Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Being Prepared

We weathered Hurricane Sandy just fine!  It was windy and rainy, but the only neighborhood casualty I could see on my walk yesterday was a street sign.  The boys were disappointed that our power never went out.  We were definitely prepared for an outage this time, after our big outage in June!  We had tons of flashlights at the ready, I did loads and loads of laundry, the dishwasher was run, as was the garbage disposal, I made muffins, we finished and printed out everything we needed for Rivendell . . . but the power stayed on.  Oh well!  We went ahead and slept down in the basement Monday night.  Our house is surrounded by big trees, and we didn't want to take any chances.  It was much more pleasant sleeping down there now than back in June--the temperature was pleasant, the air was circulating, and we could run our noisemakers, so everyone slept well!

We ended up moving Rivendell to today (Wednesday) instead of Tuesday anyway, which turned out to be a God-thing.  The McC's basement flooded again, which they discovered at 3:30 AM, so they spent the rest of the night bailing water and trying to clean up.  They could not have done a day at Rivendell--they were exhausted!

For us, it was really nice to have an unplanned day off.  We still did a short day of school for Caleb and Jonathan mainly, but then in the afternoon we were able to get all that laundry folded and put away, so I am feeling on top of laundry for the first time in, oh, I don't know, months probably. 

Also, we have had the bright idea to switch the girls room and Caleb and Jonathan's room around.  Caleb and Jonathan's room has a bunk bed with a double bed on bottom and a twin bed on top, while the girls have single bunk beds with a pull-out trundle underneath.  We had been thinking about where Micah could go, once the new baby (still nameless if you are wondering) needs the crib.  We have other cribs, but we are running out of room space to put a second crib!  So if Caleb and Jonathan move into the girls room, then Micah could sleep on the trundle bed.  I don't think he would do very well, sleeping with someone on a double bed!

But changing rooms involves a lot of logistics, and I simply haven't had time to even start.  Yesterday I was able to get a little bit more organized in both rooms, giving me hope that this move may actually get accomplished in the near future, as opposed to months away, LOL.  All 5 affected kids are very excited about the impending changes, and they don't understand why I haven't just dropped everything else to make it happen!

Speaking of being prepared, on Sunday Pastor Mike talked about how everyone was so concerned about buying batteries and being prepared for the coming storm, but we really need to be prepared for death and judgment, since that will happen for everyone.  That point was driven home late Sunday night.  I have followed the blog mommylife for several years now.  The author, Barbara Curtis, was a mother of 12, 4 of them with Down's syndrome (3 adopted).  She got political around election times, but she posted frequently and always had interesting perspectives in many different areas.  Well, Sunday night I got an email from my homeschool loop that said she had suffered a massive stroke and was not expected to regain consciousness.  Indeed, she died Tuesday.  What a complete shock!  However, she was prepared for this event--I know she placed her confidance in the blood of Christ to cover her sins, and I will see her in heaven.  I am so sad for her family right now, though, and I will really miss reading her posts. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

"This Day is Called . . ."

I'm sure you all know that today, Oct. 25, is the Feast of St. Crispin, and are all celebrating accordingly!  We memorized this speech last year in memory work, and it is such a rousing one!  We recited it today during our memory work review.  (The part we memorized starts at about 1:10 in the video.)  Here's what we memorized--watch Kenneth Branagh say it, and get your blood pumping!

This day is called the Feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day and comes safe home
Will stand a-tiptoe when this day is named
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.

He that shall see this day and live t' old age
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours
And say, "Tomorrow is Saint Crispian."
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars
And say, "These wounds I had on Crispin's day."

Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words —
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester —
Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered.

This story shall the good man teach his son,
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered,
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition.

And gentlemen in England now abed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's Day.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Curly Girl Faith

"There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid."
(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

Friday, October 19, 2012


I had another ultrasound this morning.  I'm a little over 34 weeks now, and my other ultrasound was wa back in June, when I was only 17 weeks along.  Then the tech said my placenta was low-lying, and I needed another ultrasound at 32 weeks to make sure it had moved.  But the doctor said I had to have this ultrasound in the radiology department, and this was the soonest appointment.

Bob was able to take off work today, so he went with me, making the drive and the appointment so much more fun!  And it's always nice to see the baby!  I had to lay down pretty flat, which was amazingly uncomfortable.  Toward the end, the tech was trying to estimate his weight, and she needed to measure his femur, but the baby was really moving around.   I was just praying he would settle down long enough for her to measure him so I could get up!  Finally she got what she was looking for, and I could sit up.  I had a major round ligament cramp though.  I think one reason the baby was so wiggly and active was because he didn't like me being on my back!

Everything looked just fine though.  The lady asked me when they told me my placenta was low, because it was certainly out of the way now!  I think my theory about having such an early ultrasound (I've not had one that early that wasn't purely a dating ultrasound) was correct.  Whatever the cause, I am just rejoicing that I don't have to plan for a c-section now!  Thank you, Lord!

For what it's worth, the baby is measuring right on.  The weight she came up with is 5 pounds, 4 ounces, which could be exactly right, but I really don't put much stock in weight estimations from ultrasounds.  They are wildly off way too many times!    In fact, I had an ultrasound with Anna 2 weeks before she was born because the (civilian) doctor was worried about her being too big.  That ultrasound was a big waste of time, as far as I was concerned!  She was too big to really see anything, and they estimated her size as 7 pounds, 10 ounces, give or take 18 ounces.  What a huge margin of error, making the results meaningless!  Anna was 8 pounds 11 ounces at birth, 2 weeks later.

After our romantic date in the low-lit ultrasound room, Bob and I continued the fun by driving straight over to the Ft. Myer commissary--you can't say Bob doesn't ever take me anywhere expensive on dates!  We managed to keep the cost under $900 (barely!), and now we are stocked up for a good while.  I will have to go back again in November to get a turkey.  I didn't want a huge bird taking up all my freezer space for a month!  It was fun to have Bob be my "helper" instead of one of the boys this time, LOL.  And I know all the boys were relieved that they were off the hook for going!

Now I'm exhausted, so after I work on some biology, it will be off to bed for me!  Nathan is taking the PSAT tomorrow, so I know he would appreciate any prayers!  I can't believe it's time to start all this pre-college stuff . . . The weird thing is starting all this pre-college stuff AND thinking about delivering another baby in just a few short weeks!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

OB Appointment

Yesterday I had an OB appointment, the first one since I started checking my blood sugar numbers 3 weeks ago.  Things have been going fairly well, as far as the gestational diabetes goes.  I've settled into a routine.  It's definitely easier the second time around!  I always eat the same thing for breakfast (1/2 c. bran flakes, milk, and a hard-boiled egg), and I eat similar things each day for lunch (usually a turkey/cheese/spinach sandwich, or a spinach salad with chicken and walnuts, or occasionally chicken salad with spinach and a few crackers--I usually eat a piece of fruit too).  I don't have any problems with these meals.  Dinner is a little bit harder, just because there's more variety.  A lot of the quick meals I have are carb-heavy, and I have had a few high readings after dinner, but not too many.  They want me to keep my after-mealtime numbers under 120, and I've had a few over--my highest was 136 once. 

Surprisingly, the number I've been having the most trouble with has been my fasting number, which I take first thing in the morning, before I have eaten anything.  They want it to be under 95, and usually my number is between 95 and 99--so not terribly high, but still . . . I went back and checked my numbers from when I was pregnant with Faith (because I am just that anal, and amazingly I could still find where all that stuff was), and I never had any trouble with my fasting number, no matter what I ate at night for my snack before bed.  The numbers were always around 89.  I was pregnant with Faith 4 years ago, and I guess I am just that much more insulin-resistant now.  Anyhow, I have been experimenting with what snack gives me the best fasting numbers.  I know what doesn't work--any sort of cookie or anything, even if I have some protein with it!  I've tried a bunch of different things, but what seems to work best, interestingly enough, is a 1/2 cup of a good (high fat) chocolate ice cream, and then I also eat a slice of turkey for protein.  When I do that, my numbers are usually around 93--still higher than with Faith, but better than with any other "healthier" snack I have tried.  Hey--I'm just reporting on the results of the experiment here--but I'm willing to eat a little bit of ice cream each night if that is what I have to do!

But back to the appointment--I was wondering what the doctor would say about my higher fasting levels (since I didn't start trying the ice cream until a few nights ago--although that is what I usually had as my snack/reward for getting through the day when I was pregnant with Faith as well), but she wasn't concerned at all.  She said everything was going well, I'm measuring right on, and she was happy to hear about all my exercising (twice a day most days--over an hour a day!).  She said she hopes she doesn't have to put me on any sort of medicine, because that automatically puts me into a different category of GD mom--"category 2"--and that means they monitor more closely (non-stress tests and so on), and they induce a week early.  I'd be happy to go into labor a week early, but I'd rather not be induced that early, and I definitely don't want to have to make the drive to Bethesda any more often than I already have to, so I also hope I can control this GD again with just diet and exercise!

Next Friday is my follow-up ultrasound to see if my placenta has moved away from my cervix.  I have been praying it has!!  This ultrasound will be done in radiology, instead of in the prenatal assessment center.  Then I will have my next OB appointment the following Friday.  Fridays are a good day for me to make the trek, so I'm glad it's working out to have all these appointments on Fridays!

So everything is going well.  I am still really loving the maternity belt I bought from Amazon.  I don't think I could do all the walking and exercising I've been doing without it.  I have definitely had a lot less round ligament pain this time than I did with Micah.  Today I worked at a kids' consignment sale, and I was on my feet, running around for 3 1/2 hours.  I was so thankful for the extra support of the belt!  This baby is so active at night--I think it will be a challenge to get his days and nights straightened out once he is born!  But I'm so busy during the day.  It's not until I lay down to sleep at night that he starts really moving around in there!  We've made a little progress on possible names, but honestly, there hasn't been that much time to talk about it!  The kids have all voiced their opinions.  This is where I remind them that this is not a democracy, LOL. 

Just a little over 6 weeks to go!

Friday, October 12, 2012

18 Months!

Micah had his 18 month well-baby check-up on Wednesday, so he and I made the trek out to Bethesda.  He is indeed a well baby!  He is now 25 pounds, 7 ounces, which puts him at about the 50th percentile--a huge number for us!  But the real shocker was that his height was in the 86th percentile!  We have NEVER had anyone remotely on the "tall" side, but evidently Micah's size at birth wasn't just a fluke, and he actually does have some of the "big" genes from our families that just have hidden themselves for the other 7 kids! 

Micah is off the charts as far his fine and gross motor skills as well.  He runs, jumps, climbs (everything), uses a fork and spoon well, throws and kicks a ball, and pretty much does whatever he can to imitate any and all of his older siblings. 

Except in the area of talking.  He says about 8 words total (not even each day, LOL), and while he understands what we tell him, he doesn't seem to see any real need of using words to communicate back to us.  But none of my kids said much before the age of 2, so I'm not worried, and neither was the doctor.  Saying 8 words is within the realm of normal for 18 months!  (Here are some of his words:  Mama, Dada, ball (and here he will even differentiate--football, basketball--those are different), banana, blanket, diaper . . . hmm, there are 2 more, but I can't think of them right now . . . )  He does say a lot of sounds (like "woof") and things like "Peekaboo" and "Oops".  Still--not real verbal.  Definitely a man of action, LOL.

Micah's favorite place to be is outside with his brothers and sisters.  He gets his jacket and shoes when they start heading out in the afternoon.  He loves playing with any of the multitudinous balls in the garage.  Lately he's started putting on one of the girls' bicycle helmets (he's partial to a dark pink princess one, LOL) and trying to ride one of the scooters that has 3 wheels.  The girls are trying to teach him to pedal the tricycle, but he hasn't been real interested in that.

Inside, Micah loves playing with whatever Faith is playing with, LOL.  Already he knows how to push people's buttons!  He also likes to build Duplo towers, put things in the little wagon we have and drag that around the house, unloading random things in random places (like we need anymore help with that, LOL), and also hold a babydoll.  He's so cute with the doll, but he is absolutely uncooperative whenever I try to take a picture of him with one!  Still, hopefully he'll be a good big brother, since that day is drawing ever nearer!  He is not always that gentle, so I will really have to watch him!

That's a quick update on Micah!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Some Mild Monday Panicking

I woke up Monday morning feeling very stressed and overwhelmed as I thought about the upcoming week.  I had spent a lot of time Sunday night trying to work out how I was going to teach AP labs that we don't have the equipment for, and was just feeling very inadequate at dealing with the whole biology thing in general.  And when I go to bed thinking about something, then it's hard to turn my brain off, so all those worries roiled around in there the whole night, plus I added on to them my worries about planning this space field trip to the Udvar-Hazy Museum for our elementary co-op in March that for some reason I agreed to be in charge of, as well as minor things like Micah's left tennis shoe was missing, and I need to register the boys for basketball.  Whew!  Restless night of sleep, to say the least!

But God was good--I usually am reading through Ruth Myers' 31 Days of Praise in the morning, and on October 1st, it was really timely.  Here's a short excerpt--

My heart rejoices in You, Lord, for You are my strong shelter in times of trouble and danger and stress, my hiding place to whom I may continually resort . . . I praise you for Your love and Your wisdom . . . You act on my behalf, accomplishing what concerns me and fulfilling your purpose for me as I call on You . . .

It was all really encouraging to me.  For our character time in school, we've been reading Created For Work by Bob Shultz (HIGHLY recommend this and his other book, Boyhood and Beyond).  Well, the chapter we read on Monday dealt with "difficulty".  Here's the quote at the beginning:  "First a thing is impossible, then it's difficult, then it's done."  That is so true!  He talks about accepting the challenge of difficult jobs because those are the jobs that develop our muscles, minds, and spirits.  "Without a challenge, there is little or no growth."  Definitely timely for someone who is struggling with the seemingly impossible task of teaching AP biology, dredging up rusty knowledge from almost 20 years ago, all while expecting her 9th baby and dealing with gestational diabetes, plus continuing to homeschool everyone else!

And the Lord provided help in other areas this week as well.  I worked out a bit at least how lab this week was going to go--I spent the time teaching the boys how to do a chi-squared test for data, and then we did several example problems using experimental data.  This seems to be an important area of concentration, since a lot of the AP labs want this kind of data analysis done, so I think it was time well-spent.  I've spent time searching for online virtual labs for gel electrophoresis (using actual DNA--we'll do one just using dye on a homemade gel slab, but it won't be quite the same) and other lab techniques for the next 2 weeks, which will be helpful.  I still think the lab portion is our weakest link, due to lack of resources, but oh well.  Oh, and I found a tremendous AP biology resource online--Cheryl Massengale's Biology Junction.  If you scroll down the page a bit and click on the "AP Biology" link, then she has a wealth of helpful information and links!  That has already been very helpful, especially some of the past essay questions.  The boys will be doing a lot of those for practice when we take our long winter (baby!) break between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I was also able to get in contact with educational people at Udvar-Hazy to ask my questions.  One big problem is that for their learning labs, they don't have much at all for the 1st/2nd graders, and none of what they do have involves space.  But we'll be finishing up a 5 week unit on space with this field trip, so we definitely need a space-related learning experience for all the levels.  The teacher in charge over there emailed me back this morning to say they could bring back one of their old labs for the 1st/2nd graders about satellites, both natural and man-made.  Woo-hoo!  So I filled out the online form, and hopefully I'll hear back from someone in the next few days to work out the times.  We're not out of the woods yet, as far as planning, because with 3 groups of kids doing learning labs, we're going to have to take 2 hours--and what will the K kids and the second half of the older kids do for the second hour?  We'll see . . .  I really wish I hadn't taken this thing on, LOL.  I really don't need anything extra to worry about right now, much less working out a field trip for 100 kids!  Difficulties . . . challenges . .  they're good . . . that's what I keep telling myself, LOL.

So now we're practically at the end of the week, and I've almost gotten through it.  But there are still plenty of challenges in the weeks and months ahead!