Saturday, May 26, 2012

Anna and Grace

 Anna got glasses!  At her 6 year old physical, she didn't do so well on her vision screening, so I had to take her in to get her eyes checked at the eye doctor's office.  Nathan was also due for a check, so I took them both last Friday.  Nathan's eyes got worse this year, so he got new glasses as well (no pictures though--sorry!).  Anna had tons of problems, especially with her right eye.  The doctor ended up having to dilate her eyes because Anna was "overfocusing".  It turns out Anna is far-sighted, with a really weak right eye, so we're patching her left eye for 45 minutes a day, and she has these nifty pink bifocal glasses!  This picture was right after she got them, so she still looks kind of uncomfortable in them, but she's been doing well with wearing them.  She looks like a little librarian!  So cute!

And here is Grace, showing off the gap where her 2 bottom front teeth used to be! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Testing Is Over!!

We finished up our 3 days of Stanford Achievement testing!  This was my first year to be in charge of the whole thing, so to say I am relieved that it went off fairly smoothy is a huge understatement!  We had almost 50 kids test from 25 families.  I was constantly worried since putting the order together in late February/early March that I was dropping some ball or forgetting some major something, but praise the Lord, all the tests for everyone got here just fine!

This year we had a plethora of testers, I am very pleased to report.  Last year we did not.  Many grades had to be combined (which is a pain because they still have to break apart for the "listening" section), and I had to be a tester, even though I had just had Micah less than 6 weeks before.  This year I was a little bit passive-agressive when I sent out the first email about testing back in January--"AS ALWAYS, this testing can only take place by having parent volunteers to help administer the tests as well as other needs. Last year we were short and I had to be a tester, even though I had a 5 week old baby, as well as 3 other nursery-age children. If your excuse is not any better than mine would have been, please find a way to help, especially if you only have older children!"  It worked!  Lots of moms got qualified to be testers, which involves having a college degree, watching an extremely boring DVD, and filling out an online application.  As a result, I had separate testers for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th, and 8th grades.  Fifth and 6th grades had to be combined, and 9/10/11 are always combined, since they don't have any listening section.  Having so many testers was a huge blessing, and I am so thankful for each one of them!  There was also a different mom each day as a floater, and another one to be in the nursery.  LOL, if I wasn't in charge, we wouldn't even have needed the nursery--no tester had nursery-agde kids, but I have 4 that aren't old enough for testing!

Tuesday was the grueling marathon day.  That day was the last day for the high schoolers, and there was one high school boy who was soooooo slow.  The Stanford is not a timed test, so as long as a student is progressing, they can have as long as they need.  Well, everyone else in all the classes was finished around 12:00, but it took this boy until 2:20 to finish.  We were all so ready to go home!  He had taken a long time Monday too, finishing around 1:30, but I didn't need to collect his test booklet, so I was able to go home before that.  Tuesday I had to wait.  In hindsight (note to self for next year . . .) I totally should have ran my kids home as soon as they were all finished, since I knew this boy was going to take longer.  Poor Micah was in desperate need of a nap, and Faith was melting down as well, since we had been there since 8:40.  I just couldn't imagine that anyone would actually take more than 2 hours longer than everyone else on a test.  I can't imagine what he does for the actual SAT.  Nathan said he took 2 minutes on every question, even non-math ones.  There may be some special needs involved (no one ever said), but in that case, I think his mom should have paid to have a tester just come to his house.  That would have been so much less stressful for me and for the tester for his grade.  But he will not be testing next year, since he'll be finishing up high school, so it won't be an issue!

We also had the power go out in the church for about 30 minutes Tuesday, which was just another added bit of excitement.  Fortunately, all the rooms have windows, so the kids could keep on testing. Today, since Nathan was finished, he kept Micah at home with him, so Micah could have his morning nap.  He went down a little before 10:30 and slept until after 1:00, and then he went down again around 4:00.  He was a tired little boy!  That certainly made things easier for me!  The floater for today had a 4 year old girl, so I went ahead and brought Anna, Grace, and Faith so they could all play.  The 4 girls had an absolute ball!

I made a bunch of other notes to mention for next year too, such as "make sure to give me the email address you actually check, as opposed to the one you use when you sign up for stuff and don't want to read the junk emails that come as well".  There were a couple of instances where people were not getting my emails--one lady emailed me at 10:30 Sunday night to ask what time they needed to arrive, since she hadn't gotten any emails from me!--while in fact I actually sent out several informational emails *to the email addresses they provided to BJU Press when they ordered their tests*.  I don't have time to make sure those email addresses are not throwaway ones!  But overall things went really smoothly.  Now all I have to do is get over to the post office or UPS or someplace and send this enormous and heavy box on its merry way!  Then I can just anxiously await the testing results for my always-(over?)confidant kids, which is a normal part of each testing year for me, LOL.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Random Happenings

This is a catch-up post, since I keep meaning to blog about these things, but never do.  Here are some random things that have happened somewhat recently:

--Grace lost her first 2 teeth.  She lost the first one over the weekend while she was putting on her nightgown  The second one came out this morning.  They're both on the bottom, in the front, so now she has a nice gap for straws.

--Anna is riding without training wheels.  This actually happened quite awhile ago (March, maybe), as soon as we got the bikes out from the shed.  She was pretty much ready last summer, so she just needed a short sessions with Bob, and away she went, never looking back!

--Micah finally did teach himself to go backwards down steps, with a lot of encouragement from Luke.  So now it's nice that I don't have to worry about him at the top of stairs anymore!

--Nathan got awarded a full scholarship to Civil Air Patrol encampment!  He had to fill out an application and write an essay.  Christine Mc and Ed L wrote letters of recommendation for him that were absolutely wonderful--I'm sure they were what pushed him over the edge!

--I dropped my still-quite-new phone Friday night, and the upper left corner shattered.  No, we didn't buy insurance, and no, I obviously didn't have one of those hard nifty cover things for it.  Grrr.  I was getting out of the big van, and I pulled the diaper bag over my lap  The diaper bag turned over a bit, and the phone slid out and fell onto the road.  The big van is high up!  I'm praising the Lord that it still works.  Two months down in a 2 year contract--then I can go back to a regular phone.  The funny thing is, Nathan had just asked me that afternoon if I was liking the phone any more!  I'm really not.  I never use it for anything other than making calls, so it is a total waste that we are paying money for it to be a smartphone.  Now I have to nurse it along.  Oh well--like I said, at least it still makes calls!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Forced Rest

This week has been a busy one.  We had our last day of Rivendell on Tuesday, and I've been preparing for 3 days of standardized testing next week, which I am in charge of for our bigger co-op.  Wednesday morning we had a wonderful time with friends out west, then hurried back for 3 orthodontic appointments after lunch, followed by having company for dinner.  Thursday morning I watched the daughter of a friend (no extra work for me though--the 4 girls had such a grand time playing together!), then had my weekly one-on-one Bible study with Kimberly.  I rushed home from that and took Jessica L back home (she comes Thursday afternoons to help Anna and Grace with their reading) and dropped Nathan off to mow.  Bob was out of town too.

So Friday I awoke with many plans involving organizing and moving a ton of pictures and scrapbooking stuff from a room in our basement.  Instead, my intestines did not cooperate.  I got absolutely nothing done, not even eating breakfast.  Eventually I got tired of spending all my time in the bathroom, so as soon as Micah went down for his morning nap at 10:15, I went back to bed too.  Fortunately I was able to sleep a few hours, and I did feel better when I woke up, although still not hungry at all.  I was able to take Anna and Nathan to their eye doctor appointments though--I was certain that would be possible in the morning! 

By yesterday evening I was feeling pretty normal, so I went to sleep planning on going to Jessica's graduation ceremony this morning.  But alas, when I woke up my tummy was still not feeling . . . settled . . . so I opted to stay home and lay low instead.  So many plans . . .  I guess this was the Lord's way of telling me I may possibly not be resting enough, LOL.  Once again, I felt much better in the afternoon.

I was able to sit and sort pictures in the basement though.  That was a fun trip down memory lane for me!  I saw a picture of Ed L's retirement, and Bob was holding Micah . . . except Micah wasn't born then, so it must have been Jonathan!  It was fun looking at random pictures that hadn't been filed from back in Colorado and Ohio.  The boys looked so young!  I was reminded of how much I really enjoyed scrapbooking, and how much I miss it.  That is one of my sacrifices for homeschooling through high school--I just don't have the time or mental energy to scrap right now.  Some year . . . maybe 18 years from now?!  Ha!  I'm hoping that in another couple of years Rivendell prep won't take so much time.  Then maybe I'll be able to have an actual hobby again!

So it was a restful day.  Hopefully this was what was needed.  I've got another busy week planned next week . . .

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

We've been celebrating Mother's Day for several days around here!  I've gotten roses, some turtles (candies, of course, LOL), and a great amount of wonderful handmade cards over the past few days.  And this afternoon I got the best present of all--I got to take a nap!!

As I woke up, I was calculating that for 12 of the past 15 Mother's Days, I have either been pregnant or nursing.  (1998, 2000, and 2005 were my "off" years.)  Wow!  Happy Mother's Day to me!

One Mother's Day several years ago, we visited my friend Julie and husband Tim at their small church in PA.  They gave away a small book for all the moms called Life's Little Tribute Book For Mothers.  It has a lot of quotes about motherhood, from famous people, from not-famous-at-all moms, and from kids of all ages about moms.  Here are a few of my favorites:

--Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it starts snowing.       Phyllis Diller

--Stories first heard at a mother's knee are never wholly forgotten--a little spring that never quite dries up in our journey through scorching years.     Giovanni Ruffini

--Mother is the name of God in the lips and hearts of children.    William Makepeace Thackery

--No one will ever engrave "She kept a tidy house" on a mother's tombstone.    Susan Causdale

--Every mother is like Moses.  She does not enter the promised land.  She prepares a world she will never see.        Pope John Paul VI

--Men are what their mothers made them.    Ralph Waldo Emerson

--Of all the rights of women, the greatest is to be a mother.      Lin Yutang

--A rich child often sits in a poor mother's lap.     Danish proverb

--A man loves his sweetheart the most, his wife the best, and his mother the longest.     Irish proverb

--The trouble with being a parent is that by the time you are experienced, you are unemployed.    Rosemary Coleton

--I looked on child rearing not only as a work of love and duty, but as a profession that was fully as interesting and challenging as any honorable profession in the world and one that demanded the best that I could bring to it.    Rose Kennedy

Happy Mother's Day to all my mommy friends, and especially to my own mom, who is the best example of a Godly mom I could have ever had!  I love you!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Commissary Bargain

Caleb and I made a huge trip to the commissary yesterday.  In March, Luke and I went, so it's been awhile.  The big bargain we found--this huge, 40 pound box of bananas for $2.00.  That's a lot of bananas for $2.00!  We do go through a lot of bananas, but probably not 40 pounds of them, so now I'm wondering about the best way to freeze them.  Should I peel them, lay them on a cookie sheet, freeze them, and put them in a ziploc bag?  We'll definitely use them for smoothies.  And I'll keep some out to get really ripe for muffins, banana bread, and frosted banana cookies (Caleb's favorite!).  No matter what, how can you go wrong for $2.00?!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Extra Appointment

This morning I had the appointment with the doctor that the lady I saw last week insisted upon.  It turns out the lady was a nurse practitioner, not a midwife.  Anyway, the doctor walked into the room and said, "I've reviewed your chart, and well . . . I just wish the NP had come and asked one of us last week while you were here, instead of making you come all the way in for an appointment."  Yessss . . . my thoughts, exactly!!  There is no reason for me to have any increased risk of a clot during this pregnancy due to my arm blood clot back in 1993, and absolutely no reason for me to take any blood thinners.  As I thought.

So then I asked him about the whole "prolapse" thing the lady talked about when she couldn't find my cervix.  "Umm . . . you can't have a prolapse because you're pregnant--your cervix is closed," he said.  "And after a pregnancy, your uterus can settle back down any way and it's fine.  So I would just disregard all of that."  Okay!  Done!  And I am more settled in my decision to not ever see that particular NP again,, LOL.

The doctor did say that I am fine to see midwives and NPs though--I don't have to just see doctors.  Yay!  He listened for the heartbeat with the doppler but couldn't find it, so he wheeled in the little portable ultrasound machine to check it that way.  So I got to see the little munchkin wriggling around again, happy as can be, with the heart beating away!  Everything looks good, and I don't have to go back for 5 weeks.  At that point I'll have to take a 1 hour glucose tolerance test.  Time for me to make exercise a priority again, now that Rivendell is practically over.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Cake Pops!

Tonight we celebrated Grace, Bob, and Amy P.'s birthdays at Bible study!  I brought rice krispie treats, chips and dip, and Hello Kitty cakepops.

I had seen someone link to these absolutely adorable Hello Kitty cakepops on the Bakerella website a while ago.  I convinced Grace to want these for her birthday because they looked pretty easy and were so cute.

Well--they weren't actually all that easy.  I realized that Bakerella must have dipped hers 2 times, but I didn't have time for that, what with all the appointments at Bethesda this week.  I also didn't flatten the balls enough.  I did use vanilla pudding instead of frosting to mix the cake pops with, and that was a vast improvement--not so sickly sweet. 

I ran over to Michaels Wednesday night to grab whatever I could find.  I was hoping for an "edible ink pen", since that is what the recipe recommended, but no luck.  So I picked up these little tubes of frosting that were for writing--practically the same thing, right?!  Well, not exactly.  I had so much trouble with them!  The red and yellow tubes were made by Wilton, and they were soooo runny.  So a good deal of the kitties look like they have chicken beaks for noses, and the red glob of frosting connected the 2 halves of the bow ran down onto the faces.  Bakerella used yellow mini chips for noses and red mini m&ms for the bow part, but I didn't have those either, and I thought frosting would be easier.  Ha!  The black tube was by the Charm City Cakes guy, and it had the opposite problem--it was so thick, I had to keep running it under hot water to be able to squeeze it out, so the whiskers ended up being quite thick!  When Grace first saw the cake pops with the faces drawn on, she said, all excitedly, "Hello Kitty . . . indians!"  It was funny.  Next time this inspiration hits, I'm definitely ordering an edible ink pen from Amazon, LOL.  The girls had a great time helping me, especially with the bows.  Poor Hello Kitty--I had to later reposition several of the bows because they were smack dab in the middle of her face!

They look okay from a distance, but in actuality, every single one of them had some glaring problem.  Not my best work!  But they were tasty, and everyone enjoyed them!

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Shots, Shots, Scary Shots

Today's trip to Bethesda involved Anna (6 year check-up)and Micah (12 month well-baby).  The actual appointment went really well.  The doctor was SO nice.  I really liked her!  Anna was not very talkative because she was worried about the prospect of shots, and the doctor confirmed that she did indeed need some, since she hadn't had an appointment since 2009.  Whoops!  It seems like I take people in all the time, but I guess she slipped through the cracks.  Anna is perfectly healthy and continuing along a little below the 25th percentile for both height and weight, so she is pretty average for our kids.  I was really worried and almost canceled the appointment because Anna is learning to roller skate, and this weekend she took a nasty spill on her poor little tushy (better there than on the wrists, Bob always tells the kids!).  There's a lovely bruise there now, and I was so worried we would get a mean doctor who would assume some sort of terrible thing.  But praise the Lord, this doctor was so nice and never even saw the bruise!  Anna als got vision-tested, and it turns out her vision is 20/40.  So it appears she is taking after her big brother Nathan, and now I need to get her an appointment with an optimitist.  If she gets glasses, I hope she will look as cute in them as her cousin Emily, who just got a new pair not too long ago!

Micah also is perfectly heathy.  He was so happy in there, toddling around and making all sorts of happy noise while the doctor examined Anna!  He is 23 pounds, 5 ounces, and almost 31 inches long, so he is closer to the 50th percentile in both weight and height--a definite outlier for our babies!  I told the doctor that he is reacting to milk with hives, so I have been avoiding it for several months now (actually avoiding it in foods--he's never just drunk cow's milk).  She offered to give me a consult to the allergy clinic, but I said I didn't think I needed one now--I already know how to read labels and how to substitute for milk, thanks to 9 years of doing that for Caleb!  If at 2 he is still allergic, then maybe I'll get the consult and see if he can be tested for other stuff as well.  It does not appear that he is allergic to peanuts, since he has gotten into peanut butter on the counter a few times with no ill effects.  I'm still giving him sunbutter, though.  He now is eating all table foods and loving everything, so he really came a long way in about 6 weeks!  It's so nice that he can just feed himself meals.  He definitely loves to eat!  Good thing he is so active.  If only I could get him to turn himself around and go down the stairs backwards!  He has no interest in that though--he would much rather just stand at the top of the stairs (or stool in the kitchen) and whine until someone takes pity on him and rescues him.  Fortunately there are always plenty of people around.

So as I said, the appointment part went great!  Then we headed over to the immunization clinic.  They are always slow as molasses over there, and since our appointments weren't until 11:00 and 11:30, I went ahead and packed us lunch.  We had a nice little picnic there, and eventually they called our name.  Even as we were walking towards to room where they give shots, Anna was already whimpering and carrying on.  I had to leave the stroller outside, so I was carrying Micah and holding Anna's hand back to the table.  After the usual verification stuff, the tech said he'd do Anna first, so she could get up on the table.  I lifted her up, and she immediately started loudly crying and thrashing around!  I couldn't even get her to stay on the table, especially since I was also carrying Micah.  So I set Micah down (who happily started to wander around all the other tables--I neglected to bring a big boy to help, a mistake I shall not make again!!).  A second tech had already come over to help with Anna, and now a third tech had to be called over to hold Micah.  Gah!  So Micah was out of the way, but Anna continued to wail loudly, kicking her legs and thrashing her arms.  I couldn't even get her pants down!  I. was. MORTIFIED!  NONE of the other kids have EVER acted like this before!  Caleb is a total wimp about things like shots and blood draws, and he moans and carries on, but NEVER like this!  I was leaning over her upper body, pinning her arms and chest down with my body, and staring intently at her, saying, "Yes, Mommy, I will be obedient and lay still . . . yes, Mommy, I will be obedient and lay still" in a very firm voice, not that she paid one ounce of attention.  Needless to say, after the ordeal was finally over, Anna did NOT get a lollipop or a sticker.  Micah, on the other hand, was a real trooper, hardly crying at all.  Good grief!

Even as we were walking through the hospital on our way to the parking garage, Anna kep on whimpering and moaning about how her legs still hurt.  I told her that if that was the worst pain she ever had to face, she could consider herself a very, very lucky girl.  This does not give me hope for grandkids from her, anyway, LOL.  Good thing I have plenty of other possibilities!  Of course, the really sad thing is that we were walking through Walter Reed National Military Medical Center--where our wounded warriors are sent to recuperate.  So all around us are young men with literally several limbs blown off each, struggling to move their own wheelchairs, or learning to walk on their protheses, etc.  It's always such a humbling thing to see, and it certainly puts any difficulty of mine into perspective.  Now if Anna could just see that  . . .

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

First OB Appointment

So this morning I had my first actual appointment.  Everything went fine.  I had a dating ultrasound, which confirmed my Nov. 28 due date.  The little teddy graham was wiggling all around, looking so cute! 

Then I saw a midwife for my actual appointment, and she was not someone I remember seeing during Micah's pregnancy.  She told me my last pap smear was done last May at my 6 week post-partum check, so she thought she'd go ahead and do one now.  Okay, that's fine--except she could not find my cervix!  Yeah, that was a little embarrassing, LOL.  She tried 3 different speculums before just reaching in and feeling around to locate the darn thing.  Then she could finally do the pap smear.  So!  Nice to know my parts are not all where they should be anymore!  She kept saying my uterus was "prolapsed", but that means it has fallen down into the birth canal, and that's not what has happened with me, so she's not using the right term.  Retroverted, maybe?  Anyway, it's from having lots of babies.  It's tipped toward the front, not back though.  Learn something new every day!  I'm having no discomfort whatsoever, or any symptoms at all, actually, so I guess she can call it whatever she wants.  She did say it would correct itself.

So then she started looking through all the records I meticulously filled out at my OB orientation.  There's a space for previous surgeries, so I always mention how my right first rib was removed in May 1995 because it was blocking my subclavian vein in my right arm, causing blood clots.  So she asked me about that, and then said she was writing down that I had a "propensity for blood clots".  Well . . . I did, but it was a physical cause, and since the rib has been gone, I haven't had any more problems.  Then she asked if I had taken Lovanox for any of my pregnancies.  I have not, but for my first 2 pregnancies, I was seen at the Air Force Academy hospital, which is pretty small, and they had me inject myself twice a day with heparin in my belly.  This was a total hassle, and by the end of those pregnancies, my poor tummy looked like Bob was regularly beating it with a baseball bat, with all the huge bruises, LOL. 

So imagine my delight when we moved to Ohio about the time I got pregnant with Caleb, and the high-risk OBs there at that big regional hospital told me it was absolutely unneccessary for me to take any bloodthinners during pregnancy!  Woo-hoo!  Maybe this is one reason we have so many kids--pregnancy just seems so easy when you don't have to inject yourself in the belly twice a day!

Anyhow, my next 6 pregnancies proceeded uneventfully, especially as far as blood clots go.  Even the paranoid civilian doctor I had for Grace, the one who wanted to induce me at least 2 weeks early because she was so certain I would hemorrhage simply because I was having my 6th baby, was not at all concerned about potential blood clots!

But this midwife was.  So now I have to go back to see a doctor next Thursday to make sure everything is okay.  Ummm . . . what would have changed since my last pregnancy, which ended just over 1 year ago?!  I kept saying stuff like, "Well, my last 2 pregnancies were here at Bethesda, and the doctors were never concerned", but she was firm about me seeing a doctor.  What's one more trip, I guess, although it seems like a total waste of time. 

I've already made a note of this lady's name though, and I won't be seeing her again!  Although she was perfectly nice, she definitely seems like the paranoid kind who likes to worry about non-issues, and I definitely don't need that in my life!   Hopefully the doctor I see will just let this go . . .

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Happy Birthday, Grace!!

Grace turned 5 today!  I think she is glad she eventually did decide to come out 5 years ago!  I know I am, LOL.  Grace is such a sweetie.  We tease Luke by saying she is his "Mini-Me".  She is so much like he was at her age!  But we need another person who finds things and makes sure other people are where they are supposed to be around here . . .

Grace is reading now, and she also loves hidden picture-type books.  She loves dancing around and singing as well.  She's not as big into being outside as some of the others though--she would rather stay inside where it's quiet and do her own thing!

Today we had a busy day, but we did fit in some celebrating!  We had Rivendell at our house, since the elementary co-op finished up last week.  We made brownies with chocolate mint frosting to share with everyone (all were gobbled up!) at lunch.  Grace picked, of all things, hot dogs in crescent rolls for her birthday dinner, so I was actually able to make those in the short amount of time between the end of Rivendell and having to get Nathan off to CAP.  We even fit in present-opening during that time!  Grace got a big cardboard castle that you color from us.  I actually bought it at Christmas, knowing Grace would like it and realizing it would not be at Walmart when her birthday rolled around.  Good call for me!  She also got some books, some clothes, lots of fun coloring/sticker/hidden picture books, and a $5 bill from one of her aunts and uncles, which was a source of huge excitement, LOL.   And right after Rivendell was over, while Christine and I were sitting outside watching the little ones play, our Rainbow Resource order arrived, containing, among other things, new phonics, handwriting, and math books for Grace!  This may not seem that exciting, but trust me--it is VERY exciting for 5 year old girls!

We're going to make cake pops to take to Bible study on Friday night, so we'll keep on celebrating until then!