Monday, April 8, 2013

Kids (and Grandpas) Say the Darndest Things

Well, as you might have heard, Natalie and I welcomed a new baby into our family on March 27 of last week. It has been a while since our last post, as is our wont, so I figure a brief update is in order before I share with you the mystical adventure that was Eli's birth.

Our last post was in October (yikes!) which means since then we have had multiple major holidays (St Patrick's Day included) and a birthday (Alana is officially a 2-year old, and she is letting us know it). Also since our last post, my brother interviewed at Epic (which would bring the Salt/Buffington total to 12 in the Madison area), Natalie made some bow-ties, and Alana and I memorized Finding Nemo (I wonder where my class has gone?). Many things happened that could warrant their own entry here, but since I don't want to be at the keyboard all night, I will move along to the main event.

I often like the idea of a recurring joke (see and the family Christmas card for more on my knitting abilities...) and have recently been laughing at some of the wonderful things my niece and the biggest child I know, my dad, have said to me recently. I will use them to divide this into sections.

"This is not my best day ever."

This quote will always remind of going swimming with Ally, who loves the idea of a pool, but doesn't like when she is actually in one. But what does this have to do with birthing a baby? You shall see. On Tuesday (March 26) Natalie woke up at about 2 am with contractions about 3 minutes apart. Cool as a cucumber, she labored for a couple hours before waking me (true love, no doubt) and we called up a sleepy-eyed Matt who came over to the house to watch Alana while Natalie and I went over to the hospital. We were admitted once the nurses and residents concluded that Natalie wasn't a big faker and the contractions continued to come every 2-4 minutes. We settled into the room, started thinking about how cool 3/26 would be as a birthday (3x2=6) and began what would be a long day of Ticket to Ride and phone calls, oh, and contractions. Lots of contractions.

As the day wore on, Natalie progressed steadily. Slowly, but steadily. As the evening approached, things stalled a little and the Dr decided to go ahead and break Natalie's water (at this point Natalie has been up for about about 17 hours with the contractions very steadily coming between 2-4 minutes apart). Oh, and did I mention that they had started coupling as well (since I hope some of you are as ignorant of these things as I was, coupling is when a contraction comes immediately after a previous one; contractions in tandem) and that Natalie had gotten to this point without taking anything for pain? Once the water broke, things really started to intensify and I got very familiar with the phrase, "I can't do this anymore!"

This continues for another few hours before finally we break down (or wise up, depending on your stance on the issue) and get an epidural. This allows Natalie to get a little rest (though very little sleep) and for me (who I am sure you have all been worrying about at this point) to sleep quite soundly through the remainder of the night. I told some jokes to the anesthesiologist, but apparently I am not as funny as I think I am (or at least not so late at night). Apparently, while I was out, Natalie was given Pitocin during the night to regulate the contractions and at about 4 in the morning, I awoke to a Dr telling Natalie that it was time to start pushing.

So, if you still can't understand why this was not Natalie's best day ever, consider this. Let us assume that half of the contractions were coupled (this being a very conservative view) and that they came every 3 minutes throughout the 26 hour period. That comes to somewhere in the ballpark of 30 contractions per hour and a shade under 800 over that period. Most of these occurring without any pain medication at all. At one point I told Natalie she had to have the baby today (Tuesday) because otherwise we would hate the day for all time.

"Brush him up on his language skills, and he is ready for the first grade."
"What, did he walk out?"

These quotes are attributed to Eli's grandfather and my own (Grandpa Joe) respectively when told of Eli's large stature. As I mentioned, Natalie began pushing around 4 am of the second day. If you think that after all that came previous, that this part would be a breeze, you are mistaken. No more Ticket to Ride for me. Like a boss, Natalie pushed for just over 4 hours before Eli finally decided to make his appearance. I will spare you the graphic nature of things (mostly for your sake, Matthew), but much to the surprise of Natalie (and I am sure others), I cut the umbilical cord. Elias Jerome weighed in at an impressive 9 lbs 10 oz (though everything at the hospital but the scale said 9 lbs 11 oz) and 20 inches long. As my dad said, just about ready for first grade.

We spent a couple days at the hospital and were ultimately discharged on Friday. Natalie's mom and sister spent the next 7-9 days with us to help with things around the house. I will pause here for a moment to just say "thank you."

"I'm not starving." (This is Ally speak for "I am not hungry")

Despite his large size, there was a little worry that we would have to leave Eli at the hospital because his Bilirubin was trending up, but in the end they opted to let us all go. However, his count continued to rise of the next couple days and we were eventually provided a Bili-blanket (or 'baby sun tan pad') that, along with improved eating, helped to bring down the count and to calm things down at our house, if only for a moment. Despite dropping weight, Eli is now already above his birth weight and is downright chubby, even though he is only 1.5 weeks old. 

"You look like you still have a baby in there."

This one I just wanted to include because it was so mean, that it could only be funny coming from a child. In fact, I said it out loud earlier to Natalie to tell her I was going to use it on the blog and she though I was saying it about her and gave me such a sad look, I thought she might cry. That aside, this one, too, is attributed to Ally and was one of the first things she said (to Natalie) upon reaching the hospital and seeing Eli for the first time. However, this couldn't be further from the truth. It should be known that Natalie was a pro at going to the gym throughout the pregnancy and, without revealing the numbers, is already (in just a week and a half!) below her pre-pregnancy weight and dropping every day.

"Is this a kissing movie?"

This is a classic McSmith-ism (so I will attribute to another of Eli's Grandfathers). As you can perhaps guess, here comes the reflective and, yes, mushy part. I want it known that Natalie is definitely a heroine of mine. This was a difficult labor, as you now know, and she faced it as well as anyone could. In spite of the turmoil and the pain, I don't think she has had a happier moment than when she got to see the baby and hold him for the first time (maybe a few moments on par, but none happier). She loves being a mother and she loves our kids and for that, I will always love her. Thank you Natalie, you're the best.

Before I pack it in, I want to share one last thought. On Saturday, in between sessions of the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I found myself saying to Alana, for the umpteenth time already, to be soft with Eli and to not touch his face (or to not give him CPR). I was a little frustrated because she doesn't/didn't seem to get it and I couldn't figure out how to make her understand (still don't really). So, it was with these thoughts in mind that I attended the Priesthood Session of the conference and was struck with a basic doctrine of the church that I had taught hundreds of times as a missionary. God is our loving Heavenly Father.  I have believed this as long as I can remember, but it wasn't until this weekend that I really felt like I understood what that means; how he must view me and the many things I do wrongly. So, I feel I can be more patient, because there is One who will always be patient with me and it only makes sense to do my best to be patient, too.

Well, my story is done (as well as my asides), so I will simply end by saying, "Welcome Eli. Welcome home (or perhaps, to your home away from home)."

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Road Trips, Massages, and Notre Dame

Over the past few weekends the Wisconsin Salts have been playing host to some traveling family members as well as embarking one of their own.

Three weeks ago was conference weekend and we played host to Papa Salt, in town for a HR technology conference in Chicago. Believe me, it sounded about as much fun when described further as the title suggests. Fortunately, Chicago is just a short flight from Madison, so he was able to add a few days to his trip and get to spend some quality time with the granddaughters. As a brief side note, it was kind of fun because I was flying back from Omaha at around the same time and we ended up on the same flight in to Madison. Alana wasn’t as interested in Alfred (Grampy’s mustache) as I am, but she enjoyed the new friend/partner in crime all the same.

This week we were able to play host to another traveling Salt as Matthew came in to town to go to the BYU-Notre Dame football game with Matt and I. Speaking of partners in crime, Matthew wasn’t at our house for 30 minutes before he was encouraging Alana in one of her most discouraged activities, jumping on the couch (the naughty uncle club sure was a lot more fun before I became a father…). On Friday the motley crew left for Valparaiso, IN, where we would spend the night getting hyped up for the game on milkshakes from Steak n’ Shake. On the way, we decided to go to a highly recommended place on the travel channel’s website, Fabulous Freddie’s. Unfortunately, it was in the heart of the south side of Chicago which was both a little sketchy and, with traffic, a significant detour (pronounced ‘75 minute delay’). The food was great (no complaints there), but in the end we just felt lucky to get out of there un-mugged and without Matt’s car getting towed.

This brings us to Saturday, where we will briefly turn our attention to what the Matriarch of the Newest Salts was up to while her man was away for the game. Since I assume you have read the title to this blog post, I won’t ask you to guess, she was getting a massage. I have never had one (unless a facial during my mission counts?) and Natalie is always asking me to do a couple’s massage with her, I am cheap and don’t like other people to touch me, so she has, to this point, had to settle for going on her own. All reports indicate that it was exactly what she was needed. I don’t like talking to the people who cut my hair, so I can’t imagine conversing with a masseuse would be very enjoyable for me, but here is what came out of it for Natalie (perhaps a good indication that I would only be more uncomfortable if talking during the massage). I am not exactly sure how the topic came up, but here is how I imagine it:
Natalie: Have you ever given a massage to someone with a hairy back?
Masseuse: Yes.
Natalie: I couldn’t do that. It would gross me out too much. Did it bother you?
Masseuse: No, not really. I guess it depends on the person. Everyone has things they are okay with and things they aren’t. For me, it would be changing poopy diapers.
Now, this conversation is more or less harmless, but I have to say, if I am getting a massage and poopy diapers come up, I am no longer in a happy place. 
*Note from Natalie... It didn't really go like that, but those topics were discussed. At least I didn't have to watch football : )

Speaking of unhappy places/feelings, let’s now turn our attention back to me (Nathan) and our tip to Notre Dame. We headed over to the ND campus early in the day (after a night at a hotel that Matt and Andy say I am not allowed to talk about…) and enjoyed the day taking in the campus. We ran into people from Madison (expected) and Des Moines (unexpected), went in to the Basilica, snapped a photo with ‘Touchdown Jesus’, went to Cougar Town, saw some impressive ND football memorabilia, and stood with all the other fans to cheer as the ND marching band march from the Basilica over to the football stadium. It would have been hard to sit any father from the field, but the stadium was so impressive that you hardly cared. BYU played well and it looked like things might go our way before victory slipped away in favor of the Fighting Irish. Despite the loss (and the unavoidable sad feelings that I get after any Cougar loss) everyone had a good time and all agreed that it would be worth doing again. 

Now we are looking forward to the next family outing in November when we all get together for Thanksgiving in Denver. Happy Halloween everyone!

 Oh, and we're also having a baby : )

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Long Awaited House Post

I know, I know. It's been a while. You're all waiting for pictures. Are you ever going to post them??? Well yes. Yes I am. Now! How exciting for all of you! There isn't a real particular order to them, but they're here!
If you wanted to be reminded what the house looked like before, you can look here. I'm so happy with how it looks now. We painted every wall and ceiling in the house before we moved in. (Thanks Steve and Darren!) There are still some things that are a work in progress (like the'll notice only toys and no furniture!). We're so happy to have a home!
The Living room:

 The Kitchen
The Outside
 The upstairs hallway
 The upstairs bathroom
 Our tornado of an office...
 The basement

 Basement hallway. To the right is the bathroom and a storage closet. To the left is my sewing room.

 The scary looking sewing room
              The downstairs bathroom                                             And the laundry room.
 The Master bedroom
 view from the inside. That is the door to the bathroom.
 Alana's bedroom


There you have it. Our house.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My Baby's a YEAR!

It's hard to believe that a whole year has already passed! Just look at how much she's grown!

One Month:

Two Months:
No Three Months : (

Four Months:
Five Months:
Six Months:
Seven Months:
Eight Months:
Nine Months:
Ten Months:
Eleven Months:
ONE Year:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

10 Months

Natalie has been very busy the past few months with our anniversary, Christmas, and getting ready for her big Relief Society activity (going on right now), which leaves the duty of updating our blog to me.

Well, in our last post Alana was just figuring out how to crawl, but it wasn't long after that that she discovered standing up. Then it was scooting along the couch. Now she is a crawling machine and when she gets where she wants to go, she pulls herself up and has a look around. Unfortunately her new found gifts have led her mostly to grabbing books off the bookshelf, following Natalie around incessantly, and generally getting into everything we want her NOT to get into. What we have found is that the following around she gets from me, though I think I have a younger brother to blame for her general, 'getting-into-it-ness.'

The difficult thing is we can't even be mad at her. I mean, just look at her. Even when she is knocking over all your old Nintendo games, trying to destroy your TV, or eating your remote control (or cell phone) she is just too darn cute. She sure doesn't get it from me (as you will see later on...).

She also had her 9 month well child visit since our last post and I am proud to announce that she is an AMAZON!!! She measured in the 96th percentile in head circumference (definitely from me) and in the 94th percentile in height (definitely NOT from her Grandpa Salt or Aunt Sarah).

In November Natalie went against her better judgment and allowed me participate in Movember. During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces, in the US and around the world. With their Mo’s, these men raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men. I was not a successful fund raiser, but I must say that my mustache was quite impressive. What do you think, should it make a comeback in February?

Perhaps needless to say, Natalie was not thrilled about it on our anniversary. Well, I figure if having a mustache for a few months across three years of marriage is the worst of it, then she must have it pretty good. Natalie and I have been happily married now for three years and I can honestly say that I love her more today than I did the day we got married.

Then came December. My work travel is picking up, but we were able to find time make a visit to Des Moines to see Nanna Jo and Grandpa Jo (you can't really want to be called that can you?) and the rest of the Smith gang (longer for Natalie than for me). Then came Christmas and Grammy and Grampy Salt made the trip to Madison with the rest of the Salt clan which made for a lot of noise if nothing else. During their stay we took family photos, saw Sherlock Holmes, played Wii Sports, watched The Muppet Christmas Carol, watched Alana enjoy the wrapping paper more than the presents, celebrated the birthday of my brother-in-law with the most amazing cake ever created, enjoyed new family stocking made by my talented wife, took pictures with Santa, played Santa, and ate our weight in Ferrero Rochet and Bluebird chocolates. A successful holiday if I have ever seen one.

Which brings us to the new year. Resolutions abound, but my goal was to get us up through Christmas and I have done it. Now, enjoy our (almost) monthly photos of Alana and our Bang! card game container while you wait for our next installment (pins and needles, I am sure).