Spring Shopping

I absolutely appreciate the sunshine these days!  I love how the world is being transformed once again into a verdant wonderland with beautiful blooms and even birds chirping.  Loch is old enough now to venture out-of-doors with me in his stroller and I’m making it a point to enjoy some outside time every day.  Once home from school, the older three can’t wait to get their homework done and rush outdoors to play.

However, with the changing seasons comes the need to buy new clothes, especially for my growing boys!  I am so proud of their growth, but my goodness!  So, yesterday and today I set out with Loch in tow to hunt down some bargains.  I made the rounds to the local thrift stores.  I struck out completely at Graceworks, but did find one pair of shorts for Isaac and a top each for Isaac and Owen at Our Thrift Store.  Today, I went to Old Navy and Ross.  I didn’t buy a single item at ON!  Nothing was on sale that I wanted, but at Ross I found 2 pairs of shorts for Owen and 1 pair for Graham.  Oh, and a peony pink cardigan for myself.   I’ve also shopped consignment, garage sales (a tiny bit), and of course the sale racks at stores.  (In Togo, I shopped the open air markets in Accra and Kara.) Sometimes I’m surprised at how low some of the department stores prices can go! I love finding amazing deals, but it does take time! Plus, once I know that I have bought something similar for cheaper, I’m reluctant to spend more on an item.

I’m curious how you other moms out there manage to clothe your family on a budget.  Share your best tips and tricks!


Spring Break Visits

I am so blessed to be living in a place where my family can visit me often! During my years in Togo it was very difficult to be away from my family. Only 2 members of my family were able to visit us in the eight years that we lived there. So, now that we live in Tennessee it’s been surreal to see my family so often! I love it!

My sister and her kids spent a few days with us last week during spring break. My dad came down one of the days to hang out with us. The cousins had so much fun playing together. Jenny and I didn’t get to chat nearly as much as we both wanted to due to the activity of the big kiddos plus having a very active one year old and an 11 week old to keep up with. Whew! Although, we did manage a trip to the zoo.

Grandpa Terry & Lochlan

Andrew & Owen

Jenny & some of the kids

My 90 year old grandfather, my Aunt Debbie and Uncle Wilson visited us on Saturday for a few hours. It was very special to me to have my grandpa see Lochlan for the first time. Loch is his 12th great grandchild! It’s always emotional for be with him, especially since my sweet granny’s death a year and half ago. I miss her and my mother terribly. On a lighter note, they did their duty and made a big fuss over Lochlan! Can’t tell you how proud and loved it made me feel!

Great Grandpa Dickey, Me and my boys (minus Lochlan who was sleeping)

Great Grandpa Dickey & Lochlan

My Crazy Life

Things around the Ries household have been crazy for awhile now. I am trying to keep sane through having my own little creative outlets. Right now, I am working on a website for the well drilling project in Togo. I am having fun learning how to do something new and at the same time being a little bit creative. It is getting close to launching! My prayer is that it will raise awareness of the water crises in Togo and give people a way to help. Stay tuned for more information.

Owen has been sick on and off since January. He’s been on three rounds on antibiotics – once for a sinus infection and twice for strep throat. He stayed home today with a cold, I think. We are heading to the doctor’s office again tomorrow. I have to keep reminding myself to be thankful to be so close to good medical care compared to life on the mission field, because I strongly dislike waiting in the doctor’s office with a newborn.

Lochlan had his 2 months check-up last week complete with immunizations. Ouch. The doctor confirmed what I already knew, he’s a huge baby! He’s in the 95% for height and weight, but only 25% for head circumference. I instantly got the picture of a pinhead in my mind. However, I’ve been told by reliable sources that he doesn’t look unusual. 🙂 It’s hard for me to say because there is NO way that I am unbiased. I think he’s the most adorable baby on the planet right now.

Spring Break starts tomorrow with early dismissal from school! I am very excited to play with the kids and my sister and her family next week. I truly hope the nice weather holds out. I want to spend lots of time outside in the sunshine.

I’ve been doing pretty well keeping to my new year’s resolutions. It’s the hardest by far to not visit People.com. I’m a nosy girl, I guess. I’m also living in the moment more often than not. One advantage of having my fourth child at home when the others are off at school is that I really get to focus on him. I know all too well how quickly my first fat little baby turned into a lanky 6th grader overnight. I am soaking in all of Lochlan’s babyness while I can.

Hope you are doing well in your own crazy life!

Loch’s Birth Story

Advisory: If you don’t like reading about other people’s birth stories in detail…just skip this post!

I know I have several girlfriends out there that DO like to know, so here it goes.  Plus, I need to record it all before I forget!

Ready to Pop!

First of all, my little man was very punctual – he arrived on his due date!  I had been having Braxton-Hicks contractions for several weeks and thought, “It could be any moment” for days.  But, even with all of the anticipation, I was surprised when I got out of bed on January 20th and my water broke.  (With my second son, my water broke too, but this time it gushed!  I was slightly alarmed at the amount of fluid that was coming out.)  I had scheduled an induction for the next day, so I figured I had time to pack up for the hospital that day.  Nope.  I was ungracefully waddling around the house trying to get my stuff together.

I called Bryan, who had already left for work, to tell him that this was THE day.  He hurried home and then we rushed to the hospital.  I loved the moment when I walked into the ER and the receptionist asked, “Why are you here?”  and I responded, “To have baby.”  It made me feel like was in a TV sitcom.  Anyway, the hospital personnel gave me a wheelchair to sit in and said that it would be a few minutes because all of the rooms were full.  Seriously?  As I waited I started to feel the need to push and told the receptionist about it.  Well, that sped things up a bit.  She called up to the maternity ward and a nurse came down and retrieved me.  This lady was a character!  She told me that she had her fourth child in her husband’s lap on the way to the hospital.  I made to my birthing room and another nurse quickly put an IV in my wrist.  Another nurse checked me to see how far along I was dialated….only 4 centimeters!  This was at about 8:30 am.  Oops, I guess I didn’t really need to push after all.  In my defense, I think it was the angle of the wheelchair that made me feel that way!  The IV that they put in quickly wasn’t done well and I started collecting fluid in my forearm making it look all puffy and gross. The nurse decided that since the baby wasn’t coming right away that it should be redone in the other arm.  (I don’t know why, but I dread the IV more than anything else involved with childbirth.  I just want to rip it out the entire time it’s in my arm!)

Fresh from the Womb

My ob/gyn, Dr. Dykes, requested that I be given pitocin to get my labor underway.  Let me just say here that I hate pitocin.  I had my second and third children without drugs or pitocin.  I was undecided going into this labor/delivery whether or not to get an epidural, but once I experienced pitocin contractions I knew that I might not make it to the end without some pain relief.   I managed the pain okay until I reached 8 centimeters.  The pain level was the same for me at 8 cm that I had experienced during the final pushing stage with my natural births which I call “the crazy pain”.  I literally feel like I’m insane.  Bryan, who had been with me through the previous three deliveries,  agreed that I was in much more pain this go around.  So, at 8 centimeters, I decided to get an epidural.  The nurse was unsure that this was the right move.  She explained that I would probably have the baby before the drug took effect.  At that moment, the anesthesiologist poked her head into my room and asked, “Well, what’s the decision?”  “Yes, please go ahead and give me the epidural.” was my answer.  (Okay, I wasn’t that polite.)  By the time the epidural was in place, I was at 10 centimeters and ready to push for real this time.   And then I cried.  Some of you might not understand my reaction to having zero pain.  I cried because I couldn’t feel what was going on anymore.  I felt suddenly disconnected from my own body, my hard work to birth my son.  The anesthesiologist gave me so much drug to “catch me up” that I was numb from my armpits down.  It scared me not to feel.  It took much longer to push my son out for two reasons.  One, his head was traveling down the birth canal crooked; the boney skull plates weren’t compressing like they normally do to squeeze through.  Two, I wasn’t pushing very effectively because I couldn’t feel anything!  Lochlan finally made his arrival at 2:13 pm.

For a few hours after Lochlan’s birth, I felt a little sad that I didn’t have him naturally, but in the end a healthy baby is what is really important.  (Besides, it would’ve been an extra challenge to push a 9 lbs. 2 oz baby out!)  I was certainly blessed with an amazing, healthy little baby boy!

A Perfect Ten

Graham turned ten on March 1st! However, he informed me two days before then that it would be fine with him if I started calling him “The Birthday Boy” a little bit early. Hey, one’s birthday only comes around once a year!

We celebrated the milestone at Chuck E. Cheese’s per his request. (I am looking forward to the days when my boys would rather go somewhere else!) Chuck’s was so loud that day a musical birthday card with a very loud Star Wars theme could not be heard. We all had a good laugh about it once we got home and heard the card for the first time. Graham’s choice of cake was white cake with white icing and strawberries, his favorite fruit. His “big” gift from us was a Razor scooter. Owen got one for his birthday and they are thrilled to zoom around the neighborhood together.

Here are some pictures from the event:

The Birthday Boy

Owen, Isaac & Immanuel

Graham & Wesley

Ries Family

It’s taken 3 1/2 weeks for this picture to finally happen! I’m proud.

A Rough Start

It seems like since Lochlan’s birth we have been going from one medical visit to the next.  Right now, we are in the Vanderbuilt Children’s Hospital due to Loch contracting RSV and running a fever.  As we waited in the ER yesterday, Bryan and I were having flashbacks to our time in Togo during Graham’s medical crises with his epilepsy.  We are so thankful to be in a place where he is receiving great care!  Hopefully, we will be able to return home soon.

Isaac, Graham and Owen are all currently on antibiotics for strep or sinus infections.  It’s no wonder where Loch picked up this illness.  Hopefully, next week everyone will be healthy!  We appreciate the prayers and support of so many of our friends and family.