Friday, December 30, 2011

Baby Update

I've referenced the pregnancy but have not discussed it directly in a while.

I had an OB appointment on Tuesday.  I gained 2 lbs in the last month and the heartbeat is strong and healthy.  I'm starting to feel our sweet baby move fairly often, which is such a delight!

I had an ultrasound at 13 weeks that showed I was off in my dates, but my OB hasn't officially moved my due date yet. So the result is that while I am (I think) 18 weeks, she only has me at about 17.  That means that my "20 week ultrasound" will be closer to 22 weeks.  Which is fine.  That's scheduled for the end of this month.

We will, we hope, find out the gender at that point.

I still work at being at peace with this pregnancy in a number of ways.  I am 42 years old, and thus at higher risk for chromosomal issues.  I used to really fear Down Syndrome...I pray against it now, but I know if the Lord brings us a T21 baby, we will take good care of him or her.

But of course I do pray that our child is healthy without chromosomal problems. DS children and adults are blessings from the Lord but they are at much higher risk for some serious health issues.

By the way, we chose not to do any blood tests to check for DS or other chromosomal abnormalities.  All those blood tests are "screening" tests, which means that there are quite a few false positives for problems. The definitive answer comes from an amniocentisis, where a long needle is inserted into the uterus to draw some amniotic fluid to be analyzed.

I have no issue with needles, but amnios are not safe.  Babies die from amnios at a rate of about 1 to 2% of the time.  That's too high a risk, in our view. And I wouldn't want a screening test to show I have a "high risk" and then have to live with major uncertainty the rest of the pregnancy.  (And I know of 2 older moms whose blood screens came back positive for Down Syndrome, and neither child had it.)

The 20+ week ultrasound will search for DS markers and I welcome that, but don't want any testing that could endanger our child.

Homeschooling: What's Working, What's Not

One good thing about a break from school is that it gives me time to step back and evaluate how the year is going.

Things have been tough as I've not felt well for months.  However, I am past the pregnancy nausea and exhaustion and feeling quite perky.  It's exciting!  I am hoping to have a very productive 3 months of school, while realizing that there will be frequent interruptions. We never get quite as much done as I hope, and that is fine.

So, really most things are going well. 

Naomi is doing well. We are working together to keep her challenged, while she also is diligent about some material that is somewhat dull.

I can see progress in Isaac's handwriting, and his bad eye has improved significantly in the last year.  Lydia has made significant progress in math, and can now do long multiplication problems.  Her big issue is that her handwriting isn't very neat and sometimes she makes silly mistakes when lining up numbers.

I have been doing midline exercises with both boys because they are "mixed dominant" and their handwriting has issues.  Mixed dominant means that they are left eye dominant, right hand dominant.  Actually, that's not true -- Isaac is right eye dominant, right hand dominant -- but the way he writes his letters indicates he's a natural lefty who chose to use his right hand. When he was younger, he would switch between hands.  Now he has settled on right, but he draws "o" counterclockwise which is typical of a lefty. And his handwriting still isn't good.

Ok, let's talk about this mixed dominance thing.  According to Dianne Craft, a teacher who has worked extensively with right brain/left brain issues, 80% of the world's population is right eye dominant, right hand dominant, or left eye dominant, left hand dominant.

Naomi is right eye/right hand.

And the next FOUR children seem to be mixed.  I don't know about Angela and Sarah yet.

What's with that?  We are WAY out of the statistical norm.

Actually, I'm going to give Kevin the credit.  He is fairly close to being amnidextrous and is a skilled drummer. I think there is something in his gene code -- his sister and father are lefties.

So anyway, there we are.  Mixed dominant children have a higher chance of struggling with handwriting and sometimes other things as well.  I believe we are seeing improvement in several areas after months of doing exercises, so we'll keep on keeping on.

I haven't done much school with Miriam (just 6 this week) and Angela.  And that is Ok.  Next year Miriam will officially be school age and I'll need to be more focused.  She is already learning to read a bit, and has some obvious math gifts.  I think she'll be relatively easy to teach though she may also have handwriting struggles.

Update on Joseph's reading

First, let me say I hoped to blog a lot more than I have this Christmas season. The last few months have been busy and while I've posted occasional blogs, I've not talked about HOMESCHOOLING much, and this is a homeschooling blog!  But this holiday has flown by and we've been busy.

So, Joseph.  He is 7 and a few months.  He is not a fluent reader yet. That is no real problem, but he is behind where his older siblings were at this age.

When I got pregnant with Baby, I knew that I'd have to slow down.  During Sarah's pregnancy, I was so ill that I stopped formal school for 6 weeks or so during the first trimester.  I did better this time, probably because the older 3 are able to work more independently now.  But I didn't have the energy to work through all the phonics materials I wanted to with Joseph.

An older mom of 9 suggested to me that I focus on doing a little reading work with Joseph every day.  I thought that was a good idea, and turned to a series of short phonics books by Nora Gaydos.  The first 30 books or so only use short vowel sounds; the later ones in the group include "th" and "sh" and "ch" plus a few sight words.

I have introduced long vowel sounds to Joseph as well as "ing" and "ee" words, but these Gaydos books didn't have those so those phonics rules fell by the wayside.

However...Joseph really improved his basic reading in the last few months using these books!  2 months ago, he struggled through almost every word.  He also was mixing "b" and "d" a lot, and often mixed "m" and "n" as well.

A few weeks ago, he seemed to turn a corner.  Now, I am confident he has not memorized the books.  There are a lot of them and he's only read them 3 times at the most.  And his reading is MUCH more fluid.  It is really encouraging!

So I'm delighted and grateful to God.  I was stressed, once again, about falling behind with schoolwork during my pregnancy.  Once again, the Lord showed me that doing something different for a season can work just fine.

I am feeling much more energetic, and will soon go back to Alpha Phonics and Explode the Code so we can make some progress on other phonics rules.  Joseph is a long long way from being a fluent reader, but I believe we are making steady progress.

One very encouraging thing is that I don't think he is dyslexic.  We have a relative who is severely dyslexic and while he is doing well, I know it has been a struggle.  If one of our children has dyslexia, we will find a way to teach that child with God's help. But I believe that Joseph is not ... in spite of the mixing of "b" and "d" and "m" and "n".  Actually, all my kids have mixed up "b" and "d".

So, whew, I think we're well on our way to fluency for Joseph.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

 Merry Christmas!  I do appreciate the festivals of the year that point us towards particular sections of our Savior's life.  And right now, we celebrate his incarnation as a tiny baby in Bethelehem more than 2000 years ago.  It is truly amazing that Christ was willing to give up all He had in Heaven to come to earth as a helpless child.  It is beyond my understanding, but then many things are.

  We have talked frequently about Jesus' birth in a stable (though almost certainly it wasn't in December, but the spring) but of course the children had a major interest in the presents under the tree.  Today was the big day, the day that seemed to take forever to come. I will say with joy that all the children went to bed at the normal time last night, and none came drifting out of their rooms at midnight to ask if it was time to get up. The rule was that they couldn't come down until 7 a.m. and they didn't, though little feet were heard on the stairs at 7 a.m. and 5 seconds.  They were indeed waiting by the door, staring at the clock.

  Without further ado, a few pictures...

Opening stockings

Waiting (not very patiently) to open presents.

Oooh, remote controlled helicopter!!

Daddy and Sarah.

Post present chaos!

Thursday, December 22, 2011


2 weeks went by.  2 long, painful weeks.  With NO eggs.

Then on Tuesday, Naomi came in from feeding the chickens, and she had a smile on her face.

She showed me an egg.  And not just any egg.

A GREEN egg.

Yes, one of our Auracana's laid an egg!

The Auracanas are known more casually as "Easter egg" chickens. They lay eggs with pretty colored shells.

Yesterday, we got a normal brown egg.

Today, we got another green egg.

Aren't they pretty?  (Well, I think so -- Kevin says they are ugly.)

So, we are feeling cautiously optimistic.  We changed their food recently and perhaps they've gotten a renewed lease in their egg laying life.  Of course, one egg a day is pathetic.  But it is better than no eggs.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Lydia's recital

Busy Week

We tend to live quiet lives.  I don't have the personality to be dashing around much. Some moms do, and I think that is wonderful.  There are so many opportunities to do exciting things in life.

But as I said, I just can't do it.  Right now I am pregnant and have a baby who needs an afternoon nap.  So we can go somewhere in the morning but I prefer to be home in the afternoon. And if we are gone in the morning, we don't get normal school in.

And in the evening, I'm tired.  And I don't like driving around in the dark.  So I prefer to be home in the evenings.

Ok, this week was a bit crazy.  Our girls started learning how to play the piano earlier this year, and Tuesday was their first recital!  And Monday was the rehearsal. So I drove them half an hour both ways on Monday and Tuesday nights as part of the piano recital.  It was a great success and we thoroughly enjoyed our girls' opportunity to play in front of a crowd, and the opportunity of listening to many other pianists and vocalists.

Kevin had a very important presentation at work today so he had longer days than usual at work and even brought some work home.  Last night, he worked while I ran off to Kroger to get a prescription and buy some groceries, which meant I was out THREE WHOLE EVENINGS this week.

I  know that sounds wimpy to some of you, but to me this is a big deal!

Today I took Isaac and Sarah to the opthalmologist.  The news was good.  Isaac's bad eye is close to 20/40 both near and far WITH his glasses on.  He is going to start patching 6 hours a day instead of 8. That will make it somewhat easier for me to carve out time for some other eye exercises and work.

Sarah is doing well.  She is very farsighted but the glasses are correcting her vision.  She is seeing well and responding well to visual stimuli. We'll need to stay on top of her vision issues but so far, so good.

Yesterday was the last school day of the calendar year.  I am looking forward to a 2 week break from school and the children are as well.  They have made good progress since August 1st. I think I'll continue to do a little phonics work with Joseph, but mostly we'll just enjoy Christmas family time.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sort of funny, but sort of NOT

Remember a week ago I said the chickens laid 3 eggs?

And I was all excited?

Well, that was IT. We have not gotten one, single solitary egg since then!

What's with that?  We were getting at least 1 a day most days, often 2. Then 3.  Then...


I'm bewildered.  I'm annoyed.

It's a good thing they are so cute.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Feeding Issues

  Look at that face!  Isn't she priceless?

  Ok, back to the regularly scheduled blog...

  Sarah has some feeding problems. I think I've mentioned them before...she doesn't self feed very well.  As of a few weeks ago, if I threw a cracker or baby puffs on her tray, she wouldn't eat them consistently.   That seemed odd since she does gum books and toys.

 Well, I've figured out a few things.  Sarah has some food allergies.  I learned of the first one when she started rejecting cow's milk formula.  I weaned her at 9 months as my milk supply was failing.  She drank cow's milk formula for a few days, then the next day started pushing the bottle away from her.  I forced a little into her and she broke out on her face with hives.  Ok, she's allergic to cow's milk.  No huge surprise, as 3 of her older sibs were allergic to milk as infants (2 of them have completely outgrown that allergy.)

 Then the same thing happened with eggs.  I fed her eggs a couple of times, no problem. One day, she started pushing eggs away. And her face broke out. Ok, she's allergic to eggs (Naomi was as an infant.  She outgrew it.)

  A couple of weeks ago, she happily grabbed a cracker and ate it.  The next day, she did it again. Then she wouldn't eat them anymore.

  I tried baby puffs.  She ate them happily for a couple of days.  Then she wouldn't eat them again.

 So...I'm guessing she is allergic to wheat.  She hasn't actually broken out in hives, but her eczema flared up after she ate those things.  (Isaac was allergic to wheat as an infant.  He outgrew it.)

  She WILL eat cooked broccoli with her hands.  And she ate crackers and puffs for a few days.  So she can self feed. I think she just is aware when something doesn't agree with her and won't eat them after that.

 So now I'm trying to find good food for a baby who is apparently allergic to milk, eggs, and wheat.  Sigh.  We live in a place and time when stores have a myriad of good food options, so I know I'm blessed.  I bought some egg replacer at a health food store last week and will try making coconut pancakes and bread for her soon, maybe today.

  My conclusion is that she doesn't really have a gigantic oral aversion issue, she has food allergies. That is good to know. But I do need to get creative in finding more foods she can eat herself. 

Any suggestions?

More Baby, Less Blog

That's the title of a previous post, many months ago. I was referring to Sarah then, but this time I'm referring to the baby I've been carrying.

Yes, it's been a moderetely hard pregnancy so far.  I am almost over the nausea portion, however, and am SO thankful.  I expect to have a surge of energy too.  Usually, my 2nd trimesters are quite delightful. Unfortunately, my 3rd trimesters are rather difficult as I've had preterm labor issues with the last 6 babies.

One of my life verses is:

2 Corinthians 12:9
New International Version (NIV)
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

  I am not someone who likes being weak.  I like working hard, I like serving others, I like feeling strong!

 When I was much younger, I would sometimes push myself physically but not resting or eating enough.  I had a subconscious belief that my physical abilities rested on my mental determination.  If I wanted something enough to work hard, I could do it.

  With my second pregnancy, I was pushing myself too hard.  At 30 weeks, I started having regular contractions 3 minutes apart.  Kevin rushed me to the hospital and I spent the night on drugs.  By God's grace, the contractions stopped and I went full term with Lydia.

   Every full term pregnancy since then I have had preterm contractions. We've never had to rush to the hospital, though we've come close.  I have had episodes of frequent contractions but lying down has caused them to stop.

  But I have to take it easily.  And I have to budget my time and energy.  I have to rest enough, and get enough sleep (inasmuch as that is possible with a baby jumping on my bladder at night!)

  Many things have to go by the wayside.  The first trimester of this pregnancy, I had to drop some aspects of school and I couldn't blog as much.  Our breakfasts got more boring, as I didn't have the energy to make muffins and eggs for breakfast most mornings.

  The last trimester, I'll probably have to spend more time on the couch. I won't be able to chase the kids around outside.  I'll be able to do less housework.

 All this is humbling and discouraging.  I have ideals of what I want to do, and be, as wife and mother.  And I feel like I'm falling down on the job sometimes.

  But God brought us this baby. And he wants me humble.  I know that this baby is a blessing in many ways, but ONE way he or she blesses me is by helping me see I need other people.  I need God, I need my husband, I need my kids, and I need my friends.  I never have been able to "do it on my own", but pregnancy helps me to grasp that truth in a very real way.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

3 eggs!

Our chickens laid 3 eggs yesterday!

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

(That's a quote from a weird poem, The Jabberwocky.)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Color experiment

3 test tubes with a primary color in each -- namely, blue, yellow, and red.

Then, using pipettes, the children put differing amounts of the colored liquids into these trays.  Here they were investigating red and yellow.  Obviously there is a range of colors depending on how much red or yellow was in each hollowed area.

It was a very popular experiment to study color this way.

First Snow of the Season

The children were so excited!

And then it melted.

But yes, winter is here!!

New baby pic

Here is an ultrasound picture of the new baby.  I know it's not a fabulous picture, but it's precious.

Daddy and Angela