Saying Goodbye to Dad

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Over the weekend we gathered with family and friends to say our goodbyes to my dad, Larry Elwood Walton. While the time leading up to the memorial has been emotional and stressful I left the church with an unexpected feeling of fullness. Yes it was sad, there is no question. But it was also uplifting and seemed to give me a revived perspective about life.

I was so very touched by my family and friends that came out, many of whom did not know my dad before he the dementia set in. I received very nice cards and messages with memories of dad and condolences.  It is easy to forget what dad was like when we were growing up since he’s been sick for almost half of my life. So, having the memorial, looking back on old pictures and video brought a sense of happiness and appreciation for dad that I have not had for awhile.

Chester has been really great through it all. He took over the slideshow when it became too much for me to take on. He’s been a shoulder to cry on and also one to make me smile and laugh, as always. He is such a great dad, just as mine was. He’s always on the floor wrestling and tickling the girls. My mom told me that losing a parent is one thing because that is what is supposed to happen in life. But losing a spouse is completely different. I can’t imagine Chester being taken away from us. While we all hope that we’ll grow old and happily ever after, sometimes that doesn’t happen — so that perspective I was talking about. Life is truly fragile and beautiful. This is the only one we get on this earth and each day it is our job to make the most out of it.

Here are the thoughts and memories I shared at the service:

Larry Elwood Walton
April 21, 1943 – October 30, 2017

Now when I think about my dad I get a full flood of memories that makes it hard to breath at times. They are also some of the happiest ones that I can remember. I had such a happy childhood. My sister Miranda and I were adopted, and for me the question about my ‘real parents’ has never bothered me because I never felt like I was missing out on anything. There was never a void to fill. From the moment that we were placed into our parents’ arms at the airport, that was it. We were theirs and they were ours.

One of the earliest memories I have of my dad was when I was about Vivienne’s age and hell bent on running away. I’m not sure what the reason was but the memory stuck with me because it was so uncharacteristic of the very sweet little girl I was. I packed my suitcase, Velcroed my shoes and out I went all the way behind the mulch stack in our back yard. A few minutes later my dad came out looking for me and spotted me peaking out. As a kid, thinking I was defying my parents so badly I was expecting to see anger, instead I saw sadness and panic in his eyes. He gave me a big dad hug and said he loved me and that he never wanted me to run away from him again. As a parent now, I can imagine searching through the house for one of my kids and being scared and angry at the same time. I would hope that I could be a consoling parent instead of quickly harsh and upset. And I never did run away.

Dad didn’t just love us because he was our dad. He actually really liked us. Growing up he probably wanted to play with us more than we wanted to play with him. I truly believe that he thought his job was to make us smile and laugh every day. He was the king of dad jokes to the point where joke books and the funny paper became his greatest source of reading material for about a decade. And when he could no longer remember the jokes he found other ways with his grandkids to make them laugh. Little tickles with his beard and crazy noises that only a grandpa can make. I am so very thankful that my girls got to have those sweet moments with him. And I am also thankful that my dad got to meet and hold our youngest little Walton, even though it was just once.  

Dad watched his mom battle Alzheimer’s disease. I remember would take Grandma Olive out for ice cream and then afterward I would see the tears in his eyes when we drove away from the nursing home. At the time I didn’t realize the pain of having someone you love not recognize you and turn into just a shell of who they used to be. Dad was not himself for many years. After a hard battle with cancer where some of his physical strength was taken away and after kids were out of his life, since he retired from teaching middle schoolers and we were entering college years, dad lost a little of himself. His body and mind were failing him and mom was left picking up the pieces. Mom kept him together and at home for as long as she could. Her routine with him was so good that we all didn’t see just how much he was declining in the last 6 months. But because of that, his stay in the nursing home was brief and we only had to drive away with tears a few times before we said our last goodbyes.

Even toward the end dad never looked like a grumpy old man because he kept his greatest qualities, his smile, his humor and his optimistic view about life. I know that every time I see a runner outside I want to give them a thumbs up just as he would have done. I know I can’t wait to chase my kids around in the swimming pool just as he did with us. I know I will always be a relentless recycler like he was. And I know I will never forget what a great dad he was to me.     

I love you more than pickles dad.

A shortened version of the slideshow we put together for the service:
The Wedding Song: There is Love by Peter, Paul and Mary

Week #2 With Naybie #3 | Walton Henry Nay

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Oh baby oh baby. When people ask you if you’re ready for your new born to arrive the real answer is NO. While you can’t wait to see what he will look like and you are so ready to not be pregnant, no one is really ready and up for all that a newborn entails. And it is true that you forget all the work, back breaking pain and amount of time it takes to get this tiny little thing through his daily life. But you smile and say “yes” or “as ready as we’ll ever be” leave and hope for the best.

I will pretense this post that I am writing coming from a third c-section. When I say that I’ve had 3 sections I wish people knew how much I did and do want to push a baby out the natural way, but I did try with baby #1 a little bit with baby #2 and by this time yes we opted for a scheduled c-section. A nurse in the hospital said that her husband was wishing for a c-section because he was so scared of a vaginal birth. There are so many things wrong with that sentence that I can’t even begin to explain. Knowing just that about the husband of hers I can only say that he is a very evil little man.

A wholly able bodied person on their best day would be completely worn down taking care of a newborn. Now take that person, cut her in half, take out an 8 lb turkey from her belly, ask her to breastfeed that turkey round the clock on top of all the other newborn care … and then you wouldn’t be surprised that this person is writing a blog post and three paragraphs in hasn’t even mentioned the name of her new blessed child.

Here are some things that I forgot that I wanted to get down for myself to remember … maybe when a 4th child itch comes rolling around. The lower back pain from the spinal block, the feeling that you are a Westworld host that you can’t shake, the idea of laughing, couching and gaging, the feeling that you will never comfortably lay down or sleep ever again, the tears that come from not being able to pee and poop, the painfulness of a rock hard breast.

BREATH ….
The section above was written in the middle of the night on probably the 2nd or 3rd day home. It was a dark rough time for this momma. Now that we are at the 2 week mark we have had a chance to breath and are lucky that we have had so much help from family and friends. This time around we have needed all the help we can get with not only keeping us fed but keeping a family of F.I.V.E. alive and 2 little girls that need constant reassurance that they are still as important to us as ever.

WALTON HENRY NAY
This name we have had in our head for a while since waiting for the gender on our first (Viv). Originally we were going to use Walton as a middle name but I was really wanting Walton to be a prominent part of our life so a bargain was struck right before our anatomy ultra sound for Vivi and Walton as a first name was born. He is just the sweetest little yellow baby. I didn’t know if he would look like a boy since I was so used to staring into the eyes of little girl babies but he is for sure our little guy and feels different than holding the girls. Maybe the mother-son bond thing has already begun. He is a good sleeper as most newborns should be for the sanity of their parents. And he is a good eater, but we did have to do two blood foot pricks to keep an eye on his bilirubin levels. Happy to report that its one the downward trend and he seems to be looking a bit less yellow everyday. Gosh for sleeping so much and not really knowing what his little personality will be like we sure are falling in love just watching him sleep, kissing his little baby lips, rubbing our cheeks on his soft baby head and taking deep smells in the nape of his wrinkly neck.

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MILK, MILK, MILK
THIS aspect of motherhood is so tiring. While Walton seemed to be a good eater, he was not gaining the weight we wanted at a week out and that combined with the bilirubin levels, we had to supplement with formula already. We have used formula with both the girls and I am completely fine with it but when you’re committed to breast feeding and working around the clock to keep it up, it is a little devastating to have to supplement. We had already been having latch problems which lead to the also upsetting purchase of my first nipple shield. We have only done about 24 hours of formula after nursing, but I had to get into the habit of pumping after each nursing session. And now I am producing a ton of milk and seem to need to nurse or pump every 2 hours on the dot. Or else I’m getting out a hot compress so as not to engorge myself. I could talk about nursing all day long … talking about my milk dud is what this blog was built on but I’ll stop and share a funny fact that only one of my boobs makes about 95% of my supply.

OUR VILLAGE
Being outnumbered by kids, we need all the help we can get. I often reflect and say how lucky we are to have such great family and friends but in times like these where they are actually feeding our family, watching and entertaining the girls when we can’t give them that attention they need and just being there to nod their head when I complain about nursing woes … (which is all the time if you haven’t gotten that yet) is truly the time where I am so happy that we have made these relationships a priority in our lives.

My mom, GMA watched the girls while we were in the hospital and make their time together into a short introduction to preschool since the girls were missing their first week of school in Highland. Knowing that the girls were not just looked after but that they were being enriched and educated is amazing! Also both of Chester’s moms have come up and stayed with us. All you need when your MIL’s stay is baking supplies and the rest just works itself out (that is if you have great ones like I do). Robin and Lori have been so helpful in the kitchen and keeping up with the girls while I have been literally attached to Walton about 80% of the day.

We were so happy to have some company in the hospital. Some parents don’t like to be visited. The hospital can be a venerable time for families. I mean after a c-section you’re most likely wearing mesh underwear and a hospital gown. But it was nice to have a break up in the day for us with some hospital visitors.

After the hospital we came home and the girls started school right away and Chester went right back to work. After I got over the pain hump and was able to lay down flat for a few hours of restful sleep I was in much better spirits. Though the days seem sooooooo long now, double since I live a complete full day at night doing feedings and pumping. I think that we are getting into a good little groove of the girls going to school and soon we’ll be back to the gym a few days a week just to walk and get the girls out of the house on the days they don’t have school. Speaking of school …. I am planning on getting back into things with my MAT program in October though I have no idea when I will have time to sit down for more than a few minutes yet.

Our friends in Highland have really be awesome. I can’t begin to explain how different it is to have some people who are around that we can count on. From taking the girls at literally 5 minutes notice for me to take Walton to a doctor appointment to taking them to the pool when I cannot just to get them out of the house has been amazing. We have had meals brought to us and rides home from school so I don’t have to leave twice in the morning. Seeing these ladies juggle their kids and schedules and meals and also giving us their precious time has made me look more and more at houses to buy in Highland because I don’t want to leave this feeling of community that we have made here.

 

Ready-ish for a Naybie BOY

At this moment we have said that this will probably most likely surly be the last baby that I am going to carry. I am not one that loves or really hates pregnancy; it is a long 9 month road. Don’t get me wrong it is so special and a truly amazing thing that anyone’s body can transform and grow a little human, but besides just the gestation period there is the recovery after, the breastfeeding battle (or if nothing else it is a pain and time suck, literally) oh and the next 18 years of trying to nurture and raise an upstanding or at least contributing member of society.

I did feel the need to get some last family pics of just the 4 of us. We really have not had professional photos taken since Ellen was born … I just tried to find them on the blog and looks like they never got posted. I guess that just goes to show that with a 2 month old and 17 month old there was literally no time for this blog. I am wondering if it will have to take a back seat again for this Naybie. I also wanted to remember the baby bump, since (again) this will be my last one (I promise I’m not just saying that to convince myself). Also since I have ZERO monthly chalkboards for this guy. I didn’t loose the board or anything … it is prominently hanging in our kitchen. I just never got the energy for it this time around :( poor baby. Thank you to Brook Lewis Photography for being so patient on a hot morning with a crabby 3 year old and to Widmer Floral for the special babies breath crowns for the girls. I don’t know what it is about professional photos, but they just look so much better than anything I take on my camera or iphone. The only ones of Ellen in particular smiling are because Chester is in the background being a monkey … which is why he isn’t in most of them.

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THE HOUSE
Our house is somewhat ready-ish for this guy. While there really is no nursery, there is a guest room with a crib set up for him! And we have a little nook in this room that started as the master bedroom and is still that, but also a catch all room for the girl’s art table, my desk and now where most of the baby’s stuff resides. I have been trying wash all of the things we have had in storage for 3+ years and am reminded of just how much stuff these little babies require. And also how much new stuff they have come out with in the short amount of time we haven’t had a baby. A rock-n-play? A sit-me-up? Seem to be the latest must haves in baby land. Also thanks to some wonderful friends and family of ours I think we are set in the clothes department and even diapers/wipes/baby wash for now.

THE GIRLS
It has probably seemed like we have said that the baby is almost here forever to those little girls whose perception of time is so different from ours. So while we are just 13 days away at this point I don’t know if they believe me in knowing just how close we really are. They love giving kisses to my belly and the baby on a daily basis. And they love babies they see in the gym daycare or even walking around the store. Hopefully with school starting right when the baby comes will only add to their excitement and they won’t feel like they are cooped up all day long with him.

THE HUSBAND 
I have also forgotten how much Chester really loves babies. He just loves to mess with anything really and babies are no exception. In fact it is probably worse with babies since they are experiencing everything for the first time and Chester loves to see their reactions and expressions from blowing in their face and their ears. Tickling all the little crevices and rolls. It is so fun watching him with babies.

THE MOMMA
Everyone looks at how huge I am and says “you must be ready” and trust me I am ready to sleep on my back, roll on my stomach and even run and jump. BUT I am also dreading the recovery, sleepless nights, anxiety of newborn cries. Also I know that he is so safe in there. Maybe because we are saying this is the last one that I will carry, that I feel sad knowing that once he leaves that I’ll be lonely. I don’t remember feeling that sadness before with the girls. Also this guy is so animated in there already that I’ll miss the constant buddy reminding me that he is in there. And I know there will be moments where I wish I could just put him back in there … kangaroos have it figured out I think. And with my school semester wrapping up I am breathing a sigh of relief that I’ll be able to take a short break and then back to the books in October.

THE BOULLIE
Boullie is slipping down yet another rung on the totem poll in the Nay house. His anxiety seems less severe since we have moved to Highland, he displays the symptoms of shaking, hiding and panting on a much more frequent basis. I really don’t know if this baby will have a large effect on him other than another thing that will drop things for him to eat on the floor … so how can that be bad for Bou?

So I guess we are ready as we will ever be for this baby boy to shake up our lives. We are so excited to meet him!

 

 

Beach Vacation Up North

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Our little vacation home on Georgia Ave. Direct access to the beach! We probably had the smallest pad on the street.

While in all responsible forms of thinking it may not have been the best idea to go on a family vacation we decided to use the rational that we won’t remember that we didn’t have the money, didn’t have the vacation days and didn’t have the time. But we do have a 3 and 4 year old for the last summer that it will be just them. Maybe this was our vacation apology to the girls that we are going to give so much attention to this little baby and pretty much ruin Ellen’s life as she knows it.

We love the beach for the girls because with a beach they need very little other entertainment. The 17 hour drive that we made the the Gulf Shores last summer did not sound appealing so we opted for Lake Michigan. We did a circle tour around the lake without kids last summer and kept thinking how much fun they would have at its beaches. So a 4.5 hour drive up to Michigan City, Indiana it was.

As long as it is somewhat warm and not raining its beach weather! While the lake water stays pretty cool it was surprisingly refreshing and bearable even though the outside temps didn’t get above about 87 degrees I’d say. Here is how our itinerary went:

Arrival Afternoon: Beach
Day 1 Morning: Washington Park Zoo
Day 1 Afternoon: Beach
Day 2 Morning: Berry Picking @ Garwood Orchards (and possibly the best donuts I have had in my life) & Lunch Out @ Shoreline Brewery
Day 2 Afternoon: Beach
Departure Morning: Beach

Besides food prep and booking the location we really did zero planning for this trip. If we had planned it a little earlier maybe we would have done it before my school program started and maybe we would have ended up in a little nicer of a place to stay but otherwise, it could not have gone better even if we had planned it.

WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT THE KIDS
The drive there is always easier than the drive back
They almost wake up earlier on vacation than at home
They don’t need time to unwind when we get home like mom and dad
They are surprisingly good and willing to take pics of mom and dad
A movie is just as exciting to them on vacation as at home
Of all the things on the beach the girls loved being buried in the sand the most
They have some sort of 6th sense for when their timed nightlight goes away

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WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT INDIANA/MICHIGAN CITY
The entire state of Indiana is dry on Sundays
All bars have to have separate dining for families or people under 21
Dennys is never a good idea on the road
No one is really up before 8am


BONUS FEATURE
Right before we left we got to meet the newest member of the Nay clan. James Blake Hatch. He is such a cutie and already so loved.

 

Hello Summer … Hitting the Books for Mommy???

Summer is in full swing for use here in Highland. Which means squeezing in as much as we can before our third Naybie makes HIS appearance in September. You’ll probably find us on any given day at the outdoor pool, swim lessons start for us this year, a splash pad anywhere, park or hanging out in the back yard dodging misquotes. We have a few small trips planned to lakes near by with friends, a longer family trip to Lake Michigan in Indiana and then a quick trip out to Colorado just me and Chester to watch some old friends tie the knot. Then its really just a blink away and our baby BOY (still feels so weird to say) will be here.

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Oh and this … Its been almost a year and a half since I quit my marketing work gig to stay at home with the kids full time in Highland. And while it has been trying at times, I have never regretted the move. While I do miss the quietness of the office and chatting with people that don’t call me mommy, I don’t miss the work and have realized that marketing was probably never in my long term career plans. I graduated from Truman with a public communication degree with the thought that I would help spread the message of some wonderful non-profit company, preferably one that helped kids in some way. However, entering the job market right after the recession non-profits were practically frozen and so into the agency world I went and I found a place where I spent 7 years. I don’t really regret those 7 years either. I met some awesome people, worked hard, provided health insurance and a salary to my growing family while Chester was in PA school, started this blog and had two awesome kids!

In the time that I have been “off” the thought of returning to that kind of environment honestly turns my stomach. But the thought of the kids in school full time and me still staying home doesn’t make sense either. What does sound right and what has been in the back of my mind really ever since graduation is teaching. I’m not sure why it took me entering a job market that I wasn’t cut out for to realize that I should have at least spent some extra credits or a minor in education. With both my parents being teachers it would have made a lot of sense then.

After lots of research and a few months (or like 6) of prerequisite classes I am finally ready to begin a masters degree in elementary education this June. I am attending an online accredited, non-profit school called Western Governors University. I will be able to do all my course work from home and go through the licensure process in my state. I’m looking at about 24 months+ of pretty rigorous course work and all the while working to set up student teaching. Oh and did we mention that I’ll be having a baby in my first term in just 3 short months?! I mentioned that already huh? Well I am mostly having to repeat it for my own sake because sometimes I still step back and can’t believe it. I know its my third one but the feeling of amazement, stress and huge responsibility is only greater its seems like each time around.

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At age 30 I didn’t see myself going back to school …. I have probably said that I would never go back. But here we go! If you need me I’ll be here at this small space I have cleared out for myself in our bedroom hopefully not spending too much time on Facebook or Amazon or Target …. yikes!

 

A Little Party for My Naybies

Our world is made up of laughs, cries, songs and silliness from these two little ladies.
Vivienne age 3/4 & Ellen age 2/3.

Today we pulled off maybe the biggest and best party for the girls ever. With the final head count at 38 adults and 21 kiddos we all felt pretty loved and lucky to have such great friends and family show up for the girls birthday party at Silver Lake in Highland. Viv turned 4 in March and Ellen is 3 in June … and this momma just turned 30 a few days ago so plenty of Happy Birthdays went around. And of course we all had to have our own cake!!

The day couldn’t have been any nicer. This weekend followed what seemed like an eternity of cold rain. So sunshine and 70 degree weather had everyone in good spirits, add some cake, 2 pinatas, margaritas, taco bar and being surrounded by little laughs all day I don’t think anyone could have had a bad time.

The girls’ birthday surprise!!
Finding out if they are going to have a little baby brother or baby sister coming in September 2017! 

We are beyond thrilled to make Vivi the leader of our Naybie pack and Ellen a middle child (just like Chester). We realize that this time before baby comes is so very precious, so we hope to make the most of it this summer with our two beautiful girls.

Always and forever, Love the Nays.

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Hosting the Girls First Cousin Sleep Over

I grew up in a pretty small family where I had 2 cousins that lived somewhat close by, were similar to in age, and saw on holidays and a few other occasions in the year. I never thought I was missing out on anything and since you don’t choose your family I don’t think I did miss out. However, those that have grown up in large families with many cousins close by like Chester have memories of their extended family that go beyond Christmas and birthdays. Granted more family can mean more chaos, drama and not always better, it does mean having a larger network of people you are connected to and have these shared experiences with.

The girls have 8 first cousins on the Nayside, Chester being one of 7 kids. And they have 2 more on the way! Even though we live in a different state than Nana and Papa, we get to see the cousins and family on a pretty regular basis. It is complete chaos when we all get together but I love it. Its is even pretty crazy when just a few of the families get together…

This brings me to really the first time that we have had other kids over that have spent the night. It was not really planned, it just sort of happened. Chester’s sister Katie was in need and we were the closest (still an hour away though), most available people that could take her 3 kiddos overnight. And just like that the first sleep over happened last weekend.

Baby Zeke got the guest room to himself while Brody and Emery slept in the girls room. Brody surprisingly was happy to take the couch while Emery slept with Vivi. Besides some pretty sad faces from Emery during dinner, all the kids did fantastic!

I guess I wanted to document this, even though I haven’t even gotten to Christmas yet, because I want them to remember and know that they are apart of this big awesome family.