The Year in Review

Another busy year is coming to an end and I thought I'd take some time to review what the Hall-Smith Family did over these last twelve months.


Ok, so it was technically December 30th, but it didn't fit into any other year end review so here it goes:

Chris and I went to go see Jeff Dunham at the Bilo Center!!! Sooooo awesome!!!


Chris and I went to Myrtle Beach

to see Alice in Chains!

We also brought home a souvenir. Had he been a girl, we would have named her Evangeline Alice (as a nod to that weekend); however, he was a boy and his name is William Lucas.


We took the kids to see the circus at the Bilo Center


Chris celebrated his 33rd birthday and

we heard "Pistachio's" heart beat for the first time.

Chris and I also went on a hiking day trip and found five waterfalls and two caves in one day.


Gabriel turned three and got a big boy room


Cadence graduated from kindergarten!


We took the kids and went with Emily and Christy to Great Wolf Lodge


My baby sister got married!!!

This meant a trip for Chris and I to Niagara Falls!!!


Cadence began first grade


The whole family (dogs and all) went camping over Labor Day weekend. We met Charlie & Elizabeth at got to go out on their sailboat.


We went apple picking at Nivens' Apple Orchard

We went to Gatlinburg, TN over my 29th birthday weekend

and Cadence celebrated her 7th birthday


At 7:50pm on Saturday, November 20th, William Lucas Hall entered this world weighing 9lbs 6oz, measuring 22 inches long and completed the Hall-Smith Family.


We celebrated our first Christmas with Liam

Merry Christmas

We hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas filled with great memories. William was baptized on Christmas Eve. I can't think of a better night than the holiest night of the year for a baptism.

This year was the first time that Cadence and Gabriel were not here in the morning. They came to church with us on Christmas Eve and then spent the night with the father at their nanny and papa's house. They came home around 10:30 a.m. on Christmas morning. This meant that Chris, William and I were able to sleep in and enjoy a bit of quiet time before the craziness began.

We opened presents at home as soon as Cadence and Gabe arrived. Cadence received a clock/docking station for her iPod, a Barbie movie and some clothes. Gabriel received a movie, a Toy Story game and clothes. Both of the kids received some Wii games. William received his first Christmas ornament, some rattles and a piggy bank. Chris received a blu ray player, some clothes and a movie. I received some clothes, jewelry, bath stuff and chocolate.

After the kids had some time with their toys we went over to Grandma's house where we ate lunch and opened more presents. My amazing sister gave me a new camera! I was very excited. I received my old camera when Cadence was just over a year old. It has been through a lot (including a drop in a toilet) and was beginning to show signs of it's many years of use.

After a nice visit with Grandma, Papa, Jacob, Dianne and Brandon we went to Grandma & Big Jake's house for dinner. Charlie, Elizabeth, Erin and John were also there. The big kids had a great time opening presents and Cadence was very excited about the clothes for her American Girl doll. The day was a bit long for poor Liam though. He got a bit overstimulated by all of the commotion and was inconsolable for almost two hours.

We enjoyed looking at the snow on the way home and the kids were looking forward to going out to play in it today. Liam calmed down after we had been home for a while and slept until about 3am. He ate and went right back to sleep.

Today we went out for lunch and then Chris, Cadence and Gabriel played in the snow near the neighborhood playground for about two hours. They came back in and had some hot chocolate and settled down and watched Toy Story 3.

Overall, it was a great Christmas.

This week is my last week home with Liam and I'm already having a hard time thinking about leaving him during the day. I know that I have to work and I like my job, but those first few days back are always so difficult...

"Snow" Day, how I detest thee...

Yesterday morning, after waking up at 2am and 5am to feed Liam I discover that Greenville County schools were on a 2-hour delay due to inclement weather. Ok. That's not too bad. The kids would get to watch a few cartoons and Liam and I could sleep for another hour or so. No problem. No more than an hour after I discovered that there was a delay did the county change it to a full closing. Seriously? SERIOUSLY!?!?! I looked outside my window. The road was wet and, although there were a few frozen rain drops, for the most part it was just raining.

So now it's nasty outside, school is closed and I am home with all three kids. I could have sent Gabriel to day care (because they have common sense enough to distinguish snow from rain and were therefore open) however I did not want to send him off when Cadence was home. So I figured that we would have a nice day home together. We'd watch some movies and just hang out. I was wrong.

Over the course of the day the following happened:

1. Cadence started playing with the ornaments on the Christmas tree. She's SEVEN! She knows better than to play with the Christmas tree!

2. I sat Cadence and Gabriel down at the kitchen table to eat lunch. Gabriel had already finished his and was working on seconds. Cadence had barely eaten two bites. I turned off the TV and told her to finish her lunch. No more than five minutes later she said she was finished. I didn't believe her so I went downstairs to investigate. Her empty bowl was in the sink. She said she had hurried and finished it. Anyone that knows Cadence knows that she is a terrible eater. She even makes herself throw up to get out of eating. It regularly takes her an hour to eat a few tablespoons of food. I told her that I didn't believe her. She said "I promise, Mommy. I swear to God. I ate it all gone." I addressed the issue with her several times throughout the day. At the end of the night, she finally admitted to feeding it to the dog. She waited until we were out to dinner to fess up (she probably worried less for her life confessing in a large crowd). We took some of her favorite items out of her room when we got home for lying. I need a more effective manner of punishment for lying and welcome suggestions. I'm thinking soap in the mouth right now.

3. While I was upstairs getting a clean outfit for Liam (who had spit up all over himself and me), Gabriel took a nativity candle holder that I was given for teaching Sunday school at my old church and hit it against my Christmas snow globe. The snow globe shattered, leaving shards of glass, water and glitter all over the couch. Fantastic.

4. Late in the afternoon I had sent the kids upstairs for "quiet time" (aka Mommy-is-at-her-wits-end-go-away-for-a-few-minutes time). They both ended up in Gabe's room and were running all over the place stomping and yelling. They woke up Liam who was sleeping soundly downstairs.

5. I put Cadence and Gabriel in time out in the center of the living room floor for #4. Apparently Gabe snuck a black crayon into time out with him. He marked on my living room carpet (which was professionally cleaned on Tuesday).

6. Cadence would only eat one bite of her chicken nuggets and 3 mandarin oranges for dinner. I probably shouldn't have allowed her to have such a special dinner after behaving so poorly all day. We took them to Chick-fil-a because it was our last chance to get a picture with all three kids with Santa since Cadence and Gabe are going to their nanny and papa's house today until Christmas Day.

Here is the picture that I had to have. Cadence's eyes are red because she had just been informed of the fate that awaited her for lying. I told her that her only hope of any for of redemption was to give me the biggest smile in the world so I could get my darn Santa picture!

After a day like that, I have to remember that they are always going to be bad days. Sometimes my kiddos manage to be total angels.

...or shepherds. You get the idea. :)

24 Days

Gabriel and William

Liam is twenty-four days old today. I know that most people don't consider anything special about turning 24 days old, but I do. Liam's big brother was twenty-four days old on the day his mommy became a single parent. As difficult as it was at the time, I love my life and wouldn't change a thing. Chris is an amazing parent to all of the children and I know that he would give anything for them. We are very lucky to have him in our lives.

Cuddles with Daddy after bath time

Off to Hollywild!

Every year we pack the kids into the car and head to Hollywild to see the lights and feed the animals. We always make it a point to go on a Monday or Tuesday night as the weekend crowds are ridiculous! Chris got out of work on time on Monday and we loaded all three kids up into the van. We stopped by McDonald's, as we do every year, and ordered a 50 piece chicken nugget and some fries. I don't know how chicken nuggets and french fries became part of our Hollywild tradition, but they did and the kids know it.

The lights were beautiful, as always. We have taken the kids each year since 2007 (and I took Cadence before that) and now they know what to expect - they enjoy looking for the gigantic whale light and the rocking horse.

We skipped the food in the deer park area this year thinking that we would get out and feed the animals near Santa's Workshop. Last year some of the large animals with really long horns got a bit friendly with my car and Chris wasn't too excited about the thought of the animals doing damage to our not-so-cheap minivan. Plus, he has a thing against the ostriches after one tried pecking him in the head a few years ago. ;) We drove around and looked at the deer, the zebra and the gigantic freakin' cows. I've never seen cows that big before!!

Then we headed up to the area where we could get out and feed the baby animals and visit Santa. Normally we spend quite a deal of time here, however, it was 26 degrees outside and VERY windy. The kids were miserable. I was wearing Liam under Chris's jacket, but even he would whimper when the wind hit just right. We bought some hot chocolate and dropped in to visit Santa. Liam and I got up into Santa's sleigh with Cadence and Gabriel and I unzipped my jacket so the kids could get their first picture of them all together with Santa Claus.

Gabriel looks terrified, as always. ;)

We raced back to the car to thaw. The kids had a great time at Hollywild but were definitely happy to be out of the cold.

Thanksgiving and other goings on

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Cadence's Thanksgiving program at school (she's the "K")

Thanksgiving Day tea party at Grandma and Big Jake's (Cadence is helping introduce Uncle Charlie to the world of feather boas and tiaras before his little princess arrives this Spring)

Our Thanksgiving was pretty low key this year. I had only been out of the hospital since Sunday and was still pretty sick so we didn't cook. We watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade with the kids and then headed over to Grandma and Big Jake's for dinner. It was our first time out of the house with all three kids.

Black Friday came and went and I didn't go shopping. It was bittersweet. I missed the craziness and was even a little jealous when Dianne said she'd been standing in line outside in the rain at Best But for an hour, but at the same time I was curled up in my warm bed with two of my favorite guys. There will be other Black Fridays.

Chris went back to work today and I totally cried like a baby (damn hormones). He has been my rock throughout this whole pregnancy and in the week and a half sice Liam's birth. Cadence and Gabriel also went back to school. The house was very quiet. Liam and I tried to make-up for lost sleep by taking a morning nap and then I washed some diapers, did a load of laundry and picked up a bit downstairs. It was a productive day.

Liam's Birth Story

Just over twenty-four hours ago, on November 20th at 7:50 p.m. William "Liam" Lucas Hall made his grand entrance into this world weighing 9lbs 6oz and at 22 inches long. I have never been more relieved in my entire life.

Around 5:30 p.m., I begun having contractions on a regular basis. They were two minutes apart, but they weren't strong. This happened a few weeks ago and they stopped so I wasn't making too big a deal of it. Close to 6:00 p.m. I felt a pop. I stood up expecting to be standing in a puddle of clear fluid like you see in the movies. There was a puddle, but it wasn't clear. It was red. Bright red. Chris and I ran out of the house in less than two minutes and headed to the hospital. We called the doctor on our way. He said not to worry and that he would be there shortly.

We got to the hospital a few minutes after 6:00 p.m. They asked me if I could walk and I said, "yes" but told them what had happened. They put me in a wheelchair and took me upstairs. I filled out a few consent forms and was still talking through my contractions. They weren't really bad at that point. They got me in a room and said I was still 3cm dilated, which was no change from my appointment on Wednesday. They hooked me up to the monitors and the first thing I heard was the baby's heartbeat. I can't begin to describe the wave of relief that hit me when I heard that familiar galloping sound. By 6:45 p.m. the contractions were starting to pick up. I couldn't talk through them anymore and it was really hard to relax. I wasn't able to sit up because of the bleeding so finding a comfortable position was almost impossible. I knew that without the freedom to move there was no way I was going to be able to go through labor without an epidural. I asked for the anesthesiologist.

My doctor arrived just as the anesthesiologist came in. I was dilated to 6cm. The contractions were back-to-back and I felt so out of control. My doctor stepped out while the anesthesiologist administered the epidural and administered a test does of the medication. The test dose had not fully taken effect when I announced, "I'm pushing." One of the nurses reminded me that I was only 6cm dilated that that I needed to breathe through my contractions. I told her that I couldn't and my body was pushing without my consent. Another nurse told me that a team was on standby in case the baby needed special care due to the blood. My doctor came in and checked me again. He asked if I was ready to have this baby. I said no. I was so worried about Liam. My body disagreed and pushed anyway. I gave in and pushed four times.

After the fourth push I felt instant relief from the pain and heard crying. They placed Liam on my tummy and tried to wipe him off as best they could. At that moment, I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off of my shoulders. I knew that God had been watching out for Liam.

After the delivery my doctor told me that it appeared that my placenta had partially separated from my uterine wall in early labor (also known as a placental abruption).

They gave me a dose of pitocin after the delivery to help stop the bleeding. Originally, we had planned to go home immediately after Liam's birth but, due to the amount of blood loss, we had to stay overnight to have my hemoglobin monitored. Everything seemed in check this morning and we left the hospital right at noon.

It definitely wasn't the birth that Chris and I had imagined, but it is wonderful to have Liam in our lives. Chris and I were both terrified yesterday and have been running on adrenaline ever since. We've only managed to sleep for a few hours since yesterday. Hopefully we can calm down and get some sleep tonight. Liam is doing well. He has some bruising on his head from his speedy occiput posterior (aka sunny side up) delivery, but is overall doing great!

Our kids provide the best entertainment

Our kids are a never-ending source of entertainment so I thought that I would dedicate this post to some of their crazy antics.

Gabe rockin out on Daddy's guitar

Gabe: "Where's my sucker??"

Cadence killing time waiting for food at a restaurant

Gabriel testing out the baby's new car seat/swing combo

Gabe + box of cornstarch = BIG mess

Gabe + Cadence + ashes from fire pit = even BIGGER mess

Gabe paying a visit to Roxy

Every once in a while though, all of the craziness catches up to them and it's just too much for them to handle. :)

You know what they say about a watched pot...

"A watched pot never boils." That's what they say at least. It also appears that a watched baby doesn't come early like his/her big siblings.

We hit the 39 week mark today. Since, until this pregnancy, I had never made it past 38 weeks it feels like time is standing still... and that everyone is watching the pot. It's funny to call people, because they all answer, "Are you having the baby yet?" Nope. I'm beginning to wonder if there even is a baby. Hopefully Pistachio will make an appearance soon. I'm told that I won't be pregnant forever. That's good. In the meantime, please feel free to let me know if my shoes don't match. I can't see them. :)