Saturday, December 30, 2006

13 Hours

That is how much sleep I logged last night - continuously. I was so tired I felt ill all day yesterday. So when DH got home I explained it to him, fed the children and went to lay down for 'a little while.' The next thing I knew it was 3am, so I figured I would close my eyes again and then it was after 8am. Aaah I felt so much better today.

So, I got a head start on some of my New Years resolutions. I started organizing all the free clothes we have received this month for my girls. We know a lot of people who give us their hand-me-down girl clothes and we got bags and boxes all month. They range in sizes from 4 to 10, and cover all seasons. I had to sort them, and box them. Then, hit the boxes in storage in the garage. When I was done I moved the boxes out to the storage shed. That made the garage look so much better, I figured I needed to keep going.

I listed a few items, including a sofa and chair on freecycle - and they were out of the garage by the afternoon. I sorted my books - seriously cut my accumulation of fun paperbacks. Now I have boxes to take to the used book store - I figure I can use whatever credit I get to buy books for the girls' schooling.

Things boxed up and moved out really made the garage look great. So then the house looked, um, horrible. I did the big thing this afternoon - took down the old computer and put my new one up in its permanent home. Everything that I can is moved over. I can't find my Quicken software - so I guess I will be buying that shortly. But otherwise I am thrilled with how easy it was to transfer what needed to be transferred.

I am taking a break before I try to tackle the toy haul, again. I feel like it is a lost cause. I have gotten rid of old stuff, broken stuff and yet there is still no room. I even have a few gifts still in the boxes that I don't feel the girls are overly thrilled with - so they will probably go back to the store for credit for something else.

The christmas tree still needs to come down - maybe tomorrow DH will tackle it for me. I really would like the house to look as good as it did last year when it was on the market. It may be a lost cause, but I can at least try. At the very least I want everything to have a home by the 3rd when schooling resumes again.

I hope everyone has a good New Year.



Wednesday, December 27, 2006

And a Merry Christmas to all

Although, a little belatedly.

We did the whole, big family (my family) thing here at our house and are still trying to dig out from under it. But K, in all her wisdom, summed it up the best: "This is the best Christmas ever." Yeah - it was pretty good. The kids did not even notice that earlier in the year I had sent out requests to family members to please limit their purchases as we were trying to declutter. Well, the girls still scored big - they didn't get as much, but working with the family, they got what they wanted which was the most important thing.

I had heard people say how much their child's reading took off once they started playing a gameboy, or such (mainly because it interest them). And, it is true for MB. She got one and is really doing exceptional reading all the clues and information for the game. Hopefully in a week we start school again I'll see it translate into her schoolwork. She also got a Snap Electronics Kit which she has already spent hours doing the provided projects, and then tweaking them.

K, got her wish. Her birthday wish, which she didn't tell me about until a week after her birthday. A Dora Castle! and, thanks to family, many packages of the extra people and furniture. The thing is huge and she is loving it. Actually, all the girls are. But, K is so into imaginative play and loves Dora.

Poor EM, so overwhelmed with everything. Her birthday was less than a week before Christmas, so many things, so little time. She gave up halfway through Christmas morning and we had to wait until afternoon for her to finish. But, she is just loving all the new things in the house - hers and her sisters'.

DH and I did not exchange gifts this year. It was a choice we made as the things that we really want/need are large items that we can't afford to get in on fell swoop. So we decided to save our money to get them down the road. Plus, we were able to devote Christmas morning to just the children.

We did end up with a new computer, even though it wasn't supposed to happen that way. I told my mom about all the problems our 8-yr-old computer had been giving us, and how I expected that it was going to go to the great Computer Beyond sometime in the next year - hopefully not taking all my photos with it. So, she and my father each gave us a check to go towards a new computer. The plan was that their present would pay for 60-75% of a new one and we would get on when we added to it later in the year. But, Christmas night I was online surfing and found Christmas Day shopping deals so we ended up with a computer system - paid in full present.

DH picked it up yesterday and last night I started setting it up and transferring important files over. I was thrilled with how easy it flowed, even moving my existing email inbox items and internet favorite sites. I still have a few things to set up and transfer, then we will take down this old desktop and let a friend help us clean it off. We are going to find an inexpensive LCD monitor to replace the mid-90's CRT monitor and then give it to the girls for their school work. As long as they don't try to run too many programs at the same time they should be okay. The new computer is MINE! MINE! MINE! Okay, I may let DH use it occassionally, but I even named it "Moms Computer"

Today, the fun and games continue. MB's birthday party is today - we are going bowling! Then over to the inlaws for dinner and more Christmas. After today though, I will be relaxing. DH has another 4day weekend coming up and we plan on just being with the kids and not doing a lot.

I better get some children moivated.



Friday, December 22, 2006

Lets spread a little Christmas Cheer

The week before Christmas and the whole house is in a rush.
Finishing this project and that.
Errands to run.
Geez Soccer is still on.
Doctors appointments and children going out of town
A birthday or two - boy what a week.
And what could surprise me
And send me off my rocker
But one crazy lady and her insane tirades

People - they really do disappoint me sometimes. But more than that, shock me with the insanity that can flow from their mouths, or in this case fingers via email. If this week wasn't already crazy enough, I have had to put up with threats and harrassment by another hs momma. It really makes me want to bar my door shut and tell these children all these horrible stories about what can happen to them if they go out in public and try to be nice to someone who obviously has problems.

There is this one mother in our group who has issues. I don't know exactly what they are, but about three times a year she just goes off her rocker and tears into someone. The chosen this time: Yours truly and Mary.

She sent me an email Monday evening to let me know that Mary has been hurting her son (2 yrs older and twice her weight) during the play time after choir - apparently for the last three months. But she hasn't wanted to tell me then, because I have "so much going on". The words she used were violent and unprovoked. Of course, I went into the oh my gosh mode and tried to remember if I had seen any of this behavior. Except for the two times DH took her to Choir after junior was born, the girls are not out of my sight except during actual class time. I even called my really good friend who is also the nominal leader of the group to double check. My friend had never seen this either. We determined that the woman must have been talking about this game that the kids try to take over each others hideouts. (a game we keep trying to discourage - and will not be played again).

So I sent her a reply thanking her for bringing it to my attention and that Mary must have inadvertently hurt him during the game. We were sorry for that, but I really wish that she had brought it to my attention when it happened so that I could have used it as a teachable moment for Mary. That from now on please let me know as soon as she sees any rough behavior and I will take care of it.

The next email digressed into a badly misspelled tirade about Mary and how I don't know how to parent, and that she has given her son full permission to use any and all force against my daughter and she doesn't care if Mary gets hurt or not. I guess it was at this point that I realized that she was in full insanity mode. Then she sends an email to my friend to complain and that since I din't see fit to control my daughter that they are going to have to drop out - and they just loooove Choir. (She has sent my friend several emails this fall telling her that they will have to drop Choir if different things are not changed). My friend tries to calm her and reiterates what I told her.

So the emails keep coming and coming. Threatening and Harrassing. I speak to other mothers in the group, just to get a double check. I don't believe that Mary is an angel, but she is not into unprovoked violence and hurting people willfully. But, I just wanted to see if I missed something. Even without mentioning this mothers name, everyone knew who it was. This is a yearly thing apparently. Whichever girl her son most likes to play with becomes the target.

So last night I finally respond to yet another of her emails, my second response. Restating the first email and informing her that the discussion was over. The reply: further threats, including calling the police on me because I have a dangerous, mentally unstable child and am doing nothing for her - and she knows this because she has a child psychology degree.

So, my week has been interesting. My faith in the inherent sanity of people has diminished a little more. How much for bars on the doors? - that should make a nice homeschool statement.



Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Happy Birthday Em

Our other december birthday is today. Em is two, although she believes wholeheartedly that she should be three. We have already been in for her well-child check, and everything is great. While we were gone MB and K decorate her birthday cake - a cute brown & orange teddy bear cake

I think they did a wonderful job. The oranges icing and spinkles are left over from the Halloween cake we never made. At least it isn't a 'christmas' theme, my mom's particular pet peeve about her birthday being in December - everything is given a Christmas theme. So, our December Birthdays we make sure are birthdays and not Christmas.

So, my baby girl is two now. I really can't believe it has been two years, but I have been kind of busy. I started this blog right after she was born. Wow.

Here is her picture birthday post:



Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Seven Years, Seven Pictures

Can we say Hectic?

Oh my goodness, where have the days gone? Time has hit a superfast speed and all I am trying to do is keep up. I realized the other day that I have yet to order my neice's bday & christmas presents and as of this morning I still have not had a chance. Of course, I am here and not shopping the internet right now. Geez.

We have been busy with the good, the bad and the mundane. It has been okay. Apparently my children have come down with Christmas fever and have entered into a somewhat whiney and fairly annoying phase - but I am holding with the thought that it will pass. It will pass after all the birthdays, and holiday parties and Christmas has come and gone. Sometime, I am sure we will settle back in - only to face another upheavel to our lives.

I laugh to myself as I write this. Yesterday I had two moms, each with one kid, in a space of 30 minutes, respond when they found out that I had four young children. "Oh my goodness. How do you do it?" I think I may have gotten this when I had three and they knew I homeschooled. But, for some reason this struck me yesterday. I think I gave both of them a somewhat blank stare for 20-30 secs before responding. Why? Because I kept wondering how they expected me not to do it. I get up in the morning and just do what needs to be done that day - the same way they probably do. Honestly, I don't put much weight into getting too much of a to-do list done each day, because I am sure something more important will come up with the list that will supersede the list. If I actually stop to think about how I am doing - measuring it up against some arbitray list, then I am sure I will feel like a failure. Because I am not going to match up to a list I or someone else creates for me. But, at the end of the day, when we as a family are sitting around the table saying grace over a meal that my children helped me prepare - I don't feel like a failure. No matter what I have or have not done that day - my children have received love, guidence, correction. I have said I love you to everyone in the house at least twice. That is what I think about as I put out the many burning fires during the day. I love them all and that is what matters.

Talk about having a lesson about not laying to much expectation (either good or bad) into the future., and only focusing on the NOW in life. I'm there, I'm good.

Just to give a quick update on our lives. MB's 7th birthday is today - I'll probably post later on just that. But, this weekend we went out for a mom & daughter day. It was nice and something I will probably try to make into a tradition as each of the girls get older. MB got a new set of clothes - that she could pick out, with my approval. She also had her ears pierced - the 'big' gift for this year. She was a trooper - she wanted to stop after the first one, but we did convince her that she really needed to get both done. By the time we left the mall, she has so thrilled about it. She is constantly asking me if she can go clean her ears with the solution they gave her.

Tonight, instead of a birthday dinner, she and K will be singing in the homeschool choir performance. It should be interesting. The choir director was let go at the end of November for various things, so we mom's have been getting the children up to speed for the performance. In January we do have a new director coming on - so hopefully it will get better. The kids are really looking forward to it. I got to watch a little bit of their practice yesterday and I will say the kids are enjoying it and it should be fun. I just hope that no one comes expecting any 'polish' because they are not there.

Yesterday I received my issue of Time and the cover article was "How to Build a Student For the 21st Century." ( it isn't a free article, although you can watch an ad and then read the article - so next time you go to your doctor pick it up). The words Build and Student just caught my eye and I had to read. The article wasn't as bad as I was expecting. In fact it made a few points that I have believed for awhile about the downfall of education. But, the entire premise of the article is about how to educate a student to work in the future. It is not an article about how to educate a child to, I don't know, be educated for that sake alone.

And that point is made early on: "This week the conversation will burst onto the front page, when the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, a high-powered, bipartisan assembly of Education Secretaries and business, government and other education leaders releases a blueprint for rethinking American education from pre-K to 12 and beyond to better prepare students to thrive in the global economy. " Isn't that just scary?

But there are points that are made that I do agree with - mainly because it is hopefully the education I will give my children. Maybe I should be on this board - haha.

Points such as:

~ Knowing more about the world
~ Thinking outside the box - and across disciplines
~ Learn how to find and process all the information and learn how to determine what is true or not, and then what to do with it
~ Development of people skills (because apparently kids are graduating from school without knowing basic deportment skills and how to work in a team environment) I could say something here, but most of my readers know what I could be thinking about this one. If you don't I will give a one word hint - socialization.

Of course if government education begins to resemble the model given in the article, there is one thing I can probably be assured of - there will be a generation of children coming who will be unable to play the classic Trivial Pursuit game.

In the end, though, it really comes down to who do we want determining what is an education for our children?

Have a great Wednesday.



Saturday, December 09, 2006

Friday Follies

To celebrate the end of our year I figured we would take the day off. I needed a day to play catch up around the house, sort bills, blah, blah, blah. I did sort of have an activity planned - but they shot it down. So, we went with free time. And here I was not wearing my black & white striped outfit to ref in.

While I fed Junior this morning, EM got into the bathroom (who forgot to close the door this time?) and dumped the entire bottle of childrens shampoo all over the floor. My first inkling of trouble - the super-sweet smell coming down the hall.

K, spent the entire day in her own little world. Which, involved, apparently, a lot of running and jumping, swinging around with arms outspread. Of course this can be very, very fun. But, when others are around it isn't exactly safe. I believe that all of us got smacked at some point today. K, herself managed to run into some walls and furniture and doors, etc. The quote from her after EM being the bullseye for the fourth time, "Mommy, why are you so mad at me?"

And, what is it with the tattling?? I know a bad mommy award will be coming my way. But, by mid-afternoon I finally had to tell them that if nothing was broken and there was no blood - I did not want them to come screaming to me.

I did. kind of, sorta think about posting a Surrogate Parent Wanted ad. Please take a couple of my children for about 4 years.

MB, did enjoy her day off. She watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkeban. She sat in the chair with the remote and kept rewinding it back to where Hermoine smacks Draco. Power to the woman, or some sort of thing. Once she was done with her movie she disappeared to her room to play with her barbies. She did not come out until she was ready to go out and play. I'm just amazed at what a different girl she has become this fall. It is like I suddenly have a totally different child. No real complaints about it - I am enjoying the girl she is becoming.

(see the green scarf - I did that!)
I think I might like 7. Anything has to be better than the 2-4 ages (I will say that this is the age I have always had the most difficulty with - it isn't the child, its the age) of which I have 2.

And Junior, well we spent a lot of time together today. He has just started cooing and being very interested in studying me. Today I got my very first smile!!! So, we had as much cuddle time as we could.

At the end of the day we were all happy to see daddy come home. I did manage to throw together a chicken pie (a traditional meal of his family) which he said was very good!! It is always a little stressful trying to live up to his memories of certain foods. We lit our first fire and the girls totally enjoyed it. DH even had them roasting marshmallows. Once the girls were in bed we just spent some time decompressing from our week. Since I have finished the scarves, I am back to working on my shawl. I might have it done by next winter.

Off to sleep while I can.



Thursday, December 07, 2006

End of The Year and other ramblings

So here we sit at the end of another school year, year 2 or 3 homeschooling. I can't really say that I have gotten anymore comfortable with it yet. This fall the realization has come to me that the struggles we have in homeschooling all come back to me. Unfortunately, MB being the oldest, has gotten the full force of my pushing. I guess I felt like I had something to prove to others in my life when it came to educating MB. That I had to do it faster or something.

I came to homeschooling because I didn't want the love of learning that young kids have being 'killed' by the public education model. I wanted to be able to give them a lot of hands-on experience, be able to move through standards at the speed they needed (i assumed faster), and a chance to build the creative side of themselves. I wanted to give them the education I wanted. And there lies the rub. It wasn't MB's education.

I jumped right into it trying to force material on that I would have found fascinating, but really didn't hit the spot for MB. When she did get interested in something I dumped material on her that was really over her head. But I thought if she would only get interested in something then suddenly all these skills would come together - and boom - she would be doing the work I thought she should be doing. Surprise, Surprise that isn't working.

What is interesting I let my younger two cruise on through. I don't feel the need to push them, and let them guide me with what they need. If K wants to spend the morning writing the same three letters over and over - I let her. If she is totally involved in creating one of her picture stories, I don't interrupt and try to teach her how to tell time. I know that they will learn how to tell time - when their time is right. But, for some reason, I felt like I had to keep pushing MB.

What I have accomplished with MB is to do what I didn't want the school system to do - she has started to shut down when it comes to exploring the world around her. School is torture - accomplished only under threat of the removal of social or sports time. She doesn't have confidence in her abilities.

So, in light of this personal awareness, I am re-thinking and re-working so that we can start off the New Year in January a better way. I pulled up the NC Course of Study for 2nd grade and looked through that. There is also LearnNC, a really awesome website that has all sorts of lesson plans by grade level or subject. Alot of them are links to outside websites like National Geo, that we can use in the 'small' classroom setting. Since they are 'graded' I am hoping that it will help me to stay focused on not trying to stretch her too far out of her comfort zone. Some topics I think we will cover are: Community (what makes up a community - we will use our Simm City Software an have her build her own city); Relationship between people and environment (Ecology); Basic Economics - Goods and Services, especially how they relate to our local community. I also plan for some Geography/Cultural studies.

Looking back over this past year we have been successful. I don't see that we have failed, I just think that I could manage the approach a little bit better. MB took her end-of-grade test in the Grade 1 Math today and scored a 91%. She can and does use measurement, time and money in her daily life. Her reading level has advanced to a late 1st grade level, and she is more and more taking books back to bed with her. She loves to cook and is very involved in helping with meal planning and making meals. Some nights cooking the entire meal with only oversight from DH or I (us providing the cutting and hot work). She of course has absorbed a lot of nature science and will spit it back out. Her handwriting is no worse than any other child in the naeighborhood, and she has asked to be taught cursive writing, which we have started and she is enjoying. Her handwriting is already getting better.

This year my focus is on getting MBs confidence back up, and really letting her tell me what she needs. I have found a few 'fun' outside classes for both her & K this semester. We will continue in Choir, a spanish class taught by a native speaker at her home, and monthly nature science classes. She also has her weekly science club meeting. There are a few other things I have some interest in, but we will have to see how the money falls out.

I have other things that I would probably write about, but it is hard typing with one hand and trying to keep the older ones on task for cleaning up their daily mess.



Monday, December 04, 2006

Our Day

I always love when people share snapshots of their days by hour - so I am going to give it a try today.

5:50 am

'Junior' wakes up hungry for his breakfast. Normally he settles back own for another couple of hours, but seems ready for a little conversation this morning. Finally I get him back out around 7. I decide to catch a little morning news before the masses wake up - of course I promptly fall asleep. It happens everytime I am still for longer than 10 minutes. (I almost fell asleep in church yesterday during prayers)

8:00 am

The first of the girls, EM is heard from. She always gets up at 8:00 on the dot. Just in time to watch Little Einsteins. K appears about 10 minutes later. I fix them some breakfast and let them catch their morning shows while I do some computer time - answering emails, printing off MBs list for the day, etc. I get the laundry going for the day and dress.

8:45 am

Time to feed junior again. I read some more of the Happy Feet book to K and EM while I am doing that.

9:15 am

I have given up on waiting for MB to make her appearence. I go in to wake her up (10 minute process). While she eats breakfast we read Chapter 12 in Around the World in 80 Days.

10:00 am

MB chooses to listen to her math facts 'rock' CD while I work with K on writing some letters. Junior is napping and EM is in her room playing with her Little People.

10:45 am

We take a little break from school, while I feed and cuddle with junior some more. MB is looking through her cookbook and we discuss what recipes we can make that day. I talk her into making dinner Tuesday night, and we settle on making cookie bars, which are decorated with colored sugar.

11:15 am

EM and K are playing with their train set. MB settles down to get her reading comprehension done for the day. I cook lunch and pull out the ingredients for the cookies. MB pulls out an enrichment workbook and does a couple of activities while we wait for lunch to finish cooking.

12:00 pm

We have our lunch and put EM down for her nap. I switch out the laundry and throw another load in. After I clean the kitchen from lunch, we prepare for cookie making. I check email again.

1:00 pm

Cookie time.While K takes her turn with the Little People, MB and I work together on the recipe. She reads, with help, the directions. She does a wonderful job figuring out how to add quarter cups to make whole cups and so on. She designs the image on the cookie and makes the colored sugar. Using the colored sugar she makes a picture on the big cookie. Her design is a flower - it doesn't turn out that way, but we will get to that later.

1:45 pm

While the cookie is baking, MB does her math workbook. I knit some more on MBs scarf.

2:15 pm

Cookie is done. The picture comes out looking like Mt. Vesuvius (according to MB). It still tastes the same according to K. EM is awake from her nap so we all have a snack. K works on her Jumpstart computer program. MB works on her cursive writing using a white board to practice going 'up the mountain' and 'down the mountain' to make her 'i' and 't'. Junior is ready to eat again, so while I feed him MB grudgingly does her read aloud with me.

2:45 pm

The girls get occupied playing some board games together. Yeah! I spend some time with junior who is in need of a little attention. After 3:00 they are able to turn on the video games and move on to playing a litte pole position, well loved by all three. I do a little more laundry switch-a-roo.

3:30 pm

Junior settles back down for another nap. MB leaves for some 'social' playtime with the neighborhood kids. EM & K decide to watch Cars for the upteenth time. And I get some quiet computer time before I need to go finish some chores.

That about wraps up our day. It was a good, normal Monday for us. The rest of the week seems to get more chaotic as we are out and about more and don't have so mauch time to dilly-dally with the lessons.

We are about to get more chaotic after the New Year, as we are adding in some more outside classes, but I will get into our Winter/Spring Semester in a later post. I have been working at tweaking and figuring out what we will cover.

So, how was your Monday?



Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Jean Skirt

Woo Hoo!! I finished something! This skirt was so easy to make. The little girl is so happy, as she helped with the design process.

The original directions called for cutting the legs off to make it a short skirt, and then using the legs to fill in the skirt. MB wanted it longer and helpe me locate another hand-me-down pair of jeans that she was never going to wear - I agreed, the waistband was kind of ugly. Anyway, the contrast looks really cool. This look is totally MB.

Projects, Projects

So many fun little projects, so little time.

Currently I am halfway through knitting one of two scarfs for Christmas. How in the world do people finish these things in a day or less. I feel like a success when I can get 10 or 15 rows knitted a day. I am slow, but mainly because without fail as soon as I sneak away, get comfortable and pull the yarn out I hear "Maaaa-maaaa" from some source. I get most of my knitting time in during my bonding time with Junior at about midnight. By then I am really, really slow and can actually find myself nodding off in mid-stitch.

If that wasn't enough I have given up on my search for a skirt or two for MB. Either it isn't appropriate for a 7-year-old, or it doesn't meet MB's sense of style. The picky child she is. We know what we want - a good, basic knee-length A-line skirt. Something she can wear with a long-sleeve tee or sweater. I have found a pattern that may work with some tweaking, because of course nothing as basic as we want is out there - I am having my sewing guru look at it to see if someone of my limited skills can pull it off. I even window-shopped on-line last night and found two pieces of material that would be perfect, they are on-sale and free shipping until midnight tonight.

But, to hold us over until I can get all the pieces an make these skirts, I needed something fast and easy. So, I am making her a jean skirt reusing a pair of jeans from last year that she doesn't like the legs on (they don't flare). Last night I pulled seam stitches and now have it pinned and am waiting for her to try it on before I start making the finish cuts. If this works I also found a pair of cords that again she doesn't like the 'hang' of, but would make a great winter skirt.

I will post some photos once something actually is done.

What, I am supposed to be homeschooling too? Well, that gets into the mix too.



Monday, November 27, 2006

Holiday Weekend

I don't know about anyone else, but holiday weekends for me are the time when I can get the most housework done. My big projects can get marked off my list. Mainly because I have another adult around that I can tag team with. I am still in the mode of decluttering and trying to get back a little of the neatness I enjoyed while the house was on the market last year. So I spent the weekend doing just that.

Our kitchen is looking about as nice as it can - until we can update the counters & stove. We at least have gotten a lot of the clutter put away and I have my open prep/workspace back. It just is one of those rooms that appears to lose square footage when stuff is on the counters. When everything is neat and put away, a nice medium size kitchen.

The big job though was brought about by the need to create more 'private' workspace. The big girls need a place to go and work on projects that little hands really don't need to be in. Or just another place to escape. We had to some extent the den/office, which can be closed off - but there was no where to work for the girls. So, I spent yesterday rearranging furniture and moving out some big, ugly furniture that I had been living with. I have managed to cut the room into two and set aside an area that will hold our old, tiny apartment dining table to give the girls an open, craft workspace.

That job took almost the entire afternoon yesterday. And, involved removing an 'antique' stereo system from an old stereo cabinet to replace with our existing - almost antique stereo. If anybody is interested in a 32-year-old magnavox stereo with eight-track tape drive and a balanced record player, let me know. DH and I found the sheer size of the circuit board interesting and all of the belt drivers that were used.

Now I am preparing for another week. We have two more weeks of school for this year. Then we have a couple of birthdays in a row and then Christmas. Busy, Busy, Busy.



Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

A few of the things I am thankful for this year...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Long Time Coming

See this:

and this:

My heart is doing little pitter-pats tonight. Sisterly love is flowing through the house this evening.

My two-year-old and four-year-old playing a game together, without me -- and nothing is being thrown, no one is yelling and there is no blood. I could sit and nurse, quietly.

Then, as if it couldn't get any better. MB actually asked if she could read to K. And, K actually said yes!!

Its the little things.



Tuesday, November 21, 2006

OH Boy! After getting a temporary put in the whole in my tooth and antibiotics kicking in on my standard post-partum sinus infection my energy level has made a jump. The fact that junior has decided to sleep for nearly five hours straight at night could be helping also.

This weekend I scored on stocking stuffers at the local Target. There little $1.00 bins are so cool this year. I racked up on old-fashioned wooden pull toys and toy cars, all sorts of Hello Kitty stuff, junior slinkys (who won't have fun with that?) and the cutest little set of infant mittens & hat. I am normally a last minute stocking stuffer - out grabbing whatever I can find at the 11th hour, but this year - nope! I am almost done, just need a some toothbrushes and crayons for the girls and I will be finished with that.

Just for kicks I also picked up piggy banks for MB & K - which they went ahead and got. They love them. We are keeping them in the family room for now so they don't get played with and broken. But the whole allowance thing has become much more real to them having a spot to deposit the little dimes & quarters.

Sunday night I sat down and reincorporated the 'lesson plan.' Lately I have depended way too much on throwing workbooks at the girls without a general gameplan each day. It becomes way to easy for them to whine and argue with me, and I give in way to easily. Now we all have a list of what to do that day. And since I do it on the computer, I can jump over to the internet and print off any maps, writing sheets or whatever we will need for the next day as I go. Everything is whole punched and in the three-ring binder waiting for them in the morning. Except for asking that large projects that we don't want little hands helping with, I don't care when or in what order the list is done - but it has to be done before any extracurricular activities - playing with friends and sports practices.

MB jumped right back into it like she had missed her lost friend. We had only one whining, procrastinating session - but like I told her it is on the list you do it. And, it stopped and work was done by 2:30, even allowing for a late start and 2 breaks. We managed to not only cover the 'boring' paper work, but also complete a science experiment on how ships float and have a group music practice - to practice their songs for the Christmas concert the hs choir is having.

MB helped me again with making & serving dinner. It really is nice to have a 7 yr old (in less than a month anyway) in the house. I was able to clean out our snack cabinet and reorganize the mess that it had become. Then we made choc chip cookies, since it was brought to my attention that we had no sweets in the house. They went through the pumpkin bread muffins way too fast.

Better get started on the day - our last 'school' day this week. DH will only work a half-day on Wednesday and the schools are out - so I am giving in and letting the kids play.



Monday, November 20, 2006

My Kitchen Table

Our kitchen table is not really a kitchen table. It is a dining room table. Too large for our space, not really made to withstand the day-in an day-out rigors of a large active family. But, it was free and it suits our purpose right now, at least until we can get to the point that replacing furniture is going to happen. Thankfully it was well used and a couple decades old before our family got its paws on it - I won't feel too bad that it will most likely end up in a heap somewhere.

Like I said, the table has never really fit the space that we have for a kitchen table. There are two folding leafs and several add in pieces so that it could seat 12. We have only ever been able to use three sides of it because we had to fold down one of the ends. Well, I got the idea that I could take the hinges off and see what happens. Success - we have a table that we can use all four sides now. Which means we can fit all of the family around the table and EM can graduate from her high chair to the bench.

I tell you, for me it is the little things.

Last Thursday night we all sat down to dinner together, turned down the lights, lit some candles and had a wonderfully relaxing family dinner. I don't know if it is just me, but it is the moment in my day - we sit down to dinner, the family together and it makes my day mean something. I even get a little tingle in my belly (has nothing to do with hunger) as we all hold hands for the blessing.



Friday, November 17, 2006

I have kind of taken a much needed computer break these last few days. Not so much by choice, but out of happenstance. My 'downtime' is now filled with options like - sleep, and that is really hard to pass up.

We are at the month mark since junior came home to us. And I have to say that at this time this is the hardest adjustment for me to bringing any of my children home. His issues, though thankfully none are life-threatening or even require medical intervention, are time-consuming and require much more of my attentiveness. Feeding him is the number one priority in life these days and due to the 'smallness' of his digestive system it is a process. It begins with a full clothing/diaper change, because while sleeping he has either spit up or leaked through the diaper (premie diapers are still a little big on him around the backside & thighs). Then hopefully we will sit and nurse, which is a long drawn out affair of nearly 40 minutes. Then there is sometimes a second diaper change and clothing change aferwards to clean up the mess made during the feeding. Repeat process every 2-to 21/2 hrs. On the brightside he is getting to wear all those cute premie outfits that I was sure he would grow out of first.

Laundry has nearly doubled, yet how can that be. We were a family of five - three of those young girls who must change their outfits according to the time of day. How can one teeny, tiny baby double the laundry. Outfits, blankets, spit rags, bedding - oh my - changed constantly throughout the day.

Throw in one 23 month-old who is suddenly waking every single night - generally just shortly after I get junior down and out for his long stretch. She waits until I have gotten, settled and comfy under my blankets - then begins screaming. No, not calling for me, screaming! Em was my sleeping baby too. So easy to put down, slept through the night very early. We thought maybe teeth - no, she is teething but that oesn't seem to be what is bothering her. The other night I know it was the thunderstorms, but I was prepared for that. Last night- I don't know. But she is not easy to put back to sleep.

Leaving the house - Ha Ha. I have to start getting ready and rounding up children an hour-and-a-half before we go anywhere. By the time we are ready to go, junior is ready to eat again.

Someone once told me that the transition from one to two children was the hardest transition. I have to say in my case it is the transition from 3 to 4. I just feel very outnumbered some days.

Wednesday was our "out" afternoon. We had science club, which I think is more enjoyable for us mothers then the kids. But that was nice to get out to, even if I did get lost trying to get there. One of the other mothers had her baby at the end of July - the difference in junior and the other baby is amazing. From there we had to race back into the 'city' to get to MB's indoor soccer practice. DH met me there so I could just drop MB off and bring the other kids home and fix dinner.

I have been cleaning all week - partly because it needed to be done, but also because the pastor from dh's parent's church was coming by to visit us last night. We decided over the summer to rejoin dh's childhood church, so the pastor had not had a chance to meet junior, and we needed to discuss some other things. My house now looks cleaner, yet lived in. Not the wreck that it had become in October. The funny thing about cleaning was how much MB helped me, K ignored us doing it and EM, in all her power attempted to go behind us and pull everything back out. The differences in ages was very apparent.

To otherwise entertain, I gave the girls some cheap computer CD-Rom games I had picked up somewhere. I call it critical thinking education. K's concentrated on listening skills, while MB's was heavy on math. They had both computers running at various times - which cuts into my computer time.

I went to the dentist yesterday to see about this tooth that has been bothering me since last week. They put a temporary in and told me to call on Monday to see how it is doing and decide what to do next. They are trying to avoid a root canal, but based on how it is feeling today, I don't think that is possible. So, I go through another weekend with a throbbing jaw. I really, truly hate dentists- they are sadistic.

Today is Friday!! Yeah! We have school lessons that need to be done. The girls have pulled out the sofa bed in the den and are lounging as we speak. I have made it to the point of wearing sweats, and believe that this is what I will stay in today. The temp has dropped after the storms yesterday. If the girls go out to play I believe I will be watching from the window today.



Monday, November 13, 2006

Who moved my cheese?

A few years ago there was a popular book out on the dynamics of the office environment. Its premise was about how people adapted or didn't adapt to changes in their environment. For the last year my life has been one big ball of change or the possibility of change (which is worse because you just don't know). And, it isn't slowing down any.

As we adapt to a new baby in the house, I am helping dh rewrite his resume & cover letter to apply for a position out of state. Not the midwest like we originally thought (although, that is still a possibility), but one here in the south. And, it would be a quick move for us as we would have to relocate right after Christmas.

By the way Kate, when you read this can you send me some info about your area?

Since I have no control over the situation, and am somewhat ambivilant about it, I am spending my time in an almost anal need to clean and organize before the holidays hit. Being in a holding pattern with life sucks. If we stay here there are renovations that we want to do to the house, but can't get started on them because don't know if we are going to be here. Don't want to spend too much time investigating the housing market where we are going because I don't want to get excited and then disappointed. So I clean.

I am also cleaning to take my mind off this throbbing tooth. I can't get in to see the dentist until Thursday (between babysitting issues and dentist schedule). The house is looking good and the girls are starting to answer to my requests with salutes (I guess I am being a little generalistic in my approach - hup. hup.)

It is a beautiful day, warming up nicely. The girls are having some outdoor recess raking leaves into piles and jumping into them. I would take pictures, but have not located the camera during my cleanings.

After I feed junior again, we will head over to the library to drop some books. Then be back at the house for the chimney sweep to come by. Somewhere in there we will finish lessons, send the children out to play with friends and fix dinner.

Tonight I will be tired and ready to drop, and then start thinking about how my cheese is being moved around - then I will be cleaning.



Tuesday, November 07, 2006

What Happened to Fall?

Our Winter weather has gotten off to an early start. For a few days we had lows in the '20s and highs in the low 50s. Now it is raining, windy and 55 degrees - Winter in NC. It makes one want to hibernate in front of a nice fire. Unfortunately, our firewood is in the process of getting soaked under 2 inches of rain and in order to actually get to our fireplace I need to find homes for a number of books & toys. I just wasn't ready yet.

Life around here has settled into our routine - nice for me, boring for a blog. Schoolwork is going, shall I say surprisingly well. The difficult transition after 'junior's' birth did not really happen. I got some new workbooks for K, and MB is enjoying the "Around the World..." activities, if not the actual book so much.

Yesterday I felt very accomplished. Not only did I get the laundry done, but it was also folded and put away before DH got home. All this, and we even got all our schoolwork done, 2 loaves of bread made, an the ingredients prepped for the soup I was going to make for dinner.

DH ended up making the soup for me, as he caught me scratching my head over three different recipes and trying to figure out how I was going to put everything together. The idea I had was to use up some of the stalks from the frozen broccoli (I generally cut off the florets to steam for our use and have stalks leftover - I know I can buy the frozen florets, but sometimes can't find them) in a cheese soup. I also had some ham I wanted to use up. My thought was to combine it all in a nice creamy cheese soup. The problem was I had never made a cheese soup before. My chef in shining armor saved me from a disaster by taking over an making one of the best soups I have eaten in a long time. We even had thoughts that the girls would not like the soup - based on the appearance, but it was a hit. Seconds were asked for and the soup was requested to be made again. A very yummy dinner when served with the fresh bread.

Today has been relaxing for me as DH took today off (using up vacation days before the end of the year). We all slept in until 8:30 and had a nice slow breakfast. He took MB and K to their chorus class and then was going to take them to the museum downtown that has a special space exhibit. So, I have the day off from teaching and am hanging out with the little ones. I managed to finish and send the Christmas wish list for the children to my mom. I also knitted up a new kitchen washcloth to replace one that was just nasty.

Tomorrow I go back to the doctor for my six-week check-up. I can't believe that it has actually been that long. The month of October flew by in a blur. November doesn't seem to be slowing down much either.



Friday, November 03, 2006

Hee! Hee!

All in all I have to say the girls have been very good with their candy consumption. I am somewhat surprised how much is still left in their bags. Yesterday afternoon when MB returned from an afternoon at her grandmother's she had been given the bag of leftover candy from there. She handed the bag to me and said, with a sigh, "I'm so sick of candy." I guess she won't mind when some of it starts to hit the trash can this weekend.



Wednesday, November 01, 2006

All Saints Day

Or the day that all mothers have to be saints to be at home with their sugar-riddled children. The whining for more candy began before the sleep had even cleared my eyes this morning. I guess they thought they could catch me while my defenses were down.

Halloween went well around here. I think we had just the right number of kids and no one showed up at 9:30pm this year. In fact the neighborhood was done by 7:30 - Yeah!!

MB, who is 6 1/2 going on 13, went out with her friends and a couple of other parents this year. In fact, she left the house about 4:00 with her costume in a bag so that she could surprise me with her costume Besides the purchase of some make-up, teeth and cape - MB put all the rest of the costume together.

K made an adorable cheerleader.

And EM was just so excited to get to go "OUT" this year.

We spent most of the afternoon teaching her how to say "Trick or Treat" which ended up coming out more "Teat!" than anything else. Of course we followed it up with a reminder of "Tank you" (misspelling intended to emphasize Em's pronunciation)

Today we are going to spend the morning trying to find the "love" in our schooling again, while I tackle the mountain of laundry. We have science club and soccer practice back-to-back this afternoon. I am going to put the crockpot back into use as we continue to try to find the new rhythm in our lives.



Monday, October 30, 2006

Monday Morning

Well, when there is incentive the work will get done. This morning MB informed me that the public schools were having yet another teacher workday. This means that I almost always have a cooperative child on my hands for schooling until it is done. After our morning snuggle with hot chocolate for everyone (kind of dangerous when I think about it now), she dove right into her morning assignments. Two pages of cursive practice and two pages of math. I keep it simple in the morning because I am also working with K and EM at that time on preschool stuff. Of course the phone and doorbell began ringing at 9:30 - "Can MB come over and play?" But she stuck with it, without complaining and got her morning assignments done. I have let her go out and have an extended recess until lunch with her friends.

Our afternoon is a little light today because we are going to start a new 'project'. It kind of ties in with our yearlong earth science study and incorporates Geography, which I am concentrating on this year instead of history. MB enjoyed 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea so much that we are going to read Around The World in 80 Days. I have put our World Map back up and, MB and K decorated hot air balloons yesterday. So, for the six weeks or so, we are going to follow the book around the world and study the science of hot air balloons. This afternoon, MB and I are going to go through some of the information I have found on the computer and plan out the next couple of weeks.

In other news, my cluster headache attack has ended up being a severe sinus infection - without fever. Thankfully it is treatable - unlike the cluster headaches. So the past couple of days have been much easier to endure. Of course I have to up my fluid intake even more than normal for a nursing mom to counteract the medicine.

Junior's check-up on Friday went great. He jumped from 4lbs 13oz on Monday to 5lbs 5oz on Friday. Everything checked out so I do not have to go back until his standard 2 month check up - and I am weaning him from the fortified breast milk. Which means I get to add in more nursings every couple of days. It will take a few weeks to totally wean him off - as they don't want to shock his system.

Friday evening DH took MB to try out for an indoor soccer team - the next level up from rec league. We found out Saturday morning that she had made the team. We will now have 2 soccer team practices & games going on until the end of November. I am glad that we are taking a break from gymnastics right now. We will have to see if she goes back to it after the new year. This team she is on is a year- round team, playing all four seasons. I guess I am a soccer mom now.

I guess that is about it on the catch up. I have dishes that need to be washed while everyone else is entertaining themselves.



Friday, October 27, 2006

Confession Time

Here is my confession for today - I really dislike most every 'holiday.' The stress of them all. The candy. The children's high expectations based on what someone else's mother does. I try to ignore them for as long as possible. I try to put on a happy smiley face for the kids - but generally fail. I just know that the children will be scarred for life because of my inability to become 'holiday mom.'

I am already stressing about Christmas - but first we must struggle mightily through the kids second favorite holiday - Halloween. I think MB first started talking about her costume this year in June. I first started thinking that I needed to do something for them on - say Wednesday. We have no costumes, we have no candy and we have no pumpkins (the biggest sin in the girls' eyes). And, to make matters worse I really have zero amount of energy to jump up to the plate at this late date.

K, at first, wanted to be a princess again this year. But, most of her princess costumes are ripped, stained, or just too small. She hasn't asked for a new dress this year (bless her heart). After some discussing I manage to convince her to be a cheerleader for our favorite college. Thanks to grandparents we have an unworn cheerleader outfit in the closet. Add in a couple of free pom-poms from recent football games and there you have it. Of course the song "Mickey you're so fine. You're so fine you blow my mind...." keeps running through my head.

Em ended up being very easy. In a box of boy clothes we received recently from one of DH's co-workers was a jack-o-lantern shirt - looking brand new. A pair of her black leggings and there you have it.

MB has probably changed her mind a dozen times. But has finally settled on being a vampire. Which means actually costume/make-up shopping. I did score fairly well yesterday when we went to run errands - found halloween make-up marked half off. So for a couple of dollars picked up some fangs, fake blood and make-up. Today we have to go to Wally World to pick up some items and MB said they have child-size capes there. I have my fingers crossed.

So, we are down to candy and pumpkins. Then I can get back to figuring out Christmas. And, on that note the one gift MB wants is an I-dog. I am okay with that - in fact my sister has an unused one that her daughter got and is willing to give it to us. The problem - one has to have an i-pod or MP3 player. I have to spend WHAT!!?! on those. I just don't like music that much. Of course I did notice that they have picture storage abilities - now I can get into having a portable digital photo album. We will have to see how that all falls out. I don't even know if we can hook up one more periphial to our computer without it upchucking the hard drive all over our office floor.

Junior goes in for another check today. And, of course he has managed to catch the cold that K & EM had earlier this week. I tried so hard to keep them away. I have never stressed over every little thing the way I do with him. Not even with MB, my first. Between two cluster headaches last night and laying awake listening for changes in Junior's breathing I got no sleep. The letters RSV....RSV keep floating through my mind. I wonder if this is going to be the case with him because he was born so little?



Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Lets talk about the good stuff

Like I needed more 'stress' right now - my cluster headaches have come back after a seven year break. Childbirth has nothing on the agony of these little monsters - but at least the feeling of wanting to kill yourself from the pain only lasts 30 minutes. It just means another hour I am up every other night. So, to prevent myself from falling into a pity party lets look at the good stuff.

Curled up in the smallest chair in the family room with all four children nestled on and around you during 'quiet' time. Being able to sleep in this position while they watch a DVD.

Junior is up to 4lbs 13oz. He should be 5lbs by his appointment on Friday. I will be able to add in more nursings and reduce some of the pumpings.

My dad took the MB & K to the State Fair on Sunday. They had a blast and got to ride all the rides that I can't take them on. (Unreasonable fear of heights)

MB being a huge help around the house and with Junior. I actually got the Family Room cleaned and organized this weekend.

Realized that Junior is happiest being in the Family Room with us during the day - no matter how loud and chaotic - he actually is sleeping better. He should fit right in and no tipping toeing/whispering necessary during his nap times (like that would happen around here).

So, I won't say I can't complain - because I always can. But, everyday there are joys and discoveries that somehow always seem to outshine the tears and pain. So, today, while I recoup from a very sleepless night, I will try to think about those. I will try to give each of my children something special from me today. And - I think I will scrub out the tub and give myself a bubble bath tonight.



Thursday, October 19, 2006

Fall Recipes

I love cooking, especially once it gets cooler. The stews simmering on the stove or in the crockpot. Wafting flavors from the oven. It is a time of creativity in the kitchen. We want to eat well in the winter - packing on those extra pounds for body heat. Dy has asked for our favorite fall recipes. I have a two meal thing I love to do in the fall, Eastern NC Pulled Pork BBQ (the long name is for everyone not living east of Greensboro, NC - Here it is referred to as BBQ and we know what that means. I use the leftovers from that meal to make Brunswick Stew, which makes alot and freezes very well.

I should also add a disclaimer that I use recipes as a general guideline - I have never been very good with following directions.

Pulled Pork BBQ

Since I don't have access to a whole pig or a pig cooker, we buy pork tenderloins or pork roasts when they go on sale.

2-3lb pork tenderloin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp dried, crushed thyme
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 tsp ground red pepper

If necessary cut the roast so it fits into slow cooker. In a small bowl combine garlic powder, ginger and thyme. Sprinkle mixture over meat and rub all over. Transfer meat to slow cooker. Pour broth over . Cover, cook on low-heat setting for 8-10 hours or high heat for 4-5 hours.

Remove meat from cooker, reserving the liquid. Skim fat from juices. Using two forks , shred meat and place in a large bowl. Add one cup of cooking liquid, vinegar and red pepper to meat in bowl. Toss to combine.

Can be served on hamburger buns or just as a dish. Goes well with green beans, french fries, corn breads, corn, etc.

Brunswick Stew

I use the leftover pork meat to make this stew. If I have limited pork leftover I can add chicken (precooked) also. In this dish the amounts are approximate - It should be a heavy, hearty soup.

leftover pork/cooked chicken
1 med onion - sliced
2 (16-oz ) cans of tomatoes (whole or diced)
2 cups water
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp cayenne
3/4 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
1 16-oz bag frozen lima beans (last time I made it very heavy on the veggies and used larger bags of frozen)
1 16-oz bag of frozen corn
2 slices of bread - cubed (used to thicken stew if necessary)

Using a large stew pot or dutch oven, sautee onion slices in butter until golden. Add in all the ingredients (except bread). Bring to simmer and cover. Let simmer for about 2 hours - minimum. Can be left on longer - the more it simmers the thicker it gets.

This makes a meal. We have it with either fresh bread or corn bread on the side. It reheats very well and is often better the second day after cooking.
Each day this week has gotten a little bit easier. I am still pretty sleep deprived and I really dislike the pumping to get milk to feed in a bottle. But, a routine is developing and that just seems to make things a little bit easier.

Junior is 'waking up' and is now able to demand his feedings. At the hospital, because babies are generally so sleepy, they feed on a schedule. For the first couple of days I had to walk around with my cell phone alarm to remind me to go wake him up, change him and feed him. Now, he has his own little schedule and when he is hungry or wet he lets us know. He also has two really awake periods for more than an hour each that he just likes to hang out with us (in other words be held by somebody in a room someone else is in).

The girls are learning to be much more patient and have realized that if I am feeding or pumping, then they either have to wait or make do themselves. MB has stepped up and is helping out alot with K and EM in this regard. I am so glad that MB can cook several lunches in the microwave by herself.

We have continued with school-lite. It is making it easier to stick to some sort of school routine for the girls. I don't have a lot of energy for any sort of creative learning at this point. But, at least we are hitting the highlights. Enchanted Learning has been my friend this last week. The girls have really enjoyed doing several Halloween worksheets off their site. I have also used it for some extra worksheets for Volcanoes for MB. I have finally gotten K to work on writing her name, as she normally just likes to write random letters. In the last couple of weeks we finished reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne and Vacation Under the Volcano by Mary Pope Osborne. Tonight we started reading Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. At least this is something we can do right now - it only takes a little bit of energy to read aloud to the girls. Of course the stopping and flipping through the dictionary on every page for MB, while very educational, really slows down the process.

Tomorrow morning I have to take Junior in for another blood draw and a weight check (a weeky thing for awhile). Unfortunately I found out tonight that I won't have anybody to watch the girls for me. A little worried about dragging everyone in to the doctor's office. How does a mom of several do this. I am not too concerned about the older two, it is the monkey child, 'I'm into everything' 22 month old. Reasoning, threats and bribery just doesn't cut it with her, yet. I have thought about calling some neighbors - but am not sure how any of them would respond to having three children dropped on them at the last minute. At some point, I realize, I am going to have to suck it up and learn how to get along with four children. I figured it out with three - it will just take some time. Dy or anyone else with this experience, if you want to chime in and give some suggestions for four children at the doctors I am all ears.

Well DH just came in and gave me orders to go to bed. Have a great night,



While I was loading pictures anyway...

Some other shots from September and K's 4th birthday.

Bringing home baby pictures

Okay - Okay. I have trie several times to get the captions to stay with the appropriate pictures I give up. Use your own imaginations to come up with whatever caption you want. ;)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

First Day Alone - First Day Out

Today is my first day entirely alone with four children. I am not as comfortable with it as I had planned on being months ago. Of course, then I was expecting a healthy term baby and I wouldn't be writing this entry for a couple more weeks.

DH went back to work yesterday and My mom left yesterday around lunch time, after my sister flew in, to get ready for the funeral. But, my MIL came over for a couple of hours in the afternoon so I could take junior to the doctor for his follow-up.

Junior is doing fine. He gained another 2 ounces in the one day he was home - putting him up to 4lbs 7oz. He is starting to regulate his own hunger, as opposed to the hospital schedule. He wants to eat about every 2 hours vs. 3 hours. Which is great, except for the fact that I am having a difficult time increasing my milk supply using a pump to meet his needs. He needs 2 1/2 oz of breast milk mixed with a fortifier for the majority of his meals. Feeding him is much more complex and time consuming than for any of my girls. I have to feed him (about 20 minutes) and then pump (another 20-30 minutes) plus the diaper and occassional outfit changes that go with each feeding. Night time I get to sleep in 1 1/2 hour spurts - fine if I could do it all day along with him - but difficult when I am taking care of the other three during the day.

The girls are really adjusting well. They are relieved that all the extra people are gone from the house during the day (except for their daddy - they would like him to be home all the time too). We have managed to maintain our work in math and spelling/grammar. Earth Science has been covered with recent events and general reading. MB has decided to make her own recent strides in reading - so I am leaving her alone for right now. The big hits have been computer time with their new Jumpstart programs.

Today, beyond the whole "I have to feed, dress, and keep four kids alive until 6pm by myself" we are also heading out to MB & K's choir classes - en mass. I have my sling pulled out and the diaper bag packed. They are just afew things that need to be picked up from the gorcery store - but I think DH can get them on his way home. I am not ready for that trip yet.

We are just so happy to have the family whole and at home.



Sunday, October 15, 2006

He's Home

Yes, finally. After another sugar check this morning they gave us the go ahead to bring Junior home. Of course we have follow-ups and all that over the next couple of weeks, but it is really nice to have him here with us. Because we had been expecting him home over the last few days the pre-release stuff had pretty much been taken care of so we were out of there in about 30 minutes.

The girls are excited to have him home. MB an K are very, very good with him. We are going to have to keep an eye on EM who thinks he is another baby doll - he is about that size.

I am going to take a nap while I can.



Saturday, October 14, 2006

Quick Update

I have not had much of a chance on the computer all week. Plus, I have not felt much like updating. Our emotions have been riding the gaumet this week. We get all ready to bring Junior home and then a backslide happens. I was hoping that sometime this week I would be able to update with - He's Home. Unfortunately that has not been the case.

But, the week overall has been good. During this week Junior has managed to gain back his birthweight, plus 3 more ounces. He is know just shy of 4lbs 5 oz. He is totally off his sugar IV and is in fact only hooked up to the monitors that he has to be hooked to as a patient (heart beat and respiratory). Since he did not respond well to formula as a supplement it took us awhile to find the right 'feed' for him. It ends of being breast milk mixed with a fortifier. It is like feeding him a high-calorie milkshake. It has allowed his sugars to stay up high enough in recent days that we have been able to start 'transitioning' him.

DH and I have been able to spend a couple afternoon and evenings with him in the hospital family rooms - where we can totally take care of him and he is off the monitors entirely. They are only checking his sugars twice per day.

Hopefully I will have good news on Junior in the next couple of days.

On the sad side my grandmother who had been pretty sick for several years now passed away last night. My poor mother doesn't know which way to go right now. The funeral is Wednesday, but I will not be able to make it.

I will try to check back in soon.



Monday, October 09, 2006

Two Ounces

We have had some good news over the last two evenings. Junior has gained back 2 oz, an is only 3 shy of his birthweight. He has perked up in the last couple of days and is really starting to eat well. I think he would take more - as he nurses well, from the bottle but they are slowly building him up due to the reflux issues he had early on.

Tomorrow he should be moved down to the lowest concentration of his IV solution and start the final weaning process there. He just needs to continue maintaining his blood sugar.

I am feeling so blessed by everyone - real life and internet-world. Thank you all for your well-wishes and prayers. If I haven't responded to you yet I will try to soon. I am not getting all that much time on the computer as you can understand.

We are trying to maintain some semblance of order around here. The girls are still doing some level of school work each day. Probably more now than what they might get for a few weeks after Junior comes home. My local homeschooling friends are being very supportive in providing rides and such. We also have some great neighbors who are opening their doors for the girls to come over and play and give us all a little break. DH will be home for one more day and then will go back to work on Wednesday. My mother will be up here to help me with the girls and trips to the hospital.

Gotta go pump and then off to sleep for a few hours.



Sunday, October 08, 2006

Surreal Week

The last day that seems 'real' to me was a week ago today - Sunday. Since then I feel like I have been living in a dream. I don't feel like I can reclaim my equilibrium before something else happens. My life is reduced to hour-by-hour decisions, while also trying to think ahead about when we need extra help to watch the girls.

Thursday night after watching my alma mater (NC State) beat Florida State - Go Pack!, we flipped on the news only to find out all the sirens we had been hearing during the night were for the chemical fire going on about a mile away from us. About that time we started hearing pops, like distant fireworks and watching the sky light up red with fire. Then we received the call to leave our home. We had a choice to stay, but then we couldn't leave later. Since I am running to the hospital every three hours it wasn't really an option for us.

Quickly we packed up what we thought we would need for the next day and put out food & water for the dogs. We really thought we would be back by the next afternoon when the wind changed direction. We went to stay over at my in-laws. Unfortunately, we couldn't get back home until Saturday. I had to go shopping for clothes and shoes (forgotten in the rush).

Saturday morning when we were given the 'all clear' DH dropped me at the hospital for junior's morning feed and came home to see how much dog 'stuff' he needed to clean up before we brought the girls home. When he came back he told me that a tv camera crew had asked to film him and HE LET THEM INTO MY HOUSE! Can you imagine what my house looks like this week - now add in two dogs cooped up for 36 hours. He told me that it was an upstate NY station - okay I won't kill him this time. Later that afternoon our neighbor called us to say that he had seen my husband on MSNBC - three times and had taped it.

My emotional state right now is as up and down as junior's sugar levels. The best news of the day is that he is off the bili lights. Unfortunately he is not responing as well to the reduction of his sugar drip and has had to have an umbilical IV insterted. Then today, they had to re-insert the umbilical IV. If this doesn't work he will have to have a direct line catheter inserted. We are hoping, that since today he has really, really started to eat more and is nursing well 3x's per day - that maybe that also will help with his sugar stabilization.

Right now he is only on breast milk because he did not respond well to the formula they were trying to supplement with. The doctor's and I are happy with that. But, he may need more heavy duty vitamin/mineral/protein supplement which would mean an additional IV and additional time for weaning off that.

He does so well for a day and then backslides, it is difficult for us. It is so hard to watch and sometimes I just don't want to go there - I just want them to call me when he is 'all better'. I can tell that this is difficult for the neo-natal staff also. It isn't something firm that one can see and know exactly what will fix it. It is all based on how junior, as an indiviual, responds. Which means the treatment plan changes from glucose reading to glucose reading. There is a lot of "let's try this" and "let's try that."

The goal at this point is the end of the week. It depends on him maintaining his sugar and starting to regain his weight. I will try to update as I can.



Thursday, October 05, 2006

Thursday morning

Junior is doing very well this morning. He has pooped and is cleaning out his system - that is the biggie for right now. He has also kept all his feedings down through the night and I get to nurse him today beginning at lunch. He is still under the bilie lights and will stay there today. We will meet with the pediatrician tonight and hope to have a better idea of when we will get him home.

I am doing okay. My physical recuperation from this delivery has been very fast. I am missing having all my family at home with me - but know that Robbie will be better off if he gets this care at the hospital for now. My day is revolving around pumping and being at the hospital at certain times for feedings and such - as these are the only times I can hold him. In between I am at home trying to spend some time with each of the girls. The blessing is that we live less than 5 miles from the hospital so this is possible to do.

The girls are reacting to this in each their own way. EM, being the littlest is clingy and whiney. She got up several times last night and just needed me to come in and give her pats and kisses. K is being the little mama to her dolls - feeding, changing and putting them down for naps - constantly. MB, basically wants life as usual right now. She is making it to most of her activities and this morning has been working through her school basics with me as I have pumped and taken care of some other things.

I'll try to give updates as I can.



Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Junior made his early appearance Monday evening after some continued problems. The birth went well. Junior is early and small, so he is being kept at the hospital for a little while longer. I came home today and will be going back and forth to the nursery for feedings for the next few days. The doctors are hopeful that he will be home sometime this weekend.

He looks a lot like EM, just a little smaller and thinner. He has a temper and is a 'little fighter' according to the nurses - which is a good thing. Once he is able to keep some food down and 'poop' all should be well.



Thursday, September 28, 2006

Yep - That was my day

MB did not wake-up this morning until after 9:30. Yes, the child that was insistent on having a 6:30am wake-up an her own alarm has already developed alarm deafness. She is her parents' child. Since she was so late waking up and I am running on limited energy resources right now - I gave her the option of whether or not she wanted to go on the field trip we had today. Honestly, I did not really want to trek around the other two to the field trip and then on to our errands. She decided that no, she wasn't very interested in going.

Our preschool 'fun' activity today was going to be drawing with chalk on dark construction paper - nothing but a different medium. But, it does include all of them at their own level - EM is into all sorts of coloring and scribbling, K is into writing all these three-letter words and rhyming families she is learning off of the Leapster games, and MB just loves to be involved in what the little ones are doing. I put in a tape of Tom Sawyer to get a little sneaky literature into our morning. The activity went well, for about 5 minutes. Then, MB is dragging the chalk board from the bedroom down the hall to the family room, K is fussing with EM because out of the 15 pieces of pink chalk that we have - only one will do, EM gets that gleam in her eyes because she can see that she is pushing K's buttons and so proceeds to push it even further. Of course, once MB gets the chalk board into the family room ALL of them want to use it.

I try to distract EM with the Aquadoodle - which ends up enticing all of them and EM ends up back at the chalkboard.

Before Chaos totally erupts around me, I get everyone into their shoes and we head out for our errands. A little change of scenery. My grocery run was highly succesful. The main thing we were needing to pick up was sugar cubes for MB's science co-op - But, I notice in the sales fliers a few other good deals. In total I spent about $40 today, but the store value was over $90 - so I was very psyched about that most of the afternoon. The best deals were the $.49/lb chickens, $.88 canteloupe, cans veggies for < $.30 after store discount & double coupons, and the 'free' oatmeal.

The errand run worked on the girls and we all came back to the house in a happier mood. I, because of the deals; the girls because they ran into an old gymnastics teacher who was working at the grocery store and got them each balloons (which I never do).

We had lunch, quiet time and then it was suddenly time to head over to MB's science club meeting. I visited for a little while before we had to leave MB there and come home to meet the babysitter for the other two.

Because of our time crunch (appointment, science club & soccer practice), dh volunteered to go pick MB up from her science club and take her to Soccer practice. Kudos to him for getting involved in MB's homeschooling. At least he got to experience the excitement she gets from being a part of the group and he got to be the first one she shared her project with, etc. He also got to meet some of the other mothers.

This evening it has been the girls and I, since it is daddy's night out. So, we have done very little. I have mainly been sighing over the amount of housework that needs to get done, vs. my total lack of energy level and imposed limitations. I could have probably 'cracked the whip' a little bit harder this evening and gotten more things done - but I just wanted to laze with the girls. We had been so busy all afternoon.

It is finally quiet around here. The kitchen, while not spotless in clean enough, laundry is ready to go tomorrow morning and the girls already know to expect a day of lessons tomorrow. We are not going anywhere (except to drop one bill in the towns bill drop).



Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Schedules, food and things about best laid plans

Fist an update. When I went back for my follow-up OB appointment Monday my results were back from the lab and I did not, after all have an UTI. The various symptoms are still about - all though not as bad as they were last week. It seems that I am just in another long/pro-longed prelabor period (I did this with MB also). The doctor has no idea - but since nothing seemed threatening to me or the baby, has just decided to wait and see what happens. Junior seems to be doing well, although he is ready and just waiting for the door to open, so to speak. The midwife seemed slightly putoff by how low I am carrying him now - especially for a fourth pregnancy and only 35 weeks. My mom did have to remind me that at the beginning of the pregnancy there is some doubt about my lmp, and the midwife I saw then suggested that I may be 1-2 weeks further along, which would put me at 36-37 already. Apparently this has been noted and the comment has been made that they would be comfortable at this point if something did happen, letting it happen. I am not on any sort of bedrest at this point, and have been allowed to resume normal activities - just try to get some rest and not overdo it - you know those commensense things that fall by the wayside when you are home with three young ones.

Still working on the diet thing for MB, for all of us really. It doesn't seem to be that far of a stretch for us when it comes to meals, we are already including many of the foods that are suggested and I am doing more scratch cooking just as part of our $$ saving. The hardest part has been getting her to eat, anything, recently. It is like the more I emphasize, the more she just rebels against eating. So, I am going to revert to underground tactics on this one and de-emphasize it with her for awhile. I thought maybe if she knew and had input she would take more ownership. Oh -well

MB did ask for a better daily schedule for us. She is totally obsessed with clocks and time and when certain things are done. Part of our school day on Monday was sitting down and organizing the schedule. I have done it in pencil at this time to allow for a period of time for us to adust it. She wanted to wake-up at 6:30 (like her friends do) - I nixxed that. I wake-up at 6:30 and want at least an hour of my time each morning. We compromised for 7:30 - then she asked me last night to reset her alarm clock for 8:00. Obviously, we are not morning people. The only other discussion and arbitrary decision I made was that school was going to last longer than 1:30-2:00pm. Her schedule was kind of like - free play, snack, recess, lunch, school (30 mins), quiet time, free play, dinner. She still thinks of 'school' in terms of the day care she went to until she was almost 4.

Our loose, loose schedule goes: wake-up, lounge time (the girls need this to fully wake-up), breakfast,dress, am chores, preschool activites - floor time/independent work for MB, snack, recess, group project (arts&crafts, errands, something), lunch, quiet reading - nap time, MB-mom school lessons (while the younger two are having down time), computer time, free play, pm chores, dinner, evening activities. We'll see how well we follow this schedule. It seems loose enough for me. And, MB can 'know' what she is supposed to be doing.

Anyway, my computer time is way past over so I need to go throw food at the masses.



Saturday, September 23, 2006

Fretting, Fretting

Being a mom is tough. Being a mom to the oldest is horrible. Especially when the oldest has the personality quirks you worry about the most. Out of my 24 hour day - I probably spend more time worrying and fretting over MB than the other two put together. Its not that the other two don't deserve my fretting too - there just seems to be less there to fret over. It is the constant question in my mind: "Is this normal? Am I being paranoid?"

MB came pre-packaged wound-up tighter than a top. Awake, alert, fussy, active. She has a very active go-get personality and gets along relatively well with others. Other people rave about how much they like her personality. Of course, being with her so much, I do tend to get to experience more of the fallouts - but that is to be expected. Being that she comes from a long-line of high-demand, active children - we have just chalked her little behavior patterns to that and figured that she would grow out of them. (side note: Not to make her seem all bad - she can also be extremely sympathetic, very helpful and is wise beyond her years in some regards - but right now I am worried about the other end of her spectrum)

So, since I have had very little else to do but observe her instead of being in the battle with her, I am starting to wonder if there isn't more going on? I've noticed in recent conversations with her some esteem issues becoming apparent and she herself has wondered if she is different some way. I don't really care to have her 'diagnosed' at this point - as it really doesn't matter to me if she is ADHD, hyperkinesthetic, or hypoglycemic. They all have very similar behavioral patterns and are treatable in many of the same ways. Having her on meds for ADHD would not be an option for us - I will not put my child (a child of a parent with a history of substance abuse) on speed. It just isn't an option for me.

As I was saying before I went off to clarify my stance, I have been able to observe and try to make sense of some of the patterns I am seeing. And, I am really leaning toward dietary changes to begin with, and if we can get stabilized than work on behavior changes. Right now we seem to be so pitched in battle position that we cannot not even begin working on changes.

I am hoping to encourage a higher-protein diet. We are not sugar freaks around here, but I will try to limit that even more. MB generally makes good decisions regarding her diet - carrot sticks, bananas, apples, etc. In fact, I sometimes wonder if she gets enough 'fat' in her diet. So, I am trying to find lists of high-protein foods and menus , especially breakfast, that she will eat. Eggs are a wonderful source, except she only likes the white of the egg. I am also trying out milkshakes in the afternoon - a little before the time she normally goes into meltdown H*ll. I tried a little milk-coffee with her the other morning, but could not get her to take more than 3 sips.

I know I am rambling and probably not making much sense. I just finally have some quiet time around the house to be able to be on the computer and I wanted to get this out. I am really, really struggling with what to do with her. I love her so much. She is my first born and has so much potential, I just would hate to see something knock her off the path. At the same time, I can't spend so much of my day either in battle with her or tip-toeing around her. I have other children to love, raise and educate. I want to do the right thing - but I struggle so much with knowing what the right thing is with MB.


A family of six living and learning. You might catch us outside in the mud or working on crafts. We always seem to be on the go, come on and join us.