next week. When she told me that (and since she is the one I was really hoping for to be on call when I went into labor), I decided that I would just go ahead and agree with the induction. I leave (a nervous wreck) and Eric and I go to the park to meet his mom that was there watching Vada Belle. We pick her up and then drive out to Tweetsie to meet Tiffany because she was there with her girls and our three big kids. We picked them up and then rushed home, I tried to walk a little bit up and down our road to hopefully get things started since she had already stripped my membranes, made sure the kids bag was packed and ready to go, and then grabbed mine and Eric's bag and the camera case. We said our good-byes to the kids (that seemed just as nervous as I was) and rushed off to the hospital. 

By the time we got there and through the long line in admissions, we finally get to our room just a few minutes before 7:00pm.  Dr. Andrews checked me and I'm still just at a 3.5-4 cm., 70% effaced and at a -2 station and they told me that I could walk up and down the hallway, bounce on the birthing ball, etc. and that at 8:30pm  she would come in and break my water. I did what they told me to, but I still wasn't having regular contractions. Dr. Andrews broke my water at about 8:20 (and there were lots of fluid!) and I was now at 4cm. All of my other four had meconium in the water, but thankfully this time there was none. I continued walking and bouncing on the birthing ball, but still was not having any regular contractions. My amazing nurses, Shiloh and Lana, told me that they would check me again around midnight and if I was still at a 4 that Dr. Andrews wanted to start pitocin, which is what ended up having to happen. At midnight I was still 4 cm. and -2 station, but once they started the pitocin my contractions finally started getting more regular and much more intense. My nurses knew exactly where to push on my hips to help ease the intensity of my contractions, and Shiloh told me how to sit and rock back and forth that would help open the cervix, and said to try to get through 5 contractions doing that. I got through 5 and we decided to go through 5 more. By this point the pain was terrible and I told them that I thought I would go ahead and get the epidural. They wanted to check me before I got it, and I was now at 6cm. The anesthesiologist came and put the epidural in around 1:30am, and while he was doing that I told Shiloh that I felt like I needed to push. She said that she would check me as soon as he finished, and when she did I was at 10 cm.! Everything started getting crazy with getting the room ready and I started pushing around 1:50 (I think??) and at 2:02am, our not so little man made his appearance. As soon as he came out we all were laughing at how big of a boy he was and one nurse guessed that he was 9lbs. 2 oz., and another one said 9 lbs. 7 oz. I instantly got to hold my precious baby boy, and Eric cut the cord. Another nurse came in and said that my mom and dad were there and wondered if they could come in. I told the nurse that my mom could, but we would wait just a few moments before sending dad in. The last that they had heard from me was when I was still at the 4cm and that they had just started the pitocin, so I knew that they had no idea that he was already here. Mom walked in and kind of peeked around the curtain and I said, "You want to come meet him?" She said, "What? He's already here!" Then a nurse brought in a scale so we could weigh him. 9 lbs. 14.4 oz. and 20.5 inches long! 

They handed him back to me and asked if I wanted to go ahead and try to feed him, and he instantly latched on. 

Daddy then got to hold his baby boy for the first time, and then Mamaw had went and got Papaw from the waiting room and they got to meet grandbaby #7.

I had such a wonderful birth experience with our little man, even though he was on the big side. I know for a fact that it went so wonderfully because of my fantastic husband helping me through the pain,and I seriously can't brag enough on my nurses- Shiloh and Lana. They were right there with me from the time that the labor pains became unbearable, and their encouragement through the whole process was just amazing. Dr. Andrews was also such an encouragement, and I'm so glad that she was even willing to induce me that late in the day. 
By the time all the excitement started winding down, it was pretty late- I'm not even sure how late. Our little guy nursed several more times through the night, but was also ready to cry, too. We really didn't get any rest that night, but I think we were so excited and had so much adrenaline going that it didn't bother us- yet. 
The next morning Eric and I couldn't wait for our other four kids to get to the hospital and meet their new baby brother. My mom and sisters brought them by along with my two nieces, and they all six ran to the hospital bed. Jackson was shaking with excitement and screamed out, "I FINALLY HAVE A BABY BROTHER!" I told him that was quite a different reaction than the last time he came and met his new sibling at the hospital (when he found out Vada Belle was a girl and buried his head into the bed to keep from crying).  They all couldn't wait to hold the newest addition to the family.

We then took a picture of our family of seven:
What a lucky little boy to already be loved by so many little kids! He also got to meet one of his great grandma's- Granny Ollie and his grandma Winkie.

We had lots of family and friends that dropped by the hospital to meet the new baby, all while still trying to figure out a name for him. We had it narrowed down to Felix or Emmett for the first name, and it seemed like the majority was cheering for Felix. Tiffany then made a chart of some of the middle names that we thought sounded good with Felix, and she was taking a poll of visitors and texts with cousins on which middle name they liked best.

That night after everyone left, Eric and I were still trying to decide on a final name, but I was so exhausted by this point I kept drifting in and out of sleep. As you can tell from the picture- I wasn't the only one that was exhausted:
Baby boy decided not to sleep that great again, and at about 4:00 that morning Shiloh came in and told me to let her take him for a while so we could get some rest, and that she would bring him back to me if he got hungry. I didn't argue with her at all, and I slept wonderfully the next couple of hours. When we woke up and were still discussing the name, Eric said, "Let's just go with Phipps since there aren't any other guys besides Austin to carry on that name." He handed me the birth certificate paper and told me to write it down fast before we changed our minds- again. 

Felix Phipps Clifton:

We were dismissed from the hospital around 10:30 on July 30th, with Felix's weight dropping down to 9lbs. 6 oz. The doctor had laughed and told us it felt as if he was examining a two month old and that babies are okay to lose up to 10% of their weight in the first few days, which would mean he could lose a pound and wouldn't be anything to stress about. My doctor came by soon after and released me, and we couldn't wait to get home.
When we pulled into the driveway Eric and I knew that we weren't the only ones excited for us and baby Felix to be home. Gramma Winkie had stayed at the house with the other four kids, and we didn't get all the way into the driveway before they were outside waving and grinning from ear to ear. Eric got out of the truck and the girls started screaming, "Where's baby Felix?"
We rested for a little while before we took our first outing as a family of seven, and a very full van. We dropped the big girls off at Bible School and then went to the pool for Jackson's baseball banquet, where we only stayed a little bit because thankfully my friend Debra was there and volunteered to watch Jackson and bring him home.  
Once  we were all home for the night the kids were so excited still about baby Felix being there with us, that they all begged to have a sleepover in our bedroom so they could spend the night with him. They each pulled their little couch as close to his bassinet as they could, and Jackson even made his bed up for me.

 The next morning on July 31st, Eric had to go to work and I had to take Felix into the pediatrician's office for a weight check and to make sure he wasn't jaundice. I did get a bit nervous about taking all five kids out by myself this soon since I was still pretty sore, so I called my mom and she was more than happy to watch the other four for me. Felix checked out wonderfully and was weighing in at 9 lbs. 4.5 oz., which the doctor said was still less than the 10% that a lot of newborns lose.
We are all doing great and getting settled in as a family of seven, and Eric and I are continuously thanking God for blessing us with these five precious kids. 
Felix Phipps Clifton- even though you took your sweet precious time to get here, you are so worth the wait. We love you! 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

July 2015

July is always one of my favorite months of the year, and this year was no exception. Even though I was incredibly huge and went over my due date with our baby boy (who does that on their fifth pregnancy!), it was a month full of exciting moments, celebrations, new blessings, and lots of laughs.
We celebrated the 4th of July again this year at the Bethel Blast. We, along with many others, are so appreciative to Bethel Baptist Church for putting on this super fun, family event. The food, entertainment and fireworks were all amazing like usual.

We celebrated Elsie's fifth birthday and one of the things she wanted to do for her birthday was go see Scooby Doo at Tweetsie. They came the day after her birthday and the kids enjoyed watching the show and meeting Scooby and Shaggy.

A few pictures of Vada Belle with her birthday goodies (we were really late taking this picture, and we actually forgot to give her the little bike we bought her for her birthday until the 4th of July- can you tell it has been a busy couple of months!). Vada Belle also had her 3 year well check up on July 6th, and she was 27 pounds, 3' 00'', and checked out wonderfully.
 Some more things we did this month; Eric and I celebrated our 11th Anniversary on July 10th, we spent some hot summer days at Mamaw and Papaw's pool (since I was very pregnant and didn't feel like going to a public pool and watching four kids), the kids went to 4 different Bible Schools, and we enjoyed play dates with friends.
Elsie and Vada Belle doing a little dancing in the rain; a mama doe and her baby that we had to wait to move out of the road on afternoon, Elsie playing with the chickens, and Ansley Kate and a chicken- the story behind the picture of Ansley; One morning I kept hearing a sound on our back porch.  I opened the door to see one of our chickens, so I wake Ansley up to take it down to the pen.  I had left the door open when I went to her room, and the chicken decided to come into the house while I was waking her.  Jackson walked by not knowing any of this was going on, and was a bit shocked to see a chicken standing in my bedroom! Even though Ansley looks rather angry in this picture, she really did think the whole situation was hilarious- I obviously just snapped the picture at the wrong time.
Jackson and his best buddy Caleb at their baseball banquet;
Jackson creating some type of Lego invention; Ansley Kate dressing her princesses with her play-doh dress creations; sweet Vada Belle and her sidekick- lovie
From July 23rd- July 26th, the kids along with their cousins, Abigail and Amelia, spent the night and had their "Camp Mamaw and Papaw." They were so excited on the day we were packing and getting them ready, and they had such a great time that Ansley Kate was crying while we were cleaning up the slip and slide and getting ready to go home. They stayed busy in the pool, on the slip and slide, jumping on the trampoline, playing games, and spending the night watching movies and sleeping in the camper. 

The kids loved checking out Mr. Butch's truck, and were so excited when he told them to take a "ride" in it.
Ansley Kate, after Bible School one night (on July 30th), told Eric and I that she knew that she wasn't saved, but that she wanted to be. Eric and I talked to her, prayed with her, and told her how proud of her we were that she wanted Jesus in her heart. It is such an amazing comfort to hear your children say that they want to be saved. 
On Tuesday, July 28th, I had a doctors appointment and Tiffany was in town and was going to take her girls to Tweetsie. She said she would be happy to take my kids, too, (except she couldn't fit Vada Belle in her car because there weren't enough seats- but Vada Belle and I had a great day hanging out together), and just look at this little gem she sent me while they were there. Those are some precious kids! 
July also got even better this year with the addition of our 5th baby- Felix Phipps Clifton. A blog post on his birth is coming very soon! I posted this picture one day on Facebook and said that I just may be the luckiest girl in the world, and that was even before I had my precious second son. I have so much to be thankful for, and I thank God for all of my many, many blessings!