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Living with a colicky baby can be an intense emotional experience.  Your baby is crying and crying and crying…and you can’t seem to do anything to make your precious new baby feel better.  You’re worried.  Being a parent wasn’t supposed to be this hard!  Maybe something is wrong with your baby…there must be!  All that crying must be a sign that something is wrong, right?

I’ve been there.  So far, we’ve lived through it once, and now we’re living through it a second time (though not nearly as bad as the first).  That’s my first piece of advice…take heart, you will live through it, even though it may not seem like it right now!  Our first go round was with our oldest child, Bear.  We evaded the dreaded colic with three more babies.  Now, with the fifth, it seems that we must do it again.  

Crying and colic...take heart, you will live through it, even though it may not seem like it… Click To Tweet

What is colic?

A very young baby (less than 5 months old) that cries a lot, typically for a few hours at a time, and usually at approximately the same time every day is said to have colic.  Often, they cry like they’re in pain, and pump their legs up and down and pass gas. They arch their backs and pull away from anyone who tries to hold and soothe them.

Sometimes, your doctor can pinpoint a cause, such as reflux, but often, there is nothing apparently wrong with these babies.  Try telling that to a parent who has to endure their precious little baby’s screams all night long without being able to soothe them!  Try telling that to big brothers and sisters whose parents are a wreck from having a baby screaming in their ear all evening.  Colic affects everyone in the family, not just Mom, Dad, and Baby!

Our first experience with colic

When we first brought Bear home from the hospital, she was so tiny and cute and perfect.  I’d had preeclampsia, and had been induced at 37 weeks, so she was definitely on the small side, weighing in at just under 6 pounds.  The very first night at home, she slept 5 hours during the night without waking us up!  I thought, “Well, well, well!  All this talk about never getting any sleep with a newborn is nonsense!  I just gave birth to the best baby ever.  I’ve got this parenting thing down!”

As my dad used to always tell me, “Pride cometh before a fall!”

By the time Bear was 2 months old, she spent most of her waking hours screaming uncontrollably.  I had just gone back to work.  Her preferred time of day to be up and angry was from around 6 every evening until about 3 in the morning.  Every.  Single.  Night.  None of us were getting any sleep.  My job performance tanked (I was sleep deprived, and I desperately wanted time with my baby when she wasn’t screaming).  I wanted to be a good mother, but I couldn’t even make my baby feel better!  I felt like such a failure.  

When I took Bear to the doctor for one of her check-ups, I mentioned that she cried all the time.  He asked several questions about it, then told me she had colic.  He also thought she might have some issues with reflux, since she did spit up quite a bit.  Then, he prescribed some medication for the reflux, and, while sympathetic to my plight, basically told me “good luck” with the colic.  It was just a stage, and it would get better.

Our next door neighbor, who ran an in-home daycare, watched Bear every day.  It was really nice to have someone so close to our home!  She had some great tips for finally getting her to sleep…and they helped some.  I don’t know how I would have dealt with the stress if I hadn’t had a couple more rational heads than my own (my husband’s and my neighbor’s) giving me advice.  

Eventually, Bear did grow out of it.  By the time I left my job to stay at home with her, she was a happy, healthy 6 month old.  We finally had lots of quality time together.  But, boy, were those first few months tough!

More Crying

Our newest little one has gone through a similar stage, though it hasn’t lasted as long, or been as severe as Bear’s case!  When she first came home, Baby cried every night starting at 7pm…just after my husband gets home from work.  Fortunately, she winds down and sleeps well when I put her to bed at around 8:30.  So, at least she can be helped!  It’s still trying to listen to a baby cry for an hour and a half each night.  There are a few things I know this time around that have helped this stage be a little more survivable.

Baby is now just over 3 months old, and does seem to be coming out of it.  We’ve been 2 nights in a row now that she hasn’t cried through dinner.  When you’re living with an infant, you have to take all the small victories when you can! 

So, here we go, here are some tips you can use to help calm a crying baby!

Stay calm!

I know it’s easy to say, and really really hard to do!  Believe me, there have been nights when I’ve walked the floors with one of my babies, and I cry just as much as they do.  If you can keep your cool, though, you’re more likely to pass the mood on to your baby.  If you tense up, so will your baby.  I think one reason Baby’s colicky phase hasn’t lasted as long as Bear’s did is because between my husband and I, one of us was able to stay calm with her crying periods.

If you can’t stay calm, pass the baby to someone who can.

When I would start crying just like the baby, that’s when my husband knew it was time to take over for a little while.  I was with Baby (and all 4 of her big brothers and sisters!) all day long, and my patience was already stretched pretty thin by the time he got home from work every day.  He would often (like, every night) take her outside to walk while I ate dinner with the other children.  By the time we were done, I would be in a better frame of mind to calmly take her and get her settled down to bed.  We have sure missed eating together as a whole family, but it was a necessary (and temporary) sacrifice.  We know that it is just a stage, and that this too shall pass.

Swaddling

Swaddling saved our sanity when we finally figured out (thanks to our neighbor) that Bear liked it.  I knew the nurses in the hospital had done it, but I wasn’t any good at it.  So, when we got home, I just stopped.  It would seem like torture to an adult, but some babies really need that snugness that swaddling provides.  Sometimes, babies fling their arms and legs when they get upset, and they upset themselves even more with this behavior.  They make themselves feel like they’re falling.  Swaddling keeps those arms and legs under control so they can’t cause trouble.

Baby really needed swaddling during her rough time of night for the first month or so, too.  It was the only thing that would calm her down enough to eat and go to sleep each night…until it wasn’t.

Ditch the swaddling

Confused?  First I said swaddle, then I said don’t!  Yes, that’s what I meant to say…babies are confusing.

At some point, a baby will go from requiring a swaddle to detesting it…usually within 24 hours.  Just because it worked last night, doesn’t mean it’s going to work tonight!  They like to keep us on our toes.  

A few weeks ago, Baby’s swaddling switch flipped.  I swaddled her to feed her and put her to bed one night, and she got MAD about it.  Now, mind you, the night before, she couldn’t sleep or calm down from her daily crying fit without it.  After a couple of reminders from my husband about how all of the other kids had done that at some point too, and some protestations from myself that they hadn’t done it as young as she was, I finally gave in and took the swaddle blanket off.  She quit crying, and was perfectly happy to settle down to her pre-bedtime nursing session.  I was concerned that she wouldn’t sleep very long without it, but she continued about her regular nighttime pattern without interruption.  She has been sleeping unswaddled ever since.

Sing!

Sing a song…any song.  It doesn’t have to be some sweet, pre-planned lullaby you’ve always wanted to sing your baby to sleep with.  Trust me, by the 17th time you’ve sung that song in an hour, you’ll be ready for something new.  When I can’t think of anything, I start singing hymns that I learned long long ago.

Talk

Have a little conversation with your baby.  Tell them anything you can think of.  Make sure that you’re using a calm, soothing voice.  Tell them all about the things you can see.  Describe the sky, or the clouds, the grass or the trees.  Tell them all about the family members that are still waiting to meet them, or maybe about how much their grandparents enjoyed meeting them the day they were born.  Read something to your baby.  Your baby likes the sound of your voice!  It’s warm and soothing and familiar.  

Walk

Hold your baby close and take a walk.  Gently and quietly take a walk outside.  Combine the walk with a little singing and conversation.  The fresh air and change in temperature and scenery will do you both good.  Plus, you get a little exercise out if it too!  It’s a win-win.

Wear your baby

Get a good, secure carrier that’s designed for small babies and get your baby all snuggled up next to you.  The snugness right next to you is soothing for a baby.  Remember that sometimes your baby may fuss while you’re putting them into the carrier and getting everything settled and secure.  All of mine have hated the process of being put into the carrier.  But, once they get there, they really like being close and the movement.  If they’re having tummy issues, the pressure of your body against their tummy can be really soothing.  Plus, your arms can finally have a break!

Check in with your doctor.

Chances are, there is absolutely wrong.  However, it’s always a good idea to bring up excessive crying with your doctor.  There are a few things that can cause a lot of crying, and if it’s something that the doctor can fix, everyone will feel a whole lot better!

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

JENerally Informed

 

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Blueberry Dessert Recipes

 

Wonderful Wednesday

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Awesome Life Friday

 

 

Life Love and Dirty Dishes


Today, I just wanted to write about notebooking, and what a life saver it has been for us in our homeschool!  I was getting increasingly exasperated a couple of years ago with the direction our schooling was going with Bear.  She was (and still is) an incredibly bright child…in fact, that was actually why we didn’t send her to public school in the first place.  She was reading independently before she was five.  I wish I could take credit for that, but I can’t…all I did was teach her the basic sounds, she took off from there faster than our phonics program could keep up!  But I digress.

As is often the case with bright children, she had trouble sometimes applying herself to what I was trying to teach her.  When she was younger, she loved doing workbooks…strange child, I know.  So, I had kind of tried to encourage her by using workbooks early on.  But, as she got past the point of learning the basics, her love for workbooks began to wane…but I was stuck in an educational rut.  Plus, workbooks are so easy…as the teacher, I didn’t really even have to think about it.  We’d just open our workbook, read our lesson, then I’d set Bear free to complete the independent portion of the lesson.

But Bear hated it.  She didn’t jump up and yell, “YAY!” when I said “Time for lessons!” anymore.  Instead I got a groan and “Right now?  Couldn’t we do it later?”  It had become drudgery.  Even worse, Lizard was picking up on Bear’s attitude and adopting it as her own.  Now I had to fight 2 kids every day to get started with school.  Where had that little girl who looked forward to school time gone?

I started looking at different curriculum options.  I needed something that gave me a little structure, so that I could make sure we were covering everything.  Bear needed something that allowed her to use that creative nature she was so blessed with.

Enter notebooking. We can use it with pretty much any subject or curriculum we choose to use. Click To Tweet

Enter notebooking.  We can use it with pretty much any subject or curriculum we choose to use.  We use it most in science and history, but I know some folks use notebooking for pretty much everything.  

Bear reads her assignment for the day.  We have a discussion about it.  The time our discussion takes really varies.  We talk about any words or phrases that she didn’t understand, then I make sure they show up in her vocabulary work for the week!  In history, in particular, we often discuss why it’s important to our lives today.  Why do the things some dead guy did 400 years ago impact our lives after all that time?  We don’t skip our discussion time.  It’s critical for comprehension!

Then, after we’ve discussed what she’s read, I hand her a notebooking sheet.  Sometimes I give her a very specific assignment, but sometimes I leave the assignment very open-ended.  She writes about what she’s learned, and illustrates it in some way.  It’s that simple.  It’s always interesting to see what part of each lesson has really resonated with her each day, too.  She loves that she gets to draw during history, and she really takes pride in her work (both the writing and the drawing).  I love that she’s actually learning her history!  It’s a win-win for us both.  Plus, at the end of every year, we’ll always have something to come back to…a record that reminds us both of what she’s done in the past.

Here’s a free printable for your personal use.  There are 12 different general use notebooking pages in this free pack.  You can use them for any subject you want.  All I ask is that you don’t sell them, or share them.  If you want to share them with someone, send them here to this post to get their copy!  Thanks!

General Notebooking pages

General Notebooking Pages

Do you use notebooking in your homeschool? 


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Think Tank Thursday

My kids are weird...and why I'm ok with it

My kids are weird.  

Whew!  I got that out of the way!  I love my kids.  They’re really, really good kids!  My kids just aren’t normal kids.  At least they aren’t normal based on today’s standards.  A hundred years ago I’m sure they would have been normal, run-of-the-mill, cookie cutter kids.  But not anymore.  My kids are weird.  But, I’m okay with that.  I might even encourage it.  They have seen more and understand more about real life in their few short years than many adults.

You see, my kids are country kids.

I grew up in town.  No…not in town, in the city.  I grew up in Dallas.  Well, in the rough, tough, suburbs of the northeastern corner of Dallas county, anyway (please take note of the sarcasm dripping off that statement!).  Dallas…it’s currently the ninth largest city in the United States, the fourth largest metro area in the United States.  That is, according to Wikipedia, anyway.  My grandfather’s (my mom’s dad) family were sharecroppers.  My grandmother (my dad’s mom) grew up on a farm.  I visited my great-grandparents’ farm a couple times per year until they died…I was in elementary school.  My uncle and his family lived in a rural area north of Dallas for a while.  I visited them every once in a while.  More importantly, I heard all his stories…about the chickens, and dogs, and coyotes.  I might have been a city girl, but I knew all about “country” stuff.  I was sure I had experience.

But I had no idea.

Did you know that meat doesn’t actually appear in the refrigerated section at the grocery store through some sort of magical process?  I didn’t.  Well, when I actually thought about it, I did.  But, like most people, I never had to think about it.

What about fruits and vegetables?  Most people grow beans for some sort of science project in elementary school, but that’s the end of food production…they rarely think of it again.  Many folks never think about the work that goes into producing enough for your family to eat for an entire year.  I know I didn’t…but my kids do. 

We moved out here, and I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.  I had no idea what I was getting our kids into.  I’m glad we did it.  Our kids are better off because of it.  But, our kids are most definitely weird.

Our kids eat their vegetables.

Gasp!  That one little fact probably makes them weird all on its own!  They don’t usually even complain about it…as long as no one did anything silly to the vegetables, you know, like cooking them.  They prefer them straight out of the garden (see number 8 on this list).  I don’t think we even managed to get any of our peas into the house this year.  The kids ate them straight off the plants for “outside snacks”, as Monkey called them.

Now, don’t try cooking their precious vegetables…that is ill-advised.  Don’t try to heat up canned peas and tell my kids to eat them because you’ve heard they like peas.  They will look at you like a cow looking at a new gate…and then absolutely refuse to eat whatever it is you just served them (it certainly wasn’t peas!).  Cooked carrots?  Forget it!

Our kids are homeschooled.

This is probably why they don’t realize that our family is a little bit different than most.  They get plenty of time to play with other kids, don’t get me wrong.  But, they’re not around the same set of other kids every single day like they would be at school.  We teach the things that we feel are important, not what the state tells us to teach.  We set high standards for what they learn.  

Most preschoolers learn about farm animals from picture books.  Our kids don’t just learn how to point them out in a book.  They learned that cows are huge.  They know that big brown one ain’t a cow…and not to mess with him.  There’s a difference between a cow and a heifer, and my four year old can tell you all about it.  Eggs come from hens, not from roosters, and even my 2 year old knows how to tell the difference.  Pigs really do enjoy a good wallow in the mud, and if there is no mud available, they will make their own!  Our kids know all about farm animals, and they know how to treat them, and how to behave around them.

Our kids pull their weight

Now, some of them weigh more than others, and we certainly make allowances for that.  But our kids have to work.  Most of the time, they actually enjoy it!  When I say it’s time to clean our bathroom, Bear jumps up and says, “Ooh!  I’ll clean the potty!”  No, I’m not making that up.  I actually did it myself this past week, and she honestly got upset with me.  There are certainly household chores they don’t enjoy, like cleaning up their rooms, but they are learning to do them anyway…like it or not.

All the kids have a blast helping their daddy with his work outside.  They go with him nearly every night to lock up the chicken coops and pull water for all the animals.  They help as much as they can.  When Daddy is out planting the gardens, the kids are right there helping him out.  They help pick the vegetables once the plants start producing, too.  Once the vegetables are picked, they help wash and sort it as well.  They know what goes into making the food they eat, and they probably have a better appetite for it!

Our kids understand that death is part of life.

This made me a little uncomfortable at first, but our kids have a very healthy view of death.  Without death, there is no life.  They understand where their food comes from.  They feed their food apple cores…our latest set of pigs recently went to the freezer, but we sure went through a lot of apples while they were living in the barn.  Our children know where the pigs are, they understand…but they aren’t upset by it.  It’s just part of life.  We take care of our animals, and when the time comes, our animals take care of us.

Many kids find a lot of blood and gore in video games.  Fascination with these types of things, while often disturbing to adults, is (to a certain degree) part of healthy development.  Our children don’t need video games…they’ve seen their dad slaughter chickens to feed his family.  It’s certainly not a pleasant task, but in our lives, it’s a necessary task.  Our kids understand that, and they’re blessed with an understanding that these animals have fulfilled their purpose.

The understanding of death gained by our children through their involvement in food production also prepares them for the death of loved ones as well.  They aren’t frightened of the concept of death and they understand what it means.  That means we can intelligently discuss our beliefs about what happens to people after death on earth.  My Granddad (their great-granddad) recently passed away after a year of confinement to a nursing home due to dementia and a hip injury.  When we told the kids about it, they were able to process the information.  Of course they were sad, especially Bear who remembered what he was like before his dementia got really bad.  But, since they already understood death, it allowed us to concentrate on the life that comes after death.  Without death, there can be no life.

So, there you have it.  My kids are weird.  But, I wouldn’t have it any other way!


I linked up with:

 

Teaching What Is Good

 

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JENerally Informed

 

Epic Mommy Adventures

 

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”TheNaturalHomeschool”

Messy Marriage

 

Think Tank Thursday

The Blogger's Pit Stop

 

Awesome Life Friday

Choosing a doctor for your kids

Choosing a doctor for your kids can be a daunting task for a new parent.  There are so many questions to ask, and many parents want a doctor that supports their own beliefs with regards to things like feeding method and vaccines.  

We were very blessed (and spoiled) with our first pediatrician.  He was fantastic!  He listened when we had questions and concerns.  He had wonderfully practical advice.  But, perhaps most importantly, he had a manner that could calm my first time mom fears quickly and easily, and reassure me that I was doing a good job!  Bear had colic and cried most of the time I was with her for the first 4 months of her life.  I was a basketcase!  Everything I was doing seemed wrong.  I remember one appointment perfectly, like a video in my mind, when he told me that sometimes, when things got to be too much, it was alright for me to put her in her crib, shut the door and walk away to calm myself down.  After all, how on earth was an upset mother supposed to help a baby calm down?  I expressed a bit of horror at the thought.  Leave my child crying in the crib?  How could I?  She would be scarred for life!  She would think I didn’t love her!  He noticed my expression, grinned and said, “Elizabeth, I promise you, none of my patients has ever died because their mom left them crying in their crib for a few minutes!  It’s going to be ok.  She’s not going to remember this.  It’s more important for you to keep your cool!”

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Unfortunately, soon after Lizard was born, our wonderful pediatrician took a position as the head of an emergency department at a children’s hospital in Ft. Worth.  We weren’t huge fans of any of the other doctors at that practice.  It was a large practice, and there were policies we didn’t like.  That was when our long search for another good doctor began.  

If you’re a first time parent looking for a pediatrician, it’s likely that you have a long list of questions ready to ask at an interview appointment.  I won’t give you another long list of questions here…there are plenty of those available all around the internet.  But, there are a few things I have experienced as a mother of five (and believe me, we’ve spent our fair share of time in the doctor’s office!) that you may want to consider during your search for a doctor.

1. The Reception Staff

When dealing with your doctor’s office, you won’t actually be spending much time interacting with the pediatrician you have chosen.  You’ll see the doctor for 10 or 15 minutes at appointments.  Most of the people you interact with at the office will be members of the doctor’s reception staff.  These are the folks you talk to when you make your appointment.  They’re always the first people you talk to when you have a question for your doctor.  If the doctor has a poor reception staff, you’re going to have issues, no matter how fantastic the pediatrician’s medical expertise.

I have encountered a couple different kinds of problems with a doctor’s staff in my experiences.  The first (and most irritating) was a staff whose members were just plain rude.  There is nothing more infuriating than making a phone call to an office that you pay to provide an essential service, only to have to sit on hold, or re-tell your problem to 8 different receptionists.  Trust me, at some point, your child is going to have some sort of accident or sudden illness occur that is going to be worse than you’ve experienced before.  You’ll be worried and scared.  This is not the time you ‘ll want to sit on hold for half an hour while the receptionist does her nails before she meanders down the hall to discover that the nurse is, in fact, back from lunch (and has been for over an hour), but she’s already back in a room with another patient…”Would you like to leave a voice mail?”

The second big reception staff deal-breaker I’ve experienced was one that kept losing my appointments.  I’d call, make an appointment for one of the kids to see a doctor.  The day of the appointment, I loaded up all the kids into the car and drove the hour into town for the appointment.  There was no record of my child’s appointment.  The first time it happened, I thought I must have written something down wrong, or maybe dreamed I’d made the appointment.  The second time, I thought I was going nuts.  The third time, I got mad and caused a bit of a ruckus…but decided to give them one more chance.  The fourth time, it was back on the search.  It was too bad, because I really liked the doctor…but since I could never get an appointment for the kids to see her, what was the point?

2. The Nursing Staff

Aside from the reception staff, the nurse at a doctor’s office is the next person you’ll spend a lot of time with.  If you call with a question about your child, chances are you’ll talk to a nurse, who will in turn go ask the doctor.  Then, the nurse will come back to the phone to tell you the doctor’s answer.  Often, that will prompt another question from you, which can occasionally (and annoyingly…for all parties involved) start the whole process over again.

If the doctor’s nurse does not return calls frequently, or if she is rude, you’re going to have a problem.  It doesn’t matter how great the doctor is if no one ever returns your calls.  If the nurse thinks she knows everything, and won’t listen to you about the actual situation, she’s not going to give you good advice.  Again, it’s not the doctor’s fault, but it does affect the quality of healthcare your child will receive.

3. The Waiting Area

I know what you’re thinking about this one…why does the waiting area matter?  As long as there are comfortable chairs and a TV playing the latest episode of “Doc McStuffins” what else is there to worry about?

Germs.

It’s a doctor’s office, for crying out loud!  For every kid that tromps through that waiting area for a well child check-up, there are ten more that come through with colds, the flu, bronchitis, stomach bugs…the list goes on. 

You may think those toys and books they keep in the waiting room are such a great idea when you go in for your interview with the doctor before your baby is born.  “Yay!  Books and educational toys!”  you think, “That’s such a better choice than TV to keep little ones occupied while they’re waiting!  And these couches…they’re so comfortable!  I like this office.  They’re really considerate of their patients!”

Run away.  Run away as fast as you can!  Couches can’t be disinfected.  I don’t care how conscientious the staff is, they cannot disinfect all those toys in the waiting room after every single child touches them.  How does one disinfect a book, anyway?  Or wooden toys?  Here’s my big news…they can’t.  So, in about 18 months, when you’ve come into the doctor’s office for your child’s check-up, they’re going to want to play with the toys.  Have you ever tried to explain to an 18 month old that they can’t play with the toys because of germs?  Let me save you the trouble…it doesn’t work very well.  Now you’ve got a very upset toddler who doesn’t understand why Mommy won’t let him play.  All of a sudden, those things that looked so welcoming when you first visited have become agents of doom.  There are viruses lurking on the cushions, bacteria oozing off the pages of those books, and that kid sitting across from yours at the child-sized table coloring sure looks like he’s running a fever!

Am I paranoid?  Quite possibly.  But, we’ve had to leave a doctor that we really liked a lot because our kids got sick every time they walked through that clinic door.  Even after I banned them from touching the toys and books, they continued to get sick after every visit.  One of these visits resulted in bronchitis that landed Bear in the emergency room one night…she couldn’t breathe.  Since we homeschool, and don’t actually go out all that often, it was really quite simple to track down the source of infection.  It was the doctor’s office.  I’m sure they tried very hard to keep things clean.  The waiting room always looked nice, neat, clean and tidy.  But, there are things you just can’t clean well enough.  And, their waiting room was full of them!


There are so many things to think about when you’re choosing healthcare for your baby…when you’re choosing everything for your baby, really.  I hope I’ve given you some food for thought to help you along in your quest.  I wish you luck in finding just the right place for your family!


Where I’ve shared:

 

Tuesdays With a Twist

 

Joyful Homemaking

 

 

 

Awesome Life Friday

 

 

The Blogger's Pit Stop

 

 

Darling Downs Diaries

 

 

 

Coffee and Conversation button


I am a wife and the mother of five children.  I love my family.  We live on a farm…no pavement in sight.  You know what that means, right?  Dirt.  Dirt, dirt, and more dirt.  Then it rains.  Then comes the LAUNDRY!  Loads and loads and loads of it.  But, that’s just the tip of the iceburg.  

Let’s not forget the dishes.  My youngest doesn’t eat solid food yet, and is exclusively breastfed.  She doesn’t contribute to Dish Mountain.  So, that makes six plates, six cups, six forks, six spoons, six knives…plus all the pots and pans to cook in…for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Doesn’t my life sound glamorous?

Housekeeping is NOT one of my gifts.  Yes, I said it.  I don’t enjoy housework…I’m really not very good at it.  I don’t see all those little tasks that need to be done to keep a house truly clean and comfortable.  I’m generally happy if I manage to keep the dishes clean and enough clean clothes in my kids’ drawers.  I’m very lucky that my husband is an enormous help in this department, too!  He can often be found washing dishes with the kids (like, every night after dinner while I’m putting the baby to bed), folding laundry, or sweeping and mopping the floors.  But, there are always so many more things to be done…and with a two month old infant, even the basics often seem to slip.  Alas, I fall further and further behind.  There’s not enough time or energy to tackle that growing pile of clothes waiting to be folded…much less that big project that needs to be done!

But, I knew what I was signing up for eight years ago when I quit my job to stay home with my oldest…I thought.  Of course, the load has gotten a little heavier with each addition to the family, but that’s to be expected.  My biggest problem is that I tend to look at the housework all wrong.

Zone Clean ‘n’ Flip – Make Chores Fun!

I’ve always measured myself, and my personal success, on what I can complete.  What I can finish.  What I can check off that good ole’ to-do list.  With my housework, I always felt like such a failure.

“I found the bottom of the dirty clothes hamper!  Yay me!  I did such a great job today!”

Ten minutes later, I visit the bathroom and the hamper (OK, I’ll be honest, it’s usually the floor in front of the hamper) is already full again!  “All that time spent, and nothing to show for it.”  Sigh.

“Yay!  The dishes are done and put away.  The counters are clean and disinfected.  My husband’s coffeepot is sparkling!”

But then, “Mom!  Can I have a snack?”  And of course, if one person is hungry, everyone else realizes they’re famished too.  They find and finish their snacks, leaving dish carnage in their wake.  It’s not enough to justify a whole new sink full of dish water (No, we don’t have a dishwasher), but if I don’t do it now, after dinner it will look like a dish sculpture of Mount Everest.

 

I looked at the housework as something to be accomplished.  Completed.  Defeated!  But I got so discouraged because it just simply cannot happen.  It isn’t possible.  Even if I were to get every single article of clothing in the house clean, folded, and put away, we’re still wearing something while it’s getting done.  So it isn’t done.

If I can help my kids learn the right attitude about it all, they’ll be so far ahead of me.  My way isn’t the right way to think about all the housework.  Now that I have daughters who are getting old enough to actually help, I have to do my best to make sure they don’t get this attitude about work, and about life in general.  Because honestly, that’s what housework really is…LIFE!  If I can help my kids learn the right attitude about it all, they’ll be so far ahead of me.  

So, now, for that all important question.  How should I try to teach myself to think about housework?  How should I teach my kids?  I already know how NOT to do it.  But how SHOULD I do it?  Well, I’ve got to look at it as an on-going process, not something to be completed.  We can’t stop living because I just swept and mopped the floors.  I have to learn to accept that life happens.  There’s going to be a dog (or 3) who just took a nice swim in the pond trailing my husband who’s carrying a big pile of still mud-caked turnips inside from the garden the day after a good rain.  That’s ok.  So what?  I’ll try again tomorrow (and make my husband sweep again after he’s done washing the turnips!).

I also have to learn (and teach!) that if I’m doing my job right (which I rarely am), no one is going to notice.  But, that shouldn’t be why I do it anyway.  Housework is my act of service to care for my family, to make my guests feel welcome and comfortable…whether they called first or not!  This is one (of many) ways I should be showing love for others.  I should expect nothing in return…not even praise for a job well-done.

If I can impart this hard life-lesson early on in my daughters’ lives (and my sons’ too), that’s just another way to help them live happier, healthier, more satisfying lives than have I.  One way I’ve started is by making sure we do ourZone Cleaning  twice a day, every day!  This program really helps them break down each cleaning task into manageable chunks.  It also helps us all remember that keeping our home neat and clean is an ongoing process…not something to do that stays done forever.  We have to come back to it many times every day!

It’s a work in progress, but someday, maybe I’ll figure it all out!

 

 

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A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that she had lost her phone.  She has been looking for it for a couple days.  Hopefully, by the time I finish writing this post and get up, she will have found it! 

It can really be frustrating when things get lost.  It’s even more frustrating when you look everywhere you can think, and you still can’t find it.  If you have small children who share your home, you must learn to think like a toddler if you want to find your missing item.  Maybe it’s your phone, maybe your car keys or wallet.  Maybe it’s the keys to the tractor.  So, for those of you who are lucky enough to have a toddler or preschooler living in your home, I’ve put together a list of the strangest places I’ve ever found my missing items…maybe it will help you locate that long-lost set of house keys!

1. The dishwasher

Thoroughly inspect every crevice of your dishwasher.  Look on the inside, look on the outside.  Check inside that little hollow area right under the door handle.  Bear hid my phone in that little hollow once.  I searched and searched for my phone.  It disappeared on a Friday afternoon.  We looked all weekend, but we couldn’t find it.  I was pregnant with Monkey at the time, and we decided it would probably be a bad idea for me to be alone at the house without a phone.  So, Monday morning, I loaded the girls into the car, and went to purchase a new phone.  All was once again right, and I had learned that I should keep my phone up in a higher location!  A few months later, we were giving the dishwasher a thorough cleaning.  I saw something weird in the gap underneath the handle.  I got a pair of kitchen tongs and managed to pull it out.  There it was…my long lost phone…found months too late.  It even still worked!  It became a decoy phone for the kids to play with.  It’s still wandering around the toy boxes to this very day.

2.  A child’s play purse…

…that is inside a stuffed animal backpack all crammed down together in the bottom of a dress-up box.  I can’t make this stuff up!  One of our dear children once absconded with the tractor keys.  For a week, my husband had to hotwire the tractor if he needed it (it just happened to be that time of the year when it was needed…often).  Daddy was mad!  We looked all around the tractor for the lost keys.  We knew one of the kids was responsible for the disappearance, but we weren’t sure which one…though we had our suspicions that it was Lizard.  We really thought they had been dropped outside somewhere, so we searched the entire yard.  I had the kids out searching every day.  One day, I had the girls inside cleaning their room, which looked like a scene from some sort of natural disaster stricken area.  Bear pulled out the backpack.  She looked inside, and pulled out the purse.  Lizard looked up and said, “Oh!  I wondered where this was!”  Then Lizard grabbed the purse and looked inside, wondering what sort of long-forgotten treasure she would find there.  Her face was priceless.  She looked up at me, and back down into the purse and sheepishly pulled out the tractor keys.  “I forgot!”  was all she said.  Then, she started laughing hysterically.  We showed Daddy, who was still a bit irritated, but glad to have the keys back.

3.  A bag of flour

This is one of Rhino’s favorite places to hide things.  Of course, being a family of seven, we don’t ever get the small bag.  Oh no…we buy the 25 pound bag.  I’ve pulled phones, keys, and toys out of the bag of flour.  It’s at that perfect height that just invites little hands to investigate!  Plus, it’s in a bag that’s in a box under the cabinet.  The multiple containers make it extra fun!

4.  Inside a table

This is Rhino’s other favorite place to hide things.  But, inside a table?  How does a small child put things inside a table?  Well, we have two tables that have an inside.  One is the coffee table.  It’s on wheels, so he can push it around the living room.  The top opens so that ideally, you can store blankets or magazines or books…whatever you need accessible but out of site.  It also has doors on the sides so you can access the inside that way.  Rhino likes to put things in the top, then locate them in the blanket stack from the side.  It’s a fun game…until something gets lost in the folds of a blanket.  Then, the mystery can quickly become a tragedy…especially if no one saw him put the item inside the table.  We looked for his “nice” for days once.  His nice is a little blanket that he always sleeps with.  We finally found it inside the coffee table, wrapped up in another, much larger blanket.

We have another table that folds up and stands against the wall most of the time.  It only comes out when we have company and need extra seating at meal time.  The chairs for the table fold and are stored inside the table.  There’s a little door on each side that opens so that the chairs can be removed.  It’s a neat little table that has been with me since my college apartment-dwelling days.  Since the children came along, though, many a small item has turned up inside that little table, sometimes fallen between the cracks in the folded chairs.  

 5.  In the tupperware drawer 

We were visiting my parents a year or so ago.  Rhino was toddling about with his sippy cup most of the afternoon.  When dinner time came, he was very thirsty, and really wanted some juice.  But, no one could find his cup.  We looked everywhere!  Still, no cup.  We finally caved and got out a fresh cup for dinner, but we still needed to find it before we left.  We didn’t want to forget the cup (we only keep a couple at home), and I’m sure my mom didn’t want to find the cup months later…no one enjoys that kind of surprise!

The next day, I happened to open the tupperware drawer (looking for something else, but still unfamiliar with they lay-out of my parents’ new kitchen), which was one of the lowest drawers in the kitchen.  Again, it was the perfect height for little hands to explore!  Low and behold, there was something bright orange showing from an upside-down stack of Ziploc containers (or possibly Gladware…who can tell!).  The color caught my eye, since everything else was clear plastic.  It was also odd for the stack to be in the drawer upside down.  So, I lifted the overturned stack, and there it was…the missing sippy cup!  Found at last.  We were all relieved.  


So, if you ever find yourself missing an item and you have little ones in the house, think like a toddler.  Look inside of stuff that’s inside of something else!  Your mom may have told you to look where you left it, or maybe to retrace your steps.  “It didn’t grow legs and walk off!”  Well, the moral of the story here is…maybe it did!  It just have grown some pint-sized legs and walked somewhere strange…somewhere strange and exciting-to a toddler anyway! 

 

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Do you remember when you were young?  There was a big list of things your parents said to you.  They got under your skin so much that you promised yourself you’d never say them to your own children!  But, eventually, when you got older and you had children of your own, you found you may or may not have been able to follow through with those promises.

When you were trying to understand some great mystery of life, you heard, “You’ll understand when you’re older.”

When you were playing the funnest game you had ever devised, it was always, “Don’t jump on the bed!”  Or, “Clean up that mess!”

Then, you were presented with an awful-looking mish-mash of turnips, parsnips, and brussell sprouts, and you heard the dreaded words, “You have to try it.”

Then, there was always the infamous, “Because I said so!”  Which, of course, was good for any occasion!

This is just a partial list of things that I promised my future children I would never say.  I can say with all honesty today, that every single one of those phrases has escaped from my mommy lips.  But, far more disturbing is a different list of phrases that I started collecting through my parenting experiences on a farm.  I say a lot of things in response to situations I never thought would come up…I can’t make this stuff up!  Some are funny, some are sad.  Some will leave you scratching your head.  How on earth did that situation arise???  Well, I’m not sure!  But, here it is…my list of things I never thought to say I’d never say.

1. “No Chickens!!!”

Chickens were never a danger on my radar I thought I’d need to avoid.  You can read more about it in this post.

2. “You bought how many chickens?”

This was in response to the first batch of chickens my husband brought home.  I was so reluctant to agree to
chickens in the first place, I thought he’d start off with just a few.  But, he brought home 25!  Twenty-five.  That was a lot of chickens to me!  

Looking back on it now, I realize it wasn’t really very many at all.  I’m not really even sure how many we have at the moment, but it’s enough to fill three coops!

3.  “Ham.  You want ham.  The ham to which you refer is clearly not ham!  What is ham?!?”

When Bear was almost 2 years old, she announced to me one day that she wanted ham for lunch.  Like any sensible mother, I pulled some ham out of the fridge and made some for her for lunch.  It turns out, whatever ham was, it was not, in fact, ham…at least not what everyone in the adult world called ham.  Bear was mad!  She looked up at me with that angry face (you know, the one you try not to laugh at because it’s so cute) every toddler has, and shoved that bowl away from her and yelled, “No!  Want Ham!!”  Then, she proceeded to feed her lunch to the dogs.

Sometimes, our dear, sweet children come up with names for things that make absolutely no sense.  “Ham” was one of these instances.  It took us weeks to figure out what she meant.  We tried all sorts of pointing games with objects in our refrigerator and pantry, but nothing seemed to be “ham”.  Finally, we were out at the grocery store, and happened to go down the baby foods aisle.  Bear started going crazy in the cart, pointing and shrieking “Ham!  Ham!  Ham!”  It turns out, the infamous “ham” was actually those little freeze-dried yogurt toddler snacks.  Who knew?

4. “Dear, how do you recommend I get a heifer out of the garage?”

When we first moved out here, it took a while to get all of our fences in perfect working order.  Our first pair of cattle were a Holstein bull and heifer.  Occasionally, my husband would let them out to mow down the grass out in front of the barn, but usually only when he was at home.  Unfortunately, they got the idea that it was perfectly acceptable for them to go out on their own any time they wished.  One day, Bear and I were outside playing, and I started hearing odd noises coming from our garage.  I looked up, and low and behold, there was a heifer in the garage.  There were lots of interesting things to investigate in the garage, and she had no desire to leave and go back into the pasture.  She was resisting my small repertoire of methods.  So, I called my husband at work for his recommendations.  Eventually, she wound up getting bored and backing out of the garage on her own.  At that point, she gladly followed a bucket of feed back to the pasture gate.  

The next day, my husband had not had time to fix up the fence where she got out, but he did put up some 2×4 boards across the front of the garage so that if she decided to wander again, at least she would stay out of the garage.  It didn’t work.  She plowed right through them the next day, completely undeterred.  Then she got stuck and couldn’t figure out how to back out of the garage.  When she stepped on the boards she had knocked down, they felt funny under her feet and she didn’t know how to get by them.  Sigh.  I wasn’t about to go move the boards from under a 1500 pound cow (er…heifer)!  Eventually, she was able to back out of the garage on her own, and she followed the feed bucket back to the pasture again.

The heifer’s misadventures in the garage were funny, but the bull was just downright sneaky.  When Andrew let
 them out to graze on the grass in front of the barn, the bull was always very interested in the section of the barn where Andrew kept the feed (imagine that!).  He got chased out of the barn so many times, I couldn’t even begin to count.  One day, he had found his way into the barn and knocked over the feed can.  Of course, as a large, 2000 pound animal, he was silent and invisible in his persuits…in his mind, anyway.  He looked over his shoulder just as Andrew came around the corner to chase him out of the barn (again).  He backed out of the barn, just a little, and faced straight forward, refusing to even look at Andrew.  The bull started licking a bush that was growing right next to the side of the barn.  Then, he looked at Andrew as if to say, “I’m just lickin’ the bush, boss!  I’m just lickin’ the bush!”  These two cattle are where one of Andrew’s favorite farm catch-phrases came from: “There are few things in life more obnoxious than well-fed cattle!”

5. “We don’t need another dog.”

I like dogs.  I’ve always liked dogs.  When I was younger, I figured that when I grew up, I’d have a farm with just dogs running around everywhere.  That’s why it came as a surprise to me when my husband started talking about getting another dog that I told him we didn’t need one.  But, by this point, I figured there were enough animals around.  We had just lost Blaze.  But we still had Trinity.  We had cattle, we had chickens.  We had two small children with a third due any day.  Getting any new dogs raised and trained was going to fall mostly on me, because, well, I was the one who was at home the most.  I didn’t feel up to the task…especially with a newborn coming!  My husband and I went back and forth about the issue for a few weeks, during which time Monkey was born.  

Then, one cold day, while Andrew was home over Christmas break, he was working on putting in a gate between the two sides of the pasture, and he had a little accident involving our bull.

6. “Mom, I’ll call you back.  Something’s wrong with Andrew!”

I was on the phone with my mom.  The kids were napping.  Andrew came up to the porch, all muddy and gasping for air.  I knew he’d been out in the pasture…and it was obvious that something was very, very wrong.  He just kept coughing and gasping.  He couldn’t even talk to me and tell me what was going on.

Well, he had, in fact, been run over by the bull.  You see, our bull at the time had previously been a roping calf.  He liked to play.  That was not a big deal when Blaze had been out in the pasture every time my husband went out there, because Blaze played with him.  Unfortunately, when a 2 thousand pound animal decides to play with a 200 pound man, things don’t always go so well for the 200 pound man…especially when there’s no fast-moving dog to distract the 2 thousand pound animal!

Andrew was fine.  He was very bruised-up, but he was fine.

Apparently, we did need another dog.

7.  “The well is…frozen???”

This is Texas, folks!  A frozen well is just not something we have to deal with here.  But, in early 2011, not even a year after we had moved into our new farm house, when Lizard was just a couple of months old, we had a cold snap.  It lasted several days.  The highs only made it up into the middle teens.  It was cold!  A gas drilling company had provided our property with a nice, deep water well.  However, they had left nothing to protect it.  The previous owners of our property had put up a little lean-to around the pump.  But, one of the walls (we found out) was merely a blanket.  Fortunately, we knew the weather was about to get pretty nasty.  We were having an electrical problem with one of the switches to start with.  Water service to the house had become a bit sketchy.  I took advantage of a day-long break between two Dallas snow storms and took the girls up to visit my parents for a few days.  Andrew called the next day to tell me that everything was frozen…including the well.  He was without water pretty much the whole time we were gone.  Every day he made the trek up to the well house to make improvements so that it wouldn’t happen again.  He fixed up the well, and it hasn’t frozen since.  Thank goodness for handy husbands who are willing to work in the freezing weather!  The girls and I came home once everything thawed out.  Bear did have a lot of fun on that emergency trip to Dallas, though.  It snowed.  Not just a little Dallas snow like we always got there when I was a kid.  She got 8 inches of snow to play in!  Lucky girl!  These things are enough excitement to last for years to a Texan.

8.  “You’ve eaten enough green beans.  You’re not going to eat any dinner!”

No stranger a phrase has ever crossed a mother’s lips!  Yet, it’s one that has come out of mine more than once.  The first time I said it, Lizard was about 2 years old.  Andrew had spent all morning picking vegetables in the gardens.  There were buckets and buckets of squash that had been loaded onto the trailer.  There were cucumbers, and turnips.  And, there were green beans.  Not just a dinner’s worth of green beans.  Andrew uses 5 gallon buckets to hold the green beans as he picks them.  That particular week, there were 3 or 4 buckets full of green beans.  Andrew gave each of the girls a green bean.  Bear ate hers, but she wasn’t particularly excited about it.  Lizard was a different story.  She ate her green bean, and then asked for another one.  Then another, then another and another.  Finally, Andrew got tired of getting her green beans.  He told her that she could have as many green beans as she wanted as long as she ate them.  We didn’t want them going to waste.  She ate green beans all afternoon.  Finally, a couple of hours before dinner, Lizard was still going back and forth to the green bean bucket that Andrew had left on the front porch for her.  I called out to her, “You’ve eaten enough green beans!  You’re going to ruin your dinner!”  

Andrew looked at me like I’d grown a third head, and said, “Really?”

“What?”  I asked.  “She’s not supposed to have any snacks after 4 so she’ll eat her dinner.”

“You’re worried about green beans?  Green beans.  We’re having fried chicken for dinner.  You’re worried that she won’t eat her fried food because she’s eaten too many vegetables???”

Well, he had a point.  We’ve laughed about that afternoon many times since it happened.   The events have repeated themselves several times since then.  It’s not always with green beans, sometimes it’s with peas or carrots, or something else pulled fresh from the garden.  Now, it’s a phrase I use jokingly, because, let’s face it, who can complain about kids who eat their vegetables?

9.  “Wait, you lost a frog in the bathroom?”

This is another one that sadly, I’ve had to say more than once.  We have a pond in our front yard.  I’m not sure why the previous owners of this property decided to put a pond in the front yard, but they did.  Asking why the previous owners did anything around here is a forbidden question…but that’s another topic for another post.  Anyway, since there’s a pond in the front yard, reptiles and amphibians are plentiful.  

It’s a nightly ritual around here for Andrew to go catch a frog or a toad or a lizard at bedtime.  Why bedtime?  I have no idea.  But, that’s the procedure around here, and who am I to demand that it change?

Anyway, we generally have some sort of reptile or amphibian find its way into the house every evening.  Every once in a while, Andrew will let one of the kids hold it.  Inevitably, it gets away, usually in one of the bathrooms.

10.  “Why is there a duckling in my daughter’s bedroom?”

One day, several years ago, Trinity killed a duck.  It was very sad.  It was the female of a pair of ducks that often swam on our pond.  The male flew away, never to return.  As it turned out, they had made their nest in the brush along the fence line close to the pond.  We pulled out the eggs, and put them in our incubator that was normally used for chicken eggs.  Of course, we had no idea what we were doing, but we thought we’d give it a try.  There were several eggs, but only one hatched.  We put it in the brooder box to keep it warm.  One day, after it had started getting its feathers, Andrew decided it was time for that little duck to learn how to swim.  Bear just happened to be playing in the wading pool that afternoon.  It looked like the perfect place for that little duck to learn!  So, Bear played in the pool with a duck.  The duck also took swimming lessons in the cows’ water buckets upon occasion.

I’m still not exactly sure why, but one day, Andrew decided the duck should visit Bear inside the house.  So he brought the duck in.  Bear was playing in her room, so the duck came to play as well.  Of course, as one might expect, the duck didn’t have very good manners, and soon pooped on the carpet.  I was a little irritated, to say the least, and said”Why is there a duckling in my daughter’s bedroom?  It just pooped on the floor!”  Andrew started laughing and said, “I don’t know why I didn’t think of that possibility!  I’ll take it back outside.”  Not every kid can say they’ve had a duck in their room.

Unfortunately, the duck did not have a happy ending.  The rest of the story involves a raccoon, so I’m pretty sure you can guess what happened.  But, it was fun to have a baby duck around.

11.  “Why did you trap your sister in a box?  Oh, of course…because it made her laugh!”                  

 

Bear had a big plastic bin that (occasionally) held her mega blocks.  But, it was much more fun to dump out all of the blocks on the floor and get inside the box.  It was even more fun to put her sister in the box.  Fortunately, Lizard also thought it was fun, leading to much giggling!  A picture is worth a thousand words.

 

12.  “Get that snake out of here.  It’s bleeding on the floor!”

This is another one that has come out of my mouth more than once.  Every time Andrew kills a snake that he finds impressive, he brings it into the house.  Usually it’s a particularly large copperhead that he brings to the house for educational purposes.  Sometimes, he wants to show me how many eggs a rat snake has stolen (you can count the bumps to find your eggs).  Whatever the case, it’s a snake, in my house!  I don’t really care if it’s dead.  I don’t want wildlife in my house!  Especially when it’s dripping blood on the floor.  Call me crazy…

13.  “There are bodily fluids flying everywhere!”

It was just after Thanksgiving.  I had caught a stomach bug up in Dallas where we had visited family for the holiday.  I was sick all Thanksgiving Day.  It was miserable, but I was over it in 24 hours.  We came home the day after Thanksgiving as usual.  Lizard was mostly done potty training, but still had the occasional accident.  Monkey was starting to learn how to use the potty (because he was interested), but since he was barely over a year old, we weren’t doing any intensive training yet.  While we were gone, Andrew bought a puppy…it was Patch.  Trinity got bit by a snake as we were coming home.  It was a great trip…really.

The next day went fine.  Everyone was happy to be back home.  We played outside most of the day.  There was a new puppy to play with.  It looked like Trinity was going to survive the snake bite.  Christmas was coming soon.  Life was good!  

Then came the evening.  One of the kids mentioned that their tummy hurt a little.  No one ate very well.  We got everyone washed and into bed early, hoping that the dreaded stomach bug would pass us by.  It didn’t.  It started in the middle of the night…it always does, doesn’t it?  We had a washer load or two of sheets and blankets by morning.  I knew it was going to be bad.  But, since I had already had it, I figured it would only last about 24 hours…just like it had for me.  Boy, was I wrong!  

On Monday, I figured we were pretty much at the end of it, and Andrew went off to work as usual.  Two of the kids stomach bugs progressed from the top side, to the bottom.  The other was still working on the top.  Lizard had completely forgotten all about using the potty, as had Monkey.  And, there was a puppy in the house who still didn’t know to put her waste products outside.  Not to mention an old, grumpy Trinity who was very upset about the puppy’s existence.  Andrew called around 10 that morning to check on us.  All I had to say was, “There are bodily fluids flying around everywhere!”  

Everyone did finally recover, though it took about 2 weeks for the kids…a far cry from my 1 day bug.  Once we were able to concentrate on training Patch, she caught on to the outside thing very quickly.  And, all those flying fluids finally dried up.  Now that was something to be thankful for!

14.  “Where are we going to put two pigs?”

This is another one I never had on my radar as a possible danger (see number 1).  I never thought I would need to worry about pigs.  But, a couple years ago, the deer hunting was bad…very bad.  Andrew was afraid we wouldn’t have enough meat set back in the freezer.  So, he decided that he wanted to buy a couple of pigs.  But, it seemed to me that we wouldn’t have anywhere to put 2 pigs.  Not surprisingly, Andrew quickly found a place.  

The pigs have been a great amusement for the kids.  They always enjoy feeding apple cores to the pigs.  We just put our second set in the freezer, which is always a little sad, but they are yummy!  There will be another set soon in our future, I assume.

15.  “Get that chicken foot out of my house!!!” 

Yes, you read that right.  When Andrew slaughters chickens, the dogs really enjoy playing keep away with each other using the chicken feet.  It’s kinda yucky!  Once, the kids had come out of the house during this game, and of course, they left the front door open.  In runs Midnight, with a chicken foot in his mouth to find a special place to hide it.  Fortunately, he had to run right past me to get inside.  As he ran through the door, I yelled, “Get that chicken foot out of my house!!”  He did.  Andrew started laughing, and he said, “You’re going to have to add that one to your list!”  So I did, and now you’re lucky enough to have read all about it!

 

 

 

 

Think Tank Thursday

 

 

 

 

Life Love and Dirty Dishes

 

 

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Messy Marriage

Epic Mommy Adventures


Well, this is the time of year when most homeschooling families start to decide what worked this past year and what we need to change.  Our family works on a bit of a different schedule than most (one of the great things about homeschooling is that we have the option to run on whatever schedule we want), and we just took a couple weeks off while I took a little maternity leave.  So, here’s what curriculum we’re currently using with all of the kids…well, all of the kids who are old enough to “do school” anyway.

Bear

Bear is working on many different grade levels in various subjects.  But, since she is currently 8 years old, we usually just say she is in the second grade.  It makes less confusion for most people we talk to!

      • Reading – We don’t have any specific reading program.  Bear reads pretty much anything she can get her hands on.  We are currently using the books from Catholic Heritage Curricula‘s Reading Comprehension program.  Right now she is reading the Father Brown Reader.  She reads a chapter, then narrates back what she reads.  Once or twice a week, I have her write down her narration.  We also use Beautiful Stories From Shakespeare, which is in the public domain.  We follow the same procedure for that book as we do for the Father Brown Reader.  She also narrates her history reading selections each week.
      • Memorization – We use The Harp and Laurel Wreath, and  How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare  for our memory selections.
      • Grammar – We just recently started using Fix It! Grammar (we’re starting with Book 1: The Nose Tree) from the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW).  I am very happy with it so far.  It is all review at the moment, but I wanted to start at the beginning of the series for continuity’s sake.  Bear has really been enjoying it as well.  The lessons are pretty short, so she really likes that.  Plus, she waits with anticipation to find out what will happen in the story next week.  Fix It! Grammar consists of a sentence each day to fix.  The students are presented with a set of grammar rules each week.  They must then fix a sentence each day.  Each week they must remember to continue fixing the previous weeks’ rules as well as the rule for that week.  A vocabulary word is presented with each day’s sentence as well.  The student must look up and write the definition each day.  So, by the end of the week, the student has learned four new vocabulary words. 
      • Writing – We also recently began using Fables, Myths, and Fairy Tales Writing Lessons from IEW.  We are both enjoying this curriculum as well so far.  We are only in Unit 1, but it really touches on some skills that were seriously lacking previously in Bear’s schooling.
      • Spelling – We are using the free curriculum from K12 Reader.  I’m thinking we may go back to the My Catholic Speller series from Catholic Heritage Curricula next year.  There’s nothing wrong with the material from K12 Reader, and I certainly like the price!  But, I don’t feel like it gives us any cohesiveness.
      • Math – Ah, the bain of our existence!  I have yet to find a curriculum that I really like or that Bear enjoys.  We’ve tried a few things, like Math Mammoth and Life of Fred.  The Life of Fred story just didn’t really engage Bear.  Math Mammoth seems fairly complete, but it was essentially just worksheet after worksheet.  We’re currently using the first book in the Strayer Upton Practical Arithmetics series.  It’s a good, solid foundation in basic arithmetic, with lots of practice problems.  But, it doesn’t provide me with much assistance for explaining mathematical concepts (which would be nice, since math is not one of my gifts).  I’m still not completely happy with it, but for some reason, we keep coming back to it.  Someday, we’ll find the math program that is right for us.  Right now, however, we are really enjoying Times Tales.  Bear had been struggling to memorize all of her multiplication facts.  But, since we started using this program a week ago, she seems to finally be getting them down!

     

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    • Science – We found Mr. Q Classic Science, Life Science curriculum.  He gives the Life Science away as a free download on his website.  We are really enjoying it so far.  The text is interspersed with funny little comments, that Bear enjoys reading.  The content seems pretty solid.  The elementary series also contains Earth Science, Chemistry, and Physical Science.  Each of the other books in the series are $50 each for a PDF download.  It’s a little pricey, but he usually offers the titles for half price every January.
    • History – We are currently working through (slowly) The Old World and America by Philip J. Furlong.  We also use Catholic Schoolhouse to add a little more detail for each time period.  I spend a lot of time pulling resources together for history.  We use a lot of library books and books from the public domain that I can download.  My husband likes to see a history quiz with short answer questions every week, so we use the discussion questions from The Old World and America quite a bit.  Bear narrates the reading selection every day, and at least once a week, she writes it out.  It really helps the information to sink in!
    • Religion – We’ve been using the Religion for Young Catholics curriculum series from Seton.  Bear likes it.  I like it alright, but some days it feels like she is just reading a page and filling in some blanks.  I’m not sure she’s really internalizing the information that is being presented.  I think we may try to go back to the Faith and Life series next year.
    • Spanish – We’ve been working through Learn Spanish With Grace.  Bear enjoys all of the songs.  I’m not sure she’s really internalizing a lot of the Spanish, but it’s a nice, gentle introduction.  When we’re done with this curriculum, I think we’re going to find something a little more intensive.  I have my eye on a couple of different programs, so I’ll have to make a choice soon.
    • Music – Bear is learning to play the piano.  I am using the Bastien Piano Basics series.  I learned piano using this series many years ago.  So, I’m familiar with the curriculum.  I can use my old books, which have notes from my piano teacher.  We’re still in the first level.

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Lizard

Lizard is also working on a couple of different grade levels, but, we generally say she’s in Kindergarten.

    • Reading – We are currently using Bigger Stories for Little Folks from Catholic Heritage Curricula.  Bear went through this series, too when she was first learning to read.  The youngest son in the book, Greg, keeps the reader quite entertained with his antics.  The stories are precious, and have our Faith woven into them as well.  It’s great for reading practice.  That said, it doesn’t really contain enough phonics practice for my taste, even though the description of the curriculum claims to have phonics tied into the lessons.  We add a phonics curriculum as well.
    • Phonics – We just finished Phonics for Young Catholics 1 curriculum from Seton.  We are taking a break from that series to have a little light-hearted fun with Explode the Code
    • Spelling – Again, we are using the curriculum from K12 Reader, but planning on moving back to the My Catholic Speller series next year
    • Math – We are working through a workbook that we received free from my aunt, who is a former elementary school teacher.  It came with a teacher’s manual, which is nice to have on hand in case I need to think of a different way to explain a concept.  It’s called Mathematics Today, but I’m guessing it’s probably out of print!
    • Handwriting – We are using Seton’s Handwriting for Young Catholics 1.  We both like this program, so I think we’ll probably be using it for quite some time to come.

Monkey

Monkey is just starting out with his schooling.  Right now, we’re focusing on the basics.  He’s busy learning his alphabet sounds, and learning how to count and recognize his numbers.

  • Phonics Sound City Phonics is a great beginning phonics curriculum.  The best part is that it’s free!  You can go to the website, and download all the materials you need and print it out as you need it.  Each letter sound is introduced with a funny story that Monkey really enjoys.  It really helps him to remember the sound each letter makes.
  • Math – Right now, we’re not doing anything formal.  I print out number recognition sheets from various places around the internet for us to do together.  We also use counters, or buttons, or animal crackers to practice counting, and to play around with the concept of addition and subtraction.

 

So, what curriculum do you use and really enjoy?  If you haven’t decided yet what you’re going to use for next year, here’s a few charts I use to help me weigh all the pros and cons (and budget) for each curriculum item I consider.  Try them out…they’re free!  See how it works for you!

 

Curriculum by Supplier

 Curriculum by Subject

 Curriculum by Student

 

Did you miss Part 1?  Read it here.


The next morning, Andrew and I were up by 5 am.  Andrew went out to take care of the animals, which had to be done before we could leave.  I showered and dressed.  Then, I cooked some eggs and toast for breakfast.  Andrew came back into the house as I was sitting down to eat my breakfast.  He started washing eggs.

“We have another errand to run before the induction.”  he told me.  We already had one errand to run before heading to the hospital.  Andrew and the kids had picked all the carrots, and they needed to be taken to the food pantry in town.  Tuesdays are the big distribution day, so, that’s the day Andrew always drops off any fresh produce he has to donate.  Now, apparently, there was a second errand.

“What’s that?”  I asked suspiciously.

“Weeeeeeeeell, I caught that opossum that’s been up on the porch stealing the dogs’ food.  We need to take it down the road and let it go.”

“Ugh.  Really?!?  Opossums smell so bad, and we’re already running late.  Can’t you just let Midnight have it?  He’d have so much fun.  Then we wouldn’t have to worry about it!”

Midnight has some sort of problem with opossums.  We don’t know why, but he harbors a serious grudge against these little critters.  Of course, Andrew knew I wasn’t serious…at least, not completely serious.  Well, maybe I was serious, but I knew he’d say no.  Opossums are actually beneficial creatures to have around…just not if they’re stealing dog food.

Andrew laughed, “No, we can’t give it to Midnight!  That wouldn’t be right.  I don’t want to kill it…I just want it someplace it won’t steal our dog food.”

“Oh, fine!”  I said, annoyed.

So it was that we had to find a spot down our little road where we could perform the “release” portion of my husband’s “catch and release” opossum program before the birth of our fifth baby.  Only in my life do these things happen!  This was already shaping up to be a unique story.  But, I had no idea how much drama was yet to come.

After all of our pre-induction stops, we finally made it to the hospital, but we were a little bit late.  The nurse was ready and waiting on us.  She handed me my stylish gown to wear during labor.  I got changed, then into the bed I climbed.  The nurse hooked me up to the monitors.  When she finished, she put in my IV to start my first dose of antibiotics.  I was Group B Strep positive, so I had to have at least two doses of these IV antibiotics at least four hours apart. 

Now, my doctor and I have played this game before (I’ve been GBS positive with my last 3 pregnancies).  I have a history of fairly fast labors.  My second baby only took 5 hours to make her appearance.  The boys took right around 4 hours each…one was a little more, one was a little less.  We planned to have one dose complete, and the second dose at least started before my doctor even began the induction.  So, I knew I had a few hours to wait around while the antibiotics were going.

Meanwhile, our baby had decided to play a game of her own called “run away from the pesky monitor”.  Every time the nurse found the heartbeat, Baby would run away again.  The nurse decided, in a bit of arrogance, that Baby would be in a certain place.  Clearly, Baby was not there.  But, despite the evidence, the nurse refused to try the monitor anywhere else.  This, of course, let to much annoyance for her, and constant interruptions to us, since she was continually having to come in to readjust the monitor.  The reasons many people seek to avoid continuous fetal monitoring were about to become more obvious.

Soon after I was all wired in, the monitors showed that the baby’s heart rate had dropped significantly.  I was having some mild contractions, but I couldn’t even feel them.  Remember, nothing had been done yet to start the induction.  The contractions I was having were just the same Braxton-Hicks contractions I’d been having for months.  We were even still waiting to start the antibiotics.  

Our nurse came in, and started trying to find the baby’s heart rate…again.  She didn’t seem too worried, at first.  But then, when she did find it, it was only 50 beats per minute…far too slow!  That started a panic.  My nurse patted me on the arm and said, “Looks like you’re gettin’ a c-section, Honey!”  She put the oxygen on me and had me rolling back and forth, trying to get the baby back into a good position.  There were nurses flying around the room, and the hospital staff OB came in.  Everyone in the room seemed ready to whisk me off to the OR for an emergency c-section.  Andrew and I are still trying to decide if the drop in heart rate was real, or if it was an artifact of an arrogant nurse and an ill-placed monitor.  Whatever the case, we were scared!  We were praying like we’d never prayed before that our sweet baby would make it into this world.

By the time my doctor arrived a few minutes later, the baby’s heart rate was back to normal.  He looked at the tape from the monitor, and decided it had nothing to do with the mild contraction in question.  The drop had started before the contraction had started.  The baby’s heart rate had been just fine up until that point, and by that time, it was strong and steady again.  There was no reason to rush off into surgery.  The best course of action, he believed, would be to continue monitoring for a few hours.  If everything continued to be fine, we would start the induction as planned.  However, if it happened again, we would need to consider a c-section.  He seemed to think it was necessary to talk us out of surgery.  I had never been more thankful for a non-reactionary doctor with a steady head on his shoulders!

We had to wait for the antibiotics anyway, so it wasn’t that big of a deal to wait.  But now, we were nervously obsessing over every sound coming out of that monitor.  Andrew sat and watched every blip the monitors recorded.  Every time I got up to use the rest room, that nurse was back in my room before I even got done to make sure the monitors were hooked back up immediately.  All this time, Baby’s heart rate was doing fine.  It was nice and strong…140 when resting, and about 160 when active.  But, Baby decided running away from the monitor was no longer entertaining enough.  Now, Baby has declared war on the monitor…kicking and punching the spot where the monitor is strapped around my belly.  When a contraction would hit while Baby was already wiggling, the fight was on!  Baby’s heart rate would go up to 180, and the contraction monitor would go crazy with all the kicking it received!  I decided it was safe to say that Baby was handling everything just fine.

Around 12:45, the doctor came back in to start on the induction.  He had the nurse start a slow dose of Pitocin along with the second dose of antibiotics to make the contractions I was already having get a little stronger and more regular.  Baby was still up fairly high (probably because I had been strapped to a bed all morning), and he didn’t want to break my water yet because of the risk of a cord prolapse.  So, the nurse started the IV with what she called a “whiff” of Pitocin.

The Pitocin drip was so slow that it didn’t do a whole lot.  I still wasn’t really feeling the contractions very much.  The doctor returned an hour later to break my water.  The nurse later informed us that he had broken my water at 1:46 pm.  That’s when things started to get exciting again.  The doctor told us that I should get into active labor within an hour or so.  He would be in his office until 3:00.  After that, he would be back by to check in and see how things were progressing.  He expected, given my past history, to have a baby around 5 or 6 pm.  “But,” he tells me, “if you start feeling anything strange, especially if you feel like you need to poop, before then, let the nurse know, and we’ll check on you a little sooner.”  He said I could have an epidural any time.  We told him I was going to try to go without it this time.  He kind of chuckled and said, “Brave woman!”

The contractions became strong and regular very fast.  Andrew kept trying to talk to me, and make me laugh.  I was already hurting pretty badly, and he was trying to distract me from it.  But, I was not in the mood!  At first, I as able to manage a weak smile or two.  Then, I just started to ignore him…all I could concentrate on was the contractions and the impending birth of my baby.  Eventually, he realized I needed him to be quiet and just be there for me.  He stood next to the bed and held my hands through the contractions.  

About half an hour later, I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore.  Now, I had read all about the emotional signposts of labor.  I was clearly feeling a lot of self-doubt (which I knew indicates transition), but it had only been half an hour.  There was no way I was that far along…I thought.  My last two labors had taken right around four hours.  In my mind, I still had at least 3 hours before the birth of our baby!

I told Andrew several times that I couldn’t do it.  I needed the epidural.  He just said, “Yes you can, yes you can.”  He was very encouraging, but he was afraid we still had a few hours before birth as well.

“Get the nurse to get me an epidural!”  I said finally.

Andrew proposed a compromise.  “The nurse will be back in here soon to check you.  Wait until then to see about the epidural.  If you aren’t very far along yet, perhaps the epidural would be best.  But maybe you’re almost there.  If you are, you can do it without one.”

I grumpily told him, “You’re just trying to make me wait until it’s too late!”  But, reluctantly, I said, “Fine.  I need to pee anyway.  Help me get to the restroom.”  So, Andrew helped me out of bed and to the restroom.  When I got there, I realized that I did not, in fact, need to “pee”!  I told Andrew.  He ran to the door to advise the nurse, “She feels like she has to ‘go’!”  

The nurse replied, rather nonchalantly, “Okay.  I’ll come check her.”  

Andrew helped me back from the restroom while the nurse took her time getting into my room.  We had to stop twice because the contractions were coming so fast.  I was much more comfortable taking them while standing and leaning on Andrew.  I didn’t want to get back in that bed.  As I got to the bed, another contraction hit, and I sank down on my knees while I waited for it to pass.

The nurse finally wandered into my room quite lackadaisically.  I managed to get back into the bed.  None of us really thought I could possibly be very far along yet.  It had only been a little over half an hour.  But, as she checked, her eyes got as big as saucers.  “Ummmm…she’s a 7 and a half, and just stretched to an 8!”

She practically ran to the door, stuck her head out and called, “She’s an 8!” to another nurse at the nurse’s station right outside the door.  We heard the other nurse say, “Wow!  That was fast.”

Then, she set about preparing my room for imminent delivery.  I tried to tell my nurse that it was time for an epidural.  She stopped, and looked at me, and said, “Ain’t gonna happen!  There’s not enough time.  You’ve just got five more contractions.”  She resumed running around the room getting everything ready.

I started to feel the need to push. 

With the next contraction, I announced, “I have to push.”

“NO YOU DON’T!”  the nurse stated rather emphatically.  “If baby comes on its own, fine.  But don’t help yet!  Just give me five more contractions.  PLEASE!”  She ran to the door of the room, then ran back in.

On the next contraction, I told her that I had to push, I couldn’t stop it anymore.  The nurse gave me the least  helpful advice ever, “Just breathe through it,” she said, “just breathe.  Don’t push yet.  The doctor isn’t here.”  A wave of more panicked nurses flooded into the room.

By the next contraction, I was screaming from the effort of trying not to push.  The nurses had set off all the blinking lights in the entire hospital.  My room was crawling with nurses.  The staff OB wandered in again.  Apparently no one had time to fill her in, and she was wondering what all the screaming was about.  I couldn’t hold back the pushing anymore, my body just took over.  It wasn’t physically possible to stop it.  I could feel the baby crowning.  Birth was imminent.  My nurse had her hand on the baby’s head.  She practically yelled at the staff OB, “Get your gloves on!!!”  

Just as the staff OB was reaching for some gloves, my doctor ran into the room, leap-frogging over a couple of nurses who where close to the doorway.  The nurse said, “Your gloves are right there.  She’s crowning.”  They switched places just in time for the next contraction.  I finally got to push.  The baby’s head was delivered immediately.  I started to push again to birth the body, but the shoulders hung up a little.  Everyone was a little confused.  The doctor realized my legs were still down from trying not to push, and said, “Her legs!  Get her legs up!”  Andrew and the nurse helped me get into the proper position.  One more push, and our new daughter was born at 2:52 pm…after one hour and six minutes worth of active labor.

They laid her on my chest.  I held her while I delivered the placenta.  Andrew and I were overjoyed.

The doctor took a deep breath, looked around and said, “Now that’s what we call a precipitous delivery!”

The nurse said, “You still owe me one contraction, by the way!”  Everybody laughed.

I held our baby girl on my chest for quite a while.  Eventually, Andrew and the nurse took her to the other side of the room to weigh her and clean her off a little.  She tipped the scales at 8 pounds, 14 ounces, and she was 21 inches long.  Andrew calls her his “itsy bitsy giant.”

After the doctor finished sewing me up, everyone left us alone to bond as a new family.  Our little girl nursed like a tiny expert.

We asked the doctor, when he made his rounds the next day, how on earth he made it from his office so quickly.  We were figuring he must have already been back in the hospital for some reason.  But, he gave us a sheepish grin and said, “Lots of unsafe driving!  I didn’t use the brakes much.  I set a new record.  Apparently, I can make it here from my office in three minutes.”

The doctor discharged us that evening.  We took our sweet new baby girl home.  Her brothers and sisters love their new baby sister already.  Her youngest brother may be a little excessively affectionate.  He wants to give her kisses every time he sees or hears her.

We are now home, learning to be a family of seven.  It was a wild ride, but we’re so happy to have our new baby girl with us at last!

 

 

 

 

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Twin Mummy and Daddy

ethannevelyn.com

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted here.  Wondering why?  Well, we welcomed the newest member to our family!  This birth was an interesting journey, and a bit of a wild ride…from the very beginning!

Monday morning, we had an appointment with our doctor for our 40 week check-up.  Imagine, for a moment, this scenario: You are heavily pregnant, sitting at the doctor’s office…with you four older, very bored children.  It’s the day before your due date, and your blood pressure is starting to run just a little bit high.  So, the doctor wants to wire you down for a non-stress test…just to make sure everything was alright with the baby.  This is the scenario unfolding for me that morning.  Fortunately, my husband had met us there for the appointment.  

My boys were in rare form that morning…each specializing in the kinds of torture only brothers can provide for one another.  They were sitting in the only two regular chairs in the exam room, looking innocent as can be.  Soon, Monkey would screech and smack a very still and innocent looking Rhino.  Rhino thought it was funny, and started laughing.  Monkey was told to leave his brother alone.  They quiet down for a couple of minutes.  Then, Rhino would screech and smack an innocent looking Monkey.  Now it was Monkey’s turn to laugh.  They were taking turns poking each other just out of sight of their dad and me, thinking we wouldn’t catch on to their little game.  Soon, Bear got into the game.  She went and sat between them, under the pretense of helping them to behave themselves.  Instead, the two boys both  turned on their sister, so instead of poking each other, now they were both poking her.  Meanwhile, Lizard was on the doctor’s stool…you know, the kind that’s on wheels with the seat that spins freely.  She was propelling herself back and forth across the open section of the exam room while laying across the seat of the stool.  The doctor came in to this scene, and fortunately started laughing.  He looks at everyone, and said, “Reminds me of my kids.  But they’re grown up now.”

None of the other kids had ever made it all the way to their due dates.  Baby was measuring big, and I was sick of being pregnant.  I was ready for this birth!  But, at the previous checks over the past three weeks, my body just wasn’t showing any signs of agreement.  We were all getting a little anxious for this baby’s birth…even the doctor!  But today was a different story.  I was finally starting to dilate and was about 50% effaced.  The doctor pulled out his phone to decide when to schedule an induction.  Andrew and I piped up, asking, “How about tomorrow?”  So, we decided to go ahead and schedule an induction for the following morning.

After the appointment, I called my parents to let them know it was time to come down.  We only gave them 8 hours notice to get here.  But, that’s a lot longer than they would have gotten if I had gone into labor on my own!  They always stay with the bigger kids while Andrew and I are at the hospital for a birth.  We were all excited.  It was almost time for Baby!

 

Stay tuned this week to read Part 2, where we finally get to meet our new baby!

 

The Life Of Faith