Monday, July 19, 2021

Opal Nadine

 Opal Nadine was born on Sunday, January 24, at 2:17 AM.  She weighed 8 pounds, 4 ounces, and was 20 inches long.  She was born with lots of dark hair and super chubby cheeks!

Opal is named after two of her great grandmas.  Paul's mom's mom was Catherine Opal Sawyer (went by Cathy), and Paul's dad's mom was Nadine Rhodes.  
(My grandma - dad's mom - has her birthday on January 23 - had Opal decided not to take a break from arriving, she would have shared her birthday.)

Opal Nadine means "Jewel of Hope."  Once I found out the meaning of the name, I would consider no other names.  (Paul wasn't so sure, but after him choosing 5 names, I put my foot down!)

Despite having extensive monitoring (at least so it seemed to me) because of the elevated heart rate, Opal seemed ready to reassure us that she had no problems, and no intent to hurry out.  The Monday and Tuesday before she was born, she was pressing so far down that I got hemorrhoids.  Then at my weekly checkup on Wednesday she had retreated so far up that my doctor couldn't even feel her head.

My due date was on a Friday.  On the day before, I went in for my twice-weekly 20 minutes of monitoring, and everything was fine (as it had been ever since that one day when her heart rate was elevated).  Paul and I went home and looked at the weather, and decided to take the kids to the lake - in January!  The forecast was to be in the 70s, sunny, with no wind - a veritable unicorn in days of Kansas weather!

So we took the kids to Pomona lake to run around.  They scoured a stretch of the river at the spillway looking for abandoned fishing lures, then we took them to the playground and they played for a couple of hours while different parties hiked the nature trails.  I walked the loop twice, hoping to help the baby shake down and get into position.  No luck.  

Friday came and went, and I started to get impatient.  It was the combination of NEVER having been overdue, and everyone's assurance, "Oh you're not going to make it to your due date."  Well.  I did.

When Saturday dawned, and still no action, Paul announced to the kids that he was taking me to town for a walk.  (Not that he had any ulterior motives of wanting to do some gun shopping.)  Apparently the baby realized he meant business, and I had a couple light contractions in the truck!  We started at First Street, and hit every pawn shop and antique shop between there and Gun Guys in the 4th block, and I had a few more, including some stronger ones.  We walked back to the truck, and then hit the Orscheln gun desk on the way home, where Baby decided to give us a few more contractions.  We could tell things were getting started, so we picked up some Walmart pizzas to cook at home.  Paul called grandparents as we headed home, to arrange for accommodations for the children.

Since contractions weren't close together or super strong, I decided to have a bite to eat.  I ate a half a slice of pizza, and about 5 fried pickles - and regretted it for the next many hours!  HEARTBURN.

With the children gone, Paul and I watched some TV, and I settled in to time my contractions.  They were still irregular in strength and timing.  (You would have thought I would have related this to Elsa's birth and figured out what was going on.)  Then at about 9 o'clock, contractions started to be lighter and farther apart.  So I decided to go take a nap.  As I lay there, I felt some kicks around the front of my belly.  Then I DID remember Elsa's birth!  Babies should be face down when they are born, which means I shouldn't be able to feel kicks out front.  So I got up on my hands and knees for several minutes (a trick two OB nurses told me about when I was at an event and we were talking about birth stories).  Contractions stopped for about an hour.  Then at 11, I woke up to a strong one.  Then about 10 minutes later, another strong one.  I got up and told Paul that even though they weren't 5 minutes apart yet (the marker for when to go to the hospital), I knew this was it, and we should go since we had nothing else to do.

Oh yeah - remember that little thing back in 2020, called Covid-19?  Yeah, it was still going on.  So when we walked into the hospital, we had to wear masks.  So imagine contractions, feeling hot all over, pain taking your breath away - and having to wear a mask through it.  We got checked in at about 12:30 and got upstairs.  I changed and they checked me, and.... "Oh, you're at a 4.  "  WHAT?  THAT'S IT???  (Full dilation and baby coming out is 10).  Thankfully, no one said anything about masks once we were in the room, and Paul and I both shed ours.

Maybe I'd forgotten, maybe I've become a pansy in my old age (I'm 38), or maybe the contractions really were a lot worse.  I had heartburn and felt like I was going to vomit the whole time.  For the first time, my water broke during labor.  I had a big contraction and then felt (and I swear, heard) a pop! and then a splash as fluid hit the floor.  Paul was very surprised, as this was new - I'm sure after 5 births, we both were pretty confident in the order of events.  Dr. Sinclair showed up shortly after, which surprised me, because 4 cm dilated is not very far along in the scheme of things (you can be walking around at a 3).  But it's a good thing she did!

After talking to me, Dr. Sinclair went out to the hallway, and I had a contraction that felt like it was tearing me in two.  Only 45 minutes after their initial check, I was now at an 8.  The staff started setting everything up.  Another contraction, and I felt the head coming down.  The crew started racing to get everything in place, and Dr. Sinclair said, "Don't push, don't push!"  When everything was ready, I pushed once, and felt the head come out.  The doctor said, "Don't push again, let God do the work."  She explained to me afterwards that when a baby comes that fast, your body can't stretch and you are more likely to have a bad tear.

As I felt the rest of the baby pass through, Dr. Sinclair told Paul to come to the foot of the bed.  "I'm going to turn the baby over,"  [remember they are born face down] she said, "I want you to be the first to see and announce it."  Paul looked and kissed my forehead as they put the baby onto my chest.  You have dark haired baby girl!" he announced.  Dr. Sinclair made Paul cut the cord for only the second time since Nathan's birth.

Things have changed a bit in the 5 years since Elsa was born.  The staff had me strip down and lay the naked baby on my chest and covered us both with a blanket.  They urged me to try breastfeeding as soon as everything was cleaned up and the bed was put back together.  They didn't even weigh her until several hours after birth - she had already pooped!

Meeting Daddy

Babies also never leave their mother's room now.  So even 24 hours later, when I hadn't done more than have a couple of naps.  Paul had gone home, and true to form for every other baby I've had, Opal only wanted to sleep in my arms.  I ignored the signs hanging on all the walls, put the sides up on the bed, and laid her next to me so I could get some sleep.  When even this wasn't enough, one of the nurses came in and tried all of their tricks to get Opal to sleep (warm blankets, swaddling, patting, nest), and I finally fell asleep to the nurse walking back and forth across the length of the room with the baby.

Watching the Chiefs/Bills playoff game

Look at that hair!  

Ready to head home

Asleep at home in her Boppy

  Disclaimer:  My skills of blogging are lax.  I hope my grammar and spelling are correct, but I have no brain cells to spare for formatting and photo editing.  Enjoy the story and try to understand. :) 

Saturday, June 12, 2021

How Did We Get Here?

 Remember this post?

Well, it still holds true.  And we still weren't wanting more than 5 kids.  

Last spring, Paul and I had the sit-down discussion of "are we done?"  Elsa had just turned 4.  We would be starting school (preschool) with her in the fall, so all of our kids would be in school at home.  I felt like we had settled into knowing what to expect each day, and going out in public or for a vacation wasn't as overwhelming since the kids were old enough to manage themselves in and out of the car, and control their emotions (usually).

We still were convicted that it is not our right to take away God's right to manage our fertility, but we were careful to do what was in our power to manage, and felt happy in the size of family God had given us.

So we decided we were done.  Not that having another baby was outside the realm of possibility, but we thought there's no reason to hang onto baby equipment and clothes when someone else could be using it.  IF we ended up having another baby, we'd find what we needed at that time. 

So we packed it up, had a garage sale, and took stuff to LifeCare (local pregnancy resource center).

And the following week, I found out I was pregnant.

I should have started my period the Monday after the garage sale.  By Wednesday I had grown suspicious.  On Friday I bought a pregnancy test.  I took it on Sunday, and then by some miracle of God's design - all the kids were away at other houses, and I had a chance to tell Paul in an empty house.  

For the first time, I was able to surprise him with pregnancy news.  And I cried.

Not because I was disappointed - there is nothing bad about a baby coming to a couple who loves each other deeply - but because I remembered what it had been like last time I had a baby.  Debilitating lack of energy during pregnancy, and how a new baby disrupts absolutely every aspect of life, especially home schooling - and the previous year of homeschooling had been tenuous at best.  (Honestly, I had looked up how to enroll kids in public school in December.)  I was 5 years older (almost to turn 38 at that point), and 30 pounds heavier, and completely out of shape.  All these reasons pregnancy was going to be completely inconvenient and uncomfortable!

But I remembered that verse, 2 Corinthians 12:9 - But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

Nothing happens outside of God's plan.  This was God's plan.  I would make it through.

And I did!

As it was, this pregnancy didn't seem to be as hard on me physically.  Partly because I'd had my veins fixed after Elsa, so I didn't have the throbbing heavy legs daily.  (I didn't wear the stockings this time, but I did wear knee high compression socks daily.)  We bought a Bowflex Max 6 (basically like an elliptical stairstepper) in June when it was massively on sale, and I did well about using it several times a week until late fall.  I only gained 20 lbs. total.  And homeschooling all 5 was less stress than 4 the previous year.  (Elsa's fantastic cheerful attitude about school every day made all the difference!)

We did have to get all new (new to us) baby stuff, but the awesome thing about that is we were able to evaluate every piece and ask if we really needed it.  Baby swing?  Hadn't done much for 5, so we could presume it wouldn't for a sixth.  Boppy pillow?  Absolutely essential!  

We debated finding out the gender, but decided to keep this surprise a surprise.  (Besides, it kept me from collecting those absolutely adorable outfits they had out at Christmas time!)

When January rolled around, I went to Carter's and bought one girl jammies, one boy jammies, and two neutral jammies.  I procrastinated, but finally packed a bag for the hospital the week I was due.  

The baby gave us a bit of a ..... not really scare, but concern?  confusion?.... three weeks before my due date.  I went in to my normal appointment, and the baby's heart beat was in the 190s.  (Normal is 120-150.)  After several minutes, the heart rate was still up, so my doctor sent me over to the hospital to do a fetal non-stress test (put monitors on my belly and record the baby's heartbeat, usually for 20 minutes).  This crazy baby!  It was rolling and flipping the entire time and its heartbeat never went below 160 for 4 hours!  The monitors showed I was having contractions (even though I couldn't feel them), so they gave me fluids and I ended up being in the hospital all day.  (Which was not a bad thing, since Paul was home.  Although two children started throwing up with a stomach bug that plagued us all week!)

All the monitoring was for nothing, because all returned to normal after the baby finally took a nap.  My doctor wanted me to be monitored twice weekly and have weekly sonograms until my due date, but we had no other problems after that one crazy day.  We just had to wait.......

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

"Mom, when are you going to write Opal's book?"


I've heard this several times in the last week. The books referred to are bound printed copies of all my blog that contain stories and tidbits of my kids' lives. 

Who's Opal, you ask? That's a long story, and it's a good one. 

Check back soon.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Homemade Soap Scum Remover (This recipe will change your life!)

I hate scrubbing the shower. Hate it. So much, that the floor often has black marks and there is a literal tub ring of.... I'd rather not think about it.
Part of the problem is that I have yet to find a cleaner that actually works. Comet powder used to be my standby, but now it and any other commercial cleaner immediately make my lungs hurt - not to mention that they just flat out don't work the way they claim to. (Although, I did find out recently that the secret is to spray on and let it really soak and work before you scrub. Which will allow plenty of time for the fumes to fully permeate your house.) Years ago, a friend suggested Magic Eraser sponges, and they do a great job, but it will require lots of elbow grease and will shred through a full box (4) when the buildup is really bad.
I'd heard to use vinegar, peroxide, alcohol.... Nothing worked in that effortless way I wanted. (Because cleaning really should be effortless!)
And I'd let it get bad. So much that dysentery was a real concern when I saw Elsa drinking the bathwater.
And the day came. Something must be done.
It took me all day of procrastinating while deep cleaning the rest of the bathroom. Finally, it came to 5 o'clock. The rest of the bathroom was sparkling and fresh. I'd done enough, right? Let's just pull the curtain on the shower and save it for another day when I had time to do it properly.
But..... Sigh. So gross.
So I Googled how to easily clean shower scum. And found a recipe that will change my life!
And it's so simple! Seriously - 1/4 cup blue Dawn dish soap, to 2 cups of vinegar. That's it! Put it on a spray bottle, spray down your gross shower, let it soak, and then just rinse it away. Yes, rinse! No scrubbing required!
I had an empty Windex spray bottle, so that's what I used. Sprayed all the black marks, and the nasty ledges where water sits around the bottles. I knew it was bad, so I came in and sprayed it about every 10 minutes to keep it wet and let it soak for closer to an hour. (Our winter air is very dry and it was evaporating quickly.)
I turned on our shower head, and used the removable nozzle to spray hot water over the entire shower, and I'm not kidding, that gunk just melted off! The floor is gleaming clean! Happy life!
Now - full disclosure - this didn't seem to work as well on the vertical surfaces. I'm guessing that those are more of hard water/calcium buildup, and may require something different. (Or may simply require scrubbing, and I think you know my opinion of that.)
Sorry I have no before/after pics, but when I'm working on a project, I don't think of things like that. And besides, I'm not sure I want photo evidence of what "before" looked like!
And, in trying no find the original post I read in order to give credit, I did see another recipe that used a 1:1 soap/vinegar ratio, so apparently it's the magic combination, and exactness in amounts doesn't matter.
So..... Happy cleaning!

Friday, December 29, 2017

What is Awana?

I gave a presentation on Awana to our church this fall.  I did a lot of research for it, and I thought I'd pass on some of the info.  (Especially since I talk about Awana all the time!)  This is info on the international ministry, and also info on Awana as a ministry at our church.

History of Awana

Awana was founded in 1951.  Lance Latham, pastor of a church on Chicago's north side, and Art Rorheim, the church's youth director, after seeing kids lined up outside a movie theater, came up with an idea to develop a club that would appeal to both children and non-children.  They wanted to see kids as excited to go to a club to learn about the Bible as they were to go see a movie.

What came out of that collaboration was a club that looked like a lot of popular clubs of that era, complete with uniforms, handbooks, pledges, and dues.

The founders of Awana landed on a method that worked, combining large group learning, classroom learning, and fun games to get children and youth excited to come to a place where they would learn and memorize God's Word.  This has proven an effective method that discipled children and gave them the knowledge and ability to reach out to share Christ with their friends.

Within 20 years of its founding, 900 churches had started Awana programs.  Today, there are over 10,000 clubs in the United States, reaching nearly 700,000 children each week.

In 1972, Awana began its first international club in Bolivia. Today, children and youth in 121 countries participate in Awana programs.  There are over 50,000 clubs worldwide, reaching over 4 MILLION children with the gospel of Christ each week!

What Is Awana?

You may keep listening to me say this word, Awana, and wonder what kind of a name that is. Awana (AWANA) stands for "Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed," and is derived from the King James translation of 2 Timothy 2:15, which says, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."

History of Awana at OBC

Awana at Ottawa Bible Church began in 1989. At that time, the clubs still very strongly resembled the original model developed by Lance Lathan and Art Rorheim. At OBC, within the first few years, we were reaching well over 100 children every week.

Over the years, numbers have declined, both in attendees and volunteers, largely due to a cultural shift in Wednesdays not being regarded as a church night, so families are forced to choose between Awana and other activities. The last several years we have averaged around 50 children in preschool through middle school.

About Awana

Whereas the basic structure of Awana has not changed - each weekly meeting is made up of large group time, small group classroom time, and game time - there has recently been a shift in the Awana method. Our culture has shifted to the thinking that spiritual education is the job of the church. Awana is seeking to change that.

Awana has changed their curriculum to strongly emphasize spiritual learning should take place in the home, with parents as the teachers. The new curriculum encourages interaction and spiritual conversations between parents and children.

This method of coming alongside parents works.

In 1990, an 8 year old girl came to Awana here at OBC. Even though she knew all the Bible stories, Awana was the first place she heard the gospel message. She asked Jesus to be her Savior sitting right here in this auditorium. The teachers at Awana engaged her family, and came along side her parents and met them where they were at. Eventually this girl's family began attending Ottawa Bible because of the relationships they had made through Awana. The girl grew up and learned her faith through Awana and this church. She married a boy she became friends with through Awana. They now have kids of their own, and Awana is a tool that their family is using to teach their children the importance of Bible study and sharing the gospel. 

I know Awana works because this little girl was me.

Awana Statistics

Of Awana alumni, which is children who were involved in Awana for 6 or more years, 92% attend church regularly, 74% volunteer at their church 11 or more hours each month, and 70% share their faith with friends at least once a month.

To make statistics like this the norm, there is one thing that makes all the difference. That is volunteers.

Volunteers Needs

To make Awana run at OBC, we need an absolute minimum of 20 serving, to keep control of the kids and listen to verses.  To make it run well, be able to build relationships with children and parents, we need many more than that.

Many think they can't volunteer for children's ministry because they can't teach.  The thing I love about Awana, is that for the vast majority of volunteers, serving at Awana is a ministry where you can show up, be blessed, and go home.  There's no studying beforehand or supplies you have to bring.  You bring yourself and a heart ready to love on some kids.

If you aren't sure that kids are your thing, there are other ways and opportunities to serve around the Awana ministry.  We have a meal beforehand, and we need help preparing and cleaning up with that.  We need people to engage parents as they pick up and drop off kids.  There are possibilities to lead Bible studies with interested parents during the time their kids are here at Awana.  If you aren't sure where you'd like to help, but want to help in some way, I'd love to talk to you about getting you plugged in in an area that appeals to your strengths.

The other two major reasons people say they can't volunteer is distance and time.  For many of us, including myself, serving in church activities means a trip to Ottawa.  In our church, 2/3 of the families that regularly attend live outside of Ottawa  But, for whatever reason, God has brought us together in this community, and for any ministry the church puts on to succeed, some of us are going to have to make the commitment to make that trip.

The last and hardest area that is a hindrance to volunteering is time.  I want to leave you with a quote.

When parents are saying “I don’t have any time” to minister to youth, and the older generation is saying, “I’ve served my time” teaching kids, it leaves a generation of young people saying, “If nobody thinks it’s important enough to make the time, maybe this whole God thing isn’t worth my time.”

Awana is a ministry that can change lives, homes, and generations.  I think it's worth the time, and I'd like you to consider giving some of your time. 
Update:  We have nearly 40 teen and adult volunteers serving in Awana at Ottawa Bible Church this year!  We have had over 80 children register (including student leaders), with a regular weekly attendance of about 60.  All the glory goes to God!

Photo Overload, Part 2

These are coming from two phones and a camera, on two computers.... Sorry if there are duplicates.
Not in chronological order.

Not a fan of photo attacks.

Petting the stingrays at the Omaha Zoo, May 2017.

Somebody was over it.  (In the aquarium tunnel)

Who needs eclipse glasses when Pa-Pa Carl bought a whole box of welder helmets at an auction??  (At Weatherby Lake, south of KCI Airport - total eclipse....and cloudy.)

Attempt at a wall-worthy siblings photo... In their paramilitary gear.

This pretty much sums up every single time these three get together.  (best friend Charlie)

Spent a couple days with Uncle Jono and Aunt Sissy and explored the Fort Scott area.

My parents celebrated their 40th Anniversary in September.

Aunt Renda takes Zadie on girls days.  Which must include Starbucks, apparently.

100% turd.

Guys hunting trip, November 2017

This one has a proclivity for black eyes.  This one earned from walking in front of a swinging sibling.

We excercised self-expression with hair cuts their mom didn't fully approve of.

Showing me his pet beetles.  (We had a bit of an infestation with black beetles this summer.)

She discovered boots.  And so much cute!!!

Decided to try the potty in October, and that's all it took!

That is a snake.

Traumatic and dramatic first tooth.

She's getting big!

One of the joys of homeschooling.

No pants, no problem!

"Cheese!"  (every time she sees the camera)
And here's proof that I'm still alive, [mostly] sane, and not [completely] gray yet!
Happy New Year!

Photo Overload

From the last year.  Or so.
In no particular order. They are coming off of two phones and a camera!
The boys got permission to go fishing in our neighbor's pond whenever they want. 

Nathan learned how to use several power tools this year.

I surprised Paul for his birthday with a shotgun.

Blackberry picking in Princeton where Paul grew up.

Topeka Zoo in April

Prepare for some cuteness!

Uncle Jono is always up for exploring at the farm!  Fully supports camo and firearms as well. 

Omaha Zoo in May

The girls at the Mississippi River in March, near Blytheville, Arkansas.

"Your daughter has slain me with her eyes."  (quoting a neighbor we met in the grocery store)
Obviously she has her mother's fantastic sense of style.

A certain uncle can stick his tongue up his nose, so they wanted to try it.....

Lurenda and Mom went to Africa in February.

This gives you an idea of what any social activity is like - best friend Charlie and cousin Mackenzie.  They're the Four Musketeers, and they will find trouble.
This guy......

Helping Pa-Pa get ready for an auction.
Has fully embraced being Uncle JC's "minion."

Awana Skating Party, November 2016.

Playing Mary, Joseph, and Jesus (Elsa) at Bethlehem 2016.

The many faces of Gideon.  (And now you see why people fall for the big eyes!)

First birthday!

First pigtails - So. Stinking. Cute!!!!!

He made a lot of money on tooth exchange.