Thursday, October 2, 2014

Photo Shoot and Growing Girl

On Monday, September 1st 2014 our good friend from High School, Ashley Stephenson, took our first family photos. She did excellent work! We were grateful for a beautiful day, for clothing selections that were similar but not 'matchy-matchy' for good behavior (even if for bribes) and for a happy baby. All in all, we are thrilled to have photos that show our family in it's complete form. All the pictures before Avery now seem remarkably unfinished, like the family there assembled is missing it's Pièce de résistance: Schmavery. PughFamily-0021 copy

Here is the link to our story on Ashley Stephen's blog.

Catch up on the Family:
At a Dash baseball game
Jacob's 1st day of 1st grade
Jacob is in first grade. On the second day of class the teacher asked this question: Triangle plus square = triangle plus square. Is this true or false?
The class grew silent.

Jacob: It's true.

Mrs Hoeldobbler: How do you know it's true?

Jacob: It's just Algebra!

We knew that we had a smartypants on our hands due to his exceptional kindergarten and preschool teachers. Then on day 3 Jacob comes home with a piece of paper that declares he correctly identified 121 words our of 125 of the second grade words!
Getting tall!
Needless to say he is enjoying himself. His friends all seem to be like him, well mannered good kids. August lives one street over from us. He and his dad pick Jacob up every day and take him to school. Greyson is no longer in Jacob's class this year like last, but they are on the same flag football team this year. Sam is Jacob's buddy in class and at lunch. Jacob is back taking piano, playing football, and earns Pokemon cards for every day that he gets dressed and brushes his teeth and picks up the mail. His favorite video games du jour are Super Smash Brothers and Donkey Kong on the Nintendo Wii. He has lost two teeth last Spring and none since.

There's a 'Mos hiding in this picture
Thomas is an inquisitive little kid. His knowledge of numbers and letters has grown quite a lot in the first month of school. He converses on a pretty sophisticated level and talks to pretty much everyone he comes into contact with. When Ms. Rose, our neighbor next door, gives him candy or ice cream sandwiches, Thomas asks, "can I have one for my brother" Thomas makes monster noises to Avery and talks to her in a high register. She smiles biggest in these encounters. Thomas gets paid Pokemon cards for

Thomas' first day at Parkway Preschool 3s&4s
staying in his bed all night (about 5 nights a week) and not crying. We're working on those things. Thomas can throw a tantrum with the best of them. Fortunately his screaming is reserved for home life primarily, as out in public or at church he's usually enjoying the company of others. He loves to run and jump, and he uses his imagination whenever he can. He rarely gets bored. He enjoys watching his brother play video games and insists that he doesn't know how. Yet watching them together, Thomas frequently has memorized what comes next in the game and warns his brother. He can be an excellent helper, although his favorite phrase when he's "Hangry" is "I can't do that! I'm tiiiiiirrreeed"

Are you going to crawl?
Avery is on the verge of so much, which is what prompted me to put some things down on this blog. She's so close to crawling. She often finds herself in plank position, not yet learning to churn her legs for locomotion. She pulls her self up on something about every day.

Wonder what this tastes like...
Yesterday she started coming down the homestretch of her first tooth. She's warm but not feverish, and screamed/yelled/talked/moaned at Ashley and I for 2.5 hours last night from 2:30 until 5 am or so. Even then we both agreed that she was/is extremely cute and we have trouble being mad at her. I'm confident that will change as she grows and develops more an attitude. Over all she's happy as a clam. Capable of self-entertaining, when she's being quiet she's most dangerous. More than once we've found her with paper in her mouth. She's started to like a few foods- mostly pear and banana.

Ashley is a working wonder-woman. She gets up first and gets herself ready, then sets out clothes and makes lunches. She takes Avery to work with her 2 days a week, and occasionally (sometimes often) gets help from the people she works with who need to "see their baby." Ashley did some training in Raleigh at the end of September, and continues to gain command of her job. She likes the WIC Clinic, the work she does, and especially the people she works with. She participates in the women's group at church when she can and keeps up with her sisters, mom, and friends. Being a nursing mother has it's social drawbacks. She and the boys are going to run a mud run next week!

Things are going well at Augsburg. I continue to teach and preach with regularity, which are two of my favorite tasks. I'm writing a lot these days, including a new play about a church in Alaska that I hope to have finished by mid-November. I played softball this year and am looking forward to starting a basketball team. I love coaching little-league and hanging with the kids at home. Our days are filled to the brim with entertainment and joy!

Schmav is the fav. 

Don't worry, I got this. 

Look out!

In the evenings we sit on the front porch

Daniel spent his 31st birthday in Ashville, so Grayson
brought the ice cream!

Jacob leaving school with his buddies.

Mos mos.

Yeah, I stand now too. 

Toats adorbs.

Holding on for the ride!

Pa's granddaughter

The boys with cousin Sophia

My sister Tally had some business in NC so we met
for play time and Bojangles! 

John Norris lives with us. When Ashley and Avery were in Raleigh,
we had Boy's night at Sonic!

Seems to be saying,
"love you too!"

If they get tatoos as adults, I blame uncle Josh!

Decorating for Halloween!


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Avery in August

Our little girl is growing by leaps and bounds. Her first 5.5 months have flown by in a whirlwind of stories and adventures. Last week she tried her first food. Avery has been smacking her lips while we eat for the better part of a month. So we decided to try her out on organic butternut squash from our garden. For our 8th anniversary we gave each other the gift of gardening. We have a space at Historic Bethabara, which was a Moravian settlement in the 1750s. In order to keep the place looking historic, the park offers people the oppourtunity to grow their own vegetables for a nominal fee, then they supply water and soil; tiller and tools. This summer has been a wonderful adventure as we get back to nature and grow things from the ground-up. So far we have zucchini and squash; green beans and sweet peppers on the way. The boys and I tried to plant carrots, but explaining to a 6yo and 3.5yo that they should plant each tiny seed 1/4 inch into the ground is a tall order (even the ones I planted didn't grow). That's how we got to Avery's first food. 

She didn't love it. We have tried again pretty much every night. Avery is still going to work with Ashley to the delight of ALL of Ashley's fellow employees. Ashley's boss, Mary, even applied for grant money based on the fact that Avery and other babies in the office have increased the percentage of breastfeeding clients in the clinic. Mary, Avery, and all won the grant!
Avery is a cutie. A real charmer.

She's full of personality
Where's Thomas?
She delights all that she meets. Also this summer the boys continued to grow in body and spirit. Here Thomas is in my office, deciding that VBS for the day would have to wait until after quality Daddy and Thomas time. Once he realized that I'm pretty boring while I respond to my email, he tried to find a place to rest. I thought it was picturesque.
Avery and her Daddy at Ikea
Avery loves to smile. She loves to ride in the Moby where she can face out and see people. We spent Friday night in a hotel near Charlotte and went to Ikea on Saturday. After Thomas' mid-Ikea mid-three year old meltdown, we left Ikea and went to a park with some old friends. Tony and Christy have spent the better part of the last decade in Seattle while we were living in Arizona and Berkeley. Now that we have returned to the Tarheel state to raise our kids, The Rossi family did as well. You see them here with their kids Wes and Mia
 (Thomas not pictured for personal reasons)

The Kids @ the Hotel
Avery's first wagon ride. Heeey, Mama rock me.

That's all for now. It has been a wonderful summer with a wonderful family. Life is good.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Avery Kathleen Pugh

Three short years ago we had to change the name from Daniel, Ashley, and Jacob to "The DNA Strand" because our little curly-haired Thomas was born. But that was BAK, Before Avery Kathleen. Now it's time to change the picture again!

We've not told her birth story on this blog yet I suppose for a myriad of reasons- for one there are so many more platforms to share information than when Jacob was born almost <gulp> six years ago. Also it is true that we are different people now- different parents who have learned that non-urgent matters are better handled with patience and contemplation.

So with that, on this, Avery's 53rd day, we will recount for you her first breaths.

It was a cold winter. Maybe not too cold- but definitely snowy. The schools were closed for 9 days- 6 more than average. In addition were delays and early releases that accounted for a total amount of 13 full days missed.

A snow storm came on us the first week in February and we wondered what we would do if the baby came early. On Friday, January 31st we went to the hospital after several contractions that were 6 minutes apart and climbing. Some of the family drove out- Aunt Grayson and Grandma and Grandpa. But we were sent home. Five hours later Ashley had contractions again sometimes two minutes apart. But again they subsided. It took another week of mild contractions and more discomfort. Getting our house ready, Ashley thought her water had broken. So we went on a walk. A good long walk. The boys did not complain as we took in the sights of the neighborhood. When we returned, Ashley felt it was about 50/50 about whether her not her water had ruptured. We got home and got the boys ready in bed. Ashley came in with big eyes- he water had broken for sure, and there was no more doubt about it. We tried to put the boys to bed, it was about 8:30 on Monday the 9th. We called Ashley's parents and they begun their trek from Raleigh. We called John and Katherine McPherson, friends who are also expecting, to come sit in the house after the boys were asleep and before the grandparents got there. John and Katherine showed up, we hugged them goodbye, and head to the hospital. It was cold but we didn't feel it.

The triage nurse agreed that he water had broken before we even put our stuff down in triage, we were headed straight for Labor and Delivery. Ashley was calm and collected. We called family and paced around the room. The nurses came and went and the Doctor, Dr. Helman, stopped by and shared a story or two. She's chatty. We liked that about her. She told us that she was on-call and wouldn't be leaving the hospital. I told her that each of the other births progressed quickly- especially after 5-6cm.
We took a walk and counted contractions. Sometime around Midnight Ashley was not herself- the pain was throwing off her breathing.
She was expressing her fears that she was too tired after working all day and worried she wouldn't have enough strength. She wanted to talk about pain medications.
I called the nurse to come in. She checked on the progress. 5cm- only. The time was 1:05. She looked at me as if wondering to set up the pain meds. We were stuck in the unknown. If this was going to continue for another hour, she would need the medication. But if things were to develop quickly, the medicine would make the birth riskier and deliver a drugged baby. We held off. The nurse never left the room. She called for a cart to prepare for the birth- following our previous warning that the babies came quickly.
All of a sudden Ashley felt the need to push. She was on all fours and the contractions were coming to fast for her to flip over and find a position. The nurse checked again, even though it had only been 8 minutes since the last check. 10 cm. She called again for the cart- then said into her phone, "If you can't get the cart, just get the doctor and come on." Ashley held the urge to push for two more contractions, each a minute apart or less. The doctor came in and told Ashley it was OK to push. The bed had not been broken down, the stirrups were not extended, yet Dr. Helman remained calm. She told Ashley that if the baby wanted to come out this way, then so be it. Ashley was out-of body- and did not hear Dr. Helman say she could push. She tried to hold through another contraction and I finally got her attention that she could push. She did and Avery was born, 10 second later. The doctor called it half a push. From the check at 1:05 when she was 5cm, to when the baby was born, was 16 minutes. Avery Kathleen Pugh was born at 1:21 in the morning, weighing 5lbs 5oz. and measuring 19 inches long. The nurse who saw us through it all, Nurse Rhonda, hugged me, and after the room was cleared told Ashley and I that we were "amazing to watch. Excellent communicators- even without saying a word."
I smiled and said, "When it's your third time- and you're madly in love, it makes things easier." Ashley grimaced by the PDA.
Rhonda took us downstairs where we settled in for a few hours before sunrise. We took turns holding our little angel. She reminds me of goodness- or pure love wrapped in a tiny body, wrapped in warm soft skin. We spent the day of the 10th in the hospital, where this picture was taken, thanks to Photographer Grandma Ruth  and Photographer's assistant, (the one who makes people laugh) Grandpa Jeff. It snowed that day, but it didn't stick.

Avery came home on February 11th in the afternoon. Thomas was done with school and came along for the ride.
The 12th brought a massive snowstorm that snowed us in for three days. The morning of the 12th, Grandpa Jeff and I traveled to Lowe's to purchase a down-stairs freezer. The snow started around 3pm on the 12th, which was the nine-year anniversary of the day that Ashley and I were engaged. We both were too tired and missed even commenting on this anniversary. But we tell ourselves that we are too in love with our family and wrapped up in the moment to dwell on a life before we had these angels.