Saturday, March 28, 2009

Happy Birthday Anna!

Anna turned 3 today! It's hard to believe that 3 years ago, I went in for my appointment on my due date, they found out I was already 5 cm dilated but not having contractions, so the doctor admitted me, started pitocin, broke my water, and Anna arrived a few short hours later! And with her arrival, the color pink appeared in our house. Now pink is almost taking over!

Anna asked for a "pink bunny cake". I'm not sure exactly sure what the muse was for that particular choice, but hey, it was easy, and it did not involved Bionicles, so I was good with it. I would like everyone to know that I made the eyes just black, but other parties, who shall remain nameless, felt that the bunny needed pink irises, like real bunnies. So that is why this bunny looks a bit possessed.

Anna got lots of great presents, such as some Colorforms, a pink bike helmet, a princess beach towel, a shiny silver purse with lots of fun stuff inside, and a lollipop. A few days ago, she and Grace also scored a bunch of nice clothes passed down from the L's girls. They have been cleaning out their basement storage room, and we were the beneficiaries from that! The L's passed on these cute USAFA cheerleading outfits, which bring back such fun memories of going to the football games with them when we were both stationed in Colo. Springs, and Jessica and Amanda wearing these outfits! Anna and Grace were wearing them in honor of USAFA hockey, which has had a great season this year and is playing tonight in the NCAA tournament (double overtime right now!). I think for the football season, Faith will have to be the one wearing the small outfit, though. It's only a 12 month one, and I think it will be a shirt on Grace by then!

And here is a picture of Faith, just to keep everyone happy. She's cooing and smiling up a storm!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Girls

My mom was requesting more pictures of Faith, and I realized I haven't taken any lately! Poor 7th child . . . I think she is going to follow true to trend and be an "odd number baby", which means being a little chunkier (i.e., not in the 5th percentile, LOL), and looking more like Anna with a rounder face. But I could be wrong. Grace and Anna still looked very similar as babies at the 2 month stage. Faith is definitely plumping up. She's a little over 10 pounds now. Last night she went from 10:45 until 6:30, which was wonderful for me, except for the engorgement, LOL.

Here is a bonus picture of Grace and Anna, plus Anna's favorite "pink babydoll". Someone in our neighborhood was throwing out these little chairs back in January, so Bob brought them home. Anna and Grace love to set them up next to each other and sit in them, eating or reading books together. They're too cute! I love seeing them become best buddies.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


This is our church. I love it! It actually looks like a church, LOL, and it is surrounded by a huge grassy area for the kids to play on after service. It was built back in the 1850s. Eventually the church sort of died a slow death, and a few years ago, it only had a few aging members, and no permanent pastor. A church from downtown D.C. was looking to plant a church in our county, and they found this church. About 3 1/2 years ago, they offered to send a pastor and a team of members from the downtown church to run children's ministry, etc. This was agreed to, and the church has grown ever since.

At first, the entrance was through the bell tower, and we sat facing the back of the church. There was only seating for about 90, and even when we started going there, back in November 2006, it was getting really full. In the summer of 2007, we gutted the inside and turned everything around. Now we sit facing the bell tower, and that added maybe 50 or 60 more seats. But we quickly outgrew that too.

Here you can see the addition that was put on, probably in the 1970s or so. It has a big fellowship room upstairs, plus some offices, and a few classrooms, the nursery, a kitchen, and another big room downstairs. For the past year, ushers have put seats in the big room upstairs for overflow seating, and there is a closed circuit TV so you can see the service from in there. That room is getting full too.
This was our last Sunday to have our main worship service here. Starting next week, we will be meeting in the middle school down the road from here. I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, we totally need the space. It's so crowded and hot in the old building. And I certainly don't want to be the person who says, "Now I'm here, so no more new people!" We have wonderful people in our church, and our pastor is so good, so I want as many people as possible to hear him! But still--a middle school. Bleh. I will miss all the light streaming in the windows, and the beautiful view of trees. Also, the singing sounds so great in a small building! I'm not sure how the sound will be in an auditorium, but I imagine it won't be quite the same effect. Plus, there will just be a lot of set-up hassles. Mainly, I just don't like change, LOL.
We will still meet at this building for our Sunday evening service, so it's not like we're saying goodbye to it forever. But still--I'll miss the morning service being here!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

End of the Week Wrap-Up

Whew, the week is over! Here is how things shook out:

1. Anna broke out in hives Wednesday night, but because I am now up on current dosing amounts for children's Zyrtec, she got the right dosage from the start. The hives never got huge, and they were pretty much gone yesterday. She also found her binky Thursday (it was hiding under the trestle of our big table). I let her watch a video with it, and then I conspired to make it disappear again. Now she says, "My binky is lost AGAIN" in an exasperated voice, but so far, she hasn't needed it for nighttime. Now for the one in the car . . . I think that one will also go to the big binky place in the sky, but not until after we get back from our trip to Ohio. I'm not crazy!

2. Bob got rear-ended on his way home from work Wednesday night. He had called just a few minutes before to tell me that he was about 5 minutes from home, so I should go ahead and leave for my chiropractic appointment so I wouldn't be late. I merrily drove off, and while Bob was sitting htere in traffic, the guy behind him failed to stop. Fortunately, there wasn't really any damage, either to the car or to Bob. And fortunately, Bob had the presence of mind to call Ed, who came over to ride herd on everyone, since Bob obviously wasn't going to get home in less than 5 minutes! Thanks, Ed!

3. I had a great post-partum appointment Thursday afternoon! My blood glucose numbers were great, so the diabetes is gone! I was so relieved to hear that! I also got a tetanus shot while I was there. As far as I can tell, I haven't had any shots since I went off to college, in the summer of 1991, so I figured it was time, LOL. It's so much easier to keep up with stuff for the kids than for me. Now my arm is sore though. I was a bit sad the little kids weren't there to see Mommy be brave and not cry--Anna needs the good example, LOL.

4. Luke is now the proud possessor of an ID card as well. It took he and Bob several attempts, however. They tried back when Bob was on his paternity leave, but the computer was down, so that was a wasted trip to Bethesda. They did get the number for the CAC office, so they called the next day--that was an "appointment only" day, so it was a good thing they didn't drive all the way back for nothing! Another day they called, but the wait was 3 hours . . . they decided not to go. Finally they went back early Thursday morning. But there were still a lot of people in front of them, and the line wasn't moving fast. They bailed and decided to try the office down at Ft. Belvoir. It turned out there was no waiting there! Live and learn. So now I proudly carry 3 ID cards in my wallet! All my babies are growing up . . . I guess that's why we keep having them, LOL.

5. This is "Tax Weekend" here at our house. We are striving to finish our taxes before Bob starts the acquisition class on Tuesday, and I leave next Wednesday. Obviously we're not working on them right now, however. Feel free to keep asking us about our progress. We need the accountability, LOL.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

So far this week . . .

It's been a busy week, and it's only Wednesday! Here's what we've been up to :

1. Anna gave up her pacifier at night! This was not by choice or in my perfect timing, since she was sick, but hey, whatever works. She brought her binky downstairs with her after her nap on Monday. She is only allowed to have it in her bed, or in the car, so I told her to go put it back up on her bed. She disappeared with it, but when bedtime rolled around, it was nowhere to be found. Luke and I both searched for it, but we couldn't find it. Anna says "It's hiding." I guess so! She woke up once asking for it (and running a fever) Monday night, but last night she slept through without waking. Woohoo! I had wanted to accomplish this before Grace moves in to share a room with her. I am planning on that move after our spring break trip to Ohio the first week in April, so this came at just the right time, sickness or not!

2. Bob passed his physical fitness test at work. This is always a good thing, especially seeing as how Bob has been distracted by little things such as having his 7th child the past few months and not working out all the time!

3. We got new cell phones yesterday. We got our old phones back in May 05--before I even got pregnant with Anna, if that gives you an idea of how long ago that was! Those were our first phones, and frankly I could have kept them forever, except that they were starting to not hold their charges very long. We had talked about getting new ones for awhile, but the big impetus yesterday is that we lost one of the chargers, so we only had one charger left. I am planning to go to Ohio with the kids for 10 days, taking my cell phone, while Bob will be here, taking an acquisition class, with his cell phone. Since they both need to be charged almost every night . . . well, that wasn't going to work! We bit the bullet yesterday, and now I am trying to figure out the ins and outs of a new phone. I don't have time for this! I did manage to figure out how to program the speed dial numbers and record my voice mail message, so I'm good. I am not even going to worry about the camera capacity.

4. Faith was 5 weeks old on Sunday, and yesterday evening, she smiled and cooed at me for the first time! I know Grandma was hoping she would wait until we get there, but I guess now Faith can get some good practice for her smiling, so she'll be a pro by the time we arrive at Grandma's house! Those first smiles are just so sweet, and they really do go a long way to making all those middle of the night feedings worth it!

5. To celebrate St. Patrick's Day yesterday, I made a corned beef brisket and vegetables inteh crockpot, along with soda bread. I also had cabbage, but I figured there was no way that I could prepare cooked cabbage that would make me want to eat (or smell) it, so I just chopped it up and served it with an oil/vinegar dressing, like I always do. Might as well serve it the way I like it! The corned beef and vegetables turned out quite well, and we didn't have any leftover meat! I cooked it in apple juice, a tip I got off the internet. The soda bread was good too. I actually made 2 loaves. For the first loaf, I jus tused plain soy milk in place of the buttermilk, like I usually do (even in recipes like banana bread. I never sour soy milk.). But then it dawned on me that since there were no eggs, I really was counting on the vinegar and baking soda to react, making gas, to leaven the bread. I was afraid that loaf would be hard as a rock, so I quickly whipped up another loaf, this time souring the soy milk with vinegar. Yuck. But it did the trick! That loaf was definitely lighter, although the other loaf was perfectly edible. I told everyone it was a taste test.

6. This morning I drove through rush hour on an empty stomach to take my 2 hour glucose tolerance test. I'll find out the results tomorrow at my 6 week post-partum appointment. Hopefully that will be my last glucose test out there. They take your blood first, to get your fasting number, but they make you wait to start drinking the glucola until those results are back! I had my blood taken at 8:15 (it took awhile to find a good vein), but I couldn't start drinking the stuff, and starting my 2 hour clock, until 8:50! Nothing like waiting on an empty stomach, and knowing it's not even counting!!

Now I think I will lay down for a little bit. I'm out of sorts because of my early morning and all the sugar water. Tonight I have a chiropractic appointment to look forward to, however!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Raspberry Leaf in Pregnancy

My friend Beverly is getting ready to have her 5th baby. She's been having lots of contractions, but not a lot of progress, which is incredibly frustrating. I've been eagerly following along, because it's always really interesting and fascinating when it's not your own impending birth, LOL. One thing I recommended to her last night was drinking several cups of really strong raspberry leaf tea, because that is supposed to tone your uterus and help it dilate efficiently.

All this talk of dilating and tea reminded me that I had wanted to post something about what I did differently this pregnancy, in case I forgot sometime. I usually start drinking a cup of raspberry leaf a day in the third trimester, and by the time I'm close to delivery I try to drink 2 cups a day. When I was pregnant with Nathan, I read an article in a natural health book that recommended raspberry leaf tea. It gave a long anecdotal story about a lady who drank the tea during her first pregnancy and had a fairly normal delivery, but not pain-free by any means. Then she read an old book that talked about what the midwife would have actually recommended, which was to drink a really strong cup of the tea ( 1 pint of water and 1 ounce of tea, steeped for 30 minutes) when you are in labor. This was supposed to really make labor pretty painless, and the lady telling the story had apparently had a really easy delivery. I never really made the tea that strong until we moved here, but I really can't complain about my labors (although I wouldn't have labeled them "painless", LOL), and I never needed any pain medicine. I did make it really strong like that once we moved here, but then I was basically induced 2 times, so I drank it before going in and starting the whole process, but I didn't know if that was the same. Anyhow, I was convinced enough of a good effect, even if it was just psychosomatic, to keep drinking the stuff fairly faithfully throughout the third trimester of all my pregnancies.

With the last 2 pregnancies, I've also added a cup of alfalfa tea daily, since that is supposed to prevent post-partum hemorrhage. You may recall that is what my doctor with Grace was totally paranoid about, so that's when I started drinking it. (Nathan wants me to point out that alfalfa tea tastes and smells like you are drinking grass water.) For someone like me, who really doesn't like hot beverages at all, drinking 2-3 cups of tea a day was quite torturous. Almost as bad as the gestational dibetes diet. Well, maybe not, but pretty close . . . Add in to that the tiny bladder capacity of an almost full-term lady, and I was pretty miserable as I floated through the day.

Well, after we got back from Ohio in January, I went to the health food store to buy some more raspberry leaf and alfalfa teas, since I was pretty much out. I was determined to drink all the tea, even though I wasn't sure when I would do that to make it fit into my complicated gestational diabetes eating regimen. The health food store was out, but they assured me they would be getting more in soon. So we all trooped back in a week later only to find out the tea was still out. I was getting frustrated with all this delay. I was already 35 weeks along, and I was ready to start drinking this stuff and making sure my uterus was nice and toned! Then I remembered that I had an internet connection . . . I went home and found a lovely herb web site where, lo and behold, you can actually buy raspberry leaf capsules for cheaper than the tea! How wonderful! All the great effects, with none of the bladder-sloshing! So I bought a bottle of pills, plus a box of the tea, because I was still thinking I would make the really strong pint to drink when I went into labor.

It was so easy to take the pills instead of drink the tea! I found alfalfa capsules at Walmart, so I started taking those as well. What a dream! I definitely took way more raspberry leaf extract this pregnancy than ever before. I started out by taking 2 pills a day, but by the last 2 weeks, I was taking 4 raspberry pills a day, plus 2 alfalfa ones.

So how did it work out for me? Well, I didn't think I was even in labor because the contractions weren't that long or that strong. Even once I realized I was in transition and we were on the way to the hospital, I still wasn't breathing through contractions. I did make my tea, but that was when I realized that I was probably not going to last until it had steeped the full 30 minutes. After about 20 minutes of steeping, right before we got in the van, I drank a few sips of it, felt like I was going to throw up if I drank another sip, and threw the rest down the drain. I was uncomfortable, but the contractions just didn't hurt that badly, even those last few ones right before pushing (as I was walking from the parking garage, through the pedestrian walkway, over to the elevator, and up to the 5th floor, LOL). So my conclusion, which is arguably the result of a very small sample size, LOL, is that taking a lot more of the raspberry leaf extract is definitely a good thing as far as relatively painfree labors go. I will be taking the pills again, should I have another baby.

And I hardly had any post-partum bleeding either. My uterus clamped down right away, and I stopped bleeding fairly quickly in the weeks to follow (except when I over-did it!). Of course, that was helped by a quick labor instead of many hours of steadily-increasing pitocin, like I had with Grace, so I can't say confidently that the alfalfa had that much to do with it! But I was very pleased with the result of my herb pills, and I would definitely recommend them to others who are in thier third trimesters.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A New Week

Well, here we are, at the start of a new week. Anna is running a fever, Grace is still spotted, and Jonathan is still hacking away. I have a cold, I guess. I thought it was allergies, but now I'm thinking more of a cold. My motivation to be organized and on top of things is at a low, LOL, which is why we didn't finish school until after 4:00. Maybe when my head clears up . . .

To be honest, I'm having a hard time getting into a good routine. Working around nursing has been harder, and I think it's because especially Jonathan is taking a lot more of my schooling time. I have been the least consistent with him this past year, and now I'm the most frustrated with him, although it really isn't his fault that he hasn't magically osmosed the knowledge I would like him to have! Also, Faith has needed more attention to make sure she really latches on than some of the other babies, so I haven't been able to multitask while nursing as much, which always frustrates me too.

I've been trying to exercise as well for a couple of reasons. One is that I really do feel good after exercising, and I think it helps keep me mentally balanced. Another is that I am ready for some of my clothes to fit. I hate the post-partum period, where your tummy is still poochy, and you still look pregnant! The most important reason is that I go Wednesday morning for my follow-up 2 hour glucose tolerance test, and then I will have my 6 week post-partum appointment on Thursday afternoon (yes, it's a little early, but that's what worked out, schedule-wise). Unfortunately, I am having a hard time fitting in exercise as well, if you can imagine. I really don't want to have problems on this glucose test, and I am trying not to worry.

Sigh. I keep reminding myself that this phase will pass quickly, Faith will be sleeping through the night soon, the virus will move on to some other unfortunate family, Jonathan will remember how to count by 2's starting with an even number OR an odd number, and eventually I will feel more like my normal self. But I am ready for that day to be here NOW!

On thing that has been a tremendous blessing is that our church has started giving us 2 meals a week once my parents left. (They were providing one meal a week after the baby came, while my parents were here.) I was loathe to have any more meals, figuring that I would be over a month post-partum byt the time my parents left, so I would definitely be on my feet. Who knew we'd all be sick, and that the meals would be at the perfect time? Obviously God knew, LOL.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Another Update

I'm sure you are all holding your breath to see how Grace is doing today, LOL. Well, the good news is that she is much better, hive-wise. They are smaller and not as red. Her hands aren't as swollen either. She is still really congested, although the vaporizer helped her sleep just fine last night. She is still running a fever, but I can keep it down with Motrin. Mainly she is just exceptionally snotty. At least it's draining, right?

My friend Lisa wrote on my Facebook page that she had pretty much the exact same thing last week, the fever, hives, and congestion, and it was just a virus. I was relieved to hear that! She said it took 5-6 days for the hives to go away. It's good to know that, and now I don't have to schedule in another big chunk of time next week for a trip to Bethesda! Another friend of mine, Christina, said one of her sons has gotten hives like these before with viruses also. Boy, you'd think with 7 kids, I'd have experienced this before! Learn something new every day!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Update on Grace

For those who are curious, Grace is still very "hivey" today. The ones on her face are maybe not quite so red as yesterday, but the hives are still over a lot of her body. And the weird thing is where they seem to have gotten smaller, it looks like her skin is almost bruised where the hives used to be. The skin seems darker. I've never seen anything like it before. Also, her hands and fingers are still pretty swollen. Not her wrists, though. It's just really weird to see her with these big man hands, because normally she has really small, delicate ones.

Also, she has continued to run a fever of a little over 100 today, and she is pretty congested. She's not wheezy though, so that's a good thing. I put the vaporizer in her room tonight. Maybe that will help. She's really not too uncomfortable, though, just a bit snotty. As long as the fever is down, she's pretty happy and content, and she continues to not be bothered at all by the hives.

I guess we're just playing it by ear at this point. I don't think we're planning on doing anything this weekend unless something gets really bad, but if things aren't better by Monday, I'll call and take her in again. I'm praying she's a lot better when she wakes up tomorrow though!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Grace's Hives

When Grace got up this morning, it was obvious that the Benedryl and Zyrtec I had given her yesterday had not made a difference whatsoever. Her hives were much bigger, and there were a lot more of them, so I called and made an appointment for this morning at 11:00. The doctor said they were definitely hives, and we would probably not ever know what had caused them. She felt that Grace had probably had a virus a few days ago, because often hives like this come after a virus. She said they can come and go for up to 3 months! I hope that won't happen. To be honest, these hives remind me of Nathan's weird rash a few Christmases ago, for which we never could pinpoint a cause either. Maybe he'd had a virus before then. I don't really remember!

I actually pooh-poohed the idea of a virus to the doctor, but after we got home (at 1:45, having waited an hour at the pharmacy for more Zyrtec), Jonathan was EXTREMELY whiney. He about fell apart because he couldn't cut his sandwich in half. I was nursing, of course, but after I was done I felt him, and he seemed hot. It turns out his temperature was 102. So maybe there is a virus going around! It's always hard to tell by feeling if Grace has a fever--she just runs "hot", with her supermetabolism, so she always feels pretty warm. She certainly wasn't acting like she had a fever the past few days though!

Anyhow, it turns out that I wasn't giving her anough Benedryl or Zyrtec, so that's probably why it didn't seem to help. I'm supposed to give 1/2 tsp., so we gave that once we got home, and we'll see if these crazy things go away. At least they aren't bothering her.

Here is a picture of her once we got home. You can see how the hives have gotten bigger and bigger, although the picture really doesn't do them justice on her trunk! The hives are pretty much all over her body, even down to her fingers, which she can't really bend. Her face is a bit alarming to look at as well! She definitely looks like she has some dreaded, highly contagious skin disease!

So now she, Anna, Jonathan, and Faith are all down for naps. I think that's where I am headed. I was going to do a few other things with the boys this afternoon, but after a 3 1/2 hour jaunt to the doctor, I am tired. So much for that normal routine, huh?! No wonder I can never really get anything accomplished around here!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Back to Routine

Today was Bob's last day of paternity leave. It's been nice having him here at home--one more week of being able to run errands by myself in the afternoon! He's going out with a bang though. This morning I woke up with that scratchy feeling in the back of my throat that either means a cold or allergies. When I changed Grace's diaper mid-morning, I discovered that she has broken out in some kind of blotchy hives, mainly on her trunk and legs. I have no idea what she could have reacted to, but as the day wore on, the hives got bigger. I did give her some liquid Benedryl, but it hasn't made much of a difference so far. Anna was crabby this morning, so I told her to go up to her room (the only place she is allowed to have her pacifier nowdays). After not seeing her for awhile, I went up to check on her, and discovered her fast asleep in bed! She has been complaining that her tummy hurts, and she's had a bit of diarrhea, so I guess she has some kind of bug too. Good grief!

We had been getting back into a good school routine, but this morning, after the boys did their independent work and I did a few things with Caleb and Jonathan, Bob took them all swimming. The girls and I hung out here. I had the best of intentions of finishing up stuff like spelling this afternoon, but after lunch, I took a nap for several hours. Nothing more of academic value happened, LOL.

Bob also picked up some seeds on the way back from swimming. Even though we rarely have gardening success, we are once again going to try it. I keep telling myself we are just practicing for whenever we have our forever home, the one with the huge yard and plenty of room for a nice sunny garden! We have a seed starting kit with a bunch of little peat moss pots, so Nathan figured out how many of each thing we should plant. The planting is going to take place tonight. I'll keep you updated on our gardening progress . . .

So tomorrow Bob is back off to work, and hopefully we girls will be feeling better. At least I haven't had mastitis yet. I'm hoping these naps will ward that off.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

A Real Prince

We had a fun day today. Some friends of ours, Tim and Michele and their 3 kids, came up to visit. We have known them for many years, even before they were married! Tim was a batchelor back at Wright-Patterson, and he was a saber-bearer in our wedding. They live south of the city, and traffic is such a hassle around here that we rarely see them, so this was a real treat! They came to drop off several boxes of clothes that their daughter had outgrown. They also brought a box of pink princess Mega Bloks, which I am sure you can imagine delighted Anna! There is a castle, as well as a carriage, 2 Cinderellas, and a prince.

Anna and Jonathan were playing with the blocks after dinner, and Anna put the prince in the carriage.

Jonathan: "Where is the prince going, Anna?"

Anna: "To Home Depot!"

LOL! The image of the prince installing his own hardwood floor or changing the flapper valve on the castle toilet struck me as funny, not to mention him pulling up to Home Depot in his pink pumpkin coach! But Anna knows the right kind of man to look for--a prince who does his own home improvement projects, although maybe minus the pink pumpkin coach.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Another picture . . .

. . . by special request of Aunt Claire. Sorry it's a bit blurry--our camera battery was just about dead. I charged the battery, so I'll have to try again tomorrow. Faith is 3 weeks old now, and she is staying awake longer, to the great delight of her siblings. She is still a very happy girl, who rarely fusses, even when being passed around to various sets of arms. We got the crib gym thing out of the basement for her to lie under, and she's been enjoying looking up at the dangly things. She's been sleeping really well at night--I've been feeding her around 10:00, and she'll go until around 4:00, and then until after 8:00. Now I just need to go to sleep as soon as I put her down at 11:00. Unfortunately, I'm always trying to do just one more thing, so it's later, and I'm always tired the next day.

Tomorrow Mom and Dad are driving back to Ohio. We will be very sad to see them go! It's sooooo nice to have the extra help, as well as the extra company throughout the day. The nice thing about this time, though, is that Bob gets paternity leave! Sometime in the last 18 months, the Air Force has instituted a new paternity leave policy, which says that the dad can take 10 consecutive days of free paternity leave anytime during the first 60 days of the baby's life. Bob started his 10 days Monday, so I won't be the lone adult when Mom and Dad drive off! That will give us another week to get back into a good routine before he starts back to work.