Thursday, May 31, 2012

Daniel is a Week Old...

I will try to post an up to date picture today.  Babies change so fast! 

Mostly we are doing well. Kevin continues to "hold down the fort" in keeping the house in order and the children busy.  Mornings are my best time and then I feel worse as the day goes on. 

I am thankful for lots of experience as a mom of a newborn.  The first few weeks post partum are a delight, and they are hard as well.  I am SO tired, and of course I'm recovering from fairly major surgery.  This time around, I am dealing with a catheter while my bladder heals. It should come out tomorrow -- I HOPE SO.  I PRAY SO!!

But there are such delights as well...the delights of seeing our other children adore Daniel, of seeing his sweet little baby face many times during the day and night!

I am gradually working to teach him the whole "day and night" thing.  He is a very tired little guy and often eats and then sleeps for 2.5 hours before I wake him up to eat again.  The last couple of days, I've given him baths or otherwise stimulated him after a couple of daytime feeding.  My hope is that he'll realize that days are for being awake (at least some of the time) and nights are for sleeping.  Last night he didn't do great as he was up for a couple of hours. 

One thing that I know helps (from past experience) is to teach the baby to fall asleep on his own.  This is to say that I try not to "nurse my baby to sleep".  It is tempting to do that, especially when I'm tired, and indeed I do often nurse him to sleep at night. But during the day, I want him to learn to fall asleep by himself.  He will have periods of wakefulness in the middle of naps, and if he can calm himself down and go to sleep without nursing, that is a good thing!  So far he hasn't needed much prodding to sleep...he is very tired.  Except at night, occasionally :-).

So yes, we are doing well. And I am tired. And we are very blessed.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Few Pictures

Daniel and I are home from the hospital.  He is doing really well with eating, pretty well with sleeping, and is also doing those other important baby things like filling diapers well. That IS important.

Kevin is taking off the next week and a half from work.  I am recovering from the hardest C-section yet, so am very grateful to ONLY have Daniel to care for.  I am so thankful for Daniel, and am trying hard to focus on him and the other children rather than the irritations of recovery.

I know I'll feel much better in a couple of weeks!

Here are a few pictures from the last few days...

Our new little guy...

Our 8 blessings from the Lord!

Daniel and me

Kevin and Daniel

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Daniel Justice

Our son, Daniel Justice, was born on May 24th.  He was a big boy, 7lb 4 oz.  Big for us, anyway!  He was 20 inches long.

He is doing great.  What a sweetheart.  What a blessing from the Lord!

I prayed early and often that he would nurse well and he is nursing very well. 

I had a minor complication during the C-section and had to have my bladder stitched up.  Please pray it heals well.

Yesterday, Kevin brought all the kids. I will post pics of our entire clan when I get home, which should be tomorrow.

We thank the Lord for the gift of our little son.

Monday, May 21, 2012

3 Days...

3 days and our baby will be born!

The last few days of pregnancy are hard.  I don't feel very peppy.  I feel VERY pregnant.  I am tired.  I am not sleeping well.   I am tempted to be cranky.

I keep praying for patience and wisdom.   I am clinging to the verses below:

1 Corinthians 13:4-5

New Living Translation (NLT)
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.

The "irritable" really sticks out to me.  I am irritable, but I don't need to ACT in an irritable way. I have Jesus.  I have the Holy Spirit working in me.  I pray that my Lord will help me to speak kindly and softly and to not fly off the handle.

I think it is true that I am naturally a fairly patient person.  Late pregnancy and fatigue and hormonal upheaval strip away my natural patience and I need to depend on God more. May I do so. And may I count to 3 before snapping at a child for doing something for the upteenth time. May I discipline wisely and patiently.  May I have the sense to separate warring factions before I "lose it".

Things really are going fine.  And we are all excited that we'll soon meet our new son face to face.  Please pray that the delivery goes well, that our son eats well, and that I recover quickly from the C-section.

3 days!


Kevin is our gardener.  I do most of the indoor cleaning, cooking, homeschooling, and caring for the kids. He takes care of the outside, and it is a big job!  He has help from the kids for some stuff (like chicken care) and he recruited 3 of our younger children to put in the garden this year.

We decided a small garden was wise given that the baby arrives soon and we'll be especially tired this summer.

So if I remember correctly, he planted tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, zucchini, and green peppers.  We've planted melons, watermelon, squash, lettuce, sweet potatoes, and carrots in the past, with mixed results.  Well, the sweet potatoes have always been a success, but planting them is extra work and they take a lot of space.  So we'll skip sweet potatoes this year.

As of yesterday, all the plants were up!

New Kitchen Floor

Kevin is a  gifted person.  He is an engineer like I am, so is good at the math/science stuff.  He is also very good with his hands. I am not.  I am especially not good at home improvement projects.  Thankfully, he is!  As a high school student, he worked construction for a couple of summers and picked up many useful skills. He also has the confidence to tackle new projects, and is meticulous about reading directions and learning necessary skills for said projects.

So a couple of weeks ago, Kevin decided that he should put a new floor in the kitchen. The old floor was 7 years old and when he put it in he was thinking it would be somewhat temporary.

Now, I admit to a little twinge of concern about a new project RIGHT NOW.  What if the baby showed up in the middle of the project?  But knowing Kevin, it didn't seem likely. He said it would not be a really long job, and when he has a project he is completely focused. He is not one of those people who starts a project and leaves it half done.  It gets done even if he has to stay up 'til 2:30 a.m. to finish it.

Which is exactly what happened.

Thursday evening, he did some preparatory work.

Friday evening after dinner, he started working:

The new flooring is darker.

He toiled and toiled and toiled. I went to bed.  I woke up at 2:30 a.m. to use the bathroom and he was still not in bed, so I went downstairs to check on him. He was just finishing up the main floor.

Unfortunately, he was just a bit short on tile so he left part of the pantry undone.  On Saturday, he bought more tile and finished up the pantry.

Sunday, he put the trim back on, and added some baseboard under the cabinets.

Voila, complete!!

We had to move everything off the pantry floor, of course.  All that food resided in the corner of the dining room for a few short days, to Sarah's delight.  Of course, when Kevin moved everything back in (with the children's help) he was very organized.  The pantry hasn't looked this good in a LONG time.

All done!  It looks great!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fun Chickens!

First, let me answer S.'s question about the chickens... we thought 27 were purchased and we got 20 of them, and 2 other families took 3 or 4 chickens home, respectively.  So we don't have to divide any eggs with anyone else.  We're just enjoying a boatload of eggs.  More of that later, though...

Second, Kevin had a funny experience last night.    He was in the coop and was wondering if all the chickens were in from the yard.  So he decided to count them up.  1..2...3......20...21.

Um, what?  21?  We have 20 chickens.

So he counted again. And again.  And came up with 21 each time.

So somehow there was an extra chicken!  The other families definitely got their 3 and 4, so the seller must have thrown in an extra chicken.

That wouldn't be so odd except that apparently "our" chickens were all set aside in their own pen.  When Kevin's coworker arrived, the seller said that the pen was short one chicken so he ran off and got another one from a different pen.  So someone miscounted somewhere...we didn't really need that extra chicken, though we'll take her.

As usual, the chickens are a lot of fun.  This batch has been laying eggs like crazy!

The chickens have laid at least 15 eggs a day since we got them.  Unfortunately, some are getting broken, probably because of traffic jams in the nesting boxes.

We used to have 6 nesting boxes but usually only 2 or 3 were in use.  So Kevin made only 3 for the new batch.  Well, there have been some major squashing going on when a bunch of chickens decided they needed to lay an egg RIGHT NOW.  Naomi saw 3 stuck in one box once.  In the picture above, one of the dividers is missing so there are 2 boxes, one big and one small.  Kevin says we probably need another nesting box or 2.  I'm sure he'll take care of it when he has some time.

Some chickens aren't completely sure about the whole "nesting box" thing so we have found a few in the coop and even some in the chicken yard.

Speaking of the yard, it is obvious these chickens have never HAD a yard before. They were confined to a pen for the first 20 weeks of life. 

Kevin has a fancy little sliding door that lets the chickens come out of the pen as long as the door is open.  They are getting quite familiar with it, but sometimes some comical pile-ups occur.  Last night, there were a host of chickens in the chicken yard.  As the sun set, they realized it was time to go inside. BUT, time after time, a chicken would jump up on the block and then just stand there.  A line of indignant hens was behind each sitting chicken, but they didn't push and shove too much. Kevin was in the yard retrieving an egg, so he "helped" each hen along by shoving her through the door.  We'll see what happens tonight.

They also aren't used to roosting but several jumped up on the roosts last night, and then Kevin went in and "helped" the rest of them up -- whether they liked it or not.  He was helping them a lot last night :-).

All in all, we are very pleased so far.  They are laying eggs, which is most imporant. They are getting along well, probably because all but 1 were in the same pen for 20 weeks so they have a pecking order that is mostly established.  They are learning to go out in the yard and peck bugs and grass.  They are learning to roost. 

The last thing on the agenda is that they need to learn to eat slops.  They obviously didn't eat slops at their old place, and so have been largely disdainful of our nice "people slops".  Part of their job is eating our extra food, so we hope they get with the program soon.

Pregnancy Update

Yesterday's appointment went well.  Everything looks good for our little one to be born on May 24th, which is a week from tomorrow!

Last night, I asked our big girls to pray for PATIENCE for me.  I really am tired of being pregnant.  I want to see our son face to face. While I won't sleep well after he is born because he needs to eat, I won't be all bulbous anymore.  I am ready to have the baby!  But another week will be good for him, and I can relish this last week of "just the 9 of us" :-). 

I feel more patient today and know God is answering those prayers of my sweet girls. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Glorious Chickens

Kevin cleaned and sterilized the chicken coop. It has never looked so good!

He also added some red siding. It matches the barn!  To the left of the door into the coop is a new nesting box.  Kevin cleverly made it so that it has a sliding top. We can remove the top, reach in, and pick up any eggs there without going into the coop.  It is amazing!

And here be chickens!  We "went in" with a couple of guys from Kevin's work to purchase 27 chickens from a chicken farm more than an hour away. Since we are expecting the baby "any day", one of the other guys volunteered to go pick them up.  He and his wife got 4 chickens, another family got 3, and we purchased 20.

They seem to be settling in very well! 

When Kevin's coworker arrived with the chickens, his wife told us they were laying already. That surprised us...they are only 20 weeks old and we were not expecting them to be laying yet!

Sure enough, though, we had our first egg within hours of their arrival. So far we've gotten 7 eggs!  That is quite impressive considering the chickens are traumatized by the move and by having to establish a new pecking order.  So far, so good!


I had another OB appointment on Friday.  I was contracting all afternoon, sometimes with contractions very close together -- like 2 to 3 minutes apart. I was on the non stress test machine for quite a while as the baby was asleep.  I drank some apple juice, and that woke him up. I had a weight and blood pressure check, and both were good. I finally got in to see the doctor and she checked me. And NOTHING is going on.  It really is rather bizarre that I could be having that many contractions, some of them painful, and I'm not even dilating!  It is good as another week would be good for him, but it makes it hard to know what is going on.  I just keep praying for God's timing to be clear.

It is hard in some ways in that both Kevin and I are eager to have the baby.  We feel like we are in a "holding pattern" as we don't know when he'll arrive, so cannot make many plans about what we will and won't do.  But that is OK.  I'm 37 weeks, 3 days today.  If we can make it until at least Thursday, he'll be 38 weeks and I'll feel pretty good about delivering him.  And if we make it to May 24th, that is good too.  That's the latest possible delivery date; the C-section is scheduled for that day.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Book Review: Enjoy Your Money!: How to Make It, Save It, Invest It and Give It [Kindle Edition]

I have a Kindle and lately have derived much pleasure from borrowing Kindle books from the library, and finding fun books that are free.

I just finished reading the following:

Enjoy Your Money!: How to Make It, Save It, Invest It and Give It [Kindle Edition]

It was free when I got it, but I notice that it is back to its normal price of $6.99.

I would say it is worth every penny, though!

This is an AWESOME book.  I do enjoy financial books, especially "practical" ones that talk about real life ways to steward our money. 

This is one of the best I've read.  It is aimed at the secular market and there is no overt statement about Christianity, but I THINK the author is probably a Christian. He quotes Jesus, Solomon, and a few proverbs. 

The overall feel of the book is fun as well.  The author creates a fictitious group of teens who are meeting with a senior high school teacher every Saturday morning for many months. The goal of the young people is to learn from this lady, who successfully retired a bunch of debt when she was left a widow at age 30.  The young people, in their teens, are all aware that their own parents are struggling with money issues and are mostly "living for the weekends" and from paycheck to paycheck.

Part of the book takes place years later when the group gets together for a reunion breakfast.

Every chapter addresses a specific money issue, like investing, how to lose your money in stupid ways, groceries, cars, and houses.  Each chapter ends with some suggestions about what to think about, plus a recommendation to younger readers that they ask their own parents about the money issue of the chapter. 

But more than just the money issues is a continual discussion of basic truths about life.  For example, one of young men is bent on making a ton of money and getting a fancy car.  The others talk about the WHY behind that...does money really make you happy?  Why do we buy things to impress other people?  There are examples from real life about people who made a lot of money and were relatively happy, and others with a ton of money who were miserable.

Another major theme is that most of the millionaires in the United States are frugal with their money. They often buy used cars and live in relatively modest homes. They made their money by being careful with it, not spending lavishly. I know that is true, but it isn't the picture of millionaries that many carry around with them -- most of us tend to think of actors and sports figures who spend foolishly.

Many of the very wealthy people in the world who made their money through business worked very long hours. The people in the book talk about how relationships are important and that sometimes people work too hard, to the point that they neglect family and friends.

One minor caveat is that there is some mention of casual dating, but it isn't a major theme of the book.  At the very end, there are a couple of marriages between members of the group.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Pregnancy Update

I'm going in 2ce a week now so the updates are coming fast and furious!

Yesterday was another good appointment. The baby is way down but I'm not dilating at all. The non stress test looked good, my weight held steady for another few days, and my blood pressure was excellent.

I'm feeling very hopeful we'll make at least 38 weeks and maybe even 39!  Part of me just wants to HAVE THIS KID, but I have been reading up a bit on "preterm birth" and even 37 weeks is a little preterm.  Babies born that early have a higher chance of lung maturity issues, and it makes sense too that the baby would be sleepier and have a harder time nursing.  My babies have always been super sleepy anyway!  So I keep praying for another week and a half at least, and it looks like we may make it.

Since I've had 4 prior C-sections, I really should not go into hard labor becuase of the risk of uterine rupture.  So my OB keeps saying to me, "Don't ignore anything."  It is a little hard because I do have contractions and even sometimes have them close together, but none have been really painful. I pray the Lord will make it clear if I do start labor soon.  I never have had an early labor... the earliest was Sarah at 38 weeks exactly and I was at an OB appointment when the contractions started. God surely had good timing on that whole experience.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Getting Ready for New Chickens

Kevin nobly spent many hours in the last couple of weeks cleaning out our chicken coop. He removed the nesting boxes and the piles of wood shavings.  He removed...other stuff that is good for gardens. 

Yesterday he mixed up a bleach/water solution and sprayed everything down. We are hoping that bleach will kill any lingering germs.

We threw away our watering cans and bought a new one.

The new chickens are coming in 6 days, hooray!

It'll be interesting to see if the baby comes before then.  It could be an exciting combination of events, having new chickens and a new baby.  Chickens are way less important, of course!

I am looking forward to having chickens again.  I hate throwing away extra food that doesn't get eaten.  And they are so picturesque.  The chickens will be about 20 weeks old and therefore not laying eggs quite yet, but should within a month or so.

Sarah on Her Horse

We don't want any real horses around here...too much work!

But we are blessed to have a rocking horse from Kevin's childhood.

Naomi had the bright idea of putting Sarah on it this last week.  She was right that Sarah loved it, and did a great job of hanging on!

Big Tractor and Little Tractor

I have neglected to post a picture of our "new" tractor.

We live out in the country and have 5 acres of land.  We bought a used tractor last year to help with mowing and bushhogging our back field.  It was a little underpowered, so Kevin looked around and decided to buy another (used) tractor. 

Don't they look cute together?  They are, of course, in our new barn.

And if by any chance you have a desire to own a Yanmar YM 1700, it's for sale :-).

Growing Crystals

I went to a Dollar Store this week and discovered cheap "Crystal Growing" kits.  I've wanted such things before, but they were expensive.  For $1, I figured I couldn't lose.

We took 2 small rocks and put them in a plastic dish.   Then we took the crystal growing powder and mixed it into hot water.  The crystal dissolved in the water.

Joseph did the mixing...and then we poured the dissolved crystal water into the pan so that the rocks were sitting in the water.

And lo and behold, after a few days, crystals grew on the rock!  It is wonderful that it actually worked :-).  Joseph was pleased...many of our kids enjoy science, but he LOVES science experiments.

Sarah and Me

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Another Pregnancy Update

I know I've been posting a lot about the pregnancy.  It's on my mind :-).

I had another appointment yesterday.  The baby was active and doing well for the non stress test.  My weight was steady from Monday, and my blood pressure was down. I found the whole thing to be very reassuring.  If I were having preeclampsia, I'd probably have seen an increase in weight and blood pressure.  So we're doing well and I just need to pray (and I am) that it'll be completely clear when our little guy should be born.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Eczema Update

A few months ago, we took Miriam and Sarah to an allergist.  Each hapless child was poked with possible allergic substances and then we waited to see whether the skin would swell up, indicating a reaction.  Neither liked it, though Miriam hated it more because she reacted to more things.

Poor Miriam, she is definitely our "allergic child".  The appointment was very useful though. We established that she is NOT allergic to milk. And she IS allergic to a host of environmental allergens...grass pollens, tree pollens, fun stuff like that. She also reacted to seafood and tree nuts.

Sarah just reacted to milk, peanuts, and chocolate.

The allergist warned that Miriam would have flare-ups of eczema in particular, and allergies in general, in spring time.

A previous doctor said Miriam should have a bath every evening to clean off pollens. I've never been a mother who particularly enjoys bathing her kids. And now I have 3 children (soon to be 4) who can't bathe themselves.

But I decided we really needed to do this, so almost every evening Miriam at least gets rinsed off.  I have trained the big girls to help with this.  So thankful for big girls!

Anyway, it really seems to be working!  Her eczema was really bad last year, with sores behind her knees, on her heels, and on the top of her feet. Her feet have been fine this year.  Her heels and knees have had some eczema but it isn't as bad as it could be.  I do have a steroid cream I use occasionally, but I don't use it often.

So yes, it is worth it.

Sarah is also doing well. She had bad eczema last year until I figured out she was allergic to milk.  Which brings up a good question...should I go off milk?  At the time I figured it all out, I was breastfeeding Sarah and I have no doubt she was therefore a little allergic to breastmilk.  We've had plenty of cow's milk allergies so maybe I should just go off cow's milk.  On the other hand, this baby is a "summer baby" and it is the winter ones who have had the cow's milk allergies and indeed most of the allergies.  No good explanation for that, but we're batting 4 for 4 on winter babies having allergies and 3 for 3 on summer babies not having allergies.  Weird.

So I'll think about it.  My diet is limited enough in that I am diabetic and have to avoid many foods. I eat a lot of yogurt.  Yogurt is healthy.  It's good for my stuff.

I think I'll probably keep drinking some cow's milk but won't overdo it.  We'll see how it goes and I pray the Lord will give me wisdom about it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Pregnancy Update

I had an OB appointment yesterday. 

It was my first non stress test.  In this test, they hook up a monitor to watch the baby's heart rate.  He is supposed to move around quite a bit, and the heart rate is supposed to jump up when he moves.

He was sleeping for the first half hour though I tried to wake him up by drinking apple juice. That always got Sarah moving, but this little guy wasn't impressed.  On those rare occasions when he did move, his heart rate wasn't leaping up very high, maybe because he was asleep.

Finally, he woke up and started wiggling around, and the OB said it was an Ok test.  Not great, but Ok.  She told me that there were a few "decels" in the heart rate when it went down instead of up.  I don't exactly know what that means, but she ordered an immediate ultrasound to check that my amniotic fluid was sufficient.  I got right in after my appointment with the OB was done, which was nice! And yes, my amniotic fluid is just fine.

The other sort of bizarre news was that I gained a bunch of weight in the last 2 weeks...5 lbs!  I am 172 lbs!  My previous maximum was 167, with my first two pregnancies.  It isn't a big deal except that rapid weight gain can be a sign of preelampsia. I doubt I have that problem, but my blood pressure was up a bit as well compared to normal, so the OB is going to watch it carefully. I go in 2ce a week now, from here on out.

We're guessing he'll be delivered before May 24th, but only the Lord knows exactly when.  I am just praying that this little precious boy will be born in God's perfect timing.