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.


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.