Thursday, May 31, 2007


With my slow dial-up connection, I can only post one picture at a time. So I have posted a few pictures in separate entries of our time with company. For more pictures, and a fuller account of our time, please read my aunt's blog, Pilotmom. We had such a wonderful time with everyone. My parents are leaving tomorrow, so it will be an empty house then--well, maybe not, LOL. But it will SEEM empty! And we will get back to our school routine on Monday, so the vacation will truly be over.

The vacation is over for my Uncle Jim as well, as he starts radiation for his cancer of the tonsil on Monday. This will be 5 days a week for 6 weeks, and we would greatly appreciate your prayers for him as he undergoes this trial. At least he is starting out well-rested and well-fed!

Seeing An Answer to Prayer!

Here are my aunt and uncle, along with their son "Pilot" and his girlfriend Sarah. Caleb and Jonathan had a huge crush on her, as she indulged them by playing all sorts of games with them. Plus, she's a pretty girl with a beautiful smile--what's not to like?! We celebrated Pilot's birthday, as well as Sarah's graduation for grad school (with a masters in statistics) while they were here.

Three Claires

Here we are--Aunt Claire, Anna Claire, and me! We're just missing Emily Claire . . .

Anna in Her Easter Dress

This is the dress that Aunt Claire bought Anna for Easter. Unfortunately, Easter here was about 50 degrees, so Anna didn't get to wear it, and we saved it for when AUnt Claire and Uncle Jim could visit and see it in person! It was so pretty! Her cousin Emily has the same dress, so we were hoping to take pictures of the 2 girls together--that would have been too cute!

Anna was at such a cute stage during their visit. When Aunt Claire and Uncle Jim got here, she was still crawling a lot, but taking some tentative steps. Each day, she got more confidant in her walking, and by the time they left, she was not crawling at all! She still has that cute wide-legged waddle, but she is starting to bend her knees a little and not be quite so Frankenstein-ish, LOL.

Crazy For Sudoku

Here is Uncle Jim and the boys working on Sudoku puzzles. He got the boys hooked again on them. One clever thing he did was make a big grid that we copied, and then he wrote the puzzles on them, so they were easier to see and work.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Ending the week on a much higher note . . .

Thanks for all your encouragement--my week definitely ended on a better note! The biggest praise is that my cousin "Pilot" and his girlfriend were able to come. He landed back at his base at 1:00 on Friday, and Sarah met him there, and they left about 3:30. We were so glad to see them Friday night! What a huge answer to lots of prayer! We have really enjoyed meeting Sarah. The boys all think she's just super, since she played pinochle with Nathan and Luke and "pirates" with Caleb and Jonathan. Tonight we had a barbeque over at the L's house. They recently got a chiminea (spelling? one of those little fireplaces that can sit on the deck, LOL), and the kids had a wonderful time after dinner roasting marshmallows and making s'mores outside. There was also a serious ping pong and air hockey tournament going on downstairs. It was a nice time of visiting, although we probably stayed much too late and will pay the price tomorrow in the form of very grumpy kids. Ah well!

Another positive note is that we did purchase a set of bunk beds on Thursday night. This set was located in Maryland, so we had an hour drive to get there. Bob and I went after dinner, since the lady worked. We took both minivans, which ended up to be a very good thing. What we should have done was also taken my dad, LOL. It was a set with a twin on top/full on bottom, just like I wanted, and there is a desk on one end. The set included 2 dressers as well, which we sorely needed, so it was a very good deal for us. The only slight hitch was that all this furniture barely fit into the minivans. We were seriously sweating and working to get everything in, and we almost gave it all up figuring we'd have to make a second trip. But we persevered, and miracuously it all did fit. Bob had to wedge himself in his van, though, since we had to move his seat all the way up. Good thing it was a short trip . . . LOL. The lady also lived in an apartment, so we had to traipse up and down stairs and across a courtyard. Whew--I am glad I am not a professional mover! We are waiting until some of the company leaves before attempting to reassemble all of this. If we are successful, I will post pictures. So if you never see any pictures, feel free to ask me about what happened . . . . . . .

The other wonderful thing that happened is that I received a package from my friend Johanna, and it contained 6 tubes of the now-discontinued "Dr. Burt's lavender and mint toothpaste" that does not have sodium laurel sulfate! When she was up in Maryland visiting, she was in a store and saw these tubes. She thought they were what I had lamented about, so she called me to confirm and then bought them all! What a friend! I was so excited! Thank you, Johanna!

So although we are still so sad that Dan, Melinda, and Emily couldn't be here, things did improve. And speaking of improving, I talked to Melinda this afternoon, and it sounds like she is doing a lot better too. She still can't lift anything over 5 pounds, which rules out lifting Emily, their 5 month old, so her mom is still there to help out. She is also still having some problems with food, so hopefully those will resolve themselves soon, and she'll be better than new!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Not My Week . . .

Well, I don't mean to be a downer, but this week apparently is not my week. We've been looking faithfully on craigslist for a bunk bed for Caleb and Jonathan's room. I really want one with a twin on top and double on bottom, and they have been very hard to come by. I've called or emailed about a few, but I've never been the first one. Last night I saw one and I called right away--and I was the first! Yay for me! I asked when I could come see it, and she said tomorrow (meaning today, Wednesday) after 2:00. They live on the south side of NoVA, probably about 45 minutes away.

This morning, Bob took Aunt Claire, my dad, and Caleb and Jonathan down to the World War II Memorial, and they were back by 1:00. While they were gone, the lady called to tell me that she would actually be home a little earlier, around 1:00, and so it would be good if we were there closer to 1:00. I said fine, and as soon as Bob got home, I got in the van, and we left. We stopped for gas, and I called the lady to tell her that we were on our way, but we'd be a little later than 1:00, and she said that she was glad I had called--her husband had shown the beds to some people while she was out, and they bought them. Okay. Ummm . . . Did we do something wrong in craigslist etiquette? She told me when it would work out for us to come (and this morning was not an option for her, she said), and we were going to be there. So how come someone else could show up and buy it first?! That never happened to me any of the other times I called about beds! The people always said they had someone else coming to look, and if they were available after that, they would let me know. And they never were. So I'm pretty frustrated with the whole thing. I feel like Nathan and Luke--"That's not FAIR!" Oh well. That's life for this week, anyhow.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I think sometimes you can look forward to something TOO much. This weekend was to be the big sort of family reunion. My brother and his family were going to fly here Thursday, but Sunday his wife was admitted into the hospital with pancreatitis due to a gall stone in the pancreatic duct, and yesterday she had emergency gall bladder surgery. They had to cancel their tickets, and we're praying for her quick recovery. We're still waiting to see if my cousin and his girlfriend will be able to make it up. He is an Air Force pilot who had to go fly somewhere, and we're not sure if he will get back in time to come.

So we're disappointed, but we will soldier on. Even though we are not a close family geographically, we all keep up with each other by phone calls, emails, and blogs, and we look forward to those rare times when we can all be together. Evidently this time wasn't meant to be one of them. I guess that is what heaven will be for.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


I apologize for my lack of blogging of late, but frankly, it is going to get worse before it gets better! We are having too good of a time with my Aunt Claire and Uncle Jim here. Uncle Jim has singlehandedly revived the Sudoku craze here at our house. He has a methodology for narrowing down what numbers go where, and Nathan and Luke have both caught on. They have been busily working on puzzles--that counts as math, right? Problem-solving?

Alright, I'm off to visit more . . .

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Lunch with the Womenfolk

Today a girl from church, Christine, came over for lunch. She is pregnant with her first baby and due the end of June. Her parents live in Germany and are music professors (Americans, though), and that is hwere she grew up and even went to college. She and Jeremy have been married for a year and are such a nice couple. She has scoliosis, and so an epidural is not an option for her, so when she found out that I had all mine naturally, she was very interested in talking to me about what I do during labor!

I had planned to send the boys down in the basement after lunch, figuring they really don't need to be in on a conversation about the nitty-gritty of labor and delivery, LOL, but then I realized that Bob was taking leave today. As much experience as he has had in the labor room, I didn't think he needed to be a part of the discussion either, so he ended up taking Nathan and Luke on a long bike ride. Caleb and Jonathan wanted to eat lunch outside on the little picnic table under the trees, so it ended up just being Christine, my mom, Anna, and me!

We had a really great discussion. Her mother also had all natural births, as did her grandmother, and so she has had good role models who have been very encouraging about their stories. I gave her a copy of the article I found many years ago when I was pregnant with Nathan about raspberry leaf tea. A lot of places like on the web recommend drinking it during pregnancy, but I've never seen it spelled out exactly like in this article, where when you go into labor, it recommends drinking a very strong pint of it. That has always really helped me deal with my contractions. Also, the article recommends taking calcium pills to help with cramping, which I did with Nathan and I think Luke. I think as we move into a more technical society, those sorts of natural things are cast off in favor of drugs, and so you just don't hear as much about those kinds of helpful remedies--only what I would call "mechanical" ones, like breathing techniques and different labor positions (also very important though!).

We also talked a lot about what to expect the first few days, especially with nursing, which can be so frustrating. No one is coming to help her, so they will be on their own. I told her not to hesitate to call me with any questions! All this experience should not go to waste! I had my mom and Elizabeth around when I brought Nathan home, and I was so glad for all their calm advice. Sometimes you just need someone to tell you, "That's perfectly normal--you are doing fine!"

We had a really good time, and I think it was helpful for her. I have thought a lot about becoming a doula when the kids are older, and I certainly enjoy talking about things like this and encouraging new moms. We'll see where the Lord leads, but He has given me the experience in this area!

Two Weeks Old!

Grace had her 2 week well-baby appointment yesterday. She is now 9 pounds, so she regained her birth weight, plus a few ounces. She's 21 1/2 inches long, and everything looks good! Here she is in the arms of her loving big brother Caleb. He is the one who has shown the most interest in her, and he always wants to hold her. You might not believe it, based on the lack of pictures, but she has her eyes open quite a bit now, always with such a serious look on her face, and a furrowed brow. Who knows what deep thoughts she is entertaining. She looks a lot like Jonathan did as a baby, and he was also very serious. I'll have to root up a picture of him back then to post for comparison!

Grace has been doing really well at night, continuing to stretch out her long sleep period. Last night I fed her at 10:00, and then she woke up at 4:30, and again at 8:30. Ahhh.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

Here are my 6 reasons for celebrating today. I always wanted to be a mom, and by high school I even wanted a "big" family--of course, that then to me meant 4 kids, LOL. I am so blessed to be the mom for Nathan, Luke, Caleb, Jonathan, Anna, and Grace.

After church, Bob grilled steaks for us, and we also had baked potatoes, sourdough bread (my favorite!), salad, and fruit. Yum!!! And best of all, Anna and Grace napped--you can't have that at a restaurant!

Happy Mother's Day to all my Mommy friends!!!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Weekend Wrap-up

So let's look back and see what we accomplished this week:

Nathan and Luke took their standardized tests this week. According to them they were "easy". Now all we have to do is wait until the end of June when we get results. I always get nervous . . . I picked them up Wednesday afternoon along with Grace, to show her off. As I parked a lady came up who was in the co-op for the first 2 years we were, but didn't participate last year (they were just testing with us). She had a baby last January, a few months before I had Anna. I got out the carseat, and she said, "Oh, let me see the baby--I haven't seen her . . . since. . . " and then she sort of stumbled to a halt as she really looked in the car seat and saw a newborn. You could see that it just wasn't computing, since the last time she saw Anna, she had been about the size of Grace, so . . . who was this newborn? Why had my baby not grown at all over the course of a year? It was funny. I took pity on her and told her that this was a NEW baby that I had just had last Tuesday, and that threw her for a loop too! LOL!

This is a week or 2 old, but Caleb is now riding his bike without training wheels! But knee pads are recommended, LOL, and in fact, he is inside fussing right now after a fall. Really he is doing quite well though. He's been so funny about watching me nurse. He said, "So, is one of those for milk, and the other for her food?" I said that both of them were milk, since that's all Grace needs. "Well, why do you need 2 of them then?!" LOL, all I could think of was one great big hose thing coming out of a chest!

Jonathan . . . hmmm . . . can't think of anything really new. He's just tagging along with everyone else.

Anna is gaining confidence daily with her walking, but she still prefers crawling on the whole. She also turned herself around and went backwards down the stairs for the first time yesterday! Since we have 3 flights of stairs in this house, this is a very welcome advance in skills.

Grace lost her umbilical stump on Wednesday and had her first baby tub bath on Thursday. She wasn't thrilled about it, but she mainly just scowled, instead of crying. She has been doing really well at night, usually going from about 9:15 to 2:30 or so for her long stretch. Now if I would just go to bed at 10:00 when she was done nursing . . .

This week I nursed, pumped, and nursed some more. And changed a lot of poopy diapers. Grace can't keep up with my milk supply, so I've been pumping a tidy little supply for the freezer. I am finally feeling a lot better, in that my pelvis is no longer aching. I've had a big headache the past few days, but so have my dad and Nathan, so we've decided it's allergies, since Caleb is coughing and a bit wheezy too. I made a trip to Sams today, and as I was leaving, the nice older Korean gentleman who checks the receipts says to me, "Oh! No kids today!" LOL! Hey, I am recognized at Sams! I feel so special!

Bob and my dad put up our other new garage door. So now we have 2 new garage doors with windows, and wow, what a difference that makes for the garage! No more dark hole! I need to take a picture and post it. They look really nice. Bob's other big accomplishment for the week was getting Grace registered for DEERS and Tricare. You might think that should be an easy chore, but you would be wrong. In fact, due to the incompetant beauracracy of those organizations here in the National Capital Region, it actually took a good deal of time and phone calls with rude customer service agents to get it all sorted out. Yesterday I was finally able to make Grace's 2 week well-baby appointment for Tuesday. As I was getting ready to leave the hospital with Grace, the house pediatrician stopped by to tell me that Grace was a little jaundiced, so I should see her doctor that next day (last Friday). I nodded seriously, while laughing inside. Yes, I'll get right on that! I couldn't have gotten an appointment for her then if I had tried! Good thing all my babies are a little jaundiced, and I knew what to expect. She was fine by a few days later, like they always are. Good thing nothing was really seriously wrong. But now, we are all set, thanks to Bob's persistence.

Well, that's about it. Nothing too exciting!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Pink Princess

Here is Grace at 1 week. I gave up on a good shot with her eyes open, LOL. This is dark because I took the flash off, but maybe you can see a little bit that all her baby zits and abrasions have cleared up . . . or maybe not. Well, you'll just have to trust me, LOL. This picture still makes her look really blotchy, but she's really not.

Pregnancy Hindsight

Since it was one week ago today that I stopped being pregnant, I thought it would be good to take a look back at this pregnancy and see what lessons I learned.

1. The doctor does matter. I am a pretty hands-off pregnant person and birther--I just want to be left alone, and I don't need or want a lot of hand-holding. So I didn't think it really mattered much when at my first appointment, the doctor made a big deal about my risk of hemorrhage, and how their office had all that birth control stuff everywhere, and they kept talking about permanent measures of birth control, etc. I never really felt like they were on the same page as me, and I really wasn't that confident in them, that they had MY best interests in mind, but I didn't think it mattered too much. I would just do my thing, and that would be that. After all, I have given birth several times in military hospitals with perfect strangers delivering, and that was just fine. Looking back, however, now I wonder if she could have done something different . . . if the baby got stuck because she didn't turn it right or something. I don't even know. And the whole induction thing. I agreed to it because I thought the baby would be smaller and I was ready to not be pregnant anymore, LOL, but that wasn't her reason at all. She didn't really HAVE a good reason, and so I just didn't have any confidence in her. I think it DID make a difference in the whole experience.

But what else could I have done about the doctor? I have thought about what if I chose Bethesda instead. I know they would not have induced me unless I was having actual problems or was 2 weeks late. But you know--driving over 45 minutes one way to appointments would have just not worked, with Anna still being so young. Who could I have obligated to watch all my other kids for such long periods of time, especially when one of them was still a baby herself and needed a lot of attention?! And there were no other doctors in this area that took Tricare Standard and were accepting new patients, so I really don't think I had any other option. I will have to chalk this up to being God's plan that I don't understand.

2. Constipation is bad. This pregnancy, I was Miss Super-Fiber. I ate bran muffins made with extra fiber All-Bran. I exercised pretty much every day. Towards the end I took Colase. I can honestly say I have never felt better during a pregnancy! But the last 2 weeks or so I STILL struggled with contipation, no matter how many prunes, muffins, or Colase I ate. I think this was one reason why the baby did not descend very quickly--there wasn't as much room as needed! As I was starting to push, I told the doctor and nurse that next time I would ask for an enema. "What! We don't do those anymore!" they quickly exclaimed. But I think it would have helped.

With Anna, I took castor oil the weekend before I had her (on a Tuesday as well). It did work, although Anna passed meconium before birth. Before I took the castor oil, I did a lot of research and was convinced that it did not pass over the placenta and so could not make the baby's bowels move. But after Anna's did, I was not so sure, and although Anna had no problems with the meconium, I didn't want to try that this time. Now I'm thinking maybe I should have taken that chance. I don't know what I would do if I got pregnant again and it came time for my due date and I was constipated. Hmmmm.

3. The whole weird labor and delivery was a fitting end to this pregnancy, which was not what I would call "smooth" from the beginning. Getting pregnant while nursing a 4-month old exclusively, finding out about the pregnancy when all of a sudden your milk starts drying up and being rejected by your baby, having the waiver for off-base OB care be denied this time, having such a hard time finding a doctor, having a weird first ultrasound with secretive techs who made us think something was wrong when it wasn't, failing the 1 hour glucose test--everything was different about this pregnancy, so I suppose it is fitting that the labor and delivery was as well.

Who knows, this might be my last pregnancy--but I sort of hope it isn't, since it didn't leave me with good, happy pregnancy feelings. I would love to have another pregnancy with a supportive, competent midwife that feels the same way I do about kids and such. And while we're at it, I'd like to move into our dream home on 5 acres or so in Ohio between my parents and Amy, LOL. So I will stop wishing and just be grateful for a healthy, happy baby. Truly Grace is a gift from God, in His perfect timing and plan.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Grace Settles In

Grace will be one week old tomorrow! She is finally opening her eyes more, much to the delight of the boys. Unfortunately, she is not a very cooperative photography subject in that eyes-open state, and the pictures I've taken consist of her glaring balefully into the camera or off to the side. I'll keep working on it though. Maybe she will just be a more serious baby, like Luke and Jonathan. Her skin has really cleared up nicely, so it would be a shame not to document that!

She also seems to have gotten her days and nights more into order. She is having more awake times during the day, and a longer stretch at night, much to the delight of her mother. There is however still lots of room for improvement, LOL.

Nursing is still going well, and I've started pumping too. It looks like once again I will have enough milk to feed a small third world country.

We all ventured out to church on Sunday, where Grace was a big hit. She almost made it through the whole service before needing to be nursed.

I actually am not feeling as well today, so I've gone back to taking Motrin in the morning and evening. I think it is bothering me to have this much milk. Also, I think my pelvis is finally realizing that it experienced a traumatic event, LOL, and it is achier this week than last. I have been resting though--it has been so nice having my parents here to help. I think I've napped or slept in every day! I have a friend who just had her 4th baby, and her husband is on a 6 month TDY. I don't know how she does it, but my hat is off to her!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Grace at Home

So now we're back home, trying to get settled into routine. The boys and Anna were glad to see us back again! Anna is not really sure what to think of this new arrival. She is very curious and is learning to be gentle. Anna was busy while we were gone--she has really gained confidence in walking! Before we had the baby, she had taken just a few steps. Now she is taking several steps in a row, and she is being more deliberate about it (as opposed to before, when I think it sort of surprised her to find out she was walking, and she would immediately drop back to the floor and start crawling!). She is even just pushing to standing in the middle of the floor and then taking a few steps! What a big girl! What a big sister!

Grace is doing well and nursing like a champ. My milk is already coming in, so I am not feeling all that comfortable right now, LOL. Grace has the lovely blotchy, pimply newborn skin that my babies all have, as well as some nice abrasion marks to set it all off. Hopefully those will all go away in a few more days! I'll try to keep up with posting pictures, although I can't make any big promises . . .

Grace's Birth Story

I waited patiently for the Lord;
He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
Out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
A hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the Lord.

Psalm 40:1-3

We got to the hospital right at 7:30. I had eaten breakfast and drunk my really strong pint of raspberry tea, which always helps my labors not be too painful. I was anticipating a routine labor, since I had already had an induction with Jonathan which wasn't much different from any of my other labors. Instead, this labor was like none of my other ones whatsoever, but praise the Lord, He was faithful.

The pitocin was started at about 8:30, and at 10:00 the doctor came and broke my water. I figured at that point (I was about 4 cm dilated) that I would probably deliver around 12:30 or 1:00 at the latest. Grace had other ideas. For some reason she just never really moved down, and so I dilated very, very slowly. The nurse kept upping the pitocin, time kept dragging on, and I could tell I still wasn't even in transition! My nurse went off-duty at 3:00, and I was really getting so discouraged. I never ever dreamed it would take so long! By 4:00 I was thinking that I was just going to be in labor forever, and for the first time the thought of an epidural tempted me, although I did realize at that point that I was finally in transition. But even transition didn't play out as it had for the others. I sort of hung out at 8 cm for awhile, instead of dilating the last few cms in a few contractions and being ready to push.

Finally a little before 5:00 I was fully dilated and ready to push. I pushed a contraction or 2, and the doctor said that the head was about here--one more sustained push should do it. So I gave a mighty big long push, and out came the head. One more push and that should be it, right? Well, all of a sudden I went from sitting up and pushing to being practically flat on my back, with the nurse on one side, lifting my leg back to my ear and Bob on the other, trying to do the same thing. "WHAT IS GOING ON?!! THAT REALLY HURTS!! IS SHE OUT?!" I said, trying to figure out why I was being a pretzel and it felt like the doctor was pulling me up in the air. "NO--KEEP PUSHING!" yelled Bob, and the nurse called for help. At that minute, however, Grace popped out. Her shoulder had gotten a bit stuck, hence all the commotion. Although it was only a few seconds long, it was plenty of excitement, and it guarantees that I will never get Grace's birth story mixed up with any of the other 5! I was just so thankful that she was out and that my long day was over. I was so ready to eat something!

One reason the doctor wanted to induce was because she was afraid of my risk for hemorrhaging, and she wanted the birth to happen during the day, so all sorts of people would be around if needed. Ironically, since this induction ended up taking so long, the lower quadrant of my uterus did not clamp up right away, so it was a little harder to stop the bleeding, although nothing too drastic. To be honest, I did not expect that the induction would take so long either, so that is why I didn't argue too much about scheduling it. I was more concerned about having a big baby. And Grace was fairly large, at 8# 13, but she was not my biggest baby at all. Caleb was 9# 5, and Jonathan was 9# 6, and I had no problems whatsoever pushing either of them out. It seems obvious in hindsight that Grace was simply not ready to come out, and I will definitely make a big stink about scheduling any future inductions.

Fortunately this was my 6th baby, and not my first, and so even with all the contortions and whatnot, I felt pretty good the next day. Grace is a sweet little girl, and we are so enjoying snuggling with her and rubbing her fuzzy little head! Bob spent both nights with us in the hospital, while my parents kept the home fires burning back home with the others. It was like a little retreat for us! We laid around and caught up on our magazine reading. We enjoyed visiting with Elizabeth and Amy P. We watched lots of HGTV. Very relaxing! But we were missed at home, and so we came home this morning before lunch. Here is one last hospital picture of Grace.

Welcome, Grace Elizabeth!!

Grace Elizabeth was born at 5:04 PM on May 1. She was 8 pounds, 13 ounces, and 21 inches long. She looks like her brothers and sisters did, except she does have a bit more hair than anyone else ever did--and maybe more on top than Anna has now! More pictures and the birth story to come . . .