Saturday, March 29, 2008

Official Notice to My Unborn Child

Your presence is hereby requested at your earliest possible convenience - emphasis on earliest. The schedule has been cleared for your arrival, and all preparations have been made.

All projects have been completed. Your grandmother is on standby to drive down. You sisters are all anxious to meet you. Your father has his overnight sleep study out of the way.

The room has been prepared for the birth. The supplies have been gathered. Your bed has been set up. Your clothes are hanging on your closet or are folded in the dresser. Diapers have been bought. Even the afghan has been completed.

The midwives have been here for the home visit, so they can now find the house.

Your mother's hips, ligaments, and back wish to offer a special request that you vacate the premises as soon as possible. They love you as much as the rest of your mother does, but they are ready to share some of the burden with the arms, shoulders, and especially with other people.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Birth Story Number five - Lauryn

Birth story - Lauryn

We knew from the moment we found out I was pregnant again that we wanted to have this one at home. I had a friend who used a local midwife, so we interviewed her and warmed to her immediately. She is a wonderful Christian woman who is such a comfort to have around, and knows her stuff, too.

My entire pregnancy was very different with this one. I have never been so sick in my life. So many things were different that I really thought this one was a boy. Physically it was a hard pregnancy. I had alot of sciatic nerve pain that hindered my mobility, and I gained alot of weight.

As my due date (Nov 13, my dad's birthday) approached, the pregnancy insomnia hit with a vengeance. By the 13th, I had been running on about 3 hours of sleep a night for a few nights already, so my mom came down early. With all the other babies, she came when we called announcing the birth, but she knew I needed help even earlier this time. So for the next week, I still couldn't get to sleep before 3-4 am, but she took care of the kids in the mornings so I could sleep in a little. We would also get out and go walking at the mall or Super Target, to get some exercise and keep me distracted. As that week went by, I thought I was going crazy. I knew this baby was big, and I was beginning to worry that she would NEVER COME OUT.

Kelly had already taken the week of Thanksgiving off, so on Monday (Nov 22) he went with me to my midwife appointment. I was 9 days late at this point. I hadn't had her do an internal exam up till now, but that day I asked her to strip my membranes and see if there was some reason she could discern as to why the baby was still in utero . When she checked me, she scared me a little because she put her head down on the back of her other hand. "I think if you just coughed, Tami, you'd push this baby right out." What did she mean by that? "You're already dilated to a 7!" There were no membranes to strip, I was so far dilated. I was completely effaced, and the baby was right there. Really low.

The "problem" was that the baby was turned a little funny. She was head down, but her shoulders were at a weird angle. She said that might be why she was so late, but there was no way to know for sure. She showed me some exercises to do to encourage the baby to turn face down, but felt like I would go into labor soon.

I went home and did the exercises. When I went to bed I prayed to go into labor soon. I woke up the next morning at 7:45, and immediately felt disappointed. All the other non-induced labors had begun at 1 or 2 am, so if I slept all night I just assumed that I would not be having a baby that day. But just a second or two later I had a doozy of a contraction. After it passed I got up and put my contacts in, and went out into the kitchen. My mom just about had breakfast ready, and I was hungry. I wasn't sure if if that contraction had meant anything (after all I had been having alot of contractions for a month now - that's how I was so far dilated). About 8, I had another one, but I still wasn't sure. So I kept eating my eggs and muffins. Then I had one at 8:10, and 8:15. That last one was serious. That's when I got up from the table and told Kelly to call Janet, the midwife.

I went back into our room to start getting it ready while Kelly called Janet and someone from church to let them know I was finally in labor. About 10-15 minutes later the midwife's assistant arrives. In the meantime Kelly and I are changing the bed linen, clearing off bathroom counters, and getting a couple of last minute things ready (in between contractions). It was so much less hurried than trying to get the kids somewhere and then going to the hospital.

Becky, the assistant, hadn't been there long when I had a contraction that felt very different. And then my water broke. (Thank goodness we weren't in our car driving to the hospital!) At this point I'm thinking Janet isn't going to make it in time. However, she arrived a little bit later, and I was still pregnant. She examined me and I was complete, so anytime I felt like pushing I could go ahead.

The problem was that because of the baby's awkward shoulder position, I was having my first real taste of back labor. And I was having a more difficult time coping with it that I usually have in labor. I was trying my usual positions, and they weren't helping. I hadn't really prepared for a back labor, and it kinda took me by surprise. Finally, I did something I never thought I would do - asked them to fill up the bath tub.

I had never wanted a water birth, even though many women do. But at this point the labor was so intense and the back pain was like nothing I, a mother of almost 5, had ever experienced. But it took forever to get the tub full enough. Or so it seemed at the time. As soon as they said it was good to go, I walked over between contractions and sank into our garden tub. It did almost instantly take away the back pain. That's the bad thing about back labor - the pain doesn't really subside between contractions, so you don't get the break like you normally would between them. However about two contractions after I got in I finally felt pushy.

What I didn't realize when I asked to get into the tub was that, because of the way our bathroom is set up, there is no way for the midwife and Kelly to both be in position so to speak to deliver. So our plans for Kelly to deliver the baby again were spoiled. But by that point I didn't care. The baby finally did move into the right position, but only as she was being born, and that was also not an experience I'd care to repeat. And I thought I would never get the shoulders out. And I was a little freaked out about the baby being in the water and me not able to get the shoulders to be born. That's the only time I ever remember screaming during labor. Janet got in my face and told me to put the effort I was using to scream into getting the shoulders out. Finally, the baby was born.

When Janet brought her up and laid her in my arms, we could tell immediately that this one big baby! We could also see that the baby was not the boy I had thought, but was another girl. I remember Kelly went out our bedroom door to call up to my mom - who had been keeping the girls busy upstairs - "It's a girl, and she's BIG!" I was exhausted. This was the first delivery I didn't get that rush of adrenaline and ecstasy after the baby was born. I was too drained. The labor was very short, but it was also the most intense and painful thing I had ever been through. I was also relieved that it was over.

I was soon back in the bed, and the baby was being checked over. When they weighed her, she was 10 lbs 10 oz! and 23 inches long. That's over 2 inches longer than any of the others. She really looked like a one month old baby. After weighing her, Kelly tried to put a newborn sized diaper on her, but it wouldn't even close around her. We all laughed at the ridiculous sight of this little bitty diaper on this huge baby. Fortunately I had already bought some size 1 diapers, or we would have been in a bad spot!

Soon I was nursing her and my mom and other daughters were coming into see the new baby. I rested in my own bed or in the recliner all day, and had good food to eat. It was the most restful birth day I have ever had. That night I took the baby's vitals when she woke up to eat - on her schedule not on the hospital schedule. One of my favorite things about the homebirth was not getting woken up every 2-3 hours by the nurses. Oh, and not sleeping on a plastic mattress. And the homemade food. And the... well, you get the picture.

Box Score Stats:
Lauryn Skylar was 10 lbs., 10 oz., and 23 in. long with blond hair and blue eyes.
Born November 23, 2004 at 10:03 am.
Labor total: 2 hours 18 minutes

Now, if you have been keeping track, I have been in labor a total of 19 hours and 9 minutes with all five babies. So all you women out there who have 12-24 hour labors each time, hats off to you because I do not know how you do it. Now, the trade off is that I am in latent labor the entire last month, so am varying shades of miserable during that time, but the truly painful part is very short. But it makes for a very long final month, especially if I go late. That also makes the active labor quite intense, as I go from nothing to full throttle transition in about 4 contractions. It also makes for jumpy midwives and a jumpy husband. When I call my husband now I have to preface the call with "Hi, I'm not in labor, I just need ..."

I'm anxious to get the next birth story posted. So is the rest of the family. Lauryn glared at me yesterday and told me (almost accusingly), "The new baby is ready to COME OUT!" Like I was purposely keeping it inside me! If she only knew...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Life Tip #419

If you rent a DVD from one of those kiosks at HEB or Walmart, immediately put it in your purse or shopping bag. Don't set it down in the seat of the cart. Especially at HEB, where the red cover blends in with the seats.

Because you will leave it in the cart and drive off without it.

And it won't be there when you go back.

And don't ask me how I know this.


Kim tagged me with a six word memoir. So to humor her, even though she isn't staying in Colorado long enough for me to go visit, here is mine. And you all will be so shocked.

"Chocolate is a girl's best friend."

I am exercising my "very pregnant" status to break the rules and not pass this one on.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Still Pregnant

No, this blog lapse does not mean I had the baby and forgot to tell anybody. I just had a busy weekend. Kelly did too, as he had some make up work to do since he had missed a couple of days of work last week due to a cold. Fortunately he was able to bring it home and do it.

I saw the midwife on Saturday morning and everything still looks pretty good. She's still a little concerned about the baby's position. Baby is head down so that's fine, but she's got her shoulders turned just like Lauryn did which caused a painful back labor. We are praying she turns to a better position before labor begins. Next Saturday the midwives come to my house for my appointment - for a home birth, that means you are getting really close!

Saturday night we were getting ready for Easter. That afternoon I cleaned and polished the white dress shoes. As usual, we prepared Sunday breakfast right after supper. The girls and I pulled out all the dresses and the girls had an early shower. While pulling out dresses, etc., I discovered that nearly all the girls needed new tights, so I had to make another quick dash to Walmart while Kelly bathed the younger girls. I also set out hair bows so I wouldn't be scrambling in the morning.

After showers, Kelly cleaned and trimmed fingernails and toenails, and I painted all the girls' nails - a Smith family Easter tradition. What else do you do with a house full of girls? We also changed earrings to match, and tried as best we could to gather everything we would need.
Here's our beautiful gaggle of girls right before we left for church.

Easter service at church was wonderful, as always. We had a light bite to eat right after church and then went to a friends' house for a big meal later in the afternoon. The kids hunted Easter eggs and had a great time.

I love the traditional Easter greeting:

He is risen!

He is risen, indeed!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

You know you are in the last month of pregnancy if...

you need a seeing eye guide dog to see what is underneath your belly.

you have to bribe other people to tie your shoes for you. Or cut your toenails.

Tums becomes the dessert to every meal.

a nap at 8:30 am no longer seems like a strange idea.

a nap at 4:30 pm no longer seems like a strange idea.

you can see an outline of a little foot when the baby kicks.

you've completely forgotten what it feels like to wear tailored clothing.

you have problems reaching the kitchen sink. Or stove. Or anything on the floor. In fact you avoid bending over at all costs.

you feel like first trimester nausea is trying to make a comeback.

you start dreaming of the day you can lie on your stomach.

you show up to church and someone asks, "Oh, are you still here?"

you are staring into space and you husband immediately knows you are thinking of baby names.

there are more baby clothes hanging in the closet and folded in the dresser than you own.

you husband has to bend at a 60 degree angle from the waist just to lean over to give you a goodbye kiss.

the maternity clothes that looked like regulation size army tents 4-5 months ago no longer cover your belly.

the cashier at HEB no longer asks you if you want help out, she just tells you that someone will be helping you out with your purchases.

the world starts revolving around THE event - I'll do that after the baby comes. Or I need to get that done before the baby comes. And you are surprised when other people's plans don't revolve around it, too.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Birth Story Number four - Hailey

Birth Story - Hailey

I found out I was expecting Hailey when Brynna was just 9 months old. But in those few moths, Kelly had separated from the Air Force and was working for a civilian company. So I started looking for a CNM (certified nurse midwife) like had delivered Aubrey. To my surprise, in this big city, there was only one practice that had any. These three CNM's worked under a doctor's supervision, and rotated responsibilities.

So I began seeing them. I rotated who I saw, but I had one, Lois, who was my favorite. Because they traded off who was on call at the hospital and who saw patients in the offices, I wasn't sure who I'd get until I went into labor. The hospital had LDR (labor/delivery/recovery) rooms, but then after a few hours' recovery they moved you upstairs to small private rooms for the duration of your stay. I felt I could live with that - only one move, and a private room. Not too bad.

This was the only pregnancy when I really cared what the gender of the baby was. I wanted this one to be a girl, because she'd be so close in age to Brynna.

This time, I refused to be checked for how far dilated I was in the last weeks leading up to my due date, and the midwives were fine with that. Since I wasn't going to be induced, what difference did it make? I was also fully prepared to go late again.

So when I woke up a little after 2 am on my due date I figured I was just needing to go to the rest room. But just a second or two later I felt a funny "pop" in my belly and then a funny trickle. I jumped up - quite a feat for a fully term pregnant woman - and went into the bathroom. I had never had my water break like this so I wasn't sure if it really had. It did slow down once I got up - the baby was so low that the head acted like a cork when I stood up - but I was definitely leaking amniotic fluid. I woke Kelly up and went to call the midwife. I was thrilled to find out Lois was on call that day!

My contractions hadn't started yet, I was just feeling a little crampy, but with my history of short labors, she told me to go on into the hospital. She told me she'd been there earlier in the evening and they were almost full when she left. So Kelly and I loaded up the other three girls and headed to his brother's apartment. We dropped off the girls with their aunt and uncle and by then I was having real contractions.

When we got to the hospital, we went to the L&D wing, and were shown to the triage area. I explained that my water had broken nearly an hour ago. The nurse gave me gown and told me to go into the bathroom and change. She asked my husband to wait out in the waiting area. We understood it was just while I changed and got settled in the bed. But then two nurses strapped me up and proceeded with a bunch of history and physical questions. Plus one of these nurses was a floater from another floor, so the L&D nurse was showing her how to do everything. I had pre-registered so I was surprised by the amount of questions.

Plus I was having serious contractions by this point, and my labor partner was sitting out in the waiting area. I thought the questions would end soon, and when I asked when he could come in they answered like it would be just another question or two. But of course, when I was contracting I couldn't answer any questions. Kelly can tell the instant I start contracting and is very good about either answering the question for me or telling them "she's in the middle of a contraction, she can't answer right now." I was really wanting him to be there.

Also, the nurses didn't believe I was really in labor. I think this is because I wasn't gushing amniotic fluid. I figure I was either just leaking and hadn't had a full rupture, or the the head was soooo low it was just too good of a cork. Or both. Also the way the stupid contraction monitor was calibrated, the peaks of my contractions weren't all that tall, so they didn't look too bad on paper. But let me tell you they were real! Also I was very calm and relaxed during them - on purpose. After the baby was born the nurses commented on this, like they weren't used to anyone actually using breathing and relaxing techniques to deal with labor pain.

Regardless of the reason, I was getting upset at their questions and attitude. They were nearly yelling at me when I was in a contraction when I didn't answer them. They also asked questions like "So when did you think your water broke?" Finally, after a gazillion questions (Kelly says he was waiting out there for over 30 minutes and was about to break the door down), they do an internal check. The nurse had the funniest look on her face. "She's dilated to a 6-7, and completely effaced. The baby's at about +1 station." They pulled out a little test strip like we used in chemistry class and sure enough, there was amniotic fluid present. She was shocked! I have never wanted to yell, "See, I told you so!" so much in my life.

At this point, they let my husband in, who was about as irritated as I was at them. They also called the midwife, who hadn't rushed up when I called her because my contractions hadn't started at that point. And the nurses didn't think I was in labor, so they didn't call her either until then. Lois was there just a little bit later.

Oh, and did I mention that all the big, beautiful LDR rooms were full? The triage area I was in was about the size of one of those rooms, but it was curtained off into four areas. So in my cubicle, there was room for the bed, the monitors, and about 4 people to stand around the bed, which is what I had.

Not long after Lois got there I felt pushy. She checked me, and I was completely dilated and effaced, so she told me to go ahead with the urge. This was by far my easiest delivery. The head came out soon. Usually at this point they tell you to stop pushing while they clean out the baby's nose and mouth, and then they instruct you to push the shoulders out. Well, she told me to stop, but my uterus didn't listen to her. It kept pushing. All I could do was tell Lois that I couldn't stop it, it wasn't me doing the pushing. She just laughed a little, and out came my smallest baby girl (yes, smallest at 8 lbs., 10 oz.).

The nurses eyes were still about the size of hubcaps. Not only had I not yelled or anything during the whole labor, the midwife had let me take off the fetal heart rate monitors and contraction monitors. She just held the heart rate monitor up to my belly during the contraction so I didn't have the straps on. And plus here was this woman who they didn't believe was really in labor giving birth less than two hours after walking into their hospital.

After recovering an hour or two, I was wheeled upstairs to my private room. Things went ok that day. We were interrupted alot. I was told before hand that they did everything to the baby in the rooms, but it was a LIE! They came and took the baby so many times, I lost count. Kelly and I were so exhausted we just let them. They also came in and griped at me for things like having the room too cold. The baby was wrapped up and next to me so she was fine - I was having hot flashes. But they were convinced it was bad for the baby. Because of all the interruptions, I never got to nap that day.

I finally got Hailey to sleep that night and was able to go to sleep myself sometime after 10 pm. Then at 10:30, a nurse came in and woke me up to check my Foley catheter. I didn't even have a Foley catheter. The nurse said, "Oh, that must be your neighbor who had a c-section. Sorry." She left and I drifted off again, until about 11 pm when another nurse came in to do vitals for the baby. I nearly screamed in frustration.

Remember I didn't utter hardly a sound during labor, but this was too much. I sat up a little and told this nurse, "Look, I have been awake since 2:00 this morning, I had a baby, and I have not slept since. All day, the nurses have been coming and doing stuff to us and I have not been able to get any sleep. Another nurse just came it to check my Foley catheter, when I don't even have one. How many more times is this going happen?!?" I felt a little sorry for her as it took her a little by surprise. She told me she would check mine and the baby's vitals right now, and then leave instructions not to disturb us again until shift change at 7 am. I told her that I would appreciate that.

Sure enough, I wasn't disturbed. At 7 am an older nurse came in with a student nurse. At this point I had Hailey asleep beside me in the bed, so I was just waiting for her to gripe at me for sleeping with the baby beside me (I have had nurses do that before). But she walked in and said, "Now this is what we like to see." She thought I was just the most wonderful mother, doing everything right. Well, she was the one bright light in that hospital. When the midwife came around to check on me that morning I begged to be discharged. She agreed, so I went home later that day. I was still exhausted. All that hooey about "resting while you can in the hospital" was written by men, I think.

It was this experience that led Kelly and I to decide that if we had any more children, we would have them at home. These were the only CNMs in the city, and this was the only hospital they deliver at. And while we liked the midwives, we would not be going back to that hospital.

Box score stats:
Hailey Christine was 8 lbs. 10 oz, and was 20.75 inches long with brown hair and blue eyes.
She was born on Sept. 19, 2002 at 5:07 am.
Labor total: 3 hours

Monday, March 17, 2008

Would you trade your debit card for a free meal?

Last night I was having a serious hamburger craving. The girls were all chowing down on cereal (their favorite Sunday evening meal, since we never have it for breakfast) so I went to Sonic to get Kelly and me a burger.

I ordered Kelly's toaster and my cheeseburger, onion rings, tots, and Kelly's drink. (Yes, I went to Sonic and didn't get a Dr. Pepper! Too late in the day and I wanted to sleep last night.) I swiped our checkcard (you run it through like a credit card but it works like a debit card deducting money straight from our account) through the console. It showed "approved" and I settled back to wait for our order.

I waited nearly 10 minutes. Then the lady comes out with our order, and asks for payment. I told her that I paid with the card in the machine on the menu. "Oh." She says looking dumbfounded. "Can I see your card? I need to check it. I'll be right back." So I fish my card back out and give it to her.

I wait nearly 5 more minutes until she comes back out with my receipt wrapped around the card. She hands it to me and starts to leave. But I unwrap the card and looked at the receipt as I always do. I noticed out of the corner of my eye that the card didn't look right - different picture than is on mine. I look again and sure enough - different card, different name, different bank.

I called to the carhop, "Ma'am, this is the wrong card!" She comes back to my window. "What?"
"This isn't my card," I tell her.

"Oh." I take it this girl was NOT valedictorian of her class. She grabs the card from my hand. "Just a minute." No apology. She was confused and couldn't hide it.

So I'm already thinking that this is not good. Sure enough the next thing I see a few minutes later is a man (to use the term loosely) coming out to my vehicle. He started off by apologizing and explaining that the carhop had mixed up my card with another customer's. And she had already given my card to them and they had driven off. He then went on to tell me that he didn't know what he could do about it. He didn't have a way of contacting them and he didn't know what else to do. He did assure me that the charges had been charged to the right card, the mix up had happened after that. Very comforting. This was a VERY young guy who had obviously gotten a good case of the confusion his carhop had.

OK, so at this point I am pregnant, hungry, and have been waiting for about 20 minutes at this place. Only to have them take my card - when I had already paid through the console at the car station - and give it away to who knows who. And it is the card that comes right out of our account. I am trying not to get angry, although I am clearly frustrated. He then rather lamely tells me he could remove the charge for my meal, for the inconvenience "if you'd like." If I'd like? I told him that I would appreciate that (and yes I imagine there was a slight tinge of sarcasm in my voice). So he took the receipt with him while I brought home our meal, wondering if it was even still warm. I did ask his name and his manager's name before I left. I had a feeling my husband would want that info.

When I got home, I told Kelly, "You are NOT going to believe this." He was not happy. I tried to call the bank number to get the card canceled as I'm explaining it, but the guy I was talking to didn't seem to understand me and transferred me to the wrong place. So I hung up in frustration. That's when my sweet husband took the phone and told me to go sit down and eat. As I opened the sack and got out our stuff, I discovered that they had gotten our order wrong! I nearly howled!

Fortunately Kelly got through and got the card canceled. I had to call this morning to order new ones. There was only one charge that we hadn't put on our account, and it was for six bucks at another fast food place. So we figure the people didn't even look at the card and went and got someone else who didn't want Sonic some dinner. Otherwise we figure they would have hit the HEB or gas station and tried to rack up some serious charges.

Kelly went by the Sonic today to talk to the manager. The assistant manager I had spoken to hadn't even told his manager what had happened. So he was not very happy when he heard Kelly's story. And of course, handling more than one customer's card at a time is violation of store policy for this very reason. And when he heard that after all that the order was even wrong, I think he could have fired someone on the spot had they been there. :-)

So we are without checkcards for several days, will have to watch our account like a hawk, and change some of our registered cards online all for a free burger meal that wasn't quite the right order and wasn't hot anymore when we got to eat it. Sound fair to you?

I still haven't decided whether I will allow a Sonic to take my card back into the store anymore. Don't want to over react and at times the outside machines do break down. But I will always wonder if I'm going to get it back.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Busy, girly, super fun weekend

We've had a busy, but good weekend.

Friday my two older girls had a slumber party (their first!) at one of the church member's houses. They had invited all the girls from church - that's right, ALL. That's around 20 girls. And that's only ones ages 8 and up. This family wanted to do something special for the daughters of another church member - their dad is serving in Iraq right now. So they had a "Super Fun Happy Glittery Pink Girly Party Sleepover" as they dubbed it. Well, my two girls sure had fun.

I had a doctor's appointment Friday afternoon, and afterward Kelly and I had planned a date night, so we traded babysitting with another couple from church. They watched our younger three girls Friday evening and soon we will return the favor. We had a great time. We got to eat good sea food, Kelly got ammo, we bought Kelly a couple of suits (a late Christmas present), and got new bluetooth headsets to go with our new razor cell phones. More on those in a minute.

Saturday, Kelly went to the range. He took one of the teenaged boys from church and I'm not sure who had more fun: Kelly or the boy. Kelly loves to go to the range and pass on his love of guns, and what teenaged boy wouldn't like to spend a Saturday morning that way??? While he was gone, I went to pick up the girls, who had had a total of about 5 hours sleep, and a week's worth of pizza, soda, sweets, and breakfast food. Evidently the teenagers cooked a feast for breakfast. Kora (aged 11) can now out eat Kelly most of the time. She informed me about breakfast. "I had a couple of biscuits with jelly, a couple of sausage patties, some bacon, 2-3 eggs, and that was just my first helping. I went back for more."

Me: "Did you leave any for the rest of them?"

K: "Oh, yeah, I was nearly at the back of the line."

All the boys from church were over at the pastor's house, and I was informed that they waaaaaay out ate the girls. I guess all the girls don't eat like Kora.

Oh, and this is what Kora looked like when I picked her up:

Evidently this is what you do at a sparkly girly pretty pink super fun sleepover. I forgot to take a picture of their fingernails, which sported 10 different shades of polish. I also didn't get a picture of Aubrey's hair, but she had two long braids that looked really cute as well.

When Kora took them out last night to take a shower, she looked like this:

Yesterday afternoon I hit a few stores to grab some sales going on. I also hit CVS today - this is a great CVS week this week. I have decided that the Ides of March (everyone does know the historical reference that is, correct?) is some sort of big sale weekend for some reason. Here's some of what we got this weekend:

* 2 Motorola Bluetooth headsets - $4.99 each plus tax (after rebate - I love! That's where I saw this offer at Office Depot posted.)
* chicken breasts $1.69 per lb, 8 grapefruits for $1 at Sun Harvest (They had a huge 72 hour sale this weekend - I've never seen that place so full! Lots of good stuff on sale I didn't get!)
* chicken quarters for $0.43 per pound at HEB
* six boxes of Honey Bunches of Oats cereal for 8 cents a box and two gallons of Bordon's milk for $2.69 each at Walmart (I had 6 $2-off coupons for the cereal which costs $2.08 at WM. I receive the La Fiesta grocery store circular in the mail every week, and they had their Bordon's milk on sale. Wal mart price matched it, plus I had 2 $1 off coupons. The cereal I am saving for after the baby comes. The milk won't last that long.)
*Today at CVS I got all this:

for $2.98 out of pocket.

That's combining all of these on sale (except the Lansinoh, which I am just going to need soon) with $40 in CVS and manufacturer coupons, and $35 in ECBs. Plus I came out with at least as many ECBs as I did going in.

We will not be on spring break this week. We are taking a combined late spring break/ baby break/ summer break starting April 11. So my kids only have 4 more weeks of school, and one of those will be pretty much eaten up with standardized testing. If your family is on spring break this week, I hope it is a good one!

Friday, March 14, 2008

What mom means to you

Aubrey seems to have a warped view of me.

A couple of days ago, in her spelling workbook, she had to write the list words that corresponded with the given definitions. One of her definitions was "having or showing sound judgment." The list word she wrote down was "motherhood."

Then that night at supper, she asked which of the children looked the most like me. Kelly and I both answered "Hailey." Aubrey was surprised. Kelly told her, "You should see Mama's pictures from when she was that age."

To which Aubrey answered, very dryly, "Yeah, but they'd be in black and white."

Evidently I am sensible (the actual word from her spelling) but too old to do anything about it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Birth Story Number three - Brynna

Birth Story - Brynna

About a year after we moved to San Antonio, we found out that baby number three was on the way. I kinda thought this would be the boy - we had two girls, now we could have a couple of boys, right?

Kelly was still in the Air Force, and in San Antonio that meant delivering at Wilford Hall Medical Center, a huge complex that serves as both doctors offices, ER, labs, clinics, and hospital for literally thousands of military personnel, their dependents, and thousands of retirees and their families. The OB clinic is set up so that you never know who you will be seeing. The OB rotate from office duty to hospital duty so much, that it is literally an alphabet soup of medical professionals who handle your care. I was disappointed to learn that they had no CNMs (certified nurse midwives) that delivered there, though some AF bases do. But I was assured that I could fill out a birth plan and it would be followed. Yeah, right. No one even looked at it. Ever.

I was happy to learn that they were remodeling the L&D ward of the hospital and that they were converting to the LDRP rooms (labor/delivery/recovery/postpartum) like I had been in with my second daughter. That at least was a great improvement over my first military birth! Oh, and yes, I had to go through orientation AGAIN, just like with my first two.

The appointment just a couple of days after my due date - yes I was going late AGAIN - the doctor checked me and I was only dilated to a 2-3, although I was nearly completely effaced. I was crushed. I was used to being far more dilated than this. At this rate, I thought I might be pregnant for weeks. The doctor did mention inducing, but I told him I wanted to wait it out. I was not ready to even talk about it yet.

The next Sunday was Easter. My husband was in the choir at church, and the choir was putting on a huge musical that Easter morning. So all weekend I blamed the choir for my going late - many of the members told me they were praying I would wait until after the musical to have the baby because Kelly had a big solo in it. I know they meant it as a joke, but just ask someone who is nearly 10 months pregnant if she thinks that is funny!

After church on Sunday, we went over to a friend's house for a meal and family fun. When we got home I was exhausted. I went to bed before 8:30 that night wondering when this would end.

I woke up at 1 am with the first contraction. Again, I got up and walked around the house a bit until I was sure that this was the real thing. It didn't take long to realize this was indeed the real thing. So I woke up Kelly and we got the other two girls up and in the van. We had to drive about 5 minutes to a friend's house to drop the girls off, and then another 20-30 to the hospital. I remember looking at the speedometer because I noticed we didn't seem to be going terribly fast. Sure enough, we were going the speed limit. I teased Kelly about not being in such a hurry this time. And he said, "Well, I'm not worried about making it this time."

When we got to the hospital, we had to go up to a triage area where a doctor - as I expected - that I had never even seen before came in to check me to see if I was just wasting staff time, er, I mean really in labor. I was at a 5-6, so definite progress had been made since Friday. The doctor really was pretty good. We liked him. I couldn't talk him out of an iv, but he did let me have a heplock so at least I didn't have the tubes and attachments. He also introduced me to an intern who was going to be assisting him at my delivery, though I didn't think much of it at the time, except that here was yet someone else who was getting a free show at the birth. Really, it irritates me how modesty is just assumed to be of no value or even existence at a birth by the medical people, especially when male doctors and nurses are present. But I digress.

I was shown up to a room. I have to say that the two nurses I had at WFMC were the best two labor nurses I have had in my 4 hospital births! I have not had much luck with L&D nurses, but these two were good. I was allowed to walk around as much as I wanted, to go to the bathroom. I couldn't take off the contraction and fetal heartbeat monitors, but I could disconnect them to move around some. I wasn't there too long before I didn't want to walk around much. I was getting into transition and just wanted to sit and relax.

The next time they checked me I was at and 8-9. Good, I thought, won't be long now. Well, an hour later, they check me again, and I am STILL an 8-9. No progress. WHAT??? This is not how I do labor! I should have had this baby already! Then the doctor told me that between the baby's head and the cervix was a huge bulge of the amniotic sac. It was keeping the baby from getting good head pressure on my cervix to finish the job. He offered to break my water, saying that would speed things up. But I remembered how much the contractions intensified after my water broke with Aubrey, and I wanted to hold off on that as long as possible. So I labored on.

To be stuck in transition for that long is really a form of torture. Yes, I know other women have been there longer, but it is very hard to be so close to the end, and be making no progress in the most intense painful part of the labor. About 30 minutes later, after a particularly hard contraction, I told the nurse to get the doctor to break my water. So doc and the intern come back in and the doctor decides to let the intern (did I mention that this was a brand new intern who was attending his first birth?) break my water. The only problem is that the intern couldn't figure out how to get the crochet hook (that's what they look like!) to break the membrane. Ideally they break your water between contractions, 'cause you are flat on your back when they do it. Well, the intern took so long that another contraction came on. I tell you, that was the closest I have ever come to "losing it" during labor. Laying flat on your back has to be the hardest way to go through a transition contraction with NO pain medication there is. Once the contraction passed, the intern finally broke my water. This was at 5:30 am.

Things did move faster at that point. The doctor was going to let Kelly "catch" the baby, and then they were going to lay the baby on my stomach. As delivery was imminent, they turned on special lights in the room. These LDRP rooms had special (I call them) spotlights which lit up the area the doctors needed to see like a stage. Some pediatric people came in with the warming isolette ready for the baby. There seemed like way too many people in there (me, Kelly, two L&D nurses, the doctor, the intern, and 3-4 pediatric people).

Just as the baby was crowning, the heartbeat monitor started making funny noises. Her heart rate had dropped to about 72 beats a minute (fetal heart rates are normally 120-160 bpm). I heard the nurse say "she's decelling." (Decelerating) Kelly missed that, but I heard it. The doctor looked at me and said, "You've got to get this baby out NOW." So I pushed harder than I had ever pushed before.

I remember thinking, "Just get the head out and it will all be over." That's what had happened with Aubrey. So I pushed and there was a head! But the relief didn't come. There was still alot of pain, and fear because I knew there was an issue with the heart rate. Why hadn't she been born yet? Of course, I still had to get her shoulders out, but because of the way Aubrey had been born with one arm up by her head, she hadn't stopped at the shoulders. So here I was, giving birth to my third child (remember with my first one I was numbed up and blinded by a screen so I didn't know anything) and surprised by shoulders!

Well, I did manage to get her shoulders out, and that's when our third daughter entered the world, just after 6 am. The umbilical cord had been draped across one shoulder, so that had caused the compression as she was crowning that dropped her heart rate. Fortunately it wasn't wrapped around her or we might have had bigger problems. Because of the heart rate issue, they rushed her over to the isolette before I got to hold her. And Kelly didn't get to deliver her because of the same issue. But at the moment we were just worried that she was ok.

We were told a couple of minutes later that she was fine from the heart rate problem. She was pink and crying and showed no signs of oxygen deprivation. However, as they proceeded to check her over, we heard that there was a problem. Suddenly a flood of people enter my room. By this time, I had delivered the placenta and was being stitched up. I had a very minor tear just skin deep on my old episiotomy scar that the intern was sloooooooooowly stitch up. I timed him and it took him over 10 minutes and he still wasn't done - with a less than inch long tear!

So here I am, on the bed with those blindingly bright spotlight highlighting the end of my bed where this incompetent intern (I'm sorry, he's probably a fine doctor, it was just a bad time to have him learning on ME) was making a gazillion stitches on what they told me was a very small tear - and I had no pain meds! And about 20-30 extra people - no exaggeration - had swarmed into the room to look at Brynna. Kelly had been across the room at the isolette, but he didn't really understand what the problem was either. No one had taken the time to tell us much yet as they were still evaluating her. Well, after 10 minutes of stitching, I had had ENOUGH! I glared at the doctor and demanded, "How much longer is this going to take?" Now I am a very quiet laborer, I don't curse my husband's ancestry or anything like that, so when this came out of my mouth the doctor knew I could take no more.

He told the intern that he would finish up, and he did - in less than a minute. I was finally able to cover up. About that time, the pediatrician finally came over to fully explain to us what the issue was with Brynna. But I will make that a separate blog entry as this is already too long - nearly as long as the labor itself!

Box score stats:
Brynna Nicole born April 16 at 6:06 am.
She was 9 lbs. 6 oz., and was 20.5 inches long with red hair and blue eyes.
Labor total 5 hours, 6 minutes.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A little sympathy here, please

Yesterday we had a glorious rainstorm. It rained steadily for hours, something we haven't seen here in months.

At one point the lightening and thunder picked up for a while, though it was never all that close.

About this time, Lauryn (the 3 yo) came over to me crying.

Me: "What's wrong?"

L: "I wish my Daddy were home!"

Me: "Why?"

L: "'Cause I scared."

I scooped her up (no small feat right now with this appendage sticking out front) and carried her over to the sofa, while she sobs on my shoulder.

Me: "Are you scared because of the rain?"

L: "No, the tunderstorm." (misspelling intended)

So I cuddled her for a minute. Then Aubrey (the 9 yo) comes over and sits on the sofa beside us. Kora (11 yo) and Aubrey like to pretend they are Lauryn's mother and father (please don't ask, I'm not sure why). So Aubrey pipes in.

A: "Lauryn, do you want me to pretend I'm your daddy?"

Lauryn jumps out of my lap with a big smile on her face and scrambles up into Aubrey's lap.

L: "Ok, now I pretend that I'm scared. WAAAA! WAAAA!" And she breaks into the biggest, fake baby cry I've ever heard.

Needless to say, I quit feeling sorry for her pretty quickly.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Needed: One Vacuum Cleaner

OK, so Saturday we discover that our 8 year old vacuum cleaner (the downstairs one in family lingo) is done for. The cord is so frayed that copper wiring is showing through. In several places Not good. And while part of me is grateful that it lasted that long - how many modern vacuums last 8 years, two moves, and two sets of brand new carpeting? - I am always bummed when I have to spend money to replace something we already had.

So, anybody have any good recommendations?

Our upstairs vac is a Hoover Windtunnel (NOT bagless) Self-propelled vacuum, and we are seriously thinking about getting another one like it for the downstairs. We like it, and the kids like it because the self-propelled feature makes it easy for them to push, and our kids do nearly all the household vacuuming. The only thing we don't like about it is that the brush doesn't seem to be very well designed. My husband has to clean it out every week not only because so much long hair gets wrapped around it, but hair gets inside and wraps around the bearing. So if he doesn't clean out the inside of the brush we have to replace the brush way too often (about $25 a pop). Now we aren't sure if this is a peculiarity to our long-locked family or a true flaw in the design.

Downstairs the hair problem isn't as bad. It's not where the girls brush their hair or play on the floor as much. So possibly it won't matter down here. And it would be nice to have the same bags, belts, etc. for both vacuums.

So our requirements are: either lightweight or self-propelled, bagged (no bagless!), and have the normal compliment of tools. Oh, and not require a small loan (i.e. no Kirby). So let me know if you know of a vac that would fit our bill!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The countdown to D-Day begins

The end is in sight. I scheduled my last two week visit with my midwife for the day before Easter. After that it will be every week until I deliver. In fact, the last weekend in March is the prenatal visit she does at my home. This is to make sure all the birth attendants know how to get to my house, that she can see the set up and know what kind of environment she'll be working in when the call comes. And yes, she does this even on repeat clients.

In spite of all my contractions, etc., the midwife does not believe I'll deliver significantly early. That doesn't mean I'll make it to my due date, as I am definitely making progress. But she thinks I will still be pregnant the first of April. My grandmother's birthday is the 5th of April, so I think that would be a nice day to have a baby. :-) Oh, and the midwife is rather funny, she is quite astounded at how low the baby is. Yes I know she said that last time, but if anything the baby is even a little lower now. She was showing her apprentice: "See, at 35 weeks we are usually hearing the heartbeat up here (points to an area closer to my belly button) but I'm getting hers here (points to the area just above my hipbone)."

The down side to the visit was that this baby is in the same position as Lauryn was in until just as she was being born. The baby's shoulders are running from my backbone to my front. And my placenta is on my left side, causing the baby to be more comfortable in that position. She gave me some exercises to do to hopefully keep the baby from shifting to a posterior position - also known as sunny-side-up. Those deliveries HURT! We do not want that. So I have to spend alot of time on my left side for the next month.

I have a list of things I want to accomplish before the baby comes, but fortunately most of them can be done sitting down. Very nice. These include getting some school planning done (mainly ordering decisions), other household things (like printing up a new chore chart for the kids while my mom is here), some online shopping, and some stuff for church. The last week of March, our homeschool group is offering the Iowa Basic Skills standardized test, and I'll be proctoring (fortunately this is a sit down job as well). So I hope I have enough to do stay busy enough to keep from dwelling on the delivery and everything else. I also still haven't finished this baby's afghan, so I need to get hopping on that one!

Hope everyone has a blessed week!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Saving money on children's shoes

This is another one of those questions that many younger moms have asked me over the years. Here are a few things I've done over the years that have helped me keep our crew shod.

First, I keep the shoe wardrobe simple. In the spring/summer, the girls have sandals, tennis shoes, and white dress shoes. In the winter, it is tennis shoes, black dress shoes, and usually some kind of slip-on casual shoe. This is partly for sanity's sake and partly for budget sake. Yes, I love shoes, and in a perfect world I would love to outfit each girls with boots, and several different colors of shoes. But since I have so many girls, I would have to do it for all of them, and it just isn't feasible. Now that Kora's foot has finally stopped growing, she has more shoes than she used to. This is partly because I saved many of my size nines that didn't fit me anymore for her.

Second, I don't buy my kids used shoes. I do buy used clothes, but not shoes. Right or wrong, my reasoning is that I pass them down to the next child, so I want my kids to get as much use out of them as possible. But that might not work for someone with fewer kids. I have bought the largest majority of their shoes from Payless and Target.

The biggest savings I have found over the years is the Payless BOGO sale - buy one, get one half off. During this time I would go through the store keeping my eye out for sales, especially clearance sales. At the end of a season I would look out for shoes they were clearancing out. At first I would try to guess at what size Kora might be the next fall, if I was looking at black dress shoes, for example. If she was a six right now, and was growing about one size a season, I would buy a size 8 black dress shoe on clearance.

This usually worked. But as I had more and more girls, I would not worry so much about whether it might fit the next year. If Kora grew more than I expected and needed a 9 instead of that 8, I had three more girls waiting in the wings, and they would eventually fit somebody. Tennis shoes were my favorite. Since they are worn year round, if I found them on clearance or a good sale, I would buy them if they were bigger than what Kora was wearing now. I can't tell you how many times I found tennis shoes on clearance for $5 or $7, and with B1G1, I would buy two pair for $8-$11 total. They might not get worn for a year or two, but they were waiting for my girls when they got to that size.

Following these strategies, I rarely have to take the girls to the store to buy new shoes at full price right then. Occasionally it has happened, but usually we go shopping in the closet shelves in my stash. Granted, I was able to do this in large part because I have all girls, and could take advantage of sales that way without worrying over much about sizes.

I have huge Rubbermaid type bins that I keep the outgrown shoes in, and when someone's foot grows, we go shopping in the bin. I do occasionally have to replace the hand-me-down shoes, usually the sandals. But I try to keep a list of what needs to be replaced so I can keep an eye out for them on sale (especially in late summer early fall for the sandals when they go on clearance). I'm not buying as many shoes now since Kora has gone all the way up to a women's size 9, I have shoes waiting in all the sizes underneath that.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Birth Story Number two -Aubrey

Birth Story - Aubrey

When Kelly and I found out we were expecting our second child when Kora was about 14 months old, we were very happy to learn that the Air Force base we lived on had closed the maternity ward of the hospital and the OB clinic. We were "forced" to go off base for our care, but we would only have to pay what we would have paid for the on base care, since this was our only choice. Talk about the best of both worlds!

By this time, I had had time to mull over our first birth. I really wanted to not be induced this time around. I felt like I had opened myself up for some of the things that happened by allowing the induction. I had been told that artificially induced contractions were much harder to go through without drugs than the natural contractions. And I wanted to avoid the epidural if at all possible. I hated the tied to the bed feeling. I wanted to move and walk if I wanted to. I wanted the baby laid on my stomach after birth instead of being rushed off to the nursery.

A friend of mine was using a nurse practitioner midwife in town, so I got her name and set up an appointment. Her name was Anne, and when I talked to her about what I wanted, she seemed a perfect fit. She worked under an OB so there was immediate doctor backup if needed. And she delivered at Presbyterian Hospital there in Oklahoma City, which had LDRP rooms - Labor/Delivery/Recovery/Postpartum rooms. In other words, you stayed in the same room the entire process, and they had all the equipment in the room for the baby, so the baby didn't go to the nursery after birth. There was even a jacuzzi tub in the bathroom.

Anne was great. I really enjoyed how she treated me and the pregnancy. When I got to 37 weeks, she checked me and was astonished to find that I was already 4 cm dilated and 80-90% effaced. So she did not think I'd make it to my due date. Well, of course another week went by and no baby. So at 38 weeks, I was a 5 and 100% effaced. Surely I couldn't go much longer!

At my 39 week appointment, she checked me again and I was a 6, and the baby was low, low. Don't remember the station, but basically the baby was right there. Anne was a little speechless. This was a Tuesday, and my due date was on Friday. We talked about the fact that when I went into labor it would probably not last long. She offered to let me come into the hospital and break my water. She assured me that as far dilated as I was, with my water broken I could walk the halls for a bit and get labor started with little difficulty, and little chance for the need of pitocin. I was a little scared about having the baby on the side of the road, so I agreed. But the earliest she could schedule me to come in was Friday morning. She told me if I went into labor before then, to get my rear end up to the hospital AS SOON as I realized I was really in labor. Do not wait for 5 minute apart contractions, or any of that nonsense.

I went home, and talked to Kelly. He was nervous about having to deliver the baby on the side of the road as well, but I realized I really wanted to wait it out, to go into labor on my own. He agreed, so I called Anne back and canceled the appointment for Friday. She was so nice about it, and told us she'd see us soon.

Wednesday morning I felt pretty good. I had a lot of energy that day. I went to my aerobics class (I had kept up with my step aerobics the entire pregnancy), and went grocery shopping. I even did some house cleaning that afternoon during Kora's nap time. We went to church that night, and all the women could not believe I was walking around, dilated to a 6! I was told more than once "I was screaming for an epidural by the time I was a 4!"

That night I went to bed, fully prepared to wait it out through the whole next week if needed- I did not want to be induced. But I woke up the next morning with a really hard contraction. I looked at the clock. It was right at 2 am. I got up and walked around the house a bit. Nothing happened for 20 minutes. Then I had another really hard one. Then 10 minutes later I had one. I still didn't wake Kelly up, because I still wasn't sure this was the real thing. But 5 minutes later I had an even harder contraction, and I immediately woke Kelly up. We called Anne to tell her we were on the way.

We had to get Kora up and drop her off at a friend's house, and by the time we left her house, I could barely stand through the contractions. As we got onto the freeway, they were a little less than 3 minutes apart. Need I say that Kelly was a wee bit nervous? I looked over at the speedometer at one point and he was going 90 mph! No exaggeration. Of course it was 3 am and no one else was out, but still! I tried to assure him we were going to make it just fine, but he told me, "I don't care, I want to get there!"

As we made our way from the parking garage, across the walkway to the hospital, I remember thinking how ironic it all was. I had wanted the freedom to be able to get up and walk, but my contractions were so hard that I couldn't walk through them. It made our progress getting to my room slow, because we had to stop to let me breathe through the contractions every time.

We beat Anne to the hospital, so were already getting hooked up by the nurse when she got there. She checked me and I was a 9, baby at a very low station. She unhooked me enough so I could move around and experiment with how I could best relax through the contraction. When it came time to push, she let me move around until I found the position that worked best for me. Throughout the whole labor, I realized that these contractions were very different from the induced ones, so I was thankful even through the pain that I had not been induced.

When the baby was being born, she had one arm up by the side of her head, so one hand was born at the same time as her head. This meant that she didn't stop at the shoulders. Once the head was out, she was all out. Anne laid the baby on my stomach. The first thing I noticed was the RED HAIR. "It's got red hair!" I said rather stupidly. "She sure does." Anne replied. "Is it a girl?" I then had to ask. Anne grabbed each ankle in a hand and pulled them apart like wishbones. "Yep!" And so I was introduced to my daughter Aubrey. She was born at 4:59 am, just under 3 hours after my first contraction, and a little over an hour and a half after arriving at the hospital. Too quick to use the jacuzzi. But I did have to tease Kelly - see there was no need for such a rush, right?

So even if I had kept the Friday appointment, I would have had her before then. Plus, she was born on my due date - my mom's due date for me was November 19 (I wasn't born for nearly two more weeks though). And she is still to date the only baby I have had before my due date. It was by far the best hospital stay we have had. We didn't have to shuttle rooms. They only came and got the baby once to take her to the nursery, and we knew about it ahead of time. The staff was only minimally intrusive. And the whole thing, from prenatal visits to hospital stay cost us $40.

I was also surprised at how much easier I bounced back after this birth than the first one. The epidural had had some not pleasant side effects that I didn't have this time. I also didn't have an episiotomy I was recovering from, so that helped tremendously. The only thing I wasn't prepared for was the after pains. I didn't realize how much worse the after birth contractions were after the second or subsequent baby. In fact I didn't remember even having after pains with Kora, but I sure had them this time! I was saving my 800 mg Advil for when I nursed, when the pains would be the worst, not for any birth pain.

Box score stats:
Aubrey Blair was 8 lbs. 15 oz., 19.5 in long, with red hair and blue eyes
Born November 19, 1998 at 4:59 am.
Labor total: 2 hours, 59 minutes

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Talk about conspicuous

Today, we left the house a little early so I could vote on the way to piano lessons. Our voting site is the local public elementary school. So if you can picture this, my five girls and I walk in to the local school at 11:15 am, and go into the library.

I see a long line - at least 30 people - in line in front of a table waiting to vote. I'm immediately thinking that I don't have enough time to vote before we have to need to get to the lesson. But then I notice another table with no one in front of it. I peek around the long line of people to see what the set up is.

Sure enough, the long line was in front of the Democratic Party table. There was no one in front of the Republican party's table.

So I sail up to the Republican table - literally, as my stomach feels like a huge, billowing main sail of a ship - with my gaggle of girls following behind me. I sign up and go up to a booth to vote, with the girls gathered around me watching me. We then headed out to leave for Kora's lesson.

The whole time, the line of voters in the other line was just staring at us. At my "large" family, at my girls who weren't in school (one of the election officials asked if we were homeschoolers, but then said "good for you"), and that we were in the Republican line. I could just hear their thoughts.

"One of those families."

Talk about feeling just a little conspicuous. :-) But it was good for the girls to be involved with me in the voting process.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Book Review: Deceptively Delicious

I saw this book in the store a few weeks ago and was intrigued enough to check it out from the library. It's full title is Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food by Jessica Seinfeld.

First off, I think the title is, well, deceptive. The book really isn't about getting your kids to eat healthy foods. It's really about how to steam and puree fruits and veggies, and then sneak them into foods your kids will eat. So it's not really about teaching your kids better habits, but just not letting them know that what they are eating is healthy.

Now don't get me wrong. I have nothing against adding the produce to the foods - although some of her suggestions did not appeal to me - but if you think this is a book about how to get your kids to eat better, you'll be disappointed. But if you want a book that will teach you how to steam and puree cauliflower and then add it into homemade macaroni and cheese, this book is for you.

I've done a little of this over the years - zucchini in chili, spaghetti squash in spaghetti. We even had pumpkin pancakes this morning. But this mom of 3 evidently puts pureed produce into everything. From brownies to cheese sticks, she has suggestion for what veggie or fruit to put in what dish. She also has detailed instructions on how to steam different types of veggies and how to store them. There is also a dietitian who contributed to the book, offering her input as well.

Overall, if you wanted to learn how to add some of these items to everyday dishes, this book would be worth checking out. And I really mean that literally. I would suggest checking it out from the library to see if it is worth the $15 cover price. I will not be buying it as (1) I already know how to steam veggies and puree them and (2) already have a good idea of how to add them to dishes. If this fits you, you might peruse it for any helpful tidbits and then turn it back in. Also I have children who LIKE veggies and fruits. I have no problem getting them to eat veggies (except for green peas, which I love) or fruits. But if you have kids who are very picky and you worry about them getting the nutrition they need, then this could be a helpful resource.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Are they all yours?

A humorous take on the endless questions parents with larger than average families are asked whenever we venture out into public.

Thanks, Steph. K. for the link!

I won!

I don't usually win stuff in contests. But yesterday I was notified that I won one of the prizes that Home-Ec101 was giving away to celebrate their first birthday. I will be getting a free can of Bar Keeper's Friend, which I do use, especially on my kitchen sink. And it won't be too many weeks until I can reach the kitchen sink again to use it!

And my friend Teresa won one of their t-shirts! So our little church/homeschooling group was well represented. If you've never visited their site, it's pretty neat. It's subtitle is "What you wish your mama taught you." There are all sorts of tips on how to clean certain - usually problem - areas, as well as cooking tips. Not just recipes, but how to cook things. Right now they are doing a series on how to bake bread, complete with pictures. This is one of the websites I visit every day.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

A Matter of Perspective

Yesterday morning, after weeks of asking when my tummy was going to get big, my daughter Aubrey told me, "Your tummy is big."

Later that morning we went to a friend's house (this friend runs a produce co-op and I was going to pick up my basket full of produce). She and another co-op participant couldn't believe how small I was to only have 6 weeks left.

When Kelly got home last night, I laughingly told him about the two different comments. He looked at me and said, "You are starting to stick out there."

Then last night, I was at a friend's house for a girls' movie night. I told a couple of the ladies there about the different comments, and they concluded that my tummy was more on the big side rather than the small side.

This morning the checker at Wal-mart asked when I was due (after asking if it was my first baby - that one always gets a laugh out of me). When she found out how soon I was due, she commented, "Wow, you sure don't get very big, do you?"

The people who know me best and see me all the time think that my stomach area is big.

People who are strangers or only see me occasionally think I am not showing very much for how far along I am.

Not sure what all this means. Maybe the people who know me best just know what I looked like before I got pregnant (back when I could do 300-400 crunches a day) and everyone else is comparing me to other pregnant women they see/know.

All I know is that there will be NO belly pictures on this blog. I have friends who are that brave, but I am not one of them. You'll just have to wait for baby pictures!