Monday, December 6, 2010

1000 Gifts for Today



So many wonderful gifts to share today...

  • the first clean, white, ground-covering snow of the season
  • crisp, clear, still, sparkling air
  • superfans and silliness at high school basketball games
  • visits with cousins
  • the pure joy of a simple BIG hill and new snow
  • making birthday cake - from scratch
  • the gift, 16 years ago, of becoming a mother to one of the most amazing girls in the world
  • the warm, inviting scent of Indian food simmering on the stove
  • letting go of *my* ideas of a perfect day and letting it happen
  • being stunned and awe-struck by the beauty and complexity of my children

Friday, December 3, 2010

One Last Christmas

Sometimes, it isn't about the presents at all.  It's about Love.  And community.  And about celebrating Life.

This is a must-see video.  Just make sure you have tissues handy.  Matthew West, one of my favorite contemporary Christian artists, wrote this song in honor of a family who lost their little boy too soon, and the gift that his community gave to him just before he went to play with Jesus.



It is in moments like this that the Christmas miracle interweaves itself with Easter's joy.  The coming of the Babe that came to give his life, who came to redeem the suffering, the pure wrongness of the death of a child.  This little boy shouldn't have died.  It wasn't meant to be that way.  This certainly isn't what God intended for his parents.  But the gift of that baby in the manger reminds us that God so loved the world...  After all, He knows the heartbreaking soul-ache of this kind of loss.  And He gave His Son so that we might live, and so that, one day, these parents might be re-united with their child, and the world will be made new again.

So, as we celebrate the Miracle this year, let us all take time to ponder the Sacrifice, and be thankful, joyful, and overwhelmed by Grace.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

And There You Go...

I made it.  I did it.  I completed 30 posts in 30 days, thus concluding another year's NaBloPoMo.  I hope to continue posting fairly regularly in the days to come, even though the festivities have concluded.  I must say that I have enjoyed the ride this year, although I didn't get the opportunity to post some of the things I had wanted to.  Too much craziness around here...  But that means that I still have some things to share, so I hope you will continue to read.

Thank you so much for playing along.  I have enjoyed it.  So stick around...  I promise to keep writing.  And, hopefully, I'll have something interesting to say, once in a while.

Thanks for reading.  I appreciate each and every one of you.  Even if there's just ONE of you.  So, come back tomorrow.  I'll still be here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

More 1000 Gifts

holy experience



  • a five-year-old who LOVES to vacuum with the borrowed Dyson
  • a feast of abundance and thanks
  • leftover pie
  • homemade whipped cream
  • the warm, savory scent of turkey stock simmering on the stove
  • "gravy planes" and other assorted silliness
  • grown-up talks with daughters
  • the expressions of baby's first tastes of food
  • anticipation of he season's first snowfall
  • planning for Christmas baking
  • planning for Christmas presents
  • reflecting on the meaning of Christmas
  • being thankful for Grace

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Celebrate the Season - Advent Begins

Today marks the first Sunday of Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas.  It is a time of preparation, a time of waiting, when we quiet our hearts and await the coming of the Christ Child.  We contemplate the sacrifice, the gift, of Love that was poured out for us that first Christmas morning so many years ago.

And, this year, I would like to share something wonderful with you - something I hope will bless you in a special way.  Ann of A Holy Experience has graciously shared a labor of love for this season.  Please, PLEASE, visit her blog and download a copy of her Jesse Tree Advent Devotional.  It is meant to be a family activity, leading up to and preparing the way for us to celebrate the coming of the Baby Jesus.  Ann's grace-filled words and gentle meditations will bless you and your family as you journey through these chaotic few weeks, and hr devotions will help your family remember the Reason for the Season.

Ann's blog has blessed me beyond words, encouraging, searching, and speaking to my heart.  She has a gift, and she is sharing it with us.  What a blessing she is!

So, please join me in this journey of hope and expectation.  And may your Advent be blessed!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Randomness for Saturday

Almost spaced posting today, so here is a bit of randomness to round out your weekend...

  • It's nice to live where it gets cold enough to use your back porch as an additional refrigerator.
  • It's not so nice when a child spies a critter attempting to nom the pumpkin pie.
  • The hue and cry when children discover said critter is an adorable long-haired tortie is tremendous, and
  • Certain of these children will beg to leave food out just in case the poor kitty is homeless.
  • Heartless Daddy will inevitably veto this idea.
  • Mommy will secretly hope that itty bitty cute kitty will return.
  • I have eaten entirely too much food this weekend.
  • My Advent Wreath is still in the basement.  *blush*
  • I can't believe I'm almost done with another NaBloPoMo.
  • I can't believe my first baby turns Sweet 16 one week from today...   *sniff*
And, on that note, I'll head off to bed...  Enjoy the rest of your weekend, dear reader!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Looking Forward

I've been doing a lot of reflecting, a lot of looking back, in the last few days.  Today, I am beginning to look forward.  As I gaze around my house at all the fall and harvest decorations, I get a little (okay, more than a little) nudgy that I need to take everything down and re-decorate for Christmas VERY soon.  Yes.  Christmas.  I know that many of my friends have already begun the transformation in their own homes, but  I am not usually that organized, together, or ready to get all Christmas-y before now.  We usually like to get our December birthdays out of the way before we go all out, although, as Sarah has gotten older, she doesn't mind the crossover of seasons, so I have actually started decorating at the very beginning of the month, instead of waiting until mid-December.

But this Sunday heralds in Advent, the new year in the church (for liturgical churches such as ours).  And I need to begin to move my heart towards Christmas, towards the celebration of the Christ Child.  So, as I begin to pack away the pumpkins and the golden leaves and the cornucopia, I quiet my soul and turn my thoughts towards the manger.  As I unpack the Advent Wreath and the candles, the greens and all manner of sparkly things, I also begin to prepare my heart for the coming season.  For the wonder of it all, for the gift of new life, for the ultimate sacrifice that lay, wrapped and tiny, in a stall.  I look forward to Grace, to God made man - the ultimate miracle.

And I quiet my heart, and prepare to wait.  Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

The turkey has been gobbled up, the mashed potatoes ravaged, and the remainder of the meal put to rest, our bellies topped off with pie.  The little ones are snugly wrapped in sleep, and the house begins to quiet itself for the night.  It has been a day of plenty, a day of abundance.  In a world where so many go without, we feast.  We are blessed.

Blessed.  

I have so much to be thankful for.  Not just the basics, the things we take for granted - food, shelter, clothing, and all matter of modern conveniences...  But security, hope, and, most of all, love.  I am surrounded by love.  The love of a wonderful husband, who puts up with far more from me than he ought. Seven precious children - there are few people who are blessed to be the mother to such a large brood.  It is truly a gift that I cherish every day.  Friends - far and near, on-line and in person.  Love.  I am surrounded by love.

As we tell our children the story of that First Thanksgiving so many years ago, I hope that I can somehow convey the passionate love and gratefulness that burned within the hearts of those first settlers - our ancestors, and that I, like them, may never take the simple things for granted.  And, that I might hold dear the things that are really important, and never forget.

And be grateful,  Those who sat in communion at that first great American feast knew Who was responsible for their bounty.  May I also, with the honest zeal they showed, give thanks to God for everything He has given me, every moment of every day.  And, like them, celebrate extravagantly in all His blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pie day

Or, Eat Dessert First

Today, tradition, in my family,  holds that we make pie. And, so I did. Apple, bourbon pumpkin, black and blue mango, and chocolate silk. The kids kept asking if we could eat the pies today Because, after all, it is Pie Day. And for a bit, I actually entertained the idea. The smell of warm crust and sweet fruit overwhelmed us with their heady aromas, and temptation had our mouths watering.

But reason prevailed, and the bounty of the dessert table will wait another day.  So, I set my thoughts on tomorrow's feast, preparing my heart to rejoice as I count yet another year of blessings graciously bestowed to me.

And know that tomorrow, there will be pie.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Counting Down the Days

Thanksgiving preparations are beginning in earnest around here.  We've got most of our shopping done (shocking, I know!!!), and the house is on the way to being presentable.  The family room, I discovered, has berber carpet.  *ahem*  And Joshua is amazed by the spaces he now has to practice his new skills of crawling and cruising.

Unfortunately, the kids seem to have been hit by nasty germies this week.  Boo.  We are hoping and praying that it doesn't go any further than viral crud, and that everyone will feel more-or-less okay for the big meal, and that we can all rest and recover over the weekend.

But, here, in the waning hours of the day, I find myself struggling.  I am struggling with all the busy-ness, with all that needs to be done, and with my complete and total lack of ability to get it done.  Mostly, I have spent the day praying...  No, that's not the right word...  Begging.  Yes, begging for Grace.  As I see, in my mind's eye, all that needs to be done spiraling out of control, and things being forgotten or half-done, I get all frazzled trying to keep it all together.  And it's just Thanksgiving dinner for our family - we're not even entertaining!

I need Grace to show me, to remind me, that all that I really need is to be thankful.  To come to the table with a heart overflowing with gratitude and praise.  Why, oh WHY, is that so hard?  My voice has been raised far too many times today, out of sheer frustration at my own failures, rather than at anything anyone else has done (or not done).  I need Grace to simply remember, to breathe.  To let go of the perfection, and just be thankful for all the blessings I have.

Because, you see, I am blessed beyond measure, and for that, I am truly thankful.

Monday, November 22, 2010

My 1000 Gifts, Continued...

holy experience



  • the voices of children raised in holiday song
  • the ritual of hair cutting
  • remembering to stop and take a breath
  • oatmeal chocolate chip cookie dough
  • watching the weather change
  • praising Him for all the little blessings
  • third birthdays and a pink princess
  • homemade birthday cake, decorated by hand
  • a small girl curled up, asleep in surprising places
  • kitty kisses
  • the true beauty of a Kitchen Aid mixer
  • my favorite coffee mugs - a wedding gift - 19 years of warmth
  • relying on God's provision alone

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Gearing Up

This week is going to be crazy-busy.  I'm not sure, exactly how everything is going to get done, and part of me is just waiting to see which big thing falls through the cracks.  Not to mention all the small ones...  But, through it all, I am going to make a really honest attempt o be thankful - to truly live my gratitude this week.

As the season of holidays and celebration approaches, won't you please join me in remembering the true reasons we celebrate  - thankful for all His blessings, and mindful of the One True Gift...  And always, always, thankful for Grace.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hannah's Birth Story - Reposted, with pics

Here is Hannah's birth story, as I posted it three years ago.  Wow - has it really been that long???  Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl!  Mommy loves you very much!!!


We had just gotten into bed about 20 minutes before, and I felt what I first thought was a big kick, Except that it also kind of went "POP" on the inside. So out of curiousity, I went into the bathroom, and lo and behold, there was a gush into the toilet. So I walked back over to the bed and told Brian - "Don't go to sleep yet - I think my water just broke." He had JUST started to snore...

So at about midnight I called the MW to let her know I was coming in. The ctx were coming about every 6 minutes, and were stopping me in my tracks. By the time we got to the hospital (15 minute trip) they were 4 minutes apart. Went to the ER to be admitted, and from there to a triage room in L&D. I felt awful by this point, The ctx were basically one on top of the other, and I would get a break only about every 3-4 ctx. I was 5cm and 80%, 0 station when they checked me, which kinda upset me, b/c I thought I'd be further along than that, b/c by now I was shaking - you know, like how you get during transition. So the MW finally gets there about 20 mintues later, and when SHE checked me, I was 7 with a tiny bit of lip. Wow. So she sent the nurse to the tub room to start filling it for me.

Oh - and while all this is going on in triage, Brian has to disappear several times back down to admitting, to re-fill out all the paperwork, b/c they apparently lost the stuff that I sent in. And the girl at the desk couldn't read or spell, b/c he kept having to go back down to fix mistakes. It took them 3 tries to get our name spelled right - which was a continuing theme of the night. Had to have our bracelets redone 3 times.... But I digress...

So I finally get into the room, and get into the tub. Ladies, I HIGHLY recommend laboring in water. O.M.G. It was the best thing EVER. (Of course I've never had an epidural, though... ) I started out just sitting. But the MW kept telling me to listen to my body, and I eventually got down into a squat, kind of leaning on the side of the tub. It was just the most absolutely wonderful thing to be able to move however I needed to. So completely different from any of my other labors... The water was warm, and just soooooo relaxing.

The MW wanted to check me - she could tell I was getting close, and I asked her to check me before I got out of the tub. Didn't want to leave my tub... So she did, and said that I just had one little bit of lip left. She thought I should get out and push, and that it wouldn't take too much.

So I did. I got to the bed, and didn't even bother putting a gown back on. She told me to find a comfortable position, so I got on my hands and knees, leaning on the head of the bed. And slowly started to push. It was all on my own time - no counting, just me bringing her down. Now, this is where it got bad. I have this nerve bundle that goes wacky when I push. It makes my right butt cheek cramp, and my right foot go numb. And it hurt MORE to push through that pain than to actually push the baby out. So I kept having to stop, and wait for it to get bearable. She was actually crowning when I had to stop. I waited through 3 more ctx, slowly grunting little pushes, until she was right there, and I could finally push through it. 3 intense pushes later, and she was born, with me still on my hands and knees. And I didn't tear. AT ALL. Almost 9 pounds of baby, and an intact perenium. I love my midwife... And it was wonderful to push her out that way. Kinda strange looking, I imagine, but it worked. They passed her up through my legs, and I flipped over, and I got to cut the cord. It took her about 10-15 minutes of her just sniffing at my breast, but then she latched on and nursed for about 20-30 minutes. Her APGARs were 8 and 9, I think.

It was the most wonderful birth experience I could have ever asked for. First and foremost, it was FAST. 2 1/2 hours, start to finish. Love that. My MW was great. No IV, pain meds, or interventions. No complications. No back labor. And no tearing. It was truly a miracle.


I want to thank each and every one of you for all of your support, prayers, and PTs throughout this last year - through the miscarriage, my pregnancy, and now, this miraculous birth. You will never know how much it has all meant to me. Thank you from the very bottom of my heart. You are the best.




 I cannot believe how fast the days have flown by.  It seems like just yesterday that she was just this small.  Now, she's turning three, talking of being a princess and opening "pink presents."  I'll post pics of her celebration in the coming days.  In the meantime, I'll be enjoying these moments, caught in the whirl of pink, candles, presents, and joy.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The remembering begins...

Three years ago tonight, at just about his time, I was getting ready for bed, when I felt a POP.  And, not too much later, my 6th baby was born.  But that's a post for tomorrow... Tonight, I simply remember.

I remember the waiting, the anticipation.  How the passage of time alternated between where-did-nine-months-go and I'm-not-quite-ready-there's-still so-much-to-do.  I remember the heavy, ripe feeling of physically being great with child, and the amazement of having done this a sixth time.  I remember the impatience of everyone else to get on with having the baby (we've got a holiday to plan, after all), and my own willingness (stubbornness?) to be still and wait.  And wait.  Four days after time was up I waited, patiently.  And I remember the hopes and dreams...  The wonder, the joy, and the trepidation.  And the awe.

On the eve of my daughter's third birthday, I remember the gift - the most precious gift I have ever been given.  The gift of becoming someone's mother. ♥

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thankful Thursday

I've been thinking that I may merge this, and make it a part of my 1000 Gifts.  But I will keep this format during the month of November, because it's all about being thankful this month.  With my life beginning to spin with the crazy-business that characterizes this time of year for so many of us, I quiet my heart to sit and be grateful for my gifts...

  • the warm, heady scent of spiced pumpkin wafting from the oven
  • fuzzy baby heads
  • toddler hugs
  • "I love you, Mommy"
  • chili and cornbread on a raw November night
  • the health and happiness of my family
  • realizing that my kids are going to be really cool adults
  • the way toddlers sing their stories while playing
  • laughter around a full kitchen table
  • busy schedules and the energy to meet them
Speaking of schedules...  One week from today is Turkey Day!  I'm going to try to be extra aware of my blessings, gifts, and reasons to be thankful in the coming days, in the midst of all the running and preparations.  I truly do have so much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Blogging in an Age of Tweets

I have not yet begun tweeting, although I must admit, I've been tempted, and I probably will get myself a Twitter account one of these days.  And probably sooner, rather than later.  I'm mostly hung up on choosing an ID - do I go simple, with just my name, or do I try for a cutesy and memorable tagline?  It's such a permanent, public thing, and causes me lots of angst.  Such is the stuff of decision-making in my little brain...

There is something attractive about the pithy one-line updates we have come to expect from Twitter's tweets and Facebook status updates.  Something about life distilled into its purest moments, about a few, well-chosen words, about eliminating the superfluous and concentrating on that which really matters.  Life, in 140 characters or less.

Or have we simply gotten lazy?  It's hard to have a REAL conversation in the midst of these sound-bytes.  It's easy to just skim over the surface, hit the high points, and move on to the Next Big Thing that captures our attention.  I suppose that it's a good discipline to have to be able to make your point in 140 characters, but it also leaves little room for contemplation.  Have we reduced our lives to merely a written play-by-play?

It has gotten harder for me, the more I use Facebook, with it's similarly concise Status updates, even to think in a more complex pattern.  So often, I find myself trying to fit my life into short, neat pieces rather than taking the time to really delve into things.  Why waste 1000 words when less than 200 will do?

Why?

Because we're missing out on true conversation.  True listening.  True interaction.  True caring.  All the pressure to keep things nice and tidy and short and antiseptic has helped to stunt our attempts to reach out in a meaningful way.  It's almost as if we've become afraid of the interaction and investment required to nurture a relationship.  One of the reasons I have neglected this blog is that it's simply easier to jot down a line or two on Facebook than to unload my soul on this page.  And, when you can read all about the micro-events of anyone's day, what makes you want to come read a whole long post about the same things?

Perhaps, in addition to the short snippets of life we get through the marvel of social networking, we need to sit down and engage in something more.  Complete more then just a thought.  I am the first to admit that I am far too guilty of allowing these snippets to control my interactions far too often.  And far too eager not to have to put forth the effort required to have a real conversation.  To write, and to listen.  To exchange ideas.  To pour heart and soul into something more than a couple of one-liners.

I recognize the need to write.  To expound.  To fully explore and discuss a topic.  To accord something more importance than a pithy text box.  Civilized, educated people talk.  They debate.  They wax poetic, and have dialogues.  I need to become one of them, again.  I miss words.  I  miss the freedom to use LOTS of words.  And I have decided to write.

Will you join me?

Giveaway!

Remember my new favorite diaper?  Well, My Coupon Mommy of 3 is hosting a giveaway for a $10 gift certificate to Andrea's shoppe.  All you have to do is fill out the form HERE, follow the instructions, and be entered for your chance to win!   But you have to hurry...  The contest ends tomorrow!

I'll be back with my regular post in a bit.  Two posts in one day...  Don't get too used to that!!!  *grin*

Good luck!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A New Season Begins...

We ushered in a new season here in our house - basketball season.  Two seasons of basketball, to be exact. (Well, it could be three, if Robbie ever decides to actually complete and turn in his work... But that's another story, entirely...  *gah*)  Sarah is playing Varsity Girls, and Nathan is playing 7th-8th grade Boys. And this is going to present a myriad of logistical challenges.  Any of you who have multiple children who participate in multiple activities understand, but this is really our first venture into after-school-activity multitasking.  Up to now, we've managed one child per season, or at least two children in the same activity, so we've been able to keep the chaos under control.  No more.  My head is already spinning...

Tonight we got to watch Nathan play in his first game.  He got only a couple of minutes of playing time, though, because yesterday was his first practice.  Rehearsals for the play overlapped with the beginning of basketball season, so he missed about 3 weeks of practice and three games.  We tried to work out a way for him to do both, but just couldn't get everyone on the same page.  He thoroughly enjoyed performing, though, so I think he's come to terms with the sacrifice.  He is looking forward to throwing himself completely into basketball, now, and if his performance tonight was any indication, he's going to have a great season once he gets a few more practices under his belt.  A natural scrapper, that one...

Sarah's first practice was just yesterday, and her first game isn't for a couple of weeks.  I don't think they have games that overlap.  The middle school boys' season ends before Christmas, while the varsity goes until February.  So we just have to work out the two different practice schedules, but only for a couple of months.  I am blessed, though, to have a friend who will pick up whichever child (or children) from school and deliver them home that we can't get to.  Which is such a nice gesture, because this angel enabled me to be able to go with brian to see Nathan play tonight.  Sometimes, it's the littlest things that mean the most.

So, if you notice me running around like a crazy person these next couple of months, you'll understand why.  Oh - you can also add in three birthdays, many school music performances, a couple of major holidays, a full church schedule, and all the ensuing madness that normally comes with this time of year...  Yeah.  That's me, the funny-looking mommy with the mismatched socks, always running just a step or two behind.  And if you happen to run into me, a little bit of grace would be greatly appreciated.  Because I'm gonna need it.  Grace, and a good, stiff drink.

Monday, November 15, 2010

My 1000 Gifts, Continued...

holy experience

  • Five blessed hours of uninterrupted sleep
  • Fuzzy socks
  • My Keurig coffee maker 
  • Seasonal creamers
  • Homemade cinnamon rolls
  • Homemade spaghetti and meatballs
  • Toddler ponytails
  • Long baby eyelashes
  • Requests for "Pink Presents"
  • Being inspired by wise words
  • Watching a child reach, stretch themselves, and succeed
  • Afternoon craziness and cascades of giggles
  • Roses on the kitchen table
  • Having "just enough" become abundance
  • The aroma of vanilla

Sunday, November 14, 2010

So Much for a Day of Rest...

Sunday is supposed to be a Sabbath, a time away, a time to rest.  But today...  Not so much around here.  The kids were still on a bit of a high from the play (both performers and viewers), so we had LOTS of energy abounding all over the place.  And because we never properly celebrated Amanda's birthday back in July (due to her travel arrangements for her mission trip to Tanzania with my parents), I had planned today as her "birthday" - complete with THESE homemade cinnamon rolls for brunch, spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, and chocolate cake with homemade frosting. of course, to end the evening.

But, as I was putting the finishing touches on the cinnamon rolls after church, Brian called me and told me that he had a pastoral emergency to attend to, and he wouldn't be home for a while.  So, I began the dinner preparations and fed the kids brunch while he dealt with the immediate aftershocks of the suicide of a terminally ill neighbor/friend of a parishioner.  Ministry sometimes isn't pretty.  This was one of those days when I am glad that much of my work goes on behind the scenes.  I prayed for him while I held down the (rather rambunctious) fort.

He returned a while later, and walked in to the warm scent of sweetness and cinnamon.  He thanked me, saying that it was nice to be greeted by something other than the smell of death.  You do get these strange little insights in our line of work.  I was just thankful that I was able to be his safe place today.

I finished up the cake and started the frosting, and sat down to nurse Joshua before Brian and I headed out to Walmart for our Sunday grocery shopping run.  Got that errand done and hurried home to finish dinner and decorate the cake.  A couple of hours later, spaghetti, sauce, meatballs, and garlic bread completed, we sat down to enjoy Amanda's favorite meal.  Everyone ate their fill, and then, we had cake.    We sang to Amanda, even though it was months after the fact.  But her eyes shone, and she clearly appreciated being remembered.

All through the fabric of this busy, hectic day ran the thread of the sorrow of the other family.  In stark contrast to the loud, boisterous joy that was radiating through this house, was the knowledge that there was, just across town, another family, suffering unimaginable grief.  As I sit, writing this, my feet ache and my back is stiff.  But I am thankful that I have the opportunity to be busy, and tired.  Because I know, I know that others do not have that luxury.  So, I go to bed, this evening, exhausted and sore, but also humbled and with a heart full of gratitude for all of the blessings in my life.

I am truly blessed.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Fearsome Pirate Frank

I had the honor of watching Sarah and Nathan perform in the Rivermont Collegiate fall production of The Fearsome Pirate Frank on Friday and Saturday nights.  They did a wonderful job, and everyone enjoyed the show immensely.  It is always a joy for a parents to watch their children perform, and this was no exception.  Nathan is a stage veteran (having had a major role in last spring's production), and takes to acting like a fish to water.  This was Sarah's first foray onto the stage, and she shone, as well.  I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see them having so much fun.

I just wish Nathan would have been more agreeable to getting his hair cut prior to the show...  *sigh*

Hoist the sails, ye scalawags!

Pirates 
Swabbing the deck

Nascar Scene-stealer

Zombie pirate

Curtain call

Friday, November 12, 2010

Time for Random BlogThings Quizzes

I started out with all kinds of good blogging intentions today, but after watching Sarah and nathan perform in the school fall play this evening, I didn't really have it in me to compose a witty, fun, or insightful post. So here, for your Friday night entertainment, are a couple of silly quizzes.  Enjoy!


WHAT COLOR SHOULD YOUR BLOG BE?



Your Blog Should Be Blue





Your blog is a peaceful, calming force in the blogosphere.

You tend to avoid conflict - you're more likely to share than rant.

From your social causes to cute pet photos, your life is a (mostly) open book.

THE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE ORACLE


                     You Are Easygoing and Forgiving




Your sense of humor is goofy and silly. You try to never hurt people with your jokes.



You are the type of person who is more life smart than book smart. You are creative and intuitive.



You have fun when you're doing your favorite things. You know what you like.



You are an ideas person. You aren't great on execution, but you're good at brainstorming.







Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thankful Thursday

I'm having a hard time with this one today.  Life has handed me the kind of day you just want to give back, and try again for another.  But I have been imploring God all day yo help me be thankful.  And, at last, as bedtime fast approaches, I think I finally have the perspective I need.  So, here is this week's Thankful Thursday list...

I'm thankful for:

  • hot showers
  • leftovers
  • early bedtimes for small children
  • those who have served and continue to serve this great country, and their families
  • the interconnectedness of ministry, and
  • the ripples of one simple act of kindness
  • the Grace to see beyond the anxiety of the moment
  • peace

And, on that note, I'm more than ready for this day to be done.  And I look forward to tomorrow, a new begining.

Wishing you peace this evening.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday ~ My Littlest Faces

Hannah

Joshua

Pure bliss
I fully realize that my camera skills and editing software are sorely lacking.  And while composing this post, I realized I haven't taken enough pics, lately - even bad ones.  But I hope you enjoy them, anyway!  And I promise to take more pictures, and share them with you in the very near future!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Wow. It's only Tuesday.

I need to stop and take a breath.  Why is it that life just seems to ramp up to an intensity that requires a turbo-charged, super-venti double espresso just to keep up?  Of course, since I am still Joshua's primary food source, I just say no to caffeine, but I still feel the non-stop rush all the same.  I just have to work harder to stay awake.  And we haven't even gotten to the official start of the Holiday season, yet.

**breathe**

As I look through the pages of my calendar, the days that have nothing noted on them are becoming few and far between.  I was complaining about this to someone, who told me (without much sympathy) that perhaps, I ought to have thought about that before I decided to have seven kids.  But, you know, the scary thing is that MOST of this stuff involves just the oldest three.  Yeah.  So, it's not like I'm any busier than your ordinary-sized American family.  And, each of my kids has only one after-school activity at a time.  So, apparently, it could be much worse.  Yikes.

**breathe**

So, with all of the craziness yet to come, I can find myself wrapped up in worry and hurry and go go go.  Or I can choose peace.  Of course, I also know that choosing peace might mean that I will need to make choices.  Either I need to be very organized, or I have to be okay with things not being perfect.  Choosing peace means that I need to let go of my expectations, and concentrate on just being. On enjoying the moment.  On preparing my heart for the coming of the Christ Child, and opening my soul to the wonder of each new day.

But that will take Grace.  Lots of Grace.  And lots of stopping to just

**breathe**

I pray for the grace to remember to simply be present for my children, my husband, and myself in these next few weeks.  To have the strength and energy to get everything done, but also for the patience to see the Big Picture.  To not sweat the small stuff.  And to be thankful for it all.  But through it all,  to remember, in the end, Whom I serve, in all I do.  Amen.  Come, Lord jesus.

Monday, November 8, 2010

One Thousand Gifts

holy experience


Today, I am beginning a journey.  I am going to journal with you 1000 Gifts that I have been given - things that I am thankful for, things I enjoy, the little things that so often pass by unnoticed - moments inspired by that which makes my heart sing.  Ann of A Holy Experience is the inspiration behind it - you can read more about it HERE.  I am still not quite sure exactly how I am going to journal these - if it will be a weekly compilation, a daily thing,  or something not yet evolved.  But stay tuned, and hopefully, be inspired to join and create your own 1000 Gifts!

  • the smell of fallen leaves
  • stolen moments of quiet
  • the warm light of an Indian Summer afternoon
  • the fluffy softness of a clean diaper fresh out of the wash
  • the curl in the back of David's hair
  • cold water with crushed ice 
  • the smell of fresh popped corn
  • the deep, rich, black color of the Iowa fields after they have been plowed under
  • toenail polish (although I rarely have mine done)
  • the pre-dinner-time cacophony
I am beginning this journey now, to prepare my heart for Thanksgiving, and as a meditation on the coming season of Advent.  Please feel free to add your won, in the comments, or on your own blog.  Feel free to leave a link, so I can share your list, too.

Have a blessed day!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I sing a Song of the Saints of God...

I sing a song of the saints of God,
Patient and brave and true,
Who toiled and fought and lived and died
For the Lord they loved and knew.
And one was a doctor, and one was a queen,
And one was a shepherdess on the green:
They were all of them saints of God, and I mean,
God helping, to be one too.


They loved their Lord so dear, so dear,
And his love made them strong;
And they followed the right for Jesus' sake,
The whole of their good lives long.
And one was a soldier, and one was a priest,
And one was slain by a fierce wild beast:
And there's not any reason - no, not the least,
Why I shouldn't be one too.


They lived not only in ages past,
There are hundreds of thousands still.
The world is bright with the joyous saints
Who love to do Jesus' will.
You can meet them in school, or in lanes, or at sea,
In church, or in trains, or in shops or at tea,
For the saints of God are just folk like me,
And I mean to be one too.


Singing this song on All Saints Sunday always makes me smile.  It's a good Anglican song, full of nostalgia and hope, full of faith and remembrance.  And above all, childlike faith and logic.  The simple reminder that although there are Great Saints who have gone before us, each one of us is, in our own right, a Saint, too.  It doesn't take any special power - no miracles necessary...  Just childlike faith and  the belief that through Jesus, we can accomplish all things.  And when we truly begin to live out our faith, miracles do happen.  So, will you join me?  Will you be a Saint?
And I mean to be one too.

HAPPY ALL SAINTS SUNDAY!!!!!!

Hymn text by Lesbia Scott  Listen to the tune HERE - although the lyrics on this site aren't the original ones, it is the tune I grew up with.  And check out the BOOK, which does give the stories of all the saints referenced in the song, just in case you are ever curious about who exactly it was that was killed by a fierce wild beast...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Random Thoughts Saturday

As I sit here bouncing a not-remotely-tired 7 month old on my knee, please indulge me in a little bit of randomness.

  • I am excited by the return of cold weather - in no small part because the size of my fridge/freezer swells to the size of my back porch.
  • I would make cinnamon rolls every single weekend if I had the willpower to not eat them.
  • Which brings me to the fact that I am insanely envious of those lucky women who lose weight effortlessly while breastfeeding.  I am not one of them.
  • It is a pet peeve of my husband's that most people confuse jealousy with envy.  Jealousy is when you are protective of something that is rightfully yours. Envy is when you desire something that is not already yours.
  • Sometimes, I still slip and confuse the two, myself.  With ensuing eye-rolls from my husband.
  • After receiving impassioned pleas from two sides of our families to come home for various celebrations and holidays, I wish we lived closer to our families.
  • I wish our families would visit us more often.
  • I am looking forward to the holiday season, in spite of missing everyone.
  • I am already planning holiday menus.  I think I gained 5 pounds just perusing recipes.
  • I would love to get paid to cook, but I don't think I could stand working in a restaurant.
  • I'm still trying to talk myself out of starting a batch of cinnamon rolls for tomorrow morning. It's almost 11 pm.
  • I am praying that the kids sleep in and let me take full advantage of that extra hour of sleep.  I doubt it, though.  Maybe I ought to start those rolls after all...

Friday, November 5, 2010

What's That Sound? Oh Wait... It's Quiet!

Yes.  It's going to be a (relatively) quiet weekend around here.  The two older boys are off in The Big City visiting their cousins, having the time of their lives with Uncle Jon, I am sure.  And that leaves me with only five kiddos until Sunday.  Okay - I know that sounds weird.  And, to many of you, the idea that having only five kids in the house could be anything close to quiet just sounds absurd.  But trust me - it's the God's honest truth.  Especially when the two missing are tween boys.  If you have ever experienced 10-12 year-old boys, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

I guess I don't really pay attention to just how much noise boys make until they aren't here.  The house seems completely different in their absence.  Boys really are, to quote the saying, "a loud noise covered in dirt."  This isn't a bad thing, but the sheer force of it came as a bit of a shock after having two girls, both of whom were fairly rough-and-tumble themselves.  But nothing prepared me for the perpetual motion that is a boy.  Their energy and persistence never cease to amaze me.   They are little firecrackers - always loud and full of surprises.  And just when you least expect it, sweet, and kind, and gentle.  

So I will enjoy the relative quiet and calm for the next two days, while my older sons wrestle, shoot Nerf guns, eat guy-food, and otherwise expend some of that boundless energy with my brother and his two male offspring.  I'm sure they will come back with memories and stories enough to last a lifetime.  And their return will bring with it an end to the calm, but also a renewing of life and energy, along with the spark behind their impish smiles.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thankful Thursday

I'm starting a new thing here on my little blog.  I was inspired by the many Thankfulness memes that always make their way around the blogosphere this time of year, but most recently by A Holy Experience's Thousand Gifts, which I intend to start, as well.  Ann has set Mondays as the day for sharing this, though.  Stay tuned, as I follow through with my own Thousand Gifts.  But you can never reflect too much on your blessings, can you, in this season of Thanksgiving?

So here is my list of random things I am thankful for today:

  • the golden, red, and mottled leaves breathing their last
  • the smell of spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove
  • leftover donuts
  • decaf coffee with flavored creamer
  • hidden chocolate
  • baby snuggles
  • newly wavy hair
  • toddler dress-ups
  • the sounds of laughter echoing down the hall
So, what are YOU thankful for?  Take some time this season to ponder your blessings with me.  Share with me in the Comments, or feel free to continue the meme on your own.  And come back next Thursday for more Thankful Thursday musings.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

And Another Day Gets Away From Me...

I actually had two post possibilities lined up for today, but neither one materialized.  Somehow, my camera just never migrated from the kitchen counter into my hand to capture the precious moments of Joshua's first tentative attempts at crawling forward, which would have made for a precious Wordless Wednesday post.  Nor did I finish the more profound work-in-progress I had titled and partially composed on my computer screen for most of the day.  But rest assured that I do intend to finish, and publish, BOTH posts, and hopefully, sooner, rather than later.

But I am here, writing.  And I have been thinking about writing all day.  Well, thinking about it in between diaper changes, diaper rash, drooling, bumped heads, sippy cups, nap time, avoiding laundry and various other mundane household tasks, and all the other things that keep me going throughout the day.  But that, my friends, is life, is it not?  Instead of documenting my day, I spent it with my children, getting down and dirty amidst the crumbs on the floor, wondering to myself if I was really doing enough.

So I apologize for not having any particular pearls of wisdom to share this evening.  I hope it won't keep you, dear reader, from returning.  I can't promise to be brilliant every single one of these 30 days, but I do promise to be here.

See y'all tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I voted.

I exercised my right and privilege as an American citizen, on this beautiful fall day, to vote.  It took all of about 15 minutes, start to finish.  I must say I was impressed by the new registration technology - all done on laptops and mini-printers.  Very high-tech for this little corner of the world, and a very far cry from the days of big paper rolls that the poll workers had to flip through.

And I'm eternally grateful that all those irritating robo-calls have stopped, and that my mailbox and front door will no longer be crammed full of paper missives that were immediately ignored and summarily tossed into the recycle bin.  Well, done at least until after the first of the year, anyway.  Here in Iowa, we are so lucky to host the all-important Caucuses, which are an interesting political oddity in their own right. But it means that we are subjected to an almost never-ending stream of political campaigning and all the fun that goes with it. *insert eye-rolling smilie here*  If you doubt me, begin paying attention to the stream of political personalities who will begin to schedule tips to the Hawkeye State in the coming months.  It's unreal...

But I remain thankful that I live in this great nation, where I am encouraged to express my opinion and to keep my leadership accountable.  But whether or not those whom we elect to govern even intend to listen to the will of the people is an entirely different post for an entirely different day...

So THANK YOU to all of you who voted today.  Even if you aren't happy with the way your specific elections turned out, be grateful for the opportunity, and remember those who sacrificed to give you that voice.

God Bless America.

Monday, November 1, 2010

And Here We Go!!!

It's November.  And you know what THAT means...  The holidays are just around the corner.  There's way too much Halloween candy still calling your name.  And NaBloPoMo.  Yes, I'm attempting, again, this year, to blog every day for the entire month.  I can't promise that you'll get a profound tidbit each time, but I promise to try to at least be coherent.  :)

I have discovered that, even though I don't really have time, my life just seems to work better when I get to write.  So, I'm writing.  And I'm happy that you're here to read.  Just don't come knocking on my door, because I'm afraid the housekeeping might just have been knocked down another rung on the priorities ladder.  Unless you don't mind stepping over piles of assorted toys, discarded coats, and weeks-old cheerio crumbs.  In that case, come on in!!

However, I think you'll find yourself much more comfortable pulling up your chair and sitting in my virtual family room, reading my blog.  So pour another cup of coffee, and settle in.  It's gonna be a great month.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Changing Things Up

I thought that since I am making a new start in my blogging life, that my blog ought to reflect that as well.  I haven't altered my look since I started this venture about three and a half years ago, and things were beginning to feel a bit stale.

Please excuse the dust while I update and refresh my little corner of the blogosphere.  And feel free to comment on what you like, or don't like.  There are a whole realm of options out there, now, that just weren't around when I started this thing, and it might take me a bit to settle on something that feels right.  But with NaBloPoMo quickly approaching, I thought it was a good time for a change.

But I think I like it so far.  So, what do YOU think?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My New Favorite Diaper

A few months ago, a WAHM store on HyenaCart was looking for a few moms willing to test out a new style of cloth diaper at a reduced price. And, since I am always on the lookout for a bargain, and I had a new baby boy, I thought I'd give it a try. I had bought a newborn diaper from this mama and LOVED it, so I was excited to try this new, trim style. Andrea, of My Diaper Addiction, has designed what is, in my opinion, pretty close to the perfect fitted diaper. Her SkinnyButt diapers are soft, trim, and super-absorbant. And did I mention soft? And TRIM???

She created the pattern to fit slender babies, but it fits my guy wonderfully, even with his chunky thighs. I really like the trimness in the crotch - VERY absorbent, without a lot of bulk. And she has lots of super-cute prints. :) And her sizing is generous, which means you can get lots of life out of each size. Joshua is 17.5 lbs at 6 months, and is still wearing a small. I will go up to a medium for my next purchase, though. But I imagine that will see us through until potty training. Like all fitteds, they do require a cover, but these are so thirsty that it's my first one I reach for when we go coverless at home. The only bad thing I have to say about these diapers is that Andrea lives in Canada, which means you'll have to wait 2-3 weeks for your fluff to arrive. But they are totally worth the wait. I'm currently saving my pennies for a couple of customs. Andrea is so easy to work with, and I already have a couple of prints picked out...

So, head over to My Diaper Addiction and have a look around. She has several other styles available - Newborns, One-size, and Fattycakes (for chubsters). But keep your hands off the Med. Choo-choo. That one is mine. :D

My Diaper Addiction didn't in any way compensate me for this. She had no idea I even wrote this! Just another one of Andrea's satisfied customers...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Gotta Brag... Shameless Promotion of Oldest Son

After a rough couple of years (beginning with THIS), I think we finally have our Nathan back. He has come so far since his accident, and I am so proud of his newfound strength, sense of self, and maturity (or what passes for maturity in a 12 year-old boyr... LOL).

For one of his summer reading books this year, he chose The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. And, for his 7th gade English class project, they had to be booksellers promoting their chosen work. Part of the assignment was to create a visual aid for use in their presentation. After much angst and a couple of not-so-successful ideas, he hit upon the concept of building a scene from the book out of Legos, of which we have about 1,459,642 spread all over the basement playroom (mostly on the floor - OUCH!). Then, since one of the things he had wanted to do earlier was to make a movie (using his friends), he decided to then film a scene, using the Lego people as actors. Using stop-motion technique, with a Flip camera, and rudimentary iMovie editing, he came up with this:

Tom Sawyer Fence-Painting Scene
video


And, then, since he was having so much fun, he did another scene:

Injun Joe - Graveyard scene
video

And yeah - the focus isn't perfect, and there is the distracting background noise of large-family life. But I loved watching him work on this project. He had a great time. and I enjoyed watching him shine. And he *really* did glow. And, what do you think? I've got a potential film-maker, definitely a ham, and most importantly, a kid who is enjoying learning once again. ♥ I am blessed, indeed.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Joshua's Birth Story


I had an appointment with my midwife at 8:30 Friday morning - April 2nd. We left the office at 11. Long story short, I walked out of there with plans to be induced Saturday morning at 6 am... Not in
my original plan...

I go in for the NST (Non-Stress Test - which I have been having weekly since 36 weeks, due to my *
ahem* advanced age), and they have a new girl doing it. She can't seem to get a good read on the HB, and won't let me show her where a good spot is. So, even though the baby is moving around, the HB isn't registering much. The tech leaves with a look of panic on her face, and gets the mw. They send me back to the waiting room to wait for the appt. Waiting... Waiting... And then, a girl comes in with an emergency (we *think* she was losing a baby - which kind of puts things in perspective for us).

So, everything kind of stops while they see her, and take her to u/s. After about 20-30 minutes, the nurse comes back to me and tells me that they are waiting for u/s to clear, and that's what's taking so long. I look confused, and she asks me if they told me I was having an u/s. I told her, no, they told me I was waiting to see Beth (the mw). So, I ask her if there's a problem, and she says, well, Beth will talk to you about that, but you are having a BPP (bio-physical profile - basically, to see if the baby is still doing well inside). But, first, we need to take your BP, b/c it was high on Tuesday. Yeah. And THIS news is going to make it much lower, now... *sigh*

So, we wait. And wait. And wait some more... Hannah and David are starting to get antsy... FINALLY, they take me back into a conference room, and Beth comes in. She explains that the baby wasn't very reactive for part of the NST, so b/c my BP was high, they want to to the BPP. I ask how the rest of the tests were (because my BP had been up on Tuesday, Beth had ordered a battery of tests, convinced that I had pre-eclamsia, even though I had no other signs), and she tells me everything was normal. DUH... But she is obviously distracted by what's going on with the other girl, and can't remember the details of my appt earlier this week. So, she tells me they want to take my BP and send me to u/s. So, they put me in a little room, and take my BP - it's HIGH - 157/98 - GO FIGURE... The u/s tech calls me back, and so off we go...

And, by now, the baby is napping. He was nice and active earlier... And I haven't eaten anything either, b/c we generally go out for breakfast after an early appt like that... But, by this time, it's like 10 am, and all I've had is a handful of almonds that I ate to get the baby moving for the NST. And, the baby isn't moving. Practicing breathing, but sleeping. The tech is getting concerned... They need 3 movements in 30 minutes, and baby has had only 1 so far. After about 20 minutes, I remember that I have some Cadbury mini-eggs in the diaper bag, so I have Brian fetch them for me, and I munch away. Within about 2 minutes, baby starts moving. A lot. Yeah - just like mama - baby likes chocolate... So, we finish that, and I go back to a room. And they have me lie down, and tell me they are going to do another BP reading.

We wait. AND wait. Finally, a nurse comes in and does the BP - 128/78. Thank God - A MIRACLE!!!!!!! So, we wait some more for Beth to come back in and discuss things. I can tell from everyone's tone that this is not promising. Eventually, she comes in, and tells me that the baby scored 8/8 on the BPP, but my fluid is low, and since they didn't like the heart tracings on the NST(he didn't have enough variation in his HB), she wants to induce NOW. So, my score on the BPP was 8/10 (and the BPP measures fluid level, and I got a perfect score), and I need to have this baby NOW???? Not buying it.

So, I ask her if we can put it off until tomorrow am. She says that she'll have to run it by the OBs, but she *thinks* it would be okay. Not ideal, and not what she would do, but okay. She explains that she thinks, between the BP and the low fluid (!), that things aren't going well, and my placenta is aging, and throws out the "dead baby" card - if you go now, and everything is fine, you won't have to ask yourself "what if" - if you wait, you might." I'm talking waiting less than 24 hours. Just until tomorrow morning. ???????

But, we can tell she is visibly flustered from whatever was happening with this other girl... (one reason I prefer midwifery care is that they
do seem to take every patient's situation personally, although in this case it *was* a bit annoying, but I'm sure the other girl got excellent and compassionate care from Beth) I stand firm with my decision to wait until Saturday - I've lost my plug, and have been spotting since yesterday, so, it *could* happen anytime, anyway... She asks what I was at my last check, and I tell her I haven't been checked yet. So she checks me - a good 4, still thick, but 50% baby's head isn't engaged, though... She said they would most likely need to use pit, b/c she wouldn't feel comfortable just breaking my water with teh baby so high and still floating like that.

She tries again to convince me of the NEED to be induced NOW. And I'm still not buying it. She said that the baby isn't moving enough (on YOUR timed tests - my baby passes it's kick counts at home, thankyouverymuch), and b/c you've kept me here ALL MORNING WITHOUT FOOD, it's not going to be very active, now, is it????

So, she offers to strip my membranes, which I gladly agree to (knowing it may or may not work), but at least I will have tried everything to go naturally. She does it, and tells me she'll set things up for Saturday morning, but that if I change my mind, they'll fit me in today.

I continued having contractions on and off. So, I figure it's *possible* that I could go on my own at any time, but I wasn't holding my breath.

I HATE pit. Can I just say, I HATE PIT. I felt like I'd lost complete control of this birth, and I was scared of having another awful experience like I had with David. Maybe I AM too old to be doing this...

But at least the kids would be home on Saturday, and hopefully, this could go off in a relatively orderly manner, and I would be able to get all the last-minute loose ends tied up (haircuts, setting out Easter outfits, etc). It would suck that I wouldn't be able to be at home for Easter, but I would just have to deal with that.

**********

So.... We decided to just get up and go to the hospital whenever we got there. We spent the rest of Friday finishing up the last-minute baby preparations - installing the carseat, getting a new boppy, packing my bag, preparing the kids... And went to bed. Hannah had a rough night, though, and wound up in bed with us. She obviously picked up on our level of stress... Poor thing...

I was having some contractions, on and off, all evening, and had some bloody show, which had increased since Beth had stripped my membranes earlier at the appt. The contractions continued into the night - not regular enough to do anything about, but strong enough to wake me up. Definitely noticeable. I didn't sleep a whole lot - between the contractions, nerves, kick counts, and wondering if I had made the right decision, I was pretty much a bundle of nerves... Brian set the alarm for the regular school time, and we slowly got up and got ready to go. By the time we got everyone settled for the morning and headed out the door, it was about 8. Sarah and Amanda came with us to the hospital, and Nathan was watching the little ones. I was nervous, but still a bit hungry, so I ate about half a bowl of granola on the way.

We get to the hospital, and head up to L&D. It's quiet, and no one is even a little upset that we hadn't gotten there at 6. That made me very happy with our decision not to rush that morning. I had a GREAT nurse - her name was Anne. She got the abx hooked up right away, and asked all the admission questions. The girls and Brian settled themselves on the couch. Everyone was relaxed and in a good mood, and I started to settle down, too. They hooked me up to the monitors, and Anne went to let the mw , Pam, know that I was there and ready. Anne went ahead and brought in the pitocin and stuff. Blech. We waited for the abx to go in, and just chatted. Once I was done, Anne got Pam. Pam was GREAT. We had gotten along so well during the few visits I'd had with her during this pregnancy - and I had actually prayed that I'd get her when I went into labor. She asked how things had been overnight, and I told her that I had been having some contractions, and she decided to go ahead and check me,even though Beth had said that she wouldn't feel comfortable just breaking my water, b/c I wasn't far enough along, and the head was still high. BUT... Lo and behold, those contractions overnight had done enough, and I was 5-6, 80%, and baby was at +1 station. Good enough for her to just break my water, and go from there. So, she did - that was at about 10 am. They needed a few more minutes on the monitor, so I had to wait a bit. While I'm waiting, they notice a bit of irregularity in the baby's HB strip. They call in the head nurse, and she says to watch it, but no one seems too concerned. The abx were done by then, so they unhooked me from the IV. YAY!!! I got a cup of RRL tea and honey that I brought from home, and drank that while I was waiting. Then, they unhook me, and Brian and are sent off to start walking the halls. After about half a lap, the contractions start, and they start regularly. And they are STRONG - by the time I finished that lap, they were about 3-4 minutes apart. I did another couple of laps, and had to come back to the room to get monitored. The contractions were pretty strong, and I was starting to get uncomfortable. Pam asked if I wanted to sit on a birth ball, and I said yes. So, she got one, and I rocked on it for a bit. But the contractions slowed, so after about 15 minutes, I decided to stand and walk. Almost immediately upon getting vertical again, things kicked back into rear. I would have LOVED to have gotten in the tub at that point, but I didn't want to risk slowing things down. So I paced around the room. Started to feel really bad - nauseous, and more pressure. Things were obviously moving pretty fast. I got on the bed, on hands and knees, to try to move the baby down a bit. I had started shaking, so I knew transition was starting. This was around 11, I think. Pam predicted I'd have a baby by lunchtime, and I could look forward to a lunchtray (yeah - as if hospital food is a reward of some kind... LOL). I stayed on my hands and knees for a while, until I had to go to the bathroom. Then, when I got back, Pam offered to check me. I was 6-7, maybe almost 8, and the baby was +2. But I still had a pretty good rim of cervix left. I was feeling A LOT of pressure, so she gave me permission to try to bear down. I did, for a few contractions, but it wasn't really doing much. So, I lay back down and rode out a few more. She had me turn onto my side, which was really hard, b/c the contractions were really coming one on top of another at this point, and were almost as bad as piggyback pit contractions. I was concentrating on breathing through them, riding them out like a wave. And, at some point, Pam thought that he might have flipped posterior, and that was why he wasn't coming down as fast as we thought he would be. I tried to push again, but it wasn't doing much, so I went back on my left side. I was pretty much convinced that I wasn't going to be able to push - it just wasn't working like I had remembered. And I rode out a few more contractions. And, then, all of a sudden, I felt him coming. I *think* he *was* posterior, b/c I felt one good back contraction, and then, I felt him coming down and twisting. And, just like that, he was crowning. And then, his head was out. I flipped onto my back while I felt him turning, and Pam caught him - head, and then shoulders, and then the rest of him. I really didn't *do* anything - when he came, he did it on his own. As they were lifting him up, I got to see that he was a boy, before anyone announced it. And how TINY he was. No wonder he just popped out...

Joshua Patrick McVey entered the world at 12:45 pm, April 3, 2010.

Sarah and Amanda, who had been down by the foot of the bed, came over, and we let them cut the cord. They were so proud and excited... They put him right no my chest - his apgars were 8/9. He didn't really even cry very much. I could't get over how SMALL he was... They let me hold him for a long time. It was wonderful. They were in no hurry to weigh him or anything... So, as Brian and Sarah were making the requisite phone calls, we didn't have his weight or height! He wasn't interested in latching on right away - just lind of sniffed and licked at my breast. But he was alert and looking around. He didn't even cry very much. I could already tell he was a pretty laid-back kind of guy... I passed him off to the girls and Brian While Pam finished checking me over. No tears or anything - of course, with him being so small that makes sense (hadn't weighed him yet, but we could tell he was WAY smaller than the 8 lbs 4 oz the u/s had predicted on Friday...). They hung a bag of pit, b/c with it being my 7th baby, there was a risk of bleeding. Turns out, there were no issues, there, either. Finally, after half an hour, we decided to give him to the nurse to have him weighed and measured, and to get the vit. K shot. And were we SHOCKED at how little he was! 6 lbs 13.5 oz, and 19.5" long! Almost *exactly* the same size as Sarah - but she was 3 and a half weeks early!!! No wonder he came out so easily! And no wonder he was spinning around so much when I was in labor...

Then, since things were winding down, Brian left to go get the other kids, and Sarah and Amanda stayed with me, and we got ready to move to the post-partum wing. I took a shower, and the nurse gave Joshua a bath. Then, while I was moving and getting settled, they took Joshua to the nursery to get checked over, and to listen to his heart.

And that's when my nightmare began...

Brian returned with the kids, right about the same time they brought Joshua back from the nursery - it's mid-afternoon by now. The nurse said that the dr would be in to see him later,that they would want to run some additional tests on him - an EKG, for certain, and maybe some other stuff. But they left him with us, and the kids all got to hold him, and there was much rejoicing, a few tears, and general chaos. After a bit, the nurse came back to say that the dr was there to take a look at him. It wasn't our regular family dr, who was on vacation last week, but his partner. Brian left to see what they were going to do with Joshua, and I kept the other 6 kids in the room with me. I expected them to be gone 20 minutes, maybe... But the longer they were gone, the more worried I was getting. And I'm trying to stay calm for the other kids, b/c I don't want to upset them. Finally, they come back - Brian wheeling Joshua and the dr to come fill me in. The dr tells me that they are sending the EKG results to Iowa City (University of Iowa hospitals - specialists and level 4 NICU) and they'll get a consult from the pediatric cardiologist. They are most likely going to want to do an echocardiogram to further investigate what's causing the arrhythmia. He's skipping every 3rd-4th beat, pretty regularly. It's possible that it could fix itself on its own - apparently, it often does - but it could also indicate a more serious problem with his heart. And, of course, I'm thinking immediately of Kristi and Gabriella, and everything that goes with that. The dr tells me that he will be back tomorrow to go over what the pediatric cardiologist recommends and to look at Joshua again. But he thinks that, if everything looks fine tomorrow, then they would clear us to be discharged on Sunday, with a follow-up at our dr's later in the week. So, the dr leaves, and by this time, it's getting to be close to supper time, and Brian needs to get the kids home to feed them. They leave, and Joshua and I are alone in my room. It was SO QUIET. AS I looked a him, he looked so perfect - it was hard to believe that he was such a sick little boy. He was strong, and eating well. His color was great, and he was already holding his tiny head up and looking around.

Then, just as I'm finishing up my dinner (hospital food - ick...) the neonatologist comes in to speak to me about Joshua. He looks him over for about 5 minutes - I leave to go pee, and he's still examining him. And, then, he starts. So, Mum, (he's Indian), how much coffee did you have while you were pregnant?" I stuttered... "You know - Coke, Mountain Dew..." I have been caffeine-free since 1994! Well, this kind of arrhythmia is caused most often by too much caffeine consumption by mum when she's pregnant. And, he proceeds to tell me that what he has is PACs, and explains how it's a misfiring of the chambers. And that it can develop into SVTs, which will lead to tachycardia (his heart rate would skyrocket to over 200 BPM), and tells me what to look for - sweating, not eating, general weakness and failure to thrive. And if any of that happens, we need to get him to the ER IMMEDIATELY. Best case scenario - his heart regulates itself on its own, but that usually takes 4-6 weeks. Worst case, he starts having episodes of SVT, and we'll need to discuss medications to regulate his heart, and go from there. But since it's his heart, it's VERY SERIOUS, and they are going to want to keep a very close eye on him.

And then, he wanted to talk about a couple of other issues that Joshua has. First of all, he has a penile chordee (his penis curves downward, like a candy cane), which means that we need to get a urologist consult, and will most likely need surgery to correct the curve. And, he said that we'd need to wait until we got the results of his heart tests, anyway, before we did anything. The next thing he brought up was the fact heat he has a raised ridge/bump on the back of his head, just above the nape of his neck, which no one noticed until the nurse gave him a bath. The neonatologist said that, most likely, it was b/c the bones in his head had fused too soon, and we'd have to get a referral to a plastic surgeon, but most likely a pediatric neurologist, and have his skull reshaped so that his brain would have room to grow.

And, then, he asked about his toes. Joshua has webbed toes - which is not uncommon in my family... I have them, and most of my other kids have it to some degree, too. But Joshua's are different toes (ours are all the second and third toes, on both feet - and only partially connected. His are the last two toes on his right foot only, and they are completely joined (I'll post pics at some point...). The dr asked to see my toes, and my fingers. I have a crooked pinky finger (also runs in the family). Apparently, the combination of webbed toes, crooked fingers, heart abnormalities, and the bump on this head are markers for a very rare genetic disorder. It also involves a boxy, misshapen forehead and droopy eyelids. So, the dr grills me about my kids, and how many of them have these symptoms. He comes back to the heart arrhythmia, and asks how many of them had it, and tells me AGAIN that it's caused mainly from caffeine consumption. He then asks me, after getting the ages of all my other kids, if they have the same father!!??!! I'm fighting back tears at this point, and getting pretty panicked, and praying for Brian to come back, b/c this is all just too much for me. Finally, he starts wrapping up, and tells me that he'll be in tomorrow to check him again, He furrows his brow as if he's forgotten something, and then asks me if Joshua has had a poopy diaper yet. I tell him no, and he gets all concerned again, and starts to look him over again, lecturing me that they like them to have at least one in their first 24 hours of life. Then, I explained that , seeing as it was just 6:45, that it had been only 6 hours since he's been born, and he said that he'd forgotten that he wasn't that old, yet. And he said that, even though I'd been told that we could go home tomorrow, that he thought that was premature, and it would be Monday at the earliest before he's feel comfortable discharging him. He finally says goodbye, and leaves me alone, again.

So, I'm trying to digest all of this. About 10 minutes later, Brian walks in, and I immediately burst into tears. So THIS is why women over 40 shouldn't have babies, I said, and proceeded to relate everything the neonatologist had told me. And I feel AWFUL, b/c it's obviously MY FAULT that our son is so sick. And I'm just crying and crying, and wondering WHY... And wondering what I could have done differently... Brian brought me a milkshake, but I don't think I tasted any of it... All I could think about was what the neonatologist had told me, and none of it was good. Here I had this perfectly healthy-looking baby boy, who really, by all accounts shouldn't have been conceived, suckling at my breast, and it was all so UNREAL.

Brian did his best to remind me that the other drs hadn't seemed that concerned, that they were just watching him carefully. And it began to dawn on me that, really, if things were really as dire as the neonatologist had said, that he would have transferred Joshua to the NICU, or at least hooked him up to a heart monitor - neither of which he did. But Brian had to go back to the kids, and so he left me for the night. I don't think I have ever felt more alone in my life. My mom had *just* gotten off a plane from Madagascar on Friday morning, and just couldn't get out here, so we were on our own. It was so hard - Brian and I were each having conversations with the drs, but never together. IT was just so frustrating... And I really needed him with me but it just wasn't logistically possible. We had people offer to stay with the kids, but they really needed someone familiar with them and their routine. So we made it work...

Joshua did well Saturday night - he ate a LOT. Every hour or so... But the little ones do eat more often... He was having some trouble settling down to latch, but he'd eventually figure it out. And, to allay the neonatologist's fears about his digestive system, he proceeded to poop about every 2 hours, as well... The nurses all kept commenting on ow easy a baby he was, and how easy I was as a patient. The staff was great - very supportive and caring. I was sad that I would have to miss church on Easter, but Brian was planning on bringing the kids over after the second service and egg hunt. Early Sunday morning, they came to do labwork on Joshua, and a hearing test. I thought it was very cool that they did all this stuff in my room - as a matter of fact, the ONLY time they took him to the nursery was for the drs to check him. And it occurred to me that, b/c hey weren't taking him away, that maybe he wasn't as sick as they originally thought that he was. Pam came back in Sunday morning, and gave me the okay to be discharged that afternoon, but I told her that they had said they wanted to keep Joshua until at least Monday b/c of all the issues. She said that she understood, and to just let her know if anything changed. She also said to keep her updated, and if anything happened, to call the practice, and she'd get the prayer chain going. My eyes welled up with that one... I thanked her again or everything that she did... She was the perfect person to have attended my birth.

And, so I spent the rest of the morning and with Joshua, waiting for Brian to come by with everyone - mostly so I could see how embarrassed I needed to be by what they had dressed themselves in for Easter... Yeah. I'm a bit anally retentive about things like that... Thanks, Mom!!! While I was waiting, the neonatologist returned. I wasn't very happy to see him, and my stomach immediately knotted up again. But his demeanor was completely different, and he was SO much more positive, even saying that if our dr agreed, he *might* be able to leave today. I wondered what had changed overnight... (
I later learned that Brian had had words with him over his treatment of me, and how a more compassionate bedside manner might be a good thing for his career, among other things...)

Finally, after I had eaten lunch, Brian and the kids made it up. And, *just* as they walked in, they came to take Joshua to the nursery to see the dr, so off Brian went again. And I stayed with the older ones, and they told me all about their Easter baskets and about the egg hunt at church. Finally, Brian and Joshua came back, along with the dr. And, long story short, they CLEARED him to be discharged that afternoon!!!!!!!! So, I jumped in the shower while Brian was rounding up the kids, and had the nurse get in touch with Pam, so she could sign my discharge orders, b/c she'd cancelled them earlier, when we thought he'd have to stay. Brian had brought me Communion, and he anointed Joshua. So, even though we missed church, we got the next best thing... Brian then took the kids home, and had some errands to run, and the staff had some additional bloodwork that they needed to run on Joshua, but we figured I'd be home for supper.

We scheduled a check-up with our dr for Thursday, and an appt with the pediatric cardiologist on Friday. But his heart was beginning to regulate itself enough that they felt comfortable letting him go home, and he was thriving otherwise. He was down to 6 lbs 12 oz when we left, so he wasn't even losing all that much weight. Everything was looking good - dare I say, normal, in fact??? Brian came to pick me up around 5, and we came home. It was the most wonderful feeling in the world. And the perfect end to an Easter day...

I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get this posted... But it has been a lot to process, and it has been hard for me to write it all down. Kind of like putting it on paper makes it real. This has been the best and worst week of my life. I have experienced every single emotion that is possible. But I am so thankful and so blessed to have my sweet, precious boy home with me, in my arms. The kids simply dote on him... And he is such an easy baby. He passed both his appts last week with flying colors... Thursday, he was already 20 1/4" long and up to 7 lbs 2 oz - already passed his birth weight! So we don't have to go back for a 2 week check - just the 2 month appt! And the cardiologist heard NO evidence of any arrhythmia today. But he wants to do a repeat EKG at the 2 month check, but saw no need to do an echo. He looks simply perfect! And no one is concerned about the bump on his head - they seem to agree that the bones are not fused, and it was just most likely from him being wedged against my pelvic b9one. But we'll watch it, just to be sure. We're getting a referral for the urologist next week, and we'll tackle that next. And he thought that the genetic issues that the neonatologist was so worried about was a bunch of crap, and wasn't sure WHY he even went there... But it seems we are out of the woods...

Thanks for reading my novel, and for your support, even though you had no idea what was going on. I knew you all were thinking of me and sending all your prayers and PTs... And they worked!

And, if anyone is interested in Brian's perspective on this, you can read his blog
HERE. He had a pretty incredible day on Saturday. It is what he preached on for Easter, and it really sums up what we celebrate this Easter season.

As I have pondered all these things in my heart over the last few days, I can see that God's hand has been in this from the beginning. Our blessing baby has turned out to be just that - a blessing. From the easiest pregnancy ever, to his safe and efficient birth, and his miraculous recovery God has been in control. He has indeed redeemed all things. Alleluia! Christ is risen!!! The Lord is risen, indeed!! Alleluia!!!