August 31, 2011

Bible Bee 2011

One of my prayers regarding Zaden's delivery was that it would happen at a time so as to allow me to attend the Local Bible Bee with the older kids.  I, for one, am thankful that I did not have to attend the Bee while still pregnant!  However, I must confess that I had hoped for a delivery date earlier than Zaden actually came--the day of the Bee was most uncomfortable for me physically, as my milk had come in just the night before and we had a HORRIBLE night.

But God is good.  Despite my extreme exhaustion and the painful feeding sessions we endured, the day was a total blessing in every other way.  And perhaps the activity of the day served to divert my attention from a difficult situation with our little newborn.

So, going on about 2 hours of sleep, I managed to get the kids up and fed and out the door by 8 a.m., no small feat, I might add!  Mom stayed home with Kenna and Lucan, as she and Kenna were recovering from coughs and sore throats.  (Originally we had a sitter lined up to watch the younger two so Mom and I could both go to the Bee.)  We made it to Cedarville University with time to spare and loaded up all the baby supplies in the stroller.  (I brought the boppy to make feeding times a bit easier!)  Zaden was ready to eat during the opening session, so I took him out to a lounge area and worked on that while the kids stayed inside with my friend Cathy and her daughter, Carly, who, like Arden and Lucan, was participating in the Primary Timothy track.

One of the coordinators, knowing our situation, told me that she would make sure the kids' oral rounds were scheduled so that I would be able to go in with them, and she came to tell me that Charis was soon going to be ready.  Perfect timing, as Zaden and I were finishing up in the lounge.  I waved goodbye to Tobin and Arden, who were being taken to the written testing room, and I took Zaden in with Charis (who held on to Flat Daddy) for her oral round.

Some background here:  Charis chose to participate in the National Track, because she wanted to be eligible to possibly qualify for the National competition in November.  Because of this, she had to follow the age guidelines.  Because she will be 11 years old by November, she had to participate as a Junior (ages 11-14) instead of a Primary (ages 7-10), even though she was still 10 years old on the day of the Local Bee.  Junior contestants had 500 verses to memorize, whereas Primary had 250.  So--a considerable difference!  But I was very proud of her.  Even though she didn't memorize all of them, she probably got through at least 2/3 or even 3/4 of the verse cards, a daunting task for anyone.

So the oral round consists of 25 verse cards (each contestant has the same passages to recite), and she passed on probably almost half of them, not knowing them at all.  The ones she did recite, I think she did pretty well on, and she felt she had done her best, which was all we asked.

She and Zaden and I went to the "Family Fun Area," where we were joined by the boys after their written test.  Then it was time to switch.  Charis was taken to do her written test, and I was able to watch the boys' oral rounds.

The boys chose to do the Timothy track in the Primary Division.  This track only involved learning 50 verses instead of 250.  No matter which track you choose, though, everyone does the same Bible study throughout the summer.  We studied the book of 1 Peter, and each age group has their own version of the study, but the same concepts are covered.

I went with Arden first.  My amazing son quoted all 25 passages given to him, without passing or asking for prompts.  I sat listening to him and couldn't help it...tears filled my eyes, and I just thanked God over and over for placing His Word in Arden's heart.  At the end of the round, one of the judges spoke a blessing over Arden, quoting some of the same verses back to him..."Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity," for one, and telling him that God was going to use him in a mighty way.  You can imagine how emotional this mother was after all that!!

Arden was then escorted back to the Family Fun Area while I went with Tobin to view his round.  He did well also, but he did pass on 4 passages that he hadn't bothered to learn!  (He's SO capable, but SO lazy!!  I hope he will become more self-motivated over time!!)

Then it was lunch time, and we enjoyed a picnic under the trees by Cedar Lake while I worked at feeding Zaden again.  (And I do mean "worked."  Sigh.)

At 2 p.m. we gathered in the auditorium for the final portion of the day.  All the Primary contestants got to march on stage, and then they called out the top 5 Timothy contestants.  Oh, the joy!  Arden and Tobin took 1st and 2nd place, respectively!  The boys were positively beaming on stage!  Of course, their excitement had a lot to do with the gift/goodie bags they received along with their trophies, LOL.  But I was so happy that their hard work and perseverance had paid off, especially in Arden's case.  He had begun a lot of the Sword Studies in tears because he didn't feel he could do it...I was there to help him, but sometimes I would ask him to start on his own while I finished something up.  But for verse memorization, he really did most of it on his own!

We then watched the National Track contestants do their final round before moving to the Junior division.  Charis marched on stage with kids that looked way older and bigger than she is, and I was so proud of her for all she had done!  We had talked about the fact that she would likely be one of the very youngest contestants in her category, and while she was disappointed that she hadn't learned more verses, we both agreed she really had done a great deal over the summer and had nothing to be ashamed of.

We both gasped in surprise when she was called forward as one of the top 5 National Track contestants!  She got to participate in the oral round, but not for long...the kids kept having to pass on various passages they were asked, so it went fairly quickly until they got down to the last 2 contestants, who went back and forth for a bit.  And the final ranking found Charis in 4th place for the local contest!  The picture of the top 5 cracks me up...Charis barely reaches the 5th place guy's elbow!

We are so proud of all our contestants!  What a wonderful program.  We have thoroughly studied the book of 1 Peter, which is so appropriate for our family during this season of life.  I'll close this post with a passage I learned just two days before Zaden was became a focal point for me during my labor and delivery, and the words continue to echo in my mind as we face many more challenges during the remaining 9 months of Ted's deployment.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade--kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you greatly rejoice, though for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him, and even though you do not see him now, you believe him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls."  1 Peter 1:3-9

P.S.  The final results are in (mostly--there will be some additions after make-up bees are done due to Hurricane Irene).  Nationwide, Charis ranked 237 out of 813 Junior National Track contestants!  So, she did not qualify to attend the National competition in November, but wow, what an accomplishment.

As for the Primary Timothy division, there were 420-ish contestants, and Arden placed 18th!!  WOW!  (And he earned a PERFECT score on his oral round!)  Tobin was 56th.  I'm so proud of ALL my kiddos!

Of course, the best part isn't the numbers or the trophies or the goodie bags.  The best part is having all those Scriptures stored up in the hearts and minds of our children--and me, too!  (I nearly made it through all 250 verses of the National Primary track!  I was a bit shy of the total goal, having to stop Week 12 early due to...having a baby, LOL.)  What a blessing it has been this summer to literally walk in the Word.

August 29, 2011

Picture Links

For our non-Facebook friends and family, here are some links to pictures of Zaden's arrival:

Welcome, Zaden Ezekiel!

Zaden's First Bath (at the hospital...Charis was in charge of the camera!)

Mommy & Me (at the hospital)

Welcome Home, Zaden!

August 25, 2011

Labor Story--the Long Version

I tried not to get too excited when I realized I was having contractions consistently throughout the evening on Tuesday—we had been down this road before!  But they seemed to be coming, whether I was cooking dinner or sitting in bed reading with the kids, so I was cautiously optimistic.  The pains weren’t intense at all, which did make me wonder, but since they were coming fairly regularly, I put everyone on alert, including Ted, and went to bed around 10:30 p.m.   

I actually slept fairly well, considering; I woke at 1:30 with a fairly painful contraction, then went back to sleep for another hour before waking with another pain.  I must have been tensing up in my sleep, though, because my shoulders and back just ached when I woke for good!  (They still ache today--along with other muscles!)  I got out of bed at 2:30 a.m. and decided to try timing the contractions to see if anything might be happening.  They were anywhere from 8-12 minutes apart, and they definitely weren’t all that painful for the most part.  I putzed around the kitchen, making raspberry tea and a grilled cheese sandwich.  I emailed Ted at work—he had finished a meeting and was free to leave anytime he needed to.  I was on the verge of taking a shower when I was hit with two intense contractions within a few minutes of each other, and I just had a feeling I shouldn’t take time to shower!  (Too bad it didn’t occur to me until AFTER we were at the hospital that I should grab my shampoo and conditioner for the overnight bag!)

I called out to Charis, who was sleeping on the family room couch, and asked her to go wake Grandma.  I called Stefanie—it was around 4:15 a.m. by this time—and she came to the house to be with the rest of the kids.  I emailed Ted one last time to tell him we were headed to the hospital and told him to look on his email for the link for the “Daddy Cam” that the hospital would send once things were set up. 

I called the Labor & Delivery ward to tell them I thought I should come in, and the conversation went like this: 

“Did your water break?”

“Um, no…but this is my 6th child…”

“Oh, say no more—that’s your ticket in!”

So off we went, with my mom driving our minivan and a very excited Charis in the back.  I had not ONE single contraction during our whole drive to the hospital…which reminded me of when Debi drove me to the Nellis AFB hospital when it was time for Kenna to be born—that was a much longer drive, and I had no contractions then, either!  I was worried both times that we would end up turning around and going back home, but that was not the case for either Kenna or Zaden’s delivery.

I asked Mom to park in the regular parking lot so I’d have a chance to walk a bit more.  I needn’t have worried; I had three very intense contractions just on the walk up to L&D!  It was a slow night, so we were soon settled into the delivery room, and soon after 5 a.m. the midwife told me I was dilated 8-9 centimeters.  THANK YOU, JESUS!

The only damper was that no one was able to get the Daddy Cam set up.  As it turned out, the internet ports in the rooms were not working.  A call to the 24-hour help desk wasn’t much help; the gal on duty didn’t know what to do, and her supervisor was not going to arrive until 7 or 7:30—which would be too late, the way things were going.

I was heartbroken…but what could they do?!  I asked if someone could use their phone and at least send a quick email to Ted to let him know we were at the hospital and everything was OK so that he wouldn’t be pacing his room, worried.  (I joke that I have a "dumb phone," not a smart phone, as we can't do cool things on the internet on our old-fashioned flip cell phones!)

A new solution presented itself—by 6ish our time, Ted had called the DSN line, and we were able to talk on the phone for the next hour and a half.  So, although he wasn’t able to see anything, he could certainly hear what was going on!

Meanwhile, in the delivery room, Joanne, our midwife, was calmly asking Charis if she would like to put gloves on and help catch the baby.  Joanne was AMAZING!  She was the one I had seen the most during my OB visits, and she had met all my kids and knew ahead of time that we wanted Charis to be able to be present during the birth.  She explained everything that was going on, too; later, when one of the doctors asked Charis if she had missed school, I couldn’t help but say, “Today WAS school!”  Charis got some first-hand experience in the school of life, and none of us would have traded it for anything!

I ended up standing beside the bed after transition…how freeing to not be tethered to a monitor or anything else!  Joanne raised the bed so that I could lean over it, and Mom took off her rings and let me squeeze her fingers off during my pushes.  The pushing phase lasted longer than I expected.  My only other natural delivery was with Kenna, who was two weeks early and ended up coming faster than we realized.  I think I maybe pushed through just a few contractions before she slithered out.  But I was not so lucky with Zaden!  I think perhaps I was pushing for a little over half an hour, BUT I will say that overall, the labor was easier than any of the others ones I’ve had, since the contractions leading up to the final phase were so much less painful to endure.

Still, I have to say HATS OFF to my friends (like Claire!) who have delivered so many (big!) babies without any drugs!  If I could skip that whole pushing-the-baby-out-of-my-body thing, I wouldn’t mind so much, ha!  Poor Ted…it must have been awful for him to hear the sounds of a natural delivery without being able to see anything or physically be there for his wife.

But obviously things went well; Zaden Ezekiel arrived at 6:29 a.m. into the waiting arms of the midwife and his big sister Charis.  I got to hold him right after that, and then Charis cut the umbilical cord.  She did such an amazing job with everything!  I was so proud of her, and everyone commented to us later how mature and poised she was through the whole process.  (The best news for me was finding out later that she still wants to have her own children someday, LOL.  Good thing we didn’t traumatize her!)

We all got cleaned up while I talked more with Ted on the phone.  When we heard that Zaden weighed 8 pounds, 3 ounces, and was 20.6 inches long—the biggest of all my babies—I understood why it took longer to push him out than it did Kenna.  He weighed almost 2 pounds more than she did!  (I can’t even imagine birthing Claire’s 10 ½ pound baby!!)  I’m definitely glad I was able to deliver him naturally, but I will say that is an hour or so that I don’t care to repeat again anytime soon, LOL.  Good thing our memories of that kind of pain fade fast!

Zaden nursed like a champ during that first feeding.  He was so alert, too, staying awake for several hours.  I was hard pressed to get him back after feeding him—Charis took over like a little mother hen!  We had to move to a different room, so we shuffled all our stuff down the hallway and got settled there.  Charis went with Zaden to have his first bath around 10:30 and took lots of pictures there while I showered and Mom went in search of something to eat.  She also went back to the van to get Flat Daddy, whom we had forgotten to bring in with us in the rush! 

After Zaden returned to us, I shooed Mom and Charis home so they could get some lunch and we could all get some rest.  Charis did NOT want to leave…it’s safe to say she is very much in love with her new little brother, as we all are!  He has dark hair and features that STRONGLY resemble Arden and Lucan.  Tobin seems to be the lone boy in the family carrying strictly his father’s genes, LOL!  I guess that’s appropriate, given the fact that he’s our firstborn son!  

So, that's the story of Zaden's delivery.  The next 30 hours involved lots of commotion and only about 4 hours of sleep.  I can't blame Zaden--while everyone commented on how alert he was, he was definitely not fussy.  The few times he grunted unhappily, it was because he needed to burp or feed.  Can't blame him there!  But honestly, the in and out routine of the various hospital staff drove me absolutely insane.  Can't you guys COORDINATE your efforts so a different person is not walking in the room every 15 minutes?!  The time they actually left me alone, at night, was the time that Zaden was having his grunting issues.  So while he wasn't really all that difficult to deal with, it was just exhausting being jerked out of a light sleep both day and night.

The good news of the morning was that we would be released to come home around lunch time.  Hooray!  The bad news--which I just learned an hour before going home--was that I would have to bring Zaden back for a check-up the very next day.  Sigh.  Originally they were going to have me bring him in after church on Sunday...they want to do a weight check after 48 hours to make sure the baby is gaining weight, but they were willing to wait longer since he had only lost 3-4 ounces, about 3% of his body weight.  (Lucan had lost nearly 11%, so we had to bring him back a couple of times before his 2-week appointment even.)  

However, when the pediatricians did the last check before releasing us, they noted that his bilirubin level was getting higher.  While it isn't anything to be all that concerned about--the level was 8.1, and anything under 12 is fine--it does mean turning around and going to the hospital 24 hours after leaving to go home.  That hardly makes for a restful homecoming!  I'm still disgruntled about it!  I had the calendar cleared for tomorrow so I could rest and get our family ready for the Bible Bee event on Saturday, which is truly going to be a major ordeal, between getting the Bee kids ready to go and making sure things will be set for the babysitter who will be here with Lucan and Kenna all day.  I guess I just need to trust that God will help us get everything in place.

So anyway, Stefanie came to the hospital to get Zaden and me, bringing the car seat with her.  She had gotten the straps back to where they were when we brought baby Kenna home from the hospital, in the lowest setting.  Well...we had to adjust them higher!  Zaden is one long baby!!  It was another moment that really made me miss Ted, as he is always our Car Seat Guy!  After we got approval from the nurse, we headed home to a very excited set of siblings, the more artistic of whom had prepared signs for our front door. :-)

So...we're home now...I started this post at the hospital knowing I'd want to remember some details even though I wouldn't have internet access until coming home.  I got a good 2 1/2 hour nap this afternoon and look forward to a more restful night than the last few nights, anyway!

Welcome, Zaden Ezekiel!

Zaden (Dutch): Sower of seeds
Ezekiel (Hebrew): God is my strength

Born August 24, 2011, 06:29
8 pounds, 3 ounces
20.6 inches

August 23, 2011

Diet Update

Well, since not much is happening on the baby front, I thought I'd take time to write out my thoughts about where we are on the GAPS diet.  As of yesterday, we have been on this diet for 7 months!  (And as of today, Ted has been in Afghanistan for 3 months...unrelated, I know, but I thought it was worth noting!)

A lot of people ask me if we've seen a difference with the boys' allergies.  I honestly don't know how to answer that.  We tried having Arden go off his meds (Tobin has used up all his Flonase, and we haven't gotten a refill, so he has been off that for a long while now).  Sometimes he seemed to be all right, but other times he was definitely having problems.  So he has kind of been on and off again with the Singulair and Claritin.  Without the Flonase, Tobin has definitely been having difficulties breathing through his nose, but seeing as how he HATES using the nasal spray, I'm not sure if putting him back on Flonase will really help much.

The fact is, it has been a HORRIBLE year for allergies!  Even those of us who don't typically have issues have struggled from time to time.  The weather has been strange, and Dayton is a very bad area for allergies anyway.  And I'm honestly not sure how (or whether) GAPS is supposed to help with seasonal allergies, as opposed to general immune problems.

Below is an email I sent to my friend Bethany to try to verbalize some of the thoughts I've been having about our involvement with GAPS.  I thought it might be helpful for those who have kind of followed us on our journey.


I’ve been doing more thinking, reading, and praying about our diet, trying to figure out what the best thing is for our family.  I’m not convinced that GAPS is helping with the seasonal allergies that the boys deal with (and others of us from time to time), nor am I totally convinced that we shouldn’t use any medical intervention to help them deal with the symptoms.  Ideally, yes, I would love for them to not have to be on daily meds.  But Ted was for a number of years and is showing improvement without any intervention…I have hopes that perhaps the boys will outgrow some of the severity of their allergies, just as I have pretty much outgrown my horrible allergic reactions to bee stings and ant bites.

That being said, I know God has had us on this food journey for a number of reasons, and I know that many of the changes we’ve made will be permanent.  At the same time, I am ready to include some other foods in our diet…but I’m more than willing to take it slowly, since the sheer amount of information is overwhelming, to say the least!  I find myself agreeing a lot with this post

I just read it this morning, and it kind of confirmed what I was thinking after doing some reading from the Kitchen Stewardship site..  I was thinking that I would soak where practical and reasonable—mostly bread-type things—and simply grind my own wheat for cookies or baked goods.  (Really, soaking/sprouting and THEN dehydrating/grinding for occasional treats seems a bit extreme to me, given we haven’t really had issues with digesting even the bad stuff—not that it’s an excuse to eat whatever, whenever, just that from a physical standpoint, we aren’t FORCED to go to extreme measures to make sure our bodies don’t react.)  There’s obviously still a lot I need to learn, and I would like to do more reading, hence my willingness to go VERY slowly!  In the meantime, there’s always the Ezekiel bread from Trader Joe’s, LOL!

While I felt a clear leading from God to start the GAPS diet at the beginning of the year, I don’t really feel any particular urging in my spirit as to what to do now.  I kind of feel that it’s one of those issues where I’m supposed to use my God-given brain, seeking His best for our family, and not burden myself with guilt over what other people say I am “supposed” to do...
So, basically, I'm thankful for what we've learned and the healthy changes we've made.  I know we'll keep a number of those changes.  But slowly we're adding more options--we had (soaked) bazmati rice with our dinner last night, and it was SOOOO wonderful!  Really missed having rice the past 7 months!  And as I mentioned in the email, we're using Ezekiel bread for sandwiches, which is AWESOME!  I love having PBJ or grilled cheese sandwiches as options for taking lunch with us somewhere or a quick lunch here at home.

Next step is learning more about soaking and sprouting our own wheat, getting our own sourdough starter, and other things that will help me get back into making bread and pizza crusts again.

So...that's where we are for now! 

Aaaaaand...Still No Baby

We thought things might be happening last night!  Starting in the afternoon, I had 3-4 contractions an hour until our after-dinner walk.  I pushed Lucan in the stroller and Charis rode her scooter along with me; we were away from the house about an hour, and I consistently had contractions 8-12 minutes apart.  We returned home excited--something's happening!!

We got Kenna and Lucan in bed and then went to my bedroom so I could read another chapter in our book with Charis, Tobin, and Arden.  The contractions slowed down to every 14-18 minutes, but they were still coming, so I was cautiously hopeful.  After our chapter was finished, I sent the older kids to bed but allowed Charis to sleep on the couch in the family room since she'll be attending the birth.  I Skyped Ted for a bit to update him, and we decided that he should not skip his morning meeting since things were slowing down so much.  As I lay down to try to get some rest, I was slightly concerned about that decision--what if all of a sudden things started to move?!  As it turned out, I needn't have worried about THAT!

After a couple more contractions, I fell asleep around 11 p.m. and woke suddenly at 1 a.m. with a definite pain.  When another one came, I got out of bed to drink some water and walk around again.  Nothing happened for the next half hour, so I went back to bed.  Tossed and turned but did get some sleep, waking every now and then with a contraction, but nothing urgent enough to make me get up.

Now it's morning.  I'm making yet another cup of raspberry leaf tea and heading to do my quiet time.  I'll take another long walk this morning, and you can bet God and I will have some quality time together!  I don't think I can keep doing this, not after my experience with Lucan!  I either need to be in labor or not--none of this "maybe something is finally happening" stuff!  It really has me on edge, with the kids trying to prepare for the Bible Bee on Saturday.  I'd like to know that I'll actually be there with them (preferably with an infant!), and I'd like to not be so RESTLESS and listless, not know what in the world is going to happen between now and then.

It makes daily life decisions so much more difficult!  Should I drive to Trader Joe's as planned to get a few groceries?  What about Charis' orthodontist appointment this afternoon? 

Didn't I learn about waiting on the Lord LAST time I was pregnant, LOL!  Guess He still thinks I need to work on that. :-)

August 21, 2011


I had an appointment on Friday to see one of the midwives on base.  We're to the point where I'm going in weekly.  I learned I was dilated 3 cm, which doesn't really mean much at all!  I did have some contractions throughout the afternoon, but obviously nothing happened.  I was thankful to get a fairly long nap that day as well as Saturday after I attended a family ministry conference at our church from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

So now it's 4:48 a.m. Sunday and I'm awake...been awake since about 1:37 a.m. when a contraction jolted me out of sleep.  The next one came 5 minutes later.  Another one 30 minutes later, followed by one 12 minutes later.  Got out of bed and made some raspberry leaf tea; since I let it steep for 20 minutes, I decided to go ahead and make the banana caramel sticky buns I was planning to make anyway for breakfast.  Putzed around the kitchen for awhile, and after the buns were made and my tea was gone, I decided it was time to try sleeping again.  I hadn't felt any painful contractions, just a few mild ones and a general crampy feeling.

In bed I tossed and turned and never did fall back asleep, having a few more contractions, but again, nothing all that painful.  But my back aches, and I still feel crampy.  So...I'm not sure if something is happening or not!  After all the to-do with Lucan's false alarms and lengthy labor, I really hesitate to do anything unless/until I feel something is DEFINITELY happening.

August 14, 2011

Growing Up

Who took my baby girl and replaced her with such a sweet little young lady?!  Notice her hair is in ONE ponytail again--FINALLY!!

Kenna is truly growing up!  I can't get over how responsible and mature she has become.  (Don't get me wrong--we still have those Kenna moments, but they are NOTHING like her toddler years!)  She is very polite; I think she says, "Yes, ma'am" even more than Charis does, and that's saying something!  She is also a tremendous helper.  Because she is tall, she is often mistaken for a kindergartener (or at least a 5-year-old), so it makes me even more proud of her understanding and listening skills.  She is going to be a great help with the new baby and can't wait for him to arrive.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

...lurks a big sister with a face-painting kit!

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Not Again...

Those who have followed our family blog for awhile may remember that I experienced a couple of false labors with Lucan (read here and here for more info), who didn't arrive until 10 days after the second trip to the hospital.  Looking back, we aren't sure if all that happened because he was in the wrong position or what, but regardless, it was extremely frustrating to experience with a 5th baby.  I've been praying we won't have to go through all that again!  (On a random side note, it's kind of funny that the same thing happened with Arden, our 3rd baby--I was in the hospital twice with what everyone, including the doctors, thought were real labor pains, only to have him not show up until a day after his due date!  I find that interesting, since Arden and Lucan are so similar in both looks and personality!)

So last night, when I was hit with some contractions that actually got my attention, I wondered...I was feeling "different," and I'm not sure how else to describe it.  When I first lay down for the night (at the second contraction), the baby started moving like crazy, and his pokes and jabs were all in a different spot than I usually feel them--much, much lower, almost as if I could expect a little hand to reach OUT of my body!  I got up again, drank some water, talked with my mom a bit, sent a quick note to Ted and my local "I'm in labor and need help with the kids" friend, and then got back in bed, thinking that if this WAS going to go anywhere, I had better try to rest a little bit, at least!

Well, I tossed and turned throughout the night, waking with some pains, but nothing too bad, and by this morning all was calm again.  After my last L&D experience, I will probably want to wait until I feel the urge to push before I even leave for the hospital for fear I'll be sent back home again, LOL!  But then again, I don't want to assume it WON'T be short and wait too long, either!  Please pray for clear guidance when the time is right.  I still have over 2 weeks before my due date, so I'm trying not to get my hopes up, but the fact that our other deployment baby (Kenna) came 2 weeks early kind of makes me think/hope that it might happen again this time!

Girl Time

Having my mom here has been such a blessing!  Not only do I walk into the kitchen to find the dishes have magically been cleaned, but also I have been able to leave the house--ALONE! 

Last week I enjoyed some time to get groceries by myself on Tuesday, plus went to the first homeschool parent meeting Thursday evening and then out for coffee with a friend afterward.  Friday I met a friend for lunch at a favorite Indian restaurant, and then in the evening I went to a friend's house to scrapbook with her and her mom.  I actually got some more work done on Lucan's baby album, which I began shortly after we moved here in 2009 but haven't worked on in nearly 2 years!  Because I knew I'd be scrapping Friday night, I sorted through our photos and finished picking out the ones I wanted to include in his album, which is probably going to be much more of a hodge-podge than maybe my other baby albums, but hey, it's nearly completion now, so I don't really care!  And now that I've actually got the pictures printed out and the materials together, I'm hoping I'll be more likely to actually work on it and get it finished.  Maybe I'll have to schedule another girls' night out!

Saying Goodbye

Wednesday was an eventful day at our house.  The older kids and I spent the day at the pool with friends while Grandma stayed home with Lucan, and then after dinner our Bible Bee kiddos attended the bi-weekly Bible Bee Blast with another friend while the rest of us enjoyed time at the park. 

Unbeknownst to us, however, a small tragedy awaited us at home.  By the time everyone was back from our various activities, Boots, our new hamster, had died peacefully in his sleep.  We had spent a mere 10 days with the little fellow, and we were all pretty attached to him.  As you can imagine, the kids were devastated.  Lucan was already in bed by this time, but all four of the others shed many tears, and there was much weeping and wailing, particularly from Kenna, who kept asking why Bootsie wouldn't breathe again.  I confess I shed some tears myself, mostly because my heart broke at seeing the sorrow the children were experiencing.  We cried and hugged and prayed together and made plans for a little funeral service the next morning.

So, Thursday, which was supposed to be a work-at-home day for me, the one unplanned day I had last week, ended up filling with plans that none of us particularly would have chosen if given the option.  (Definitely a lesson one learns continually as a time really is not my own, it belongs to God, and I need to be available for HIS plans, not mine.  In this case, His plans involved the opportunity to talk with the kids about life and death and hopefully bless and encourage them in the midst of sadness.)

Charis spent a good portion of the morning creating this "headstone," which is actually several layers of cardboard stuck together.  Arden found the sticks to make the cross, and he and Tobin both took turns digging the little grave.  Though we had laid Boots to rest in an extra Huggies wipes container, I didn't really want to put that in the ground, so we ended up transferring him with some of his bedding, some food (!), and a Kleenex as a little covering into the grave.  Grandma distracted Lucan by reading to him in the library--the last thing I wanted was to have him know what was going on and be able to dig Boots up sometime!

So we had a little memorial service, and everyone cried again, and I found myself praying over a dead hamster.  Being a parent is heartbreaking at times.

Then we all packed into the Suburban and drove to PetSmart.  We tested several dwarf hamsters, the only kind they had available, and chose the one that didn't bite anyone.  (Charis was particularly taken with a roly-poly fellow, but she quickly changed her mind after he tried to eat her finger.)  We purchased said hamster and carried his cardboard case out to our vehicle, where we attempted to transfer him to the cage we had brought along with us.  Unfortunately, he bit Arden--HARD--and there were more tears (not to mention blood).  Sigh.  The rodent traveled in the cardboard case back to the house, where we very carefully transferred him to the cage without any further ado.  I was not feeling very kindly toward our new house guest, let me tell you.

While Lucan and Kenna insisted on calling the new pet Boots (he is black with some white markings here and there), the older ones agreed that a name change was in order.  They have settled on Reepicheep, which fits his feisty personality. :-/  He has bitten every member of the family except me--and that's because I haven't attempted to handle him!  I haven't allowed the kids to get him out of the cage yet.  I keep reminding them that Boots came from a family of 5 children who had loved on him for 2 years, and he was exceptionally tame and loving.  We need to help Reepicheep learn that we don't want to hurt him and that it's OK to be touched.  But that will take some time.  (I'm praying the process will be considerably less painful than it has been these first few days...)

We did notice something funny about Reep--he must like to sleep in high places!  He carried bedding pieces up his little ramps to the high areas of his cage and often nestles down there!  We only had bedding at the bottom of the cage, but the next morning, the top level was completely full!  He was a busy little guy his first night here!  I'm hoping he will settle down and that we can enjoy him as much as we enjoyed Boots before too long.  (If we don't notice improvement within the 14-day satisfaction-guaranteed trial period, we may end up scrapping this whole plan.)

August 08, 2011


I began this week by allowing myself to "sleep in," i.e. not wake up to an alarm clock.  I woke at 6:15, late enough to make me feel I had gotten a little extra rest (despite waking every 2-3 hours to go potty or shift positions), yet late enough that I felt I had squelched most of my early-morning productivity.  The lack of a structured schedule this summer has really taken a much as I tried to have us follow a basic daily schedule, remaining flexible for our varied activities, about the only thing we've really stuck to is our Bible Bee work.  And even that has not been as in-depth as it could (should?) be.

As late as I finished my quiet time, everyone else but Lucan was still asleep--we were all up pretty late last night, as the kids and I hung out at the N's house (just around the corner) for the kids to play while I visited with Eilene a bit.  I decided that I didn't want to skip my exercise time, so I gave Lucan his milk and a banana and plunked him in the stroller.  We set off for a nice long walk, and it was good to move again.  I've been a bit slack the last couple of weeks and had only walked maybe a couple of mornings instead of my almost-daily routine.

Everyone was still asleep when Lucan and I returned.  Kenna and Mom woke and joined us before too much longer, and I finally dragged the older kids out of bed at 10 a.m.  (We MUST get to bed earlier tonight!  This schedule will NOT do at all when we begin our school year!)

After a late breakfast, Charis, Kenna, and I headed out for a few errands.  We went to Walgreens to take advantage of some back-to-school specials--our church is doing a community outreach, trying to put together 700 backpacks for needy kids, and next Sunday is the last day for collecting items.  I had just a few things I wanted to get...I must say, homeschooling actually means our school shopping is drastically reduced!  I did stock up on more dry erase markers and mechanical pencils, plus a 3-subject spiral notebook for each of the older 3 kids, which will be a bit of a change from their loose leaf notebooks we've used the last few years.  We'll see how we like this approach.

Anyway, we headed to Charis's orthodontist appointment, and then to the library.  Then I treated the girls to lunch at McDonald's (shhh!  Don't tell the boys!), and then home again for some rest time and Bible Bee work.  I managed to sort through some piles of baby boy clothes that I've been given (or in some cases, have been returned--we gave Lucan's clothes to a boy from church, whose mom is passing them back to us now!).  It looks like our new baby will have PLENTY to wear...if we can get him through the first few weeks with the very few newborn size clothes we have!  Guess it depends on how tiny or big he is whenever he makes his appearance!  I'm not one for purchasing newborn clothes anyway...they outgrow them so fast...but I do like to have a couple of things they can appear in public in right away!  At least it's summer, and we don't have to worry much about layering!

So, one more thing checked off the to-do list.  I'm actually starting to feel mentally prepared for having a baby in the house again!  I've been physically ready for weeks, LOL.  I'm getting SO uncomfortable, and sleeping is almost as much of a chore as being awake these days.  I wake up feeling achy or in pain--I've had nighttime contractions and/or shooting pains in my lower abdomen pretty much every night, multiple times a night, and it's far from restful.  I can't lie on my right side very long before I get stabbing pains in one particular spot, but if I only sleep on my left side, I wake with a stiff neck and a sore shoulder.  I know, I know, it's all worth it, right?!  But it definitely makes for a loooooong last month of pregnancy.  I'll be 37 weeks tomorrow, though, so hopefully the end is in sight!

August 05, 2011

36 Weeks & Counting

On Tuesday I officially hit 36 weeks!  Our li'l guy seems to be doing just fine--he's certainly an active boy.  I had an OB appointment this morning and took a tour of the (new to me) L&D facilities--they have moved since we were stationed here last. (This is where both Tobin and Arden were born.) 

I also received the happy news (no one had mentioned this before!) that there is a "Daddy Cam" available, so Ted can receive a link via email to click on and watch the birth!  We just have to let them know when we're coming in to set up the camera and give them his email address...and of course get word to Ted that we're on the way to the hospital.  This was happy news indeed.  I confess I had shed a few tears last night just thinking about not being able to share such a precious time with my love, and lo and behold, God sent me comfort about it the very next day.  What a gracious, loving Heavenly Father.

Mom and Dad arrived here Wednesday evening, and I lost my mucous plug Thursday morning.  No contractions to speak of though, and I'm only dilated 1-2 cm at most, so who knows how long it will be!  Dad has to leave in the morning to head home, and Mom will stay here...however long we need her!  Hopefully Dad will be able to get several days in a row off when he comes to get Mom to take her back.  The kids haven't quite had enough Grandpa time yet!  Lucan especially will miss his buddy Grandpa.  I'm thankful Dad was able to do all kinds of little jobs around the house for me, like changing out our air filter (ugh--it was NASTY!), replacing light bulbs all over the basement, and other little fix-it things that Ted normally would take care of.  I overheard Charis telling him, "Thank you, Grandpa, for helping Mama!"  :-)

It's also been nice to be able to take naps and not worry about what may be happening outside my bedroom door, LOL.  We've all had a relaxing couple of days, just hanging out together.  We've played some games, put a puzzle together, read lots of books and played with the little ones, and tonight we went out for an ice cream treat and then watched Black Beauty after we put a tired Lucan to bed.

I'm very thankful for the time we've had together and especially thankful that my mom has the freedom and flexibility to be here for a good long while.  Though we hope Baby J will arrive before too much longer, my due date isn't until the 30th, so I'm trying to be prepared for another month of discomfort.  I'm feeling like I'm carrying around a bowling ball in my belly these days; it's extremely hard to put on my walking shoes anymore!  And I simply can't get comfortable in any sort of sitting or lying position.  I know this will pass and it will all be worth it, but I'm reminded of how impatient I get at the end of each pregnancy, just wanting to get my body back to "normal" and hold the baby OUTSIDE my body rather than inside.

A few pictures with the grandparents...

August 04, 2011

The Newest Member of the Family

After a busy week with VBS last week, it was nice to have an unscheduled weekend to catch up on rest and family time.  We had a busy Monday with various errands, the last of which was a stop at another homeschool family's house to pick up our new pet hamster, Boots!  The family had posted on our communication loop that they wanted to give away this dwarf hamster with all of his stuff--cage, bedding, and food--as the boy who owned Boots was not really interested in him anymore.  The mom didn't feel it was fair to the li'l critter to not be able to have any playmates!

Arden went through a phase of really wanting a hamster about a year ago, which I detailed in his little spotlight paragraph in this post.  But somehow there was never any follow-up with this...I'm pretty sure Arden ended up spending all his money on Legos, and even though he still wanted a hamster, he kept choosing to purchase other things with his money. 

So when I talked with the older 3 kiddos about whether they wanted to accept Boots as a free pet (I had already contacted Tina to let her know we were interested), you can imagine how thrilled Arden as well as Tobin and Charis were!  They promptly agreed to divide hamster duties and take good care of him, so I contacted Tina again to tell her for sure we would come take Boots off her hands.

So far Boots has been a wonderful addition to the family!  The kids have given him a LOT of love and attention, and we found a perfect spot for his cage--in the family room on the top of the microwave cart we've used as a toy shelf for years.  This allows Lucan to peer in at his new friend but also allows us to keep a close eye on him to make sure he isn't opening the cage!  The kids get Boots out often enough that Lucan seems to be kept happy with seeing "Butts," as he pronounces Boots.  The older kids (including Kenna) have done a great job of cleaning up after him (he seems to poop wherever he goes), and Arden has proudly been on Hamster Detail this week.  (Cage Cleaning 101 will take place on Saturday--we'll see how interested he is after that chore, LOL.)

The K family had Boots for approximately 2 years and said that the life spans are typically 3 years, which works out wonderfully since we're slated to move next summer.  The kids have been warned that we don't know how much time we'll actually have with Boots, but they are happy enough to have him while they can and pointed out that we can always buy a new hamster since we already have all the accessories! 

Boots is a dwarf hamster, and while some people warned us that they weren't the friendliest breed, the family who originally got him has handled him since he was 3 weeks old, and it's obvious he adores attention--he has not once tried to nip or bite any of the kids.  He's pretty darn cute, too, but very fast; it's hard to get good pictures!