Thursday, October 31, 2013

Emma's Birth Story

 In honor of Emma's 13th birthday today, here is her birth story.


When I found out that our third child was due on Halloween, I told everybody that I hoped that she'd be born any day but that day.  But she had other ideas...

  We had moved cross country when Spencer was only 10-days old, then moved cross country again when I was 32-weeks pregnant with Cami.  After that I decided I was done with moving anytime even remotely close to having a baby and that is why we have our biggest space between Emma and Cami.   They are three years and four-and-a-half months apart.

With the bigger space between them (and the rosy eighteen months without having to buy any diapers), I was actually quite excited to be pregnant again.  As with my pregnancy with Cami, I had mild morning sickness during the first few months, but it wasn't much to speak of other than  having a strong aversion to cantaloupes.  Grocery shopping was absolutely torturous, because  I could instantly smell the cantaloupes above everything else as soon as I walked into the store, which would set off my nausea and make the whole rest of the shopping trip miserable.  Luckily the nausea only lasted the first trimester, but it was another couple of years before I could stomach eating cantaloupe again.

The rest of the pregnancy was relatively easy.  I exercised the whole way through--doing aerobics and often walking at least 4 miles a day.   In fact, a lot of the memories associated with the last month or two I spent pregnant with her were of  long walks on gorgeous autumn days.

When I went into labor naturally on the night of October 30, I still held out hope that she would be born before midnight.  Besides avoiding Halloween, the rest of our family's birthdays all fell on multiples of 5 (Glen and I on the 25th, Spence on the 30th, and Cami on the 15th) and I thought it would be cool to keep up the "tradition".

Alas, Emma had her own plan.

The clock ticked past midnight and I was still in labor, although in my labor frenzied mind I started worrying that they'd forgotten to turn the clock backs for time change that had occurred two days before.  I knew I was getting somewhat close to the end and I must have asked the nurse a gazillion times whether the clocks had been changed or not.  She assured me that they had and at some point after midnight I finally accepted that Emma was going to be born on Halloween whether I liked it or not.  (fyi--she has always absolutely loved having her birthday being on Halloween)

In the meantime Glen's mom was arriving from Colorado that night to help.  It was  before we had cell phones, so we ended up having to page her at the airport to let her know that we wouldn't be there to pick her up.  She ended taking a taxi to our house instead.

Finally at 1:40am our little pumpkin was born....very promptly on her due date.    At 7-lbs. 13-oz., she was the smallest of all my babies.  I had exercised so much during my pregnancy that I got a lot of comments from the nurses about how young and fit I looked for having three kids.  Other than being very tired from having given birth in the middle of the night and my roommate having the most annoying husband in the world, the hospital stay was pretty uneventful.

I remember Glen bringing Spence and Cami to the hospital on Halloween night.  They were in their costumes and so excited about meeting their new sister (and going trick-or-treating right afterward).

  We were between cameras at the time, so every picture we have of her as a baby was taken by someone else.  She was definitely our least photographed child, despite her absolutely loving being in the limelight.

From day one, she was my wiggliest, loudest, and most active baby.  She was cheerful as can be, but never stopped moving and got into more mischief than any of my other kids combined.  There was one week when I called poison control about her three times during the week...once for eating three entire packs of gum in one sitting.   She's thirteen now and  is a hard-working, determined , and still always has to have something to do--whether it be reading a book, cooking us breakfast, exercising, playing the piano, or singing.
Speaking of singing, I will finish up Emma's birthday post with a little video of Emma when she was 2-1/2 years-old, singing, "Families Can Be Together Forever." In addition to seeing what our ugly old bathrooms used to look like, you'll also see that non-stop motion I mentioned earlier and the fact that she is the only one of our kids to have strongly inherited the musical genes from Glen's side of the family.  She's loved to sing from the time she was little and still brings joy and beauty to our home to this day with her lovely music (clarinet, piano, and singing)!

We love our sweet Emma!  Happy 13th birthday!

For more fun Emma facts and pictures, make sure to check out her autobiography or this post that shares other fun facts about Emma and mentions how she won a big prize basket from a local girl scout troop because she was the first baby girl born on Juliet Gordon Low's birthday (the founder of girl scouts).   

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Mongolian Yurts and Playing with Dry Ice

What do playing with dry ice and building Mongolian yurts have in common?

They are both fun and educational activities we've done recently in our homeschool science and social studies co-op!

As part of their studies of Asia this month, they've learned all about what life is like in that part of the world, including getting a small glimpse at the homes of  modern-day Mongolian nomads.

They've also made their own lunar modules....

fed horses....

and made their own Great Wall of China out of foam bricks (Adam)....

and an edible one out of cake (Ellie).

I don't know what we'd do without this amazing group of other homeschooling families...

who not only help provide fun and memorable experiences for my kids...

and give them the opportunity to be taught by the other creative mothers...

who are passionate about what they teach,   

but I also love that it gives me the opportunity to relive my preschool teaching days (11-years in a row) and teach geography to the littlest cuties of the group.

Participating in this co-op group has brought a new depth and joy to our homeschool experience....
and I couldn't be more grateful to  be a part it all!

Surprise Fish and Advice

If you ever need a great idea, our little Ellie is the one to call.  Her mind naturally thinks very creatively and it is an unusual day that she does not have a grand idea she's cooking up!  She excitedly plans menus, cooks up plans to start her own preschool, plans her birthday parties months in advance, eagerly offers to teach FHE lessons on a weekly basis, and happily dispenses advice to anyone who may find themselves needing wisdom.

Most recently, Ellie got the brilliant idea that Adam needed a fish for his birthday and she was going to be the one to give it to him.  I wasn't so sure how I felt about the whole new pet thing, but she was insistent and Glen was enamored enough with her enthusiasm that he happily took her to the pet store the night before his birthday to help her gift-giving dream come true.

She woke Adam up early on the morning of his birthday and led him down the hall to his first birthday present of the day...

Luckily Adam was as excited to have a fish as Ellie was to give it and Adam has turned out to be quite the fish guardian.  For instance, when the floor company came last week to install the hardwoods in our kitchen, he became quite worried that the vibrations of the work would disturb his fish, so he has transplanted it to a quieter locale until the kitchen work is done.  Additionally, when he is going to be out of the house during his fish's feeding time, he makes sure to assign someone to fish-sit him while he is away.  

Speaking of enthusiasm, Adam's birthday cake was planned for weeks in advance by a certain sibling of his.  It didn't turn out quite the way the cake maker hoped (I'm not allowed to mention any names), but despite its appearances, I do have to say that it was quite tasty.  I'm a lucky, albeit chunky, mom to have such good cooks in the house. 

Now, I hate to brag too much, but Ellie certainly is showing some predilection to becoming an advice columnist someday,  so if any of you seem to find yourself lacking wisdom in any area of your life, I invite you to leave a comment here on the blog or on Facebook with a question for Ellie.  She will answer the questions for you in a future "Dear Ellie," style blogpost.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Super Educational Trip to the Farm

For an entire decade we had an annual tradition every autumn of visiting the local pumpkin patch playland.  We went every year without fail...even when I was nine months pregnant.   Since the kids have been in school,  though, we've just gradually stopped going and I was surprised to realize recently that it's been a couple of years since we've been.  So when a  friend recently invited us there for a little homeschool field trip, it didn't take us much convincing to tag along too.

The kids had to work hard to at least get their math done before we left and then still had a list of work to complete when we got home, but as a responsible homeschool teacher we still tried to make the trip as educational as possible  while we were there.

For instance, did you know that roosters are actually quite friendly and make for really cute photo-ops?

You've probably heard that goats will eat almost anything, but I bet you didn't know that they will eat little girls as well...

I wished I had been videoing this encounter, because Ellie's screaming and laughter made this absolutely hysterical to watch...  (For any worried readers, the goat did not actually consume any of Ellie's hair.  He was just chewing it and, to Ellie's chagrin, made it all slobbery.  I had to physically push him away from Ellie to get him to stop chewing) 

And I bet you also didn't know that goats can be quite cuddly?  And rope swings are fun no matter how old you are?  

And I bet you also never realized that sweaters make a great substitute for Kleenex when someone (Ellie) bumps their lip on the hayride and starts gushing blood?  

And that Tide is awesome laundry detergent and got the blood off of the white sweater easy as pie with no soaking or stain treatment?  

Did you also know that going through pictures and blogging for the first time in a few days can make a grumpy lady who's had a loooooong day forget her worries for a moment and crack a smile as she remembered the fun memories that they had made the day before?  


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Homecoming 2013

Homecoming 2013 Stats
Date:  Gary
Dress/Shoes:  Borrowed from MK
Hair: by Haley
Dinner:  Maggianos 
Biggest Admirer: Ellie

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Bane of her Existence

A·P· cal·cu·lus
ay-pee ˈkalkyələs/
the branch of mathematics that deals with the finding and properties of derivatives and integrals of useless functions, by methods of torture originally based on the summation of infinitesimal differences of mathematicians with OCD. The two main types are differential calculus and integral calculus, neither of which will ever be used in anyone's life, unless one were to make the inexplicable decision to become a high school torture inducer math teacher someday. 

2.  a particularly cruel method or system of depriving innocent teenagers of sleep and oft by default also their parents

3.  bane of her existence (see Exhibit A)




Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Adam's Birth Story

This is a tad long and most likely not very interesting to anyone else but my family, but in honor of Adam's eleventh birthday today, I've finally written down his birth story in more detail (by far the most memorable of all my birth stories):

I remember thinking when I found out that our fourth child was due on October 8th, that I hoped he wasn't born before the school deadline at the end of September.  I'd seen friends waver in their decisions whether to send their boys with late birthdays forward to kindergarten or hold them back a year, and I knew that that kind of choice would be hard to make.
Turned out to be a non-issue though when not only did the school deadline pass, but my due date also came and went with nary a centimeter of progress. After three kids, I knew well that babies are much easier in than out and I was not stressed at all by his lateness. I do remember trying a few old wives' tale tricks to get him to come on his own, but alas nothing worked and  eventually my OB scheduled me to be induced on the morning of October 16th.

In general I've always had somewhat easy pregnancies.  I had had some very minor morning sickness in the first trimester, but it had otherwise been a very easy and uneventful pregnancy.  I  don't remember where my comfort level was during those last few weeks of being pregnant with Adam, but I do remember well what was going on in the news at the time.

October 2002 was the month that the DC snipers were terrorizing our area.  No one knew where and when they would strike next and so the whole area went on lockdown.  The kids' sport's seasons were canceled, school field trips were postponed, and everyone was jittery.  Being nine months pregnant, I was more than happy to put myself out of the target zone and hibernate away at home as much as I could.  Every day though I was glued to the news and would cringe every time I'd hear sirens.
the newspaper headline from the day he was born
During the evening before my scheduled induction I started with the signs of early labor.  I am a slow laborer, so I knew not to panic or rush, but we did start counting contractions.  My mom was there and she helped us put the kids to bed.  Around midnight I knew that this was the real deal and we headed to the hospital.

After three previous uneventful deliveries, I expected this one to be no different.  Once again, Adam had his own plans.

Sometime after they started monitoring me, it was discovered that Adam was not tolerating labor very well.  His heart rate would dip dramatically during contractions and when my water broke, it was filled with thick meconium.

This is when everything kicked into high gear.  Suddenly the room filled with doctors and they put an oxygen mask on me.  It was smack dab in the middle of the night and I was exhausted and scared.   Luckily I was progressing quickly enough at that point that they did not need to do a c-section.

Finally at 4:04am Adam was born into the world limp and blue.  The cord had been wrapped around his neck and the doctors were worried about him inhaling the meconium, so he was intubated before he could take a breath.  His APGAR score at birth was 2.

Those first few silent minutes of his life were endless for me.   They'd told me that they wouldn't let him go past a certain time without breathing, but the clock that was closest to me was not working, so I couldn't tell what time it was.  I was convinced that the doctors were referring to my broken clock, so I kept telling anyone who would listen that it had been longer than they thought it had been and they needed to let him breathe.  Finally a nurse reassured me that they were using a more accurate clock and that he would breathe when it was time.

 Finally after a few minutes (maybe 3 or 4 minutes...I can't remember)  I heard his precious cry for the first time.  It was a weak and raspy mew,  because the tubes they had placed down his throat had temporarily damaged his vocal cords, but I couldn't have been happier to hear it.
At five minutes old, his APGAR score was 9 and  the worst was definitely behind us.
They let me "hold" him for about 5 seconds (for this picture) before they whisked him off to the NICU for a gazillion pokes and prods and I did not see him again for about 24 hours.   Finally after a little over a day, they let me go to him, hold him, and start nursing him.  He weighed in at 8 lbs. 12 oz. and was quite literally the baby giant in the NICU.

I am also convinced that he was also the most stubborn baby there.  

Despite only being less than a week old, he completely and utterly refused to take bottles.   Normally I do not want my newborn babies to take bottles, but once I was released from the hospital after the standard 48-hours after delivery, I no longer had a bed at the hospital. We would go to visit him from 6am-midnight every day, so that he could nurse whenever he wanted, but since we had to go home at night to try to get a little rest, it was a bottle or nothing at night.

It would break my heart when we came back in the morning and the nurses would complain that he'd cried the entire night and never taken more than a sip or two of breastmilk from the bottle.  After a full week of this exhausting routine of driving back and forth (all the while, still on edge about the sniper) he was finally released and we all went home together.

Unfortunately that difficult early week of life took a toll on Adam and he spent the next year-and-a-half recuperating from it.  We are convinced that that week of  oxygen tubes,   IV's (in the arm and head),  nights without his mommy, and countless heel pokes, made him a little insecure about what this world had to offer him and he needed a lot of extra reassurance that this life was going to be okay.   I am certain that he cried more than our other four children combined ever did and we pretty much held him 24/7 until he could walk.  Not surprisingly my memories from his first year of life are embarrassingly few.  (thank goodness for our very crappy camera)
I like to think, though, that all those kinked necks and sore arms from holding him day and night  paid off.  In amongst the oft relentless screaming, he had a smile that could light up the world!
Adam is eleven years old today and has long ago outgrown his baby neediness.  He is now even-keeled, quick-witted, and genuinely fun to be around.   I love the extra time I'm getting to spend with him this year while he is being homeschooled and I am grateful every day for the light and joy he brings into our family.

And in honor of Adam's eleventh birthday today, here is a glimpse at Adam in NUMB3RS:

1st and only of our kids to walk before they were a year old (11-months old)
2nd of the 2 boys in our family
3 sisters means he knows how to get along with girls
4th kid in our family
5-weeks old and he ended up in the hospital for another week
6 x 53 = easy mental math for Adam
7-days in the NICU
8-lbs. 12-oz. birth weight (2nd biggest in our family)
9 months old when he started talking ("uh oh" was his favorite word to utter as he threw things off his high chair)
10 times a day he asks a "What if..." question
11-years-old today!

his "coming home from the hospital" outfit

Monday, October 14, 2013

Better Late Than Never

What happens when two forgetful parents  drop the ball on teaching their fourth child how to ride a bike?  Then the fifth child comes along and has a health condition that makes riding a bike a potentially dangerous activity? 

In our case, you get an eight- and an almost eleven-year-old who have never learned to ride a bike.

We never meant for them to go so long without learning, but when Ellie started having seizures when she was five, we just figured it was easier to not make biking a very important part of our lives rather than us holding her back from participating.  

All the bikes but Glen's have been put away for three years now.

Recently, though, they both started showing a lot of interest in learning and we figured it was time to put things right.  We brought them to the place where we'd taught the rest of the kids to ride their bikes--a gentle grassy slope at our local park--and let them give it a try.  

This is how they started out....

and there was a fair bit of falling at first (thankfully only on the grass)...

but it wasn't long before they were both zipping along the trails and having a great time! 

Adam is excited to practice a little more and start going on Saturday bike rides with Dad...

 and while we'll still need to be very cautious with Ellie and not let her ride near streets or busy trails, it was so fun to see her delight as she gained momentum!

The only problem with all this new biking fervor in the family....

is that I'm feeling like it might be time to get me a bike too
and I'm not sure our garage is ready for that! 

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