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!