3 weeks

We've had our new baby for 3 weeks now and a new schedule is beginning to take shape. So far, everything has gone well. Asher is a good baby, rarely cries, and only wakes up every 4 to 5 hours in the night. He is starting to stay awake longer during the day, but still sleeps a lot. Sunny and Eliana are his little adoring mommies. They want to hold him all day! Unfortunately, they have had runny noses and have had to "stay out of the baby's face" for most of the past 3 weeks. They still stare lovingly at him from a distance and kiss his feet and the back of his head often. He is loved!

We've been blessed by my mom, sister, and sister-in-law bringing us meals. Mom also has picked up loads of laundry and brought them back to us clean and folded! How awesome! The recovery from my unplanned c-section has been much better than I expected. I have healed faster and had an easier time than I did after my first c-section 11 years ago. I am getting around fine now and have been off pain meds for a week now.

Monday morning we plan to get back to our normal school schedule again. We have all enjoyed this little break, but it will feel good to get back to life as usual.



During this last trimester I have developed polyhydramnios which simply means I have extra amniotic fluid. In this case, a WHOLE LOT of extra amniotic fluid. Like as in twice the normal amount. So far it has only meant that I measure ahead of my dates. But the last few days I have begun to feel like a water balloon that cannot hold anymore water! When it breaks it's gonna be a tidal wave! Although this condition can indicate certain birth defects, in our case the baby looks to be just fine. My first baby had extra fluid as well, and he was healthy and fine. Many cases of polyhydramnios are of an unexplanined cause. So, basically I have an extra huge and round belly (I feel like the girl from Willy Wonka) and my baby has a big pool to swim in. I hope he comes soon because I'm starting to feel like I'm slowly being suffocated from the inside.

On the up side, all this fluid makes for some GREAT ultra-sound pics! Our doctor's office recently got new u/s equipment that is capeable of 4D imaging. However, it costs something like $150.00 for a 20 minute scan. So we were shocked and happily surprised when they gave us a good long 4D peak at our baby (including pics) during a rountine non-4D scan to measure fluid levels and check on baby. The high fluid made me the perfect test subject for them to practice their new equipment on! :-) I was happy to be their gunea pig in this case. It is amazing to see our baby that clearly while he is still in the womb! Check out these chubby cheeks>



This was taken 2 weeks ago!

Trying not to be in panic mode is proving to be a challenge. With each passing day my baby is getting bigger and bigger and still there are NO signs of labor starting. Why? Why did I lie around for 6 weeks on bed rest, taking pills around the clock to stop contractions? Dang it! I even gained 12 stinkin pounds during those 6 weeks!! And now that bed rest is over....nothing. I've been on the treadmill everyday. Nothing. No pains to speak of. I've never wanted to be in agony so badly in my life. Baby Asher needs to come on and be born before he gets any bigger, causing more suffering than is necessary.

You might think I am being ridiculous or just plain impatient. But for a mom who has had a very large baby that caused horrific damage which almost cost me a trip to the O.R. to have it repaired, 2 hours of stitches, and weeks and weeks of VERY painful recovery, I never wanna go through that again!! I don't wanna be a Frankenbooty again- all stitched up in places you never thought would see a needle and thread. Places that never SHOULD see a needle and thread. YIKES! The thought of it makes me wanna go run on the treadmill again...

So, come on out, baby Asher! We wanna see you before you outgrow your newborn clothes and diapers.


Bordem, Bed rest, and a Loving Family

My last blog entry was quite a while ago. But I have a good excuse: Two Mondays ago I ended up in the hospital in preterm labor. Just one day shy of being 30 weeks pregnant and they found me to be 3-4 cm and contracting regularly. After torturing me with various needles in the forms of a huge IV and several meds that had to be given by injection, plus a foley cath in my bladder they were able to stop the contractions. I stayed for 2 days and then got sent home on bed rest and medication to keep the contractions away. Now the only excitement in life are homeschooling from the couch and my weekly doctor's appointments.

As a mommy of 3 this could be a very sticky situation. But my loving family has been so helpful. My mom, sister, and sister-in-law have formed a team to deliver meals to us 3 times per week. My best friend also made us a scrumptious lasagna dinner and one to freeze for later. Scotty has been flexing his mom muscles, trying to keep up with the laundry, shopping, and other various chores. The kids haven't complained once about having to wait on me when I need something. And my mom has been wonderful to keep the kids for us every week for my appointments. I am blessed indeed.

The curtains for the nursery that I planned to make will have to wait. For now I will have to suppress my nesting instinct and just be satisfied to sit/lie on the couch and be lazy....and bored. After walking on the treadmill 10- 20 miles per week for the last several months I am very surprised that exercise is one of the things I miss the most. As soon as they take me off bed rest (in 3 more weeks) I plan to get right back on that treadmill and walk like crazy!

It is overwhelming to have a family that is so thoughtful and loving. I feel so well taken care of and blessed and loved.

Documenting day 1: bored already.
My baby is sad that I can't lift or carry her. But we can still snuggle.

Scotty borrowed a wheelchair from an elderly neighbor so he could take me outside for some fresh air this weekend. A kind gesture, but he got a little too much enjoyment out of how ridiculous I felt.


Fancy Nails

Today we went to the salon to have the birthday girl's nails painted for her party. She absolutely loves to have them painted, but the polish never lasts very long (sometimes not even an hour before it has chips and scrapes in it). Having them painted "professionally" seemed like a good plan since their polish stays on for days. She felt like such a big girl and was so excited about this trip!

Sitting very still admiring the perfect pink she selected.

The lady added sparkles!

Waiting for them to dry.

Waiting is hard!

This purple light helps them dry better.
For many years my 8 year old has been a nail biter. She has been wanting to break the habit, but usually does it without thinking while her mind is on something else. About 2 months ago I told her that if she could conquer her nail biting by her little sister's birthday that she would get to have her nails painted at the salon, too. Since she and her younger sister have a jealous rivalry thing going I was hoping this would do the trick...and it did! She is so proud of herself for kicking that bad habit and having nice fingernails. She selected a lovely pink and then the lady added silver sparkles on top!

My non-nail biter! SO proud of her!
And the ever patient big brother waits on the couch wishing he had brought some masculine toy to play with. He is a sweet boy and even took some pictures for me. We were only in there for about 20 minutes altogether, but waiting is still hard...especially for a boy in a nail salon.


Daily Exercise

It is no secret that I do not enjoy exercise. Never have. Ever. But during this pregnancy it has been necessary, so I began by trying to get out and take walks at least once a week. The weather was still cool enough in early spring, but as the heat set in I started jogging on a mini-trampoline for 10 to 15 minutes each day instead. Then, I moved up to jogging on it more than once per day. Gradually, I began to get a little stronger and ended up borrowing my mom's treadmill which I started using 3 times per day for 10-20 minutes at a time. Finally, I was able to walk at a good pace for one mile- three times per day. It felt awful while I was actually doing it, but when I was done I felt great!

However, the more bulbous I get near the end, the more difficult it has become to make my 3 miles per day goal. Some days I even skip walking altogether:-( Recently, I have begun to get some really tight contractions that don't feel right while I'm walking. Slowing down and taking it easier will usually make them go away. But now I feel like i am failing at my goal. Of course, this is not important compared to the health of my baby, but the perfectionist in me is disgruntled about it.

I'm trying to feel good about any amount of exercise that I am able to accomplish in a day. Not only is it really good for me in so many ways physically, but it also makes me feel better mentally. Somehow it cured the lower back pain that was plaguing me early on and it makes me feel more calm and relaxed throughout the day. Exercise really is good! (But, unfortunately, I still don't enjoy it)


Packing for Children- Our Sukkot Nightmare Solved!

Almost 5 years ago we set out on an adventure. It was an 8 day camping trip to observe the Feast of Tabernacles, also known as Sukkot. It was exciting and we couldn't wait! But my joy was slightly and quickly infringed upon by the nightmare of the clothing issue. I had packed for cooler fall weather and made neat stacks of matching outfits for each of my (at the time) 2 children. They were sharing a large suitcase and it was nicely organized when we arrived. I had also packed 3 pair of pajamas for each of them and socks & undies for each day plus an extra pair or two. I thought we were all good. Knowing how NOT neat they can be, we decided to keep their suitcase in our tent and dole out clothing each day. By day 2 I could see that this wasn't going to be as simple as all that. First of all, there were the unforeseen clothing casualties like wet socks & jeans and muddy pajamas. We stayed busy all day and there was no laundry facility, so once something got really dirty or wet- it went into the dirty clothes. Also, once their outfit got wet or muddy they had to change- quickly putting us into a clean clothing deficit. Then, there was the "I don't wanna wear this shirt with those pants" complaints. They began to dig through what was left to find what they wanted to wear. By the end of the week this made for a crazy clown mix of whatever was left...the rejects. (Although Sukkot is no fashion show, I still can't stand for my children to be running around in totally crazy looking, mix matched clothes!) Another major issue was the weather. Even though it was October, the days were really warm and the nights got down right COLD! I had packed for cooler weather which meant we sweated all day and froze at night.

Since we weren't the only family going through this clothing crisis and many moms were fretting by day 3 or 4 because we were dangerously close to becoming a nudist camp, a few dads got together and took trash bags of dirties to a local laundry mat and spent all day washing. Who wants to spend a day of their feast doing laundry? Oy vey!

So ever since then we have used a method that has restored order and simplified the packing process. This method can be used for any type of trip and is especially great for families with many kids and/or sloppy, not neat kids who make a shambles of their suitcase, duffel bag, or whatever.

First, I went to the Dollar Tree and purchased several 2-packs of zippered mesh laundry pouches* (which are surprisingly durable for Dollar Tree merchandise and have lasted us several years now!) Next, I laid out an outfit for each child- for each day (plus a couple of extra days), including socks and undies. ~If you have a picky dresser they can even help make the outfit choices at this time. We have an understanding of NO mixing or switches once we get there.~ Then, I stuffed a neatly folded outfit into each pouch. That way I could just toss them a pouch each day and they have everything they need! They could even put their dirties into the empty pouch. No more suitcase rummaging for anyone!

Now since we go out of state, it is hard to anticipate the weather with exact accuracy. We try to pack mostly jeans and short sleeved shirts since the days can be really warm. Also, each person brings a sweatshirt, warm jacket, and a winter coat- since the nights have been known to get C-O-L-D! We always pack warm pajamas and plenty of blankets. One or two of their outfits is usually shorts or skirts in case a day gets super warm- which it does every year.

For shoes we bring a pair of hiking boots for each person and a pair of flip-flops to wear in the shower. The flip flops can be worn on any hot days that might be. A great place to buy hiking boots is the thrift store. Since the kids feet are ever growing, and new boots are expensive, the thrift store is my hiking boot supplier. We have found great name brands and have never paid over $5.00 a pair (usually more like $1 or $2.00!!). I have to start looking in advance, of course, but it is so worth the savings!

The mesh pouch method has made such a difference for us!
*Plastic grocery bags would also work, but the pouches allow you to see what is inside and they are re-usable year after year.



All this week the kids and I have been enjoying smoothies. They are cold and refreshing and very delicious- with NO sugar added! My two year old cannot get enough and often goes around finishing off everyone else's glasses.

So what is in these smoothies? Well, they vary a little, depending on what fruit is in the house, but the typical recipe is:

banana or 2

about a half cup of raw kefir (or milk or yogurt)

a drizzle of o.j.

a big hand full or 2 of fresh organic baby spinach leaves

*blend until very smooth and spinach specks disappear- about 1 or 2 minutes*

frozen pineapple chunks

frozen strawberries

frozen blueberries

*blend until smooth*

I don't measure anything- just eyeball it according to how many people will be served.

One day this week I had 2 peaches that were a little past their prime. No one wanted them so I just threw them in the blender with our morning smoothie and they added a wonderful peachy flavor. The kids even noticed and commented. Also, when bananas start to get bruised or freckly and undesirable they are even more perfect for smoothies. You can peel and freeze them especially for smoothie making.

This has been a great way to get raw fruits and leafy greens into their bellies everyday. The spinach is invisible to the eye and to the taste buds, yet it's vitamins and minerals are still doing their thing!


Oh Happy Day!

This is a happy post from a mom in a really great mood because it's Friday and the end of our third really great and really smooth week of school. In fact, I am so proud of my students that I made them a smoothie and popcorn party during reading time today. Simple things like this are a thrill and they were very pleased with their treat. Their hard work over the last few weeks has made mom's job so much better. They have already learned their first 2 memory verses for the year way ahead of schedule and my grade book is already sprinkled with quiz and test grades for each of them....most of which are good! ;-) I'm not holding my breath, but if the rest of this year could continue on as it has been thus far it would be a dream come true.


Awwww, Nuts!

(Please excuse the terrible picture which does these no justice)
I saw this recipe on a friend's blog last night and jumped up to try it. Ever since learning about how healthful walnuts are I have been trying to get my children to eat them. No one cares for them except for me. So I had a big bag of raw walnuts in the cabinet that had been dwindling very slowly. When I saw how easy this was and how delicious my friend said they were I knew I had to make these and try them out. The recipe seems so simple, I wondered if they could really be as good as she claimed they were. They are, my friends! They are!

First of all the smell of these glazed walnuts cooking is scrumptious. Every one of my children came into the kitchen to find out what smelled so good. Then I had to shoo them all away until the nuts cooled enough to try them. They were a huge hit! 2/3 of them got eaten last night and the only reason 1/3 remain is because I put them away. Now I know a way to get them to eat nuts. I realize that raw, uncooked, unheated, unsweetened nuts are better, but this is a start to get my youngsters to begin enjoying nuts. And maple syrup is a more healthful sweetener than sugar for sure.

I will be making a big batch of these to put in our basket that we take to Sukkot. I'm sure most people will love these- maybe even nut haters.

So here's the recipe:

Glazed Walnuts

2 c. walnut halves
1 T. butter
pinch of salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/3 c. pure maple syrup

Melt butter in a skillet or sauce pan (stainless is recommended for a better glaze) over med heat.
Add cinnamon and salt. Stir in maple syrup and walnuts.
Stir as syrup gets bubbly.
When the glaze thickens on the nuts they are done.
Remove from heat and cool on wax or parchment paper.
Try not to eat them all at once.

This recipe and many others that have become family favorites can be found at http://www.tammysrecipes.com/

If you like walnuts (or even if you don't) you must take a few minutes and make these. They are SO worth it!


Coming Soon: Camping Season!! :-)

After a loooong, booooring, hooooooot summer we are SO READY for the fall and our upcoming camping trips! YAY!! In my mind I am already planning and packing.

First, we are going for the weekend with family. There is a really great state park that is not too far from where we live and has lots to do. We went there last year and had a great time. Lots of campfire laughs, each family makes a delicious meal, and we all leave with happy memories. Sometimes a giant tree might even get cut down by our overly zealous guys, who are overcome by the call of the woods and the feeling of campy survival, that lands in the middle of one of our campsites and crushes a few things yet spares the lives of all. The tree might even rip a tent. But hey- you can never have enough fire wood! And we all survived. That is the important part. This will be our first time camping in our "new" pop-up camper. Okay, so it is 14 years old, but it is new to us :-) Besides having fun with family and the kids having a blast with their beloved cousins, this trip will give us a chance to get a feel for our camper and work out all the wrinkles before our BIG camping trip---- Sukkot 2010!!

This is an 8 day adventure with our congregation of loved ones from North Carolina. We all get together to celebrate the Biblical feast of Tabernacles/Booths. This will be our 5th year participating in the fun and our 4th year with BondServant Ministries. They host a week of great teachings, music, dancing, home cooked meals, warm friendship, and so much more. This feast is a blessing beyond what words can explain. For all the planning it takes to camp for over a week, it is soooo worth it! In fact, planning, packing, and making our offering basket (each family brings a big basket of snacks, foods, and treats to share with everyone throughout the week) is all part of the fun and I wouldn't want it any other way. And if the anticipation is big for the adults, you cannot imagine how excited our kids are. They absolutely LOVE sukkot!!

More blessed and more welcomed than the cooling weather and crunchy leaves of fall are the feasts of YHVH (the LORD) which He has given to His people to bless them and teach them about Himself.


End of the Rope

We are a family of messy people. :-( Unfortunately. Neither myself or my husband kept our rooms clean as children, nor did we pick up after ourselves. Neither of us have ever been neat and tidy. This has always been a huge burden to me. Oh how I longed to have a lovely and tidy room, to be organized and perfect like my brother, to make my mom proud with my neatness (or at least avoid infuriating her and kindling her rage with my sloppiness). It just didn't seem to be in me. No matter how much I wanted to be a tidy person and no matter how much effort I put forth, it just wasn't happening. It would take all day to clean my horrific room and then only minutes to mess it back up. This has been my life long struggle. And, although I seem to be improving with age, I still deal with the beast.

The fact is, a little clutter doesn't really bother me, personally. Now it definitely bothers me for others to see my clutter. But a dust bunny here and there, a pile of mail, laundry waiting to be put away, a pair of flip flops by the couch, some one's empty glass on the end table.....while these things might drive the average person mad, I (and everyone who lives here) hardly notice them if at all. Why? Why? Why?

Is it motivation that we lack? Or something in our DNA? Are we all really just lazy bums? What is the deal??!!

Now Scotty and I may be comfortable with some clutter, but our children have taken it to a whole new level.

While a bit of clutter doesn't bother me, a mess does. A mess makes me CRAZY and there are always many messes all over the house. The kitchen is a constant struggle. From crumbs on the floor to the bread and peanut butter being left open and out all the time- I could scream!! It seems the second generation of "Messies" are twice as bad as the first! They leave drawers and cabinets open, don't flush the toilet, leave their dirty clothes all over the house and their toys and shoes in the van. I could go on and on... It is just beyond frustrating! Picking up after them is not going to help them OR be good for my sanity. How will they learn?? How will I teach them?? I have been trying since they were two!!

Everything I can think of has been implemented around here -from charts to rewards and punishments of every kind. Sometimes something seems to be working for a while, but it all fails in the end. These people live like animals and I'm ready to build a pen for them in the backyard!

It's time for the mess to go! I'll never stop trying to overcome it! Now I'm off to google for some more help....more ideas....more advice....more things to try.......anything!!!!


First day of School!

1 down. 179 to go.

School days keep us busy, busy, busy around here. Over the next 36 weeks we will memorize scripture, learn more about the Bible, do math, science, seat work, history, art projects, experiments, spell, take tests and quizzes, play games, go on field trips, read lots of books, review, visit the library, write, and be very creative. Hopefully it will all be done in an orderly fashion. If we don't have a schedule we don't get as much done and it is way less fun for everyone. Today was the start of our academic year.

My preschooler made a book all about herself. It has her picture on the front and her hand and foot prints inside, along with her current height and weight. She also colored pictures and joined in big sister's phonics lesson with enthusiasm. She had a very good day.

My second grader adapted to her new schedule with a positive attitude, used her best cursive handwriting, and finished all of her lessons and seat work quickly. She had been nervous about starting a new grade, but now she is looking forward to this year. She had a wonderful day.

My sixth grader frustrated both of us with his slowness and gloomy attitude. This really surprised me because he had been so looking forward to starting school. He has a big desk all to himself this year and we have done some modifications to his curriculum which give him more independence. The independence thing didn't work out so well today. Hopefully, he will do better as we go along. His day wasn't awesome, but it ended well.

Now that starting school is accomplished we will pick up some momentum and just keep going strong, lesson after lesson. Time will probably seem to pass by much faster as we look forward to cooler weather, camping trips, and then the birth of our new baby! My goal is to pre-plan and strategize so that this event doesn't throw us in to total chaos and bring our well oiled school machine to a screeching hault. 2010/2011 school year- Let the fun begin!!

Bummer of a Summer

This summer was a bummer. There were no trips or vacation get aways. No beach fun, no ocean waves to replenish the soul. No sand castles, or sunburns, or seashells. Just these 4 walls and stifling heat. All summer the heat held us captive. Scotty stayed busy at work with extra training and over-time, so we didn't even get to see much of him during our break from school.

On the bright side, a new member of our family has been forming and growing all summer long. We got to find out it is a baby boy and have been blessed with a healthy pregnancy so far. No one went hungry. No serious injuries or illnesses plagued us. And at least Scotty has a job to go to, and the option of over-time which gets us through the tight times.

Focusing on and being thankful for the blessings is the only way to get through the crumby times of life. And we have so much to be grateful for!


A Potty Training Tale

Last winter, when my baby was not yet 2 and a half, the plan to begin potty training in the spring sounded good. We would be nearing the end of the school year and the days would be warmer- perfect for our bottomless method where the trainee spends all day in only a shirt or dress. She would be nearing 2 and a half and everything would work out fine. I was confident in my plan and hadn't really mentioned it out loud. It was settled in my mind and I had put it on my mental "to do" list.

But my 7 year old had other ideas. She decided in her heart that it was time for her sister to use the potty. So, after school, she started taking the baby into my son's room where we had a tv/vcr hooked up for them to watch videos. Her brilliant plan was to put the baby on her potty, juice cup in hand, and play "Once Upon a Potty" for her over and over everyday. It had been my older daughter's favorite training film. When I found out this was going on I smiled at the big sister's sweet efforts to help her sibling, but doubted her plan would work and hoped it wouldn't interfere with the "real deal" when springtime came.

However, to my great surprise- it actually worked! Maybe it was the low pressure approach. Or maybe it was that the baby wanted to be like her big sis. Whatever it was, I was so glad and so proud of my girls! We sorta took over the process and brought the potty out into the main living area and started rewarding her for using it at that point, but to this day my big girl gets all the credit for potty training her baby sister. In fact, this trainee was even sleeping through naps and all night in panties within only a month or two. She has been our easiest and fastest success so far. It worked out even better than I could've planned and my girls have a special bond and a good story they will be able to tell their children some day. :-)



Today's post is just to brag on my husband. He's not perfect or anything, but he sure does have a lot of good qualities that I admire. He is never lazy when it comes to providing for our family. He never complains about having to get up early and go to work, even though he rarely gets enough sleep and has to work ten hours a day, often in unbearable heat or chilling cold. On his day off he cuts the grass, deals with outdoor issues like treating the dogs and grass for fleas and ticks, moving the chicken tractor around, or having the tires changed on my van. He is always meeting needs and never complaining or keeping count of all he has done for others. We needed a place to spread out and have our school day, so he enclosed the back porch and made us a schoolroom. Our central heat and A/C went out, so he took a week off work and instead of going on vacation or relaxing around the house has been in the ridiculous heat building a deck in trade for a brand new system. If our elderly neighbor has a need he is there to help her, day or night, no matter what. She often declares what a blessing he is to her, making her feel safe and cared for. He is always willing to stop by the grocery store on his way home from work to pick up whatever we may need just to save me from having to take the whole crew with me. Even though he may not seem very compassionate on the outside, whenever anyone gets sick or has to have a prescription filled he is usually the one to take them to the doctor. He sits and waits, and goes to pick up the required medicine. He has gone to every single OB appointment I have ever had with all 4 pregnancies- just because he wants to. And when the babies are born he wakes up with newborn and me in the night just to admire the little one or make sure we don't need anything before going back to sleep. Speaking of waking up in the night- he does that, too, if the dogs are barking or if a child gets up for any reason he is the first one to check things out and take care of any needs. His sense of humor keeps me laughing. He is a kind dad, slow to get angry, and one of the most patient people ever born on this earth. He is a fun dad which sometimes gets him in trouble because he is just as wild as they are and tends to get them even more rowdy. But to them it is awesome and they will remember all their lives how dad wrestled with them and did flips on the trampoline. No, he isn't perfect, but it is a blessing to have such a husband and I just had to brag.


Kids Cooking

My 8 year old daughter has always shown interest in cooking, so recently I taught her how to brown ground beef. She did very well and enjoyed it, too. Now she is an expert taco salad maker. It is great to have a break from cooking dinner every now and then. She enjoys doing it and really feels proud of herself.

Today my 11 year old son was asking to cook dinner! I took him up on it and taught him how to brown ground beef also. He is currently in the kitchen making spaghetti sauce. It smells really good so far.

I figure I can teach them each a meal or two and they can make their speciality whenever they feel like it- giving me a break from kitchen duty. Hopefully they won't get tired of cooking every once in a while because I'm sure it will be even more awesome after the baby is born.


Doin it all for my baby!

This has got to be my most healthy pregnancy of all. Just before we found out about this pregnancy I made a giant decision to go off of sugar, my life long friend. At first it wasn't so bad, but some days are much more difficult than others. There have been occasions of falling off the wagon and the hardest part is getting back on. I am not using any sweeteners at all, so the goal is to defeat the addiction to sweets. The sugar cravings are worse some days and the funny thing is that they come out of nowhere. If I ignore them (which I do) and don't indulge the craving (which I don't) then it goes away! The next day, whatever it was I was wanting the day before, doesn't even sound tempting anymore. But then a new craving emerges, raring it's ugly head. So the battle rages on! My fight against the sweetest enemy will continue and I refuse to surrender! Here is a list of a few of the sugary cravings which have come and gone. Some items are totally random.

Reese's peanut butter cups (who can blame me??)

lemon bars

fruit snacks

lime juice bars (with salt)

lemon meringue pie (ok- I did indulge this one :-( but only one time and only one piece)

double fudge cookie co. cookie

banana taffy (???)

bubble gum

Starbucks mocha frapucchino

yogurt with granola

swedish fish gummies (???)

cinnamon toast

peanut butter and jelly sandwich

those mints from Cracker Barrel with the candy shell

and lots of different fruits

Carbohydrates are also off the menu for me. These are a bit easier to resist except for biscuits, pasta, and corn chips. So far, this new way of eating has been paying off as I feel better than I have in years and my baby is healthy and big! My hope is to not have to contend with gestational diabetes or birthing a giant baby.



Monday was our 13th wedding anniversary. We kicked off the day with a good old fashioned 3 hour glucose test at my doctor's office where I had to drink 10 oz. of sugar syrup and have blood drawn from my arms 4 times. It wasn't fun, but my precious husband went with me and waited the whole darn time, holding my hand for each blood draw. After that we had lunch at home and just hung out while the 2 year old napped. At 5:00 we got to drop our children off at my mom's house so we could go out on a date! This is a rare treat. We really couldn't think of anything fabulous to do and there was a crazy thunderstorm going on that night, so we just wandered around in Target and a couple other stores until we got hungry for dinner. Then we went to our favorite Mexican restaurant where we each ordered our favorite dish. It was nice just taking our time eating and talking. After that we picked up the kids who had a great time at their grandparent's house. When they went to bed we did our anniversary tradition of looking through our wedding album. Then we remembered that we hadn't taken a picture. We always take a picture on our anniversary. So, even though we were already in our pajamas, we snapped a few shots. Nothing fancy, just a record of what we looked like this year. It was a low key kinda celebration, but relaxing and nice for Scotty to be off work for the day. And now it is back to real life for the rest of the week.


I Wanna Hold Your hand

....but when I can't this just might be the next best thing! Any mom with more than one child knows this feeling: you're in a parking lot, gathering the little ones, diaper bag/purse, keys, floppy seat*, or whatever else you need to take in the grocery store with you. With only 2 hands this can be a challenge. It is scary not to be able to hold on to each small child's hand as you cross the parking lot, install the floppy seat*, and finally make it inside. In the past I have designated a pant leg or pocket for each walking child to hold onto. This way I could feel them at my sides as we crossed the lot (or made our way through a crowd). But recently my friend sent me a link to a brilliantly simple way to keep them close and safe during these "I don't have enough hands!!" moments. It is a toddler handle. It only took me about 10 minutes to make and maybe $3 in supplies. This smart yet simple idea is perfect for my cautious two year old who will gladly hang onto her handle- as parking lots and such make her nervous. After I made it and showed it to her she got a big, proud smile on her face because it is something just for her- her own handle! When our new baby arrives it will be an extra hand for mom. I do realize that not every child will oblige, but if it will work for you I highly recommend the toddler handle. It's cheap, it's easy to make, it's fast and simple to slip onto the handle of your bag or stroller, it tucks in when not in use, and it's a great way to keep that little one safe when you can't hold their hand!
Here is the easy tutorial I used

*I might be a bit of a germophobe, but I swear the Floppy Seat has kept my child from getting sick many times! Plus it makes the cart more comfy for them.


Naming Baby

We make a pretty good team in the game of life, the challenge of parenting, or whatever else we set our minds to. So why do the Mr. and I have such a difficult time naming our offspring? The firstborn son was 3 days old before we were forced to settle on a name. They would not let us leave the hospital with the baby until the birth certificate was officially filled out. My sister ended up selecting his name from our (short) list of agreed upon faves. Then, our second born was named at birth and then re-named at 2 weeks old. Number 3 was the only one who had her name while still in the womb and it was so nice! But here we are again, struggling in a sea of names, desperately searching for the one. It's like the perfect name is in the back of my mind and I just can't make it come to me. The criteria is stiff and we might be a little picky. But this is a major decision! A little pickiness is in order.

1. First, common names are ruled out off the bat.
2. Second, trendy names are a definite no-no. So if a name has been in the top 10 in the last 5 years it will not be considered.
3. Of further importance: the meaning. It has to be good. For example, if the name means "obnoxious one" or "bringer of intense pain and sorrow" or "chronic liar" or "son of Lucifer" well, that's just not good.
4. It must also go well with the middle name- which was a no brainer since we decided to carry on Scotty and his dad's middle name- Daniel. So, like Manuel Daniel would be a no (not that we would consider Manuel in the first place)
5. Also, it can't be a fake, weird, or made up name like Huntwell or Kensingdell or Peyxton.
6. No one likes a copycat, so "stealing" a friend or relative's recently selected baby name is out. (However, flattering a friend or relative by naming the child after them is o.k.)
7. Associations. Must a expound on this one? Okay, for example: let's say your husband coached a soccer team with a child who was so exasperating that it made the coach want to snap off his pencil in his own eye socket at every practice, game, and even on picture day. That child's name will most likely get a thumbs down from the hubs.
8. Finally, and most dauntingly, we must both agree that we like, or better yet, LOVE the name. This is not easy since we have very different taste. His idea of a great name is usually my idea of lame. And he scrunches his nose at most of my suggestions.


We've really got our work cut out for us. The little fella is too important to pick just any old name. So, even though I have already been through the 3 name books we own, plus at least 4 more from the local library, plus the entire Bible (twice) the search must go on!
P.S. Would you believe we had a girl's name already picked out this time?
P.S.S. Spell check picked up the 3 fake, made up names. hee-hee-hee


Drumroll, please....

And Mippi came too!
Yesterday morning we went to our much anticipated ultra-sound. Our little baby is healthy and happy and wiggly and sweet. As the tech measured the brain and recorded the heart rate, looked for the 4 chambers of the heart and took the length of the leg and arm bones, Scotty and I were watching closely. We smiled and "Ahhh"ed at our little miracle. But mostly we squinted and concentrated, trying to catch a glimpse of the most important part we came to see: between the legs! Would we see something there or wouldn't we?? At first I thought maybe it was a girl because every time that wiggly baby flipped around and flashed it's bottom end I didn't see anything there. But then we caught a glimpse and there was no doubt!

It is a BOY!!!


The fun so far

I have this friend who happens to be my best friend. We've both been a little bored now that school is out- cause once the laundry is done and the groceries are put away and the house is clean(ish- in my case)- then what else is there to do?? So one day last week we faced the heat and went to the zoo. The kids enjoyed spending all day with the animals and so did we. Her 12 year old, who happens to be man-sized already, pushed the stroller for me all day, patiently waiting for a two year old who climbed in and out a good bit. Not having to push the stroller made the zoo trip much more enjoyable for me! And he never complained once. What a gentleman! Plus we had lunch at the Varsity.
This week we planned another fun-filled day. A while back her husband got a grill with a smoker on it and since then she has smoked up some delicious meats. Yesterday, we decided to get together and smoke some turkeys and try our hand at a dipping sauce recipe. Despite the fact that it was 100 degrees outside and we were babysitting a smokey hot grill and withering in the humidity, we enjoyed ourselves. Really, we've been through a lot together and we usually make the best of it and laugh our way through the toughest of times. Therefore a little scorching southern heat wasn't gonna stop us from having fun. She is the kind of friend who goes out and buys a big baby pool and a freezer full of popsicles for my kids cause she wants them to have fun and not be hot and just because she loves them a lot. Water splashed, popsicles drizzled, ice melted, and savory smoke blew across the sky all afternoon. They swam for hours and even her big kids got in that baby pool! Finally, a thunderstorm rolled in and cooled off the evening as we perfected our dipping sauce recipe in the air conditioned kitchen while her husband took over the turkey babysitting job. They turned out juicy and delicious. It was a successful day of good memories. I hope there are more to come as these hot, lazy days roll by.


Feelin' hot, hot, hot

When the weather got chilly last winter we turned on the heat only to discover that it was broken. When the weather got warm this spring we turned on the a/c only to discover that it, too, was broken. Fans and a couple of small window units have been getting us through so far, but now the heat is getting for real. It will be in the mid 90's this week with an index over 100. Now we've gotta get serious! Our entire heating and cooling system has to be replaced including all the duct work- since it was so old and energy inefficient (and parts had even fallen down into the crawl space!) This is gonna be quite a summer as we try to beat the heat while looking for the right company to do the job and figuring out our budget. In the meantime we've added a 3rd window unit and, if necessary, I am prepared to freeze washcloths and fill feet soaking buckets with cold ice water. Hey, a pregnant girl's gotta do what she's gotta do! At this point I am very thankful for an ice maker, window units, and our fans. ;-)


What a day!

My sister and I decided to take the kids to lunch and to play at the park today. It was fun, but SO hot outside! Just as I was contemplating packing up and heading home my son informed me that he accidentally locked my keys in the van while getting his ball and glove. I had to call Scotty who had to leave work early and drive 45 minutes to rescue us. Then, as he was turning into the park, he got pulled over and issued a ticket for "failing to yield". Dang it!


Oldest Boy

My son turned 11 last week and I wasn't ready. He is getting way to close to teenage hood for my liking. But we celebrated anyway, because we sure are grateful for his life!

This boy is our only son (so far) and the sweetest kid ever. He is a loving and protective brother to his younger sisters, a talented artist, and his imagination knows no limits. He's laid back as the day is long, doesn't have a mean or jealous bone in his body, and has never met a stranger. He is truthful, kind-hearted, smart, and brave.

Some of his favorite things to do are ride bikes, build forts, make things out of discard, swim, draw, climb trees, and go on varying adventures of his own creation. Least favorite activities are chores and schoolwork. He loves the beach and hates tomatoes. He loves his grandparents and will talk their ears off. He loves his cousins and especially his "mud bud". He loves our elderly next door neighbor and visits her several times per week just to chat and give her a hug.

He is our firstborn blessing. Not that my son is perfect, because he sure isn't, but he is proof that children are a gift from YHVH (the LORD).

The HIGHLIGHT of his 11th birthday was getting to order off the adult menu when we took him out to eat since the kid's menu was for 10 and under.

Magic Beans - an update

For anyone having gallbladder issues I highly recommend eating beans. Eat all the beans you can stand to shovel down your gullet. Since my attack I have had absolutely no pain or problems! They prescribed me some strong pain meds and told me to eat a low to NO fat diet which would hold the attacks at bay until they could decide if I needed surgery. Taking the pain pills made me nervous since I am only just entering my second trimester. And my diet already contains only healthy fats which I feel are necessary and important. So I tried the bean eating instead and it worked better than great! In fact, I have even cut back from about 5 servings per day to only 1 or 2 and still I feel fine. The low fat diet puts a band-aid on the gallbladder, but the beans heal it and make it all better. No need for surgery on a healthy gallbladder!! I owe a BIG THANKS to my sister for finding out about the bean cure and passing it on to me!

P.S. To make it easier I have made chili, butter beans with beef brisket, and other delicious forms of beans instead of just eating them plain. Just get them down however you can!

What a relief!

First ultra-sound at 7 weeks along

When I was in the ER for my gallbladder they did an ultra-sound. I told the lady I was 12 weeks and 3 days pregnant and asked if she was going to check on my baby and she told me she was, but couldn't tell me anything. She said the doctor would give me the results and she wasn't allowed to talk about anything she might see. That was fine with me as long as I got the info from someone. The u/s wasn't fun because I was in so much pain and lying on my back made it much worse. After checking on all my guts she began the u/s on my baby. She looked for quite some time and then asked if I had been bleeding. I hadn't and thought that was a strange question. She continued looking until I had to vomit from the pain and she asked me to empty my bladder while I was in the restroom because she needed to do an internal u/s as well. I wondered why, but didn't ask because I knew she wouldn't tell me anyway. The internal took some time and she asked if my OB had done an u/s on me yet. They had at 7 weeks and everything was fine then. These questions were unsettling and even in my intense pain I knew I wanted answers.

After some more suffering in my little room the doctor finally came in to tell me I had gallstones. I asked about my baby and he told me he didn't know anything since he never even looked at that portion of the u/s results. He told me he had no reason to believe that my gallstones would affect my baby. He ordered morphine through my IV and left. I thought he would surely come back with the info I had asked for, but he never did. It took 3 doses of pain meds through my IV to begin to ease the pain somewhat and at 2:30 a.m. we were finally on our way home. I never got any answers about my baby.

A few days later, when my bean eating was in full effect and my pain was all gone, I couldn't shake the feeling of worry. Why had that tech asked those strange questions? My next OB appt wasn't for 4 weeks and I didn't want to wait that long to find out if my baby was ok. I called the ER and they told me I could go to the hospital's records dept and get the results of my test. So I did. When the clerk handed me my 2 page u/s report I read the finest words I could've hoped for. It said, " Single living intrauterine fetus is noted in variable presentation with fetal heart rate 150 to 167 beats per minute." It went on to tell the position of a healthy placenta and normal amount of fluid and measurements of the baby. What a huge relief! I still don't know why that lady asked those serious questions, but it sure is good to know the little one is doing fine in there!


Beans, beans, beans

I feel like I'm on a wagon train, a cowboy camp out, or a cattle drive with all the beans I've been eating morning, noon, and night. On Friday I had what turned out to be a gallbladder attack and ended up in the ER. The pain was really bad! My sister told me that if I will eat beans several times a day for the next few weeks it will get rid of the gallstones and help my gallbladder get better. Something about the soluble fiber... So I have been eating beans for 3 days. This is not an easy thing to do. Pintos are not so appetizing first thing in the morning...and then for lunch...and then for a snack....and then for dinner...

Apparently, these attacks are rather common during pregnancy and especially around the 12 week mark when the placenta kicks in and there is some kind of hormone dump into the mom's system. Sometimes this can clog up the gallbladder. As my sister put it, the beans are little scrubbers that go in and clean everything out.

So what's on the menu here at the chuck wagon? That's right! You guessed it, partner. Beans. Beans as far as the eye can see. Yee-haw.


Saying "Good bye" :-(

Nothing was better than visiting cousins when I was growing up! I had a few cousins close to my age on both sides of the family and none of them lived in the same state as we did, so getting together was a rare and special event. In fact, it was way more exciting than birthdays or any holiday (to me). We would play and play- squeezing every moment of fun out of our visits- knowing it would be way too long before we would see each other again. Then, when the sad moment came to say good bye, it was so hard to do.

My children are blessed to have their cousins living right down the street. Even then, they get sad when it's time to go home. But this past weekend Sunny got a taste of a truly difficult good bye. Her second cousin was in town. They are only months apart in age and had great fun together. But, of course, the visit was too short and before we knew it, it was over. I know exactly how they felt. Watching them hug and try to plan for the next visit brought back all those memories of not wanting to let a dearly loved cousin and true friend go. It's so speacial to have each other and now they can look forward to future adventures- matching outfits and all!


Works for us!

Eczema has been part of our lives ever since our first born was only a few months old. He was born in the spring, so as the days grew hotter and hotter I thought he was having heat rashes from riding in the car and being too hot in his car seat. I started putting a big cold pack that came with one of my casserole dishes behind the infant pad in his car seat which made for a nice cool ride. But he still had a rash! It was mostly on his back, but would sometimes come up on his belly and chest, too. So finally I asked the doctor about it. He said my son had eczema and that he might out grow it. His eczema would flare up in the heat of summer and during the dry winter days. It would itch and burn and it looked aweful! The ointment our doc prescribed was a steroid cream with lots of warning labels about using a very tiny amount and washing your hands after applying it. I was not too sure about putting in on my infant son, but I hated to see him suffer, too, and the cream really did work to soothe the flare up. None of the oatmeal baths or over the counter creams did any good.

>>Fast forward 8 years>> to the birth of my third child. Much to our sorrow, she, too, began to have flare ups of eczema. Hers were mostly on her feet and ankles. Sometimes the patches of eczema were so inflamed they would keep her awake. The areas were always dry and scaley even when there was no flare up. So we began to use the ointment on her also.

I would very much prefer a natural remedy to a chemical treatment, but I had no idea how to help my eczema sufferers. I tried taking them off of gluten for a few weeks to see if that might have been the problem. It wasn't. They have always taken a mulit-vitamin and they drink lots of water, but still the eczema flared on.

Recently I happened across a sweet bit of info on the web. I read that adding omega-3 fatty acids to the diet can cure eczema and dry skin! I was excited to give it a try. My children take a liquid multi and I began mixing in a teaspoon of lemon flavored cod liver oil with their daily vitamin dose. Two out of three LOVE to take their dose and the third is just picky. After a few weeks I noticed their skin was looking much better AND so far we have had no flare ups! :-)

P.S. I have been taking a teaspoon everyday, too, and my dry skin is gone!



We're back at it today, working hard in our schoolroom. Only 3 more weeks left until summer break! Now that there is a light at the end of the tunnel we're unstoppable! The children have worked hard this year, learned a lot, and are ready to have a nice break and then move up to the next grade. Eliana is ready for them to start their summer break, too, so she will have someone to play with all day long. It's getting harder to keep her occupied while bubba and sissy finish up their work.

During this time of year we are counting down the days in the Biblical Feast of Weeks. It is so hard to believe we are almost half way to Pentecost already! Time has been slipping by so quickly. It seems like we just started the month of April, but somehow it is already more than half over. Hopefully the summer will be a little more lazy and last a little longer. Hopefully.


Our Crew at the Zoo

My mom, my sister, and I packed up a picnic lunch and took all nine kids to the zoo. We had such a fun and tiring day. The only exhibits we missed were the tigers and the pandas, but we got to see all manner of wildlife and even got to pet and brush some goats and sheep! We had two 10 year olds, one 8 year old, one 7 year old, one 4 year old, two 2 year olds, one 1 year old, and one newborn. They were all worn out by the time we left. I love fun days like this!