Friday, November 4, 2011

Very Much Overdue Post

Thankfully, I was not overdue! We got through the last month of pregnancy with few incidents, lots of sorta-labor, and lots of nesting. I kept picking up my iPod to blog only to see a speck of something and go on a cleaning/organizing rampage. Not a particularly fruitful exercise since it always gets undone! I just had so much nervous energy waiting for labor to kick in and trying to settle the details for my older kids.

In the end, I opted to augment things through a mild cervical ripening, trusting that if my body was ready, it would respond. If it wasn't ready, we could go home and wait a few days. However, I was losing weight and there were concerns about GBS and placental health. The induction was very mild overnight and was effective. Since I only had one doctor available , my last two practitioners missed my births, and I tend to go very rapidly at the end while remaining pretty calm, we knew our best bet was to have her when the doctor was definitely going to be in the building. It was so good that we did. Her cord was around her neck, and things went so rapidly that the doc had to be called out of a friend's prenatal appointment! The labor was a bit tougher, but I was prepared for that. They did offer epidurals, but they don't work on me after a back injury, and I coped pretty well. I did manage to avoid pushing until the doctor arrived and suddenly didn't feel like pushing when he did because I had successfully breathed through some awful contractions. I pushed her out with 3 pushes in 2-3 minutes and got to hold her after a minute of blow-by oxygen because she was blue from the cord. In the end, I got what I wanted because I had a manageable birth within a timeframe that worked for my family. Dan said, "there's ideal, and then there's what actually works in our situation." I totally agree. It was the birth experience that worked best for all of us, and I have no regrets.

She is an excellent little nurser, she is content and happy 95% of the time, and Dr. O' tells everyone what a perfect fourth baby she is! She sleeps great in our bed and wakes up around 4am for a feeding that I mostly sleep through. I can cut a 1am feeding by nursing her at 11pm. Her Daddy quits grading then and comes to change her diaper and wakes me to feed her. Those nights she sleeps from 11 to 4. We know how fortunate we are to have this pattern, but we've also paid our dues with IM and Nub, who were terribly fussy babies thanks to colic and ear infections.

We were talking about how if we had been "Babywise" parents, we would be so frustrated with this sweet little girl who naturally cluster feeds during the day and sleeps long periods of time. If we tried to put her on a schedule, we would feel guilty for holding her so much. We would be concerned by how long and how frequently she nurses and be forcing her into a schedule that a book dictated to us. It's asinine. We would be missing out on her natural patterns of waking, eating, and sleeping, and we'd have a grumpy and frustrated baby with grumpy and frustrated parents. My baby is wise enough, thank you!

The other kids are transitioning beautifully, including Nubby, who is more upset to have her Mom-Mom O' gone now. They all love their sister and are so interested in getting to know her. It's such a blessing!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Working out the details

This week has been busy with Dan's work, baby prep, and keeping the house/kid stuff running smoothly. We successfully transferred ownership of the CR-V to my in-laws, although we had to make it technically a "sale" since we were missing a piece of paperwork that still hasn't arrived. The visit is short, but we'll see them again when the baby comes.

I will be 37 weeks on Sunday, which is considered full-term. She's active and certainly trying to make enough room without much success. We are all looking forward to having her here, and I've been sorting through there details this week. I wrote up instructions for short-term caregivers who will help out until Dan's mom gets here, and I wrote an email to the boys' teachers detailing our plans and asking them to call my cell if anything is unclear. I wrote my birth plan, aka "leave me alone until I hit transition, then get the doc here now" plan, and I still need to write out instructions for my MIL so that she doesn't worry about doing something that I won't like. Honestly, nothing she'll do will be a problem, but it will help her feel at ease to know my preferences. We've known each other long enough for her to know that I'm particular about how I do things, and she wants to honor that. I've known her long enough to of course trust her, but I know she wants to try to do things my way in my house. I appreciate that! I will have to get some paper towels because not having them will probably gross her out. I'll have to label my homemade cleaning supplies so she knows what they're for, and I'm going to get some pull-ups for Mara who will certainly be regressing then since she is now.

My to-do list remains daunting. The crib still isn't put back to infant mode. The kids' rooms, the LR, the bathroom, and the kitchen still need paint. The painting is leftover stuff that we should've done after the move, but it seems more urgent now that I'm nesting! We need a bassinet, a soft carrier to wear the baby in, and a changing table. The gear will come along at some point, but it leaves me anxious not to have things settled. God provides so abundantly for our needs that I know it'll all work out in time.

The biggest struggle is that we had no idea how busy this semester would become. Dan is presenting a paper in California in November, his department is reviewing its curriculum, they're hiring someone new, he has 4 classes of nearly 100 students total, he has faculty meetings and just other random events to show up for. It's a lot. And yet he manages to be so sweet and helpful at home. He's amazing. For me to work or go to school would be nearly impossible. I'm definitely in the right place for this point in our lives.

Stub of a post I started writing days ago

"This week is off to a rough start with me being 36 weeks pregnant, rainy weather, seasonal depression making its debut right on time (Oct and Feb for about 20 years now), M having potty regression before the baby comes, and the Jedis ha
ving 2 days off school. Today is an election day, and yesterday was an in-service day. Not sure why there is no school on election day since I'm certainly not going to haul my minions out to vote in my condition.

I've been grumpy for days. I'm getting plenty of sleep, but the extra chaos combined with my hormonal agitation is making it a rough week all around. The Jedis will return to school tomorrow, and I'll be able to finish up some things on my pre-baby list."

What a difference a few days and some sunshine make! It's Friday, and I'm looking forward to a weekend with my loves.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


This week is humming along after a rough weekend with behavior. M has been getting pretty manipulative and crying a lot, but she also has 3-4 teeth coming in. Typical interaction?

M, put your panties on.
I have to go potty.
So go, please.
I have to watch Blues Clues.
No, you have to obey your mommy. Put your panties on.
I have to go potty.
So go.
I'm hungry.
So put your panties on and go eat the snack you didn't finish.
I want cheese.
No, you have a muffin that you only nibbled. Eat your muffin.
I have to go potty.
So go.
I want my little potty chair.
Nope, it's messy. I put it away. Use the big potty.
I want to watch Blues Clues.
Not until you go potty.
I can't.
Do you want to wear diapers?
Nope, I wear my panties.

This can go on all day. I recognize the lunacy of trying to reason with someone who won't even wear underpants, yet I have to try to get her to make good decisions on her own.

The boys were very difficult on Saturday, and Dan had to work for several hours. They were completely bonkers in church. When we corrected them with verbal reprimand and extra jobs, they pulled the "poor me, you want me to be sad and die" nonsense. Total malarkey. So we added jobs for each "poor me" comment and told them that they can accept correction with a right heart, or they can work all day. One brother got it sooner than the other. Parenting with our issues requires so much consistency, and work seems to be the key for them. I need to stick to the job chart on Saturdays so that it doesn't turn into Lord of the Flies boys in underpants/costumes watching Netflix all day and treating me as a short-order cook. When I make them work, they choose to watch less tv. They find good things to do when they're no longer on the hook for chores. I don't ever intend to give them unlimited screentime, but it happens that way on the weekend if I don't get them busy with some helpful chores. I explained this to Dan today, and he said that he never would've thought of it, but it seems to be the case. Hopefully I can get everyone on board and make this family clean-up a habit. Family mess-making sure is one.

This weekend we'll have my in-laws visiting. They have offered to trade vehicles with us, a minivan for our CR-V. The cars are of similar value and condition, so it's perfect . We're looking forward to a visit with them, and we'll see them again when the baby comes. I'm headed to the OB this afternoon and am hoping for a head-down girlie!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Poor little blog

So this blog has been neglected recently because things have been crazy, and I've been blogging for the local parenting magazine. I blog about food additives, behavior, and toxins in the home. Sort of using my family's sensitivities as a case study in greener sorts of options but trying to make healthier choices accessible for a broader range of families. It's been interesting to put my writing out there to an audience of strangers.

I've also spent some time in the doctor's office taking A-man to his yearly exam, which was really positive. He had previously been thought to have ODD, but it's looking more like ADHD right now, which is easier to manage. The doctor is fine with my natural approach with melatonin-enhanced sleep for more compliance, and he's reasonably supportive of our use of supplements. He does medicate kids with our level of behavior issues (and he saw A on a good day!), but he knows it's not my preference, so he wants us to try therapy first. A-man is in the 70th for height and 55th for weight, so he's growing really well. The school routine is mostly getting easier, and the doctor even got to see him peacefully doing homework.

I checked into the hospital for a few hours of monitoring because I was having what were determined to be panic attacks. They come for no reason and leave me feeling disoriented, sweaty, and anxious. The doctor did several preterm labor tests and found no cause for concern. The trigger seems to be caffeine, which I've been off of for several days now. It is helping a lot. I only seem to get them now in moments of actual stress, but it doesn't take much. I'm doing lots of house/family stuff when I have energy, and I'm crashing when I don't. I'm able to do a bit of community stuff as well, and it's a good outlet.

I usually get into a bit of an emotional funk this time of year, likely because the reality of 8 months mostly indoors makes me anxious. I've got a better support network than a year ago, I'm not wasting my time at moms' groups where I won't find my tribe, and my home and family are more settled. My solution is lots of structured routine for the kids and lots of soup and bread for dinner. Good healthy comfort food!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hoosier odyssey

After several weeks of Facebook private messages floating around, my siblings and I managed to coordinate a surprise party for my parents' 35th anniversary. My family drove to Anderson, Indiana, on Saturday morning and arrived at my sister's home with 30 minutes to spare. Being more Martha than Mary, I was worried that I didn't have the perishable food I needed to share for the party, and unfortunately I missed their arrival, but it was huge! Mom was shocked to see all her grandkids there, including those from GA and WV. We ate lunch at Arin's and went swimming at Mom and Dad's, where Mom whipped up dinner out of nowhere for 17 people. We hadn't made dinner plans, but we all helped get dinner going. We slept at Mom and Dad's, had lunch Sunday morning, and had a nice big photo shoot before hitting the road.

We were so blessed to be able to visit Notre Dame for a while on Sunday night and Monday morning. My best friend's babies are so sweet and so cute! Dan got some resources from the library for an upcoming paper that he's writing, and the kids and I enjoyed reconnecting with our friends who are still there. We tried hard to keep things low-key for the hostess and her new babies, especially since they've been inundated with other guests and travel of their own. The visit was just perfect!

The return trip home was less smooth, but I have to give credit to my patient little crew. We checked back at our hotel, where Dan left his iPod on the bed, but it was apparently made the property of an employee via the finders-keepers principle. Crap. Then we stopped at the store for a few items and hit the road. The Ohio state line was as far as we got before traffic came to a standstill. For at least 90 minutes. The cause appeared to be a fatal accident, judging from the wreckage when we finally passed the crash site. The kids were all incredible little troopers, watching videos and playing DS games. What I learned about travel with my kids is that A-man will most assuredly drive me bonkers unless he has headphones. If he has something to listen to, he is a very happy kid. If he doesn't, he will talk or make bizarre noises with his mouth for the entire trip! $7 well spent, my friends, and the lesson is well-learned. I will not leave the house on a long trip without headphones for him again. He could not go 15-20 seconds without speaking, interrupting, or making noise. This meant no conversation or podcasts for us, which cuts all enjoyment of the trip for us. Even with the major delays on the return trip, all was well because all 3 kids had headphones and an entertainment device. Hallelujah!

Today is all about getting the laundry caught up and getting our week back on track, a challenge since it's a busy one too! I was tempted to go to the laundromat to do it all in one shot, but that would involve hauling my laundry somewhere and probably still take too long. The tortoise and the hare lesson seems to apply here, so I'll keep at it with my slowly dying heating element in my dryer, dagnabbit.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

One step forward...

Nubby had a minor potty regression this week, but is back on track. The trigger seems to be having my attention divided, particularly when the guys are home. It's just not on Dan's radar to ask or check to see if she needs to go, so I have to be extra vigilant until she gets back to alerting again. Fortunately, we have 2 months to get her back into the routine.

We've got an abundance of social things going on these days, more than we can keep up with, actually. A nice change from last fall when things got overly lonely. Nub and I went to a local beach with another family and had a lot of fun. We have open house for school tonight (not at all social) and another playdate on Friday.

The Jedis are settling into their routine, and A-man is clearly going to have a rough year. His teacher is dismissive and unpleasant. Communication with her tends to confirm every negative thing I've ever heard about Steenrod. She sees wiggly boy who can't stay on task. I know a smart boy who is a perfectionist and who is constantly working out a narrative in his head. Dude will be a writer of something. He struggles to focus on the task at hand because he really does have the channel changing inside his head all the time.

Last night I worked with him on actual homework for 45 minutes, then another 45 after dinner to work on his spelling lesson. He should ace it, but he just doesn't always understand the directions. I was sure I'd be homeschooling IM if the need arose, but school is much more of a challenge for A-man. I do feel that something is wrong when he has a teacher he doesn't like and who seems to not like him, or at least seems to be only able to focus on the negatives that she sees in class. However, I know his attitude would be better if she were more encouraging. Now that I'm on this end of the parent-teacher relationship, it's time for me to be the stereotypical parent and blame the teacher, only I usually tend to blame my kid ;). I know my boys are nutty and are a handful.

Steenrod has a tendency to try to push those kids out to protect their standardized testing scores. What they don't get in their shallow perspective is that my kids are really bright. I feel like NCLB makes drones, and my kids are just a lot more imaginative than traditional education is set up for. Still not feeling like homeschool is right for now, but I may have to make a change for A-man in January to protect my kid from hating school forever!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

School begins and nesting takes over!

I'm feeling good about the Jedis' first week back to school. They balked at the routine a few times, but mostly they didn't have time to fight it now that they leave 45 minutes earlier. The bus ride isn't that long; they are just on the first run, and it does give them time to eat breakfast at school. They have the option to eat at home if they get ready in time, but A-man isn't usually hungry right away, and they eat the same stuff for breakfast at home: juice, fruit, cereal, maybe a waffle. It's $.30/day/kid and saves us a lot of hassle.

We're still working on training the Jedis to cross a small street, walk safely through a small parking lot, walk along a dead-end street, and come up our street independently. It's 3 blocks, but I can't see the whole route from home, and I want them to do it reliably by the time the baby comes. Yesterday I met them at the stop and A-man totally walked all over the place and was not at all safe. Makes me very nervous! I think he and I will go walk the route a few times today for practice. The big thing is to avoid having to wake and load a toddler and a baby to drive 3 blocks every day in the winter. I'm very nervous that I'll tumble down the stairs while holding M's hand and carrying baby sister. We've gotta make this work!

I've been able to get the guys through their homework after school as well, a policy I was unsuccessful in enforcing last year, opting instead to wait until Dr. O' was home to help me settle everyone and keep M out of the way. Now she colors or plays while I sort through papers and help the Jedis get the work done quickly so that they don't have it hanging over their heads the rest of the evening.

While my home has had its clutter mess and random disasters, I've felt good about the routine. I did a Weekly Home Blessing on Wednesday and was able to have Dr. O' bring home a new colleague for dinner, for which we had Tuscan Chard soup and Peach Crisp and, of course Caprese salad ;). I overcooked and over-diluted the soup, but it was still pretty yummy. I couldn't find my peach crisp recipe, but I found one that worked well enough, but I think it had too much butter in it. Oh, well!

Having an impromptu dinner guest over makes me notice all the grimy spots around my house, so I attacked my kitchen on Thursday and Friday, eliminating clutter and wiping and straightening everything. I have a box of papers left to sort and a few freezer shelves to scrub, but I'm nearly done. I'm going to the hardware store to see if I can find some touch-up paint for the kitchen rather than painting the whole thing. I don't think the dude we bought the house from actually left that paint here, just lots of other rusty and useless ones. Thankfully, there's a hazardous waste collection day soon!

The next project room will be the bathroom. In each room, I'm trying to freshen and clean everything, optimize storage, and make sure I can be happy with how it looks for a while since I'll be busy with 4 kids. I hope to paint the bathroom yellow and get a changing table into it to store cloth diaper paraphernalia.

My hope is to attack each room one week at a time. Our house is just starting to feel settled after a year. I think the gift of real furniture from some church friends and moving the table into the kitchen have really made me feel like making his place feel like home is possible. I've been able to keep up completely with laundry this week, and we're hoping to pick up some more free second-hand furniture this afternoon, and then we'll have more places to PUT the laundry :).

The car situation is effectively settled, but I'm not ready to share details until we have the car, which will be in a few weeks. Let me just say that God provides immensely and beyond what we could ask or think!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

And just like that-- summer is over!

The plan to get the Jedis out the door with Dr. O is going very smoothly! He gets up at 6, putters around and gets ready, has a little coffee with me, and gets the Jedis up at 7. Little M wakes up on her own around then. We get the boys dressed and out the door around 7:25, and then it's just M and momma for the day, at least until sister-baby arrives in about 10 weeks.

After such a struggle with the Jedis last year, I'm a little shocked at how much easier this arrangement is, but it took a lot of work and thought over the summer. We have the house in better order overall and are working to settle a few more areas. Our night-time routine is to give IM some melatonin after dinner, play and watch some shows together, do a quick clean-up and prep clothes and backpacks, and then we send kids to bed at 8. They can play or read until 9 when the room lights go out. IM has earned a reading light to use until 9:30 so that he will be quiet and let A-man sleep, but he's been falling asleep pretty soon thereafter. It's a miraculous difference! I'm waiting out this week of school to phase in zinc and omega oil supplements. Just getting to sleep sooner has made such a big difference for both boys, and only treating one with supplements has done the trick! 9 or 9:30pm to 7am seems to be the right sleep amount for their age, and they're finally getting it without us having to sit and make sure it happens.

Dr. O' and I are getting to bed sooner too, and I'm able to wake up better. Yesterday I woke up and helped the guys get out the door. I figured out a few small projects to knock out and talked to my best friend. M and I went to La Leche so she could play with her friend, and then we opted to stop for lunch at Tim Hortons (chicken salad!) on the way home. I should've put M down for a nap, but we're having trouble timing it. I kept laundry running and puttered around trying to prioritize projects without much success. At 3 it was time to pick up our Jedis from the bus stop. They were really happy with their first day and happy to come home to some Rice Krispie Treats. For the afternoon, they played with toys, told me about school, watched some shows, and cheerfully agreed to put away laundry between Netflix selections. It was smooth and nice. I made some simple chicken, home fries, and corn on the cob for dinner and got heartburn anyway. Oh well.

This brings us full circle-ish to this morning. I was able to sleep very well last night, woke up feeling great despite toddler girl's fussy morning (teething). The guys left with no trouble and in plenty of time. Dr. O' has faculty in-service this week and will be busy trying to cram in any remaining preparations for the semester.

I want to make the most of this time alone with my M. Sharing momma with the baby will be a big adjustment. She gets very bored being the only kid at home, and I can't sit and play all day. I need to figure out a few things we can play or do together and some things she can do alone with momma nearby. Making the dining room into a play area is a big step in that direction. She will play solo if I'm nearby but won't play in her room upstairs alone. This morning she watched a bit of Caillou, and then she played with play-doh at the table while I made bread and yogurt. Then she cleaned it up willingly and ran off to play trains in the dining room. She asked me to color with her, so we got a big sheet of paper and cut hearts out and colored them, which she thought was great. I'm going to try to get her down for a nap today since she's been whining quite a bit today. I'm conflicted about trying to keep naps in her schedule, but she does seem to need them from time to time.

This leaves me trying to be as productive as I can reasonably be and trying to structure my time so that I can slack off or do fun stuff when opportunities arise. Self-Discipline is what I've always struggled with, and I know I'm bound to work hard several hours a day, whether I choose to or circumstances dictate. The key is to do it in an organized and effective enough manner that I can see the rewards of my efforts and not feel guilty when I'm not as prepared as I feel I should be. The guilt is so pointless. I have a lot on my plate with high-need kids, a moms group that I do a lot with, adding Children's Chapel back in on Sundays, and having a baby here shortly. I like being busy, and I like it to be on my terms :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Getting out of an ugly rut

I had a few dark and moody days this week, with pregnancy hormones, fractious and LOUD kids, and a lack of motivation to get my home in order, leading to more trouble on all fronts. I was not kind to my kids, and I felt like such a failure at one of the things that I've put the most effort into and have identified myself by. If I can't be a loving momma, what the heck am I doing?

I've had some prayer and some reading time. I'm coping much better the last few days. I've been making progress on organizing the house in ways that have gone unfinished since the move, and I'm feeling calmer. I have been using our jobs chart extensively, to the point of insisting that the kids and I do every job on the chart before they got any screen time. It has been working-- a routine with work for the kids always works for us! They cause less trouble and are more compliant when they are doing more to keep our house running smoothly. The trouble is being the one who has to initiate it and get through the initial whining and protest. But it's always a solution that works for us. I'm calmer in cleaner surroundings, and they are too. Have to file this reminder to myself for later crises!

Definitely feeling the pregnancy weighing down my mid-section these days! I struggle a bit to get up off the couch or floor. The baby is very active, and the kids can't wait to meet her! The emotional stress of this past week and the coming of little sister are making me feel much better about the boys returning to school.

We had the most quiet night in a long time last night. M has been waking due to tummy problems requiring emergency diaper changes in the middle of the night, but she's much better now. We put IM on a dose of melatonin, and he fell asleep by 9:15, and he's often up until 11 because he can't fall asleep. He's doing a lot better with attitude and impulsivity today, which is what we needed. We're going to experiment with the dose and try a few other supplements to help him with anxiety and impulsivity, issues that I think caused him to score in a low working memory range last year, test results that I seriously doubt now. A-man is doing great in general, with the occasional whining jag. I never thought he and I would have such a peaceful summer!

We've had some rough days recently, but I'm hopeful that we're going to end this summer break on a good note!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

End of summer- fun little adventures

I totally forgot to post and boast a bit about a family adventure the kids and I had last week! We went to the free (read "crowded") Youth Fest at Wheeling Park, where we handled long lines, lunch, and swimming with 3 kids and a pregnant momma. IM got to ride the waterslide five times for free that day, and A-man got to ride it with Dan when he took the boys back later. He also took them on a pedalboat ride and played a round of minigolf with them. The whole day was free and without serious meltdowns! I could never have pulled it off a year or two ago!

Since then Dan and I celebrated our 13th anniversary. If I would've known on my wedding day that on our 13th, i'd be expecting our 4th child, and Dan would be done with school and have a job, and we'd have a house, I would've counted myself even more blessed than I already felt that day. Granted, i'd be puzzled by how we ended up in a little Appalachian city that we occasionally drove through when traveling between my parents' house and his, but I guess that's why we don't get to know the details ahead of time-- it would ruin the surprise. We are very different people from the two kids who married each other, and I'm so thankful for the lessons we've learned over the years and how we've grown together.

Tonight is another end-of-summer event, the library pool party. The kids had no trouble coming up with 8 hours of reading (IM did his in one day). It's at the same pool where they had the Youth Festival last week, and it's the pool closest to our home, so it's a fun and easy outing for all of us.

In order to attend the swim party tonight, we had to pick up passes from the library this morning. The kids did a great job getting out the door, and I was the slacker who forgot my purse and M's bag. M did as M does and of course pooped her pants at the library. She NEVER does this at home. However, before she potty trained, she always pooped her diaper at the library. Some people store reading materials in their bathrooms and call it the library, whereas my kid likes to poop in the actual library. I was unprepared and had to clean her up and make a hasty exit, which was rather hampered by the librarian wanting to make sure my kids got prizes and stickers for completing their reading. Not my priority since I was carrying my wiggly toddler whose skirt was authentically being worn in kilt/commando-style, but the Jedis were jazzed about some random Oriental Trading stuff.

We returned home, retrieved fresh drawers and my purse, and made a quick Kroger run for a few items. The minions were all really reasonable! Such a relief to be able to shop without anyone going cuckoo-bananas! Time to try to get M back on a nap cycle and try to get a little resting and nesting done!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

M-girl Milestones!

My goals for M-girl following Christmas were the following: Weaning (she had a minor chip on a tooth that was unpleasant, and her second birthday was approaching), saying "goodbye" to "chupis" (her pacifiers), no more bottles (a later habit from when she needed a big load of milk to get a night's sleep, but which turned out to cause a lot of stomach problems), and perhaps an introduction to the potty. She weaned at exactly 22 months with no trouble at all, and I was expecting Newbie very soon after. She gave up the bottle of milk or milk substitutes this summer, and
"chupi" has ceased to exist to her. Such a relief! Unfortunately, all this maturing has led to very little napping, but I hope to re-establish that in the fall, even if for an hour a day!

Around the time she weaned, she begged for a pink frog potty at the store, and I bought it. It sat in the bathroom mostly collecting dust or being used to climb up to things, although she would use it appropriately on occasion. Then this summer she began to take off her diaper and refuse to put another one on. I hadn't wanted to do this now! I wanted to wait until school started, but I couldn't let her pee on the floor either! So I got books and videos from the library and from Amazon, ones that had worked for the boys, and ones we'd never seen before. I set up a little DVD player in the kitchen and let her sit on the potty and watch the Elmo and Potty Power DVDs as much as she wanted. For a few weeks, she peed on the floor a lot. Then she went back to diapers. Then two weeks ago, it all clicked! She mastered pee one week and poo the next! It was amazing! She has internalized the message of these irritating videos so thoroughly that she quotes them as she's doing the various steps in good potty use and related hygiene.

A little musing I've done on the subject of potty training and advice: There are people who give potty advice because their kid potty trained themselves, and these people don't know how hard it can be with a resistant or too-busy child. Plenty of other generous and gracious souls (Danielle Haley, for example) know better and fully acknowledge that their kid potty trained themselves and have no obtrusive advice to offer. There are also people who can follow every step and read every book and still fight an uphill battle for months or even years to establish potty training/learning with their children. I know I'm in the third group, and I hope I'm in the second. I know better than to be in the first. It's not about knowledge or method. It's about the kid. Tell me that I should've used Elimination Communication with all my kids, and I'll get stabby ;).

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Pool lazing, more VBS, good soup!

We went to the La Leche swim playdate today where M played with her little friend C. We stayed 3.5 hours! It was our first trip to Oglebay pool, which is pricey but nice. Before the pool, the Jedis went to another VBS, the one they attended last summer and really enjoyed. As soon as they got home, I fed them and popped them in the car. A got a bit too much sun, but everything else was perfect.

We came home at 4, and I wasn't sure I'd have the soup ready for dinner. I skipped making stock from the roasted chicken in the fridge and used some bouillon paste for broth. The estimated time was perfect, and Dan ran to kroger for some multigrain baguettes. The soup was truly a hit! Everyone ate it, and 2 kids had seconds! It has chard, pasta, beans, sundried tomatoes, parmesan cheese, and spices and herbs, plus some bacon that I left out of Dan's portion. He enjoyed his with some Cabernet Sauvignon. It was delicious, and there's one bowl left!

Here's the recipe

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A wee bit too busy

Those weeks where life is just absolutely kicking you in the bum? I am having one. But it's good. I've been involved with VBS this week, an effort by 3 area churches to pool resources and talent to make a really great VBS. I took the Middle School group and have been having such a great time! The kids are really mellow and sweet. They've been game for anything I've thrown at them, and we've had a fun time and lots of meaningful discussion. Doing this well also means a lot of prep work, so I've been trying not to neglect my own family and home, with mixed results. Our only family activity this week is VBS because I don't have more in me. Tonight is the last night, and I'll miss the kids in my group, but it'll be good to have evening down time. The boys are going to the neighborhood VBS down the street next week as well.

In addition to VBS, I had a prenatal appt yesterday, and things are good. I'm gaining weight very slowly, but she's measuring right and is very strong. I've put on 11 lbs in 6 months according to the OB's office, plus a few prior to that. However, when I was expecting each of the boys I put on 13lbs the first trimester! I don't know if it's because we eat a healthier diet now or because my 3rd and 4th pregnancies were for girls, but I just haven't gained as much with the last two.

This morning I have a babywearing workshop/playdate at the church. It'll be a lot of fun and a good way to spend a morning out. I'm making a bit of fresh salsa, and I'll save some for home. I think we'll have fajitas tonight, pizza tomorrow, and tabbouleh and falafel with maybe some shish taouk on Saturday.

I am running on a sleep deficit this week and am looking forward to things calming down soon. This week may not even seem like a lot, but when you factor in my high need/ high energy kids and M constantly taking her diaper off, it's plenty! The sleep deficit is mostly my own anxiety keeping me up, but it's also this little munchkin stretching and dancing!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Adapted VBS lesson plan for Sunday - Thursday

As someone who didn't particularly like VBS as a kid (okay, I hated it), it's funny to be teaching it. I'm firm in my desire to make sure it's not lousy because faith matters a lot to me, and I hate to see spiritual things mis-handled. Here's my scope and sequence :)

Day 1- God made me
Verse Psalm 139:14
Creation story with emphasis on how God values each of us
Begin bracelet craft (beads for each day: globe, fire, fish, cross, baby or grapes)
Snack will be personally crafted trail mix because we're all different and all specially made
Game will be an outdoor hunt for symbols of the days of creation

Day 2 - God listens to me
Verse Exodus 15:11
Story of Elijah and the priests of Baal
Begin stained glass candle holder - "leading" with puffy paint
Snack - s'mores like little altars that we try to light with magnifying glasses, sterno used if necessary :)
That is also the game/outdoor portion

Day 3 - God watches over you and guides and protects you
Verse Jonah 4:2b
Story of Jonah being in the belly of a whale when he tried to run from God
Add to bracelet and decorate bags or T-shirts
Watch first portion of Jesus movie while snacking on Goldfish
Game - water balloon toss on sheets to simulate stormy sea Jonah was on

Day 4 - God loves you, no matter what
Verse- Romans 6:23
Show rest of Jesus movie
snack on resurrection rolls - crescent rolls with marshmallows that disappear

Day 5 - God gives good gifts
Verse James 1:17
Bible story of Hannah yearning for a baby, and her dedication of him to serve in the temple. He became Samuel the prophet.
Finish beaded bracelet and sign t-shirts with positive messages.
Snack of fruit salad with grapes (a big symbol from the story)
Game will be a relay to get water balloons (grapes) from one bucket to another and break them into the second bucket without losing water.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Kefir prep - how to ferment milk. (and why!)

Find a kind soul with extra grains, which look like over-boiled cauliflower chunks. 2 big rules: don't touch them with metal and don't store them in plastic. Also, don't feed them after midnight. Wait, forget that last one; those are gremlins.

-Rinse grains with milk and drain.
-Pour milk over the grains in a glass jar and cover with a lid that will allow for expansion. I use a canning jar with a plastic bag and the ring to hold the plastic in place. I do a quart at a time.
-Leave this on the counter for 24 hours or until the culture mass rises to the top.
-Shake it to loosen grains from cultured milk
-Drain that liquid into a clean jar. That's kefir. It'll smell like yogurt with vinegar and maybe a hint of elmer's glue. Yeah.
-Put the grains back into a clean jar and pour enough milk on them just to cover. Loosely cover the top and refrigerate until next time. If it'll be a while, freeze 'em. They'll be fine.
-When you get big fat grains that ferment your kefir really fast, put an emergency supply in your freezer in case you kill yours, but that's hard to do! Or be an awesome person and pass your extra grains on!

Of course the big question is: why would I want to do this?!? Kefir helps balance out the belly, particularly beneficial bacteria and yeast, so that the gut can do its work absorbing the good stuff and fighting off or eliminating the bad stuff. I drink a few of kefir ounces every day in a smoothie with yogurt and berries.

Simplest plain yogurt recipe for about 60 cents a quart.

Tia, a college friend and fellow blogging momma, suggested that I write about yogurt. I thought, "didn't I?". Turns out I did, but it's buried and my method wasn't set yet. So here it is. You can start with fluid milk, but I find I have to scald it, which is a pain, so I use powdered. If you are using fluid milk, you can give it a shot without scalding. Or heat it to 180, cool it to 90, add the starter and proceed to "shake it" below.

-1 quart glass jar with lid, very clean
-1 1/2 c Powdered milk, non-fat, whole, organic- all fine
-2-4 T of Stoneyfield plain yogurt for starter. (6 beneficial bacteria!) I store it flat in a freezer bag and break off chunks for starter. Very scientific.
-Enough filtered water to fill the jar after the other two ingredients go in.

Shake it.
Keep it warm (100-115-ish) for 9-18 hours. I use a soft-sided cooler with a non-auto-shutoff heating pad. It holds 2 qt jars.

Wanna make it Greek-style? It makes great tzatziki!
Strain the whey out until the yogurt gets to your desired thickness. For example, I use a canning jar and replace the disc lid with some open weave cloth and set it at an angle over a drip-catching container. Strain it really long, and it'll be yo-cheese, which is like cream cheese.

My iPod won't let me post photos from my iPod to blogger, so I'll try to add photos when I get my hands on Dr. O's laptop.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

On Sleep, Energy, and Commitments

Last night I couldn't fall asleep until 11:30, and I was up every two hours and couldn't get back to sleep after 5:30 because of thunderstorms. I concentrated on laundry for the morning because I'd been two loads behind for a few days. The last load is headed for the dryer in a few minutes, and I do have a modest pile left to fold and put away with the boys' help. The kids played together all morning, including 45 minutes of play-doh. Sometimes on a lousy day I need to do some soothing kitchen rituals, so I prepped some kefir and 1/2 gallon of yogurt for culturing, and hopefully no play-doh contaminated it, bleck! I've been needing to get back to my smoothie routine, so culturing more dairy will make that easier. I feel much better energy all morning when I have the right breakfast!

I think we'll grill some veggies and chicken and toss them with pasta for dinner, especially now that the sun is coming back out and might dry the yard enough for some outdoor play this evening. I'm trying to eat some feel-good food that helps keep me energized and doesn't make me gain over 30lbs. Ice cream doesn't help that, BTW.

Starting Sunday we have a multi-church VBS that I'm teaching the middle schoolers for, and the boys have the neighborhood VBS the next week. And school starts in A MONTH. I'd rather not send them back to school, but I know adding homeschool right now is a bad idea. If I'm chronically not getting enough sleep, I can't try a new big project with all my kids home every day. I want to be realistic and do the right thing for each kid. Making a school change while adding a baby seems to not be the right choice. We'll give it another try this year and re-evaluate in December.

I want to commit my time to fruitful things. If I'm going to homeschool, I want it to be the best available option for the kids. If I can't do it well, there's no point in putting inflexible kids through a big change. I need to focus on getting time with Mara and getting my home ready for little sister. I want to spend time building community so that I have support through this next big change.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mostly peaceful Sunday

Sunday morning was an episode of The Wiggles in the back pew. I made it through the service with the support of a fellow parishioner since Dan was assisting minister today. I had to take kids out 3 times during the service but still got to hear a great sermon on Matthew 13.

We had no screen time today after naughty church behavior, and the kids were mostly pretty great for the rest of the day. The kids plaued out back a lot and enjoyed each other's company, which is beautiful. Dr. O' vacuumed the downstairs and put meals on the table today, and he got a nap and a haircut. I bathed the dog pre-emptively because I'm really alarmed about what in the heck is going on with the neighbors' dogs.

This week I have to get my VBS thoughts to congeal before I go teach the 5-7th grade group. We'll have to keep things active and moving so they don't get bored and so they make a connection with the stories. I'm looking forward to it and am also nervous since I feel like the 3rd trimester just hit like a freight train full of sleeping pills. The boys will also be part of VBS that our church does and the one at the little church 3 blocks away in a few weeks. They enjoyed the neighborhood one very much last year, and I'd like to keep that connection for them. It's bizarre to think that M will be old enough for VBS next summer and possibly preschool that fall!

Her stomach trouble has returned, and I suspect she has diarrhea from teething. Too much saliva swallowed into a sensitive tummy might be the culprit. We'll start some probiotics and see what kind of progress we make. Her lower canines are the only teeth that haven't emerged yet, and they've been hard on all my kids. I think it's messing with her sleep as well, so hopefully they'll emerge soon.

My 25-week belly has a certain basketball-like quality, but with internal movement. She's active and strong, like all my little monkeys! I think we may be getting somewhere on names as well.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Wheeling Mountain Sprouts

There is nothing like being in a group of like-minded moms who are all comfortable in their own skin and cool enough not to get all competitive or threatened. I love being part of a group where everyone has something to share and each is willing to elaborate on her successes and failures. I'm all about finding solutions instead of dispensing momma advice. I'm also thrilled to be forming a community of mothers who want to do the best they can for their families and the planet. Finding people who are de-emphasizing material wealth and focusing on meaningful intra-family and inter-family socializing and support is what I've been looking for this past year. I couldn't care less what someone's faith background or education level is if we can have an easy chat about parenting that isn't processed, that isn't a system and a series of products, but rather one that is a series of careful choices based on the needs of each family. My children are remarkable and are individuals, so the one-size methods of child-raising will never be a fit here, and I suspect they're often a poor fit for many other remarkable little people, which I believe they all are!

Wheeling friends, if you are a momma of young kids and are looking for this kind of community, I invite you to Wheeling Mountain Sprouts. We are just forming right now, but I see great promise for this group. We're "natural" but not monolithic. I leave feeling so uplifted and supported as a momma. Plus, no one will make you sit at the same table every time ;).

Friday, July 15, 2011

Another week of wacky-ness

I feel like every few weeks I write a post that goes something like "here's a hot mess of craziness that happened at my house this week". Yeah. I have variations on that week a lot. It's kinda my thing.

Last Friday was rainy and I got the kids to the library to see the World's Least Worthwhile Puppet Show. Really bad. We came in late and stayed about 7 minutes. The puppeteer was too quiet and had the wolf from the 3 pigs singing a song from the 1940s cartoon Little Lulu, ' cause that's what kids these days are into, don'tcha know? Kids were whining and squirming, and adults were talking. It was bad! M got scared, and I figured I put up with enough lousy church puppet shows to last me a lifetime, so we sneaked out only to have the door creak LOUDLY behind us. We got the children's section mostly to ourselves until other shamefaced parents took our hint and sneaked out too, possibly awakened to the thought that they too could follow my poor example and leave the puppet show since the puppets can't actually see them leave.

The weekend was fairly uneventful, except for Dr. O' and I having our first tiff in probably 6 months. All was patched up in a hurry and we're fine. We disagree so seldom that it really wears us both out! Unfortunately one of the Jedis witnessed the beginning of the argument and was very upset by it, but it was a good chance to explain to him that his family is safe and Mom and Dad really love each other. It was truly the worst part of the incident.

Monday I decided to try to get a swim playdate together, and one other family was able to join us. We were there an hour before the thunderstorm hit. Oh well. At least M had gotten her nap! She also decided to tackle potty training recently, and she's learning. However, she's also trying to give up naps, which makes things challenging. No moody toddler will ever really want to comply with the constraints of "please pee here, not on the floor ", but she's making progress.

On Monday afternoon Dan discovered two $65 charges to our bank account for a Warner bros online gift shop. He filed a dispute, and we got our money back, and they were able to stop shipment on the items! Good gracious, stealing from a young family that is quite thrifty seems especially despicable to me!

Tuesday and Wednesday were more potty training, and the kids and I were trying to stick to our weekday routine. However, on Tuesday afternoon it all went nuts. The boys were playing outside and sprayed a patch of exposed dirt, making mud yet again! I had run in to move the washer load and put the pasta in the pot. I settled them into a rather long time-out until Dan came home and went to drain the pasta. The water hit a bowl in the sink and splashed my pregnant belly, giving me a 2nd degree but smallish burn. I was cleaning up this mess and getting a clean shirt and burn cream when I discovered that M had peed on our pretty laminate bedroom floor, warping it slightly. Ugh. Dan was home soon and helped out tremendously for the rest of the night, which he usually does.

Wednesday the neighbor was weed whacking and may have sent a bit of fence wire into our yard, which I stepped on and cut my food rather deeply. His dogs have mange, for one thing. MANGE. Two also died last year from some tainted dog food. His dogs are never healthy, and they always remind me of the Bumpus hounds on A Christmas Story, the smelly buggers. I also knew that dogs had lived in my yard, and of course Peach poops there. I called the OB and asked what to do, and they said to hurry up and get a tetanus shot, which was about 8 years overdue. At the urgent care office, I demanded just that shot and with no thimerosal. When they wavered in their certainty about this, i made them call the company and tell me whether they could verify this. They did, and I got the shot. I was not about to risk losing a baby to a treatable and preventable infection.

Thursday left me feeling another wave of Wheeling loneliness, but not terrible. I ran some errands and then took the kids to the park, where they had a great time for 3 hours! Another mom acquaintance with a girl about M's age and another girl due the same week as I am also showed up, which was an unexpected blessing. We lazed around for the afternoon and then enjoyed a simple dinner and playtime out back.

Today was pay day, and although we've got savings, we try to shop as if we don't so that we can use that money for a van. So the kids and I grocery shopped on a Friday morning. We got a late start, but everyone had jobs to do, and I was surprised at how calm and capable I felt! It was nice to feel the extra measure of grace I had prayed for throughout the week at the point when I was most tired. Our plan was to get the cold stuff put away and get to the park for a magic show with hastily packed lunches. However, after the puppet fiasco, my kids weren't going for that. They helped me get the groceries in and put away, ate their lunches, and have settled down for a quiet afternoon, which is just what I needed too!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Brief homebody thought...

The day that I can't even get it together enough to put in my contacts or get dressed to get the mail is probably the day when I should make the extra effort and get my kids out of the house. Swimming seems like a good plan today with 92 forecasted for the afternoon and thunderstorms later! If we don't go somewhere, I will likely lose my mind!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

My sons and my daughters...

That's just such a weird thing to say... and I keep realizing that I could be saying that a lot! It was funny to go from "my son" or "my baby" to "my kids", or "both", and "brother". Quite another leap to refer to "all my kids", "my eldest/middle/youngest child", and stranger still "sister" and "she", a pronoun that A-man took months to master. Now I find myself referring to the boys' room and the girls' room, and it seems foreign, accurate though it may be.

The dynamic of pairs leaves me feeling so much at peace. IM and A-man are 18 months apart and spirited, but they are so very different. That difference allows room for each of them to feel special. I was not really comfortable with little M being the dainty princess of the house because of the attendant attitude commonly seen in little princesses. I really wanted a sister for her, for her to share the girly world with and to keep her firmly grounded as well. They can be as different as they are designed to be, and they will both be special, and they will have each other.

My sons and my daughters-- I can't wait to see you all together and to enjoy your abiding love for each other. Your playful and imaginative dramas have room for another little cast member, and I can't wait to see how much delight you will bring to each others' lives. It's one of the sweetest joys of mine!

Diaper obsession continues, potty training may be resuming?

M is having another jump in potty interest. We tried before, and she initiates it but decides that it's too much trouble eventually. I'm not about to push because potty training O'kids is really challenging! If she changes her mind, it's fine. I actually need a quorum of diapers to make running a load worthwhile, and a load of cloth can't wait more than 2-3 days without getting really gross! She's wearing cloth at night now anyway, so I'd prefer that she wear some diapers during the day. We got our own copies of videos that we had borrowed for the boys when they trained, and she is captivated! But she could change her mind tomorrow, and I refuse to make this a battle of wills with someone who could make my house smell like a public restroom!

In preparation for possibly having two girls in cloth, I ordered a few more Fuzzibunz cloth diapers this weekend thanks to a super sale! I also sent back a few diapers to the manufacturer because snaps came off. The company changed to a different country for labor (China to Turkey), which is an improvement in ethical practices, but they have had a few glitches in quality during the change, which they've been very quick to remedy. So we're getting 6 new diapers for $14 each (usually $20), and 3 new replacement diapers free from the company. I have a few that are pretty worn that I've never sent in for replacement, and I'll probably just keep using them if both girls are in diapers at the same time at least part of the day. I'll consider the new ones paid for by the time little sister is 2 months old since I spent $85 for 6 and I would spend $50/mo for disposables.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Hoosier ruminations

The kids and I made a very quick trip to Indiana over the weekend-- 900 miles, 15 hours in the car. It was busy and mostly fun.

I wanted to go because it was the 7th anniversary of the passing of my beloved grandpa, which happened the week that we moved to Notre Dame. We were able to be present as he was nearing death because we had moved so much closer, which I attribute to the work of the Holy Spirit, prompting us to move a week sooner. This weekend we visited with some of my family in South Bend and in Anderson and wished we'd had more time. It's a week when I really want to be with family each year.

We visited some Notre Dame friends briefly as well, which was balm for my children's little hearts as they've been really traumatized by our big move this past year. I can sympathize as I've struggled with depression all year as well. There was no way around the move, they know, but they have really struggled with no longer having free range outdoors and good little buddies ready to play with any time. I'm very cautious about who I let them play with because I firmly believe that "bad company corrupts good morals". I didn't need to worry much at Notre Dame, but I'm often concerned by what I hear out of parents' and children's mouths here, and it makes me reluctant to let the kids mix with other kids. Example: Aidan's classmate got off the bus wearing a lei, and his dad yells "hey son, I see you got laid today!". Crass and inappropriate in any context, but these were 5 year olds!

We are building a life here, but it's been slow going. Finding appropriate friends has taken time, and finding other families who can handle that we're a little rambunctious is a challenge. I like to find families with at least a few high energy kids, no room for perfectionism, similar values to ours, and a reasonable rapport between the mommas. I know my natural parenting crunchiness can be off-putting to some more mainstream moms, and it's so pervasive in our life that I am unable to keep it to myself since it has everything to do with what we eat, how we parent, how many children we have, and how we choose to live. I gotta do what works for us. I'm thankful that the natural parenting community here is forming! I miss my old community very much. It's a different place now, but I miss how I knew who I was when I was there.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Teensy Begrudging BumGenius Review

So I like Fuzzibunz diapers quite a bit. I bought the one BumGenius on a whim and thought it was okay. It would probably be better with Velcro, but I'm not a Velcro diaper fan. Fuzzibunz has snaps and adjustable elastic for a good fit, but the BumGenius has no such adjustability, just hit-or-miss snaps. It's not my favorite diaper.

That said, I bought another one yesterday. Why? Because I was thinking about how huge the pocket is for stuffing, and I thought it might work for bedtime. I put the BG 4.0 snap (Buttercream) that I bought months ago for $11 on M with both inserts and a FB newborn insert, with the snaps on the largest rise. Then I dressed her in a onesie and jammy pants and put her down for 12 hours. She had only minor wicking onto the onesie, but the pants and bed were dry. I'll admit I smelled the diaper and only got the faintest whiff of ammonia, which is important because I gave up nighttime cloth over ammonia issues in the first place. Her skin looked fine. I cancelled the next Subscribe & Save for a huge box of diapers and got another BG 4.0 snap in Zinnia for $17.95 with no shipping charges. I paid $28.95 total for the 2 BGs together thanks to some reward points I had at a cloth diaper store. The box of LUVs that were scheduled to ship would've cost me $27. The new diaper will be here soon, and I'm excited to cut another regular expense, even if we only buy disposables every 3-6 months. Maybe now we'll be done with them for M unless we travel before she potty trains. Nothing will change in the wash routine, which is cheap and occurs every other day regardless of how many diapers I throw in. 2 more nighttime diapers won't make any difference! You got me Cottonbabies. I like your diaper, but don't tell anyone!

Update: the zinnia Bumgenius 4.0 snap arrived and we've used cloth for 3 nights successfully! We have 2 so that we can have enough to wash them every other day and have a fresh one on hand each night. I'm thinking we'll need one more for a rotation for her, but she's also giving potty training another try, so I may not have a full load of diapers every other day until October. Either way, I'm happy to be minimizing our use of disposables!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Allergy test results & some gardening stuff

M's allergy testing wasn't super-helpful, although it did indicate an egg-white allergy. Thankfully, the deductible is met. We'll proceeed from here with the assumption that uncultured dairy is not well tolerated by her system and does exacerbate her eczema. Tomatoes seem to cause an acidity problem, so we'll be careful with those as well. Peanuts and shellfish were mild reactions, so we'll steer clear of those as we already were.. The great thing is that all of this has triggered greater attention on my part to what wasn't working in her diet, and she has gained a huge appetite and 24 ounces in 2 weeks! Such a good turnaround, and thanks to careful monitoring, diarrhea is under control and is no longer causing rashes.

Update to testing: blood tests taken the same day as the scratch testing indicated mild allergies to egg white and milk, and borderline for peanut butter and shellfish.

Dr. O' has finished the garden wall and is building the compost bin today. We are both really looking forward to gardening in our own space without any busybodies telling us how we do it wrong. Annoying. Trial and error, people. That and early tomato blight and people stealing our labeled tomato cages and trying to keep kids safe and out of other people's gardens and suspicions of human fertilizer (ew!) thoroughly burned us out on gardening in the Village! We just want to enjoy some peaceful gardening, dagnabbit! So we're putting in berry bushes and strawberry plants for a harvest next year along with some clearance plants to see what we can grow here with what's left of the season. I think I'll grow some wheat with the kids and thresh it together. I definitely need some fresh herbs out there in a pot so that I can grow them indoors in the winter. I miss having some around, and I won't pay $2+ for cut fresh herbs.

No idea if we'll do anything this weekend...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Time for a Blogger Facelift!

Now that our Baby Girl news has had a chance to settle in, I decided it was time for a pink background to reflect the change. We are a family of six, 3 guys and 3 girls. Wow. Hardly Quiverfull, but we don't intend to have our kids raise each other, either. Poor Jinger.

We were so pleased to hear that the bloodwork indicated no signs of any birth defects and actually could not have been better odds. She measures great, her heartrate is right, my blood pressure is good, and I've gained 10lbs in 5 months. The doctor has very positive things to say about our plans for birth (because my history has been pretty smooth), which we've decided won't include home birth. It's just not the right choice for everyone in the family, which we agreed it would have to be if we did it. We want the kids to be at home with grandparents, which would not work if I birthed at home.

Having a baby girl in the house is a nice thing, especially when it allows everyone to keep the same rooms. I plan to paint the girls' room lavender, and it already has pink carpet. The boys' room will be blue and gray with Star Wars decals. Darn VOCs mean I can't do the painting myself, but I can certainly prep the surfaces and tape off the trim! I need to make new curtains for the girls' room and find bedding for M that will coordinate with our existing baby bedding. We plan to buy a bunk bed but only put one twin bed together for now in the girls' room. M is currently sleeping in the crib with one side removed and will need some time to get used to being moved to the big girl bed. A pretty new blankie should help smooth things over!

Dr. O' will be working on finishing the garden fence and will be home with the Jedis while I take M for her allergy testing tomorrow. It's in Wheeling at the same office where IM had his testing. The doctor is really great there, and he's retiring, so I'm glad he's doing the evaluation. Hopefully the testing will be accurate. Her age could yield a lot of false positives and make the test not very useful. We can tell that uncultured dairy and tomato-based pasta sauce are triggers so far, and wheat may be one. We hope to get a more definitive result for peanut butter as well. She has been doing quite well, although her eczema has returned. However, the diarrhea and rash have been much more rare.

We are trying to get out and do more activities and spend time with our growing community of friends. However, the impulsivity of the kids often makes this difficult. We are working on teaching them self-control and staying within a boundary area in which they have free range. Lots of work, but better than paying for meds and dealing with side-effects. They've gotta learn this at some point!

Working laptop = pictures finally!

Ultrasound for Newbie

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Order v. Chaos

When my beloved is out of town, I live on serious high alert about keeping our home neat. I simplify meal prep as much as possible and focus on maintaining order for the kids and in the home. I know that my patience is essential, especially when it's just me and the kids, and I can't think straight or be patient in a mess. Dr.O' left on Monday after lunch, and the house was crazy from packing and from us trying to make the most of our time together as a family. I spent much of the day on Monday putting away ground floor clutter and doing laundry. Tuesday morning I tasked the kids with cleaning their bedrooms upstairs. They were pretty bonkers and not listening. When I went to get the vacuum, the Jedis climbed up on the bunk bed and jumped down into a wheeled trundle full of LEGOs. Stupid and dangerous. They continued to make static as I talked to them about better choices, and I lost my temper with them. I cooled off and made peace, and things got better.

After lunch, I did some more cleaning and knocked items off my to-do list after I put M down for a nap. Then I took a rest and sent the Jedis outside for a while. I then vacuumed the downstairs and checked on my Jedis. They were turning the garden plot into a massive pigsty with the hose. Both were saturated with thick WV clay-mud. It was too funny to get really mad about. Terribly naughty, but funny nonetheless. Once again it took a while for them for them to get how naughty this choice was, especially since it means that M can't play out back until we get the garden fully boxed in and get the mud to drain into the grass. A very messy and inconsiderate choice. I took photos and videos because I know we'll find it much funnier later and because Dr. O' will want to see it! They lost privileges and had to do extra chores, and they understand now how their choice affected others. Still funny, shhh!

In my world, it comes as no surprise that the day when my home is cleanest is when my children turn into piggies. Also no surprise when I spied A-man spraying the garden area again the next day! Grrr....I second-guess my need for order as a contingency for patience, but I am glad for my kids' sake that they have a home where (usually) they can find their stuff, and it's not getting broken under strata of other stuff. It allows me to be flexible and let the big play mess happen (play-doh, trains, arts & crafts, etc.), because I know it's happening on a clean surface where it won't get mixed up with other stuff and will be easier to put away when they finish.

It always surprises Dr. O' how clean our home is when he comes home from a trip, but I need the increased cleanliness in order to survive his absence. When he's not here, I don't have anything to do when the kids go to bed, and I tend to see more clutter that needs to be put away then. It doesn't mean I don't need his help, just that I want to be able to relax with him when he does get home, and I don't want him to feel guilty the next time he goes. I especially don't want to be on full-time dish detail!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Nubby little update

M's (aka "nubby") rash appeared and cleared rapidly 10 days ago and has not returned. I wondered at first whether it was 5th disease, a common childhood ailment; she had every symptom! (No worries for the baby if she did, I was exposed 7 years ago when Ian had it.) It could be that she had it and also had diarrhea from the allergy mess that has been building in her tummy for 6 months. The cause of that appears to be uncultured milk and any milk substitutes. Cheese and yogurt, no problem! Really anything else I've slowly added has also been fine. We've gotten her off the big calorie load of milk or substitutes before bed with no real fuss, and she's gaining weight and her skin looks better than ever. No eczema at all! Such a relief! The specialist's office has yet to schedule an appointment in Pittsburgh, and I may actually wait until she is a little older and the testing will yield more helpful results. No point in having a litany of false positives and trying to feed her alongside her brothers who can eat most things.

Update to the Update: Mara has had tummy trouble twice from the same food, whole wheat pasta with tomato pasta sauce. Different brands of pasta and sauce each time, but the same reaction. This is what she ate the night before the big rash, and she had it for lunch yesterday and has the same tummy trouble today. Wheat or tomato? Time to experiment. Either way, it's no good because that's her favorite meal, and those things are staples in our diet.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Monster post on hold, quickie update on life

Since I thumb-type this on an iPod, it's not as polished and edited as I'd like it to be. However, it's mostly a record for me, and I let y'all read it if you wish. The "everything I need to know I learned while my husband was in grad school" post has taken on a life of its own and should be divided into several weekly installments. The impeti for that post were the one-year anniversary of our departure from Notre Dame, the 7 year anniversary of our arrival there, and the recent formation of a parenting group here in Wheeling that is finally putting my mad skillz to good use. What I learned in those six years is tremendously valuable to me as a woman, a wife, and a mother, and I want to give it proper time.

This past Saturday was the first meeting of Wheeling Mountain Sprouts, a natural parenting group that I'm hosting at my church and helping to lead. The meeting was such a great event, and I can't wait to do it again! All the mothers who are trying to avoid corporate solutions for their family's well-being needed to find each other in this community! Last summer I felt like the only one, and now I know lots of us counter-cultural mommas live here! We had about 30 moms and lots of littles and plenty of great food. It felt like a Village event, which made it lots of fun for me. I had missed event coordinating, and it's part of my life once again.

This week will be challenging, but it's the kind of challenge that helps me see my limits in some areas and allows me to surpass them in others. Dr.O' will be at a conference with my friend Sarah's husband, who runs Campus Ministry at WJU. Another friend will be out of town for the week, and we're likely going to hunker down for a rainy week. I decided not to worry about any swim lessons, etc., since it'll be rainy and stormy and the lessons were at an outdoor pool. These guys are such homebodies anyway!

Minor crisis this morning as I lost my keys, but they'll turn up. I have Dr. O's. Just the kind of slipshod shenanigans I've come to expect from this operation!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New post coming, but it's taking a while

Working title: everything I need to know I learned when my husband was in grad school

It'll be good

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Allergies, gestation, demolition, wearing out the kids-- a miscellany post

So M hasn't had any more flare-ups but continues to have tummy issues that give her a rash, but even the rash on her bum is mostly healed. I've been so glad to have her back in her cloth diapers so that her skin can breathe and heal! She really has gotten mostly back to normal. I give her a blueberry smoothie in the morning and refuse to give her any other liquids until it's gone, and she can have all the water she wants after that. She eats bananas, applesauce, whole wheat toast, rice, and cheese. She enjoyed some shredded chicken today. We have no word on an appointment date yet, but I'm also researching an elimination diet specialist near Pgh. Sounds like a good idea.

I have passed the halfway point in this pregnancy! We will know gender 2 weeks from tomorrow, which will be nice. I'm still not entirely happy with the birth choices here and am doing some research into home birth. Insurance is a big factor. The other big one is where my kids will be if I go that route. They're high strung and were very upset by seeing me in the hospital last time. I feel like home birth is good for me and M and the baby, but unclear for the Jedis, who I wouldn't want home for the actual birth. Four months to figure our some details, very little time left to figure out others. I'm also waiting for results on the quad screen (test for birth defects, not quadruplets!) to know if hospital birth is our only option.

Dr. O spent much of yesterday building a sturdy tool bench from the lumber we recycled from our shed demolition. It has a nice pegboard and plenty of storage. That end of the basement looks great, and we hope to get a sink down there where we already have fixtures and a nearby drain. It would be nice to wash my hands before coming upstairs when I'm doing laundry! The other reclaimed lumber project will be a retaining wall/pest blocker for our garden plot. Dr. O has left posts from the shed in place and will attach the walls to the posts. We also need to help out the sad clay soil in the plot. A related project will be a compost bin, which will be pretty cool. I emailed Dr. O a summertime honeydew list of projects so that we have some goals compiled. Poor guy has never had nesting syndrome ;).

This week we'll continue swim lessons and add Tuesday daycamp for I-M. We'll try to add some storytime and other activities into our rotation now that we have a summer routine down and have tested it with a stressful and unpredictable week. I heard "I'm bored" this week a bit, and screen time was abused thanks to circumstances that were beyond my control, so it's time to spice things up and unplug the electronics. Except my iPod where I type this, of course ;)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

More Chaos

Add to recent chaos a massive food allergy reaction for little M. Hives, eczema flares, diarrhea, and lots of screaming. Makes me very frustrated to work so hard to feed my kids healthy food and have this terrible mess going on in my child's tummy and on her skin. Twinkies and Cheetos with Hawaiian Punch, anyone?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A bit more chaos than usual...

Time for a quick thumb-typed post before room-cleaning time! The last few days have been nutty. Dr. O's colleague came for dinner on Friday and was curious about whether we wanted our shed gone. Indeed! He has been here Monday and Tuesday, and the major project should be over today. Our yard was already a mess, and now it's full of nails and bits of wood.

I've been indoors with 3 kids, which would usually be fine. However, yesterday we had no water because of a street project, and it was too rainy to play at the park in the late morning and early afternoon. Our friend Sarah graciously allowed us to come and play in the afternoon, and we had a really nice time! Last night the water was back on, but it was very orange and even black, so we ran lots of cold water in all the fixtures first until it ran clear, and we avoided getting sediment in our water heater this way. Then we ran the dishwasher and washing machine with hot water and a mineral-removing treatment since they both had build-up anyway. We have plenty of emergency disposable diapers to get us through since there was no water to rinse diapers yesterday, and M had tummy trouble and an accompanying rash anyway.

Now Dr. O' is off to get the car inspected, and his friend Dr. W will be here shortly for round 3 of shed demolition. The crowd and I will likely go to swim lessons today at Linsly school and possibly to play with little friends. Next week more activities will be available, and we'll start picking a few to keep things interesting. We're homebodies, we're busy enough, and I'm pregnant, so we try not to overdo it. Time to supervise clean-up!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend and Back Home for a New Routine

I edited my previous post to say that we'd be heading to PA last weekend. We decided on Saturday morning but didn't leave until Sunday morning. We arrived in Bethlehem in the mid afternoon, and the kids enjoyed the company of their O'Hare cousins. We went to a nice local park and later to an excellent ice cream shoppe for a treat. The boys all played detectives for hours. The next day the cousins had to head back because of school, so we spent most of Monday playing outdoors at my in-laws. We are usually there with a crowd, and it was nice to have the smaller gathering and for the kids to get more individual time.

We arrived back in Wheeling in the mid-afternoon on Tuesday and puttered around. Wednesday morning was the first full day with all the kids home all day, and now that we're on day 3, we're getting the hang of the new schedule. The Jedis are less happy about things like daily school time and an hour of quiet play in separate rooms, but I need the rest, and I know it's good for them too. This way M gets enough quiet to fall asleep, and the best thing is that she's tired from playing wih them all morning, and I don't have to wake her to get the boys home every day.

The surprising thing is how much more efficient I am so far this summer! I'm on a bit more of a high alert for sure, so I keep on top of the messes. Also, we do 3 clean-ups a day, upstairs, downstairs, and whatever is in the chore jar. It works great! I think I must be bored when the Jedis aren't home. I feel like I mope around and have no energy. I'm giving school one more year, and then we'll make a decision. I need to get #4 settled before I try to start homeschooling. What I like is how much more quickly I can spot attitude and defiance issues and correct the behavior, and I don't do that when they're tired from being in school all day. I tend to let it build up until I can't take their increasingly stinky behavior, and I come down on them like a load of bricks. Not like that in the summer. Got an attitude, go pick a job from the jar, kid. We'll work on it together and talk about better choices next time.

The other preserver of my sanity is this meal rotation! We know what we have to keep on hand for our meals, and the list has only slight variations from week to week. We have a lunch menu for the kids, and Dr. O' and I usually eat leftovers. It's working!! Tonight is pizza night, and one of Dan's colleagues will be here with us for dinner. Dessert is chocolate waffles with mint chip ice cream!

I'll post our schedule and jobs and menu soon. M-girl is awake. I also need to start pizza dough for dinner!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

O'Elia's ;)

I had been wanting to have our pastor and her husband (also a pastor of another ELCA church) over for dinner, and last night was a good night for it. It was the last day if school, their youngest just graduated, the Easter season is winding down, and we have been here for one year. We visited our church the first week last year and liked it a lot. However, we did want to compare it with other churches before deciding. All summer we wanted to come back and visit Edgwood, and we finally decided it was the church for us. Pastor Beth was very much a deciding factor, and with our one year anniversary this week, we wanted to celebrate with her. We really had a great evening!

I knew that the local Lebanese lunch shop is one of their favorites here, and we miss Elia's so much that I've spent the last year trying to reproduce our favorites from their menu. I've gotten pretty good at it! I'll post the recipes on the sidebar sometime this week. We had tabbouleh, falafel with pita, tapas-style veggies, hummus, shish taouk (skewered chicken), marinated round steak, and tzatziki and toum sauces. Dessert was baklava, and I made everything but the pita. That would've been overboard; even I know that! I forgot to get the spanikopita out of the freezer, and I figured we already had enough food. I love to make all the dishes so that I can mix different flavors into each bite. It's all fresh and pretty darn healthy and definitely delicious! I had used up all the store-bought plain yogurt for breakfast yesterday and thought I'd have to run to the store, but I found a quart of unopened homemade yogurt that was weeks old in the fridge. It was fresh and yummy! I used it in the chicken marinade, tzatziki, and toum. Such a relief when I surprise myself by being extra-prepared!

We don't have any real plans this weekend. We feel like we've been hit by a bus every week, so making plans is not our first thought, I'll admit. We'll keep it mellow and see if we have it in us to do anything special with the kids. The Jedis can't play Wii for an entire 3-day weekend!

EDIT: we're Bethlehem-bound in the morning!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sometimes stuff does make life better, but only to a point.

I'm naturally drawn to some kinds of possessions. Kitchen gear that lets me make good food for cheap, for example. My mom gave me a used stick blender recently because she wasn't using it. We've been making frozen lemonade with strawberries blended right in. It even came with a processor adapter that I use for hummus. It gets far more use than my blender, but it won't replace my food processor.

I'm also a fan of useful technology. We all use the Wii, whether for gaming or for streaming good stuff on Netflix for $8/month. The iPod Touch I got for my birthday is an enormous blessing! I do almost all of my web-based activities on it. In fact, I usually thumb-type my blog entries on my iPod. The sad reason for the lack of photos on my blog is this: I can't get photos from my iPod to load onto my blog, boo! However, most other apps work fine. I love that my email, calendar, recipes, Facebook, skype, music, Netflix, pregnancy tracking, grocery shopping, weather, maps, and google talk are in my hands any time. The kids ask all kinds of questions, and I'm always looking for information to satisfy their burning desire to know whether bumblebees make honey (yes, but it is thinner, in smaller quantities, and ferments easily), Chancellor Palpatine's sith name (sidious), and where we can find a book about poisonous creatures (Amazon, of course!). The best part is that I can do this while sitting with them instead of going to the computer. This works anywhere with a wireless signal, like boring doctor's offices!

I love the This American Life app especially! It keeps track of which episodes I already have saved and lets me save one at a time for off line listening, which is great if I know I'm going to be waiting somewhere for a while. It's my favorite radio show, and the app let's me search for favorite stories or contributors. Great for insomnia! When we're home, Pandora's app is a fun way to enjoy a stream of music based on one song we type in. I leave my iPod on the speaker/charger and let the tunes roll!

On a more practical and low-tech note, I still love the Fuzzibunz diapers! M is not interested in potty training, and I'm so happy not to spend $$ on her diapers beyond the cost of washing! They're currently on a quick hot soak with 4T of Charlie's Soap to prevent stinky odors from settling in, a phenomenon that's more common with hard water like ours. I spend 2 minutes rinsing out the dirty ones at change time, 2 minutes loading the cold wash, 2 minutes about half an hour later to restart the load as a hot wash with an extra rinse and some detergent, but I leave the lid open or turn the washer off for the soak if they need one. After the hot wash and extra rinse I take 2 minutes to load them into the dryer on low or 10 minutes to hang them outdoors. Once they're dry, it takes 10 minutes to stuff them and put them away. An hour a week, maybe. Good deal!

So some possessions do make me a wee bit happier because I find them useful or meaningful. That said, I am likely to use things I like until they're worn to bits. We still hold onto grad school furniture because kids are hard on any furniture, and we don't want new stuff to get trashed. I like focusing on simplicity and utility rather than on chasing the next purchase. I like to bless my family with fun and useful things. I like to have some stuff, but I don't want my stuff to control me by dictating how much space we need or by requiring more time than I want to spend. I've known people, including relatives, who are really trapped and ruled by their possessions, and I don't want that feeling. I know someone who regularly accuses people of taking her stuff because she has so much that she can't keep track of it. There's just no reason to let my stuff come between me and my relationships, you know?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Making my summer more than survivable

All quiet on the blog means a nice week here. Lots of sun, lots of playtime, a visit with a lovely family to the zoo, and lots of grilling.

The inaugural playdate went about as well as I thought it would. The child who visited is I-M's best friend at school. He is an only child in a two-income household where he seems to be in charge, so visiting our home was a bit of a culture shock. He was pretty annoyed with my toddler for being a toddler and wondered aloud how we could like her since she's so pesky. Despite my quick rundown of household rules, he was perplexed by my actual enforcement. Friends seem to be in short supply here, so we'll give it another try, especially since it means a lot to my son. A big blessing today is that the Jedis got to go for a playdate at some slightly older church kids' home, and they had a great time! We're trying to make connections where it really matters, and this was a great thing for them.

The kids have been on Starfall a lot lately, crowded together all 3 on the chair by the computer with IM as the instructor, A-man as the star pupil, and M-girl as the little fledgling learner, hugging and kissing her brothers and giggling while they teach her letter sounds-- too cute! I love how close they all are and what affection they share!

My big fear for the near future is that I'll be in a messy house with all 3 kids bored all summer, so I'm filling out the schedule with planned meals and activities as I mentioned before, and I'm also working on a series of 3 quick cleanups per day: morning - bedrooms, afternoon - downstairs, and evening - finishing what is left in the chore jar. The chore jar will be for disciplinary purposes throughout the day (fight, sass, or disobey, pick a job from the jar) and will keep things from getting too out of hand when used with the 3 quick cleanup times.

I know enough about myself to know that I am less patient and loving when the house is crazy. Same goes for when my kids are unruly. My hope is that this system will help me keep things running smoothly. The goal will be for us to go somewhere 3 days a week. When our home is neat, we will be able to find what we need to get out the door. When we return, I will be tired from outings but not depressed to be returning to a cesspool of kid mess. That makes all the difference!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


So I have entirely too much familiarity with poo. There's your warning. Stop now if you'll get sick. You know who you are!

Okay? Okay. So the last few days have been really rainy, and princess Peaches the dumb dog does not like to go out in the rain. I put her out, but apparently to no avail. Last night she sneaked upstairs to go on the carpet since she had been holding it all day. No pee. Just pooped on the carpet in the Jedis' room. Twice. Never happened there before, but the door to M's room is closed all night. I found it this morning as I went in to wake the Jedis. We had heard footsteps upstairs last night, and they must've been hers. All is cleaned up just fine, but this was quite disturbing to my morning gestational sensibilities. The dog spent the duration of the morning in the basement and didn't bother to cry to come back up, so thorough was the shaming she had received.

M got up and had a stinky diaper around the same time I discovered the carpet incident. No biggie. She often does that when she wakes up. Still a little queasy, but making it. She needed a bath, and I knew I'd be worn out too quickly if I did that too, so I asked Dr. O' to bathe her while I dropped the Jedis off, and then I'd get a few minutes alone in the car. When I came home, she had dumped a gallon of water on the bath floor in the 2 minutes that my dear husband was busy. And she had pooped in the tub. We rinsed her, dressed her, and bleached the tub.

Our minions don't give us a moment's rest.

Grocery shopping with summer break in mind

Shopping day finally arrived, which is usually the first non-weekend day following a payday, but can be delayed if I haven't properly organized my list, my coupons, and my menu yet. So today was a bit delayed since payday was Friday. I got my coupons organized this morning, my menu planned yesterday, and I still didn't have more than a mental list, but I went anyway.

I did have my little rant on coupons the other day, but I do use them. I saved $40 today using them. I just operate on the principle that a good deal on stuff that isn't good for us isn't a good deal. We do eat plenty of treats, but we avoid the really processed stuff. My rant the other day was over someone who was insisting on a coupon site that it was worth it to brave the Saturday crowds to get junky cereal (okay, it was Corn Pops) for $1 a box, and most of the coupon deals on the site are for toxic chemicals or junk food.

We were out of cereal and lots of other self-serve snack items. I tend to make more of the snacks in cooler months and when I'm not, well, gestating. Now it's one thing I'm happy to find on sale with coupons. I stocked up on Go-gurt with no dyes or HFCS and on granola bars with no HFCS. Other snack and lunch side items are string cheese, fruit, carrots and celery, applesauce, and crackers.

The Jedis and I came up with weekday lunches for the summer, with plenty of sides/snacks that we'll keep on hand. We also came up with a dinner menu for the summer. We'll have Tex-Mex, pasta/Italian, Mediterranean, Indian/curry, barbecue, and pizza. We'll keep the basics around for each variety and vary the flavors with fresh and hopefully local food. Most nights we'll be grilling part of the meal in order to keep the kitchen cooler and because grilled food is delicious! I'm hoping it keeps me from having to make unplanned trips to the store in 90 degree weather with 3 kids. Dr. O' has agreed that he should stay home with the kids while I shop in the evenings or early mornings. Then he can unload the car. Anything beats shopping with A-man in the summer because he gets moody when we go in and out of stores and he gets too cold and too hot. Miserable!

We made up a daily schedule for the summer that includes reading time and quiet time, 3 short cleaning spurts, craft times (because I hate craft mess!), outside times (trying to avoid exposing Irish skin to midday sun!), and times when it would be best to go out for an activity. Our weekly plan will involve looking at the various options available and planning 3 outings per week. IM can go to day camp for free every Tuesday, and they'll pick him up near our house! We'll probably buy a city pool pass and buy a zoo pass again. We're planning to buy a children's museum pass as well. In addition to those venues, there are lots of other activities to go to throughout the summer.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Update on appointment

So we're doing well, apparently. I don't know if I paint too rosy of a picture or what, but IM is improving and is functioning well at school and home despite some very consistent behavior glitches that occur at predictable junctures. However, thanks to all the tiring behavioral modification and dietary monitoring and sleep accountability, we are doing what the medication would probably do, which is giving him the ability to calm himself and to think before acting. Which is good. But we're also tired, and I was a teensy bit ready to hear that he might need something for anxiety or impulsivity. I was surprised that the doctor actually did have some fairly high-ish scores for oppositional defiance, which I know is present but is far more of a concern with another child.

Instead, the doctor wants him to continue therapy for the summer, monitor the transitions to second grade and to adding a sibling, and reevaluate the need for meds if that transition is not smooth. The primary treatment is therapy for his age anyway, so this is good. It's the right thing to do in this case and in this timeframe because his stress level will go down when he doesn't go to school. We don't want to attribute a gain to medication when it's actually from a reduction of stress and stimulation.

The hard thing is that I can't help feeling like this is all moving SO SLOWLY! I don't want him to fall further behind in maturity, and his anxiety and impulsivity do get in the way of peer interactions. However, we do have good news on that front as well. IM has his best friend coming over on Thursday, and he's completely obsessing about it! Mellow out, dude. It IS exciting, but you can't drive mom crazy for days in advance.

Time for a nap.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

95% is good, right?

So we're still not medicating anyone for the hyperactivity or the general defiant stuff. We do have a big reevaluation of this situation tomorrow for IM. I'm feeling open to some antianxiety meds for him because he constantly chews his shirts, which I think must be a nervous habit. The theory in his case is that he's generally an anxious kid, and when the anxiety builds up, it leads to impulsive behavior. It's generaly not vicious or mean, just really immature and goofy. We've spent the last several months working through several other issues including sleep and allergies so that the emotional evaluations could be more reliable. The choice to medicate is so thorny for me! We find our Jedis generally delightful 95% of the time, so I have a hard time justifying medication for kids who are very difficult or nutty only 5% of the time, and the cost can be rather prohibitive. Side effects bring a whole other range of issues that I can't even anticipate. I was on antidepressants 10 years ago, and I had trouble with side effects and with finding an effective drug and dose. As I became better able to cope, I was happier off the meds. I worry that we'll have the same problem with meds for my kids.

They do extremely well in school, and the only problem areas are any time we are transitioning from one activity or location to another, when their imaginary play seems to take over most of the county, and when we are at church. Most of this is manageable, but it is truly miserable on the rare occasions when the behavior gets out of hand. A-man's difficulty is a control issue. He gets angry, primarily at me, and continues to ratchet up the hostility until Dr. O' or I put an end to it. Sometimes I can head it off with gentle words in a behavioral script and gentle touch. Other times, I have to see his bet and raise him, ending the argument with punishment such as a loss of privilege, time out with work to do, or a spank if he truly will not relent. Sometimes he responds better to the serious consequence than to the gentle intervention. Definitely makes me second-guess myself!

Despite all this, I find my children so sweet and loving and fun! I can't wait for summer so I can be with them all day! I find behavior much easier to manage when they're with me all day because I can squelch the first sign of stinky attitudes or impulsivity. I love their fascinating minds and the creative ideas they dream up. I love seeing them play together and enjoy their little adventures! These high-maintenance monkeys are what God blesses us with, and I've chosen to accept that and to continue to give them additional siblings because I think the large family dynamic really does foster compassion and thoughtfulness and the ability to work through differences. I'm happy with our choices so far, and I want to parent in a way that lets me feel that we're all a pretty good team.