Friday, November 4, 2011

Bounce? On a bar??

Whew!  We got rid of cable, and now we use Hulu to watch TV.  This requires the use of my computer, which is killing my ability to blog!
However, I have to tell you about my Bounce Dryer bar!
I was sent one of these handy dandy bars to review on my blog!
For those of you who don't know, I have six children, and 1 husband.  I cloth diaper my toddler.  I have some bed wetting kids.  I have a teenager, and a 4 year old girl who change clothes all the time.
In short, I do a LOT of laundry!  My washing machine and dryer go almost constantly.
When I received my bar in the mail, I was super excited!  You see, anything to eliminate a step, is something I am all for!  One less thing to remember!
I popped it in my dryer and let the drying begin, without having to remember my dryer sheet. 
It works just as well and a Bounce dryer sheet.  Except that those dryer sheets sure have lots of handy uses, like putting them in dresser drawers, or the bottom of garbage cans, etc.  I suppose you could throw a whole bar in your dresser drawer, but that's a bit of overkill, I think.
The lack of other uses is a small price to pay to not have to think about a dryer sheet for the next 2 months (although I'm sure mine won't last that long because of the amount of laundry I do!).
I got the Bounce Free bar, but I imagine the scented bars smell just like the dryer sheets. 
This little bar is great.  No static coming out of my dryer in these dry months! Hooray!
The only drawbacks I can see are 1)as mentioned above, I like to eliminate steps, also mentioned is the fact that I cloth diaper.  You can't use fabric softener or dryer sheets of any kind when washing/drying your diapers.  It is sometimes difficult for this old mind to remember that I have to take the bar out for drying the dipes.  That whole process is a cinch though.  Just slide it and pull it out.  I just have to remember to do that!
And 2) I'm not sure what will happen should we decide not to use the dryer bar in the future.  There is a hard plastic part that seems permanently fixed to my dryer now, and I'm not sure how well it will come out.  You replace the bar by sliding it out of the permanent part and sliding a new bar in, it's just that hard plastic part I don't know about.  Is it a big deal to leave something like that in your dryer forever?  Probably not.  So maybe not a downfall after all!
All in all, I will buy these in the future! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Surgery, Fall, and Dillon...what a combination!

I've been sitting here, trying to figure out what to write..but I can't come up with anything meaningful.
It seems like I'm always just updating on the health of my kids.  My mom told me the other day that she thought going to endless doctor appointments would get old.  I don't know, it's been my life for the last 15 years, it's all I know, it's just life.
But it makes me think maybe it gets old reading about it. 
The only thing I'll say right now is, Matthew's surgery went well, his pressure is, once again, down, and now we just wait again.  Do I think it will work this time?  Not really.  It hasn't in the past.  The doctor said she didn't blame me for being pessimistic about it, she said given his history, it's natural for me to be pessimistic.  I hate feeling that way.  I wish I could just say, "oh yeah, this will be will be great".  I've said that in the past, only to be let down, time and again.  Once bitten, twice shy, and all that.
Fall has come to Ohio.  It is so beautiful.  I find myself wondering if the native Ohioans (is that what they're called?) realize how lucky they are.  There are many places in this country that do not look like this in the fall.  I've lived in plenty of those places.  Anyway, I just love it.  Of course, the leaves are falling faster than we can keep them raked up, and that's not too fun, but it can't all be roses, now can it?
Tomorrow, Dillon turns 13!!  How can this be?? Two teenagers in the house!  Weren't they just born?  They are growing way too fast for me.  I wish time could just slow down a wee bit.  I know I'll blink and they'll be gone, and yet, I am so thankful to have all this time with them.  I know too many people who have lost their children, so I'm not taking a minute for granted.
Well lookie there, I guess I did have something to say. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

What a week!

For the last two weeks, Matt has been TDY.  Last week he was in Rhode Island, this week he was in San Antonio.  I so wish we could have made the San Antonio trip with him, but alas, we were all home while he was enjoying our old family and friends!  Maybe next time!
Last week was pretty uneventful, in fact, I can't really remember what we did.
Oh yes, we started school!  It went really well, for a first week.  Still working out some issues, but this happens every year.  I think we're off to a great start!
This week though, it was another story!
We had appointments all week long.  Good to get them all out of the way at once though, I always say!
Matthew is having surgery on Tuesday, so Monday he had his pre-op appointment.  All went well and he was cleared for surgery.
Tuesday, he went to the dentist and had no cavities.  I was trying to remember, and I don't think he has ever had any cavities.  Not bad for a 15 year old!
Wednesday was the exciting day!
It started early with a radio interview!  Myself and two other moms were asked to be the guests on a radio show.  Our half hour show was about mended little hearts and CHD in general.  We were all nervous, but it was so great to get our stories out there.  We only have 70 some families in our group, and with CHD affecting 1 in 100 children, we know that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Dillon is so funny, because he is convinced this will make me famous!  HAHA!! 
I know it airs in October sometime, but I don't think I can listen to it.  I'd pick apart everything I said!
From there we had to rush to the cardiologist for Zachy and Natalie's check ups.  I didn't really think Natalie would cooperate, since she hasn't ever since her RSV.  She managed to make it through the EKG, but that was it.  The doctor tried to echo her, but she wouldn't have it.  She has a questionable pulmonary vein that we need to keep an eye on, but the doc feels comfortable just retrying in six months.  At that point, if she doesn't cooperate, we'll have to do a sedated echo.  The good news, regarding her, is her rhythm looks great!  By now Zachy's was a mess, so things are looking promising as far as her not needing a pacemaker.
Zachy did great, and for the first time since being paced four years ago, has graduated to appointments once a year!  Go Zachy!!
Thursday, Natalie was supposed to follow up with pulmonology, but she and Emily woke up with high fevers.  Emily was vomiting as well.  Poor girls, they were miserable.  No pulmonology for Natalie! 
Friday was spent relaxing and trying to get well!
Matt gets home late tonight, and I am so looking forward to having him here!  I hate when he is away.  We miss him so much.  Emily woke up this morning and the first thing she said was, "today is the day we get Daddy!  YAY!!"

This coming week will be much calmer, I hope!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Did You Notice?

Did you happen to notice the little ticker over there on the right side of the screen?
The one that says, "we're pregnant again"?
Yep, it's true!  We are beyond thrilled and so looking forward to this new addition to our family.
I'm due March 11.  March is a great month to be born, wouldn't you agree?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Weakness

I've been debating writing this post.  Fear is what has stopped me.  Fear that somehow, if I put this out there, people will think I'm an inferior homeschooler.  However, I promised when I changed the name of this blog, that I would be honest, with hopes that someone could relate and say, "finally, someone struggling with the same thing as me." 
And so, here we go.
My weakness in homeschooling is.....lesson planning.
I hate it.  More than that, I despise it. 
Why?  It makes my life easier.  I do it, even though I hate it, so I know it makes life easier, but still..I hate it.
I hate it because I'm not good at it.
I really, really struggle with it.  Once I get going, it is really ok, and I do it every year, it is just so hard for me to start.
In reality, it should be easy.  You have 100 pages to do in 10 days, you do 10 pages a day.  Simple, right?
You'd think so, but for some reason, when it comes to lesson planning, I freeze.
It is SO hard for me to get past the frozen part.
I have read all kinds of articles on how to lesson plan and taken classes at conferences, and still, I struggle.
I'm not really sure what I'm afraid of.  Is it that if it's written down, and we don't do things on the days I plan for, I feel like a failure?  I feel like we are suddenly behind!  Behind who??  Behind what??  We homeschool for flexibility, so why am I concerned about getting "behind"?
I have planning to do.  I will start tonight.  Maybe.  Ugh!  See!!!  I'm frozen!
So that's my weakness, well one of them, what is yours?

Sunday, September 11, 2011


I know I promised this last week, but the next day our laptop got sick, and we lost so much stuff.  For awhile, there was nothing but a black screen.  Blah.  No fun.  Anyway, things are at least working now, even if all our pictures and files are gone.  :-(  Hopefully, when I hit "publish" this post will work and it won't direct you to a funky site. 

OK, so, without further ado, here we go.

I cannot tell you the amount of times I am asked questions about homeschooling.  I guess people think that since we've been doing it so long, we must be experts. 
The truth is, every single year, we learn more.  Every year, I change things up.  I feel like a newbie, every single year!  AND...I think most homeschoolers would say the same.  We all have the same insecurities, even if we don't admit it.

Let me start at the beginning though. 
Homeschooling is a very personal choice, and not a choice that is right for everyone.
We went into this with much prayer and soul searching. We believe that home is where God wants our children right now.  There are so many reasons for this, but I won't get into them, because it's different for everyone.  If you feel the Lord calling you to homeschool, follow the calling!  If not, then maybe homeschooling isn't the best choice for your family.  If at any point, we feel God is telling us to send them to school, we will.

 We started homeschooling our eldest when he was in preschool.  I was so excited and ambitious.  He is now 15, a sophomore, and still homeschooling.  We have always said we will homeschool for as long as it works for us, committing only to one year at a time.  We homeschool the rest of them as well.  This year we have a sophomore, a seventh grader, a fourth grader, and a second grader.  We also have a 4 year old who will be doing preschool work, and a 1 year old who will be hanging out alongside us.

So what curriculum do we use?  This is such a difficult question to answer.  The answer is different for everyone.  Not just every family, but every child as well.  We have had years where we use a boxed curriculum.   Those years we have used Alpha Omega Lifepacs, or ACE Paces.  We also did a partial year of Sonlight.  I say partial, because this curriculum was most definitely not for us, although some people absolutely love it.  The boxed curriculum was mostly in our early years.  For the last several years, we have been eclectic homeschoolers, taking curriculum from all over.  The one thing that stays consistent is our math.  We use Math U See, and love it. 
This year, with the younger kids, we will be using unit studies.  This is our first year doing unit studies, but I'm pretty excited about it.  They are much more hands on learners than the older two are, so I'm thinking this will be a great fit.  The eldest has his high school courses to take, and the second one will work on some unit studies, but mostly middle school courses. 
Like I said, every year we find something we like, and something we don't like.  It truly is a trial and error thing. 
How do we do it?  This also changes every year as our family grows.  When we have a small baby in the house, we do our schooling when the baby sleeps.  I don't have a strict time schedule, that isn't practical for us.  We also have many doctors appointments.  On those days, we make sure to get math and language arts done.  This is the glory of homeschooling, you start to realize that everything is a learning opportunity, and what is in books is just a small portion of life.  My kids are learning all the time, even if their nose isn't in a textbook.  Therefore, when we can't be around the table, learning math facts, we know that it's ok!  There will always be time for math facts!
A typical day (HAHAHA, that's really funny, there really isn't anything typical in our house, but if there was, this is what it would be!) looks like this:  I have to start my day with prayer, if not, the day falls apart.  Normally, I try to have prayer time with the kids too, but I must admit that sometimes falls to the wayside.  We eat breakfast and do our morning chores.  Again, I don't have set times for anything.  Some days we get started early, and are done with our school early.  Some days we get started late and aren't done till dinnertime.  We just go with the flow!  I then meet with the two eldest and go over what they are doing for the day.  They are independent by this point and can do their own thing.  Naturally, I'm here to help should any problems arise.  During that meeting time the four youngest are playing, after all, play is a child's work!  I then get started with the younger kids.  We sit at a table and start with whatever we want that day, usually we start with math, but not always.  The four year old always wants her own worksheets, and the one year old plays, or colors.  We work on school for awhile(I told you, no schedule!), usually until they start getting antsy.  Since I have mostly boys, this happens often!  At that point, if the weather permits, it's outside to work off some energy!  When they come back in, it's more school, then lunch...unless we started late, then it's lunchtime after playtime.  After lunch, it's back to work.  With the little ones, we can then work until we are done.  The older ones have more work so may need another break.  Although, in my house, they aren't required to sit in one spot until their work is done.  There is lots of movement, so they may not need another break. 
That's a very large nutshell.  Life happens, and like I said, that is what a perfect typical day looks like!
I want to clear up some common misconceptions about homeschooling.  I often hear, "I couldn't homeschool because I'm not organized enough." or "I don't have the patience to homeschool".  I am not organized.  I struggle to be organized, but I just wasn't born that way.  I really try, but usually fail miserably.  It's ok though.  Even with not being the most organized person, my kids are excelling.  Why?  I think because I love them and want them to succeed, so even though it may not be as organized as Miss Olga Organized, it still gets done.  I also am not the most patient person.  I have some children who can be very trying.  I cannot tell you how many days I retreat to my bedroom, on my knees, to regroup.  I tell God that I know we are doing this because it is His will, but that He has to finish the day for me!  I then go back, and we get on with things.  I also remember being yelled at in school, one teacher would through chalkboard erasers at us, we got hacks from the principal!  I know that even if I yell at my kids, they know, without a doubt, that I still love them, and nothing they can do will cause me not to like them. 
It really IS ok to be less than perfect and homeschool!
Oh, before I close, if you are considering homeschooling, the first thing you need to do is look into your local laws.  Every state has different laws and requirements.  The easiest way to do this is by googling it!  Good luck in whatever choice you make, and please, if I left out anything, or if anything isn't clear, leave me a comment.  Like I said, I don't claim to be an expert, but I'll do what I can! 
God Bless!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I'm back!

We got home from our seven week sabbatical yesterday morning.
I learned a lot on this trip.  Mainly that seven weeks is entirely too long to be gone from home!
I have so much to write about.  I'm just so tired and trying to recover.
The first thing that I must do is write a homeschooling entry.  I've promised a couple people I would.
I am going to commit to writing it tomorrow!  Pinky swear!
For now, I need to get the kids ready for bed, but I wanted to let you know I'm back, and hope to be posting more regularly!  How was that for a run on sentence??
I hope you are all doing well and had a wonderful summer!  Fall is in the air here and I am thrilled!  I love fall and missed it sooo much when we were in Texas.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Checking in

We are on vacation! A 7 week vacation! I don't know whose bright idea this was, but it isn't as great as it sounds!
We are out west, visiting family. That part is great.
The traveling and the length of time, not so much.
It's tough living out of suitcases.
We camped on our way out here and hit Yellowstone, Mt Rushmore, and Crazy Horse. All great places to stop, but we also hit the heat wave crossing the country, so it was pretty miserable camping.
But alas, we made it.
Once we got to my mom's, all my kids were able to meet my grandma. She had been living with my mom in her final days. On Sunday, she passed away. She wasn't in any pain the whole time, which is wonderful.
After being at my mom's for a bit, we headed to my in laws. Where we spent a week.
After that, Matt flew out and went home to go back to work.
The kids and I are back at my mom's now, and will stay here a while before heading to my best friend's house.
Then it's back to the in laws, where my dad will come visit.
Shortly after that, Matt will come back. We will do some more visiting then camp our way back home.
Then it's time to start school!
Whew, what a whirlwind.
With everything that's going on, I just haven't been able to bothered even turning on the computer.
So, that's that. Where I am, and where I'm going.
I'll be back into the full swing of things after Labor Day.
Until then, who knows if I'll be updating.
Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

For the Bible Tells Me So

Recently, on a message board I belong to, there was an uproar, involving me.  Actually, more about me.  It seems people on this board are upset about the fact that we are open to more children. 
They said terrible things to me, about me.  They called me selfish, and irresponsible.  They claimed God would never want us to have more kids.  It was ugly.  It is funny that they know exactly what God wants, because as far as I know, the ones who were so ugly, are all atheist.  I wouldn't expect them to have an inkling of understanding about the way we believe.
However, in light of this, I feel the need to explain, again, what we believe, and why.
Let me preface this by saying, I certainly don't have all the answers.  I also know that many do not believe the way we do, and that is fine.  I won't judge you for your decisions, please don't judge us for ours.

We believe that having children is a blessing.
 Psalm 127:3 says: Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.
Why would we deny ourselves God's blessings?  After many years of talking and praying about this specific topic, Matt and I have decided against birth control.  We don't feel like it is our place to decide how many children God wants us to have.  Is this because we just love having a newborn in the house?  No.  Of course we love that, and we love each and everyone of our children, but it is more obedience than anything.  We believe God decides when life is given and taken away.  I know God has given us brains, and I think Him for that, without that two of my children wouldn't be alive today.  I'm sure this seems like a contradiction.  And maybe it is.  All I can tell you, is that after years of prayer and talk, this is the decision that brings us peace.  Which means it is the right decisions for us.

 We believe every person is here for a reason.  God knows us before we are even in our mother's womb.  How can any person, then be formed just because of selfish parents?
Jeremiah 1:5 says “ Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;.."

God knew my children would be exactly who they are.  He knew some would have broken hearts, as much as he knew some would be boys and some would be girls.  Nothing that happens, takes God by surprise.

We believe God has a plan for each one of us.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future
These plans may not fit into our little ideals.  I certainly didn't plan to deal with the things we have dealt with, but God did.  And the plans will prosper us.  We will learn from things we go through and grow our faith.  Everything is in God's hands!  Not ours.  Of course, all of this changes when you aren't a believer, then you leave yourself wide open for Satan to take over, but that's a whole other topic. 
These plans may include something terrible.  They may mean a child doesn't survive.  I can't think of anything more terrible, but I know that God has a plan for everything and everyone. 
Romans 8:28 says :28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose.
It doesn't say some things, it says ALL things.  We may not understand them.  We may not understand why our husband was suddenly killed in a car accident, or why our house burned to the ground killing all our children, but we can rest in the assurance that all things work for good of those who love him.  People always leave off the last part and just say, "all things work together for good" but the Bible is clear that for that to be true, you mus love him and be doing his will.
People also always ask how a good God could allow such suffering in the world.  Romans is a great book to read to learn that while God is faithful and just and loving and kind, there is also the wrath of God.

I feel none of this is making sense....

God loves us.  Every single one of us, and he wants the very best for us.  But there is a spiritual war going on.  Satan and God are at war for our souls.  The bottom line is you are for Him, or you are against Him.  There is no middle ground.
This is getting way off topic.
I'm just trying to show that we absolutely believe that God has a purpose for everyone.  He plans our children, before they are conceived. 
I know that people disagree, and that is OK, it is just the life we feel God is leading us to.  It isn't for everyone.  He has different plans for everyone.  Some may be called to adoption.  Some may be called to have no children, ever.  His plans for us are unique. 
I don't know why God has given us such challenges.  I have faith that on the day I see Jesus face to face, it will all become crystal clear.  That is good enough for me!
I don't think any of this makes us selfish.  I'm not sure how having kids is selfish anyway, it is hard work having kids!  It means sacrificing monetary goods.  It means sacrificing sleep.  It means sacrificing self!  How in the world, is that selfish??
It was also implied that God wouldn't want me to have kids that live the lives my kids live.  Lives involving doctor visits, and tests, and meds.
Again, I don't know why this is the life God has chosen for my kids.  I do know that it is exactly the life they are supposed to have, for whatever reason.  Their lives aren't any less worth living than the "normal" child's.  If you know my family, you can attest to the fact that my kids are happy and so well adjusted.  These people would like to believe that they have a miserable existence, but nothing could be further from the truth!  My children will one day be made whole and live for eternity!  How can there be anything bad about that???

Once again, I'm not judging anyone who thinks differently, not at all, I'm just asking for the same respect in return.  I know our life isn't for everyone, but it is for us.  Please, accept that, and keep your opinions to yourself. :-)

Matthew 19:14
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Monday, July 11, 2011

My How Time Flies

It seems like I just updated my blog.  I was shocked when I looked and saw how long ago it really had been.
We have been crazy busy, just living life.
The weather here is beautiful, and the city is growing on me more and more each day.  I absolutely love how green it is here, and the grass is so soft.  The kids love to go out barefoot, because they can.  The fireflies here are amazing too.  We have woods behind our house and when we go out in the evening and look to the woods, it reminds me of a Disney scene.  Actually, if you've been to DisneyLAND you will know what I mean when I say it reminds me of the bayou scene of Pirates of the Caribbean.  It's pretty quiet and you just see little flashes all over the place.  So neat.
We also discovered these little tiny frogs.  I have never seen anything like it.  They are about the size of our fingertip.
Matt has been trying his hand at gardening.  Because we knew there would be deer in the woods, we didn't want to tear up any of the yard this year, so he planted things in all the flowerbeds, just to see how it goes.  He also planted the vine plants back in the the woods.  The other day, he went out to water those plants and a baby deer went bouncing away.  He was there later too.  He was making his bed in our grass clippings.  Matt must have scared him off though, because we haven't seen him since.  Surprisingly, the deer have only eaten a couple leaves off the grape plants.  The birds are proving to be more of a problem.  As soon as we see any kind of berry, they come by and eat it!  
Moving on!
Last week, we went to a swimming party for the cast of Annie Get Your Gun.  It was fun and so great to see the kids with new friends.  They were sad to see it end.  Someone from the cast is having another party in August, but we won't be here for it.  Boo.  The best thing about these kids is that they keep friending me on facebook.  I love that my kids' friends friend me!  Not that we talk but it's nice to know what kind of kids mine are hanging out with.
Also, last week, we had our end of the year assessments for home schooling.  Here, we either have to do standardized testing, or have a certified teacher look over all our work and determine if the kids are making enough progress.  We went with the teacher and the kids all did great.  It was nice to know that we are doing a good job.  There's always a tiny doubt, when you are schooling where there are no regulations.  So, it was a relief to know that after all these years, I haven't screwed up my kids! In fact, just the opposite!  YAY!!
Finally, this last weekend we had a Mended Little Hearts picnic.  It was so fun, and I absolutely love this group.  I somehow ended up being in charge of the Christmas party, but that's ok.
OHHHH, finally finally....we leave this weekend for a long trip.  We are camping across the country, making the same trip we have made a couple other times, once when Matt and I were first married, and once when we just had 3 boys.  I'm so looking forward to taking all the kids to all the places we have pictures of...Mt Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Yellowstone, etc.  It should be loads of fun!
I hope you are having a great summer!                                                                   

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Nannie and Matthew update

I was sitting down to write this post about Nannie, and realized I haven't updated on Matthew.  Let me do that first.
Matthew saw the doctor last week.  His pressure is creeping back up.  It is 24 right now, up from 12.  That is to be expected.  They dropped him down to one drop, but I don't quite understand why.  She expects his pressure to keep creeping up, so if you expect it to keep going up, why stop a med??  Beats me, but I'm not the doctor.  Anyway, he goes back in three months.  Once it hits the 30s again, she wants to redo the surgery. 
I know this sounds so bad, but it is so frustrating, I just wish they would leave him alone.  We are just buying time till he loses his eye.  I guess any time we can buy is worth it.  It's just hard watching your kids go through this garbage! 
OK so Nannie.  Ever since she had RSV/pneumonia/bronchiolitis in March she has had a chronic cough and runny nose.   They tried antibiotics on her, with no luck.  She's been to the ER where they said she had asthma and needed to see pulmonary.  I know ER docs are worthless and can't be trusted to diagnose anything, so we were just waiting to see pulmonary.
That appointment was today.
The doctor said on her x-ray in May, her lungs were very over inflated.  What the heck does that mean?  I have no idea, probably should have asked!  Anyway, he said that RSV destroys the airway.  I assume the cilia, but again, I didn't ask.  He said that since her RSV was so severe it could take up to two years for her to fully recover from it!  Holy cow, that's a long time!  He commented on how atypical her RSV was, since it hit her so hard and she was already so old.  He obviously doesn't know that my family is pretty atypical! HA!!  He then went on to say he had never heard of siblings with TAPVR and went on and on about how unusual that is.  Really?  Never heard that before!  Hehe! 
So, all of that to say, we are starting her on inhaled meds (pulmocort) two times a day and singulair once a day.  We go back after we get home from vacation in September to see how things are.  At this point, there isn't a stop time for anything.  I guess we play it by ear.
So that's that.  Nothing too exciting, just too long for a status update!!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pulse Oximetry: Why it should be mandatory

August 5, 2003, my beautiful baby boy was born after an uneventful pregnancy and delivery.  When he was born, however, he didn't cry.  I asked over and over, "what is wrong with my baby?"  The answer repeatedly was, "nothing, he is perfect"  and "we just need to get him started".  They slapped his feet, they jiggled him around, they sat him up, laid him down, finally, he let out a weak cry.  Then it was heartier.  Hooray, he WAS perfect.  They bundled him up and gave him to me. 
The nurses and midwife then left the room in order for us to bond with him.
Our family came in. 
When my mom saw him, the first words out of her mouth were, "he's black!  Look at how dark he is"  I looked at her with a weird look on my face.  She went on, "look at his hands, they are so dark"  I told her it was fine, all babies were born with blue hands and feet.  I was seeing him through mother's eyes.  I saw nothing but perfection.
While we were introducing the brothers to Zachary, unbeknownst to us, my step-dad was in the hallway demanding the nurses take him and run tests.  They refused.  They said he was fine.  My step-dad persisted and finally the nurses took him to give him a bath. 
Time went by, and they didn't bring him back to us. 
After what felt like an eternity, the doctor came in to inform us that they had noticed he was blue while bathing him, did a pulse ox test, and found his SATS to be low.  He was placed under an oxygen hood.
No one knew what was wrong with him.  We were told things like, "he was 3 weeks early, his lungs are immature" "he's a big boy, and big boys tend to have wetter lungs" "his lungs are wet, they'll dry out".  They ran test after test.  All were negative.  They started him on antibiotics in case a pneumonia was missed. 
Finally, an echocardiogram was performed, and our world turned upside down.
The important thing is, because of the pulse ox, they knew something was wrong, and he was put on oxygen right away.
Zachary was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect called Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return and an Atrial Septal Defect.  A complex, life threatening heart defect.  The morning after he was diagnosed, he had open heart surgery.
Then thing was, there was nothing to indicate he had a CHD.  No heart murmur, nothing.  Just a low pulse ox.  While we waited for the cardiologist to read the echo, we asked the pediatrician if she thought it was his heart.  She said no, not at all because he didn't act like a baby with a CHD.
Fast forward six years.  I was pregnant with my sixth child.  I had several fetal echoes and was told that her pulmonary veins could be seen and looked great.  I was told over and over that her heart looked great and there was nothing to indicate anything would be wrong.
When she was born she looked so great.  She was breathing so well.  I remember telling her, "you're such a good baby, not even grunting, you'll avoid a NICU stay!"  Later in my room, Matt was holding her, I told him to cover her up, she looked cold.  I look back and realize how silly that was.
Again, they took her for a bath, and didn't bring her back.  After about an hour, Matt went to the nursery to find out what was going on.  The nurse said she thought that Natalie looked dusky so did a pulse ox test.  She had called in the pediatrician because her SATS were low.  When the pediatrician got there, we told him about Zachary.  He did a blood gas test, which came out bad.  An echo was then ordered and it was discovered she had the same defect as her brother.
The interesting thing is how well she did.  The reason babies stay in the hospital for so long after heart surgery is often because of feeding issues.  Because of this they wanted to hold out as long as they could to give Natalie the chance to really learn how to eat in hopes that she wouldn't forget when she was able to eat again.  She was hooked up to monitors and Matt and I commented on the fact that watching the monitors was like watching someone die.
She looked sooo good.  And yet we watched and one day her respiration rate went up.  The next her O2 SATS went down more.  And still she looked good.  She didn't look like a thing was wrong with her.  Finally at six days old, because the monitors said so, the doctors said she needed her surgery that day.  Still, nothing looked wrong.
TAPVR is so often missed at birth.  The babies look fine.  Unfortunately, many TAPVR babies pass away without being diagnosed.
I will never forget the nurse who decided to test Natalie.  In my opinion, she is a huge reason my daughter is here today.
So, what is pulse oximetry testing and what's the big deal?
We've all seen a pulse ox test.  It is the little red light they put on your finger when checking your vitals.  They are measuring the amount of oxygen in your blood.
To do this test in a newborn, costs less than the cost of a bandaid.  Hospitals crank the prices up and insurance doesn't have to pay for it.
 New Jersey has now made pulse ox testing mandatory on newborns 24 hours old.  This means insurance will have to cover this non invasive test.  It doesn't mean that a parent can't deny it, though I'm not sure why they would.
In recent studies they have learned that about a third of one percent of babies tested at 24 hours old had false positive results. 
A pulse ox test won't catch every CHD, but it will catch many. 
I have been reading study after study to put in here, but I'll let you google it.  Just google Pulse Ox screening newborn and you will find that 1 in 15,000 babies will be born with a critical CHD and half of those will die before a diagnosis is made.
People think that a CHD can be caught by listening to the heart.  This is so wrong.  My kids didn't present with a heart murmur.  Many don't. 
We screen our babies for things like hearing loss and PKU without giving it a second thought.  It's just routine.  The false positives from those tests are so much higher.  Hearing tests cost much more than a pulse ox and while hearing loss is devastating, it isn't life threatening.
It is so important that we make this test mandatory.  Insurance companies need to pay for this, and hospitals need to not jack up the price. 
Babies die from detected CHDs, but how tragic that any baby should die from an undetected CHD, especially when a simple test could pick up a problem.  No parent should have to experience this. 
So, what can you do?
Write a letter to your state representative.  Tell them how important this is. 
Sign the petition that I've linked to on the side bar.
And most importantly, if you are pregnant, or ever get pregnant, please demand a pulse ox test on your baby at 24 hours of age. 
Yes, this is long.  But it's personal to me.  Not a single day goes by that I don't thank God that my babies are still here.  I know how easily it could be different.  TAPVR is one of the top 5 defects that isn't detected at birth.  I am just so, so thankful that people had the sense to perform a pulse ox on them.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Matthew's Surgery

I totally forgot to blog about Matthew's recent surgery.  My dad has been galavantin around the world, and his recent comment on my status update reminded me that I should have updated him, and you.
In case you are new to my blog, Matthew is my eldest.  He is 14.  He was born with a congenital cataract which was removed at one month of age.  Along with the cataract, his lens was removed.  Keep in mind this was 14 years ago.  His eye has some other issues and for reasons beyond our control, he went nearly blind in his right eye.  By nearly blind I mean he can see shadows.  I'm sure that, had he been born now, things would have turned out differently.  We try not to think about that.  We did the best we could.  We saw an expert in the field and did all we could, 14 years ago. 
Have I mentioned it was 14 years ago??
Anyway, due to the absence of a lens, he developed glaucoma in that eye. 
Because he has almost zero vision in that eye, anything we do is just to keep him comfortable.
He has been fighting this for years now, and nothing we do seems to work.
The last time he saw the doctor, his pressure was an all time high, 48.  Normal pressure is in the teens.
It was decided that we would try a laser surgery. 
He has had this same exact surgery before.  It brought his pressure down to the upper teens.  A month later it was back to the 30s.
He uses 3 medications to try to keep the pressure down, but it obviously doesn't do too much.
The first time he had this surgery was pie.
This time was a different story.
The doctor told me Matthew would be out for the surgery, which we took to mean general anesthesia.  Matthew was fine with that.  This was surgery number 12 or 13 (I need to write them down so I have that info!!) and he is used to them gassing him to sleep, then starting the IV.
When we got to the pre-op holding area, they talked about starting an IV.  Matthew was so nervous.  We said we preferred he get the gas first.  Then they explained that they would just be doing IV sedation this time around.  No big deal, just the fear of the IV.
He did great and said it wasn't that bad.  I was so glad they gave him lidocaine before doing it though.
They took him back, he remembers a bit, but not much. 
It wasn't long and he was done. 
By the time we got to the recovery room he was awake and loopy.  It was hilarious, and we all laughed at him.  How mean, huh?  But, in our defense, he was so funny, and he laughed with us!
OK, so the next day, no pain.  Surgery was on Tuesday and Friday we headed to Missouri to see my brother-in-law graduate grad school.  Graduations was Saturday, and there was a tree outside that called way too hard to my boys to climb it.
Up they went.  Matthew hung upside down, felt a "pop" and was in major pain.  He said the pressure was terrible.  We got home and he laid down and didn't want to move.  We tried a cool compress, but the feeling of anything touching it was excruciating.
So here we are, middle of nowhere, Missouri, with no clue what to do.  Oh, and that dad who was galavantin?? He's an ophthalmologist but was unreachable.  Just our luck!
We gave him Tylenol throughout the weekend, and he was able to function.  Oh, we also took it upon ourselves to increase his drops for pressure, because he said it was pressure pain.  His eye also got very, very bloodshot after this.  We knew it was supposed to get red, but it hadn't until that moment.
Monday finally came and we put a call into his doctor.  Of course, we had to leave a message.  The first call back said we needed to find an ophthalmologist and get him in asap.
Again, we were in the middle of nowhere! 
As we started searching the phone book and trying to figure out what to do, his doctor called back.
We talked about everything and she told me what drops to increase to every other hour.
That did the trick and brought the pain down.
The white of his eye turned yellow and you could see every blood vessel, bright red.
He had pain until we got home and finally saw the doctor.  A week after surgery. 
She looked and said everything looked great.  We have no idea what the "pop" could have been, or why the pain was suddenly so excruciating.
The big news is his pressure was down to 12.
This is great news, but I find it hard to get excited.  The doctor says we will be cautiously optimistic.  I just figure when we go back in a couple weeks, it will be creeping up again.  I would LOVE to be surprised.
He continues to have pain off and on, which I don't understand.  If it looks so good, why is it hurting him so much?
Also, something that is perplexing to me, that I didn't think about until after we left...Matthew has a thickened cornea, so they usually say the actual pressure is about 10 points lower.  Does this mean his pressure is 0-2??  And is that bad?  He keeps telling me his eye feels squishy.  That freaks me out. 
A danger of this surgery is doing too much of the laser and actually drying the eye up.  I'm praying that isn't the case here!
So, time will tell.  I think the pain is getting better every day.  He continues to amaze me.  My children are the strongest people I know.  Matthew never, ever complains about all he has been through.  I am so very, very proud of the man he is becoming.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Family Time

I feel the need to blog.  I hate when I slack. 
It's just...I don't know...I get feeling a little down. 
I am lonely.  I have made a couple friends here, but, hmm, I just don't know...I'm lonely.
Maybe I'm just hormonal.  Who knows. 
OK, onto a different topic, cause I could go on and on about how I feel so disconnected from the world lately, but that would be boring.
Course this might be boring too.  Oh well.
We went to Missouri last weekend.  Oh my, it was a loooong drive. 
We went to see my brother-in-law get his doctorate in Physical Therapy.  We are all so proud of him.  I know they are so glad that he is finally done with school so they can get on with living!  He has a job all lined up in Washington, so as I type they are busy cleaning and packing and getting ready to hit the road.
The rest of my in laws already live in Washington and they came down for graduation. 
It was so great to see everyone.  The last time we saw my mother-in-law and father-in-law was when Nannie was in the hospital having open heart surgery!  We've come a long way since then.
We hadn't seen my sister-in-law in three years. 
We had two nights that we played Minute to Win It games.  That was lots of fun. 
We're heading out to Washington this summer and I'm looking forward to a rematch!
The cousins all had a blast together, and I hope they all remember last weekend with fond memories.  They don't see each other often, so I hope the times they do see each other will stand out in their minds forever.  If not, we have lots of pictures.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ohio has been rough on us

Or maybe it's the year 2011..I'm not sure.
We arrived here November 19.  I suppose things were good until January, so maybe I should be blaming the year instead of the state.
After Tuesday we will be able to say that since arriving here we've had two surgeries.
We've had an eleven day hospitalization.
And we've also had three emergency room visits.
We will be familiar with five separate hospitals.
Something is so wrong with this picture, people!
We have also been involved with three separate groups that are supposed to be fun, and have been so disorganized it isn't funny. 
It has been a crazy place (year?) for us. 
There have been some good things here, I suppose.
There was snow.  Lots of snow.
There has been rain.  Lots of rain.
Now it is green.  Lots of green. 
I have met a few people that I think will be great friends.
The mended little hearts group seems to be great, and active.
We have great new doctors (I was so worried about this before we moved).
We bought a house (and now pray the market turns around before we have to leave so it doesn't end up being the biggest mistake we have ever made!)
Yes, things have been bad, but they have also been good.
I so badly want to love it here.  Hasn't happened yet, but we are still new here....right?  Six months is nothing.  Although, it's half a year, and if it's the year that has been bad, then it is a very long time.
I hope my love for the state happens soon!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Crazy Busy

The problem with waiting for a while in between posts is I never know where to start again.
We have been so crazy busy that I could make multiple entries, and maybe I will.  Or not.  We'll see how things go.
Last week we, and by we, I mean me, decided that we would have a week of no TV, no iTouch, no DS, etc. 
We also downloaded the geocaching app on my phone last week.  It also happened to be the week that the weather finally warmed up.
We spent last Sunday traipsing around finding caches.  It was a lot of fun, and I think it will help us learn where things are here.
Throughout the week, we stopped at multiple caches. 
It was also a great week for playing at the park.  We spent a lot of time at the parks this week.
What we didn't do was a whole lot of school.  Shame on us.  It was just too nice to be inside.  I'm thinking school is about to end.  We are at stopping points for everything except math.  And I'm the boss, we can stop math when I say.  Hehe.  Besides all that, geocaching is educational!
Today, we decided to add Letterboxing.  We spent a good chunk of the afternoon walking around.
Our first letterboxes were a series of 4 that told a bunch of history of the town near us.  It was cool, we went around the cemetery where many of the founding fathers of the town are buried.  When we were done, we checked out the first buildings in the town.  Very cool.
I have always thought I wanted to explore cemeteries.  There are so many stories buried in cemeteries.
I changed my mind today. 
The final letterbox was right beside one of the baby cemeteries there.  I wandered.  Matt told me not to, but I just couldn't help it. 
So much heartache.  I shed a few tears for all the lost babies.  All the hurting parents.  I cannot imagine.  There was a stone that simply said, "Williams Twins".  Another was for twin, one lived 2 days, the other 7.  Can you imagine?  Losing two babies??  At the same time?  There was a family plot in another part, from the 1800s.  There were two stones for babies.  They were both a year old.  They passed about ten years apart.  Still,  the pain, ugh. 
I wandered and couldn't help but wonder how many of the babies had passed from CHDs.  The area we were in were all babies from about the 1950s-1960s.  Surgeries weren't what they are now.  I don't think they were even repairing TAPVR at that point.  How many babies died from this horrible thing?  It was all just too close for comfort.
Anyhow,  we then roamed downtown looking for geocaches.  We ended up along the bike path.  We covered several miles today.  We only found two caches, but it was so fun.
We have waited so long for lovely weather in which to spend time outside in.
OK, I am rambling.  We also went to the doctor last week.
Matthew saw the new glaucoma doctor.  His pressure was higher than ever before.
He is having surgery on Tuesday.  This one has hit me hard.  It was so unexpected.  And while Matthew doesn't really complain, he has started saying that this week is going to be awful and not fair.  We try to be upbeat, but he is right.  It all stinks and I wish I could take it all away from him.
On Friday we are headed to my brother-in-laws graduation.  He is getting his doctorate in physical therapy.  We are all so proud of him and are looking forward to seeing all the family. 
However, I am so overwhelmed with what needs to be done this week.  My house is in such disarray right now, and honestly, we are going to be going, going, going. 
It will all work out, I just feel way overwhelmed.
I guess I decided to write it all out right now, and if you are still around, thanks for reading! 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

We've been learning all about the history of Mother's Day.  Anna Jarvis was the founder (is that what she would be???) of Mother's Day.  She never intended for it to be so commercialize and never wanted people to say, "happy mother's day".  She intended for it to be a day for moms to rest and for kids to give flowers and make cards.  When she realized it was become so commercial, she actually started a petition to undo mother's day. 
She was put in a sanitarium and died shortly after.  Interestingly, all her bills were paid for by the card and flower companies.  It is thought that they put her there to shut her up.  If mother's day had gone away, they would have lost a bundle!
Anyway, it is all so interesting, and every time I say 'happy mother's day' today, I feel a bit odd!
Nevertheless, happy mother's day to all the wonderful moms out there.  I hope you were given that day off!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

oh blah dee, oh blah dah, life goes on....

 I was on such a roll!!  What happened? 
I ran out of things to say.  Maybe.  It just seems so unimportant.
I'll update you on the kids though!  Medical updates, lucky you!
OK first up...Dillon.
Took him to the orthopaedist.  Turns out his funny bone is bruised.  Since it's a nerve, it will take a little while to heal and to stop hurting.  It will be fine though.  While there, they talked about the abnormality they saw at the ER.  They told us at the ER that the abnormality was where the pain is.   However, it wasn't.  It is right at his joint.  They took an x-ray of the other arm, and it also has the same abnormality.  He is actually missing part of his elbow bone, and the cartilage.  This is on both elbows.  Right now, it doesn't cause him any problems, but in the future, it could cause catching and pain.  Time will tell!
Zachy.  You didn't know there was an issue with Zachy.  There isn't.  Phew.  The doctor got an alert from his transmission saying a lead wasn't working.  We had to go in to make sure it hadn't come loose and wasn't floating around in his heart!  Turns out, it was a glitch in the system, and his lead is working just fine.  Thank goodness!!
Matthew saw the ophthalmologist the other day.  We really, really don't like him.  I could go on and on about why we don't, but that's pointless.  Anyway, the good news is he decided he would refer us to the glaucoma doctor off base, and won't be seeing Matthew anymore.  I hope we like the glaucoma doc!! 
Let's see...I think that's it.  We have dentist appointments on Friday, which is always so much fun.  Ha!!  Actually, my kids love the dentist, so it's not bad. 
Other than all these appointments, we have been so busy with school and swimming and play practice.  Zachy passed to the next level in swimming.  He had his first lesson on Tuesday.  He moved from the therapy pool, to swimming laps in the big pool.  He really struggled and his teacher told me he really lacks the endurance at this point to make it across the pool.  Hopefully, he overcomes this quickly!
Collin chose not to do swimming lessons this month.
Emily is in her same class, doing so great.  I'm so proud of her, and I think she'll be passing pretty soon.
OK, I'm done rambling.  Maybe I'll come up with something good to write soon!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Time Management Skills

Time management skills. 
Somehow I missed the class on this!
If I took the class, I failed miserably.
Most of the time I fly by the seat of my pants.
When it comes to homeschooling, people have told me I need to schedule everything.
To me, part of the glory of homeschooling is not having to have a schedule.
I understand the value of a schedule, but since having kids my life has not been scheduled. 
Actually, our lives are normally scheduled around doctor appointments, and just life in general.
The problem, for me, comes with cleaning and schooling.
You see, I will tend to explain something to the kids, then as they get busy, I get busy doing housework.
Often though, I get sidetracked by the housework and it takes me a while to get back to the school work.
The funniest thing is you really can't tell any of that by the looks of my house.
Lately though, I've changed things up.  Gone are the workbooks.  Gone are most textbooks.  We are learning by living life.  OK, I'm using unit studies, but I can see us veering from prewritten studies soon. 
For example, we are currently learning about gardens.  Involved in this study is learning about Monet, George Washington Carver, and different types of gardens.  That's just been this week, and it's a four week study.  Anyhow, today I took the kids to the arboretum.  We sprawled under the crab apple trees and the kids did their copy work (vocab words and words of wisdom).  We discussed different types of gardens, and I read a chapter of The Secret Garden (our current read aloud).  We then spent the afternoon tromping from the rock garden, to the rose garden, to the water garden, to the shrub garden, to the edible plant garden, and on and on.  Matt met us there after work and we went to pizza and discussed what we would need to grow in a pizza garden. 
It was so, so great, and I'm sure the kids will remember more about this than reading about gardens in a book.  We have made plans to go back throughout the spring and summer to watch the plants grow and change.
All of this is to say, it was really hard for me to leave the house.
I knew if we left, I couldn't switch the laundry.  I couldn't do the dishes.  I couldn't pick up anything.
I'm learning that the housework isn't important.  The relationship with my kids, and them learning is far more important.
The problem is, while everyone has chores, the house has been pretty neglected this week!
I just really need to get my time management skills polished!
Love this poem, though, because it is so true.

Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth

empty the dustpan, poison the moth,

hang out the washing and butter the bread,

sew on a button and make up a bed.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?

She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I've grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue

(lullaby, rockabye, lullaby loo).

Dishes are waiting and bills are past due

(pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).

The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew

and out in the yard there's a hullabaloo

but I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo.

Look! Aren't her eyes the most wonderful hue?

(lullaby, rockabye, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,

for children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.

So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.

I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Quick Update on Dillon

I decided to take Dillon to the ER. 
It was a pretty inconclusive night.
After reading the x-ray, they said that there was an "abnormality" at the spot where he is having pain, but they can't determine if it is from this injury or not.  He has to see an orthopaedist.
I just think it's kind of funny.  You have pain in a very specific place, and there is something abnormal about that bone, you'd think it would mean this is what was causing the pain.
What do I know though, I'm no doctor!
I'll keep you posted after we see the ortho.

What to do, What to do...

I normally wouldn't blog about this, but I am, just because.
Friday, at play practice, the kids were playing on the playground equipment.  Apparently, Dillon (12) fell off of something and hit his elbow on the corner of something.  On what, I'm not sure.
Never did I hear about it at practice.
Occasionally, I seem to remember him saying, "oh, my funny bone hurts".  Never anything major.
Today he starts telling me that since hitting it Friday it has hurt him a lot.  He says every time he bumps it on something it hurts.  I tried to touch it and he about jumps out of his skin.
He told me that he will wake up in the night and try to sit up but it hurts and he cries.
Again, I've never heard about this.
There is puffiness where it hurts.  Not a ton, but you can see it.
I had planned to take him to the ER (the pediatrician won't see them if they think it could be broken, the choice is the ER or nothing), but then he does things like run around and act like nothing is wrong.
Do we just let it be and say that since we haven't heard anything about it, it must not be that bad?
I just don't know that I want to spend my night in the ER, for nothing.
In the end, I'm sure I'll take him, just to be sure.
And that ends my totally pointless blog post for today!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Something I will Never Understand

Last night, I went outside my comfort zone and went to a Thirty-One party.  It was out of my comfort zone because it was with people I didn't know very well.
The party itself was great, and I'm hosting my own party.  If you'd like to order anything, you can do so here.
The thing that struck me odd was a comment made flippantly to me.
I was sitting next to a nice lady, and we chatted off and on.  I honestly do not think she meant anything by this, it is just her perception, and it's ok.  I wasn't offended, it is just common and I don't get it.
Someone commented on the fact that we were both military wives.
She asked me what branch we were in.
I told her the Air Force.
She then commented that she doesn't like Air Force wives.
Umm, ok. 
She didn't seem to mind me, and is coming to my party, ha! 
It is common though. This battle between the forces.
She was talking about how needy AF wives are, and that they can't handle their husband's being gone for any amount of time.
While I'm grateful that Matt isn't deployable, there have been many times during our marriage that we have been apart for long periods of time.  Months, even.
I know she wasn't specifically talking about me, as she knows nothing about me, but it just felt weird being clumped into this stereotype.
I like to think I'm stronger than the type of wife she was talking about.
I have only lived in base housing once, and was surrounded by other AF officers.  This woman is a Navy wife and lives in AF base housing, so she is surrounded by AF wives.  Maybe this is where these feelings come from.
I don't like it.  I don't mind the friendly banter that inevitably happens when the enlisted members find out they are from different forces.  It's the "we are so much better than you because we are Navy(or Marines, or Army)"  that I hate.
As I see it, we're all in this together.  As wives, we all have the fear of losing our husbands (OK, maybe not me since, like I said, Matt isn't deployable).  We all deal with deployments (most of us!). 
We're all in this together!  Let's get along and instead of not liking me because I'm an AF wife, how about supporting me because I'm walking the same walk as you?
I will never understand.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

I Won't Be Ready

Our eldest two are away at a Pathfinder lock in tonight.
I miss them!
They won't even be gone 24 hours, but it just isn't the same without them here.
I am going to be in big trouble when they grow up and begin to leave.
People have told me that when it's time for them to leave, I'll be ready.
I don't see it.  I can't imagine ever being ready for them to leave.
I genuinely enjoy being with my kids.

Of course there are times when they drive me up the wall, but overall, I love having them around.
It just so happens that I have great kids, so it's easy to love having them around. ;-)

I had an old friend tell me the other day that I am crazy because I am with my kids all day, every day.
That makes me sad.  Why does it make me crazy?
Oh well!  I'll be crazy!
Hurry up Noon on Sunday...I miss my kids!

Friday, April 15, 2011


We all know how much I love the Duggars, and I have truly learned a lot from them.  When Jim Bob and Michelle spoke at the Homeschool Convention, they spoke to my heart. 
I'm always telling Matt that such and such a book said this, and he says, "and how many kids do they have?"  Almost always, the author has less kids than us, and then Matt comments that I could write the book and have more knowledge than the author.  This may be true, who knows.
The Duggars, are the exception!  They know a lot about raising kids!  They have been here...right where I am!  And survived!
I have taken so much from them and applied to our lives.
One thing we have applied is a loose buddy system.  The Duggars have an older child paired with a couple younger children.  They are buddies.  The older one helps the younger ones throughout the day.
We started to realize that we need a buddy system, or else I'd be spending all my time tending to the needs of the little girls. 
We have assigned the boys a rotating schedule to be Emily's buddy.  Her buddy buckles her in the car seat, helps her get breakfast, helps her put on her shoes, and any other little thing that she may need.  Of course, big stuff like kissing boo boos and the sort come to mommy. 
The boys usually love the system because it makes them feel important and yet since it isn't every day, they don't get bored with it.
Emily takes this very seriously and won't let anyone unbuckle her in the car except her buddy, and if you are her buddy that day, you lose your name.  She simply calls you, 'buddy'.  It's awfully cute.
The other day, she was wanting some toaster waffles from breakfast.  I was busy tending to Nannie and getting ready to start laundry.  I asked her if she could find her buddy and ask him to help her with that.
She said, "Collin's my buddy, but you're my best friend!  I need YOU to do it". 
Point taken...I got her the waffles.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I hate feeling like this

Everyone once in awhile, I get to feeling so down about the CHD world.
I know I've written it before, but it just kills me that so many people deal with this.
I know that writing about it can't make it go away.  I just hate it so, SO bad.
Last night I was thinking that if you want job security, you should become a pediatric cardiologist.  There will never not be a need for them.
At the YMCA I am constantly scanning everyone's chest.  I never see any scars.  I wonder why.
I scan because even though I hate all of this, I'm always desperately looking for someone who has been where I have.  I need someone I can connect with.  Someone who understands what it's like to have gone through this hell.  To live this life.
I have loads of CHD friends on line, but I really need someone in real life.
Tonight is my second meeting with the local Mended Little Hearts group.  Could you please pray for me?  That I might meet someone who I can share my fears and joys with.  I would so appreciate it.
I know we'll be ok, and I will survive all of this.  I just need to be lifted up in prayer once in awhile.  :-)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

When Mama Ain't Happy,Ain't Nobody Happy

Today was a grumpy day.
I have no idea why, but most of the day, things just rubbed me wrong.  Kids kept touching me, and everyone wanted something.
Really, no different than any other day.  I was just grumpy.
And as the day went on, I noticed that everyone around me was getting grumpy.
All day I thought, 'my poor kids don't deserve the grumpy mom they got this morning'.  I just could not shake it.
While I was thinking about how to get out of the funk, I was hit with the need to share with all you moms something that has taken me years to figure out.
I've been doing this mom thing for almost 15 years, and it's just now hitting me.
We've all heard it.  We've all said it.  But do we all believe it?
When mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.  For some reason I have always just assumed that was just a cute little saying.  Then I started to really pay attention.  Literally, within the last few months.
Moms, I challenge you, the next time you are grumpy, look around you.  See what happens.
When we start looking like this

Pretty soon everyone is looking like this

WE HAVE POWER!!  These little people react to how we act toward them.  I know, this is a total 'duh' moment, but honestly, think about it.
Nine times out of ten, if your kids are grumpy and fighting, all you have to do is take a hard look at yourself.  Have you been grumpy?
Now, don't get me wrong, I know there are those days when you try your hardest to be happy and your kids are still bickering and whining and just being little grumps.  I get that...believe me, I do.  I still think though, that if you went to the beginning of the moods, you could figure out what happened.
When your darling little child said she didn't want to wear the outfit you had picked out for her, did you react kindly or was there some irritation in your voice?  I know for me, I can answer with a fake smile on my face and some an irritated tone in my voice.  Kids are smart though, they can see right through that.
That one event may set the tone for the rest of the day.  Then she gets more whiny, and you get more grumpy.  It's a vicious cycle!
We must continually remind ourselves that these little people are the biggest blessings we could hope for.  Not a single one of us deserves them, and yet, we are given them. 
So I'm challenging you, and me, to take a step back when kids are getting the grumpies.  How are we acting?  Is it time to take a timeout?  For you, just leaving the room my help.  I know for me, I have to go and pray.  It's the only thing that helps.  Let's remember how quickly this time goes and how happy these little ones make us!
~A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
~Proverbs 17:22
*Don't ask about this picture.  It's awful, I know.  It was taken on the cruise and we are all being silly and making mean faces.  It's the best I could come up with, because I don't normally take pictures of myself being grumpy.
Emily on the other hand.....

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mission Impossible

Last Sunday, the weather finally warmed up, so we took the kids to the Cincinnati Zoo.
Whenever we do things like this, I feel the need to try and get a great picture of all the kids together.
My mother-in-law and my brother-in-law's wife (I had to say it that way so you can understand the two are only related through marriage, so this is nothing genetic!) are amazing photographers.  They just have this eye for good pictures.  They also have this ability to pose everyone just so.
I want to be able to do that.
Except I wasn't blessed with that eye.
I also don't possess the patience that it takes.
This doesn't stop me from trying.
I would try to say that my issue is the sheer numbers I'm working with, but I'm sure they'll get amazing pictures of my kids the next time we see them.
Here's an example of my lack of skill.  I didn't actually take these photos, Matt did, but I was the one who threw them all up there together and should have gotten them arranged in a good manner.
At first glance, you may think this is a picture of the boys.  And I must admit, it's a decent pic of the boys, but look down low.  Miss Emily is there, barely!  What happened???

Everyone look here!  Decent smiles.  Except those pesky bugs must have been getting Dillon!  Oh and who is Emily looking at?
I then decided that since everyone was acting semi human, I would add Natalie.  I had been wearing her, so she wasn't happy about leaving me and going to Dillon.  Zachy, however, finds this amusing. Emily almost looks like a floating head.

She was trying so hard to get out of Dillon's arms.  At least Emily has a body here.

After lots of me jumping up and down and making faces and crazy noises, we got a halfway decent shot.  Too bad Nan isn't looking forward. 
That's it, that's a s good as it gets!  How sad is that??
Dillon seems to have a pretty good eye though!  He caught this fish.

Perhaps it will be our Christmas card photo this year!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Well shoot, I don't think I'm too helpful!

I was just looking at my referrals and the phrases searched most to get to my blog.
The top three searches are, TAPVR, TAPVR girl, and TAPVR mom.  Strangely, the next is TAPVR Natalie Grace.  I have no idea if there is another Natalie Grace out there with TAPVR, or if someone we know uses that phrase every time they come here.
It's odd though, because I searched those phrases, and went through several pages of TAPVR, and TAPVR girl and didn't come across my blog.  TAPVR mom brought me up on the second page, I think.
But here's the thing...I don't think I'm that helpful to someone searching for TAPVR.  When you are searching TAPVR, you are wanting information.  Where's mine?  UGH!  Maybe I need to link to some of my pages for that desperate TAPVR searcher.  But what?  Have I ever said something that made you say, "ahh, yes, now I get it"  or, "thank goodness I read that, now I have hope!" 
I don't think so.  I think it's because, I don't know..I was going to say I don't talk about it that much, but maybe I do. 
If you were desperate to find TAPVR info, what would you be looking for at my blog?  Has anything I've written ever stood out to you?
The whole purpose of me blogging about CHD is to help others have hope, but I really don't think I've ever done that. 
Enlighten me!  Tell me what to post!
Wow...spellcheck hates TAPVR and do I!!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Happy Family

Matt got home in the middle of the night last night. 
We are a happy family.
Add to that, the weather is gorgeous today, and I think we are headed out to Cincinnati to the zoo.
Matt is handing out goodies for the convention.
Kids are so easily thrilled.   The kids got devices to put on their ipods, between the ipod and headphones, that keeps the sound at a safe level.  They all got mints, and pens, and notepads.

I got a magnet and the best thing of all..two chocolate ears!!  WOOT!
Zachy is currently having an earmold made of his ear.  Silly kid.
The highlight of Matt's week was seeing the Blues Brothers.

Alright, the hats weren't really from the Blues Brothers concert, though he did see them in concert, as well as Collective Soul.  The hats are from a roarin 20s party the first night there..I just think they look Blues Brothery! 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Whew..I am pooped!

Matt has been gone this week.  Partying it up in Chicago.  OK, not really.  He is in Chicago at an audiology convention though.  He left last Sunday, and a little bird (named Matt) told me that he would be home late, late, late tonight, instead of tomorrow.  Hooray!
I tell ya though, we sure do run around a lot.  Everyone is always so concerned about the socialization of homeschooled kids.  It's funny though, because every homeschool family I know will tell you we have the opposite problem.  We have someplace to be, that involves at least 2 kids, every weekday. 
It does make the time go fast when Matt is gone though!
I have to add here, that it amazes me how Matthew steps up and takes the roll of Man of the House, when Matt is gone.  He is growing up way too fast for me.  Yesterday, when I was prepping the kids for what would happen if the government shut down, he said, "how old do you have to be to get a job at McDonald's?  I'll find a job somewhere!" 
Thankfully, as we all know, the government didn't shut down and I don't have to be responsible for selling my kid out for child labor.
So today was particularly exhausting.
I think all the running just caught up with me.
The day started out good, we got up and were on time to church.
In Sabbath school, Emily was a one man show.  Boy that girl likes to be the center of attention.  She was tired though, and by the time church was over she was melting down at regular intervals.
We were in the mother's room during the service, and I hope my kids got something out of it, because I dozed off...shhh, don't tell the pastor!  I couldn't help it, it is just so dim and quiet in there, and the chair was so comfy, and the baby was sleeping in my arms, perfect dozing scenario!
After lunch, Em, Collin, and Zachy went with some friends who took them to Adventurers for me.  Thank you, Tricia! 
The other kids and I came home to discover the dog ate something that didn't agree with his tummy.  Let's just say, a dog with the runs that is not potty trained is NOT fun. 
We put him outside, but it had been pouring earlier and he became a big mud ball. 
Matthew gave him a bath, and we tried to avoid him becoming another mud ball by keeping him in.
Unfortunately, he still needed to use the yard, and used the carpet instead.  As I'm cleaning this all up, Nannie got her brother's toothpaste.  She had been into one thing after another, and for a brief moment I almost let her keep the toothpaste, but came to my senses!  She was a sticky mess and the floor was a poopy mess. 
I did learn today that Rockin Green laundry detergent rocks at getting poop stains out of carpet!!  Good to know! 
Now it's pizza time, and Collin just pulled the pizza out of the oven, only to drop it on the floor!  I guess that's my cue to get back to being a mom!
It's movie not, Voyage of the Dawn Treader is up tonight!  We'll see if I can keep my eyes open.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Has Spring Finally Sprung?

For the last five years that we were in Texas, I have missed spring and fall something fierce. I was so excited to move someplace where there was four seasons.
Only when we got here it was winter. We got her in November and shortly after we arrived, it started snowing. This was fine and dandy for, oh, about a month or two. But then it didn't stop. It just kept on being cold, and snowing.
The first day of spring came and went.
As people were reminding me that I had wanted four seasons, all I could think was that winter was overstaying it's welcome!
I still think that! Just the other day it was spitting snow. In April for Pete's sake!
Finally, trees are starting to flower. And they are gorgeous! They don't have these kind of trees in Texas! Most of the trees still don't have leaves though, and I can't wait to see the all green and leafy.
I'm anxiously waiting to see what will come of the tree in our front yard. I was certain it was a magnolia tree, but all the magnolia trees are blooming and ours barely has buds. Now that I see them blooming I realize the branches look different. No idea what it is though.
I was so hoping for some daffodils or tulips, but apparently the old owners never planted those, so no flowers in my yard. BOOOOO!!!
Our back yard is wooded, and I am just so anxious to see what the future holds.
Meanwhile, the house across the street has a tree with beautiful white flowers on it. I look at it and remind myself that spring has indeed sprung.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Keepin' it new motto

If you have been with me for awhile, you've seen this blog go through many name changes.
After having Nannie, I needed to change it from Five Little Monkeys to something else. I was really struggling with things, and really needed to just write. No creative juices were flowing, so I just threw "my journey" up in the title bar. Since then, I've been wanting the perfect blog name.
I was leaning towards a name like,"showers of blessings" quoting scripture. Mainly because behind everything I do is a great love and faith in my Heavenly Father. I wanted this to come across the minute you came to my blog. My faith has made me who I am.
There have been times when I thought I'd just do a CHD blog and give it some clever CHD name. However, CHD is only a small part of our lives. Even though it may seem, because of blog posts, that CHD rules our lives, it truly doesn't. What you see here is me dealing with it the best I know how, in hopes that maybe someone else will be able to relate, and know they aren't alone.
Fast forward to last weekend. The Midwest Homeschool Convention. I'd say this convention was life changing for me. Which is odd to me, because really, it was a homsechool convention, right??
God gives us what we need to hear though, when we need to hear it. I went to the convention with plans of sitting through meetings on unit studies, planning for college, and educating the child who may not learn as easily as the rest of them! And I did!! All except the last one.
I also sat through one by Todd Wilson, called Lies homeschooling moms believe. It was all about the perfect homeschool family. You know, the one that does NOT exist! It's a facade! All of it. We all struggle! We all do the best we can. And we all fall short of our own expectations. All the while, we think miss Susie down the street doesn't struggle, that she has hot gourmet meals on the table every night (and afternoon and morning!!), and that her house is immaculate.
There is no such person!
I have spent way too much time envying miss Susie. I have longed to be the person who has it together. I have felt like a failure!
That's the thing. Those of us who refuse to let the facade down, are actually a discouragement to others!
I'm not just talking homeschooling here. I'm talking every aspect of life.
I have been told, more times than I can count, what a great mom I am and that so and so has no idea how I deal with all I deal with. Let's be real....I have never, not one day, felt like a great mom. I know my shortcomings. And while we're talking about this, let me assure you, I am not the strong person you think I am. I am weak. I deal with what I deal with because I have no choice. Given the choice though, I would never choose to deal with what I have. And I praise God for holding us up through the rough times. It's only through Him that we have survived!
As I was vacuuming my stairs today (something I only do when they get very, very nasty) it hit me...I don't want to be a discouragement to anyone. I want to be an encourager.
And so, I need to KEEP IT REAL! I hope to turn this blog in a different in which you can find encouragement at.
For some reason, people tend to think that those of us with larger than normal size families have it all together. I plan to debunk that.
I don't want you to waste any of your time envious of some facade.
I hope you'll enjoy this new turn, and that you'll stick around with me as we take this journey together!!
As a side note, I'd LOVE to do a revamp of my blog to reflect the new Keepin' it Real blog. If you know a great blog designer, who designs cheaply, please let me know!
Keep it Real everyone!
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