Thursday, December 30, 2010

Packing Up . . .

We've had a wonderful time, but it's time to go home. The time flew by, as usual!

We got here Sunday afternoon around 4:15 , having left at 8:00 in the morning (an amazingly early time for us, LOL). We were worried about snow, which is why we left early, but that turned out to be a false alarm, thankfully. It flurried starting in Cumberland, MD until we got into Ohio, but the road was never bad. We made one stop, for lunch, in Cambridge, OH. I did need to go to the bathroom earlier, but it was cold and snowy, it's a hassle to get everyone in and out, and we were listening to a good book on CD, so I just held out. The book we were listening to was another one by Richard Peck called On the Wings of Heroes. It's about a boy growing up in a small town in the U.S. during World War II, and it was a interesting look at life during that time. We all really enjoyed it, and it certainly made the miles fly by.

Monday the kids were all excited to play out in the snow. My parents only had a few inches on the ground, but it was more than in Virginia or Texas! We had brought a huge garbage bag full of snow stuff, so we got everyone dressed up and out they went. For a few minutes anyway. It was quite cold, and Grace and Emily both had troubles keeping their gloves on, so they were not fans of the cold or the snow. The boys stayed out awhile longer, but the ones who stayed out the longest were Anna and Amy, the Korean girl who is living with my parents for a year, along with her mom, while her dad finishes his PhD back in Korea. They sledded down the little hill in the yard for such a long time!

Dan and Melinda took Nathan, Grace, and Emily for a special trip to Trader Joe's, and then out to lunch at Marion's Pizza. Nathan thought it was good, but too expensive for our family, LOL. Then Dad took Dan and the boys to an AOG party at a local restaurant to watch the USAFA bowl game. The Falcons won, and everyone had more pizza, so a good time was had by all. The Air Force song broke out several times, it was reported! Jonathan was the only boy who decided he didn't really want to go, so he stayed home with all us girls.

Tuesday Dan and Melinda, going for "super-uncle-and-aunt" status, took Nathan and Luke to see Voyage of the Dawn Treader in 3-D. They all enjoyed the movie, although none of them were that impressed by the 3-D part of it. I got a haircut in the afternoon, and then we all went to Youngs for dinner and ice cream. This was the first time Caleb could have ice cream, and he sampled a few flavors, but he ended up getting green apple sorbet, just like old times.

Wednesday my parents took Caleb and Jonathan out to breakfast at Mimi's, to make up for them not getting to see the movie. They thoroughly enjoyed chocolate chip pancakes (Jonathan) and pancakes in the shape of a mouse (Caleb). Melinda and I went mall-walking in the morning, bringing back good memories of my moms' walking group back in Colorado. Then we came home and I made dough for sugar cut-out cookies. I tried a new recipe because I didn't have one I loved. This one . . . well, I didn't love it either, LOL. I had such a hard time making it not too sticky! Even after chilling it for awhile, it was still fluffy, so I added more flour and powdered sugar. That helped some, but the kids had quite a hard time rolling it out. We had to use quite a bit of extra flour as well as helping most of the kids. Ten kids . . . sticky dough . . . tons of flour. I think you can imagine the scene! Finally all the dough was used up, and the cookies were baked. Bob actually called while the last batch was cooking, and I totally got distracted and forgot to take them out. Whoops! Those ones were pretty crispy! After dinner we decorated the cookies. That was another sticky mess, LOL. After much frosting and sprinkles were used, the cookies were finally done, and we could actually clean up the mess! They did taste good--and hopefully the memories were good too!

Today Melinda, Mom, and I went out to brunch at First Watch. After we got home and got the kids fed lunch, we had a little party to celebrate Emily's 4th birthday. Her actual birthday isn't until Jan. 4, but hey--it's always a good day to have a party with all your cousins! They all had princess cupcakes, and then they got to hit down a princess pinata. The boys enjoyed that part, LOL. For our present, I made a photo book on Snapfish for Emily--"My Cousin Book". It had pictures from the time we were all together in July, plus some other pictures of us. It was fun to make! I also got a great gift idea from an old Family Fun magazine. A mom had written in about how she had a big extended family who were all spread far apart, so she got full-length photos of everyone and put the photos on magnetic photo paper, and then cut around the figures. I did this with out family, making a set of magnetic dolls for the fridge. I also typed out our names and put them on magnets as well, so Emily can match our names and pictures. The dolls turned out so cute! My girls really liked them too, so maybe I'll have to make our own set. I got the magnetic photo paper from Amazon. I thought it was a really good idea for family members who don't see each other all that often!

So now I'm pretty much done packing up, except for last-minute stuff tomorrow morning. I doubt I'll get up anywhere as early as I did when we left Virginia--I'm hoping we can get out of here by 9:30! We do want to get back so we can go to the L's annual New Year's Eve party, so we will be motivated to get out the door! Wow--hard to believe 2010 is already done! We're looking forward to what the Lord has for us in the new year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Fresh Look

Hey, change! Everyone who knows me knows that I am not really big on change. I've been blogging now for 5 years, and about the only thing I have ever done with the actual blog template is add a list of blogs I follow. That involved HTML, and that was the extent of my ability, LOL. But I have admired what other people could do on their blogs, and I even asked a few people how they did some things--but everything involved modernizing my blogger template. I was afraid that I would lose all my posts or something, so I never took the plunge. But now we are here at my parents' house (yes, we made it safely with no problems!), along with my brother, who is a computer person. He has recently started blogging again (at Hotel California), and he spent a good deal of time last night upgrading his template. He didn't lose anything, so I thought I'd give it a shot today.

I have really wanted to be able to go back through and find particular posts by the tags I have given them, as opposed to trying to remember what month it was I was writing about a certain thing! So now if you have a question about, say, gestational diabetes, you can click on that link and see all my posts on the subject! There's also a search function so you can search my blog for a term. Hopefully these things will be improvements. Maybe more will be forth-coming! We'll have to see how motivated I am . . .

And sometime hopefully in this next year, I am going to make my blog into a little book and get it printed off. is one site that does this sort of thing. I love to go back and read old entries, since I have usually forgotten all about the little things the kids did 5 years ago! A little book would be like a family diary, and I think it would be a fun thing to pass down.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

I hope you all have had a wonderful day celebrating the birth of Jesus! Our celebration started yesterday with something that I think will become a new tradition for us--we had our big meal on Christmas Eve! I made turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy, sweet potato casserole, garlic green beans, and cran-apple-pear sauce, and we ate around 4:00. Then we cleaned up and went to the candlelight service at our church. When we got home, Nathan helped me put a sausage/hashbrown/egg breakfast casserole into the crockpot for this morning while I made cinnamon rolls using Elizabeth L.'s recipe. Since Caleb couldn't have them, I never thought it was worth the bother. How nice that he can enjoy them now!

This morning it was SO nice to have breakfast totally done! All we had to do was take the lid off the crockpot! It was good too--I'll post the recipe when I have more time. And the cinnamon rolls were delicious too! I let them rise the second time in the fridge overnight, then cooked and frosted them this morning. Very tasty!

We ate after the kids had opened their stockings. I try to get them something to do (Michael's dollar bins are a great place to find little crafty-type things), so the boys put together these little cars while the cinnamon rolls were cooking. Then we opened presents after I showered. The boys were very excited to receive bows and arrows from my parents, and Bob later took them out to an empty field not far from us to let them shoot into a box filled with wrapping paper trash! Other than that, they got a Lego Creationary game from us, as well as a book for each of them, some cool spy-type toys from Aunt Melinda and Uncle Dan (and Aunt Melinda's mom--thank you, Barbara, for finding and sending them!!) and some Legos and assorted things from each other. The girls were very excited to get a dollhouse from my parents, which Bob will hopefully be able to assemble this next week! We gave them a little shopping cart, which they are already enjoying playing with, and a Little Mermaid bath toy, and the boys got them some little things from the dollar store. It was fun stuff, and not overwhelming, so that is a good thing!

I took a nap after present-opening. I stayed up too late last night! What I was doing was finishing wrapping a few last presents, and I realized there was one last video that I had ordered, and I knew it had arrived--where was it?! I looked very thoroughly through my closet, and I couldn't figure out why the video wasn't with the other books that had come from Amazon, because I knew I had seen it with them! I must have looked for 30 minutes, growing ever more frustrated, when finally it occured to me that maybe I had been really organized and wrapped the video already. I went to bed at that point, but this morning, there was the video, under the tree! Good grief! I would have saved myself time by not wrapping the crazy thing early, and just doing it on Christmas Eve, if I am going to waste 30 minutes looking for it! I'm sure there's a lesson in there somewhere . . .

This afternoon I spent busily packing because the kids and I are driving to Ohio tomorrow, Lord willing, so see my parents, as well as my brother and his family, who have driven up from Texas. There is supposed to be a big snow storm here in D.C. tomorrow, so I am hoping we can get out early and not have problems from it. Please pray for our safety! Bob will be holding down the fort here, but we're only going to be gone a few days. So with that, I had better sign off and get to bed so that I am not too tired to drive tomorrow! Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Another Unsolved Mystery

We had a bit of a scare today with Caleb. He had an allergic reaction to something, and we really can not figure out to what he reacted. He had his usual cereal and soy millk for breakfast, and then for lunch he had left-overs--things we have had the past few nights, and with which he has had no problems. He had a slice of pizza, as well as a "chicken packet", which is basically chicken and celery mixed with a little bit of cream cheese and baked in a crescent roll with bread crumbs on the outside. Both things have milk products, but he's had a lot of stuff since he passed his milk challenge, and he has had zero problems whatsoever. The only thing somewhat unusual was that he had some coffee (Folgers decaf) during the course of the morning. He's had coffee before though, and not had any problems.

So at around 1:00, he came to me and asked if his eyes were swelling up. I told him they looked red. He also said his throat was hurting. A little while later, his eyes were definitely more puffy and watery, and he said the "lump" in his throat was bigger, making it hard to swallow. I gave him a chewable benedryl pill, figuring it was an allergic reaction. He took a second pill not long after, and he laid on the couch for a few minutes. I had a chiropractor appointment at 2:15, so I was preparing to leave and drop Nathan and Luke off at the L's on my way, so they could play Wii with Amanda. I kept checking on Caleb, but the benedryl were not really stopping the reaction at all. His eyes were really puffy and red, with bumps around them and his mouth. More worrisome, the lump in his throat was getting bigger, and he was having trouble swallowing, along with some wheezing. Fortunately, Bob was home, so he ran Caleb over to the closest ER, which is about 5 minutes away. We didn't give him the epi-pen, but I was prepared to. If the hospital wasn't so close, we definitely would have.

They got him right in and gave him an epiphenephrine breathing treatment, as well as starting a steroid IV drip. Then we all started trying to figure out what possibly could have been the problem. The weird thing is that the reaction didn't start with him eating something. There was no tingly mouth, or any other warning symptom. Pecan is one of his highest allergens, and he accidentally ate a bite of a cookie with pecan in it back in August, but he right away had a tingling tongue, so he didn't eat any more, and he took a benedryl. That stopped the reaction pretty immediately, and all he had was a bit of an upset stomach. This was such a more violent reaction, and to have it come on just out of the clear blue sky was very unsettling, to say the least.

One other possible factor is that yesterday he spent the day at a friend's house. The friend has 2 cats and a dog, all of which Caleb is allergic to. Last night he told me he needed his inhalers because he was wheezy, and he had to take them twice. He does have a pattern of having more severe food reactions whenever he is having some environmental reaction--like he's already sensitized, so everything is worse. Still, this was a lot worse . . . and with no clear trigger. Scary.

Anyway, he is doing fine right now. We have to make an appointment at Bethesda tomorrow (and hopefully get the ER visit cleared with his PCM and Tricare), so we'll see if they have any insights. I'm not holding my breath though! We're praying for no more excitement tonight, LOL. He looks fine, albeit very pale, with circles under his eyes! Here he is showing off his IV bandages.

In other news, this is the first picture on our new camera! Our other camera, which we got 5 years ago this month, has been having some problems, so we knew it was about time to get another one. I really wanted another Canon PowerShot, since our last one is so easy to use and has been remarkably faithful. So that's what we got--a PowerShot SD 1300. Last night I got it out of the box and charged up the battery so we'd be all ready for Christmas. It works fine, and it is nice that I am already familiar with the buttons!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Visit With Jasmine!

On our way home from Great Wolf Lodge, we stopped in Richmond to visit Bob's niece Christi, her husband Andres, and their brand-new baby Jasmine! Jasmine was born last Friday night at 11:08 PM, so when we saw her on Wednesday, she was less than 5 days old! Jasmine is a beautiful baby with a head of dark hair. I enjoyed holding her, and so did Caleb! The girls loved looking at her.
Faith was particularly taken with Jasmine's cute little baby toes. "Toes . . . ba-by toes," she kept saying. And she kept wanting to take her hat off to see her hair as well. She was very interested in the baby! She'll be a good big sister too, I'm sure! But she won't get to see any newborn baby hair though, LOL--that's not how we grow them!

Here is a family picture with proud Grandma Ann, Bob's sister! We were so glad we could stop by and meet Jasmine while she was still such a tiny newborn. So precious and sweet!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Grace's Great Waterslide Adventure

I mentioned how Grace worked up her courage to go down the waterslides in the kiddie area, and she did enjoy going down them. But she is not one to really get her face, hair, or even the top part of her swimsuit wet, so she always wanted me to be right there. Also, just about each time, she would sit at the top and think about whether or not she really wanted to go down, before finally making the big plunge.

But there was this one time . . . It was Tuesday after dinner, and I was trying to get Grace to try something new. There was a big fort-type thing in the middle of the park, with a bunch of climbing ropes and other things to do on it. I told Grace to go climb on that thing for awhile, along with Jonathan and Anna. Faith was pretty tired, so I went up a few steps, holding her, and watching the other 3. It wound around in there, so it was hard to see exactly where everyone was. Soon I saw Anna climbing back through the ropes. Breathlessly she told me that Grace was going down the waterslide at the top, and "she is really scared!" I assumed she meant Grace was sitting at the top of the slide, not wanting to slide down, but I really couldn't get up there, with my pregnant self having to climb on ropes, holding Faith and dodging water. So I hollered to Jonathan to go see what the problem was with Grace and tell her to come back down the way she came. Next thing I know, I see Grace come around the bottom of the structure, sobbing away, sopping wet! She had indeed gone down the big orange slide, and she was NOT happy about it one bit! She kept talking about the scary slide she didn't like, that she "accidentally" slid down, LOL.
So . . . how do you accidentally slide down a big water slide? There was a life guard at the top, so it certainly wasn't like she slipped and tumbled down! We never could get a straight story out of her, and both Jonathan and Anna had gotten distracted by filling buckets and doing all these other water-related things along the way to the top, so they weren't there to see anything either. I guess she just marched up to the top and sat down on the slide, probably expecting to be able to sit there awhile and cogitate about whether or not she actually wanted to go down. And then when she decided "no", she would just get off the slide and go back down, or something. But instead, when she sat down, she must have immediately started sliding, and away she went! I wasn't even there to catch her! Poor girl! She had no interest in even going back up on any of the climbing things that night or the next day, LOL.

Some More Random Pictures

Anna at the bottom of a waterslide. You can see her infectious enthusiasm!
Three bathing beauties!

Jonathan waveboarding. This was not a time he fell off and had to have the water stopped, LOL.

Nathan and Luke coming out of the "Alberta Falls" waterslides, where you race. It looks like Nathan was just a TINY bit faster!

Every evening in the lobby, they had a cheesy story in the evening about the rhythm of nature. At the end of the show, there was "snow" in the lobby! It was actually soap bubbles, but the kids enjoyed it.

Great Wolf Lodge

We left last Sunday after church to drive down to Williamsburg, to the Great Wolf Lodge. Our homeschool support group has been getting a special deal for the past few years to go down in December, but quite honestly I just wrote it off each time I would see the email. Things like that don't work out for our family! We're too big! It's too expensive! But this time Christine McC told me that the hotel was giving us ALL the suites for the same price of $139, including one that sleeps 8. That answered my objections, so we made reservations for all three nights of the deal. Secretly, though, I still thought it was too good to be true, and so I threw 2 sleeping bags into the van, just in case.

When we got to the room, however, I was very pleasantly surprised by how big it was! It was actually 3 rooms--one room with a queen size bed and attached bathroom, where Bob and I slept, along with Faith in her pack-n-play; a second bedroom with 2 queen beds where Anna, Grace, Caleb, and Jonathan slept, and a third sitting room with a fold-out sofa where Nathan and Luke slept. There was also a hallway with a counter and a microwave and small fridge, as well as a second bathroom! VERY spacious! Since we had more than 5 kids, we haven't stayed at a hotel where we all actually had a bed!

(Picture from the kitchen hallway, looking into the bedroom with one bed and the sitting room. The other room is off to the left.)

Monday was a really fun day because the other 2 families in our Rivendell co-op were also there. The boys had a grand time playing together! Here they are all getting drenched by a big bucket that pours out thousands of gallons of water every 5 minutes or so. Notice my girls are nowhere near this. They were all terrifed of the big bucket, and they steered a wide berth around the whole area the entire time, LOL.

The waterpark was really nice, albeit really hot and humid. They keep it at 84 degrees year-round in there, which is great if you are exiting a water slide, but not so nice if you are pregnant and trying to relax by reading a book! I had to keep dipping my feet in. When the girls were down, I had to be right there with them, but sometimes Bob would take them up to the room (they were definitely "done" with water much more often and quickly than the boys!) and I could just relax. The boys just sort of did their own thing, with me trying to keep a vague idea of where they were always. The lifeguards at all the areas were super-vigilant.

I was able to read The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I read the whole thing during the 3 days we were there, which tells you how much wonderful time I had for relaxing and reading! So nice! I really enjoyed the book--I thought it was very well-written, and it told the story of a volatile time in our country's history, but not in too harsh or idealistic a way.

Since we were there until Wednesday, everyone got plenty of time at the waterpark to do whatever they wanted to do! It was interesting to see the different personalities come out, as far as what they each enjoyed. Nathan and Luke went on every single waterslide multiple times. They didn't want to leave! Caleb didn't go on one single waterslide, despite (because of?!) insistent pleading from his older brothers. He did really enjoy the wave pool and the water basketball. Jonathan was quite independent, maybe even a bit TOO independent, LOL. He rode some water slides with the older boys, but he also enjoyed waveboarding and the wave pool. One time he also ingested a lot of water one time in the waveboarding place, and they had to turn off the water so he could get out! That didn't phase him--in fact, he never even mentioned the incident to me, and I would never have known if Bob hadn't filled me in!
Anna was also pretty independent. She rode on several slides with her older brothers, and she definitely is a little fish, taking after her father and his side of the family! Grace, being more like me, was much more cautious in the water. She eventually got up the courage to go down the water slides in the kiddie area, as long as I was right at the bottom of the slide, touching it, to catch her. Faith also went down the slides in the kiddie area, and she had a good time splashing around. The waterpark has a ton of life jackets of various sizes around the facility on hooks, so we usually put one on her, much to her great dislike. Grace and Faith both enjoyed the wave pool, although Grace only really enjoyed it during the cycles when the waves were off, LOL. Then I would give her and Faith rides in the nice calm water. Anna loved getting in a raft and fighting the waves!

You can sort of see how curly Faith's hair is. It was actually very, very curly. Even Grace's hair curled up a bit on the ends! All that humidity! I brought all the swimsuits I could find for the girls, and I was so glad. We would go back up to the room for lunch, and they would usually stay there for a little while while Faith napped, and at least Grace would color or look at books. Then they could all put on dry suits! No one likes putting a wet suit back on, LOL.
We also brought tons of food, so we could eat breakfast and lunch in our room, as well as have snacks. That worked out well and saved a ton of money. Monday night we went out to Golden Corral with the McCs and another family in our homeschool group, who had 4 kids. After swimming all day, all the kids, boys especially, were STARVING! The restaurant lost money on us that evening! The next night we ordered in pizza, which was delicious.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

We're still alive . . .

I'm sure you have all been wondering if in fact we all did succumb to whatever was wrong this weekend, but in fact, we all recovered perfectly well, LOL. We've just been insanely busy with the holiday season, and that has shown up as "no blogging".

I ordered a ton of chocolate from an online place, and that arrived early this week. So Wednesday and Thursday we spent making peanut butter cups, more peppermint bark, and more butter toffee. I always think it won't happen, but every time it does--after spending a day in the kitchen dealing with chocolate, I truly have no desire for it. Of course, that only lasts a night or so, LOL.

Friday morning we had our co-op ice skating party. This is always eagerly anticipated by all the boys, and Nathan was able to go as well. Last year the kids and I were in Ohio for it, except for Nathan, who was back here helping Bob and my dad get our house ready to sell so we could PCS to Guam . . . ah, what a difference a year makes! The year before that, Caleb got a lovely goose egg almost as soon as he set foot on the ice. Thankfully, we had no such incidents on Friday! Everyone had a great time, even Anna, who got to ice skate for the very first time! Christine watched Grace and Faith for me, and I drove her boys. She let Anna borrow a pair of strap-on double blades. Those were amazing! Anna was so confident in them! She steadily plugged away, around and around the rink. At first the boys took her, and then several of the girls who are a little bit older were around her like a bunch of mother hens! She had a ball. Christine, Bob, and our Polish friend Ania all said they learned how to skate with those same kind of double runners. They are such a good idea!

Friday afternoon I baked a bunch of Andes mint cookies for a cookie exchange this afternoon with some ladies from church. The exchange was a lot of fun. It was a smaller group of ladies--only 6 of us--but sometimes smaller groups are nice because you can really get to know people more deeply like that! I took home a bunch of cookies, and now there are only about 10 left. They were all delicious, and we have a bunch of eager samplers here at home!

This morning we had a workday at our church with our little junior high co-op families. We were only there for a little over 2 hours, but we really got a lot done! The menfolk all worked outside for the most part, cleaning up leaves and stuff like that. We ladies worked inside deep-cleaning the baathrooms and kitchen, as well as the nursery, and Christine and Theresa bagged a ton of bags for the food pantry Christmas service, which is going to be tomorrow. The younger boys eventually came inside and helped us wipe down baseboards and walls. After we were done, we went out for pizza with the McCs. Our 2 families demolished 4 16-inch pizzas! There was none left over!

So now you have an idea of why I haven't had time to blog at all! Next week promises to be busy as well, but then things should settle down the week before Christmas.

Monday, December 06, 2010

A Trip For the Books!

We got back yesterday from a visit to PA to see Bob's family. We got to his parents' house about 2:00 Saturday afternoon. Bob's brother Paul came over a little later with his son Brandon, and his daughter Sara came down from college to see us as well! Bob's sister Jane and her husband Terry also came over, and we had a great time visiting with them, playing card games, opening Christmas presents, etc. Bob, his dad, Jonathan, Grace, Faith, and I even took a little walk around the block to look at Christmas lights!

The only problem was that I was not very vigilant in monitering the kids' food intake. Usually they are pretty self-regulating, but not this time, LOL. We had stopped for lunch at Chick-Fil-A around 11:30, but when we got to Bob's parents' house, his mom was ready for us to eat again. So we fixed plates of ham, pierogies, vegetables, and other stuff, but no one really ate too terribly much because no one was hungry yet. By the time 5:00 rolled around, people were getting munchy again--and that is when Jane and Terry came in, bearing dozens of delicious cookies! Yum! Soooo . . . leftover chicken and ham--or chocolate turtle cookies and oatmeal M&M cookies?! Obviously the choice was easy, LOL.

We left around 8:00, and I recognized that ham at 2:30 and cookies at dinnertime would not do the trick for me, so we stopped at Wendys on our way to the hotel and got hamburgers for everyone. We ate those at 8:30, and then the kids were bouncing off the walls for a little while we we got the pack-n-play, sleeping bags, and fold-out sofabed set up. We all went to sleep at 10:30.

And then at about 11:40, Bob and I awoke to the very unwelcome sound of someone throwing up. It was Jonathan, who was kneeling over his pillow (well, the hotel's pillow--whew!) and really letting loose. Ah, lovely. It was actually a huge blessing that he threw up all over the bed, instead of the carpet. We bundled up the mess, and Bob took it down to the front desk. He brought up 2 blankets and some sheets, and Caleb and Jonathan slept on pallets on the floor between the beds. We all went back to sleep . . .

. . . until about an hour or so later, when Jonathan appeared at my side again and said he needed to go to the bathroom, because he still wasn't feeling well. Okay. At least he didn't need me. But around 2:00, Grace started whining around. I took her potty and then sat on the floor with her for awhile. Eventually she went back to sleep without anything happening . . . until 3:00, when she tossed her cookies (HA! I crack myself up!). She has had plenty of practice vomiting, so she easily made the trashcan. I tied that up and set it by the door, moved the other trashcan over by her sleeping bag, and went back to sleep . . .

. . . until about 5:00, when Nathan leaped out of bed to go to the bathroom. In a fit of prescience, he grabbed the trashcan by Grace's sleeping bag on his way to the bathroom, and he ended up needing both. Great! Now both trashcans have vomit in them, and I started searching our suitcases for any extra walmart-type bags we had around. Fortunately I did find a few.

Nathan threw up again around 6:00, and Grace threw up again at 6:30 and again at 7:30. I felt like the night would never end, and Faith did her part to make it even longer and less enjoyable by randomly crying out throughout the whole night. I think things were just too restless for her to get in a good deep sleep, but of course, every time she cried out, Bob and I went into full wakefullness mode as we tried to figure out if anyone was throwing up. It was definitely "the night that would not end".

At 7:30 I told Grace (and Anna, who had gotten up to go potty) to just go back to sleep, and thankfully everyone slept until 8:45. We had planned on going swimming and then heading back over to Bob's parents' house for awhile before heading home, but we were so ready to just be home (and definitely out of the hotel room, LOL). So we ate breakfast and packed up, although we couldn't actually leave the hotel until close to 11:00, due to people still having digestive issues. I was quite worried about the drive home, and it was snowing outside, making weather a concern as well!

We stopped back by Bob's parents' house to pick up the presents we had left there the night before. We didn't want the kids to come inside, in case it was some kind of virus (although even then we were thinking it was simple "eating too much sugar"). So we loaded up the van--and then the van wouldn't start up again. Yes, the battery was drained! I could not believe it!! Thankfully, Bob's dad had jumper cables, and he and Bob were able to jump it. Still--crazy van.

So we were able to leave around 11:30, and pretty much no one (who had not been feeling well) ate anything on the way back except for some bananas Bob's mom had sent with us. The rest of us ate trail mix, but we didn't stop for any fast food--that was not an appetizing thought, and I don't think I'll be eating at Wendy's again for quite awhile! Praise the Lord, no one had any issues on the way home. I was worried because we took the turnpike, which has service plazas only every so often, so there was the potential for great disaster! And the weather, although snowing and blustery, also did not cause any problems. Whew!

So we made it home yesterday afternoon, and the kids all played with their new toys. And then we all went to bed early. No one woke up at all in the middle of the night, and everyone is feeling much more refreshed this morning! Nathan, Jonathan, and Grace definitely have what I would consider the weakest stomachs of all of us. You can bet I will be much more careful about watching what everyone eats next time! Balanced meals at regular times for all! It was certainly a trip we will never forget! Seriously though--I have dealt with more vomit in these last 3 months than in the entire rest of my life! What in the world?! I am ready for this phase to be done!

Friday, December 03, 2010


This morning I finally had my ultrasound! I'll be 22 weeks on Monday, so this is definitely my latest regular ultrasound.

This is my second ultrasound at Bethesda, and they do their ultrasounds differently even than other military hospitals I've been at. First they take me back, with my very full bladder (are military hospitals the only places anymore that even tell women to drink 24 oz. of fluid at least 30 minutes before the scan?!), and the tech performs the scan in pretty much complete silence. He did tell me he was taking measurements (duh!). Towards the end, he asked me if we wanted to know what we were having. I said yes, and he told me it's a boy! I was right! As an aside, I know the whole thing with heartrates is an old wives tale with plenty of exceptions, but for my kids, the lower rates (140s) have been boys, and the higher ones (160s) have been girls.

Then we take a little break. I go to the bathroom, and he gets Bob. I think if there were problems with the scan, then he would get a doctor at that point. Then he does a short little scan basically showing stuff like hands, heart, boy parts, and he prints off some pictures. Then he shows everything to a doctor to get the final okay, and we are done. I did ask if the baby was measuring right for my due date, and he said he was measuring a little over 22 weeks. That actually lines up with my first due date, just going from my LMP numbers, but the first ultrasound is more accurate as far as dating purposes are concerned, so we'll go with that. Besides, I would rather have a later due date, and maybe go a bit early (or right on time), without any pressure for induction.

So everything looked good with our little guy, praise the Lord. He was kicking and waving his little arms around. So cute! As my friend Lisa just said last week after her ultrasound, it's so nice to know who's in there!

I definitely don't take a healthy baby for granted in this fallen world. I follow the blog called Bowen's Heart , about the new baby son of the lead singer for Sanctus Real (who do that really neat song "Lead Me"). Bowen has a serious heart problem, which they discovered at their 20 week ultrasound. Matt Hammit's insights have been powerful and moving over the past 3 months, and they have a long road ahead of them. Feeling my baby kick reminds me to pray for other babies who are not so healthy.

So now we move on to names. Here is our naming algorithm again: Biblical first name, and no repeat initials. So we've used up A, C, F, G, J, L, and N. I made up a little list, but so far nothing has really grabbed me. At least we have about 19 more weeks to think on it!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cranberry Concoction

I always make this cran-apple-pear sauce for holidays because the kids love it. The first step is boiling a ton of cranberries in water until they pop, and then draining the water. Usually we just drain the water down the sink, but Nathan wanted to drain it into a bowl this year so he could drink some. We did capture it in a bowl, and he and Bob both drank a little bit--tart!!

Then we started tinkering. The recipe also calls for a couple cans of sliced pears, so we drained that juice into our bowl. We added some sugar. And more sugar. Next was a wee bit of cranberry ginger ale that someone had brought to our last church small group meeting. We're just not that big into carbonated beverages, so there it sat in the fridge, taking up room. Then we poured in the last bit of some cran-grape juice that was also just lingering around in the fridge. And some apple juice. By this point, the cranberry concoction was quite tasty! We bottled it into the ginger ale 2-liter and the cran-grape juice bottle, and we took one bottle over to the L's for Thanksgiving. We should have brought both, as it was rapidly consumed!

Although this concoction is probably not repeatable, I think we have a new tradition. Waste not, want not and all that! It's fun to have kids around who think up new things to do!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lots to Be Thankful For!

I'm 20 weeks along now, and I had another appointment this morning. One thing I am so thankful for is that I can leave Nathan and Luke home with everyone, while I go on my merry way to Bethesda. I had to wait awhile to be seen this morning, but I was just relaxing in the quiet, reading a Reader's Digest I had brought. Ahhh. Very unlike the last several pregnancies, with everyone squirming around in my lap as we read book after book in the waiting area, and as we crowd into the too-small exam rooms!

Another thing I am very thankful for is that I did pass my 3 hour glucose test! Yay! I have to retest at the normal 28 week time, but I was expecting that. I'm just glad to knock 10 or 12 weeks off the finger-pricking!

The baby's heartrate was once again in the low 140's, which makes me think boy. The girls' heartrates were all in the 160s. But I know there are plenty of exceptions to that little old wives' tale! I have my ultrasound on Dec. 3, so hopefully s/he won't be bashful and modest! None of the rest of my kids ever have been, LOL.

I went ahead and got a flu shot today. I don't ever go out of my way to get the flu shot, but sometimes, if it works out, then I get one. The kids got one last year, although I never did take Faith back for her second dose. Oh well. I doubt they'll get one this year, since I'm not really planning on taking them all in. Anyhow, my arm is really hurting tonight--I should definitely have had the tech give the shot to me in my right arm! What was I thinking?!

One thing that has been bothering me this pregnancy that I have never had trouble with before is that my arms are always falling asleep. Really. If I sit at the table and support my head on one arm/hand, then that hand will almost immediately start getting tingly. When I wake up at night to pee, whatever arm is on top (I always sleep on my side) is sound asleep. And it is PAINFUL to wake it back up again! I asked the doctor about it, but other than saying that pregnant women often had more trouble with carpel tunnel-type symptoms, which I knew, she didn't really have anything to add. I have cogitated upon this problem quite a bit, and I finally decided maybe it is a pillow issue. I sleep on 2 very cheap pillows that are squashed down, so that the 2 of them together fit into one pillowcase. I have noticed lately that they are even less puffy than ever! So I think a weird neck angle at night might be contributing. Tonight Bob and I went to Walmart, and I bought a new pillow--NOT the cheap $3 one we would normally buy, but a memory foam one! Ooooh . . . I hope it works anyway. I would really be thankful for that!

I'm also thankful to have good friends who are like family to spend Thanksgiving with! And the absolutely lovely thing about a potluck Thanksgiving meal is that any one person doesn't have to do too much cooking! So today I made a chocolate pecan pie, cran-apple-pear sauce, and the dough for ginger snaps, which I will bake up tomorrow. I also have to make the sweet potato casserole tomorrow. And that's it! Since my arm is so sore, I was also very thankful tonight for my wonderful Electrolux mixer. I love that big thing!!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving day tomorrow! Here in America, we truly do have so much for which to be thankful!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bunches of Bananas

Does this happen to any other family?! The kids go through a phase, I guess you'd call it, where they eat a ton of bananas. I can't keep them in the house. For snacks, at breakfast, in smoothies, etc. Then, all of a sudden--it stops. Usually right after I've been to Sams and bought 2 bunches.

So there the bananas sit. I am no help, because I only eat bananas that still have a hint of green on the skin. What can I say--I'm a banana diva, LOL. I try to pass off some of the ever-ripening bananas to Faith by peeling them before giving them to her, but she doesn't buy it. And everyone is just no longer interested in bananas at all.

The past week I've made banana bread, a double batch of banana oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and finally today, frosted banana cookies. The oatmeal ones were just okay, I thought. I just grabbed a likely looking recipe off the internet because I wanted something easy and banana-y to take for our church fellowship meal Sunday. But I got no complaints, and all the cookies were gobbled up!

My kids' favorite recipe to use up over-ripe bananas is the frosted banana cookie one. I got it from my friend Felicia Gruber back in Colorado. She brought them over when we had a playdate at our house one time, and I immediately asked for the recipe! They call for nuts, but it's been years and years since I baked cookies with nuts in them--a little less than 9 years, LOL. They are more time-consuming, however, and don't make very many, which is why I wanted a different recipe for church. I do have a good banana snack cake recipe that I like to make, but I had just made that for a church small group meeting not too many weeks ago, so I was kind of bored with that. I probably have posted this recipe on here before, and some day I will update my blog so that I have all those cool sidebar options, like the ability to click on the different categories I have tagged (like "recipes"). But until then, I guess I'll have to repeat myself, since it is almost impossible to find old things I posted!

Frosted Banana Cookies

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. cloves

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 med. size bananas)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Grease cookie sheet and preheat oven to 375. Mix together first 6 ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Add the mashed bananas and dry ingredients. After batter is well-mixed, add nuts if wanted. Drop from a teaspoon 2 inches apart on a well-greased cookie cheet. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Remove from cookie cheet immediately to cool on a wire rack. Frost cooled cookies with banana butter frosting or any other glaze. Can also be served unfrosted.

Banana Butter Frosting

2 cups sifted powder sugar
2 Tbsp. softened butter
1/4 cup mashed banana (about 1 small banana)
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Stir all ingredients together well. If necessary, add additional powdered sugar to make the right spreading consistency. Frost cooled cookies.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rivendell Update

On Tuesday we finished our 12th week of the jr. high co-op. Since we only have 33 weeks of academics, we are already over 1/3 of the way for the year! We are taking a break next week for Thanksgiving, and then we'll have 3 more weeks to go until Christmas break.

I think all of us moms are still pinching ourselves each week, as far as how well it is all going! Theresa has the boys reading interesting books, writing tons of papers, and doing lots of 20 minutes essays (which Nathan hates, but I keep telling him how grateful he'll be for the practice when SAT time rolls around). Siri is definitely teaching a Spanish 1 class. Nathan is going to be WAY more competant in Spanish than I ever was in French after my 2 years of high school French. Languages are definitely not his first love, but he is having a fun time. Now history with Christine--he loves that! They have lots of interesting discussions and books to read there. I would say that is his favorite class. In science, we are finally past all the botany chapters, which are definitely not my strongest interest, and into some genetics chapters. I LOVE genetics, so that is a welcome change! Right before Christmas we finally get into more zoology stuff, and we start doing dissections, beginning with the earthworm. I remember doing the earthworm in high school as my first dissection! I can't wait!

The last few weeks we've had some fun lab activities, many of which involved various candies, so you know they were a hit with the boys, LOL. We modeled DNA with Twizzlers, gum drops, and toothpicks.
Here in a non-candy activity, Nathan is putting yarn chromosomes through the stages of mitosis. As I am sure you can tell, these chromosomes are clearly in metaphase.

Last week I cut up these labeled genes, and the boys picked one of each allele from each parent. Then they had to put together this "spudoodle" based on the genetic code they picked out. So their alleles determined eye color (purple or white spice drops), ear type (popcorn or puffed wheat), hair or no hair (toothpicks), dorsal spines (3 different colors of marshmallows, as that one demonstrated incomplete dominance), leg color (push pins), curly or straight tail (pipecleaners), and either a 1 or 2 "hole" nostril (more pushpins). Nathan was the proud papa of this fine creation, LOL.

In the afternoon, after we pick up the younger kids from their co-op, Luke and the other 5th/6th graders have a writing class also with Theresa. She is really challenging them with writing assignments and books to read, and it has been so good for Luke! Christine is teaching a little writing class for Caleb and the other 3rd graders. It's a gentle introduction to IEW-style writing, and Caleb's writing is coming right along. He's working on a 3-paragraph paper on Pecos Bill right now. Jonathan often tags along in this class. He is my only one who really WANTS to write, LOL.

The younger kids are doing so well with their memory work time in the afternoon. They have memorized Heb. 11: 1-13 so far, as well as a science fact from each chapter of the older boys' life science book. This week's fact was "DNA segments called genes are arranged on chromosomes, and chromosomes are found in the nucleus. Human cells have 46 chromosomes." (I didn't really touch on the fact that gamete cells only have 23 chromosomes, LOL.) We've memorized 2 complete poems so far--"The Owl and the Pussycat" by Lear, which was a real kid-pleaser, as well as "True Nobility" by Guest. Now we are in the middle of "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day", which I thought would be good leading up to Christmas. We're memorizing it like the hymn, not as Longfellow originally wrote it. We've also memorized 12 points in my 32 point timeline, complete with dates. The last point we memorized was "Charles Martel and the Battle of Tours--732 AD". A very important date in history!

We also do mapwork each week, usually relating to something the older boys are doing in history. One week we all made salt maps of Israel, so they could be more familiar with the geographic features of the country. We've memorized locations in Egypt and all over the Fertile Crescent, as well as India, China, and Greece. We're back in Israel for a few more weeks, and then we'll move back into the world of ancient Greece. I've tried to work on modern neighbors of these countries too, because I think that is so important.

Lastly, this picture doesn't have anything to do with Rivendell, but I thought it was too cute. The co-op for the younger kids had their Civil War 5th week activity Tuesday morning. They had some great speakers come in--re-enactment soldiers and ladies in period dress. Most of the kids dressed up as well. I think this dress is another hand-me-down from Aunt Rose's girls, and it is still a little bit big, but Anna looked so cute as a little girl in the Civil War time! All the kids got either bonnets or army caps, as well as a little haversack filled with a sample johnnycake, hardtack, and 2 pieces of taffy. Anna's class also made these little drums. So it was a really fun day, ending a really fun and interesting unit.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Interesting Report from the Football Team Party

Tonight was the team party for Nathan's football team. Some parent on the team knows someone, and so the party was at a place that sells entertainment stuff for the home--arcade games, gaming systems, etc. The shop was just opened up to us all, and we could play whatever games we wanted to! Since we don't have a Wii, X-Box, or any other sort of game, you can imagine the fun the boys had! We had all thought it would be sort of a "Chuck E. Cheese for Older Kids" sort of place, where you have to pay like a dollar for each game you want to play. We had already told the kids we would just eat and not stay too long if that was the case, so don't pester us for money!

The night started off very bizarrely, however. This store was in an industrial business park type place, way down at the far end. Definitely a hole-in-the-wall location, and not a place we ould ever have stumbled upon on our own. We were, of course, about 10 minutes late, so all the close parking places were taken. We had to turn around and park closer to the entrance of the business park, several doors down from the game place. As we got out, we noticed a pizza delivery guy further down. He was backing out and then driving weirdly--there were lots of speed bumps, and he would speed up and then slam on the brakes, screeching and roaring. We hurried to the other side, where the place was we were going. The pizza guy was coming toward us, and although I was sure he saw us, he still was driving very oddly, so we made sure to hurry across. Then it took us a few minutes to walk down to the storefront. When we got there, we were greeted with a very odd scene--the pizza car was stopped but running, the driver's door was wide open, no one was in the car, 2 people were running away, and one of the moms from our team was standing there, in a bit of distress! I thought her wallet had been stolen or something, since the people were running off (was the pizza man chasing the robber?!), but no, it turns out the pizza man had turned in and had HIT the mom! Thankfully, it wasn't that hard, and she was at the right angle, so she didn't fall and go under the car--the Lord was definitely watching over her! Then the passenger, a girl, had jumped out and started running, and the driver ran after her. Okay . . . Bob wrote down the license plate and tried to call the police, but his phone wouldn't work. It was all so surreal--are we in the twilight zone?! Fortunately another dad from the team was also outside making a phone call. He was able to call the police, who came quickly.

As it turned out, the pizza delivery man was drunk. He was arrested, and although he will be in a heap of trouble, at least he didn't kill someone! Hopefully this will be a huge wake-up call for him. He definitely won't be driving again for awhile, and I'm sure he'll never be delivering pizzas again. The girl was totally weird--she told the police she usually is on valium, and she has anxiety attacks. Evidently she then had one, because an ambulance came and took her away!

Meanwhile, inside we all ate pizza, played games (well, not me, LOL), and had a lovely little recognition ceremony for the boys. They each received a minature replica of their helmet, complete with decals and team number! What a great idea! Much better than a trophy or something! Nathan really liked it. So it was a nice night, although it was definitely one to remember. I think the whole scenario made a big impression on our kids, to say the least!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Caleb's Birthday Weekend

Caleb turned 9 early Friday morning! We've been celebrating all weekend! My parents went to a retirement ceremony down in the Norfolk area, and they drove up here Friday night, just in time for cake and ice cream. We also had the McC's and the P's, both from our Bible study, over to join the party. Normally we would just bring the cake to Bible study, but we didn't actually have Bible study that night, so we had to make our own party!
Caleb wanted a "jersey" cake, like the Pittsburgh Penguins cake I made for Jonathan and Nathan back in June. Caleb, however, roots for the Anaheim Ducks (rather randomly, I might add, since we don't even know anyone who lives in Anaheim, LOL), so he wanted a Ducks jersey. I am fine with jersey cakes--they are not hard at all to shape or even decorate. I think it's funny that I seem to have "series" of cakes--first the Lego Star Wars series (crossing light sabers, A-wing fighter, R2D2, clone trooper, pilot clone trooper, and Anakin), then a brief Bionicle series (put to an end by my refusing to make any more, LOL--Vezok and Toa Gali), and also a "military" series (B-2, USS Nimitz, F-22, and a tank before I started blogging), as well as a few odd cakes before we moved to VA (cowboy boot, construction hard hat, space shuttle, dolphin, and pirate ship). Out of all of these options, jerseys are by far the easiest!

I decorated the cake Friday afternoon. I didn't quite get done before Faith woke up from her nap. She helped herself to what was left of the black (chocolate) frosting. She was quite a fan! The boys said she looked like her Uncle Dan, who has a goatee, LOL. I'm sure he is flattered.

Caleb got some fun presents. He got this Lego set from Bob's parents, and some 39 Clues books, plus a cool activity book about ancient Egypt from my parents. He also got a set of juggling balls from the McC's, and he has been diligently trying to make that all work. We needed Ed L's expertise, but unfortunately they were in OK, which is why we didn't have Bible study in the first place! It was a very fun evening, and I think Caleb had a really good birthdya celebration!

We continued celebrating Saturday, when we had Caleb's actual birthday dinner. He requested this sausage roll I make, and we also had fresh stir-fried garlic green beans, broccoli slaw salad, and some pineapple and grapes.
My parents are leaving tomorrow, and we are all sad to see them go, since this was such a quick trip. But we are thankful they came at all, since it was kind of a spur of the moment, last minute decision to drive out for the retirement ceremony and Caleb's birthday! It made Caleb's birthday really special to have them here to celebrate!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Leaves Are Changing . . .

. . . the bruises are fading . . .
(One day after the 3 hour test)
(This afternoon, five days later--and no, I don't know the results yet, LOL)
. . . Ah, it must be fall.
I think football ended not a moment too soon. We bundled up for Nathan's playoff game on Saturday. Isn't Luke's reflective jacket nice?! He won't get hit by a car playing in the snow, if we get any snow, that is. Nathan's team lost, and I was sad for them . . . but happy to have our evenings and Saturdays back!
Sunday we had our annual time of fun at Chuck E. Cheese with our Friday night Bible study group. The kids all had a blast! I enjoyed the fact that they could all run around without me, while I sat and visited. Next year I'll be dealing with a 6 month old again . . .
When people ask me about what we do for Halloween, I like to point out that our kids dress up all the time! That's nothing special! Going to Chuck E. Cheese, however, is a once-a-year thing, and they REALLY look forward to that, LOL. I did have to run to Walmart Monday, so I did pick up some half-price Halloween candy. We discovered over the weekend that Caleb likes Twix bars, when a neighbor girl down the street gave him one. The first chocolate thing he has liked! So I bought a bag of those, and I'll put one in their lunches for co-op day for the next little while.
And in the spirit of dressing up . . .
. . . here is Grace, as a lovely ballerina, although I think her leotard is actually on backwards. This is another one from Bob's sister Rose and her 2 girls. I tell you, Anna and Grace have LOVED the stuff they have passed on to us!

And lastly, here is a picture of Faith, fresh from a nap. She is eating a Tootsie Roll that Luke bought for her out of his Chuck E. Cheese winnings. (He got 301 tickets, and everyone else combined got 318 tickets, LOL. Of course, Jonathan drove the average down, as he seems to have spent all his allotted tokens on things that take pictures. He has 13 pictures from Sunday night! Ah well, the prizes you can buy are nothing to get excited about, so whatever makes him happy!)
Happy Fall!

Friday, October 29, 2010

I'm Glad That's Over!

I took my 3-hour glucose test this morning. I left the house at 6:30--and got back home after 1:00. A big accident on the Beltway? Something went horridly wrong in the lab? Not at all! Just par for the course!

I arrived at Bethesda at 7:30, where I had to take a number and wait 40 minutes to get my fasting blood drawn. Then (and NNMC is the ONLY lab with this proceedure I have ever gone to), I had to wait until those numbers came back normal before I could drink the glucola and start the 3 hours. So I finally started the test at 9:05, having already been there over an hour and a half.

When I was pregnant with Grace, I also failed my 1 hour one and had to take a 3 hour test. I blogged about my vein worries here, since my right arm had so much vein scarring from my blood clots. But the test went just fine, and so did my 3 hour one with Faith, so I had not even worried a bit about the quality of my veins for this one! I thought those veins had finally repaired themselves or something! Alas, this test did not go so well. I ended up with 7 sticks for 4 draws, and I can tell my arms, especially my right one, are going to be a mass of bruises. I'm not really sure what the problem was since people have been able to draw blood from my right arm these past few years. Not today though. Oh well, they got all the blood they needed, and eventually I was able to leave, LOL.

I did enjoy the nice quiet time, though. I read a book by Adriana Trigliani called Very Valentine. It was not bad--not heavy or anything; just the thing to read when you haven't eaten anything but have swallowed a ton of hummingbird feeder nectar. It was about a girl in NY who was carrying on her grandfather's wedding shoe business (making these special shoes by hand). I really am NOT into shoes in any way, shape, or form, so I couldn't really relate, but the author's descriptions were good.

So now I wait for the results. I remember with Faith the doctor didn't call until over a week later--giving me hope that I had passed. I know now not to get my hopes up! I do have an appointment the day before Thanksgiving, so I will know for sure by then, I guess.

In other somewhat related news, I was finally able to schedule an ultrasound for Dec. 3. I'll be almost 22 weeks, and I don't like to have them that late, but oh well. I had called the radiology number on Monday, and I left a message, just like they instructed--name, sponsor's social, good number to reach you, etc. They said they would call back within 48 hours, but that simply did not happen. So I called again Thursday, getting the same message. I eventually just starting calling them every time I thought of it, and FINALLY I got through to a real person who deigned to talk to me, LOL. She said November was all full, and the December schedule wasn't out yet, but she would "reserve" a spot for me Dec. 3 at 10:00. We'll see how that all works out. I'm not really all that trusting of their ability to keep their word!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Today . . .

. . . I called off school.

The day was not a total waste, academically. Nathan of course still did all the stuff he had to do. And the rest of us headed to our old Classical Conversations group so I could lead a starfish dissection. I had gotten a starfish from the lady who ordered them yesterday, so I was able to dissect one myself last night, to use as an example. I also realized that you really needed a good, sharp scalpel to be able to cut the skin of those suckers, and the scissors the kids were going to have simply wouldn't cut it! So we went early so I could make slices with my scalpel in all the starfish. They were still hard to open, but thankfully CC has lots of parents around to help. The kids seemed to enjoy it! It's fun for me too. I actually feel like I am using my degree when I do things like that!

In the afternoon, since we weren't trying to finish school, I did a pregnancy pilates video. This was because I had only walked 20 minutes on the treadmill this morning, and I've upped my exercise to 45 minutes a day. Once I am officially diagnosed, I'll have to up it again to at least 1 hour a day. Not looking forward to fitting that in to a normal day!

After I finished, Anna and Grace wanted to watch our old "Riverdance" video. Anna has really been fascinated with dance lately. She has been interested in ballet, but also in Irish dancing, because Jessica L. has been doing it for several years now and is a willing demonstrator on Friday nights! Anna dresses up in an old black leotard (from Rose's girls!) and her black church shoes (which do have a little heel), and she kicks and dances around the house. So cute! So I knew they would get a kick out of Riverdance. They were both quite enthralled! It brought back wonderful memories for me of . . . hmmm . . . one of our anniversaries in Colorado, when Bob got us tickets to watch Riverdance downtown. I LOVED it! That was such a fun night! So if Anna does decide to take up Irish dancing, I will be a willing spectator! [Okay, I have devoted more thought to the date question, because that was really bugging me. We were in our USAFA house, so I am pretty sure it was July 2000, so that would have been our 7th anniversary. Ta da!]

I was also able to make banana bread out of the overripe, brown, oozy bananas that have been sitting on our counter, waiting for me to have time and energy to do something about them. I used Splenda and whole wheat flour--might as well get back in the habit!

I also uploaded pictures onto Snapfish, something I apparently hadn't done since the middle of August. It actually didn't take that much time, because, as it turns out, I have hardly taken any pictures these past 2 months! I need to get on the stick! I guess we just haven't done anything fascinating, and no one has had a birthday. Caleb's birthday is coming up next Friday, though, so we should get some pictures from that! He still hasn't given me a definitive answer on what he wants for a cake. That worries me, LOL. I am taking suggestions!

So see, we didn't do school, but I got a lot of other stuff done. Of course, I have tons of laundry that needs to be folded, and more laundry that needs to be washed. I also need to mop. We are struggling with ants in our kitchen--and why wouldn't we be?! With all the crumbs and spills on our floor, it must seem like the Big Rock Candy Mountain to them! They probably come from miles away! We're famous! Never the less, we are continuing the good fight. Maybe in 16 years or so, when everyone still at home is bigger, we'll make some headway. In the meantime . . . school is on for tomorrow!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Whew, What a Week!

I'm glad it's over. Hopefully next week will be more restful!

1. We're not out of the woods with Grace yet. She did really well on Thursday and Friday. She ate and drank normally, and she also played and generally acted totally normally. No stomach pains or anything. But early this morning, around 5:00, she woke up crying. She ended up vomiting a total of 4 times in one hour, each time nothing more than stomach acid. She just kept clutching up under her ribcage, making me again wonder about a reflux-type thing going on. So if she keeps doing that, I guess I'll try to take her in again on Monday. She seemed fine today, although tired and a bit crabby. She didn't eat much in the morning, but by the afternoon, she was fine.

2. Today was Nathan's last regular season football game. They lost, but his team won 3 games this year. One of his coaches told them that was a record for an expansion team in their league! Last year's expansion team didn't win any games last year--or this year. That would really stink. Earlier in the season we had been wondering why the league even decided to have another expansion team this year. It seemed like a boy from Nathan's team could have gone to each of the other teams. We have decided that the league, when they realized Gary was wanting to coach again, thought that they should do an expansion team this year with him coaching it, in hopes that in a few years the team would be a successful part of the league, as opposed to a perpetual bottom-dweller. I think Nathan has learned so much about foootball this year. And I know he would not have played anywhere near aas much as he did if he had been on an established team, where most people had played plenty of organized football before. It's definitely been a good experience for him. I, however, am not sorry to see the season end. It definitely takes up a lot of time! They will still have at least one playoff game.

3. Tonight we went over to the McC's house for chili, along with the other 2 families in our jr. high Rivendell co-op. The kids all watched the first half of The 10 Comandments, to celebrate our finishing Unit 1 of Tapestry of Grace. We adults made so much noise talking and laughing in the dining room that the kids had to come in and tell up to keep quiet! It was a fun evening! We are so blessed to have these families for friends. Developing good friendships, the iron-sharpening-iron type, especially for our boys, was a big goal for our co-op, and I would definitely say we are succeeding, praise the Lord. The boys all played football out front before eating, and I am sure it was a bit shocking for the neighbors to look out and see the 11 boys from our combined families all out there running around!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Grumpy Grace's Big Day

I realized this afternoon that I had my camera in my diaper bag, since I keep meaning to take pictures at football games, Rivendell, etc. Instead, I was able to capture for posterity my charming, sweet, and cooperative Grace! Ha!

Let me back up a bit. Grace was still vomiting off and on through the weekend. Saturday was an especially bad day. She just laid around, moaning and groaning, most of the day. Eventually she ate some small bit of something (a few bites of toast, maybe?), felt better and went outside to play for a bit. We had pancakes for dinner, since we were heading off to Nathan's game and were short on time. She ate 2 of those, but started complaining about her tummy immediately after. She did throw up all of dinner, she felt better, and we headed off to the game (which Nathan's team won. Yay!). She complained of being hungry throughout the game, however, so I finally said she could have applesauce when we got back home. That came back up around 1:30.

Sunday morning she felt bad and ate hardly anything, but I was able to distract her with picking out a church dress and tights, and we went to church. She seemed like she was doing better Sunday. She even kept down a tiny bit of beef barley soup that evening. She slept through the night without waking (due, I am sure, to all your prayers!! Thank you!), and so I decided not to take her in Monday after all.

That was not the right decision, as it turned out. She did not throw up Monday, but that was because she pretty much ate nothing. Tuesday morning she woke up thirsty, drank some water, and threw that back up 30 minutes later. She didn't eat anything more, and she was definitely not herself the rest of the day. She just laid around, groaning, and complaining that her back was hurting. Because I was teaching at the co-op, I could not take her in, and so she went to Christine's for the morning, and just laid around the church in the afternoon. She ate a little bit of oatmeal when we got home, and that came back up at 10:30. She did sleep the rest of the night, but I got up at 6:15 to call and make an appointment for her today.

We left for Bethesda at 9:25 for our 10:20 appointment. The doctor didn't find anything really wrong, but she ordered some bloodwork and IV fluids, since Grace was dehydrated. The doctor said that they had been seeing quite a few families where a few people got sick with a bug, but one child just couldn't shake it. The stomach got irritated from the vomiting, which led to more vomiting, and eventually dehydration. She said the pain was so bad for some kids, they were working them up to check for appendicitis. That actually happened to us with Luke when he was maybe 3, although his "sickness' turned out to be an impacted bowel. Thankfully, that was not the case here, as that episode is not really my favorite memory with Luke, LOL. Quite tramatic!

Speaking of tramatic, it took 2 attempts to get the IV in Grace, and she was not a real happy camper about that, as you can see in the top picture. I took a picture of all the tubes so we could show the boys, especially Caleb. I am sure he would have jumped through the roof if this had been attempted on him! Maybe the dehydration took the edge off Grace, but at least she didn't struggle or cry too terribly much, LOL. I told her that Mommy always got IVs when I had babies, so she could tell Anna she was being like Mommy, but amazingly, that didn't go over well. LOL! She did get an Ariel sticker.

She also got a chewable anti-nausea pill. She chewed it up and took a sip of water, but then she decided that it tasted so bad that she didn't want to swallow it. So she held it in her mouth for over 45 minutes! Stubborn girl. Finally I resorted to forcing her head back and her mouth open several times, which made her swallow most of it. Good grief. I felt like Dr. Herriot or something, with a recalcitrant dog!

And finally you can see the difference that one bolus of fluid made in her disposition. Before the second bag was started, we tried getting a urine sample from her. We had already tried, before any of the IV fluid, but that was not a success at all. The second attempt was not either. Sigh. So we headed back in for more fluid. After that was done, we tried again in the bathroom--for 45 minutes. Grrrrrrrr. I was not a happy camper myself at that point, since it was already close to 3:30, and I knew we would be facing serious traffic. Plus, all I had eaten since we got there was a small bag of trail mix and a granola bar, which I happened to have in the diaper bag. I was SO hungry!! Eventually the doctor knocked on the bathroom door, and we went back to the treatment room. She said all Grace's labs had come back perfectly normal (except her glucose level was low, wonder why?!), so it was highly unlikely that she had a urinary tract infection. So she let us go without getting a sample, thankfully. I was about on my last legs, and so was Grace.
Of course, I was worried that she would have a terrible accident on the way home, with all that fluid, but not to worry. She fell asleep and had a nice nap, but she didn't pee. She didn't even go right after we got home. Maybe an hour later she finally went. I guess she really was dehyrated!
So that was my very long day. My wonderful friend Christine called me at the hospital and told me she was bringing a meal for us for dinner. What a tremendous blessing!! I inhaled that, then drove Nathan off to his football game (which they also won--yay again!). And now I'm eating ice cream. Oh, I've decided I'm not doing the glucose test until next Friday, LOL.
I do want to mention how wonderful the boys were today. I was gone pretty much the entire day, but Nathan and Luke kept everything running. They changed poopy Faith and put her down for her nap, they got lunch, they made sure everyone did school and chores . . . I am so thankful for such responsible and helpful boys. I could not have taken everyone with me--there simply wasn't room where we spent the day. What a relief to be able to leave everyone here and know they were being well taken care of!

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Prayer Request

I am planning on taking my 3 hour glucose test next Friday. I actually have to call the lab and schedule it, so hopefully that will work. I am not planning on taking it any earlier, LOL. One reason is that I am not sleeping well at night because people keep waking me up. I know from the last time I had ges. diabetes that not getting a full night's sleep really wreaks havoc with my glucose readings, no matter what I eat or how much I exercise. When kids were sick and I was getting up during the night with them, I could eat turkey breast and salad all day, but still have high readings.

But I have only had one full night's sleep since 2 Sundays ago. Grace has been the culprit most times, including 3 times last night (once at 2:00 because she needed to pee and couldn't get her arms back in her sleeper, another at 4:30 where she did her little cry loudly, cough hard, and throw up trick for the first time in 3 nights, and another time at 6:00 because she had a bad dream and was thirsty). There have been a few other random accidents and other disruptions, however, and it is making for a tired and crabby mom. I am sure I will have absolutely no chance of passing a 3 hour test if I can't have a few good nights of sleep.

So that's my prayer request--that somehow people will stop waking me up! What in the world?! They are all normally such good sleepers, and I don't know why they are choosing now to have problems! It feels like an attack, and I am trying not to take it personally, LOL. I guess I will call Monday to try to schedule the test on Friday if the weekend has gone okay as far as sleeping. And if next week is bad, then I will just try to move the test to the following week. Surely this phase will pass soon. I'm praying that, anyway.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Some Updates

Let me start with the good news: no one woke me up last night. Well, that's not 100% accurate--Faith did cry out some time in the middle of the night, but she stopped right away and went back to sleep, as did I. It wasn't until she woke up in the morning, and I went in to get her, that I realized she had thrown up some time in the night. Her bed was a mess, and I put her straight into the bath tub. Nothing like dealing with vomit first-thing in the morning! She also has diarrhea, which she's been struggling with for the last 2 or 3 days (she is teething her eye teeth), so she has a rash. She has not been a happy camper today.

Grace did not wake up last night, but she is still not feeling the best. She fussed around this afternoon, and finally I told her to just go lie down in her bed. She fussed there for awhile, but eventually fell asleep. Yay! Now Faith is down too, and the house is nice and quiet.

I left all this chaos and sickness behind this morning in Nathan and Luke's capable hands, and I waltzed off to Bethesda for my OB appointment. They did a fine job, although Luke did have to change a poopy diaper, and Faith pitched such a fit he couldn't get her pants back on her! He had to settle her down with some apple juice, a special treat.

At my OB appointment I found out that I did not pass my 1 hour glucose tolerance test. I was 2 points too high, so I have to take the 3 hour one in the next week or 2. I do not have high hopes for passing this one either, unfortunately, and the thought of 25 weeks of poking my fingers and exercising an hour each day is quite depressing right now.

The baby seems to be doing just fine, however. S/he was very active, moving around so much it was hard to get a good reading of the heartrate. It was about 144, which is low--maybe it is a boy after all? I knew I had been feeling a lot of movement lately!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What's New?

(Besides a job, I mean . . .)

1. Grace has some sort of wierd tummy thing going on. She woke up last Monday night starting at 4:00 and vomited 4 times. It was like her food from dinner had never digested one bit! Since then, she has woken up almost every night, usually somewhere between 4:00 and 6:30, and heaved up a bit of stomach acid. This is very disturbing, not only for me, LOL, but also Anna, who sleeps with her. So both girls have been very crabby this week. Grace had been just fine during the day, but today she moped around and hardly ate anything. She is one of my "5th percentile" kids, so we certainly don't want her losing any weight! My mom suggested possibly reflux of something. If she keeps on with this pattern, I'll try to get an appointment maybe on Thursday.

2. I can't take her in tomorrow because I have my second OB appointment. I took a 1-hour glucose tolerance test last Thursday, so I am assuming I'll get the results of that. We'll see if all my exercise is paying off so far. I also need to call to schedule my 20 week ultrasound. Wow! Time is flying! I'm only 14 weeks, but I definitely (as always) look bigger than that. That's why I no longer take belly shots until I'm maybe 30 weeks along, LOL. Then I finally look the right size for how far along I am! I'm feeling lots of little flutters and kicks now.

3. I had a big day on Saturday--I drove down to Richmond for my niece Christi's baby shower! Bob's sister Ann did such a nice job with the food and all the other details. There was an excellent turnout too--around 40 people! Christi got a ton of lovely and practical gifts, including lots of diapers and wipes! It was fun, and I was so glad I was able to go.

4. Our church picnic was Sunday after our morning service. The weather was absolutely perfect! We ate tons of food and visited for a long time. We got there around 1:30, and we didn't leave until 6:00! Bob actually stayed later and played some soccer and football. I had whiney dirty kids in my car, LOL. I was glad we didn't take baths and showers Saturday night, as we usually do. They all needed something when we got home! Craig McC had taken Caleb, Jonathan, and some of his boys down to the Potomac for awhile, where they had an absolute ball catching tadpoles, clams, and a dead crayfish. They wanted to take the tadpoles home for pets and dissect the crayfish! I was so tired by this time--the last thing I wanted to deal with was how to get tadpoles and a dead crayfish home, mush less actually dealing with them AT home, LOL! I already had several leaf-laden twigs for my science lesson today that had fallen around the playground in my hands--and those were much less messy. Ha! We finally made it home, sans animal life, where I collapsed. But it was so wonderful to get all that visiting in!

5. Another successful week of our Rivendell junior high co-op is in the books! The moss I collected a week and a half ago did manage to survive in the tub on our counter, and after our class today, I planted it in our front area. We'll see if it takes. I love moss! The focus of the week was plants, and so we did alot with leaf characteristics. Brought me right back to botany class! I searched around our yard and the walking path through the woods behind our neighborhood to find all sorts of samples of various leaf possibilities--simple, compound, oppposite, alternate, pinnately compound, palmately compound. I am happy to say I found representatives of all, even a horsechestnut for the palmately compound! I knew that would be the hardest! Fall is the perfect time to look for leaves, since so many are already on the ground. I switched the order we are covering several of the chapters in the book, and I was so glad I did. I think in another week or two it would have been to hard to find good leaf specimens.

As part of the memory work time today with the younger kids, we made salt maps of Israel, to help them get a good idea of the topography of some of the places we've been learning about in our mapwork. The kids all really enjoyed it. We mainly focused on the Coastal Plain, Central Mountains, Jordan River Valley, and the Valley of Jezreel. I stayed up way to late last night making 5 batches of salt dough, LOL.

So now you know what I've been up to, and why I've been too busy to blog! I have really been tired in the evenings, especially since certain parties ("Grace") keep interrupting my sleep. I am definitely one who notices when I don't get several hours of unbroken sleep each night. I am starting several canker sores in my mouth, which is always my first sign that my body is running down. So with that, I am heading off to bed! Hopefully I'll blog again before this time next week!

Jehovah Jireh

"And my God shall meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4: 19

So Bob retired from active duty on 1 August, and he was already engaged in job-hunting at that time. He learned quite a bit about resume-formatting and searching for jobs on the internet! Finally just a week or two ago, things started to come together. He received an offer from one company, for a job down at the Pentagon. He decided not to take this offer because 2 other jobs looked very promising. One had given him a contingent offer, and another one had told him twice on the phone to expect an offer. Unexpectedly the first compnay came back last week, after telling Bob they were moving on if he didn't sign their offer, and they increased their offer! After we talked about it for awhile Thursday night, Bob felt like the Lord was leading him to take that offer. So he faxed in the paperwork Friday morning--about 30 minutes before the contigent offer company emailed to say someone thought they needed a guy with more hands-on experience with some program, so that didn't think Bob was the right guy after all! And we never did get the offer from that 3rd company. It could come sometime, sure, but I don't think either of us would really have any confidence in the company or their word at that point! This first company really wanted Bob, and they wanted him to start work today. It seems like this is the job God has provided for right now.

Bob did have an interesting point to make about the job search last week. He told me he had been approaching it with sort of a "marriage model" mindset, but really that wasn't the case. He doesn't need to find the one true perfect job that he can commit to for the rest of his working life (or even 23 years, which is how long he served on active duty!). But he does need a job right now, and this job seems like a good fit. He liked the people with whom he'll be working. The one big drawback is the commute. Today was his first day (just inprocessing stuff right now), and it took him a long time to get down there. He's still working on the best route to take and time to go in (early!). So we'll see how it goes, and we are very thankful to the Lord for providing a job in this uncertain economy!

This time without a job has helped both of us reflect on how it really is the Lord who provides for our needs. I know for me it has always just been the thought of "the Air Force" as the one supplying us. Taking that away, with nothing in its place for a few months really helped me see the hand of the Lord in our lives, and he takes care of the family he has given us.

We really cut back spending, starting in July to just bare neccessities. That is always a good thing to do! We even started doing things like make our own pizza, which was fun and something we will definitely continue doing. But even in little things, God was providing things for us. For example, as a sort of frivolous thing, we had already signed Nathan up for football several months before Bob retired, not having any idea of how long it would take to find a job. In July we realized he would need some Underarmour type shirts to go under his pads. When we visited my parents in Ohio, we found a long-sleeved one and a short-sleeved one at Once Upon a Child for just a few dollars each! What a savings! And when I went to see what sort of fall/winter clothes I had for Anna in the tub of clothes that various people had given us, I realized we don't need one. single. thing for her this winter. We have everything we need from all our friends' generosity! And Nathan hasn't grown a ton, so he should be okay too. First boy and first girl--that's really all I need to worry about, clothing-wise, LOL. Everyone else gets hand-me-downs. But our neighbors down the street, after their garage sale a few weeks ago, gave us all their boy clothes that didn't sell--a whole bunch of shirts that fit Caleb and Jonathan. So now I can be done with any shirts from Nathan and Luke that are just too ratty! How exciting!

It also has been a refreshing time to have Bob not work. He and I have gone on walks many mornings after the kids got started with their school. We would often run errands together--cheap date! He was able to take some of the kids riding on the bike path sometimes, which was a special treat. And he got a lot of things taken care of around the house. Which brings me to another thing the Lord provided--that 40 foot ladder we found by the curb, waiting for the trashman back in July. We have certainly gotten a lot of use out of that, as Bob has repaired a lot of trim, and unfortunately has a lot more to do. (And by "we", I mean "Bob", since I have only set foot on the bottom rung of the thing to steady it, LOL.)

I know a lot of you have been praying for Bob's job search, and we are so thankful for your prayers. We don't take this job for granted. We have friends who have been out of work for a year or so. It's sobering to even think about. Hopefully Bob will be a blessing in this new job, and we are thankful to the Lord for providing for us in this way.