Saturday, April 28, 2012

This Baby...

I don't think I've posted an amazing story about the baby I am carrying, who will be born next month.

We have a lot of kids.  You probably noticed that.

I had Naomi when I was 30 years old. I am guessing there aren't many mamas who have their first child at 30, and end up with 8 children (or 9, or 10, or whatever we end up with!)

We had 5 children in a row without any serious pregnancy issues. Then we lost a baby to miscarriage in 2006.  It was very sad and we grieved a great deal.  I got pregnant 6 weeks after the miscarriage and carried our 6th child to term.

Then in 2009, when I was 39 years old, we lost 3 babies in a row to miscarriage.  We were again very sad, and we thought we were "done" with 6 children.

In early 2010, we conceived Sarah. I sadly expected to miscarry, but she made it! 

When she was 9 months old, I was 41 years old and 11 months. Now, I conceive easily but STILL.  I was 41!  I really did not expect that I would have another child, and I certainly expected that I wouldn't conceive again when she was so little.

One morning at breakfast, our son Isaac (age 8 at the time) suddenly announced out of NO WHERE...

"Mom, I've prayed to God for another baby and I prayed that he will be a boy."

Seriously, it was that week that I conceived the little guy I am carrying.  And he is a boy.

I confess that sometimes I feel quite overwhelmed that we are having a little baby next month.  Our household is a busy one, and I am a very conscienscious parent. I want to be a good mother to all our children and sometimes I wonder how I'll teach 5 children, and care for 3 young ones starting in the fall. 

When those thoughts attack me, I remember Isaac's precious prayer. This baby is an answer to that prayer.  This baby is a blessing and a gift.  Of course, ALL babies are.  But I think it was God's special little gift to ME that my sweet son prayed for a new baby. I can have complete confidence that the timing of this child's conception, pregnancy, and birth were and are in His hands.

Friday, April 27, 2012

We Like Muffins

Back before Sarah was conceived, I was successfully producing very interesting breakfasts.  I even had a schedule.  2 days a week we had cereal, a couple of days a week we had muffins, we had eggs some days, and oven pancakes at least once a week.

Then, I got pregnant with Sarah and I was tired.  And nauseous.  And I didn't feel like making elaborate breakfasts.

Sarah is 17 months old so that was more than 2 years ago that breakfasts got much less interesting around here.  For a while I was making eggs moderately regularly, but that got complicated as well.  Our new chickens (now frozen for dinner) never produced enough eggs for us.  So I didn't have enough eggs to make breakfast regularly.  Plus, each child likes eggs differently and it takes a long time to cook them the way everyone wants them!

So, breakfasts have been dull except for...


Modesty aside, I make a mean muffin.  I use a recipe from the Tightwad Gazette which allows me to throw various grains and additions in. My usual recipe includes 5 cups of normal flour, 1 cup of whole wheat flour, 2 cups of oatmeal, and another half cup to full cup of miscellaneous available grains.

I make some with blueberries and some with chocolate chips.  I use coconut milk or apple juice as the primary liquid, as both Sarah and Kevin have problems with cow's milk.

I make a quadruple batch and they are always gone within a few days. Those that don't get eaten at breakfast are nice afternoon snacks.

Yes, we like muffins.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Foiling the Girl

So, Sarah climbs stairs quite well.  Sarah climbs the stairs quickly.  She's only fallen down them once!  Fortunately, when she fell she didn't do much damage except to get a knot on her head.  For a couple of weeks after the fall, she was nervous about climbing the stairs.  But now she's decided she's an old pro at this stair climbing thing, and is up them every time she has a chance.

But she has NO clue how to get back down.  We've worked with her on it, but she just hasn't gotten the hang of it.  And that is unnerving. Furthermore, when she sneaks upstairs she usually finds a door or 2 open and tends to get into undesirable things until someone finds her.

So ideally, she would only go upstairs under supervision.

We have a nice stairwell, but it doesn't work to have a gate on it.


So we've been trying to find creative ways to keep her downstairs.  The last few weeks, I was attaching a blanket across the bottom stair, and using clips to keep it in place.  Sarah has been working at getting around THAT for several weeks, and yesterday she showed she is too smart for that to work anymore.

So now I've moved onto a new way of blocking the stairway ... I have a pack and play and box wedged into position.  She is, momentarily at least, foiled.

Stay tuned for the next episode; I have no doubt Sarah will figure out a way around this barrier as well.

I wish I had sound effects for this picture. She was squealing indignantly like a banshee.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Getting Ready for Baby

  We have clothes. We have a bassinet. The bassinet cover is washed.  A friend gave me a bunch of little diapers. We have cotton balls, and diaper rash cream, and baby shampoo.

  C-section is scheduled for May 24th so just about a month from now.

  We're excited to meet our little guy face to face!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Butchering Day

Yesterday was the big day. The night before, Kevin loaded the meat chickens and the laying chickens into separate cages.  They spent the night in the cages, in our garage.  I got up at 6 a.m. yesterday morning and as soon as I came downstairs, I heard our rooster crowing indignantly.

Kevin asked the kids if they would like to come, and Lydia, Isaac, and Joseph said yes. So by 8:10 a.m., they had all piled into the minivan, which had the trailer attached to it, and away they went!

I know it is a long distance can just see the hens and rooster cage.

Kevin had to drive an hour to the butcher, wait 4 hours for processing, and then drive back.  It was a strenuous day as one child had a rough time.  But, it was successful!

This is one of the meat chickens.  They were HUGE.  HUGE.  They were only 8 weeks old.  Amazing how much they grew in 8 short weeks.

Our freezer is full of chicken now. We butchered 23, 10 of which were the meat birds and others were hens (except for at least one rooster.)  The hens were much smaller than the meat birds.  They will also be tougher than the meat chickens, probably. I have 2 simmering in a crockpot right now, as I know from experience that long cooking is the best thing for older hens.

I have gotten very practical about the chickens and I mostly feel fine about them being supper.  I do look forlornly at the chicken coop fairly often. It seems strange for it to be empty.

Naomi and I are both feeling sad about our guinea hen, though. She was kind of a mascot and a lot of fun...ugly but amusing.  We got her when she was old and that was a few years ago, so she was VERY old.  She got "the illness" that killed so many of the hens last fall, though she survived it. However, we knew we needed to get rid of her since we need to make a clean sweep to insure the survival of the next batch of chickens. We would have been really upset if the new batch caught "the illness" from her.

All this is to say that Kevin killed her 2 nights ago.  We asked around previously to see if anyone wanted her, and the answer was no.  It is Ok.  She had a really GREAT life with lots of hens to boss around, and a free range life. But we still miss her.

New chickens will be here in about 3 weeks...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chickens Holding Their Own

No more deaths since Friday.  Tomorrow they all go off to the butcher. Kevin borrowed some cages and we will move the hens into one of them tonight when they are half asleep.  The meat chickens are so fat they shouldn't be hard to catch.

It is a little meloncholy to butcher all our chickens but this is life. We bought them not as pets, but as food (either to eat or to lay eggs.) The time has come.  3 weeks from now we'll welcome another 20 chickens into the coop.  Kevin is going to clean up the coop as thoroughly as possible, and we will buy new waterers just in case they are contaminated with an illness.

One thing Kevin and I joke about a lot is that we'll say, "So we need to clean the chicken coop" and then I will add, "That means the royal 'we' as in YOU."  And Kevin smiles.  There are so many things I don't have to do since I am pregnant.  Ha.  One nice thing about pregnancy.  There are things I wish I COULD do, but I'm glad to miss cleaning the chicken coop!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sarah and Shoes

If there is one thing our Little Lady loves, it is shoes!

Not matching shoes, usually. She likes to toddle around with either one shoe on, one shoe off, OR she wants to walk around with 2 mismatched shoes.

Let me be honest here.  It is really, really cute.

It is also a little stressful. We have a hard enough time with shoes being in weird places without a baby hauling them off and hiding them.  Well, she doesn't HIDE them, exactly. She just abandons them in strange places.  Seems like hiding them.

However, we are largely putting up with it. I think, if I had more time, that I could train her not to haul shoes off.  But I'm really busy, and if I am going to work with her on the shoe issue, it needs to be consistent. She is a smart little cookie and understands a lot, but she is also openly disobedient sometimes.  We sometimes call her and she looks us in the eye and turns around and walks off.  She gets discipline for that, and is learning to be obedient about coming when called.  But we haven't addressed "the shoe issue."

One other idiosyncrasy of hers is a passion for my cell phone. She keeps grabbing it out of my purse, though at least she usually walks over and promptly gives it to me.

Yes, she keeps us on her toes.  And she is really, really, really, really cute.

Pregnancy Update

I had an ultrasound and doctor's appointment today. The baby is measuring close to a week small for how far along I am.  All our babies have been small, so I am not worried about that. He was very active and everything looks good in there.  And he is still a he, according to the ultrasound.

I told my OB about my contractions on Friday so she checked me.  I am not dilating, praise God! The baby is already way down, though. I'm 33 weeks, 4 days at this point.

The C-section is scheduled for May 24th but the OB is of the view I won't make it that long. I hope to make it to at least 38 weeks (May 24th is 39 weeks.) 

I feel a little melancholy today, I think because I am tired of being pregnant and tired of being tired.  I really look forward to meeting our little guy face to face. But then, I know he needs at least a month more and am praying that he'll stay where he is, growing and maturing.  I am thankful we never have had an early birth.

So, probably about 5 weeks to go...

Chicken Update

No deaths in 3 days, hooray!

Wednesday is Butchering Day.

We are going to eat the chickens even if they have an illness. We always cook chickens VERY thoroughly, so we are not worried about getting sick from a disease.

All the remaining chickens LOOK good, anyway. That is a fine thing.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

So Far, So Good Today

I keep peering nervously out at our chicken coop.  One of the strange things about this illness is that when a chicken dies, he usually rolls belly up with his legs sticking into the air.  It is humorous in a macabre sort of way.  So whenever we see feet in the air, we know we have a problem. So far today, no dead chickens. So far.

It is probably too little, too late, but Kevin has thoroughly cleaned the waterer which we think is the source of the illness.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Hard Afternoon for Me

I am 33 weeks pregnant.  I was thinking I was 34 weeks pregnant but I got off by a whole week.  So silly!  You'd think I'd have kept better track!  So, about 6 weeks to go...

I've had preterm contractions in previous pregnancies and they are always alarming.  I didn't feel great this morning but was doing Ok.  This afternoon, mid afternoon, I started having contractions.  After ignoring them for an hour or so, I settled down on the couch and started timing them.  They were CLOSE together, like every 3 minutes!  Some were painful, though not seriously painful.  Fortunately, Kevin was home so I asked him to watch the kids.  He urged me to rest and relax.  I drank a lot of water.  I lay on my side on the couch and read a fun book.   And thankfully, the contractions did stop.

Thank you, Lord!  It is way too early to have this little guy.  He needs more time to grow.

Another One Bites the Dust

Another chicken is dead.  This time Kevin noticed it was sneezing and showing respiratory distress.  It was dead within half an hour.

We are afraid that the meat chickens DO have the same illness our hens had.  The waterer was shared and it probably had bacteria from the ones that were sick.  But the waterer was outside the coop for a couple of months so it surprises us that the bacteria would still be hanging around. However, it was wet that whole time (or had frozen water) and maybe the virus or bacteria was able to stay alive under those conditions.

So, very discouraging. We're supposed to have the meat chickens butchered next Wednesday.  Now we are wondering if we'll have any meat chickens left.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Writing Like Crazy

Naomi is writing a story.  A long story. Rapidly.

I kid you not, this kid can WRITE.  In 2 days, she has written over 10,000 words!  That's a lot of writing!

Her story is about Sonic the Hedgehog, and needless to say her siblings think it is great!

And Then There Were 11

It has been a BAD week for our meat chickens.  We started with 16 chicks about 7 weeks ago.  2 died in the first couple of weeks.  This week, 3 more died!!

We don't know what is going on.  Perhaps they got too cold and that impacted them, but they are big and fully feathered.  You'd think they'd be Ok.  We've had the heat lamp on the last 2 nights, and another one died today.

The most intimidating prospect is that the illness that killed a bunch of our hens last fall and winter has transmitted to the meat chickens.  They are not in the same coop, but they are using a water bucket that was used by the hens.  One clear difference between the hens that died and the meat chickens that died is that the hens hung around looking morose and sick for a few days before dying, and the meat chickens are just dropping dead unexpectedly, with no obvious symptoms. Ok, there is one symptom. They are dead.

Given the rapid decrease of our flock, we are going to butcher all our chickens next week.  And then Kevin is going to clean the coops very thoroughly as we have a new batch of 20 Golden Comets coming at the beginning of May. We do not want this mysterious illness to transmit through the new birds.

So, discouraging. Not huge in the grand scheme of things, but definitely discouraging.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Our boy is a reader!

Our boy is reading!  Today and yesterday, Joseph was able to read (with a little help) 2 long stories from a Frog and Toad anthology.  Now Frog and Toad books are fairly simple but still, Joseph has moved WAY past early readers at this point.  I am so excited!

Besides his new fluency, Joseph has realized that he can READ for FUN!  Maybe that is the most important thing -- Joseph is no longer straining painfully to read books, but can gain information and have fun while he reads.  Along with his siblings, he loves Sonic the Hedgehog. Today I heard him working through a Sonic comic book and he was able to read many of the words.

He is 7 and a half and I'm so pleased at his progress. He isn't an advanced reader yet, but I think we're over the biggest hump in the reading journey.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Picture

Easter picture.  My mother made the girls' dresses and the boys' shirts.  Aren't we a fine looking bunch?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Reading the Bible on Enduring Word Media

A few months ago, I stumbled across a website for Enduring Word Media.  This is the website:

A Christian named David Guzik designed the site. In addition to other features, he includes the text of most of the Bible, along with extensive historical and religious commentary.

So for the last few months, I've been reading the Bible online, on his site.

It is fascinating!

Now let me back up a bit. I have read the Bible ALMOST every single day since I was 11 years old.  I am 42, so that is 31 years!

I love to read, and I get a lot from reading the Bible.  It is amazing how God uses His book to teach me new things frequently.

BUT, after 31 years yes...sometimes I do think, "Oh yes, I've read this before."  It is always GOOD, but I don't always receive new daily insight.

This Enduring Word commentary is giving me almost daily insight.

Now let me say that I don't trust everything in the commentary. I know the man who wrote the commentary, and the quotes from famous Christians IN the commentary, are the works of men, not God.  So I don't just trust EVERYTHING it says.

But Guzik has done a lot of research. He has provided historical background on many Biblical stories and experiences.  He delves into the Greek and Aramaic and Hebrew roots of words.  I am learning new things about the Scriptures almost every day.

My life is very busy right now and I'm not part of a Sunday School or Bible study class.  Again, it just isn't possible for this season of life. 

I am very thankful for online resources that help me learn more about God's wonderful gift, the Bible.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Oh, Never Mind...

I thought I had a great idea.  This fine puzzle is a 600 piece puzzle of the world.  The ocean pieces are normal puzzle shape, the country pieces are mostly individual (I can't remember if Vatican City is by itself, or part of another country.)  The best thing to do is to put the ocean together, then put in the countries.  The ocean pieces aren't just blue, but have information about all the countries on name of the country, capital of the country, and approximate population.

It's a lovely puzzle.  I thought the big girls and I would put it together in the study, where we have a table that is perfect for putting puzzles together.

So 3 or 4 weeks ago, we started working on it.  And ... it went Ok. None of us are great at putting puzzles together, but I'm methodical and I separated the ocean pieces alphabetically and we made...decent progress.




We had a little helper, and that little helper was Sarah.  That girl is not very tall, but she has an amazing reach. Time after time, I would go into the study to find puzzle pieces on the floor.  Our 6 yo and 4 yo also contributed to the chaos by playing on the same table and knocking the puzzle around.

After a couple of weeks of frustration, I gave up and took apart the partially finished puzzle.  A part of me was bound and determined to finish, but I decided my daily irritation wasn't worth it.

There is a point to all this. Sometimes we have a good idea but it doesn't pan out.  It takes wisdom to quit on something that just isn't working the way I hoped.  I'm someone who likes to "finish what I've started" but sometimes it is better not to.

So, at some distant point in the future, we will put that puzzle together.  Some time when I don't have a toddler eager to grab puzzle pieces and hurl them around the room.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Pregnancy Update

I am 32 weeks, 4 days along in this pregnancy. Just 6 or 7 nerveshredding weeks to go!

I had an OB appointment today. I was checked as I've had quite a few contractions the last couple of weeks.  Praise God, NOTHING is signs of imminent labor.

The baby is measuring small, which is usual for this stage of the pregnancy (for me). I will have an ultrasound in 2 weeks just to make sure that amniotic fluid is sufficient and that he is looking good.

I was 164 lbs today.  My highest weight ever was 167 lbs. with Naomi and Lydia. I usually max out at about 36 weeks so there is a good chance I will go over my previous high weight. I'm not concerned about that; in fact, it might be a good thing as Little Guy might be a bit bigger than our usual babies are.  Isaac was 7 lb 1 oz and an awesome nurser.  Maybe this one will be that size or even bigger. We'll see!

Mostly I am doing ... well. The last couple of months are always hard and I often just don't feel that great.  But, I am SUPER thankful for this baby and SUPER thankful for no serious complications and SUPER thankful that I've never had a premature baby. 

Super thankful, that's me!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

15 Years Ago Today...

At lunchtime

on a hill in Ann Arbor, Michigan

while Kevin and I took a walk

he asked me to marry him.

And I said yes.

Thanks for asking me, sweetheart!  It has been a great 15 years since we got engaged.

(P.S.  Yes, I know it is April Fool's Day. He really DID ask me that day, and some of our friends and colleagues thought we were pulling their legs when we told them!)