So How’d It Go?

Posted in health, Kids on October 17th, 2011 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Overall, so much better than my fears were telling me it would go.  I had my second cesarean section on Friday, October 7.  Boy was I nervous beforehand!  I figured I would write out the details, just in case we decide to do this again I can look back at it and know what to expect.  So I warn you, if you’re squeamish about medical procedures or just plain not interested, then skip the post.  But if I can make just one person feel more at ease about their impending cesarean, even if it’s future me, then it’s worth writing this all out and sharing the details.

The day of my scheduled cesarean, the hospital told me to arrive at 5:30 AM.  Hubby and I set the alarm for 4:30 and got there a little early so we could visit the hospital chapel and pray together.  Thankfully, Grandma had arrived in town the night before and had our 4 kids at her hotel.  The first nurse we asked did not know where the chapel was in the hospital, which I found strange, but then again, our local hospital is undergoing major expansion and renovation, so I guess that’s the excuse I’ll let them have for the fact that their chapel (when we finally found someone who knew where it was) was just an empty room.  No matter because God listens where ever you are, so we prayed together and went back to the maternity ward where they began to prep me for my surgery.  They put an IV in, which didn’t go very well.  Seems I have great veins in my arms for drawing blood (the  blood techs always ooh and ahh over me and my veins, which makes them weird in my book), but in my hands, not so much.  Getting IVs is always very painful for me, and it bruises up my whole hand.  This day was no exception.  It hurt a lot, and they had to give me 2 holes before they got it right.  Then the nurse comes and tells me that because of the combination of it being my 5th baby and the fact that I had to have a blood transfusion last time that they were going to have to give me a back-up port in my other hand just in case.  So they start doing that, and that one hurts even more.  Next thing I know, I have a golf ball sized lump in my hand – “The vein blew” the nurse told me.  I don’t ever want to hear anyone tell me that something carrying blood throughout my body “blew”, and I still haven’t googled that one to see what it is because it sounds so nasty.  And at this point, I’m near tears thinking that if things are going wrong already, what will happen when they cut me open?  But they finally got my second IV port in, and then after the insertion of the catheter (not a big deal and I will spare the details), I was ready to be wheeled off to the surgery room in a wheelchair.

Luckily I had taken the c-section class at the hospital, so the cold sterility of the operating room did not alarm me, and I also knew that my Hubby had to wait outside until certain preparations were made.  On our way into the operating room, I saw the backup doctor, and he was talking to himself in the hallway in kind of a strange way.  He is known for being a bit different, so it didn’t really worry me, especially since I knew my regular doctor would be there also.  Besides, Dr. Strange delivered my 3rd child, and she was the easiest delivery I had.  I will spare details for what happened next; it’s a bit personal – if you really need to know how they prep a patient for a c-section then take a class at your local hospital.  Then the anesthesiologist came in, and my heart sank when I realized it was the same lady who gave me my epidural during the birth of baby #4 – the epidural that never worked.  She gave me my spinal, and it pinched a little, but much less than an epidural, not really a big deal at all.  My legs started to get tingly, and I was really starting to panic big time.  I kept asking the anesthesiologist if everything I was feeling was normal, and she was so nice and reassuring.   They had a blood pressure cuff on my arm which kept going off every few minutes, and they also gave me oxygen in my nose – I felt very well cared for.  They let Hubby in, and he and the anesthesiologist (so tired of typing that word, think I’ll just call her Dr. Drug from now on) sat by my head the whole time.  Dr. Drug said that they would test me to make sure that I was numb before they did anything, but guess what – they didn’t.  I brought this up to someone after it was over, and they had a good point – they probably tested my numbness but didn’t even tell me about it.  Since it was working, I didn’t feel the test, so they proceeded.  Duh.  It’s just that I was so nervous about the numbing not working after what happened with my epidural; you can’t blame me for being concerned.

The next thing I remember is the tugging and pulling, which is also something for which the c-section class prepared me.  But it was actually much less unpleasant than I had panicked it would be.  It’s just that it seemed to take forever.  They said it would take about 1-2 minutes and according to Hubby, it took 4 minutes.  If you ask me, I would say it took 15 minutes.  The whole time I could hear the doctors talking and I kept asking Hubby what they were saying because I was panicking about the health of the baby and the fact that I was lying there sliced open on the table.  He said they were just discussing their techniques.  My Hubby kept looking down there, past the curtain, and I kept wondering how he could do that – if it were him lying on a table sliced open, I don’t know that I could look.  But then again, I don’t think it was like surgery looks on tv – I was picturing a completely open body cavity, but that’s a different kind of surgery.  I guess that’s why there was all that tugging and pulling.  So anyway, finally Hubby says that the baby is out, but I don’t hear crying, so I begin to panic even more (notice a trend here?  I am a worrywart, in case you haven’t noticed).  But both people seated at my head tell me everything is fine, and then I hear the baby (Luke James) cry.  I feel so relieved, and I can’t believe it’s over.  Except it’s not.  They clean up the baby, and they hold him up in front of my face for about a millisecond, and then they take him out of the room along with my husband and probably about half the staff that was on hand.  At some point, I don’t remember when, but I’m pretty sure it was after the baby was born, Dr. Drug held up a little vial and says, “I’m going to give you this.”  She puts it in my IV, and I find out later that it was Duramorph, a form of morphine.  I’m wondering now if this is something they give all their c-section patients (those who are not opposed to medications), or if I got the “panicking patient” special.  At any rate, after the morphine, my memory gets fuzzy, but I do remember lying there getting sewed up (still not feeling a thing below my chest).  My complaint was that it seemed to take FOREVER because I had nothing to do but lie there, and all I could think about was seeing my baby.  I even got envious of my poor husband, because here I had just gone through this surgery and now HE was getting to spend all this time with the baby and I hadn’t even barely gotten a look at him.  They should really think about putting a tv in there or something…  or would that distract the doctors?  Best not to think about it, I guess.  I had to keep talking myself out of looking at the ceiling because it was reflective, and I could see a little of me and a lot of red there – they ought to fix that too; I would bet that no one wants to see themselves getting surgery.  But finally they were finished, and a few of the staff people worked together to lift my helpless body onto the  gurney for the transport back to my room.

When I got there, there was Hubby with the baby, all excited to see me, and then I finally got to hold our new son.  And he was (is) so incredibly beautiful.  The rest of the day was wonderful.  Slowly my legs began to work again, and I could not believe it that I had absolutely no pain!  It did not resonate with me that I was on drugs.  I did feel kind of loopy, but I didn’t really think much of it and enjoyed the euphoria of having a new healthy baby and the relief that the worst part was over.  Weather-wise it ended up being a terrible weekend to be stuck in the hospital – it was 80 degrees out and sunny, and the grandmas took my kids to the zoo on Saturday, so I had to miss that, but at least they got to go.  When I was released from the hospital on Monday, it was still very nice out for a few days, but I didn’t feel up to going outside and by the time I did, Northern Ohio fall weather was in full swing and I’ve been cold ever since.  Oh well, such is life, and my Hubby had perfect advice when I was bummed about missing the beautiful fall colors (it was amazing how different our neighborhood looked with all the leaves on the ground after just 3 days!).  He said, “There will be plenty more color-changing seasons, but there are only so many baby seasons.”  What a wise, wonderful man!

Back to my recovery in the hospital, it went fairly smoothly, although I did have a lot of pain starting Saturday once the morphine wore off.  The baby was up all night on Friday, but I didn’t mind at all because I just wanted to be with him.  I haven’t watched tv in years, but over the weekend, I watched countless episodes of 3’s Company, Roseanne (forgot about the one where Becky gets into the liquor cabinet, haha!), and Everybody Loves Raymond – you know, shows from when tv was actually good.  I learned about the Prohibition era from PBS, and I also learned that there are conspiracy theorists who believe that there really isn’t gold in Fort Knox – hmm, that’s something to think about I guess.  Luke slept a full 5 hours on Saturday night from 1:30-6:30, and so did I since no one came for my blood until 6:30.  Last time I was in the hospital, I seem to remember them coming for blood every hour on the hour which made it really hard to sleep, but then again I had a lot of complications last time including the need for an emergency cesarean and a blood transfusion.  Sunday night, little Luke decided he wasn’t going to sleep again, and I woke up from my 45 minute nap that night feeling terrible – achy and lots of other pain, and chills because of a fever I was running.  Not only that, but there was a mean nurse who informed me in a not-so-nice way that I was over my limit of acetaminophen, which meant I was not allowed any pain medicine.  That really ticked me off; partly because of the way she said it, and partly because no one had given me any indication that this was a problem.  Had they warned me that I was getting near the limit, I would have declined some of the meds offered to me to avoid this.  Actually, all of the other nurses had been telling me that I should stay ahead of the pain.  They specifically said not to wait until the pain was really bad to take the meds otherwise they wouldn’t work.  The staff must have known I was upset because at 11pm Sunday night, my doctor called my bedside phone personally and reassured me.  And my doctor is the one I credit with my smooth delivery and quick recovery – she has been 1000% better than my previous doctors in every way throughout this process, and for that, I am so thankful.

Since I’ve been home, I’ve been resting (probably not as much as I should have, but I have 5 kids now, who can rest with 5 kids in the house??).  Hubby has been amazing at taking care of me AND things around the house, but he also started a new job 2 days after the baby was born, which leaves him with 2 jobs, taking care of the 4 kids and me AND waking with the new baby at night as he likes to do.  My mother did a ton of laundry while she was here, and I’m just now starting to do laundry again a week and a half later, so that helped a lot too.  People from church have been wonderful about sending meals for our family, and that has been incredible.  Not only that, but we also have frozen meals that people sent and that my husband’s mother made while she was visiting for when our meal delivery runs out.  It’s been crazy, but we are managing, and a week and half later, I’ve been out and about and back in the real world.  I still have pain, but nothing extreme, and my 600mg ibuprofen works pretty well for that.  There are 2 complications I had that I was not expecting; one is worthy of a blog post all its own and I’ll get to it next time.  The other is the return of my backaches.  I’ve had a sore back since high school; I worked fast food and had to pop a Doan’s before every shift to make it through.  There are various things that I think caused it, but what does that matter now.  The strange thing is that during my pregnancy, my backaches disappeared.  Most women find new backaches during pregnancy, and mine disappeared.  I didn’t think much of it until I get home from the hospital and experience my back pain again.  This is discouraging because I know the incision pain will go away with time, but the backaches seem to be getting worse, and I have no guarantee that my back will ever feel better.  I guess it’s something to talk to my wonder doc about in my 6-week follow-up.  I already had my 1 week follow-up with the doctor, and she said my incision looks really great and my body is healing well – for that I am thankful.

Baby’s healthy, 4 big sisters and brother are healthy, I’m getting healthy, and Hubby is healthy (even if he needs much more sleep – praying for that to come soon) – what more can we ask for!  Life is good; God is great!

And oh yeah…  everywhere little Luke goes, he has a constant crowd of admirers.  If it wasn’t so sweet, it would be annoying because hey, when is it MY turn to hold the baby?!?  😉

Luke James

Posted in Everyday Life, Kids on October 11th, 2011 and tagged , , , , ,

Our 5th bundle of joy arrived on October 7, 2011.  His name is Luke James, and he was born at exactly 8 am, weighed 7 lbs 11 oz and was 19.5 inches long.  He is healthy and a very happy easy-going baby.  He seems to have his days and nights mixed up though, which I suspected based on his movements when he was still in the womb.  We are enjoying him immensely, and so are his 3 sisters and his brother.  I am recovering from the c-section pretty well, and I will write more about Luke’s first days at home when it doesn’t hurt to sit in a chair for longer than 10 minutes.  I would love to put up a hundred pictures of gorgeous little Luke, but my bunny chewed my camera cord, and I can’t get any pictures off my camera.  I hope to have this situation remedied soon, but I depend on Hubby for all my tech-related needs, and Hubby is exhausted staying up with the baby at night, taking care of me and the kids during the day while also keeping up with his responsibilities at both of his jobs.  It just seems mean and commanding of me to place more demands on him now, so I will have to somehow be patient about the picture taking and sharing.  I wonder how long I can last; Luke is one of the cutest babies I’ve ever seen!!!

**UPDATE**

Hubby devised a way to transfer my pictures using my ebook reader – genius!  So anyway, here is a picture of swaddled Luke at 1 day old:

Running Out Of Steam

Posted in Kids on October 1st, 2011 and tagged , , , , , ,

To quote a funny movie, Drop Dead Gorgeous, “I’m like, due or something.”  That’s the response that’s been popping into my head whenever my husband wants to make plans for our family.  I am 38 weeks pregnant, and I don’t feel like doing anything.  I just want to lay in bed, get up to eat, then lay in bed some more.  And I do sleep when I’m laying down, so I must be tired and needing the sleep.  But this is weird for me.  I haven’t been bored in years, and now I feel bored, not because I have nothing to do but because I don’t feel like doing anything.  It’s so annoying!  There is so much to do around the house to get ready for the baby, and I don’t feel like doing any of it.  On top of that, I feel badly not having the desire to entertain my 4 kids, but luckily they’re very good at self-entertaining and their oldest sister has been amazing with spending fun time with them every day while I rest.  But I don’t remember feeling like this with my other pregnancies.  I do feel tired, but this lack-of-motivation-to-do-anything thing is getting old!  Then again, this is the first pregnancy I’ve had being in my 30’s.  Maybe that has something to do with it?

One Foot Out The Door…

Posted in church on September 20th, 2011 and tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Changes abound!  So many things happening that I can’t keep up writing about them on my blog.  It seems like every time I sit down to relax, I’m doing something with the kids – playing board games, homeschooling, doing puzzles, cuddling while we watch home videos together…  Mommy and kid time is so much more important than blogging, of course, so I’m not losing sleep over it…  but I do miss blogging, and I know I will miss having a chronicle of these days for future reading.  I was just looking back at my blogs from the past; looking to see how I felt after my cesarean 3 years ago, hoping to maybe find some tips for recovery this time around.  It was so nice to read about what was going on in our lives at that point, the challenges we were enduring, how the kids were growing, what they were doing, that kind of thing.  But these days, if I have a kid in my lap, there is NO extra room to have a laptop nearby!  As of Friday September 16, I am 36 weeks pregnant – home stretch for sure!  While my belly is not bulging nearly as much as it did with my previous 4 pregnancies (I’ve actually LOST weight since July, but dr said baby is growing fine and that’s what matters), I am looming large these days, and the seemingly most mundane of tasks is an effort on my part and seems to take me forever.  I am blessed with an awesome Hubby who has really stepped up around the house to keep us running despite the craziness and challenges that a 4-kid household brings.  Very Honorable Mention goes to my oldest daughter who has also been amazing lately with her willingness to help.  She has gone above and beyond, not only doing everything that is asked of her but also coming up with her own ideas to pamper pregnant mom, following through with these ideas, and also excelling in our newly designed homeschooling program.  A few weeks ago, Taylor surprised me with a manicure/pedicure, and she even kept going outside to check on the little ones while Mom’s nails were drying.  The other day, she came up with the idea and made me breakfast in bed.  Her emotional and spiritual growth lately has been amazing to see, and hopefully I will have the time to blog about the lesson in forgiveness that she taught our whole family.

So how is the homeschooling going for us?  If you remember, we began homeschooling our two eldest this year – 6th and 2nd grades.  Many people have asked how it’s going, so it’s time for a formal update on the blog…  It’s going GREAT!  Thanks for asking!  We began with a very planned out schedule, but we’ve found it necessary to be more flexible.  We’ve also tweaked our planned curriculum here and there and attended our first homeschooling book sale and picked up some things to supplement our curriculum.  All normal and necessary parts of the process, and we’ve seen the kids become closer with each other and us their parents, all while getting to watch them learn new things up close.  I can’t wait to jump in as a full time homeschool teacher, but my patience is being tested since I have to wait until I recover from my planned cesarean in October.

Now for the big news: a few blog posts ago, I wrote about many doors opening for our family.  We were still determining at that time which paths to explore, and our prayers have been answered; the paths whittled down to an almost definite road.  Loonnngg story made very short is this: my husband was offered a job as a pastor at a local church, and he accepted.  This means that we will be, in effect, switching churches.  Talk about something that came out of the blue!  There is nothing about our current church that I don’t like, and I had planned on going there for years to come and raising our kids among our church community.  But, as we all too often learn, God has plans for us.  And who am I to argue?  I KNOW His plans are so much better than any road map I could have drafted for myself and my family.  So now comes the transition to the new church.  It’s a much smaller church, so among my husband’s and my first duties will be to acclimate ourselves into the new church environment and create a children’s ministry.  It will be challenging but also extremely exciting.  My husband has one final meeting with the regional governing board of the church to finish out the interview process, but everything we’ve been told by the elders of the church is that this is just procedure.  So, last Tuesday, I sadly gave my notice to my friend and mentor that oversees my 2nd/3rd grade girls Sunday school class.  Oh, how I will miss those kids!  I’ve known them and watched them grow for a year and a half now, ever since I had them as 1st grade students last year.  But as I said, who am I to challenge God’s plan?  While this all happened so suddenly in our lives, the chain of events and circumstances that led up to my husband being chosen to lead this church was so obviously orchestrated by God that there is no need to doubt whether it was meant to be, nor is there need to go into detail about exactly how it happened.  I will just say how much we KNOW that it was meant to happen, and that will guide me in the future if I ever begin to have fears or doubts in my own abilities to fulfill His work for me.

October 7 is when I am scheduled to have the baby, and 2 days later (while I’m still in the hospital) is when my husband is to spend his first Sunday at our new church.  As soon as I feel up to it, I will join him there, and our kids will follow as soon as we set up our children’s ministry.  That leaves me 2 Sundays to teach my current Sunday school students, or possibly just one if I decide to go and meet more of the congregation at the new church before I go into the hospital.  I may have one foot out the door, but I’m walking into a whole new world.  Because it is the world that God has designed for me at this point in my life, I could not be more excited!!!

In General…

Posted in Everyday Life on August 10th, 2011 and tagged , , , , , , , ,

Here we are in the middle of August already, how did that happen?  I know how July flew by for me since most of it was spent traveling, but where the heck has the beginning of August gone?

I am 30 weeks + a few days pregnant.  I talked to the doctor yesterday and am most likely going to have the baby at 39 weeks (planned cesarean), so there is not too much time left of this pregnancy – for that, I am mostly glad!  I cannot wait to meet little Luke!  Plus I’m sick of the soreness, the nausea, the moodiness, and all that good stuff.  I just hope that I turn back into a normal person again because right now it seems like an impossibility.  I can’t remember my life before I was pregnant – did I really have enough energy to function every day?  Sure don’t now, but most days, I can fake it but that is exhausting in itself.

I wrote a few posts ago about making important decisions and about doors of opportunity opening for us.  For certain things, we are still praying, being patient, and waiting to see what God’s plan is for us right now.  In the meantime, we did reach one decision about a lifestyle change for our family, and we are very excited to get started.  Close family already knows what this is about, but do I want to reveal it to others for the first time in a blog?  I’m not sure…  But either way, we are very excited about it, and it’s been a lot of fun already to begin this journey.  Just another thing to look forward to this fall!

Tonight is the last night of our Wednesday night Bible study, and it’s been great to make new friends and to get to know these families.  I am looking forward to having 3 (THREE!!) free Wednesday nights for our family once the class is over and before youth group starts again.  And how is this for irony?  I wrote the preceding paragraphs, saved it as a draft, then did lunch with the kids before coming back to it.  During lunch, I checked the mail and I found postcards notifying us of youth group leader training meetings on TWO of my THREE free Wednesdays.  Sigh.  I need to be happy with that one free evening, but my human nature disappoints me because I almost had 3 free Wednesdays instead of one…  oh well, such is life.  Wednesday nights are fun anyway; I just wish I had more energy to enjoy them.

My Monday morning Bible study is drawing to a close also – that one I will really miss.  I’ve become close with the other ladies in my class, and it’s been so great to get to know them and learn about the similarities and the differences in our lives and journeys in our relationships with Christ.  I will even miss the 5 hours a week of homework – it was SO incredibly valuable and eye-opening for me to spend this time with God’s word.  If I weren’t taking on so much this fall, I would definitely sign up for another one.  Maybe in the spring or next summer…

Seen some movies lately, as usual – I think it’s probably mine and Hubby’s favorite thing to do together, snuggle and watch movies after long days of work and tending the kids.  I had heard that the new Planet of the Apes movie was supposed to be good, so we saw that, but I was disapointed.  It was okay, but I was hoping for less ape, more planet – meaning, the movie ended just as the apes were about to take over.  I would have liked to see their rise to power as they actually take over the planet.  Maybe that’s going to be saved for the next movie?  The movie was entertaining, but there was a little too much animal cruelty and not enough payoff – seeing the apes take over the planet – for having to watch all that animal cruelty.  Of course the creatures were CGI so you know none of them were hurt during filming and it was just a movie, but that doesn’t mean in my spare time I want to sit and watch that and think about what goes on in animal testing labs.

We haven’t visited the Redbox in a while, mostly because we had seen many of the movies they had (we watch a lot of movies!).  But Hubby ventured out last night and picked out Cedar Rapids, a fun (a bit more vulgar than I usually like, but interesting just the same) movie about insurance salesmen starring Ed Helms (Andy Bernard from The Office; he’s also in the Hangover movies).  It was a different kind of movie, and we both enjoyed it.

That’s about it for now…  I just had the opportunity to sit and blog for awhile – I MADE the opportunity, actually – because I just HAD to today.  I’ve had this awful headache that’s been lodged behind my left eye for a few days now, and running around chasing kids again was just too much for today.  And I do need to sit more.  For someone in my condition, I really think  I should be resting more, but the nature of the busyness in our household makes it an impossibility.  I’m finding it quite a challenge to take good care of myself, finding time to eat right to take care of my anemia and gestational diabetes and all that stuff.  It’s just too hard to put myself first when I have 4 little ones to take care of and Hubby has his own full plate with work as well.  I hate to complain about physical stuff, but I really need to feel better soon.

July 2011 (part 1)

Posted in family fun, Travel on July 30th, 2011 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The July 2011 page on my calendar has been filled since spring, so I knew we had a busy month ahead.  Organizing everything I had jammed into those little squares on the calender was going to be challenging enough, but then we were even able to add a few family mini-vacations to the mix!  It’s been a great summer so far despite the challenges of sometimes trying to be in 2 places at once, and I wanted to chronicle everything to enhance the wonderful memories we made as a family this summer – but be prepared; this will be quite the manifest when I’m finished!

June 30 and July 1 – We began the month with a last-minute trip to an indoor water park that’s an hour away.  After a sudden burst of cabin fever, my husband found a super internet deal that afforded us some much-loved family time.  The kids loved the indoor water park, and Christopher was old enough this time to go on some water slides which he found to be a blast!

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Best of all, the constant lower back pain that had been making me short of patience, irritable and tired all the time seemed to be remedied by my getting to sit in water for 2 days.  I should note for future reference also how interesting it was to pack different people for 3 different trips at the same time.  Simultaneously, I was packing 6 people for an overnight stay (with a separate bag for changing into street clothes from bathing suits, I might add), 1 little girl for a 4 day stay at camp, and also for a 3 day trip for 6 people.  It felt hectic at the time, but not unmanageable – due to the fact that my wonderful family did much of the work for and with me.  And you know what?  I don’t think we forgot anything!!

July 2, 3 – After the water park, we got a day of rest (and unpacking, re-packing, laundry) before we set out Sunday for the 4-hour drive to Nashville Indiana – with one small glitch:  Hubby had food poisoning.  He had to miss church to rejuvenate, and then we were off – well, after packing up the car and some other in-town odds n ends.

July 3-6 – We spent the 4th of July in Nashville – a yearly trip Hubby and I take with our 4 kids, my parents, my uncle, and my sister, her husband and their 2 kids – there were 13 of us staying in a large house in the middle of the Brown County woods.  It was a beautiful place, and we’re torn on where to choose to have next year’s gathering.  Last year, we had a beautiful house where each family had their own bedroom and bathroom.  The few downsides to this house (called The Oaks) was the large steep hill that led down to the pond and fire pit – it proved to be dangerous last year when someone took a nasty spill (but was uninjured), so we didn’t want to gamble with it this year when we have an adult who is practically incapacitated (me being 5.5 mos. pregnant).  Also, the kids have to be watched constantly down by that pond, so it was a nice break for the adults this year to not have to worry about who was going to take them down there.  Also, there wasn’t really any yard for the kids to play in at The Oaks.  There was a swingset, but really only the two 3-year-old boys were of the age to enjoy a swing set this year, and that leaves 4 other kids with no yard to run around in.  Both houses had pool tables inside and hot tubs outside (which became little swimming pools for the kids since we didn’t want to turn on the heat in 90° weather), and The Oaks had tons of dvds,  board games, and a foosball table, but then again, this year we brought our own dvds and games and the kids had TONS to do and were never bored.  Another plus to this year’s cabin vs. The Oaks: the large dining room table that fit almost everyone at the same time so we could enjoy meals together.  The Oaks had only a small breakfast nook that seated 4 people or about 6 kids, so the adults had to eat elsewhere.  Given these pros and cons of each cabin, it’s going to be a tough decision next year on where to stay!!
The kids’ favorite thing to do this year was to go down to the creek that ran around the property (this cabin was called “Ginley’s Gulch” for future reference).  There they would walk the creek, hunting for crawdads, geodes, and minnows, and they found quite a few of all of the above.  As I said, this property had a larger yard, and also 85 acres of forest, and in the future I would like to explore the gorgeous property more since I wasn’t quite feeling up to that this year.  I did enjoy walking down the cleared path into the forest though – there were many beautifiul butterflies, cool looking insects, and birds to see and hear.  And oh yeah!  I forgot to mention another huge plus of Ginley’s Gulch – the screened-in porch!  It had a ceiling fan, so it was a wonderful, mosquito-free place to spend our Brown County evenings together.  A great trip!!

July 6 – We arose at the crack of dawn to pack up the car and get the kids roused for the 4+ hour drive to Michigan to drop daughter #2 at camp.  We were all exhausted, and the kids slept much of the way.  We did stop in Fort Wayne for something to eat, and we finally tried a little cafe where we had always wanted to try their eggs benedict since reading an ad for them years ago.  The eggs benedict was a bust – sauce from a packet, don’t you know, but they did have one of my seasonal favorites that’s very hard to find in the northern part of the country where I live: fried green tomatoes.  And they were yummy!  We dropped Sammie off at camp just a little late, and we were excited for her after seeing what a great place Camp Selah is (Camp Selah is a Christian camp in Reading Michigan, and both of our kids who went had a SUPER time!)

July 7-9 – These next few days were a bit quiet without the whole brood together, and we fit in another family min-vacation: since Sammie had to be picked up in the morning in Michigan, we took the other 3 kids to the drive-in in Coldwater Michigan and spent the night there – lots of fun!  Saturday the 9th we picked up Sammie, and she said she had a good week during her first ever time at camp.

July 11 was the 3rd birthday of a very special little guy, and we took him out to dinner at the local Mexican restaurant where they sang to him, put a sombrero on him, and dabbed his nose with dessert.  I of course forgot my camera 🙁  but he liked it all the same.  It reminded me of last year when the staff at Bob Evans sang to him, and he dove into my shirt to hide – the year of experience helped him to enjoy the attention more this year.  And in the morning of little dude’s birthday, I had to drive Taylor to camp in one of the nastiest storms of the year.  We made it there without a problem, but the ride home was dicey with driving rain and wind.  I was glad I didn’t have any kids with me which would have made me nervous, and as you can tell I made it just fine – even if I did arrive sopping wet and very late to Bible study.  In the newspaper the next day, I saw a picture of a power line that fell into the road which turned out to be the same road I had been driving down during that storm.  Just goes to show you what kinds of things to look out for when driving during inclement weather in the middle of desolate farm country, and I feel blessed to have made it safely.

July 11-14 – So with our eldest away at camp, the week flew by…  even though we missed her (I especially missed having someone old enough to have a normal conversation with me during the day).  We had 3 days of doctor appointments (me and our youngest-for-now had his 3-year-checkup) and meetings, and then… freedom!

July 15 – Hubby and I met my mom in South Bend, and she took “the littles” (our family name for the younger kids in our family; in this case it meant our 3-year-old, 4-year-old, and 7-year-olds) to Grandma’s for a vacation – which left Hubby and I kidless for a whole day!  So Hubby took me to the Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend, and the amount of walking and the weather was perfect for me even while pregnant since it was just the two of us.  What a great idea as I was just starting to get zoo withdrawl!  After the zoo, we decided to take the scenic route home from South Bend and fell upon a perfect date purely by accident:  in Middlebury Indiana, there is an excellent Amish-style restaurant called Das Dutchman Essenhaus.  We were driving by on a day when they had a buffet, so we could sample many varieties of their very delicious food.  Even better, there were some Amish men offering carriage rides in the parking lot, so we took one!  It was so romantic, the grounds of the mini-resort were beautiful, the weather was perfect, and hearing the history of the grounds as told my our Amish guide was wonderful – best date day ever!!

(below is a picture of a horse and buggy like the one we drove in (ours was more of a carriage than a buggy).  I had to take the picture on the way home since I had forgotten my camera and couldn’t take any pictures while on the buggy ride!)

July 16 – This was the day we picked up our oldest from camp, and we got to hear every detail about her awesome week while driving from Michigan to Fort Wayne to see…  the new Harry Potter movie ON IMAX IN 3D!!  Yes, it was as cool as it sounds, and it was fun to take Taylor out for a fun day with only parents and no younger siblings – dinner was at Golden Corral, one of her favorite places since she loves steak.  I’m thankful that the awful nausea I felt earlier in the day did not persist through the movie, and the cause of it that day still perplexes me…  such is a mystery of pregnancy, I guess.

July 17-18 – The 3 of us tackled the huge project of cleaning out our spare room – what a mess!  I wish we had taken some “before” pictures, but the most important thing is that it got done, even if I felt like I was going to fall over in exhaustion by the end of it.  I’m so proud of Hubby for all the hard work he did for this project, and especially that it was his idea to tackle it earlier than we had scheduled – we began Saturday night after Fort Wayne rather than Sunday after church as we had planned.  But it looks GREAT, and as I’m writing this at the end of July, our family has gotten so much use out of it already.  We made it into a craft / hobby / school room, and it has a computer, Taylor’s new sewing machine (a present from Grandma), all kinds of paper, crayons, glue, etc, and all the many, many arts and crafts kits and supplies we had been saving (and losing) for the past 5 years.

(July manifest to be continued – need to give your eyes a break!  But first, here is a pic of a creative, cute fire hydrant in downtown South Bend Indiana I snapped while sitting at a stoplight – look for it near the silver van’s rear bumper)


Highlights From A Beth Moore Bible Study

Posted in church on June 20th, 2011 and tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

One of the activities that’s been keeping me so busy lately is the Beth Moore Bible study I’m attending on Mondays, called Jesus The One and Only.  It’s great; I’m learning a lot, getting to know other women from my church, and it gets me and the kids out of the house for a few hours every Monday morning.  The kids can blow off some steam while I go through the workbook with my small group and watch the dvd.  A fun class, but there is a side effect of all the learning: homework.  Our workbook is divided into weekly sessions, and there are 5 days of homework for every week’s lesson.  Each day has about 4-5 pages of homework that involves creative thinking and looking up passages in the Bible, contemplating them, comparing them, and answering thought-provoking questions.  Time-wise, it’s intense, especially for this pregnant mother of 4.  This is the 3rd week of class, and so far I’ve been able to get all my homework finished on time and am really enjoying it.  I struggled a bit at first with the stress of trying to find those extra hour 5 days a week that I was sure I didn’t have, but I’m managing and reaping the rewards.  Before I begin today’s homework, I thought I’d share some things that I’ve highlighted in my workbook.

Before I do that, however, I will recap in a nutshell what the study itself is all about: Jesus.  We began our discussions talking about Mary, and Beth Moore is really great at delving more deeply into things and encouraging the student to give more thought.  We talked about what Mary might have been like as a young Jewish woman (Mary was probably around 13 or 14 when  she was told she was about to carry the Lord’s child  – did you know she was that young?  I didn’t!), and we talked about her pregnancy (of particular interest to me right now), her thoughts and feelings, her journey to see her cousin Elizabeth, and then we moved on to talking about Jesus himself.  We talked about him as a baby, a child, and about how he was led into the desert, all while relating it to our own lives.  Some of Beth Moore’s statements that stuck out to me in the workbook are:

God seems to love little more than stunning the humble with His awesome intervention.

Seasons of intense temptation are not indications of God’s displeasure.

God emphasized that the road to redemption would be costly and confrontational.

Luke was the only Gentile God inspired to write a Gospel.

God allows circumstances to exist in our lives that drive us to dependency on Him.

God is far too faithful to let anyone make it through life without confronting seasons of utter helplessness.

The good news Christ may want to preach to you today is that you don’t have to subsist.  You  were meant to thrive.

I’m quite sure if my healing process had been painless, I would have relapsed.

Many people sincerely love God, but I don’t think anyone stands to appreciate the unfailing love of God like the believer finally set free from failure.

I WAS Gonna Blog More This Summer, But…

Posted in blogging, church on June 6th, 2011 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I am enjoying some of the freedom that the summer affords me: no youth group on Wednesday nights, no teaching Sunday school, no having to drop the kids off or pick them up at school – well, the kids will be out of school in 2 days, so I haven’t had a taste of that yet, but I’m looking forward to trying for my afternoon nap without time constraints – if only Terrible-Two-Dude will stop yelling my name during these nap attempts.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy all of these activities, but there is something liberating about not being tied down to them for an entire summer.  As much as I absolutely loved teaching 1st graders on Sunday mornings, it was really great last Sunday to not have to get up at 8am and get 4 crabby kids ready for what amounted to a double church service for them  – one while Mom and Dad teach and one while Mom and Dad go to worship.  Our family rolled out of bed by 10, got ready, and left the house around 10:40, getting to church in time to relax with friends before the service with plenty of time to spare.  I enjoyed Wednesday nights with my 6th grade girls, but there was a lot of emotionally exhausting drama there at the end, and I so needed a break.  Besides, it’s nice to have Wednesdays free.  But wait, I don’t have Wednesdays free!  Hubby and I signed up to organize and facilitate a class at church called Changing Hearts, Changing Lives – a personal ministry class that utilizes a DVD series by Paul Tripp and small group discussion to lead Christians to be able to effectively counsel others in a God-loving and caring way.  We’ve had two weeks of this class so far, and it’s going great!  So I can’t really say that I miss my free Wednesday nights.  I  never got a taste of a free Wednesday night anyway; what’s that like?

I also signed up for a women’s Bible study series (Beth Moore for those of you that know her work) that meets on Monday mornings.  I hesitated with this one because it meets ALL summer – beginning today before school is out and going right through to August after the kids go back to school.  But there is child care there, so if my 4 kids haven’t killed each other by the time Mondays roll around, this will get us out of the house once a week.  Also, my oldest daughter gets to help with the child care with other ‘big kids’ her age,  so that will be good for her too.  I enjoyed my first class today, but I have to note the intensity of this class – 5 nights of homework per week!  Pre-Christian Taylhis 1.0  would have panicked and said ‘I don’t have time for this!!’, but Taylhis 2.0 feels pretty good about it.  I’m excited to immerse myself more fully in God’s word, and the structure of the class will have me getting to know better other women at my church.  I can find time for my homework; after all, isn’t more butt-time for the pregnant lady just what the doctor ordered?  I’m not sure about that, but it’s definitely on MY want-list because these days my feet (legs, thighs, etc) are killing me, and I have a lot more growing to do!!  Problem is, I’m going to spend that butt-time in front of my Bible and my class workbook rather than my blog, so there goes my plan of blogging more…  oh well, who said blogging more was a good plan for me anyway?

Still Here… Somewhere

Posted in blogging on May 22nd, 2011 and tagged , , , , ,

Realizing I haven’t blogged in awhile, I’ve been trying to think of something to write about.  I have plenty of material; I just don’t feel like writing for some reason.  Plenty of material, not plenty of time is part of the reason.  I’ve even started a few drafts, but at least one ended up being a laundry list of complaint about my dogs’ behavior and other things that have been stressing me lately, and I don’t feel like publishing it.  After all, Walmart complaints are fun, tongue-in-cheek ways to vent about how I feel ripped off after shopping at Walmart, but when I write huge rants of real life complaints I annoy myself, so I can’t imagine my readers’ feelings.  Plus all the complaining doesn’t ease the stress, nor does it help me fulfil the main purpose of my blog – which is giving my family a virtual diary of our lives while the kids are growing up.  Sure, it shares the information, but I want their reading experience of our family blog when I’m gone to be a good one, not something like, “Hey – I DO remember when mom was stressed all the time!!”

So I wanted to drop a quick line to let it be known that I’m still here, still a part of blog world, still interested in posting blogs.  My kids are not any less cute these days, nor my life any less busy or exciting…  just much more stressful, which kind of puts a damper on my creative writing spirit I think.  I’m hoping maybe that will change here soon…  if not this summer, something tells me I might feel  better in October or November with less of the negative pregnancy symptoms and more of the ‘new baby joys’ to focus upon.  Can’t wait!

At Least I Have No Regrets

Posted in family fun, Sports on April 1st, 2011 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Spring break is over, and for me it flew by- and it was wonderful.  I had my concerns about being so tired and keeping 4 kids from getting bored and restless, and those fears mounted last week when I saw the weather forecast – 40s all week, scarce sunshine, and maybe even a little snow.  I was especially concerned that spring break would be my own personal forecast to what summer break will be like because hard as I try not to, I have times where I dread the summer a little bit.

For one thing, there is a wonderful Christian camp that we’ve been hearing about from a friend, and we’ve been trying to let our kids go for years now, but it hasn’t worked out for one reason or another.  This year, it seems that the dates will work, but the fees are a little steep, and the 45-minute trip to the camp x4 (there-back-there-back for two kids) might hurt the wallet a little bit with the price of gas the way it is.  Add to that a trip to Nashville Indiana with extended family – SO fun, but 8 more hours of driving, plus groceries and supplies to buy, plus 4 round-trips to South Bend Indiana, and I calculated my mileage from July 4-23 at 1388 – That’s one thousand eighty-eight miles in 20 days.  Factor in our van’s crummy gas mileage and all the pregnant lady bathroom stops, and OUCH.  But then I got to thinking about it, and I think I’d rather spend my July driving around the tri-state area than locked away in my air-conditioning with 4 rambunctious kiddos.  As I said, the trip to Nashville will be lots of fun, and most expenses have been paid thanks to a generous Christmas gift.  So what if I have to miss the 4th of July fireworks for one year (next year we do have to pick a different date though guys if you are reading this 🙂 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays!).  And the trips to South Bend mean that Grandma is taking the kids – so that means fun for them, and a break for us.  So what if it’s not all 4 kids gone at the same time anymore – that’s just one of the small trade-offs for having such a large (wonderful) family.  And I’m STOKED that the kids finally get to go to this camp – they are so excited too!  So what if we have to  leave Nashville at 5am just to drive the 4 hours to get Sammie there on time?  But the main reason for optimism for summer vacation was spring break – it was awesome, and it flew by.

For me, the month of March dragged on and on, and I think much of it had to do with my prenatal dr. appointment on the 31st.  I just could not wait.  Part of it was excitement – this stage of pregnancy is tough  in a different way than the rest of it because many of the changes are internal, and you have nothing to show for it.  I spend my time looking up sketches of what my baby might look like these days, but unless you count fatigue, nausea, moodiness, or tears, there aren’t any outward signs to get excited about – and no, leftover baggage from previous kids does not count as a “baby bump”.  Also, I’ve been extra worried about this pregnancy – I can’t put my finger on it, maybe it’s that stupid stat I heard somewhere that keeps sticking in my brain –  “1 out of 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage”.  This is my 5th pregnancy, so that panics me.  I wish I didn’t read the news so much.  Maybe the worry is because of how incredibly difficult this pregnancy has been on me (and my family) compared to the others.  Whatever it is, I’ve been especially panicked, but I’ve been building a great relationship with my new doctor – she is very understanding and so much more of a problem solver than my previous doctor.  But either way, spring break saw me at my prenatal, and everything looks great!  Baby is measuring at exactly 12 weeks, right where s(he) should be.  AND…  I got to see her (him) dance!!  The baby keeps sneaking us ultrasounds – I wasn’t scheduled for one, but the heartbeat couldn’t be detected (my understanding doctor warned me of this ahead of time, or I would have panicked.  Again.), so she took me into the ultrasound room.  There, we saw baby on the screen, and my little 2-inch miracle was dancing – I saw her legs moving and everything!  I keep thinking and saying “she” and “her”, but don’t place any bets – I’ve been known to be wrong about my children’s genders in the past –  before they’re born, of course, sheesh.

So I took the kids to the zoo on Monday of this spring break, and last night I’m still on cloud nine from seeing my baby dance, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I could not resist going back to the zoo on the last day of our season’s pass.  We aren’t going to renew because as much as I love the zoo, it feels like a waste to renew right before summer, especially when I’m pregnant and (probably?) won’t feel like going as much.  And I know I won’t be able to go after my surgery for a month or so…  So I took the kids to the zoo not once, but twice this spring break, and I didn’t even feel like I was going to keel over by the end of today, which means that my first trimester fatigue might be fading (afraid to get too excited).  I even  took an extra kid with me to the zoo both days, a gamble that paid off both times since we all had a blast – even if I was late getting Ellyn home today (that’s why I didn’t stop to chat Justj – I’ve been kicking myself ever since.  I really wanted to see your daughters!  But I was late, and you just don’t expect to run into a friend 60 miles from home so I was caught off-guard).

So yes, I missed the Chicago Cubs opening day game taking my kids to the zoo, and I’m proud of it!  Nevermind that I was looking forward to that game for months.  Hubby recorded it for me, and I watched it as soon as I got home anyway.  And I’m telling you what, the Cubs did not play badly (except for Dempster – if I still cussed he would be on my you-know-what-list), but they lost.  But as I said, they did not play badly, so there is MUCH hope for the season – you can’t tell anything decisive on opening day.  Well, except for last year but we’ll leave that out of it.  But the best part is, I have no regrets.  I can’t imagine how I would have felt had I missed my last chance to take my kids to the zoo in order to watch a game where the Cubs lost.

Super decision on my part, and if this spring break was any kind of predictor for summer vacation, BRING IT ON!