Sunday, December 31, 2006

Looking Back

I was thinking back over this past year. I'm not really a very sentimental person, but I do like to remember. Here are some of the things I was thinking about:

New big purchases in '06: a new garbage disposal in January, and a new refrigerator in March. It was the winter of failing kitchen appliances! We also got a new photo printer sometime in the summer. We bought it from good friends of ours, and I thought it seemed like quite an unnecessary luxury. It's turned out to be very handy to have, and we are actually printing out some of our digital pictures. Also, we bought our nice, full, tall new Christmas tree this December. I love looking at it! And our last big purchase, snuck in right before the deadline, was our new minivan. Hopefully that will last for many years to come. It's nice to drive, although it still feels so unfamiliar, like I'm cheating on the old Odyssey, LOL.

New children: Anna was born on March 28, and it has been a lot of fun having a little girl around. I was putting those crazy white tight things on her this morning before church, and she was not liking it, and I thought about how she will be doing this for years to come (or not, if she is a stay-at-home mom like me who hates such things, LOL). Anyhow, I was reflecting on how clothes for boys are much more comfortable, and I guess she might as well learn this fact sooner rather than later!

Of course, we also had the surprise realization that another child, um, happened this year, and would be born next year. That has certainly caused a lot of reflection on God's perfect timing and things of that nature. It's also made me really tired. And not very motivated. To do really anything. It's always hard to deal with your own limitations! I foresee next year to be another year of "stretching", especially in how I view my time. I realized this morning during our sermon how selfishly I regard my time, always wanting to keep back some for myself, and often resenting many demands made on what I consider "my time". I think with the birth of this next baby, God will be giving me more opportunity to learn to sacrifice my time with a good attitude!

New church: Speaking of this morning's sermon, we have started going to a new church this past month. After going to our old church for 2 years, and feeling like we were fitting in, all of a sudden the pastor started moving the church in a real different direction this past August as far as spiritual gifts are concerned. It was startling, but we thought at first we could maybe be a moderating influence. Then he preached a sermon in October where he said basically, that we couldn't question the "values" of the church. It would be like going to your neighbor's house and telling them to rearrange their furniture. No, if it bothered us so much, then we shouldn't go to their house. So we pretty much felt like he was talking to us, and people like us, who had been questioning this new emphasis, and that he was telling us to find another church. That was difficult to hear, but there is nothing like clear direction! My brother found a church for us online that we hadn't even considered, and we have really, really been enjoying it. The pastor is young, but he is well-read and preaches the Word with authority. His sermons are very thought-provoking and dig to a deeper level of application. I was just telling Bob this morning that I used to look forward to going to church to hopefully get to know people better, but I had a hard time keeping my mind from wandering off during the sermons. With this church, I look forward to going to hear what the pastor is going to say about the topic, and I haven't had any trouble with my mind wandering! He is a very engaging speaker. In fact, I think that if my brother were a preacher, this is how he would come across (does that make you want to come visit, Dan and Melinda? LOL!) So we are looking forward to the new year in this church.

New routine: Usually one might make a New Year's resolution to start exercising, but for me, I started exercing pretty faithfully as soon as I could after Anna was born because I was horrified at the loose amount of doughy flesh remaining around my middle. Well, that never really went anywhere, although I lost all my pregnancy weight this summer. Sigh. But then my waist started expanding again, so I kicked up the exercising another notch. Then I took the pregnancy test and realized it would continue expanding, but my new fear is gestational diabetes. So since September, I have been faithfully exercising at least 5 times a week. "Wow!" you might think. "You must look great!" Well, no. I still look like I am in my third trimester, and people do tell me this, so I know it is true. And I realistically hold out no hope that the weight and especially inches will magically fall off after this birth either. But hopefully I will ward off gestational diabetes for another pregnancy, LOL. I will say that I am not sure exactly how I will fit in exercise after the new baby is born, though. We'll have to see how that all shakes out.

Hmmm. I'm sure there are more things, but right now I need to go make a 7-layer dip for our New Year's Eve party tonight. The L's always have a party at their house, and it is the highlight of the year for the boys! Confetti! Noisemakers! Tons of food! Sparkling apple cider! Well, actually only some of the boys like that, but still . . . it's a night to anticipate! We actually count down at 9:00, so the kids can be in bed at a fairly decent hour. Believe me, starting the new year with crabby kids is not a real fun thing, nor a real good omen! I'm looking forward to see where God leads us this next year, and where He leads you as well! Thanks for reading my blog! Happy New Year!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Success for the Castle Stonemason Guild

Bob's mom and dad gave us some money for the boys, and one thing I bought for Nathan and Luke was this 608 piece 3-D castle puzzle. It said for ages 12 and up, but I knew they really liked puzzles, especially Luke, so I wasn't too worried. Well, it turned out to be a bit tricky, and we were quite glad to have Grandpa, the expert puzzle stonemason, to help! Luke really got into it, and he and Grandpa spent most of Tuesday and Wednesday in the dining room, hard at work, while Nathan kind of flitted in and out. They worked steadily on the puzzle until yesterday (Thursday), when they completed it! Yay! It is really so neat-looking. I want a tour, LOL. We took pictures from all angles so we could successfully reconstruct it again with a little more ease, although Luke says we are never taking it apart! Puzzles are a great way to spend Christmas break!

It's Here!!!

Our new Sienna is here and in our garage! Bob and I drove up to Maryland Thursday to pick it up and to drop off the old Camry. Imagine--Carmax gave us $1200 for our '95 Camry with 165,000 miles, frame damage, and a leprous paint condition!

It was so nice that the van came in while my parents were still here. We were able to leave Anna and the boys at home with them. Although if we had to take them, it would not have been all bad. Carmax has a kids room with an attendant, so you can drop your kids off there for up to 2 hours! We did that while we were looking a few weeks ago, and the boys had a great time. There was a ball pit and everything!

We were very impressed with our Carmax experience. We paid just a few hundred dollars over invoice on a brand new car, and there was no negotiations, haggling, stress, etc. It was so nice. I heartily recommend them!! There aren't very many Carmax new car dealers. I think there was maybe only one other Toyota one in the whole country. We were very fortunate that this one was so close to us!

The Sienna is very nice to drive, and it has that lovely new car smell. This afternoon I moved all the carseats, books, toys, etc. over from the Odyssey. That was so hard to do! All that clutter . . . sigh. I did go through everything, but still, whatever you put in a new vehicle makes it look junkier! The boys are looking forward to riding in it, but their maiden voyage isn't going to be until church on Sunday, I think.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Merry Christmas!

I hope you had a wonderful day celebrating the birth of Jesus!

I haven't been blogging because we've just been having too much fun! My parents drove in Thursday night, in time for dinner, and we've been having a wonderful visit. Saturday we all went over to the L's house for a Christmas dinner along with the other 2 couples in our Bible study. Elizabeth made a ham and a turkey, and we all brought sides and desserts. It was a great time of eating and visiting. We came at 2:00 and didn't go home until almost 8:00!

Sunday morning we went to church and then out to eat at Olive Garden. We went back that night for the Christmas Eve service, a traditional one of lessons and carols. I really enjoy those services, where you sing ALL the carols and hear so much Scripture! It was a really special time.

Yesterday Grandpa and Grandma made potatoes and eggs for a special Christmas breakfast, and then the boys opened their stockings. After that, Anna had to take a nap, so we held off on presents until she woke back up again. I was planning on exercising and then showering while she slept, but I was just so tired that I fell asleep again--so much for exercise! I did get a shower in before Anna woke up, and we opened presents around noon. Nathan and Luke had picked out the present from their Aunt Rose to open first because they had ascertained that it sounded like it might be Legos. And it was--a Star Wars interceptor, so they were incredibly happy and could have stopped right there. But we kept on, and they got a lot of nice presents--games, books, and puzzles mostly. Lots of neat stuff!

I was thrilled to get a new rice cooker from my mom and dad. I love the one I have now, which we got as a wedding present, but it only cooks 6 cups of rice, maximum. This one cooks from 4-24 cups! I also got some books from my Amazon wish list, which I am THRILLED with! I stayed up last night to read The Making of Pride and Prejudice , which tells in great detail and with lots of pictures how the great BBC miniseries was made. Fascinating! Thanks, Amy!! Next on my list to read is A Visit With the Tomboy Bride about Harriet Fish Backus, who wrote a fascinating book about her life as a new bride at the Tomboy Mine above Telluride. Before we left Colorado we spent a few days in Telluride and drove up to the mine because I was so intrigued by the book! And let me tell you, that was a harrowing drive. Bob had to peel his fingers off the steering wheel of our 4x4 Pathfinder once we made it up there! Anyhow, this book is by a historian who had a long correspondence with Mrs. Backus, and it includes more insights into her life. I can't wait! Thanks, Aunt Claire and Uncle Jim!!

After presents, I worked on dinner, which we ate at a normal dinner time. We had ham, potatoes, green beans with almonds, sweet potato biscuits, and strawberry jello salad. After we cleaned up from that, we read the Christmas story, moving the characters around on a felt background we have. Then we had our birthday party for Jesus, complete with chocolate cake and ice cream. I was so full I couldn't see how I would ever eat another bite! And yet, somehow I made room for breakfast this morning, LOL.

So we had wonderful day! The boys were completely fried--they went to bed at 8:30, and Jonathan didn't wake up until 9:30 this morning! There were some "lack of sharing and honoring" incidents yesterday, but so far today has been better, as far as attitudes go. I'm sure all the sleep was helpful! The boys are all downstairs in the basement now, building things with legos and bionicles. It looks like it will be a quiet day! I can hope anyhow . . .

Friday, December 22, 2006

Some Christmas Humor

Here's something to make you laugh: the Cavalcade of Bad Nativities . There are 3 pages, so take your time and enjoy them all!

I actually spent quite a bit of time searching for a little nativity set this year because I thought it would make a nice little present for someone on my list. My mom gave us several years ago a very classic set in bisque. It wasn't very expensive, and it looks timeless. I had no such luck this year. In fact, it appears that the Christian bookstore is the ONLY place where you can even think about getting anything remotely religious, like a nativity set, and this year they were mainly into nativity snow globes and other shall we say "non-timeless" nativity options. One set looked like it could have been on the Cavalcade, as it appeared to be made up of garden gnomes, the ones with the big floppy hats. Weird. Maybe next year.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas Cards

I am pleased to tell you that today I am putting the last of our Christmas cards in the mailbox! Finally! I absolutely LOVE getting Christmas letters--the longer and newsier, the better! I guess we just don't have "braggy" friends, because I love getting updated on dear friends who we were once stationed with, and who we might not see again this side of heaven. I usually make a trip back to Ohio in February, and while home, I read through all my parents' Christmas letters (hundreds, LOL) to see what's happening with people who I knew a long time ago or just haven't kept up with. I guess I just like knowing what's going on and seeing pictures!

This year I had a hard time getting inspired to actually WRITE ours, however. Finally Bob and I cranked something out, but it is pretty blah, to be honest--we had a baby, and all the kids are one year older, LOL. Now, as we are reading all the other newsletters coming in, we keep thinking of things we meant to say--"I should have said that I was a soccer coach!" "I meant to say something about our summer Revolutionary War party!" Ah well. Next year, I shall have to note interesting things each month as they happen so we can write a fascinatingly brilliant newsletter, LOL.

Actually, that brings me to my next point. Every year at this time, I have to painstakingly update by hand my address book. That is because I have a system. Here's how it works. During the year, as we get change of address emails, I make a mental note, which I promptly forget all about. Then, when December rolls around and I am ready to start addressing cards, I look at an entry in my book, and something faintly jingles in my brian--"Weren't they PCSing this summer? Hmm, I bet they have a new address." So then I have to search through all my back emails, saved on my computer (thankfully I rarely delete anything personal, LOL), and as a last resort, email my dad to ask if they have the new address (they have a better system, LOL). So every Christmas I resolve to update my computer address book (last current probably at least 4 years ago, which means practically EVERYONE on it will have moved!) and then faithfully enter in all changes as they come throughout the year. And yet, each year I have the same routine and the same little black address book. Ahh, the comfort of a system, even a not very good one! And my experiences here make me quite leary that I will actually be noting interesting things to put in the Christmas letter each month, LOL!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

And it looks like . . .

. . . another girl! I had my 20 week ultrasound today, and it was a much better experience than my last ultrasound . It was at a different place, and this tech was an older lady who had been doing this for quite a few years. She was friendly and talked all the way through it. She gave us some "4-D" pictures--those are so neat! It really looks like a baby, not just a fuzzy ghost-alien! The baby was pretty active again, and fairly modest, so there was no clear, legs-splayed shot of things, but we all 3 agreed that it looked like girl parts in there. Now . . . for a name. Just to remind you, here's our naming algorithm: Bible name for the first name, with no first initials repeated. And we've used up N, L, C, J, and A. Middle name will be for someone in the family or a close friend. We're open to "Biblical character quality names" too, like Grace or Hope. So feel free to send us your suggestions! : )

Monday, December 18, 2006

We're Expecting!!!

A new minivan, that is. The due date is right around the first of the year. As I've said before, although we absolutely love our 2000 Honda Odyssey, and it has served us faithfully these past almost 7 years, when the new baby comes we will simply no longer all fit in it. We knew we wanted to get an 8-seat Toyota Sienna, and we (mainly Bob, LOL) had been watching to see when the new ones would come out. They finally arrived in showrooms, so yesterday afternoon we drove up to Maryland, to the Carmax Toyota dealership there. They had exactly one new 8 seat Sienna there, and we wanted to look at it. It was a silvery color, which we liked, but it had running boards, which we didn't like. I can totally see the boys jumping on them all the time and breaking them off. But they have another one coming in a few weeks that is also silver, but does not have running boards. So we put down a deposit! How exciting!

I had pretty much resigned myself to only having one automatic sliding door, but as it turns out, the new ones have both doors automatic! Yay! That makes getting a new Sienna, as opposed to last year's, worth it to me. After having both be automatic on the Odyssey all these years, it probably would have taken some getting used to, although that would have been a pretty minor complaint, LOL.

So to recap: we're getting a LE in "Silver Shadow Pearl". Bob thought that getting another silver minivan meant that we were "boring" but I said, "Hey, why fight it? I like things to be the same! I KNOW I'm boring!" LOL!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Little Things

We're all better now I think. I saw a little article in the Times this morning about how a norovirus has hit Catholic University, making lots of students sick with vomiting and diarrhea right during finals. I'm assuming that's what is going around here too, and I am VERY thankful that neither I, nor the boys, have to worry about being sick disprupting tests or anything else vitally important!

Bob stayed home sick yesterday, which is not a good thing in and of itself, but it did allow me to do my one hour glucose tolerance test in the morning and also go to the commissary with just Nathan. You know, it is still a long trip, but I was amazed at how much less tired I felt without having to make sure Caleb and Jonathan were always on the right side of the aisle, and someone was pushing Anna, but not running into the shelves with her, and keeping Anna from fussing. Nice!

It was an especially good trip because the commissary had the old style of Playtex nipples. That may not sound like a big deal to you, but I have always used the Playtex drop-in bottles for all my babies. Since I haven't had to do bottles for all that long with any of them, I really like not having to sterilize bottles all the time. Anyhow, when I started Anna on her bottles, I realized that some of the nipples I already had were getting old, so I threw them away and went shopping for new ones. Oh no! Playtex totally redesigned their nipples, and now they are these weenie, squishy things that Anna hates. So I have just been using the old ones I have left and washing them all the time. When I saw that the commissary had the old kind, I was so excited! We bought 6 packages of 2, I think (leaving a token one package for anyone else who might be searching, LOL), so that should cover us for the rest of Anna's bottle time, plus if we have another baby. Whew! Like I said, it's the little things in life . . .

Bob had already taken today off as leave. This morning our co-op is having their Christmas skating party, and he took Nathan and Luke. Caleb chose to stay home, since Joel McC was coming over to play while Christine took her other 3 boys to the party. So Anna is napping, and Caleb, Joanthan, and Joel are all down in the basement, happily playing with Bionicles with no older brothers to tell them how to do things. LOL! I'm having a nice, relaxing morning on the computer. Ahhh.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A day of naps and videos . . .

. . . but not of washing sheets, comforters, and pillows, thankfully. We basically laid around all day, eating banana, rice, applesauce, and toast. No one threw up! Yay! We're all feeling better now except Bob, who came home early from work because he felt crummy. So, I think we might live, LOL.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Falling Behind

So I mentioned on my last post that I was somewhat behind on my laundry. . . Last night both Nathan and Luke threw up, in their beds of course. Today Jonathan threw up once in my bed and once in his. Anna has diarrhea and has blown out several outfits. Others have variously struggled through out the day with diarrhea. I was queasy all day but hoped that my stomach would be able to struggle through it all, even while being surrounded by various bodily waste products. A little while ago I lost that battle, although thankfully I am old enough to search out the nearest trash can and not mess up the bed! I was in the kitchen and couldn't make it to the bathroom so had to puke in the trash can. Here's how it went:

Me: (Blech)

Caleb wanders in: Did you ever get me the applesauce I asked for?

Me: (Blech) Go away.

Jonathan wanders in: I want applesauce. Can I have a bowl of applesauce? Hey, what are you doing?

Me: Throwing up.

Jonathan and Caleb: When are you going to get my applesauce?

Lesson learned: Always try to make it into the bathroom if you are hoping for a bit of privacy.

And now I am REALLY far behind on laundry.

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Good Visit

We had a good visit with Bob's family this weekend. Bob's 80 year old dad had the quadruple bypass back in early November, and he is doing really well! He's back home and getting around with a cane, and he's able to get up and down the stairs with no problem, a good thing considering that's where the bathroom is! He also seems to be a lot softer--not quite so vinegar-y--and he also is showing a lot more appreciation for Bob's mom, which is always a great thing. Nathan and Luke enjoyed playing pinochle and learning hearts with him.

Before we left, Bob's sister Ann had emailed me that she was planning on bringing up all the fixings for Christmas dinner to cook for them when she comes up in a few weeks. I thought that was a great idea and decided that I would also bring up a meal for them. So Friday night I made up a huge stockpot full of beef barley soup, a big pan of cornbread, and Nathan made oatmeal cookies. We also brought a bag of salad. I put the soup in 2 gallon ziploc bags in our cooler and just heated it up there for dinner. It was a big hit! Two of BOb's brothers and their familes also were there to eat, and there was only a small tupperware tub left by the end of the evening. I can't believe I haven't come up with this idea before! It solves all our problems--it's a lot of work for Bob's mom to cook for all of us, and there often is not much that Caleb can eat. So now my plan is to always bring up a meal when we come.

This weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas turned out to be a great time to go traveling. The roads were empty, as was the hotel! I guess everyone was Christmas shopping. We exchanged gifts with Bob's family this weekend, requiring me to be really organized and get it all done early. The good thing is that now I am pretty much done with shopping! Yay! I actually like breaking up the gift-giving, at least for the boys. They are having a really fun day playing the games they got--Sorry, Operation, and Battletank (like Battleship but with tanks). Caleb and Jonathan got up early to play with a little pirate set they received.

Needless to say, we aren't doing school today. I was really tired last night when we got home, and I knew I was behind on stuff like laundry. Then when Anna woke up, she had spit up all over her crib sometime during the night, so her laundry got moved to the front of the queue. She continued increasing my laundry load by blowing out 2 outfits. Grr. I got to thinking, however, and realized that it probably is all my fault. I gave her some waffle yesterday at the Comfort Inn, and I think she is actually reacting a little. Her face is all sort of blotchy, which clued me in. So now I will move to "Caleb" protocols regarding food in strange places, and hopefully we won't have any more problems.

And before I go switch out laundry loads, here's a random thought to ponder. There are several different ways for us to go to Bob's parents' house, and this weekend we went on a portion of US 40 through south PA both going and coming. This leads us right by a big resort called Nemacolin . Now I ask you--what does that name conjure up to you? An upscale woodlands resort, complete with a polo field? Or intestinal worms? As it turns out, "Nemacolin" was an Indian chief who blazed a trial through the Laurel Mountains many, many years ago, but all I can think of are nematodes, which are roundworms, many of which infect humans, such as pinworms, hookworms, and trichinella (you know, the ones in pork). Put that with "colin", albeit spelled differently, but it doesn't make me much want to visit, much less eat their food. I should bring my own soup, LOL.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Second Appointment

I had another doctor appointment today, this time with the other doctor in the practice. She also seemed nice, and everything seems like it's going just fine. She wants me to take a glucose tolerance test next week, the one-hour one. I wasn't too surprised by that, considering I am at a pretty high risk for developing gestational diabetes. Both my mom and aunt have type 2 diabetes, this is my sixth pregnancy, and I have had 2 babies over 9 pounds. I'm surprised I didn't have to take an early test with the last pregnancy, to be honest. Not something to look forward to, though. Bleh.

One thing I thought was a little odd was you know how doctors always have those drug company posters lining their walls? Well, the ones in this exam room were all for some form of birth control! There was a big one comparing 3 different kinds of permanent sterilization, and some more with various kinds of birth control pills, etc. Weird. I like the ones with developing babies on them! Then, during the appointment, she had to ask all the questions about all my previous pregnancies, since we didn't cover that in my last "probationary" appointment, LOL.

Doctor: "Are you considering some form of permanent sterilazation when you are done with this pregnancy?"

Me: "Umm, no."

Doctor: "Well, will you be considering changing to some form of more reliable birth control?"

Me: "Umm, no, not really."

Doctor: "Well, you realize you are at a greater risk for uterine rupture, hemorrhage, etc., since you've had so many children."

Me: "Hmmm."

Doctor: "Is this going to be your last baby?"

Me: "I really don't know! Maybe, maybe not. We'll have to see."

Geesh! Enough with the sterilization talk! It makes me want to commit to singlehandedly driving up the birthrate over here! So I'm thinking that these doctors are maybe not big proponents of big families, LOL. I mean, really. I'm sure that women who have large families do have a slightly greater risk of those things, but I personally know a lot of women with many more kids than me, and they have all been fine. In fact, my friend Christine, to whom I was relating the conversation, said that she grew up in Irish Catholic Boston, where almost everyone she knew had 8-9 kids, and she didn't know anyone who had any of those issues! Oh well. It's not like I can change doctors, LOL, or that military doctors would be any better about this issue. But then I got this Elizabeth Elliot devotional in my email today, and it actually spoke to some of these issues, although from the perspective of a worried grandmother.

When I learned that my daughter Valerie was expecting number five, my insides tied themselves in knots.
Val and Walt were both very peaceful about it, willing to receive this child as they had received the others--as a gift from the Lord, remembering His words, "Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me" (Luke 9:48, NIV). But my imagination ran to the future and its seeming impossibilities--"Poor dear Val. She has her hands more than full. What will she do with five?" Before she was married Valerie had told me that she hoped the Lord would give her six. I had smiled to myself, thinking she would probably revise that number after the first three or four. Practical considerations rose like thunderclouds in my mind. Money. Another room to be built onto the house. Homeschooling (Valerie was teaching two already!) How would the new child receive the attention he needed? Etc., etc.

Then I began to look at the advantages. I was one of six children myself, and loved growing up in a big family. Children learn early what it means to help and to share, to take responsibility and to make sacrifices, to give place to others, to cooperate and deny themselves. Why all this turmoil in my soul? Well, because I loved my child! She was tired! Her hands were full! Maybe later, maybe when the others were old enough to help more, maybe... O Lord!

I tried to talk to God about it. Breakfast time came, we ate, washed dishes, school began in the children's schoolroom, and I went to my room, my heart churning. What does one do?

I write this because troubled young women have come to me not understanding their mothers' reactions to the news of another baby. Was it resentment? Did they not love the grandchildren they had? Why would they not want more? Was it nothing but a meddle-some yen to run their children's lives? Was it a revelation of a worse attitude--an unwillingness to let God be God?

It was this last question that I knew I must wrestle with as I knelt in the bedroom. Most things that trouble us deeply come down to that. I had to bring each of my wrong responses definitely and specifically to God, lay them honestly before Him (He already knew exactly what I was thinking), confess my pride and silliness, and then, just as definitely accept His sovereign and loving will for Valerie, for her family, and for me as the granny. Only God knew how many countless others, even in future generations, He had in mind in bringing this particular child into the Shepard family. He was granting this family the privilege of offering sacrifices for Him, participating in His grand designs. YES, LORD. Your will is my conscious choice. Nothing more. Nothing less. Nothing else.

Even though the feelings don't evaporate at once, they have been surrendered, and the Lord knows what to do with them. Mine had to be surrendered over and over again, but He took them, and over the next few days He transformed them. And when the news of Number Six was broken to me two years later, I was able to say Thank You, Lord, and to add that tiny unknown one to my prayer list.

Evangeline Mary, born November 9, 1988, was lovingly welcomed by all.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

In the Christmas Spirit . . .

I thought you all might like to see our new tree in all its glory. SO much nicer that our old one!! We decorated right after Thanksgiving, but I never got around to decorating anywhere else--up the bannister, in the kitchen, etc. I left the rest of my boxes upstairs behind the couch, ready for when I got motivated. Well, I have finally admitted to myself that isn't going to happen this year! I don't want to put anything else up, and I don't want to take anything else down! Call me Scrooge, LOL. So now I am taking my boxes back downstairs.

I thought Anna might be really tempted by the tree, but so far she has pretty much ignored it. What she DOES go for is the wooden "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" that sits on our hearth. My grandma and grandpa gave that to us many years ago, and it is so cute. Anna thinks so too and can hardly keep her hands off it. She also had some troubles keeping away from presents at Bible study over at the L's house. You will notice a conspicuous lack of any sort of presents under our tree. I figure why fight the battle right now? That can wait, at least until I have Christmas letters out, etc.!

Tonight, as soon as Bob came home, I left to brave the mall sans kids. Wow, I am so not a shopper. The mall looked very festive though, I must admit. Anyhow, I am happy to say that I think I am all done with my shopping. Yay! Now to wrap everything. I need to get packages boxed up to send out, and we are going up to visit Bob's family this weekend, so we need to get those all wrapped up too. Busy night! Bob's going to help wrap while watching the Steelers game.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

We did it!

We got all our chocolates made this weekend! In a rare feat, the fillings and the chocolate ran out at the same time. Amazing! Actually the real amazing thing was how much we got done, and how much more quickly it went with Nathan helping. We blew right through 6 pounds of chocolate! He is past the "I'm helping by stirring" stage and could actually DO stuff that helped. On Sunday we were using both light and dark chocolate, so he could paint one flat of molds with one kind of chocolate while I did another with the other kind. It was great! And it was so much more fun to have someone right there to talk with the whole time. By the end of the day, the other boys had drifted into the kitchen and were doing various things to help too (a lot of stirring, LOL), so it was a real family activity. Maybe we'll do this more often now that I realize it's fun and goes pretty quickly! We do have to make more for our neighbors and friends here, so we are planning another trip to the store for more chocolate (got to get the good "Merckens" wafers!). Nathan is ready to do that today, or even yesterday, LOL. I'm thinking maybe next week. And for those who were curious about the new filling recipe--I liked it alright. I really liked the maple flavored filling, but the peppermint was just okay. I prefer the other filling recipe for that, I think. I had to sample several chocolates to make sure though, LOL! We have been eating the "irregulars" after dinner each night--it adds a touch of class to this eating establishment to end with a chocolate!

In the middle of our chocolate frenzy on Sunday, we went to our next door neighbor's house for a neighborhood children's Christmas party. Dr. Joe and his wife Stella are older, with 11 grandchildren. He loves to tell stories, using lots of different voices and expression. For Christmas he has made up a ton of stories about Christmas trees of various colors, kind of like fairy tales, with morals in them. They're good! The boys really love the party and look forward to it. It's a fun neighborhood tradition. I enjoy the time afterward to visit with our neighbors! This year the family from whom we bought our house also were able to come. They are a Mormon family with 5 kids, and they are about the nicest people you could meet. It was fun to catch up with them. They moved farther out west into a house with more land and a HUGE kitchen. Yes, the kitchen is the only part of this house that I don't really like either, so I can totally see why they moved. Well, that and the fact that they made $500,000 profit on this house since they were the original owners. Wow. I, um, don't think we'll be making that kind of profit when we move, LOL. Too bad!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

What we did today . . .

. . . Make chocolates! We made 70 peanut butter cups, and 48 caramels. Tomorrow we have peppermint patties and maple filled ones on the agenda, but since we haven't yet painted the molds or made the filling, I'm not sure how much we'll actually get done. Yummy!!!

When I was pregnant with Luke, my next door neighbor Pam invited me to a candy-making class at a local store. It was held on Saturday mornings between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was so much fun! So now I try to make chocolates every few years or so. This year I had a helper! Nathan was quite intrigued by the process, which even lured him away from college football this afternoon, LOL.

I finally found a candy supply store in this general area (Fairfax, actually), and so we went there Friday afternoon after picking up a medicine refill at the clinic, which is also down that way. Of course, I forgot one crucial ingredient for the centers, invert sugar, so I'm going to try a different recipe. We'll see how that works out. Of course, if it fails, we shall have no choice but to eat the evidence. That's just the way we are around here--sacrificial. LOL!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

So what happens when we do go out?

We did our bit of review this morning, and then after lunch we headed off to "run a few short errands". We went first to A.C. Moore, a Hobby-Lobby type store, to look for Christmas gifts for some of Bob's neices and nephews. We found some cute personalized ornaments, and, after a lot of searching, finally found the Klutz books that were on sale. We bought 2 bracelets ones for the 2 little neices, and one with Sculpey clay for the nephew. Although I am now having my doubts about that one, LOL. My boys would love it, but maybe not him. I don't know. Anyhow, I dithered around for awhile, while fragile Caleb kept mentioning how much HE would like all these different things we were looking a. We finally made it through the checkout line after an hour. Whew.

So then we were off to Target to get new shoes for Nathan. Jonathan needed to go potty, but I told him we would run in, get the shoes, pay, and then go potty, sicne the bathrooms are right behind the checkout area. That's what we did, and Nathan took him off to go as I pushed the cart over. When I got there, I sent Luke in to check on them. He comes out with the unwelcome news that Jonathan actually has to go #2. I point out that I am unable to help, seeing as how he is in the men's bathroom, but Nathan hollars out that he will wipe him. Okay. Next Luke comes out with the news that Nathan himself has felt nature's particular call, and, after waiting awhile, all I can hear is Jonathan saying, "I'm done!! I'm done!! Someone wipe me!!" Of course, there is nothing I can do, so I call in to him to be patient. Finally, after much waiting, both boys are done, and, after a big struggle, Jonathan finally has his pants back up and his hands washed. Anna was quite ready for a nap by this time! Whew.

We got home, and I put Anna down for a short nap. When she woke up, I decided to use the bottle that I had packed just in case in the diaper bag. When we go out I always put out the measured formula in a stage 2 baby food jar, so I just need to pour it into the bottle, which already has water in it. Works great. I've done it for now 5 babies. When I open up the diaper bag, I am horrified to see formula all over the inside of the bag! And the baby food jar has no lid! What happened? How could it have fallen off? Then I look up on the counter and see the lid sitting there. So I just put an open baby food jar full of formula into the diaper bag to be dragged around all afternoon. At least the formula's cheap. Ha, ha! I crack myself up! So now I have decided it's back to regular school, and I will only attempt shopping by myself on Saturdays. Well, maybe not . . . I'm still not very motivated, LOL.

Routine . . .or Not

I would love to tell you that we have gotten right back into our normal routine after Thanksgiving, but, well, that would be a lie, LOL. I am having a hard time getting motivated. Somehow we have to fit in Christmas shopping, baking, card-writing, some craft projects the boys are going to make and give away, etc. . . . And those things have to fit in between Anna's wake times and my exercising. Sigh. It is very tempting to just say that we will take off the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas to do these other things, but then I can practically see their Latin vocab and math facts dripping from their ears, LOL. How to balance it all, especially while being pregnant and tired. I would love to just do fun things, like a Christmas read-aloud, fun math games, painting, and science stuff, but what will probably end up happening is what we've been doing the past few days--orally reviewing Latin, memory work, and math on the couch, and then trying to get other errands and things done in the afternoon. Next year, next year, next year . . . that's what I keep telling myself!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A Visit With Pilot

My cousin, also known as "Pilot", came for a short visit. He spent Thanksgiving with his buddy who lives in Maryland, and then he drove over here yesterday morning. The boys were pretty thrilled to see him! Caleb and Jonathan thought he was the best thing around, and Pilot could have read books all day long to them, as far they were concerned! He did read quite a few, until I had to make the little boys go down in the basement or into the playroom to give him some time off! He and Nathan bonded over a game of basketball. Nathan is going to play Upwards Basketball for the first time this year, but he hasn't really played much basketball so far. Bob bought him a real ball Saturday morning, so it was perfect that he and Pilot could break it in!

I made a huge pan of lasagna for dinner, and then after dinner the L's and P's, other couples in our Bible study, came over for dessert and visiting. They wanted to see my parents, and we wanted to see Anthony L., who is home on break from the Academy! Pilot got to meet everyone, and I think he enjoyed visiting with them too. We had a lot of good dessert, anyhow!

Pilot left this morning to drive back to his base. We're hoping, now that he knows the way here, that he will make his way up more often! I have tried a dozen times, starting last night, to post some pictures, but I could never get Blogger to upload them. I printed some off and will send them to you, Aunt Claire!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Anna and Grandma

Grandma and Grandpa have been here since Tuesday night. Anna was a little suspicious of them at first, but she quickly decided they were people worthy of her great big smiles! Now she is enjoying all the extra attention and love!

Our Feast

Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans with almonds, cran/apple/pear sauce, and sweet potato biscuits--yum! Good thing we have plenty of leftovers for today! I brined the turkey, and it turned out so moist and flavorful.

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Today I had my ultrasound at the hospital. I know the burning question is "What was it?", but it was still too early to tell. The measurements they took came out to 16 weeks, 3 days today, just a few days different than the ultrasound on Friday, and pretty much exactly what I had thought. It looks like my placenta is just fine--a little low, but not too close to the cervix or anything. The baby was really active the whole time, kicking away.

The ultrasound was a little disconcerting, however. The ultrasound tech was a fairly young girl, and it seemed like it took her awhile to get all the pictures she needed (the scan took about an hour), so I was kind of thinking she hadn't been doing this for all that long. After she was done, she told us that she had to show the pictures to the radiologist, who may or may not come back in to see us. She disappeared, and we waited about 20 minutes. Finally she came back with another tech, who also scanned me and took some more pictures. This tech seemed more competant, and took her pictures a lot faster. I asked what she was looking for, and she brightly answered, "Nothing!", which made me really suspicious. She focused a lot on my cervix, but she said everything was fine there. Then she took so me more pictures of the baby, and she and the other girl made some comments to each other that we couldn't hear. At the end she said she was trying to see the nose and mouth area, so I asked, "For cleft palate?" She said yes, but that everything looked fine. Still, it was taking so long . . . Finally they went off to show the pics to the doctor, and after about 20 more minutes (during which we were getting VERY anxious), the doctor and the original tech came back in. He said he wanted a better picture of the bottom of the spine or something, and he said everything looked fine, but that I should come back at 20 weeks for another scan, since it was hard to tell everything this early. He said they just needed to get certain things documented, and some things didn't show up well in her pictures, so they had to take some more. So I guess she is newer, and that's what was going on, but still, it was really weird, and I'm still not totally convinced. It makes sense, and I'm sure that's what I would tell someone who came to me with this story, but . . . I guess I'll feel better after I have the next scan, or even after my doctor looks at the pictures. I go back in Dec. 8 for my next appointment. So, all you medical people--would the radiologist have told me if something was wrong instead of saying everything looked fine? Does it sound like it was just a combo of newer tech and young baby?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

This Could Have Been Me . . .

Here's a short article from today's Washington Times. I wonder if these people are military . . .

MARYLAND POTOMAC Couple delivers son on Beltway's shoulder

A baby who could not wait to reach the hospital was born on the Capital Beltway early yesterday, state police said. A Montgomery County fire department spokesman said the agency received a call about 1:45 a.m. saying someone was having a baby on the shoulder of the Beltway at River Road. By the time police arrived, the baby boy had been born. The trooper gave the mother a bottle of water and a blanket to keep the newborn warm. An ambulance arrived to treat and stabilize mother and baby who were both in good condition, police said. They were taken to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. The parents are from Alexandria.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

. . . All to Find the Perfect Tree

Last year we threw out our Christmas tree after Christmas. It was a Charlie Brown tree that Bob brought into the marriage. It was supposed to be 7 feet tall, but the last foot at least was one skinny "branch" that went straight up in the air. We always had to fold it over several times to get our angel to sit up there, making the whole tree much less than 7 feet tall. The branches were starting to fall off, so it was reaching the end of its life. I hated it with a passion, and I hated stringing lights on it (and taking said lights back off). I shed no tears when the garbage truck took it away!

So this year we knew that we had to find a tree. We started a few nights ago, looking at Lowes and Home Depot. We didn't find anything that really grabbed us, so Saturday evening we headed off to Michaels, Target, Sams and WalMart. After going to all those places, we decided that the 9 foot tree with lights from Sams was the best for what we were looking for, so we headed back there. Bob and Nathan ran in and bought the tree, but when they got back out to the van, they could not make the box fit. So Bob took the tree back, planning on coming back this afternoon with the Pathfinder.

We bought the Pathfinder back in '95 when we first got out to Colorado. It is a '92, and we bought it from someone coming off a lease, so it was in good condition. It was a faithful Colorado vehicle, going up and down mountains, on dubious "roads" at times, pulling trailers, driving through snow, and getting us cross-country several times to visit family. When we bought the Odyssey in 2000, the Pathfinder was demoted to "second car" status, and Bob drove it to and from work in Colorado and also in Ohio. While we were in Ohio, Bob tore a muscle in his calf, and so by the time we got here to Virginia, driving a stick shift every day was painful for him. We bought an old Camry for him to commute in, and the Pathfinder got demoted to "third car, rarely driven" status. I would drive it occasionally to the library or shopping at night without the kids, but mainly it sat on the street. Even I stopped driving it lately because it was really squealing, and the battery light and brake light were both on, so I didn't trust it at all. Knowing we need another vehicle once we have the baby, we just put a "for sale" sign on it, even with those problems.

As Bob drove it off to Sams, he called on his cell to tell me that it was running really rough. He parked on a hill so he could roll-start it, if needed, after he got the tree. Well, he needed to, and he couldn't even make it back home again without it dying. We came with jumper cables and rescued him at the Shell station. He knew the battery wasn't recharging, so it must be the alternator, and we hoped we charged the battery long enough to get it home! It died right in front of our house. Thank you, Lord! When Bob looked in, he discovered an alternator belt lying on the skidplate at the bottom of the car (the thing that protects the engine if you're going 4-wheeling). So maybe when he replaces that, the squealing will be gone, as well as all the lights! And it will run, and we can sell it!

The Christmas tree is still in the back. At least we have one technically in our possession now. We're waiting for my parents to come help us get it in and decorated! There should be lots of room for all the kids' ornaments this year. And we don't have to put lights on it!!

Friday, November 17, 2006

A Due Date!

I saw the doctor today! When I walked into the office and said my name to the receptionist, she looked at me very skeptically and said, "Well, you look a lot bigger than 16 weeks!" I politely smiled and said, "I really don't think I am." The doctor, who was very nice by the way, did the ultrasound first, and--what do you know--it looks like the baby is 15 weeks 3 days. I would say I nailed that one! I laughed at your comment, Beverly! You would think that doctors would be thrilled to get patients who are so in tune with their bodies, but I think most of them just don't believe them! Once I knew I was pregnant, I could look back with certainty and tell when I started experiencing syptoms, when Anna started not nursing well, etc., and figure out when I must have implanted. I knew I hadn't been pregnant for an extra 4 weeks or so!

So my tentative due date is May 8, right after Bob's birthday of May 2. I say "tentative" because the doctor wants me to get an ultrasound done at a hospital to make sure of the date, since she didn't feel that confident in the exactness of hers. Also, my placenta is lying low this time, and she wants to make sure it is not blocking the cervix. I've never had previa, and you wouldn't think that I would start with number 6, but I can already see that anything is possible with this pregnancy. That ultrasound is scheduled for next Wednesday, which is while Mom and Dad are here visiting, so they can watch the boys! I will still have another ultrasound at 20 weeks. I guess we'll see how much Tricare Standard really covers.

Speaking of Tricare, after the appointment, we drove to the Tricare Service Center and put in my disenrollment papers. We put the date effective as yesterday, and the lady assured me that everything from yesterday on will be covered under Standard. Bob is still very nervous and skeptical. How can he doubt a government organization?! LOL! I think we will all rest more easily when all the paperwork has for sure gone through. As for me, I am relieved, but I still don't feel much at peace about the whole being-off-Tricare-Prime thing. I am praying for good health for me this winter!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Doctor Situation

Well, I can say with certainty that this has just been the oddest pregnancy. I called the 6 or so practices in our area that were on the Tricare website as accepting Tricare Standard. Some don't anymore, one lady only practices only GYN, not OB, one lady is on maternity leave until mid-December . . . there really weren't many options, LOL. It left one practice. I have an appointment with them for tomorrow at 10:00, when they will do an ultrasound and try to determine how far along I am. Here's the kicker--if I am over 20 weeks, they might not accept me as a patient. I think I am only 16 weeks, but this has made me very nervous. We have not yet turned in my disenrolllment papers from Tricare Prime, because once I disenroll, I am locked out of Prime for a year. Wouldn't that be awful (and yet so indicative of this pregnancy) to be locked out of Prime and unable to be seen by anyone on Standard?! So if there is some problem tomorrow, and they won't accept me as a patient, then I will just pay for the appointment and call Bethesda. If everything is okay, they Bob will turn in my papers tomorrow, with that date as the start date (the Tricare lady said that was okay yesterday when I called). Hmm . . . this little situation IS Col. Canestrini's fault, since it took him so long first to deny the waiver, and then to call back for the appeal. Maybe a letter is in order.

Anyhow, hopefully there will be an update tomorrow where I actually know SOMETHING about this pregnancy, other than the fact that I am, in fact, pregnant. The receptionist at the office was funny:

Her: "So you had a positive home test? How do you know you are pregnant?"

Me: "Well, I have had a positive test. Also, this is my sixth pregnancy, so I am pretty familiar with the signs. And I'm feeling the baby move."

I did feel like the irresponsible mother, having had no prenatal care yet. I explained the whole situation, but I still felt bad. So we'll see what happens . . .

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Genuine Ancient Greeks

Today was our Greek Olympics, the fifthe week activity for our co-op unit on Ancient Greece. Everyone had to come dressed up in a Greek chiton. Here you can see my paltry efforts. You will notice that I am hiding behind Luke and Caleb. There is a reason that "maternity chitons" have not caught on as a fad anytime lately, LOL. Not a flattering look. All 75 kids wore something Greek-y though! I was pretty impressed.

Greek Olympics

Each tier (2 grades) was a different city-state and had their own banner. The 3rd and 4th graders were 'Sparta", and I made the banner--a ferocious Spartan felt warrior, LOL. This picture is during the Opening Ceremony, where we prayed to the One True God, and the fire of the Holy Spirit lit the flame behind the stage. Then each tier was challenged to display godly character traits during the day's activities, which included game time, craft time, story time, and food time.

I was responsible for the Greek food. I made Greek lemon chicken to go along with pita bread. I also made tzatziki, the cucumber and yogurt sauce to go along with those. A neighbor of another co-op mom owns a Greek restaurant, and he made and donated spanakopita for us. We also had dried apricots, raisins, olives, and Greek butter cookies that I made. We had a dry run last Tuesday night for dinner so I could test the recipes, and it was all quite tasty--just like Gyro Palace, a Greek restaurant we enjoy when we're back in Ohio! The kids liked it all too. It was fun to see the positive peer pressure. Kids would pass on everything except the raisins and cookies, and then they would be back a while later: "Umm, can I try some chicken and pita now? I thought I wouldn't like it, but my friends all said it was really good . . ." LOL! I can not describe the tons of food that I made and brought, but I came back home with very little. I'm going to send out an email to the families with the recipes because the kids really liked the chicken, and it is so easy to make.

After all the tiers went through all the stations, we met back in the main room for the closing ceremony. We awarded each tier a character quality--either joyfulness, initiative, obedience, or diligence--and each person received a wreath and a medal. It was a lot of fun!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Some More Discouraging News

Just to wrap up loose ends, Col. Canestrini did end up finally calling me on Thursday, and the conversation went pretty much as expected. I reiterated my talking points--unreasonable driving time, 6th baby, quick labors, etc.--and he reiterated their talking points--they could manage it, others drive farther, etc. He did say that he wanted to reassure me that this wasn't "blown off' at any level. In fact, he sent it back up to the floor 2 times because he wanted to make sure he felt very comfortable since he's the one ultimately responsible. I told him that was nice, but I hope he realized that if there were any problems whatsoever, that I would be writing letters to everyone in his chain of command about his poor decision. He sighed and said, "I'm sure you will" in a resigned voice. So that is that. And I was ready to move on, since I was feeling pretty good about the Tricare Standard option at that point.

Today I called the doctor who delivered Anna, and guess what? They don't accept Tricare Standard anymore. Sigh. So now I am back at square one and feeling quite discouraged. I know my friend Lisa's doctor accepts it, but the doctor is on maternity leave herself until the middle of December, and some doctor in Leesburg is seeing her patients until then. That doesn't sound like a great situation to walk into, and she might not even be accepting new patients until she gets back. So--find a new doctor, a total stranger, or drive the 45 minutes to Bethesda. No good choices there.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Bob's Dad

Bob took Nathan and Luke up to Pennsylvania today to visit his family. Bob's dad Frank had quadruple heart bypass surgery yesterday, which came about quite suddenly. Last Sunday Frank passed out and fell while getting out of the shower. Amazingly, he didn't hurt himself, but he was admitted into the hospital for tests to determine why he fell. The doctors discovered these 4 blocked arteries, and at first there was some question as to whether or not they would try medicine, but the doctors were able to convince everyone that Frnak needed the surgery, and he needed it quickly. It went well yesterday. Bob's sisters Rose and Ann were able to be there, as well as his brother Paul and other sister Jane. Today Bob's dad was pretty cranky, so Bob came at a good time to relieve people! Unfortunately he (Bob) will be coming home tomorrow, so the relief will be short-lived. Ann is planning on staying there a few more days, which will be needed but probably not really appreciated. We're not sure how much longer Frank will be in the hospital, or how the recovery will go at home. Their house is very full of stuff. I mean incredibly full, dangerously full for an invalid. And they only have one bathroom, which is upstairs. Up a narrow, wooden, unpadded, cluttered staircase. Yes. Perfect! So we have some concerns on that front. We would appreciate your prayers.

So it is just Caleb, Jonathan, Anna, and me today and tomorrow! We were going to have a fun weekend, but you know how it goes--after our "special" lunch of hotdogs, Jonathan started running a fever. It looks like he has the same virus Anna had this week, which results in only a very high (103) temperature for 2 days. You know, if your child has to be sick, I would much rather have a bug that only has a temperature as a symptom, so I actually am considering myself very fortunate! We are praying that Nathan, Luke, and Bob are not contagious with this virus, however. That would be awful for Frank to come down with it at this point. So Joanthan was pretty crabby this afternoon as well (I had lots of sympathy for Bob's family, LOL!), and he just lolled around on the couch. We read a whole lot of books though, and we did have leftover cake and ice cream/sorbet after dinner, so the day was not a total loss!

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Birthday Boy

I think you can tell what cake Caleb picked to eat! He was, and actually still is, quite blue, even after a thorough washing. So now he feels like he is officially 5, since we've had his cake. Amanda even gave him a little present tonight, 2 cute pictures frames, one a butterfly, and the other a ladybug. Perfect!

Lots of Bugs

So here are Caleb's cakes--a butterfly, a caterpillar, and a ladybug. Everyone at Bible study thought they were quite "manly" bugs. No pastel-y girly bugs for us! Caleb was quite happy with how it turned out and kept telling me how great it was. Ahhh! That makes it worth it! Caleb wanted a strawberry cake too, so the ladybug was strawberry, as were the smaller cupcakes of the caterpillar (I know, you can't really tell in the picture, but every other cupcake is small, so it looks like the caterpillar is inching along. I guess you had to be there . . . ) The butterfly, as well as the bigger cupcakes, were chocolate. I made the antennae and the legs for the caterpillar out of piped chocolate. (I know, you can't really see the legs either. Oh well.) We brought home 2 small paper plates with leftover cake, so people ate well! Of course, there are 21 of us there, not counting Anna!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Not Going Away

We've decided that we are going to play out this waiver thing for awhile. Who needs prenatal care?! See, what really gets us going is that they are trying to blow us off. Remember that we asked Constance before we left Ft. Belvoir on Monday that we would like an appointment with Col. Canestrini? She said she would look at his appointment calendar and call us back, the second time she has said that. She never called. Bob called her yesterday, and she basically said she wasn't planning on getting us a meeting with the colonel. He is supposed to call us to discuss this. Well, he was supposed to call us last week too, and he never did. That's why we went in! I doubt that he has any real intention of ever calling, but I'm sure he is hoping that we just give up and leave him alone. Well, that makes me really mad. He may be busy as can be, sitting in his big office and rubberstamping "NO" on waiver requests all day long, but you would think that he would be able to take 5 minuts out of his day to call someone who was very concerned about the health of their unborn baby now, wouldn't you?! Apparently not, however. So to me this exhibits a real lack of concern for the health and well-being of those very people he, as hospital commander, is responsible for. So Bob is pursuing things through his chain of command. I am going to find out Col. Canstrini's chain of command and blanket them with letters questioning his ability to be hospital commander with this attitude and lack of accountability. Is this how he deals with people who have complaints about their care at DeWitt Hospital? Does he hide behind his secretary with them too? The leader's attitude towards people always trickles down to those beneath him, so you really have to wonder about the atmosphere all throughout the hospital. Anyhow, stirring things up like that will most likely not change anyone's mind, but that's okay. I am resigned to driving to Bethesda for care. But in the meantime, I would like to inconvenience him just a fraction of the amount he is inconveniencing us, and maybe he will not be so casually dismissive in the future, especially if his career is on the line. By the way, several people have suggested writing my congressman, but he happens to be Jack Murtha, and well, you all know how supportive he is of the military, LOL!!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Fort Belvoir Visit

The visit offered nothing unexpected, as it pretty much confirmed our opinion of Army medical care (sorry, Pam! Not you, of course!). We packed everyone up and left our house about 12:50, and we got to the hospital right around 2:00 in light traffic. It's 35 miles on our odometer. We found Col. Canestrini's office right away, and to say his secretaries were surprised to see us is an understatement! They definitely didn't know what to do with all of us. We had walked into the office suite with an Army nurse major, and, as it turned out, she was the head of OB nurses. She was the one who basically denied our waiver, as the Colonel asks her for her recommendation. The secretary was glad to see her, and they conferred for a little while before the secretary showed us into a conference room and told us the nurse would be talking to us. The nurse brought in another nurse for reinforcements, and we all sat down to hear their explanation. Well, in a nutshell, they basically don't care that it's an hour away and it's my sixth child. They are confident that they can "manage" the end of my pregnancy so I don't go into labor at a time or place that is inconvenient (read: the Beltway). So what that means is they are planning, on one of my later appointments, to decide that I am "ready" and start my labor for me. How convenient! How thoughtful! How totally not natural and not what I am interested in. We laid out our arguments several times in several different ways: one hour is not a reasonable distance to drive for routine care. This is my sixth child, and I have quick labors. We have had 2 children who have passed meconium before birth, and one of them had serious complications because he aspirated it. But they were really not interested in them, and they kept saying that they would make sure I didn't deliver on the Beltway by starting my labor for me while I was at an appointment. We mentioned our concern that Bob would not be able to get home in time to drive me to the hospital and here was their idea: I drop the kids off at a neighbor's house and drive myself. Yes! One hour at least of driving while in labor! What a good, safe idea! So obviously they were not really full of any sort of compassion for the situation. In fact, they told me that they had a woman who delivered her 7th child at the hospital who drove up from south of Fredericksburg, so over an hour away, while her husband was deployed. Wow--I certainly was impressed. Impressed with their total lack of concern for the people they are taking care of. I guess it's the Army way. Oh yes--I asked why my waiver was approved one year ago, and her answer? "I must have been on leave then." Ouch! Elizabeth said I should have asked her if she usually took vacation at Christmas, LOL.

So after beating our heads against that wall for awhile, we asked if we could appeal to Col. Canestrini, who, as it turns out, actually is the hospital commander. Well, he wasn't available, but the deputy commander came in to talk to us--a lady colonel named "Jimmie Keenen". She's had 2 babies, as she told us many times. So she walked in the door and said to me, "I can tell you right now that Col. Canestrini will not approve your waiver since you are well within our catchnet." (Yes, by all of 5 miles) So! Then she started cooing to Anna, and she asked where she was born. I told her that one year ago, our waiver was approved, so she was born at a hospital 5 minutes from our home. "Oh." Not really the response she was expecting, but she recovered quickly and again mouthed the party line that they fully expected they could deal with me, since they are so used to dealing with traffic issues, blah, blah, blah, she's had 2 babies, so she knows what she's talking about, blah, blah. And then they told us that we should go on Tricare Standard, and the nice nurse would walk us down to the Tricare office to explore that option.

We did go to the Tricare office. For maternity care on Standard, each visit is $25, as is the birth, but as soon as the baby is born, then everything falls under the regular Standard rules of a 30% copay I think it was, plus a $300 deductible. Also, it seemed that the whole family had to go on Standard if one of us switched, and we have to be on that for a year (well, Bob would probably retire before that, but still). Since Caleb has chronic allergy/asthma problems, that doesn't appeal to me, and you know as soon as we switched over, we would catch every disease in the book this winter, and at least one of the boys would break a limb or require an appendectomy or something. But still, it was so comforting to know that the higher-ups at Fort Belvoir were so concerned for us that they were willing to allow us to pay an indetermined amount of our own money to make sure I didn't have to drive myself to the hospital on the Beltway while in labor. Touching.

So here is where we stand now: we went back to the office and told Constance, the ever-so-unhelpful secretary that we would still like to get on Col. Canestrini's calendar. At this point, I don't see that we have a snowball's chance of getting him to go against what all his underlings have recommended, but you know, we can be the "persistent widow" like in Luke 18:2-5 if we must be. At least we will inconvenience them all and hopefully let them see that there are human faces and consequences behind these decisions they so blithely make. Constance once again is supposed to call us to make that appointment (we aren't holding our breath but you never know, maybe now that she has met us and seen that we are determined . . .). After we exhaust that option, we will switch my PCM to Bethesda. It is only about 2 miles closer to our house, although the opposite way on the Beltway, but frankly, I wouldn't deliver a baby at Belvoir if it was the last place around at this point. I was so not impressed with their standard of patient care. No way I want one of those nurses "helping" me! Hopefully I will have another uncomplicated pregnancy, and I just won't go in for many appointments. That's the Fort Belvoir way: "Promoting Substandard Prenatal Care By Mandating Unreasonable Driving Times". I feel like that is a more accurate motto than the one on their wall: "Dedicated to Service". What??????

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Since Blogger was being so cooperative and letting me post pictures, I thought I'd better post a few of Anna. These were taken today, and she is wearing the most adorable little jumper and onesie. I will say, if I may, that she is not the most cooperative of subjects, and I don't see modeling in her future, LOL! These pictures are blurry because I had a very hard time getting her to stop moving! In the first picture, she has shoved some toy in her mouth, hence the wide-open pose. Having something in her hands was the only way I could get her to stop crawling, though, and you can see her crawling out of the picture down below. Look at her expression: "What do you want? I'm busy!"

Happy Birthday, Caleb!!!

Caleb is 5 years old today! His specially requested birthday dinner was spaghetti, salad, and garlic bread. We had sorbet (raspberry and lemon!) for the birthday boy, as well as ice cream for the rest of us after dinner. I haven't made the cake yet. We'll bring that to Bible study on Friday to celebrate with our friends there. I should say I haven't made the cakes, plural yet--we've finally worked out that I am going to make a butterfly cake, a ladybug cake, and a caterpillar cake, each one not being too big. Plenty of bugs at that party, LOL!

Here is a grainy picture of Caleb starting to open his presents. He got a video and a new sleeper from Grandma and Grandpa B., a game from Grandma and Grandpa G., 2 great knight-themed books from Aunt Amy and Uncle Jason, and a watch from us. He was pretty thrilled with it all, as you can see by his radiant smile! He has been so anxiously awaiting his birthday for such a long time, and then today he was so anxiously awaiting his presents! It was very hard to make it through church, the afternoon, AND dinner before opening them!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Bad News

**Update below**

We were told today that our waiver was denied. Bob asked the secretary if we could meet with Col. Canestrini so that he could explain his bad decision to us before we appeal it. She said he would call us tonight, but he did not. Bob then called again to ask if we could set up an appointment to meet with Col. Canestrini to discuss this, and she said she would call us back when she had looked at his calendar. She never called back either. Hmmmm. . . And all this after waiting 3 weeks to hear. I'm beginning to think they don't care.

So we are going to pack everyone up tomorrow afternoon and make the long journey to Fort Belvoir to try to see this elusive god-like Col. Canestrini, supreme ruler and decision-maker of the waiver department. I mean really. Time is sort of of the essence here. I'm already 14 or 15 weeks along and have seen no one, and with the appeals process sure to be a long, drawn-out thing, there is really no hope of seeing anyone in the near future, especially if we can't get all the info we need to actually make the appeal. We tried to get Constance the secretary to fax us a copy of the denial, but--how convenient for her--she doesn't have it. No, apparently the document leaves with lightening-quick speed, unlike anything else that happens in the office, and goes to some other office, and those people were not answering their phones. I am sure that Col. Canestrini will not be there tomorrow, and probably neither will Constance, but at least we can make our objections known in person and also try to set up appointments to talk with whoever up his chain of command we need to talk to for the appeal. Since the Fort Belvior hospital is apparently full of people who do not return phone calls or even answer their phones, it appears that the face-to-face approach is going to be the way to go. And then we will have a clear report on the amount of time it actually takes to get from our house to the hospital, albeit in non-rush hour traffic. Of course, there's always the drive back too, and that probably WILL be in rush hour, so we are sure to get good sample data.

**Update: We didn't go to Belvoir this afternoon. Bob had hoped to be able to be home by 1:30, but it was after 2:00. Since it's an hour to get there, we figured the Col. might very well be leaving, and his lazy secretary (who never did call us back, by the way) would no doubt be off getting her nails done or something too. So the new plan is to go Monday afternoon, when hopefully we'll be able to get an earlier start on things. Which just leaves the weekend for me to stew.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

What's New?

1. We have a "new" foosball table. When Bob was leaving to take the boys to soccer practice Thursday, he noticed our neighbor a few houses up putting a nice-looking foosball table out for trash. He called to see if we could have it, and the neighbor said sure. So after practice he and the boys brought it home. Well, it's one of those "many games in one" tables, so the foosball part actually sits on top of a poll table, which is the part with the legs. The pool part is pretty much shot to pieces, but never fear! Bob got the bright idea to set the foosball part on top of his old USAFA trunk (use #1082 for those things). It fits great, and, even better, it is now exactly the right height for the boys! How great is that?! The boys are loving it.

2. I was looking forward to a relaxing Tuesday where Jonathan, Anna, and I could run some errands while the boys were at co-op, but it was not to be. Monday afternoon a woman called who was "aiding" (in their co-op, the morning is split into 2 parts--one half is the "teaching" part, or the unit study, and the second part is the "aiding" time, or character building time. It's when they have lunch, have show and tell, play organized games, and work on a character trait.) She was supposed to aide for the first and second graders, but her nursery-aged daughter was sick, so she couldn't do it. Would I be able to? I hemmed and hawed, but I really didn't have any plans, so I said yes. At least she had everything all set for the time. It was pretty exhausting--those first-graders were like little pieces of popcorn, everyone popping to a different place at one time! Whew! So once again I had to come home and take a big nap in the afternoon. The good news is that the lady is going to work for me in February when I am planning to go to Ohio to visit.

3. Last night we had our annual "Night at Chuck E. Cheese", which the boys look forward to with great expectations and excitement. The other 3 families in our Bible study were there, and later on 2 of the (big) families from co-op came in (each has 9 kids). The boys had a great time! This year some people came before trick or treating, and there were some yucky costumes. Usually there are only the cute kinds of costumes because the people who come are trying to escape the gory parts too. Oh well.

4. Since I couldn't run errands yesterday, we went to Trader Joe's this afternoon with everyone. That store is just not big enough for all of us! To reward me for my troubles, I bought a 73% dark chocolate bar. Yum. And you can all applaud me for my self-control since I only ate half of it when we got home, and I also ate a banana.

5. The new formula has not been an unqualified success. Anna still spits up with about the same frequency, I would say, although the output is less. It also smells slightly less nasty and fermented. So is that worth paying about 3 times as much?! I don't know. Anna is not bothered by this, however. She started pushing herself to sitting on Monday, and yesterday, she pulled herself to standing for the first time. She is so motivated to be on the same level as her adored older brothers (who are less than thrilled with her little face and eager hands peeking over the coffee table, grabbing at their papers, LOL).

6. Today Bob called to see what on earth is happening with our waiver request, which we sent in 3 weeks ago. Well, it is still in the "command suite", whatever that means. Apparently it has to go through "several channels", and the first person it was supposed to go through was on vacation for awhile. And she has no replacement, so everything just sort of sat. We have no idea when we'll hear something. Elisabeth Elliot's daily devotional was on patience a few days ago. Here is an excerpt. Obviously this is where God is working on me!

Waiting requires patience--a willingness calmly to accept what we have or have not, where we are or where we wish we were, whomever we live or work with. To want what we don't have is impatience, for one thing, and it is to mistrust God. Is He not in complete control of all circumstances, events, and conditions? If some are beyond His control, He is not God.
Restlessness and impatience change nothing except our peace and joy. Peace does not dwell in outward things, but in the heart prepared to wait trustfully and quietly on Him who has all things safely in His hands. "Peace I leave with you; I do not give to you as the world gives" (John 14:27, NEB). What sort of peace has He to give us? A peace which was constant in the midst of ceaseless work (with few visible results), frequent interruptions, impatient demands, few physical comforts; a peace which was not destroyed by the arguments, the faithlessness, and hatred of the people. Jesus had perfect confidence in His Father, whose will He had come to accomplish. Nothing touched Him without His Father's permission. Nothing touches me without my Father's permission. Can I not then wait patiently? He will show the way.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

First Pregnancy Memories

So about this day 10 years ago, I was discovering that I was pregnant for the first time. I remember it all so clearly! I had been faithfully charting, and I was maybe 15 days past ovulation--not the 18 days where you can be pretty sure you are pregnant. But Bob was going TDY the next day for a few days, and I wanted to find out before he left. So I went to the BX (ah, those days of freedom where I could just pick up and go wherever I wanted to whenever I wanted to, LOL!) and bought a test. I knew what it would reveal could possibly change my life forever, including my diet, so I decided to have a slice of Anthony's pizza before going home and taking the test (since I would never sully my mouth with something unhealthy like pizza if I WERE to be pregnant, LOL!!!). It was positive, and Nathan was born about 8 months later.

I remember that day so clearly, but I don't really have any other strong memories of the pregnancy. I guess I was tired, but I could nap whenever I wanted to (I wasn't working). I didn't have any morning sickness, I do remember that. The main thing I remember was having to give myself heparin shots twice a day in my stomach. Yeah, you don't forget that sort of thing very easily!

A few months after Bob and I got married, I developed a blood clot in the right subclavian vein of my arm. Apparently I have always had a narrowing there (it actually bothered by when I would run track in high school, but of course I had no idea what the problem was), and somehow after I got married, something triggered a clot. I was lifting a lot of weights and working out (Bob and I would go to the gym together in the mornings--ahhh, how sweet and healthy of us newlyweds!), so maybe bulking up in the area did the trick. Anyhow, I ended up with a large clot, made larger by the fact that the Wright-Pat ER doctors didn't realize that was the problem when I went in with excruciating pain in my upper arm (this from someone who has had 5 natural childbirths, so you can tell what kind of pain it was!). After several more days of pain, and finally purple dots (burst capillaries) showing up all over my upper arm, a civilian doc figured out it was a blood clot, and I was immediately admitted to the hospital for about 2 weeks. I was put on some super-duper clot-busting drug (urokinase? It's been awhile and I didn't write it down--and now my records have been lost by the same lovely military health system), which caused me to bleed pretty much constantly out of my IV port in my right arm. I was in the ICU because I was losing so much blood while they were dissolving the clot. Finally the clot was gone and I was able to go home and back to classes. I was taking Genetics, Org. Chemistry, Logic and Methods of Proof, and God and History, I believe. God was gracious, and I still managed to get a 4.0 that quarter, although I'm sure Dr. Phipps, my genetics prof, wondered about me. His class was at 8:00, and I fell asleep every morning (Amy remembers, LOL!!), and then I missed over 2 weeks--who was helping me cheat?! But fortunately for me, genetics is like a big math puzzle, and I always loved it and didn't have any trouble! I had an excuse to miss chapel for several more weeks, though, because I wasn't strong enough to walk across campus. So to wrap up the story, the clot kept coming back, and in May 1995, right before I graduated, I had my right first rib removed. I have had no other problems with clots since then.

Fast-forward to my pregnancy. When I went in to my first appointment at the USAFA hospital, they greeted this news of past blood clots with great alarm! I was immediately cast as a high-risk pregnancy, and I had to start giving myself these heparin shots to prevent clots from forming during the pregnancy. Whoa--wasn't expecting all that! But I wanted to do what was best for the baby, so I started poking away at myself. In the beginning it was pretty easy--gather up extra tummy flesh and give the shot there. By the end, when your belly is stretched so tight, it became quite difficult and painful, and the shots left huge bruises more often than not. It looked like someone routinely took a big baseball bat to my tummy, and combined with my attractive newly-minted stretch marks, made my tummy something for a horror exhibit! I would hardly look at myself in the mirror! I had to keep on giving the shots until 6 weeks post-partum, but well, you know how much extra skin is there then, so that was no problem, LOL!

I had to give the shots while I was pregnant with Luke, since we were still in Colorado, but when we moved to Ohio, I became pregnant with Caleb. When I went in to the Wright-Pat hospital for my first appointment, I duely told them all my previous woes. There was a real high-risk OB there, and I think he laughed at the idea that I needed the heparin shots! "No problems with clotting after your surgery? Then there is no reason for you to be taking heparin!" REALLY?! How wonderful! What a wonderful pregnancy! And I haven't had to give myself a shot ever since. You will never enjoy pregnancy as much as you do when you thankfully realize every day when you wake up that you don't have to give yourself any shots that day! It makes every pragnancy a breeze! I wonder if we could have even contemplated having so many kids if I had had to give myself the shots with each one. What a hassle! But it does show the extent that I was willing to go to make sure my babies were healthy! And, praise the Lord, they have been!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Research would have been good

So I have been busily working to increase my milk supply by pumping so that Anna can have one more breastmilk bottle a day. I nurse her in the morning, but by evening, after she's had a couple of formula bottles, she is spitting up the time. All.the.time. The boys scurry after her with the wet wipe box to clean up her messes. I have had to change her outift as many as 3 times in a few hours, as she will spit up and crawl through it, smearing the nasty stuff all over herself. It is GROSS. No question that soy formula does not totally agree with her little tummy.

Well, it is not easy to start pumping again after months of not doing so, and after a few weeks of only nursing once or twice a day, but I finally started letting down for it, and things were going fine. Then, all of a sudden, three days ago there was no more milk. Maybe 1/4 ounce total each pumping session. What?! I tried pumping at different times of the day--same result. So frustrating! Finally I got smart and searched "nursing while pregnant" last night on the computer. Well! It turns out that during the second trimester, your body stops making milk and gears up to make colustrum for the new baby. Since I figure I'm at about 13 weeks, that would fit right in. People who continue nursing throughout pregnancy are mainly doing it for the comfort of the child, not for any milk benefit. My kids have never been ones to just comfort-nurse. If they are nursing, they expect things to happen and tummies to be filled! Anna fussed around this morning when I was nursing her, so I am sure she is noticing the same thing--not much more milk. I guess this is about it for her, then. I'm actually have a hard time dealing with that. This is so not my timing! She obviously needs something other than formula, and now I can't give her that. It's frustrating, and I'm trying not to resent the new baby. I guess this weekend I'll head to Walmart and buy the expensive pre-digested formula and give that a shot.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Small World

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about some newspaper articles dealing with large families. One article talked about Leslie Leyland Fields, a woman with 6 kids who wrote a book called Surprise Child: Finding Hope in Unexpected Pregnancy. I think I just assumed she was Catholic or something (why else would she have so many kids, LOL!!), so imagine my surprise when I read through my Cedarville alumni magazine and found out she was a '78 Cedarville grad! Wow! So here I am, totally guilty of the same prejudical thinking that bugs me about other people--"So, you have a lot of kids. Are you Catholic or Mormon?" LOL! Anyhow, she lives on Kodiak Island in Alaska, and every summer she and her family got to a remote island where they commercial fish for salmon. They are the only ones on the island, and this solitude is where she does a lot of her writing. Interesting!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Social Butterfly

Well, I can see that I have not been faithfully blogging. Do you ever have weeks where it seems like every social engagement you've had for the month is concentrated into one 7 day period? That's how this last week was for me. I went out with other moms 4 out of 8 nights. I think that's some kind of record or something! I had a ladies' Bible study with Elizabeth and 2 other ladies Tuesday night, then our church ladies had a games night on Wednesday. Sunday was our church picnic, and the Sunday night was the homeschool co-op moms' meeting. Last night Elizabeth, I and one other lady went out to celebrate Elizabeth's birthday. I think I'm home now for the foreseeable future, LOL.

I also finished teaching yesterday at co-op. Yay! It went well, although they did have a little trouble with the Greek root words worksheet. They liked the Archimede's Principle experiment, with chocolate kisses and quarters, although that was probably due to the fact that I gave everyone a Hershey's kiss when it was over, LOL. There are 2 more weeks of teaching (not me though!), and then we have our fifth week "Olympic" day. I have to make a banner for our tier (3rd and 4th grade), and also get all the food together for the Greek snack room. Nothing fancy though.

On Saturday after the soccer games, Bob took Nathan and Luke to see Facing the Giants , a movie made by a church for very little money. It got rave reviews from them. They went because the L's had seen it the day before and highly recommended it. Ed said something interesting about it. He said that Hollywood doesn't really understand the Christian life at all, so when they make a movie with Christians in it, maybe they will deal with struggles that a new Christian might face, since that's about all they know about. But Ed could tell this movie was made by people who had deep walks with the Lord, because it dealt with issues that come up later in your walk. Luke said he cried, which I thought was very touching. I'm sure I'll see it later, but I had to work on Greek stuff on Saturday, which was why I didn't go then.

Mount Laundry is calling me, so that's it for the update.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Ginger Snaps--a great recipe for Fall

Dy over at Classic Adventures asked everyone to post a favorite Fall recipe. I'm posting Grandma G.'s ginger snaps, which are so great with apple cider or tea or anything "fall-like" that you might like to drink! As a funny story, I took these to a ladies' Bible study potluck at our church in Colorado Springs. I was going through the line when the lady across the table from me poked at the cookies with the end of her fork and said (with a literal sniff, LOL), "Hard gingersnaps! I hate those!" I could hardly believe that, and my shocked mouth came out with, "They NOT hard . . . they're CHEWY" in a very strong tone. She looked surprised and took one, but I bet she never ate it. What a waste of a good cookie! So for the record, these are not hard ginger snaps. The moral here, however, is never criticize food in a potluck line when you don't know who made it--they could be standing across from you!

Grandma G.'s Ginger Snaps

3/4 cup shortening (butter works fine too, if you are like my wonderful sister-in-law and can't have crisco!)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
extra granulated sugar

In a large bowl, cream together shortening and sugar. Add molasses and egg. Beat until well-blended. Combine flour, soda, spices, and salt. Add to molasses mixture and mix well. Chill for at least an hour. Form into balls; roll in extra sugar. Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand one minute before removing to cooling racks. (I always double this recipe because it just doesn't make that many cookies--about 4 dozen.)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

X vs Y

So here is a model of a Greek trireme in bad lighting, LOL. Observe the "bronze" battering ram in the front, and the 3 rows of oars (yellow, green, and red). This is what we made for our craft at TNT yesterday, and it was a big hit. It also underscored again the difference between boys and girls.

Boys: "Look, mine has guns pointing out the back!" "Mine is breathing fire!"

Girls: " I made a king and queen to sit in the back, and they are holding hands!" "I'm going to put the table and chairs right here in the middle."

I was worried that the girls might not be too interested in the lesson, since it was mainly focused on the Greeks and war. I had no need to worry, however. They were very interested in hearing about Spartan girls, who had a lot more freedom than other girls in Greece--they were taught to read and write and also had to participate in gymnastics and combat games so they would be fit to bear lots of strong little Spartan baby boys to grow up to be big, strong Spartan warriors. Wow, I would have been like a goddess back then, LOL! Also, we talked about Xerxes, who led the an attack on Greece to try to punish it for his father's punishing defeat at Marathon. All the girls were quite interested in hearing this other information about Esther's husband! He was a real character too--when he had these bridges built to cross over the Hellespont, and a storm came up and destroyed them, he ordered the sea whipped 300 times. That got a big laugh. Also, he had this big throne built on the shore to watch the battle of Salamis, like he was at the Super Bowl or something. Too bad his team got crushed. LOL! So we had a fun time, but I was sure exhausted when I got home! I put Anna down, and then I crashed on the couch for a nap while the boys watched a video.

Now, one more week to go. Next week we're covering the alphabet and language, as well as some of the famous scientists and thinkers. I've got to organize my experiments, but tonight there's a women's night out games night with the ladies of church, so I guess I will have to start tomorrow!

Spinning Plates

This weekend I felt like the guy spinning plates, and mine seemed like they were all getting ready to fall! I just felt so overwhelmed. We still haven't heard about our waiver request, which weighs heavily on me. I've been worried about gestational diabetes with this pregnancy--I know my risk increases with every pregnancy, and plus, I have a mother and an aunt with diabetes, plus I've had 2 babies over 9 pounds. So I have been being fanatical about exercising almost daily, and also adopting eating habits that possibly might prevent GD, such as eating small meals often, having protein with my snacks, and having some protein before I go to bed. But it's one more thing to keep track of during the day, and sometimes I feel like I could do that full time OR homeschool, but I'm having a hard time with both. I'm also concerned about all of Anna's spitting up, so I'm thinking about starting to pump again so she could have at least one more breastmilk bottle in the evening (but when do I have time to pump?!). And then I had to teach at co-op on Tuesday, so I was scurrying around trying to collect materials for the craft, type up my notes, hand-draw maps, etc. Whew!

But what really caused me to about throw in the towel was a small thing, mainly that Luke started losing things. Luke is my orderly one, the one who I can depend on to notice things and help me find things that are lost. But we spend about an hour before the soccer game on Saturday looking for his other purple soccer sock. One sock was beside his uniform. The other sock was nowhere to be found, and I mean we really turned the upstairs upside down looking. Finally he went off wearing black ones, but it really bothered me. Then thet next day we discovered that he had left his jacket at the field. This may seem very inconsequential to you, but that is because you are not a hormonal pregnant woman who has a system that is hanging by a very fine thread here! I have one jacket for about every size or so, and I just pass them down each new season. So Luke losing his light jacket means that I am missing one, and what will Caleb and Jonathan wear when it is their turn for this size? What if this new baby is a boy? What will he do?!! Iin tears, I told Bob that I didn't think I could keep track of any more people's stuff for this family, since I am obviously the only one doing so. It's too much!! Fortunately I then had the thought to call my Aunt Claire , who encouraged me and made me laugh. And then the Lord reminded me of a verse:

"To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy--to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power, and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!" Jude 24-25

So first of all, this took my focus of me and my woes, and put it back on God, where it belongs. And secondly, it reminded me that I am not able to keep any of my plates from falling--that's the Lord's job. And through Him, I can have great joy! I felt much better, and I have continued to do so, thinking about this verse.