Friday, November 25, 2016

Now That's a Pie!

This was our selection of Thanksgiving pies this year. No, it's not two mini pumpkin pies.... Those are two regular size (9") pumpkin pies. They look mini because that's a huge apple pie! It measures a full 13" across and has 6 pounds of apples in it! It takes a double double-crust recipe.
Now that's a pie!
We bought this pie dish 3 years ago. It's not actually a pie dish, but was marketed as a pasta bowl. Paul and I both love pie, and went on a search for such a thing after having several children and never having leftover pie to enjoy after family dinners. Larger pie = more slices = more to eat the next day.
We finally found it at the pottery shop at Silver Dollar City. I love it, and never have regretted the $30 purchase.
We shared this pie at family Thanksgiving with Paul's family. He took a piece of the leftovers in his lunchbox, and i had a piece for breakfast, and we still have a couple to enjoy for supper.
And THAT is why we wanted that pie plate!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Casting Out Idols

I am reading through the history of the kings of Israel in my daily [somewhat] quiet times. I try not to use devotionals or study books, because I get distracted by the opinions of others, from what God may want to say to me.
When the Israelites settled the land God had promised, they were told to destroy all the current residents already living there. This has always seemed a bit brutal to me, and to many others, I'm sure. But as I read on in the history, I see why God wanted those pagan nations destroyed. It would have made life easier on the Israelites!
God is the one true God, and He is serious about His people recognizing His authority. When the Israelites failed to drive out these pagan nations, not only did the people remain, but their religions remained also. Time after time, year after year, the Israelites repeated a circle of falling into worshiping idols, being punished by the one true God, repenting, having life go well, then falling back to their worship of these other gods, only to be punished...
As I read, I asked myself - Beyond the history, what is something I can learn from this narrative?
Because at first impression, the Israelites are idiots. Why don't they get it, that all of their problems are because they stop worshiping God alone?
But what about me? I may not have little stone idols on a shelf in my house, or altars built under the trees in our yard, but am I worshiping the one true God, and serving Him only?
I read a quote recently, and I can't remember it exactly, or who said it, but it went something like this: To any extent you aren't as excited and on fire for God as you were the day before, or the week before, you are a back-slider. (I think it was Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest.)
Well, I'm definitely a back-slider.
And that means, like the Israelites, I have begun "worshiping" idols, and allowing other things to become more important than God alone.
Now the task is, now that I recognize it, to identify those idols and cast them out. For the Israelites it was easy. Break up the idols; tear down the altars. For us, it's a lot harder. What if your idols are food, or the internet, or coffee, or a smart phone?
But I see now why God said to completely get rid of the other nations and their idols. When you keep the things you worship side by side with your relationship with God, unless you are capable of extreme self control and diligence (which I'm not), your relationship with God - reading His Word and the privilege of talking to Him - is going to get pushed aside by these "idols" that seem more exciting and more accessible and available, more instantly gratifying.
And that is why God's Word is "living and active" - it uses a historical account from 4000(?) years ago to speak to my heart today!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Life Rolls On

Life keeps on moving, whether I'm ready or not.
We're already on week 8 of school.  That's 1/4 of the way through the school year!  Where has time gone??  We did take a "spring break"  a couple weeks ago because I needed to do the spring cleaning that I had never gotten done.  Paul had taken the week off work, so we took the week off school to enjoy time together and get some things done.
Elsa is rolling over, trying to pull up and crawl, and just about ready to sit herself up.  She chows down the baby food like she may never get another meal.  She's almost 8 months old!
The weather has been ridiculous.  Now in November, we have only had one night cold enough to frost (which was 3 weeks ago), but only in patches.  Had the garden not drowned (again - twice in 2 months is too much to recover from), it would have been the most fantastic fall garden we've ever had.  This week has been in the 80s.
I was supposed to have my varicose veins repaired this year.  We started the process in May.  My doctor in Lawrence referred me to a doctor in KC, because the origin of my varicose veins seems to be in my pelvis (coming off my uterus), rather than in my legs.  Insurance is refusing to pay for the surgery to fix it. They say it doesn't work, so they won't pay for it - but they realize I may need the surgery, and I am more than welcome to pay for it myself!  (Ugh.  Don't even get me started.)  My doctor is appealing it (again), but now it's November, and still not a single thing has been done to fix my veins.
The big boys both had birthdays this fall.  Nathan is now 9, and Jacob 7.  Again - where has time gone??  They are both getting so tall and strong.  They're right on the edge of the responsible/irresponsible age.  I can usually trust them to get things done, but there are those days.....  (Gideon's birthday is next month, and the girls are in March and April.)
Anyhow.  Time to start the day, whether I'm ready or not. :)

Friday, September 2, 2016

High School Memories

I'm in the midst of another clean and purge....  I do declare, how is it I get rid of so much stuff and our house is still so cluttered??
This round brought me across a box of my old journals.  I've kept a journal since childhood.  Sporadically, for the most part, except in the midst of my teenage years.  I was pretty faithful to journal about all of the teenage angst and ecstasies I was experiencing.
So I have wasted a lot of time over the last two days, reading those old notebooks.  Some were fun, like the journal I kept when Paul and I started our relationship.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading my thoughts and emotions, and I was so happy to see that none of it has changed.  I still love him, and admire him, and am excited to be around him.  Who says those feelings don't last?  They have for us.  All I can say that God has blessed us.
But reading the journals from my teenage years were not so pleasant, because they brought back all of those emotions.  I'm sure all teenagers feel them.  The feelings of suffocating uncertainty, unrequited love, and the need to feel special to someone, but having no one interested.  And I do mean no one.
I was a confusing teenager, I'm sure.  On one hand, incredibly brash and outgoing, but when it came to other things, painfully shy and introverted.  Walking controversies.  Even within my journal entries - "He likes me!.... He can shove it."  Adding to the loud, feminist exterior, was the fact I was a good couple inches taller than most guys I knew, which made me a formidable female to approach, I'm sure.
Yet I had a deep desire to be special to someone.  And the fact that no one was interested, despite all my silly crushes, made me very familiar with the feelings of rejection and loneliness.
As I read through my journals, I could see God's hand guiding me toward the future He had prepared for me, even though I was totally unaware that my future was right by my side as I was living all of this.  (Paul has been in my life for nearly 30 years!)
The only boyfriend I had, I loved as much as a 17-year-old could.  But after 10 months together, I got the undeniable realization that God wanted me to break up with him.  I undoubtedly heard the silent yet audible voice of God in that matter, speaking right into my mind and heart.  I'm glad I was a sensitive teen when it came to spiritual matters, and I listened to Him.  There was no reason not to marry my high school boyfriend.  He was a really good guy from a nice family.  But that wasn't God's plan for me.
And it shattered my heart and confused me.  Why would God have me break up with him, only to face complete singleness (for 3 years)?  I know my self-worth is found in Christ, but I think women need to know that they are special and beautiful to a man. I had a need to be loved by a boy, but again, this  personality God gave me protected me.  I was too shy to go looking for love.
Even after I fell in love with Paul, he didn't return my emotions for almost two years.  And that was probably the deepest hurt I ever received.  I know now that God put that deep love in my heart for Paul, but during the time he didn't care the same way for me, and I couldn't make myself stop loving him, I was miserable.  I still get choked up remembering how I felt.  Even some movies that are supposed to be lighthearted teen movies remind me of that rejection, and the emotion I can still feel surprises me.
But I know the road God leads us down is for a reason.  I see that now.  And it makes me wonder how to protect our daughters from the same emotions.  I think it is somehow built into women to need to be someone's special person - Zadie already asks who she will marry - but heartbreak doesn't have to be part of the road to happily ever after.
Part of how I want to protect them - all of my kids, but especially my daughters - is from the boyfriend/girlfriend pressures that surround them, even as young as preschool.  (!)  I absolutely refuse to tease Zadie or let her be teased about the boys she plays with.  The result of having two older brothers means she is around a lot of boys.  And she is really good buddies with one of them, but it is so sweet and innocent.  They are both clueless.  And I want it to stay that way.  I don't want him to get teased about "his little girlfriend" and start being a jerk to her.  So I jump all over any of the kids that even hint at anything "lovey" between them.
So we start the journey with a new generation, and teach them from our failures and successes.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Time to Vacuum

When your baby rolls over, and her back looks like the top of an "everything" bagel, you know it's time to vacuum.

(The quote isn't original to me, it's something I saw on Facebook once. And am probably mis-quoting.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Faux Antique Bread Box

(This post is over a year old.  I have no idea why I didn't post it when I typed it up.)
For several months, I've been contemplating the purchase of a bread box.  I trolled Amazon for a style that would fit two loaves of bread.  (We have to buy loaves two by two, as one round of PB&J's will wipe out a half a loaf.)  I found one that kind of sounded like it would fit the bill, and was in my price range ($20), but wasn't convinced enough to order it right away.
After buying bread yet again, and having the mess of new loaves, a partial leftover loaf, plus various homemade items laying in the "bread area" (invariably, one of the children lays something heavy on the loaves of bread, or decides to climb on the counter and puts a knee into it.), I decided.... It was time.
Time to build one.
I had seen these on Amazon, but besides the $100 price, the reviews on how big they were dissuaded me.  It didn't seem like we needed all that space.  But looking at the mess on the counter, I thought.  Yep.  We'll use it.
Call in the talent.  (I could do a lot of these things myself, it's just faster to let him. ;) )
I gave Paul the picture I printed off.  He made some notes and went to work.  And this is how it turned out:
Hand-punched tin (made out of salvaged tin from our old return-air vent). 

I did a punched-tin project once in high school and figured I'd try it again.  I googled patterns, printed it out, and taped it on.  This one was supposed to be the practice run, but I was quite happy with how it turned out!  It took maybe 2-3 hours after all the mommy interruptions.

It really does fit a lot of bread!  In this pic, there is two brand-new loaves of sandwich bread (longer loaves), another half loaf, a couple hamburger buns, and some leftover biscuits.  Fits perfectly!  And looks so pretty and neat all closed up.

Total Cost:  $6
Wood:  scraps laying around
Nails:  on hand
Tin:  scrap
Stain:  on hand
Knob:  $1 (for 2-pack)
Hinges:  $5

Much better than the $100 price tag for the one on Amazon.  And we [could have] got it done faster than waiting for shipping.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Managing My Household

Something I've been struggling to figure out is how to manage my household.  Proverbs 31:27 says, "[A virtuous and capable wife] watches all that goes on in her household, and does not have to bear the consequences of laziness."
I like being lazy.  But I also like a clean house.  So I'm torn.
But now, with the balance of power shifted in favor of messy small people, something must be done.  The house can go from "not that bad" to completely destroyed during the preparation of one meal.  And I've decided it doesn't have to be my job to pick up those messes.
What does a manager do?  Constantly checks on things and delegates jobs.  And "managing" the house is going to require doing something about those areas I avoid because I don't want to deal with the filth - the kids' bedrooms and the downstairs bathroom.  And it takes a lot of my time.
I'm trying to figure out ways to "manage a household".  I've researched online, and found several ideas, but most are in favor of strictly scheduled days and checklists.  I like the idea of this (if I write things down, I can't forget them!), but I hate the strictness.  There are some days that it's okay to be lazy.  When Daddy has worked 7 days straight, and we have a day at home with nowhere to go and nothing to do....  Throw out the schedule!  But then I feel guilty that I didn't do anything and follow my own rules.
So I'm trying to figure out what works in our house.  Each house is different, made of up different personalities and different work and school schedules, so it's taking a while to figure ours out.  Especially since school hasn't started yet.  But I'm trying to get everyone used to keeping the house clean daily before we start that.
I read Proverbs 29 to the kids tonight.  Two verses speak to mothers, children, and discipline.  "To discipline and reprimand a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child." (v 15) "Discipline your children, and they will give you happiness and peace of mind." (v 17)
There are two kinds of discipline.  Discipline can be appropriate punishment, and discipline can also be self-control and responsibility.  And that's something I am in charge of teaching my kids.  When they don't have discipline, it may result in discipline.  I want them to have the self-control to not destroy an entire room, and the discipline to clean up after themselves.  But it takes constant attention and tough love.  Because children are naturally oblivious and selfish.  They don't think the "mess" of their beloved toys is a big deal, and they think Mommy is here, so she'll wave her magic wand and make it disappear.
So we're working on it.  And trying to keep the house clean daily.  And considering what type of list and schedule we need to remind us and keep us sane.

A First Time for Everything

Well, there's a first time for everything.
We are under a "mandatory boil order" in our area until further notice.  A water main burst in town on Saturday night.  I don't know if it was just the fact that it broke, or that it broke during a giant rainburst (2 inches in an hour), or that it broke just outside of the water sanitation plant - overflowing poop ponds? - which spurred the boil order, but we got the notice on our cell phones' "emergency" alert text.  We aren't on city water, but our rural water district purchases their water from the city, and the next day we got a call that we are on a boil notice, too.
So we are boiling water for a household of 7.  Do you know how much water my kids waste each day??
In July, I splurged, and bought two of these for our annual 4th-ish of July Party (it's rarely on the 4th; depending on Paul's work schedule):
They're 2.5 gallons each, and they've been quite handy in our current situation.  I have one on the kitchen counter for drinking, and one on the bathroom counter for washing.  Luckily, what I read is that during a boil order, it's still safe to shower, as long as you don't drink the water.  My kids decided tonight was a good night to go play in the garden, so we needed showers all around.

And thank goodness the water can still be used for laundry!  I guess I can be glad it's an issue of water safety, not supply.  I'm not ready to go all pioneer woman and haul water.
We had 2.5 inches in an hour on Saturday, on top of at least 3 in the week prior to that.  The garden is a giant sink hole, and I'm pretty sure we're going to lose our entire crop of fall beans (which have loads of beans on them, but there is NO WAY I can get to them), and our tomatoes, too.  This is the second time they have drowned this summer; the last week of June just about killed them, but they put on new foliage and came back.  With September just around the corner, there won't be time for them to put on another crop.
During all this, I'm dealing with an infected incision from a surgery I had a month ago.  I knew the main incision wasn't healing right, but I thought it was just a matter of bad closing.  (It looked like they had closed fat into the incision line.)  It has been scabbed over, while the laparoscopic scars healed beautifully, within a week, into thin pink lines.  The incision is only about an inch, and the infection is less than half of it, so I put it off. But over the weekend, it started oozing pus (disgusting I know).   I finally went to see the doctor today, and he said that the infection is because my body is rejecting the dissolving stitches.  The stitches aren't on the surface, but my body is pushing them to the top, like when you get a splinter.  So I have to take antibiotics 3x a day for a week until this stops, along with warm packs (increases circulation) and peroxide every other day.  Lovely!
So this is our exciting beginning of the week!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

I Stopped Caring

One of the best things - and biggest challenges - about having so many young kids, is that it's made me focus on what really matters.
Which means I've had to stop caring about a lot of things......

I used to care that my kids were dressed in nice, new-looking clothes any time we went to town.  I didn't want to look like "one of those" low-income families.
Now I'm just happy if they are wearing clothes at all (Gideon), or at least have clothes on that don't have holes and stains.

I used to think I needed a closet full of nice clothes so I would have choices when I go out.  After all, having lots of clothes shows the world I am classy.
I go out so little, I could wear a different outfit every time I go out, and not repeat for a year.  So bit by bit I'm paring it down to only clothes that I love.  (And having to finally retire my 20-year-old t-shirts.)

I used to pride myself that I was "green" before it was cool.
Now I see that sometimes it's okay to make life easier for myself, and do things like use disposable diapers.  (After all, which is worse - throwing a few paper diapers in the trash every day, or wasting so many gallons of water washing tiny, incomplete loads of laundry several times per week to keep the flies from infesting the diaper pail?)

I used to care that my kids be "perfect" at church, so everyone would know what a great mom I am.
My boys' shirts are always untucked, with crooked collars.  Zadie's hair is usually doing some crazy thing, and I have to pull them down out of a tree when it's time to go home. (Usually while they're simultaneously staging an army invasion with toy guns they smuggled into the van.)
Now I see that the illusion of perfection doesn't matter.  What people see of my family is how we are all the time.  Imperfect but real.

I used to want my kids to have a chance to be involved in all those things that kids "have" to experience:  sports, reading clubs, 4-H, homeschool co-ops.
Now I see that the "home" part of "homeschool" is more important than anything else.  What values do they learn by being herded to the van constantly?

I used to want all my kids to be proficient in a musical instrument.
But forced daily practicing and arguing was killing our love for music.
Now I see that having kids that sing their hearts out in praise to God is more important.

I used to care that my kids would be the brightest, most-advanced student for their age.
Then we had a delay in reading.
Now I see that there is so much more to life and learning than what is learned in the schoolroom.  (How many 8-year-olds do you know that can build a deck, frame a room, and hang sheet rock?)

I used to care that my house was perfect whenever anyone came to to visit.
Now I want people to know that I'm real.  My house isn't always perfect.  I try to make an effort, as a way of honoring our guests, but my house always looks lived in.  Lived in by 7 people.  It will never be a Better Homes & Gardens feature.  But people know that they are welcome in our home any time.

I used to want my kids to just blend in.
But now I want them to be spiritual leaders and be willing to take a stand.  I want my boys to be men, and my girls to be feminine, and not be ashamed of how God made them!

I used to worry that everyone would think my kids are weird.
They are weird.
But so are all of us.  Yet many of us shove our true selves into a box, so that the rest of the world doesn't think we are weird.  I don't want my kids to be cookie-cutter kids.

I used to think that families need to go on vacations every year.
But even though vacations are fun, memorable experiences, do they really make kids better people?  I'd rather teach them about saving and spending money responsibly.  Which means admitting to them:  vacations cost a lot of money, and we don't have a lot of money right now.  So we do things fun and memorable and free - like fishing in the neighbor's pond, and searching for geocaches.

I used to care about our "stuff."
Now I see how little stuff we actually need.  (Did you know you don't actually need a toaster?)

I used to think I needed - deserved - "girl time" and "me time."
I don't remember the last time I had girl time. My "me time" consists of watching non-animated television while folding clothes or balancing the checkbook.
But I don't miss it.
I am living the life God called me to live.  That includes my family.  Do the kids drive me nuts sometimes?  You bet they do.  But I love spending time with them when all of us can be home together.  It is when I feel most complete.  (But I do still love those rare, deep heart-to-heart chats with true friends.)

And finally.....
I used to care what people think about me.
I still do.  I want people to like me.
But I know that what God thinks about me is more important.  As long as I'm following Him, living my life according to the way He's convicted me, it really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks about me.  I don't answer to them.  I've lost friends and had people reject me because of this, and that has truly hurt.  But I can't change that.  I have to live my life for the One that matters.

So sometimes it's a good thing to just stop caring.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Where Has Summer Gone?!

Isn't summer supposed to be slow and lazy? Ha! Despite having no plans at the beginning of summer, we have rushed through like a freight train!
What all have we done? Let's see, just off the top of my head.....
  • Two garage sales in under two weeks. Not a complete bust, as I made about $60 between the two, but hotter than Hades and disappointing traffic. I'm convinced the weekend before Mother's Day is the best and only weekend to do garage sales.
  • My sister moved. Not that I was able to help nearly as much as I should have and wanted to, but it still took a bunch of time from my abundance of free time. Keith and Lurenda and girls are settling into their new home in the country that's in the perfect location for them!
  • I turned 34. I'm actually feeling less old than I was a few months ago. Sleep does wonders!
  • Nathan and Jacob took a vacation with my parents to Colorado. Mom's aunt and uncle were celebrating their 50th anniversary. There was no way Paul and i could get out there, so they invited the boys. They had a blast, having a "solo" adventure, and my parents said they would have made us proud with their behavior.
  • Doctors's appointments! With having a baby, we knew we would meet our deductible for the year. So we decided I would do something about these horrible varicose veins! (We started the process 4 years and 3 babies ago.) So I've had 3 appointments with the vein doctor, and one with a gynocologist to address some dermoid cysts they found on my right ovary. So I'm having surgery July 27 to remove that. 3 of the last 5 years are July/nursing baby/surgery. We'll start the process with the veins in August.
  • Emergency room. I can't believe we made it to child #4 without going to the emergency room. But it doesn't surprise me that Gideon was the first..... It does surprise me that it took this long for him to land there! Gideon fell getting out of the van and cut his forehead on the bottom of the seat frame. He got 3 stitches, making for an exciting Father's Day evening. (Unfortunately, our "smart" phones gave us wrong information, and told us urgent care was closed, so we'll pay double what was needed.) He's supposed to keep the scar covered for the rest of the summer to keep it from turning purple from sun exposure, so we've been having fun with the "pirate hat."
    • Swimming lessons! This is the first year we've done this. (And if public school running, running, running is like this, COUNT ME OUT!) I've been meaning to look into it for several years, but it has ranked pretty low on my priority list, sadly. Mom encouraged me to enroll them, after watching them in the hotel pool on their trip. So they're learning, and loving it...... And we get daily sobbing from the other two who want to go, too.

That's a brief rundown. From my smart phone, so I apologize for grammatical and proofing errors. It is randomly underlining, etc, as I type. Not to mention the blasted auto-correction! But nursing + computer aren't compatible, so we'll see how I do from my phone.

I'll see if I can attach a few pictures...... I won't even attempt to order or caption them from a phone!

g completely

Friday, May 27, 2016

I'm Still Here!

I do think about blogging, a lot.  But I just keep not doing it.  I'm wondering about the future of my blog.  I do love keeping my "journal" online, but I'm getting it done less and less often.  I know I don't have a readership, and I don't want to acquire readers.  I do this for myself.  We'll see how it goes this summer.  I've got my laptop fixed, and found the power cord.  It's been missing for several months, but was pretty low on my list of important things, since we have the big computer and a smart phone for internet.  (By the way, the cord was in the dvd cabinet the whole time.  I kept searching the computer cabinet and box.)
How is life?  Good!
Elsa is sleeping most of the night now.  She backed her go-to-sleep time from 11 to 9, and moved forward her waking time.  She usually sleeps at least 6 hours, but earlier this week slept 10 hours! If she wakes, it's usually just once, and she finally will go back to sleep in her own bed, without being swaddled.  We still have absolutely no daytime schedule.  She likes to be held and to nurse a lot of the day.  (My milk production is still struggling, so I think she nurses more often than is typical.)  She will lay on her blanket or in her bouncy chair, but prefers to be able to see and hear me.  So it's really hard to get anything done.  But I just try to peck away on projects whenever I have 5 minutes.
My body is feeling (and looking!) all of it's 33 (almost 34) years.  I don't know if it was all brought on by this last pregnancy and childbirth, but I feel old!  I have an outrageous amount of gray hair falling out during my post-baby molt.  People claim they can't see gray in my hair, but I say bull.  My skin has been going crazy with extreme dryness and what I have self-diagnosed as rosacea.  I switched soap and moisturizer to an all-natural approach, and it seems to have helped a lot.  I'm doing the oil cleansing method and moisturizing with a mix of jojoba, coconut, sunflower, avacado, and rose hip seed oil, along with some essential oils.  (By the way, I've become a bona fide hippie in the last year.)  My metabolism has flat-lined, and I've only lost 10 lbs of baby weight.  My varicose veins are better than they were during pregnancy, but are still pretty bad.  (My first appointment to repair is next week.)  My back has been hurting for 3 weeks, with no known cause.  It's getting better slowly (no more stabbing pains), but I'd prefer it be fixed NOW.  And there's other hormonal things....  To sum it up, I'd rather just take naps every day. :)
We finished school, for-real-but-not-really, the first week of May.  The boys finished their math before Elsa arrived, and were basically done with new material in Language Arts (phonics, spelling, reading, language, poetry, etc), so I let them skip the lessons and just finish their worksheets and readers.  The lure of finishing early wasn't enough to make them do 3 days at a time, but they finally got it all done.  Summer schedule is reading a story or two, and math flashcards every day, so I am making them do "school" during the summer.  I had backed Nathan up a year to 2nd grade Language Arts and he made a HUGE leap (from Kindergarten reading level, to a normal 3rd grade boy level), so we're going to try jumping ahead to 4th grade (where he should be) Language next year.
The boys LOVE being outside.  They are constantly out there building (or destroying) things, digging in the dirt, or helping do anything.  I am so glad they have the opportunity to just "be boys."  Nathan can run the lawnmower, and we recently acquired a pushmower, and Jacob begs to mow with it.  If Paul asks them for help doing a project, they leap to join him.  I really appreciate their helpfulness, and hope they keep that quality throughout their life.  God knows the house would have completely fallen apart had they not been doing the bulk of the cleaning lately.
Zadie starts school this fall also, and she's excited and ready.  (She turned 4 last month.)  She wants to write her name, and has finally mostly got her colors sorted out.  She's such a big girl (literally, and as an expression)!  She loves her little sister and is always trying to mother her and snuggle.  She keeps telling me about, "when I'm a mommy."  I love that she's identified with me.  Whereas, I don't think that all women should only be stay-at-home moms, I will encourage her to dream about being a mommy as much as I'd encourage her to be an astronaut, if that's what she wants to do.  I think that being a mom is just as important, if not more important, than being a doctor or teacher.  She's figured out how to ride her bike, and can actually ride without training wheels, but can't launch or stop, so we keep them on for now.
Gideon is..... a two year old.  He amazes us with his vocabulary and ability to communicate (our last two were just starting to use words at his age), but he is a pill.  He is a bully and will hit other kids when they don't do what he wants.  We've been having a trial with screaming "NO!" tantrums.  It's really pleasant at 4 AM, let me tell you.  I know it's "just a stage" but.... Oh my.  It takes everything I have to stay on him.  (And he has figured out the "Mommy is nursing and can't do anything right now.")  Not to mention the little bugger can do anything he sets his mind to, even if it could potentially kill him.
We have had basically nonstop rain this month.  The garden has only been dry enough to work in for a few days, and that was at the beginning of the month.  It now has algae growing in it (future fertilizer?), and standing water in several places.  The only way I can see where the peas are, is because they're turning yellow among all the weeds.  I complain like a city person, but I think even the farmers are ready for it to end for a while.  I know quite a few still haven't gotten all their crops in.  When I look at the weather map, there are flood warnings along rivers from Wyoming to Texas to Missouri.  It makes me wonder what the rest of the summer will be like.
Well, even though I opened with bragging about Elsa's nighttime sleep schedule, she is thinking about waking up, so I need to get my lap empty and ready for her.
Hopefully I'll be here again soon, blogging about more randomness and discoveries!

Friday, April 22, 2016

It's a GIRL! Elsa Anne Rhodes

Our 5th baby arrived at 8:00 AM, on March 15.  (Yes, I realize that was over a month ago.  Do you realize how hard it is to find time to blog when you nurse 8 hours a day and have four other kids?? :) )

This baby took her time in getting here.  My charts said I was due March 7.  I thought it should have been March 14.  (I was right, obviously.)  But starting about the first of March, the baby started shoving and making things very uncomfortable.  But at each appointment, after examination, the doctor said I wasn't even close.  She even did an x-ray to make sure the baby was head-down. 
Wednesday, March 9, I was sure was going to be "the day."  I woke up about 3, having light contractions.  They were uncomfortable, but not intense, but very regular, about 10 minutes apart.  I laid in bed, timing them for two hours, and then when Paul's alarm went off at 5 (for him to go to work), I got up and ate breakfast with him, wanting some nourishment before going in to the hospital.  Paul called in to his supervisor and told him he wouldn't be coming in.
And then the contractions stopped.  Completely.  Not a single one the rest of the day, although the baby was still giving me the "pushing down" feeling.  But even that lessened as the day went on, and at my regular appoinment that afternoon, the doctor examined me and said I was barely even dialated and the head wasn't any further down.
So move forward to the weekend.  I hadn't had any more contractions, but the baby continued to make me very uncomfortable.  But I was okay with no contractions!  My doctor had left Thursday night to go on vacation, and she wouldn't be back until Monday afternoon.  Although I was sure I could give birth with a stranger delivering, I would be very uncomfortable.  My doctor is the only female that delivers babies in our town, and any of the other doctors I don't know AT ALL.
Monday came and still nothing, but I laid down that afternoon, and then had a few contractions.  They again were about 10 minutes apart for about two hours.  Paul again called into work (he was going to nights this time).  My sister came and got the other kids to stay the night with her.  The contractions continued, steady but not intense, but then stopped at 7 PM.  Then about 9 they started up again, this time irregular but stronger, 10 minutes, then 6, then 20, then 3, then 10.....  I'd never had this happen before - all 4 other babies, once contractions started, they were steady and grew stronger and we had a baby within a few hours.  I called the hospital and asked their opinion.  They could look at my charts and know my history.  But the nurse said it was up to me.  If I was worried about delivering at home, to come on in, but otherwise, I'd be more comfortable having my early labor at home.  (I later found out that I called just as they were delivering another baby.)
Then at midnight, my contractions stopped.  Again.  At 1, I gave up and went to bed, figuring I needed whatever sleep I could get.  I finally fell asleep about 2.  Paul came to bed at 3 (he was well-rested from sleeping all day to go to work nights), and then I woke up at 4 with a "real" contraction.  When the second one was 6 minutes later, I got out of bed.  Another came 5 minutes later, and so I woke up Paul.  "I think this is the real thing."
Everything was ready to go to the hospital, and the kids were already gone, so we just left.  Once we got to the hospital, the contractions kept growing in intensity, but still weren't really regular.  They'd come steady, then would be a longer break, then two or three close together.  Any way, I could tell this was "the real deal" and knew we'd be having a baby that morning.  My guess was by 6 AM.
Six o'clock came and went.  The nurses called the doctor before shift change at 7, and she came immeditately and did paperwork while waiting.  Seven o'clock passed.  Then finally, IT WAS TIME.
Gideon had been such an easy delivery, two half-hearted pushes, that I assumed this labor would be easy.  Everyone got in position and I pushed, and.... Nothing.  The nurses encouraged me, "Push as hard as you can," so I gathered my strength for the next contraction and gave it my all and..... Nothing.  What the deuce?  How much of a wimp am I?  Several pushes later, I finally felt the head starting to crown, and then another push and the head was out.  I heard both nurses and the doctor exclaim, "Sunny side up!"  My contraction and strength ran out, but then the next push, she was out. 
Paul kissed me and said, "You've got another girl!"
What??  I was so sure this was going to be a boy.  Not that I was disappointed, but so much for mother's intuition!
So.  A "sunny side up" baby is born differently than a "normal" delivery.  I researched this, because I've never watched my babies come out. I didn't know what was normal or not, and why the doctor would be surprised.  Normally, babies are born face down, and then turn to the side as their shoulders come out.  A "sunny side up" baby is born face-up.  Instead of the crown of the head (the back top part) being the first part out, the whole top of the head presents, so it's a bigger part you're trying to push out.  (Which accounts for my inadequate pushing.)  Also, since the round crown isn't pressing against your round cervix, it applies pressure unevenly, which can cause irregular contractions.  Often there are other complications, which thankfully we didn't have to deal with, but my lower back was a wreck afterwards, and I've had bowel issues ever since.  I think the back of her head pressing into my spine all the way out caused some of the issues.
But she's here!  And she's perfect.  And that's all that matters.

Brand new!

I love this man!

Family of SEVEN!
Bright eyes.

Back asleep.

She was our heaviest baby, weithing in at 8 lb 5 oz, but our shortest at only 18 inches.  In features, we noticed immediately that she has the same hair that Nathan did in infancy.  She also has a very strong neck like he did, lifting her head off my chest and looking around.  Her cheeks and chin look just like Zadie's did in her baby pictures.  And her nose looks like Gideon's.  It's going to be a while before we can tell whose eyes she's got - the Rhodes eyes with the killer lashes, or the Eichenberger puppy eyes.
The first few weeks were rough on sleeping - or NOT sleeping, to be more accurate.  Miss Elsa wanted to be held all the time.  The only time she would cry is if you put her down in her crib.  So I spent a lot of time on the couch.  A LOT.  Which made my back hurt even more.  Finally, after about 5 days, I couldn't do it anymore, and she moved to our bed.  Bad sleep with a baby next to you is better than zero sleep on the couch.
The sleep issue has worked out since we re-tried swaddling.  We did it the first week, but she'd kick out of the blanket, even the swaddler wrap with velcro, so we stopped doing it.  Last week, I decided to try swaddling using some larger cotton muslin blankets a friend sent over.  BINGO!  Elsa thinks she's still being held when she's wrapped up, and I can usually guarantee a minimum of 3 hours, but last night got six amazing hours alone. (But of course we wasted the first two watching Downton Abbey on DVD......)
Really, she's a pretty happy baby, only crying when she wants to be held.  She's only had one night of inconsolable mystery crying.  (All 3 boys regularly had several-hours-long screaming bouts, most nights.  I don't remember it as much with Zadie.  I know she slept through the night early on.)
Elsa had the hardest time of any of our kids at gaining back the weight she lost after birth.  It took a full four weeks.  Part of the problem was she was tongue-tied and couldn't get a good latch.  (Which she could have done had she not been too sleepy/lazy to open her mouth wide.)  The doctor clipped her frenulum at her one-week checkup, and that immediately fixed the latch issue.  The other part was I am  having milk production issues, despite previously nursing four babies with zero problems.  One side is barely producing, so since I was only nursing on one side at a time, she was essentially only getting fed half of what I thought she was.  But once I discovered this, I started nursing both sides every time and she has steadily gained about an ounce a day.  (Everyone asked how I figured out the production issue.  It was after she went four hours without nursing for the first time since birth.  One side got very full, and the other didn't.  At all.  Too much information??)
As to the name....  She is NOT named after Disney's Frozen character.  However.... Zadie did suggest the name.  Because she loves Frozen.  At first, I said ABSOLUTELY NOT.  But after spending hours and hours on name web sites, and nothing really grabbing me, I came back to Elsa.  (I had liked the name Ilsa, but Paul wasn't on board.)  I looked up it's meaning - "dedicated to God."  Fitting.  I looked up it's popularity (my main reason for rejecting it - I figured it would be wildly popular because of the movie) - it was ranked in the 200s.  Looking better.  "Elsa" sounded good with the middle name we'd picked out long ago - "Anne," a middle name also shared by Paul's mom and sister.  I ran it by Paul, and it was settled.  Elsa Anne.  (And because the boys were sure that Zadie had gotten to pick the girl's name, they decided that if it was a boy, his name would be Luke Skywalker.)
So that's the birth story of our 5th precious baby.  We're settling into the new normal, and trying to get back to doing the necessary things like housecleaning and outdoor work.  And physical activity in general.  We'll get it figured out soon.


Education about babies and belly buttons.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Surprise..... Five!

Something I've been asked a lot since Gideon, our 4th child, (who just turned 2) was born, is the question, "So, are you done?"
I'm not sure how I feel about it.  Is it judgment?  (You shouldn't have more than four kids.)  Is it curiousity?  (Are you one of those "big family" people?)  I usually just gave a vague answer, because.....  We're weren't sure.
About a year ago, I was feeling pressure from people (and maybe myself) to decide for sure.  Everyone says, "You'll know when you're done."  But I didn't know.  There were a lot of comments about how I needed to get on birth control or Paul needed to have "the operation" done.  (Which I did consider rude.)
We had trouble getting pregnant with Nathan.  I only had one period in the year after I went off newlywed birth control.  That meant one chance to get pregnant.  I had no idea what was going on with my body or what medical interventions it would take to get pregnant.  It turned out that for me, it was relatively simple.  After one round of Clomid (an ovulation drug), I was pregnant.
But in that year, I spent a lot of nights crying out to God with many tears to give us a baby.  All I had ever wanted, my whole life, was to be a mother.  I recently found a poster I made in 3rd grade about my likes and dislikes, and what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I had written "a mommy" and drawn a picture of me with a little child.  I wrote my "career paper" for Senior year on motherhood.  Being a mom was all I had ever wanted, and all I had ever felt "called" by God to do.
And then I got pregnant.  And the hormonoes of pregnancy and nursing apparently set my body in order, because obviously there have been no problems getting pregnant since then.  (Our kids are spaced 2 years, 2.5 years, and 20 months apart.  We had a miscarriage between our 2nd and 3rd, which accounts for the longer gap.)
So, being that God not only answered our prayers, but blessed us abundantly and beyond with four children, and healed my body, I felt like it wasn't my right to tell God to quit sending blessings.  So I left the decision up to Paul, who has to lead and provide for this family.  (And deal with me when I'm losing my mind from dealing with kids! :) )  I had some minor health concerns as well, considering I've had two surgeries to repair hernias caused by pregnancy, and also have severe varicose veins.  But I felt God reminding me that He made my body.  He can heal it and help it carry another baby.
Shortly after I had gotten these thoughts in order in my head, but not really shared them with anyone, Paul sat me down on the couch, last April or so, and said, "We need to talk."  My heart dropped, because previous "we need to talks" had been about very upsetting subjects, and I was not ready for one of those talks.
Paul said, "What do you think about having another baby?"
I just laughed.
I told him that I had left it up to him and God, so this was the answer.  Paul explained, "I've never felt like we should have more.  I was good with one.  I was good with two.  I've always felt it was up to you since it's your body.  And I'm not saying right away.  Let's give you a break and get Gideon older and maybe potty trained and next spring (2016), we'll start trying."
In May and June, my cycles messed up, and in July, after several weeks of suspicion, I found out I was pregnant. (And Gideon, showing God's sense of humor, started potty training himself in August.)
So, basically, what we were saying was, "Yeah, God, we heard you.  But we'll obey on our own time."  And God, being the good Father, decided to make us obey on his time.
So.... We're going to have 5 kids!
This little one is due sometime in mid-March.  The doctor's chart says March 8, but sonograms we've had say anywhere from 3-5 days later.
I actually didn't go see the doctor until I was 30 weeks (7 months) along.  Our insurance charges us for obstetrician care in both years, if you get pregnant in one year and deliver in another.  When we had Zadie (born in April) we paid an additional $700.  Last year's insurance, we had a higher deductible and had had zero medical expenses, so we knew we were looking at paying even more.  I decided that I knew now, after 4 babies, what was normal for me, and I wasn't paying a thousand bucks to go in for 3 or 4 visits, where all I do is pee all over myself trying to pee in a tiny cup, having them measure my belly, and say, "Do you have any questions?  Okay, see you in a month!"  Pregnancy is not an illness, so I didn't see a need to go in.
We did have a sonogram at a local women's life center, just for peace of mind.  That's where we found out I was due almost 2 weeks earlier than I thought I should be.  Even though it's not necessarily a medical sonogram, everything looked good.  We even have a video of our 15-week-old baby with hiccups.
After my first appointment (January 12), my doctor ordered another sonogram.  Given the activity level of this baby, I am confident of it's health. :)  But I went to have one for the doctor's peace of mind.  (She had recently had an unhappy surprise during a delivery.)  And I wasn't going to complain about getting to see this little one!
A baby at 32 weeks looks so much different than a baby at 16 weeks.  I could see the chub starting to form.  The technician pointed out the fuzz of hair - enough to show up on a sonogram, even though there's 8 weeks to go!  She said he's measuring about 4.5 pounds, which is right about where he should be for how how far along I am.  (I say "he", but we don't know if it's a boy or girl....  We're waiting to be surprised again.)
So here is our baby!  (And my excuse for such a prolonged absence from blogging.)

I can't wait to meet him (her)!!!