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Friday, August 29, 2008

When words fail

My friend-

There's nothing I can offer that isn't limited by my hugely inadequate ability to say anything that will ease you pain, but on the off chance you are reading this, just know that I am heart-sick for you, and that we are praying for you and your family.

Cling desperately to the truth that God's ways seem strange to us at times, but that is because His ways are perfect according to His plan, and we see just a piece of that plan and even then we see it through the veil of our humanity.

I wish I had more comforting words, but God is the ultimate comforter and healer, and He will supply your needs.

If you are reading this and are not the obviously intended recipient, please join me in sending up a prayer for this family...God will know who you are praying for and what their needs are :-).

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Guess who said it?

Mommy, okay you get me some more water?

In just a minute, I'm finishing my ice cream.

MOMMY. I starting to get sick.

MOMMY. I can't breath.

Oh, yeah, why is that?

Cause you not gettin me somethin to drink.

Yep, she's going to be the death of me :-).

And then there is her ever present confusion of pronoun genders (everyone is a she) that occurs in the most interesting reciting Bible verses.
Her Cubbies verse was "God loved us and sent His son."
In Sari speak, that becomes, "God nuved us, and she sent she son." It's good there's some wiggle room for 3 year olds in AWANA :-).
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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Confessions of a totally out of control homeschool mom

Okay, so I've been reading y'all's blogs and feeling like the highest aspirations my children will attain to is going to be cleaning your children's houses some day. I mean, Kiwi's got Sonlight going, Aunt Fanny actually has a SCHEDULE, that brainy tree girl has already been on a field trip, and in Marie's house they are inventing the cure for cancer.

And us?

Well, in the past year I still have not even had one day in which I have covered math, reading, and our curriculum for all three kids. Not one. And I really am not exaggerating. I start each day with good intentions. But then it all falls apart.

Today, it started with breakfast, which went fine, but then I let the dog out, and asked Mimi to feed Thumper. When she went to feed Thumper, she quickly beat a hasty retreat because of two really persistent wasps. She told me there was a nest in our outdoor light switch, so of course I had to check it out. And she was right. Not only was there a nest there (with HUGE wasps, and a large number of them on top of that) but there were several smaller ones (the ones Mimi had actually seen) who had made their homes in some holes in the bunny's feed dish. Really. So then I was on a wasp eradication mission. And I finally did get them, but it took a while. Then I got inside and washed my hands, and looked up to see, yep, a wasp IN MY HOUSE! And of course for some reason the fly swatter is in TJ's room. And of course he couldn't find it. So I had to stand there and wait, Croc in hand, for it to land in a place where I could squash it. It did, and I did...or so I thought, but I couldn't find the wasp carcass anywhere. And then the phone rings.
So now, I'm hunting for a wasp and talking to a new homeschooling mom who wants to join our group. I find the wasp-he's not dead, just stunned and in my flowerpot, manage to get it outside, talk with this new mom for a while, and end the conversation just as another person is beeping in.
It's my mom. She's having a colonoscopy today, and they called to tell her they wanted her there now and not 2 hours from then when she thought she was supposed to get there. And it is of course not at the closest hospital to us. no. It's 40 minutes away. And my step-father is no where to be found. So, hey, what are you doing today? You mean besides school...which we've yet to get to? We are doing absolutely nothing. So, since you are doing nothing, could you drive your step father out here if I can reach him. Oh sure, we can always start school in January.
Actually, I would totally have driven him out there. I mean, she's my mom, and of course our schedule is totally flexible to accommodate family in need, but that's the point...there is always something, and usually it's something novel, and totally unplannable-is that even a word? In the end, he made it out there himself, so I wasn't needed anyway.
In the end, TJ and I did get his reading done, Mimi did reading too, and Mimi and Scott did about half a math lesson. Scott practiced a little piano. They also worked on their AWANA. And, we played a game called Chunks. Jennie swore by this game many, many years ago as the thing that got her child reading. And I of course ran out and bought it. And have not used it since. So today, we played it.
Chunks consists of plastic tiles printed with onsets or letters that typically begin words and others of a different color printed with rimes or frequently used endings of words. So some tiles have things like b or d or sp or th on them, while others have things like ook or ould or are or ear and you draw one tile of each color and see if they make words. As an added twist, even if the onset and rime you drew don't go together to make a word, you can exchange them with another pairing of onset/rime to turn that word into two new words (for example, if you already have the word small formed from sm and all, and then you draw b and art, you can make the words ball and smart instead of ending your turn without having made a word).
It was fun...


well, as you've maybe already imagined, you can make some...unusual words. Forbidden words. Words that make kids giggle and adults blush. Luckily, we never drew any of those words. The worst we had was f and art which do indeed spell the word fart . But the rime uck is indeed included since it's used in words like duck and truck, etc. Just hope you don't draw an f with it. A couple times I asked the kids if they could make, well, a better word, and they rose to the challenge with help from me. And that leads to the other challenge with this game. Your kids either need to be amazing spellers, or you must play with them. Because they may draw ch and are and think that they have the word chare when it is really spelled chair . It's a good game for that very reason...they learn the correct spelling of the words, and that phonics doesn't always cut it, but in the mean time, you, or a dictionary, will be an integral part of the game.

But the kids had fun, and we played a game that was collecting dust on the shelf, so I feel good, but we still have miles to go before our school day really feels like school is getting done. Lookout, my kids may show up on the doorstep to be enrolled at Winchester Academy or Hillside Hollow or the Smith Schoolhouse any day now :-).
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She just never stops

Today, Sari spent some time drawing with glue that we then covered with glitter. While she was finishing up with some glitter glue that she could do herself, I snuck away to the kitchen to get lunch ready. From the other room, I heard her talking to herself. I wish I had run to the computer right then (instead I called DH to relate the story to her) because the word-for-word replay escapes me, but she was saying to herself how much fun she was having....and then she launched right into, "and having fun isn't hard when you've got a library card." I tell you , there is no part of our lives Scott Humston's magic show hasn't infiltrated ;-).
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Even more Sari-isms

Mommy, okay I have some fire crackers?

Some what?

Fire crackers.

OH, sweetie, those are graham crackers.

LOL...we only ever eat them with smores, and of coures smores involve it makes perfect sense!
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Monday, August 25, 2008

I'm not gifted in prophecy...

but I can tell you how this is going to go.

I was away for the worst 24 hour period of rain and wind associated with Tropical Storm Fay last week. Mimi was with me. Well, Saturday when I walked into her room I could smell that smell. You know. The one that smells like a mix of cat pee (and we don't have a cat) and mildew. Yep. The all-too-familiar, in this house at least, smell of wet carpet.

But we had a busy week-end. Crazy busy.

And sometimes, I enjoy living in the land of denial.

But today, as the smell is now all pervasive in the main living areas of the house, I realized it was not going to just dry up on its own and go bye-bye.

It didn't take long to find it.

If you can visualize, her room is 19 feet long...and 7 feet across. Yes, it's an old house, and nothing is normal. It would appear that water came in and drenched oh, at least 8 feet along the wall, and out a distance into the room. And the wood panel on the back of her dresser, which now resembles a fun house mirror. And the doll house that my grandfather built for my mom when she was a little girl-the carpet under that even had fuzzy mold spore growing on it. YUM! I have yet to tip the house over and actually view the bottom because I need to move all the furniture out of it first.

I'm still moving things to see how far this goes, but as far as I can see, the carpet will need to be removed and new flooring put down.

Here's where the not-so-prophetic part comes in. I am sure insurance won't cover it. Why? Because it's my life, and we've had stuff like this happen before. See, eons ago, long before we bought this house, Mimi's room used to be a porch, and as such, it had little drainage holes in the half wall along the front of the porch. When the porch was enclosed they filled those holes, and we've not had a problem for the 7 1/2 years we've been here with any of those holes leaking.

Until now.

Now, I'm fairly certain that's where the water came in, although there is no clearly visible "hole". And as such, I am fairly certain they will say that it is poor craftsmanship, not the weather, that is responsible for the water getting in. And they don't cover poor craftsmanship.

I'd LOVE to be wrong about this!!!! And I have a call in to the insurance company. But if y'all could join me in praying that it WILL be covered, that would be great. Obviously, we have a deductible, and it may be that the cost of the repairs won't exceed that anyway, which has also happened before, but I'd love it if it was at least partially covered. Her floor is concrete under the carpet, so at least there was no under-flooring that was damaged (that I know of at least). We've been wanting to removed our carpet anyway, so this flooding is really a blessing too.
And we were planning in switching the girls' room and TJ's room, so maybe this will be the impetus for that...and we'll just blow off the whole school year in favor of home renovations, LOL.

I'm just rambling now, so I'm going to go feed my gaggle (plus one neighbor girl who is out of school today and needed a place to be) some lunch.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

I always wondered...

what blogs get chosen for the "random blog" thing that you can click on. I guess all of them do eventually, but this time after one of my posts I generated 4 comments from people I didn't know, so mine must have been up. One was unkind...why bother telling people their blog is boring...I'm not bloging for their benefit anyway. One made no sense. But two were nice, so I kept them :-).
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Too much of a good thing...

is still too much.

We need rain. Really. NEED RAIN. I mean, we have docks that haven't seen water in years. All the lake levels are low, and in a state whose main drinking water is drawn from an underground aquifer, we really need the fill 'er-up that Fay is giving us.


But this year, I was also experiencing a bumper crop of oranges. Oranges, oranges everywhere. On our 20+ foot tall totally organic tree (read that as we just neglect it and it produces oranges anyway). This is the biggest crop we've seen since we moved here 7 1/2 years ago.

So what's the problem? Well even before Fay, we were finally experiencing a LOT of rain. Now we are getting another foot or two. And this is what is happening everywhere I look on my orange tree.

The oranges are just splitting open from too much moisture.

I was initially thinking we might even have oranges to sell this year, but now I'm wondering if we will even have any left to eat by the time they fully mature.

Just a reminder from God that He holds everything in His hands, that balance is always the best way, and that too much or too little of anything can both be disastrous.

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Just a few more

I just realized I should have cropped this so the image would be bigger...oh well. I was out in the rain yesterday, and I was struck by all the pollinators out in the inclement weather. This wasp, and the fly below it (that dark blur in the leaf) were just a few of the critters out flying around and dodging raindrops.

I wish this was crisper, but the breeze was blowing so I was focusing on moving targets.

Not the best picture, but this flower was just so unusual and I don't think it will still be in bloom when the rain and wind lets up.
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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A new computer and a renewed passion

Ok, so I'm up and running again on my new computer. It's only my 4th or 5th for the year. Actually, it's new to me, as it was my husband's until a few weeks ago. It seems to run great...just give it a few days in my possession though...that will be the true test ;-)

Because I now have plenty of memory, and because we have so many beautiful flowers in our garden right now, I spent some time today taking photos. I LOVE taking pictures, and it's been a while since I've gotten to play with my telephoto lens. Sorry to bore you to tears, but I thought I'd share some. The overcast conditions really made the flowers stand out, and all the colors are real and not retouched. I could have toned them down a bit, but I wanted you to see how brilliant the colors really are. Oh, and of course there are pics of the kids! Hope you enjoy!

This is the same flower as the one above. See how flat it looks from this perspective, but how raised the middle really is?

Oh, and with the new computer I lost all my bookmarks for now, so if you have a blog, I once again have no idea how to find you. Send me an e-mail with your blog address!

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Monday, August 18, 2008

really random update

first, my shift key isn't working, so excuse the lack of capitalization and proper can't get to the exclamation point or the parentheses without a shift key.

second, we had our first sunday service in our new building on sunday. it was amazing. if you want to see pictures, go here.

also this weekend, mimi spent friday evening through sunday with RM at her new home about 1 1/2 hours away. she had a blast. they are great little friends.

RM has a dog about 1 year old that is of the same breeds that Riley is, so we got a glimpse into how gargantuan he may become, although we really hope not.

last week, we had not-so-fun appts. on monday, mimi, sari, and I all got fillings. on wednesday, scott had to get impressions made, and on thursday, tj got a filling. poor tj. his upper lips curl upward to constantly show his two front teeth.

well, under the influence of Novocaine, that natural state was relaxed on one side of his mouth. he looked like he had bell's palsy. i don't have a picture because he was hypersensitive about it, but for you 80's folks, just picture my little angel with a david bowie snarl. it was pretty funny.
here's his normal smile...see how much of his teeth and gums you picture one side like that and the other flat as a pancake.

on friday, i got a call reminding me of a dermatologist appt. i had made a year ago. for monday. well, it's good we don't have a life, so i was able to go ;-0...that's supposed to be a smiley face. I went and he saw one questionable mole that he opted to remove because just a week and a half ago it had a scan develop for some reason. since i was there, and my deductible was met, i had him remove the large protruding mole on the side of my face by my eye. it's been there for years, and is getting gradually bigger, so off it came. and it's matching mole on my shoulder. no more built-in play toys for sari....she loved to mess with them. anyway, now i have two boo-boos on one side of my face, and one on the opposite shoulder, and i'm struggling to figure out how I, as a side-sleeper, will be able to sleep tonight. i've also torqued my upper body somehow so i have some muscles cramping. this too shall pass.

oh, while i was picking mimi up for RM's house, RM's mom cut and highlighted my hair. she also flat ironed it. I'm pretty glammed least until it rains.

and that bring me to the whole tropical storm fay thing. you'd think a catagory 5 was bearing down on us for all the closings and craziness, but if it goes as usual, it will be a wind and rain event. no fun when you have a puppy to take out (a fence is sounding really good right now-look, my shift key worked for a second and I got a parenthesis...and it only took 30 attempts to get the closing exaggeration)

final thing. much like our pastor's recent meeting with his superiors, my husband got invited to lunch with his bosses today. enter the ominous duh-duh-duh music. the good news for us is that he still has a job. the bad news...pretend there's a question mark there. the bad news is that he loses his current office...and about 1/4 of his pay. Not stressing about it. god will provide. he's done it everyday of our lives, and we've been in far more dire situations with the actual total loss of his job twice in the past few years.

feeling caught up now/-yea, that's a shiftless question mark. we have a fun end of the week coming up with people blessing our socks off. first mimi has a sleep over birthday party to go to that i get to go to a fancy place a few hours away. second, someone bought some tickets to The Witnesses, which is the sequel to The Rock and the Rabbi which was phenomenal, and they gave them to us to go on saturday night. oh, and they did this for several couples, so we get to go with friends. oh, and there is childcare provided. someone pinch me, I must be dreaming111-those are shiftless exclamation points.

my shiftless computer and i are signing off for now. stay safe and dry, and if you are reading this and need refuge because fay suddenly goes all andrew-like, you know the bomb shelter is open to all, but it's byof,w, and tp...that'd be bring your own food, water and toilet paper. oh, and bedding and roach spray might be nice...hopefully i'm just kidding about the roach spray, lol.

'night y'all

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Friday, August 15, 2008

The Schoolhouse Planner

Once upon a time, there was a mom who seemed to thrive by flying by the seat of her pants when in reality what she really craved was organization and order. The problem was that no matter how hard she tried, she never seemed to be able to break things down into small enough pieces so that the whole idea of organizing didn't overwhelm her. She yearned for order, but it eluded her at every turn. Especially when it came to organizing her home and homeschool.

Does that sound familiar to you? I will willingly confess that that "once upon a time" is now, and that mom is me. No matter how sincere my intentions, I seem to get overwhelmed almost before I begin, and before I know it another homeschool year has flown by and I'm no close to having...or sticking to...a plan than I was a year ago. This year I have set my mind to be different, but knowing I've never made it on my own before, I knew I needed help.

Enter The Schoolhouse Planner.

Put out by the folks at The Old Schoolhouse magazine, this planner has the best of everything. It sells for $39, but its organization value is priceless. And lest you really organized people think this is not for you, let me just say that this is THE resource that offers a place for everything and everything in its place. It's the framework that people like me need to begin, and the amazingly detailed lists that highly organized people crave. Best of all, it comes in a downloadable format offering you the flexibility of printing the pages you need and binding them (or not) in the way that suits your needs best.
The first part of the planner offers calendars of 2008 and 2009. Then there is a two page spread calendar for each month along with a "homeschool-must-know" list (for example, October's is Countries and Capitals) and an essay by well known authors in the homeschool community on topics like Unit Studies or why homeschoolers should learn a foreign language. And best of all there are recipes each month too. I can't wait to try some of them out!
More than just a planner, this is an excellent resource too. Beyond countries and capitals, there are lists of the period elements, holidays, famous artists, and famous composers, just to name a few. It also contains the full text of important United States documents complete with links to other sources. Well beyond what most planners offer, but so nice to have consolidated in one place and at your fingertips if you need to look something up.
My favorite part though is the forms. There are forms for everything! For "school" type stuff, there are annual plans, yearly goals, curriculum planning, educational objectives and so many more it's impossible to list them all. Some don't apply to my homeschool now, and some may never apply, but that's the beauty of this electronic planner... you can print what you need, and save yourself the cost of pages you don't need. My favorite form, given that we have spent many years as unschoolers, is the "Unschooling Record Form". Only TOS could find a way create a record form for unschooling, and it's really good! Also, there are forms for books read, websites visited, field trips, extracurricular activities, crafts done, and science labs, just to name a few. And record keeping pages like nature study pages. There is truly nothing that they have not though of.
Finally, there is a section for home as well. And again the forms are amazing and comprehensive. You know all those ting you should keep record of but don't? Things like warranty info and household inventory? Well, there are forms for all that. And garden plans. And lists of things loaned and borrow. And it just goes on from there. I'm telling you it's crazy that they could even have thought of all this!
Our church is finally done building out our first building, and I can finally turn my attention to planning my homeschool year. I don't have much time, and normally I'd be in panic mode. But I have never been so excited about doing planning as I am now that I have The Schoolhouse Planner in hand.
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Woo hoo!!!

We are in! We got the CO on the new building and Calvary Chapel of the Lakes will be meeting in our new location on Sunday morning. Praise God!
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My cousin's famous...kind of

My cousin and her husband own a schooner (The Nathaniel Bowditch) in Maine and offer Windjammer cruises. Here's a nice article about her role in their business. If you want to see that rogue curly hair gene at work in another family member, check out the article and Cathie's picture. Before Mimi's hair got longer and a bit darker, if she was sitting in Cathie's lap, you couldn't tell where Cathie's hair ended and Mimi's began.
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The Old Schoolhouse goes digital!

Anyone who knows me knows that keeping house is not one of my God given talents! But lately I have really been trying to reduce the clutter in my house. The problem? I LOVE to read, and that is reflected in the large amount of magazines we get every month. I'm also, well, a BIT of a hoarder. I tend to hold on to things thinking that someday I'll use them again. This has been especially true of one magazine in particular. The Old Schoolhouse magazine. It's probably the best and most comprehensive homeschooling magazine out there. And each issue is chock full of really great information...things about homeschooling your special needs child, science experiments, art projects, unit study ideas, curriculum name it, it's in there. And presented in a Christian perspective, which means it's full of loving encouragement too. So I hold on to each issue, just certain that I will use it again.
I'm totally lacking any organization system for going back and referencing those amazing and wonderful articles...
And having all those magazines that I eventually just throw out seems so not environmentally friendly.
Which bring me to the whole purpose of this post. The Old Schoolhouse had gone digital! Yep, you can get the whole magazine delivered via e-mail. You can view it online and/or download it to your computer.
But wait, it gets better!
Probably my favorite feature is that you can share any article via e-mail with up to 5 people. It never fails that I read the magazine and think, "Oh, Lisa just has to read this" or "WOW! This is great information about _____ (fill in the blank), I should share it with Susie." but then I never quite get that far because I'm not willing to part with the actual magazine, and most days I'm doing good to have gotten my kids up, fed, "schooled", and off to their various activities, never mind making photocopies of articles for people.
But now? Now I can just e-mail them.
I can e-mail them to myself and create topical files in my e-mail program to keep them in so that I can have them at my fingertips any time I want! Environmentally friendly and user friendly at the same's the best of both worlds! The digital magazine also offers archive access to past issues you have subscribed to in case you need to get back to them.

I'm sure some of you are like me, and enjoy the "tangible" flipping of pages, but the people at the Old Schoolhouse have thought of everything. You can "flip" through the pages, just like you would in a hard copy. Or, you can view the table of contents and skip to a particular heading. OR, and I think this is the best part, you can view thumbnails of all the pages and just click on the one you want to go to. For visual people like me, that's a dream come true! And all the pages are there, advertisements too. Usually, I'm an advertiser's worst nightmare because I just skip over them and never even notice they are there. But homeschool ads? I love 'em. All those cool products, all those great books, all those must have unit studies/science labs/time lines? I LIVE for those ads. And a great plus to the virtual magazine is that you get active links in the ads, so if you are interested in learning more about a product, you can just click on the ad and be whisked to the appropriate website. Very cool!

As if it couldn't get better, the digital subscription is not only greener than the paper version, but it's cheaper too. It's only $16,95 a year, and you can find it here. The paper version of the magazine starts at $25 and can be found here. For you international folks, the digital price is the same no matter where you live. Oh, and did I mention that both come with FREE gifts? Yep! 19 free downloadable gifts/e-books with each digital subscription AND if you subscribe before August 21st, you get a free Around the World E-book (valued at $16.95) to enhance your Olympic experience. This was especially GREAT for my family as we continue with our My Father's World Exploring Countries and Cultures curriculum!

So what are you waiting for? Subscribe now!
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Wednesday, August 13, 2008


People keep asking about the puppy. He is very sweet, but BOY is he work. He recently learned that he can grab the edge of the garbage bag in the garbage can, and then pull little by little until he has shredded the whole bag...and dumped its contents into the bottom of the now bagless can. YUCK!
He also can get up on the couch at will now, and tonight he learned to jump over the barrier we have been using to keep him from roaming free in the living room. Never a dull moment!

Here's the shredded bag...
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Yummy things from my kitchen

Here's a bit of what I made last week...

Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE to bake, and this is Cris's bread recipe. I made one batch of cinnamon rolls and one loaf of bread. I have to say, these were the BEST. They really gave Cinnabon a run for the money, even without frosting.

Yummy bread

Chicken stock in the making.
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Monday, August 11, 2008

Looking for me?

I've been over here. Our church is nearing occupancy completion (although I am sure there will still be work to be done after we "move in"). We, as a family, have been up there almost the entire week-end for the past 2-3 week-ends, and almost every week night. My husband is the construction dude (I guess foreman or supervisor might be a more official term) and the only way to see him is to go up there and help.
We started a blog to keep the church up to date, and the pastor's wife and I keep it updated, so that's where I've been. Hopefully I'll be back to my usual blogging soon. Until then, check out the pictures at the link.
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Friday, August 8, 2008

Can I confess something to you?

I have no use for sports, but I am an Olympic junkie. Yep...the rest of the new church building is going to have to remain in need of OCD paint touch-up because the Olympics have started.
Is there anything NOT to love about the Olympics (if there is I don't want to know about it)? All the nations coming together in the spirit of athletic competition. Putting aside their differences for a few days in favor of supporting our athletes. I love the stories...the sappier the better. I LOVE that our flag bearer is a Sundanese refuge from Darfur. How amazing!
I love the ethnic costumes. I wish our country had a national heritage that involved quaint attire. I really LOVE the feel of national identity those costumes give. It's way more meaningful than a suit.
I love watching the athletes during the opening ceremonies. So many of them will never stand on the medal stand, but this night with the parade of athletes, they are all equal, and they all get their moment to shine. If you've ever watched Cool Runnings, you have a glimpse of what some of these athletes have gone through to get there. If you haven't watched it, go rent it now!
I love that the Olympics tends to bring out the best in the host country. Sure, they are usually still riddled with problems, but China has actually spent bazillions of dollars cleaning up their air quality in Beijing. Why? Because of the Olympics. Tell me their citizens don't benefit from that, and it wouldn't have gotten done if the games weren't happening there.
I could blather all night, but I just wanted to say I LOVE the Olympics, and if you are trying to reach me, I'll be a little busy for the next week or so, LOL.
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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Critter catch-up

Here's Thumper (or, as Sari calls him, "Bumper"). See how he's got two different lengths of hair going on? I don't know if that's some sort of delayed summer shedding or if it's a result of his mixed breed heritage. Maybe Crispy knows?

Riley and Thumper meet.
Riley barked and growled at Thumper...Thumper ignored Riley completely.

Since he couldn't play with the bunny, Riley settled on the stick instead.
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From our garden :-)

Sunflowers and the fun little bees they attract.

Tomatoes-they may be little, but I hear they are tasty, LOL.

Peppers. We also have banana peppers, but all the big ones were harvested before I could take the picture.
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Monday, August 4, 2008

Happy Belated Birthday Scott!

The whole catalyst for telling Scott's story was that his birthday was June 25th. We are always in NY for his birthday, so he always gets gypped in terms of celebration at home (I still haven't had a party for him).

I can't believe my baby is 11. He's changing in so many ways. I look forward to watching him become the man God intends him to be.

Happy Birthday Scott!!!!
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Friday, August 1, 2008

The rest of the story...

50,000 things I should be doing...and here I am at the computer. But, I need to finish the story so I can blog other things.
SO back to the baby story. Scott was hooked up to every monitor they owned, but he stayed in the nursery and never had to go to the NICU. His o2 sat rate was constantly watched. His heel was pricked every 3 hours to monitor his blood sugar and his bilirubin levels were also checked regularly. He never was jaundice enough to need lights, but as you can probably tell from the pictures, he was pretty yellow-ish. He couldn't digest his food, so he went form a tube in his stomach to an IV in his head. His poor body had soooo many holes in it! His heels were just purple, but he hardly whimpered as they stuck him. When he finally could "eat" and digest it, he got 5cc's per feeding. That's all. That's like one teaspoon of fluid, but any more than that and he couldn't handle it.

(In the hospital with the IV in his head. Can you see all his blond hair? He was the first baby they had seen to be born with a full head of BLOND hair. He actually needed a haircut to trim over his ears and his neck.)
Scott couldn't nurse. At first is was forbidden. Nursing burns more calories than bottle feeding, and they wanted him to gain weight quickly so we wanted him to keep all the calories he could. (Men can skip the rest of this paragraph.) I did pump for him, but until your milk comes in that doesn't really provide much in terms of volume. Finally, they allowed one nursing session a day, but we had challenges there too. I was now a double D and then some, and his head was like a C at best. His mouth was even smaller, and he just couldn't seem to latch on in a way that didn't cause me pain. Again, it did not go according to MY plan at all. So I tried nursing once a day, and pumped for him the rest of the time. Sadly, he never really "got" nursing. We almost had a good session once at the hospital, and I left strick instructions for them to use a dropper to feed him that night, but the night pediatrician (NOT our peditrician) came in and overruled that, and that seemed to have sealed our fate. I pumped for him for 3 months exclusively, and always tried to breastfeed too, but we never got to a point where I could nurse him without having to bite my finger as hard as I could to redirect my body's pain receptors. To say it was excruciating would be putting it mildly. Again, I know that that experience and the wisdom I gained AFTER that with the next three kids were all for a greater good, and I've been able to share from personal experience and help others to overcome the problems we had.
I remember great frustration at the hospital at the fact that Scott could not be in my room because of his issues. All around me were moms who were sending their new babies to the nursery so they could get a few hours of shut-eye, and I would have handed over the keys to my house if I could just have had my son with me for even a short time. I was so jealous. I wanted to tell them how lucky they were. How I would so welcome the "imposition" of having my baby keep me from sleeping. As it was, I didn't sleep for the first 36 hours. Everything with Scott was so unknown, and anytime I finally did crash from exhaustion, they would come and need to take my vitals or draw blood or something. I never dreamed that when he left my room after delivery that he would not be back in "my" possession until he finally went home.
Scott was born on a Wednesday. I was discharged on Friday. It was our fifth anniversary. My in-laws wanted to take us out to dinner to celebrate. Let me say, there is something terribly wrong with going in to the hospital pregnant, but walking out without a baby. I know I was fortunate, because for some women that is a permanent condition. For us it was temporary. But it still felt like I was leaving a piece of myself behind.
Because of the "rules" that governed Scott's care there were times I was not "allowed" to be with him. Night was one of those times. (He might not have been in the NICU, but he certainly wasn't a regular nursery baby either. Really, they kept him there because they could. They didn't have any other babies who were in there for keeps, so they could devote extra care to him.) SO what do you do when you live an hour away, you are discharged, but your baby is not? Well, that night my in-laws got us a hotel room. For the first time since I was a small child, I cried myself to sleep. It was terribly difficult to not be with Scott. The next night we spent at the Circle of Friends house. It's along the same lines as a Ronald McDonald house, but much more rudimentary. (I'm not sure how much we slept, and that day/night my milk came it and it was horribly painful without having a baby to nurse.) But we spent our days at the hospital anyway so the fact that our lodging was less than glamorous was not a big deal.
We got a huge surprise on Sunday. All our interventions had successfully kept Scott from losing much weight at all (the lowest he got was 3lb 15 oz.) and he had started to turn around by Sunday. Because he was essentially stabilized in other areas too, they felt that he could go home as long as we had a home health nurse come daily to check his weight, bilirubin, blood sugar, and do an assessment. We were ecstatic. We never expected that. You hear so often that babies must reach a certain weight (usually 5 lbs.) etc., but I'm forever thankful that they did not have that rule.

Here's Scott dressed and ready to head home. He looks like a little seriously tan doll, doesn't he?

When he came home, he was literally eating 5cc's at a time. We increased by 2 cc's each time and watched how he did.

See how big his hands are relative to his arms? It was crazy!

He was a projectile vomiter. I shed more than a few tears watching him puke up the "liquid gold" I had just pumped for him. He also got thrush and had to have nasty medicine that didn't work. In the wee hours of the morning on morning, I dropped the bottle and spilled most of the syrup-like $60 medicine on the floor. Yep, that was another tear jerker. That's how I became an expert on thrush and how to beat it.
In the end, he was back to his birth weight at one week and the home health nurse only had to come to the house for a week. At 6 weeks he was 8 lbs. 5oz. (a respectable newborn size, LOL). By 3 months, he was 12 lbs and actually had fat on his body and a double chin.

A little on IUGR: No one knows why it least not to "normal" people. It's far more common in smokers, drug users, and alcoholics, as well as in lower socio-economic sectors where they don't receive pre-natal care. But for people who don't fit that profile, there is no real cause. Essentially, IUGR babies an have all the issues a pre-mie can have and then some, since something caused them to not develop properly. There are two types; symmetrical and asymmetrical. Symmetrical is actually the worst. It means the body was uniformly denied nutrition and hence development. Symmetrical IUGR babies measure "behind" everywhere...head circumference, body circumference, bone length, etc. Asymmetrical babies have shifted the nutrition they receive so that a disproportionate amount goes to the brain and vital organs at the expense of the liver, muscles, and fat. In these babies the head circumference is usually about right, and the body seriously lags behind. For Scott, his head measured at 36 weeks and his body at 31. Asymmetrical babies do better in the long run because their brains and heart were not as deprived as symmetrical IUGR babies.
One website offers this information:
Neurologic development is also related to the degree of growth restriction and prematurity.23 Decreased intrauterine growth may possibly have a negative effect on brain growth and mental developmental potential.24 At baseline, children with a history of IUGR have been found to demonstrate attention and performance deficits.2
Basically, they have an increased risk of motor and neurological disabilities. In Scott, this has manifested itself in the form of Sensory Intergration Disorder (a disorder on the Autism spectrum...for more info see this website), and perhaps other things we don't have a name for (yet) but live out on a daily basis.
I love my son. He made me a mother. And I trust God totally and completely that His plans for both Scott and I are perfect. But not a single day with him is easy. He can be the best child in the world one minute and reduce me to tears the next (and not in a good way). His issues are complex and run very deep. How much is IUGR? We will never know. Lots of kids have sensory problems who weren't IUGR. But I definitely think there is a link in this case. And (here I go out on the conspiracy theory limb) I had a ton of dental work done while I was pregnant with him...including the removal of some amalgam fillings in teeth where more cavities had cropped up. Everything was done very carefully and following all the preventative protocols, but I really think there may have been a mercury induced reason for the IUGR and Scott's subsequent problems. I wouldn't trade a difficult day with him for another day of childlessness, but that doesn't make it easy and sometimes it gets the best of me. I think every parent wants the best for their child...wants them to be successful, intelligent, well liked for who they are. And it's incredibly painful when they aren't...and when sometimes you don't like them very much either. But I always LOVE him. And he definitely keeps me on my knees and humble before God :-).
Anyway, thanks for reading his story and sticking with it this long! I needed to get it all out before I lose the details. I'll probably do the other kids as their birthdays approach.

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Scott's Story part three

So what do you do when a professional tells you that your baby has a 90% chance of dying during the next 7 days without ever having drawn its first breath? You go have a baby.
I wasn't mentally "there" yet. I just wasn't ready to go to the hospital and have a baby. So we went back to the midwife's office (the next step in the process anyway). While I might not have been ready mentally, physically I was already 3 cm and 70-80% effaced. She "stripped" my membranes and then graciously allowed us to go back home (a 45 minute drive) and get our "stuff" and then head to the hospital. It turns out the hospital couldn't have taken us anyway...they didn't have a room. I was to report to the hospital at 3. At 3:30 they finally had me in a room.
Induction is no fun. I had planned a totally natural birth. Yet here I was hooked up to every conceivable machine. Because of Scott's small size, they had to monitor the entire labor. They even placed a sensor on his head to be sure they knew how he was reacting. There were so many unknowns as to what caused him to not be growing properly that no one was sure what his condition was and how well he would tolerate labor. All that monitoring meant my dreams of walking around/showering/laboring how I wanted were all tossed out the window. Just add pitocin for the perfect mix of exactly what I didn't have planned. But God's plans are not always the same as ours.
Around dinner time labor was, well, awful. Scott was facing the wrong way (posterior) and my back was killing me. Pitocin, and the urgency of the situation with Scott, did not allow for a gradual, natural progression. My midwife, who was very much like a doula in that she stayed with me almost the whole time, had asked if I minded if she went to get dinner and I of course had said, "no" so it was just my husband and I and my "I can't take this anymore" thoughts got hte better of me. I caved and asked for pain medicine. BUT I was smart enough to ask for only half a dose. It was even more awful than labor without the medicine. It spaced me out and made me terribly groggy...until a contraction came and then I was in intense pain, but had been to out of it to cope with it at the onset, so it hit like a ton of bricks. Looking back, I wish someone had said to me, "These contractions you are having now are as bad as they will ever be...they will just get closer together from this point." If I had known that, I would have never gotten the drug. But I think God used that experience for 2 things. First, that was the genesis of my wanting to be a doula. I realized the importance of an advocate in labor. SOmeone who could encourage you at just the right time. Who KNEW about labor from a personally and clinical perspective and could giv eyou infromation to help you make decisions. THe Second thing I got was empathy. Empathy for mothers in challenging situations. For mothers being induced. For people opting for "drugs" in labor. While I consider it my biggest mistake, I know I have been to that point where taking the edge off sounds REALLY good. Where my mental perception of things got the better of everything I knew and wanted.
So anyway, after about an hour the medicine wore off, and because my labor had slowed with the stadol, the pitocin was again turned UP. There's a consequence they don't tell you about! Things got serious then. My midwife had returned. I was in control of my metal faculties again, and we were all ready for a baby. At 11:38 that night, Scott was born. My labor had been 8 hours long. Not bad for a first labor, and a foreshadowing of the short labors to come ;-).
Until the moment he was delivered, no one could tell me whether I'd even be able to see him or hold him right away. There were so many unknowns. But he was great. Not "without problems" great, but great enough that I could see him and hold him and he wasn't whisked away to the NICU. He was 4 lb. 5 oz. at birth, and 18 inches long. Everything was formed correctly, but he had no "meat" anywhere. His arms and legs were sooooo skinny, and he had the longest fingers! He's since put those to good use with the piano.

He's not dead...just sleeping. Apparently stretching out sounded good. But here you can see the skinniness.

Here's my husband's hand for a size comparison...

Sadly, once they whisked Scott off to the nursery, he did not come back to us until he left the hospital. We were allowed to see him...sometimes. I spent most of that first night by his side, but then his oxygen desaturated when I left and they did not allow us to hold him or touch him for a whole 24 hours. It was THE WORST 24 hours of my life. I know SO MUCH now that I wish I had known then about advocating for myself and bucking gentle against the medical protocals, but again, God had a bigger purpose for my trials-they ignited within me the fire to do just those things.

I want to finish...really I do...but we have to leave the house in 10 minutes and I have to make sandwiches and get everyone ready. I promise I'll finish soon...
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