Life With Nine Kids

Saturday, December 14, 2013

December 2013~ The good, the bad, the funny

Going on Day 25 with no refrigerator. I feel asleep last night a huge bag of lettuce did not survive  the bitter frozen night. I read online that frozen romaine lettuce can be cooked like spinach. Ugh. I really wanted salad instead. We thaw our carton of orange juice or milk in the sink. The kids think OJ slush is a treat. Frozen eggs look so cool when you crack them open. Only half of the eggs get frozen; I think it has something to do with how much air is inside them.
New refrigerator is getting delivered on Friday! We couldn't fix ours though we tried to ourselves. Nobody makes anything that lasts anymore, it's sad.
Oh! And we still have a difficult, barely working, must drain it 3x manually, washing machine, too. Trying to remedy that problem presently...
The weather got warm (50's) for a couple of days. We took advantage and raked tons of leaves, winterized the chicken coop (we are doing the deep litter method this year!), got shelters nice and ready for other farm animals, and put up Christmas lights/decorated the house outside. I also cleaned the back porch/ refrigerator. We are using ice chests and the porch in general as the fridge. When it was in the 50's we had to keep things in coolers, now that it's so cold we're lazy and we just throw stuff out the door. I had to bring the beer and lettuce in though. Don't want those in freezing temps.
We took Sebastian (5) to the eye Dr. yesterday. I noticed six months ago his left eye would cross when he was focused on things. Ricky never noticed until I pointed it out a few times. I could totally tell it was a problem and knew we should get him in to see a optometrist. We had a wave of dentist, orthodontist and Dr. appointments the past 4 months. Like seriously A TON of appointments and so it was easy to put this off. I feel really bad now about it though.
Sebastian's Eye Appointment
Sebastian (5) is a very funny, very dry, very particular kid He's sensitive but strong and very proud. He was apprehensive about going, understandably so, but didn't want me explaining what they were going to do. He dragged his feet into the office (literally!) and I expected him to have a meltdown. He didn't though, he sat up and listened, and the exam started off well. Once we got to looking at letters or cards he started being a goofball. Ricky was with me and we could tell when he called a giant letter 'E' the letter 'A' he was faking. The Dr. moved to black and white pictures and showed him a card with an umbrella on it. Sebastian thought about it and said he didn't know what it was. I could tell he was stalling and then he had an idea click into his head. "Rain" he slyly said. The next picture was of a house and he said, very quickly with a big smile, "DOG!"

The Dr. looked at the card and asked him again, Sebastian went back to his previous tactic of saying something related to the picture. After a long deliberation he calls the house a tent. Clever. He had an ornery I don't really want to play this game grin. Little stinker, he is SUCH a character. The Dr. was so cool about it. He went with the names Sebastian chose for the pictures and continued showing him the same pictures in different sizes. Sebastian slipped up only once calling the 'rain' one it's proper name  of umbrella. 
  At first we were seriously nervous because Sebastian can get really upset and moody -even sad and loudly screaming. Make him feel embarrassed or awkward (or accuse him of something) and he often times really feels it deeply and has a very difficult time dealing with those emotions. So we didn't know what to expect when he started playing silly games. We were also starting to get slightly mortified. I also hid behind Beatrice silently laughing so hard at times. I looked at Ricky trying to keep a cool composure and it made me laugh harder! In the end the doc recommended we see a pediatric specialist for glasses, because  his two sides are very different and we will need special advice (and monitoring) about his left eye. I was worried I waited too long to bring him in. This Dr. said we didn't wait too long and this is the age that is important to get him in glasses since he is learning to write and do things close up. He may have needed surgery as a teen in his left eye if this went untreated. He sees very, very little out of his left eye and his left eye crosses when he tries to focus.
Beatrice six months old:
Beatrice loves:
When Penelope blows up balloons -she laughs her head off!
When Ethan and Sage play peak a boo with her
When Everett and Sebastian play karate -she watches and wiggles and is entertained
When Charlotte walks her around the house when I can't

Things said in December 2013
Penelope age 7: MOM! I'm bored. I think I got the bored flu.
me: It's called winter

Everett age 3: I don't like this (pokes at his peanut butter and jelly)
me: Okay, you don't have to eat it.
Everett: It taste like zombie brains
me: lol ok don't eat it
Everett: I don't like it, it taste like zombie braaaainNNNs. And I don't like eating that.
me: OKAY, lol don't eat it!
To close out the day I just got to say this awesome sentence: Don't color on your penis.
I made a salt table with the kids today. It was ruined in 6 minutes flat. I asked Everett WHY, WHY did he pour his apple juice in our salt table. His reply, "Because a fire is in dare." He was also apologizing profusely and he was surprised, of course, that he had ruined the salt table. We'll try it again when I get more salt... He sees fires everywhere and he's obsessed with it! This is what a salt tray is ...

Sebastian age 5 is supposed to write a letter to give to Santa at pre school class. Here is what he told Ricky. haha.
Dear Santa,
I would like a haunted castle with gaurds and a giant goblin with a giant sword in his hand, a green katana would be best. The goblin should be creepy.
Sebastian: This is my dollar, look see George Washington is on it
Me: Oh cool. You know that's George Washington?
Sebastian: Auh duh, I know George Washington is on the dollar
Me: Do you know who he is?
Sebastian condescending tone: Auh yeeah I know, don't you know I was born in the 90's, so of course I know who he is.
Me: Oh, lol, okay, I guess you do know him then.
Sebastian: Yeah, he is the first president and that was a long time ago, like 90's.
hahahaaha. Love 5 year olds!
 Everett-3 years old said he had no eyebrows so Charlotte showed him in a mirror he did. He said in the cutest surprised toddler voice ever, "Oh! There they are! I was lookin' fo' dem'" What is even better is that a couple months ago he told me he didn't have eyebrows! I told him he did but he insisted he didn't and then ran off to play. So all this time he really thought he didn't have any for some reason. So cute and funny! So wonderful.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Another Kid...

I’ve heard people say that if you wait to have kids (you know until you are “ready” and financially secure) then you’ll never have them. Well as it turns out the same goes for goats.

  I was supposed to get goats 12 years ago. They were a birthday present from my husband. He was clearing land to build me a goat pen for them and everything, but I told him to stop. We were possibly moving and we weren’t ready for goats. Every year thereafter goats have been discussed and a couple of those years we have come realllly close to getting goats, but we always came to our senses. We kept waiting for the right time. This fall we started to talk serious goat talk again. We want some brush clearing yard helpers and mowers, and we are looking for raw milk. We finally made a practical use plan for having goats around. (Things to consider: breeds, sexes, milking, feeding, shelter, fencing, what to do with babies, how to breed them if we don't want a male around -renting a stud goat-, Etc.)
 Even so, goat shopping was not on the top of our priority list as the washing machine and refrigerator simultaneously broke, the holiday season is here, we have a 5 month old baby, and we are already taking on new expenses this month for heating and the growing food budget... now purchasing organic eggs at the grocery store AND buying feed for our chickens because it is cold and our hens are on winter break so they are not laying right now. We could come up with at least six more reasons why we shouldn’t get goats. I really started the whole thing up again when in October I told Ricky nostalgically that this year would be the perfect year for goats because next year Charlotte would be 18, and I promised her that we’d have goats someday. A promise I made to her when she was just a bright eyed kindergartner. He listened thoughtfully and started making goat shelter plans that same morning. In the meantime Craigslist hadn’t yielded anything promising in the way of actual goats. We had very specific requirements and not a lot of time to fool around at an animal auction. For one we wanted Nigerian Dwarf goats for milk flavor and a smaller size goat that fits well on our land and backyard with little human kids, but were also interested in the Saanen breed. We also didn’t want to pay a lot. Goats have really gone up in price since the last time we seriously looked. The goat talk quieted down...

 Since we were going to be further out in the country for two days over Thanksgiving I casually said we should look around for goats. The day after Thanksgiving Ricky looked online and sure enough we found a Dwarf Nigerian mama with a Dwarf Nigerian Saanen cross baby doe. The owners didn't want to see  the mama go but were selling her because she was very “docile” and the other goats were picking on her.  My grandma is a wheeler and a dealer so I asked her to call and negotiate a price for us. She’s hilarious and of course did call for us and got us $30 off their already reduced price (they claimed they had already gone down in price, and it was a good price). Grandma wasn’t pleased they wouldn’t budge more on price but we were happy enough. So we were on our way over hills and winding country roads to pick up new additions to our lives...
Charlotte, 17, and Dixie our very first baby goat. I promised Charlotte we would have goats when she was in pre school and kindergarten. Promise fullfilled!

I fell asleep on the long ride home and Charlotte took my picture. I also got peed on. It was a given though; someone was gonna get it.

We have no refrigerator (New one is on order) and technically a broken washing machine, but we have goats and we have each other. If we were to wait until everything was perfect would we EVER have gotten them??

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

November Update

A round of turkey-bingo with a 7, 5 and 3 year old went horribly wrong; kids crying, whinny,  bored. Everett's jumping off the living room coffee table. I'm pretty much trying to salvage our "school" day and say, 'you're going to like this dang turkey-bingo game if it's the last thing I do' *shaking fist* ...but then snowflakes started falling across the living room window and we were all rescued from the torture. The first snow we always have hot cocoa to celebrate. Usually I don't make it when it's just a flurry of flakes that ends in 6 minutes, but today is different. Today we need a distraction. Badly. Not all the Enchanted Learning printables and Pinterest homescool pins in the world can save me from today.

It's one of those days where I am being as calm and awesome as can humanly be possible, even giving Mary Poppins a run for her money, and the children are being as whiny, fussy, picky, and uncooperative as possible. Sometimes every single minute is a struggle. Sometimes the results of awesome parenting and patience just doesn't take hold until they are older. ((lol lol)) I tell myself just keep swimming...
At bedtime tonight I told the kids enthusiastically that we'd try turkey-bingo again tomorrow. They all said "okay mom!" So tomorrow is another day.
I really don't have much time to do anything let alone write. It gets me a little down but I try to write things down here and there. This month was supposed to be more relaxed, more carefree, more balanced, less stressed. It was none of those things. I journaled some things off and on this month...

Layla's doing interviews around the house today. She asks me and Sebastian in a talk show host tone, "Okay now, what schools or colleges have you gone to? ...and Clown College counts, so don't be shy."

Sage and Ethan had their wisdom teeth out and it sucked, but it's over and now we don't ever have to worry about their straight teeth (which they were naturally given!) being ruined from wisdom teeth. We had their wisdom teeth out early in hopes it would be an easier process because the younger you are the smaller they are. Unfortunately for us the difference between 13-14 years old and Charlotte having hers out at 16 years old was not much.  

Chicken Surgery
Charlotte and I can now add chicken tongue surgery to our resumes.  Poor lil bird. It was time to add some young chickens to the flock again. We usually raise spring chicks but this time we decided to try fall birds. We bought them 6 weeks ago and they just got let loose with the big girl birds last week.  When you raise chicks in the spring they don’t start laying eggs until Halloween or Thanksgiving and then soon winter hits and they slow or stop laying for a while. This spring we’ll have healthy perfectly aged birds ready to crank out eggs all spring and summer.
They had only been with the big girls 24 hours before Penelope and Sage caught one and noticed she had a long red string in her mouth.  Charlotte told me she tried to pull it out but it was stuck. Upon further investigation the thread was tied around this poor chickens tongue two different ways and knotted three times! It definitely appeared to be cutting off circulation. We worked on this 2 ft. string for a half hour.  One end was down the chicken’s throat and one hanging out of her mouth.  Charlotte held the bird and I went to work and it was not easy but we got it done despite almost giving up twice.

The poor hen stayed calm and let us stick tweezers down her throat…my good 10 year old Tweezer-man tweezers!  I cannot even think of all the gross things I’ve used these tweezers for. If I even began to name the things you’d barf.  I just keep boiling them on the stove as if it’s the only tool in the whole world.  You can not underestimate the power of a good pair of tweezers…and I still use them on my eyebrows. Lol.  
To get the full effect of the surgery story you would have to hear in the background kids running, crying, fighting, and see Everett keep stealing our scissors and tweezers when we weren’t looking.  Also the sound of “mom, mom, mom, moooom, mom…” on repeat. It was nuts. The chicken survived!
Friday 11-15-13
Feeling very thankful thoughts today even though my house isn't as clean as I wish it was and I feel really, really behind (and our washing machine is broken and the dirty clothes are starting to pile up). Feeling thankful I have a sweet baby to care for even if the sweeping isn't getting done and the bathroom is messy and past due for a cleaning. I have kids to run to appointments and school events so my bedroom has baskets of unfolded clothes that we were able to wash finally, and important papers. The baby's changing table in my bedroom holds papers, a belly cast, a lap top computer, a toy sword, some other junk and the directions for Layla's 5k run tomorrow. Things are piling up. I keep telling myself to keep living and no stressing.

Every night I think I'll get caught up after the kids go to bed, but I don't. It's mostly because of long talks and laughter on the couch visiting late into night with my husband. Last night we laughed and laughed and laughed together like we were enjoying a date. I like a clean and organized house but I like my husband more. I also noticed recently that we just never have time to watch TV together...and it's because we spend so much time visiting with each other (after the kids are in bed) it gets way too late to watch TV. What a wonderful problem to have.
 Saturday 11-16-13
Feeling thankful and proud that when I woke up this morning I stumbled into the kitchen and saw 7 year old Penelope loading the dishwasher. I was supposed to do a monstrous amount of dishes last night but fell asleep with Ricky. Thankful that I live in a home where we care and take care of it together even if it's pretty hectic.
Today is Girls On The Run 5k day GO LAYLA!!!!
Layla finished her 5K in with a time of 35.12. SO proud of her. Her practice 5k last weekend was 34.12. Amazing pace!

Sunday 11-17-13
A beautiful day outside, but inside there is crying and screaming over: burnt finger (Penelope and hot glue, hot glue won), laundry piling up badly from broken washer, glass broken on kitchen floor, Everett hollering for some one to peel his apple, Sebastian has a birthday party to go to, the kitchen is a mess with half painted walls and a broken refrigerator, and some insane woman bought 80 lbs of apples and 50 lbs of local she thought she had time for that and 8 kids.

I got to retreat to the den to peacefully soothe and nurse a hungry sweet baby for 10 minutes. Back to work now.

So very thankful for a patient husband who spent 4.5 hours doing laundry last night. (And then I spent 2 hours folding it all.) I don't know how I'd get through the day if he wasn't at the end of every single one smiling at me.

Monday 11-18-13

We really need to order a new water pump for the washer, but the old one is still working --sort of. In order to get it to complete a load of laundry Ricky has to open up the washer valve at the right time and manually drain the washer into our basement floor drain two times a cycle. Then when the pump kicks on he has to make sure it's primed. Sometimes this means pouring water into a hose he has attached to the washer so that the pump primes, this signals our pain in the butt high tech front loader to start the spin cycle.
We have no way to spin the clothes dry unless the washer is signaled by the pump.  Ridiculous. We've said countless times for countless reasons we are never buying a washer that doesn't have a specified SPIN selection on it. Clothes still wet? No spin for you, you're just stuck!!! It's frustrating.

What else was I doing last night? Emptying our refrigerated foods into the freezer downstairs and into an ice chest on the porch. Yup fridge is broken now too. We got the milk out of the ice chest this morning, it's just like camping!

Sunday 11-24-13
We are still living without a refrigerator and washer. A mild but still barfy stomach bug invaded our home. My turn was last night. None of the little kids have gotten in yet, which means the barfed on laundry and towels hasn't hit yet. Life is slightly frustrating a real challenge sometimes!
Two weeks ago I told Ricky I wanted a white vintage Christmas tree. Spoiled and grateful, I am sitting near it right now as I type. We found it on Ebay. He said he loves it too and it was a great idea!

 Monday Nov 26, 2013
The crock pot leaks and I just noticed a crack. I was complaining about it and Ricky said I complained more about a broken $40 crock pot than I have about the refrigerator. Ha. Funny and interesting. 

I have been thinking all week about how refreshing it is we don't have to do anything for Thanksgiving. I'm not even making pie. Charlotte just told me, "I'm so glad we don't have to cook anything this year!" And while we love having Thanksgiving at our house we are so glad we aren't hosting it this year.

Then we started discussing pie...and how we have a pumpkin on the porch and we should make fresh pumpkin pie ...and how we should make a Thanksgiving centerpiece too.

Well so much for doing nothing! Charlotte's cutting up that pumpkin right now. Something is so wrong with us!!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Mom’s Mug

Last week Penelope and Sebastian started telling me a story about Sage breaking my most favorite mug. I’m trying to follow along because they are five and seven and rattling off about it loudly over each other and I have no idea what they are saying.

Me: Waahhht are you talking about? My mug is broke? My favorite one, my country girl?!!
Penelope: Yes, that’s what I’m trying to tell you! Your country girl one. Sage broke the handle right off!
Me: WHEN!?
Penelope: When you went to the Dr. 
Sebastian: Yup, SAGE broke it. Uh-uh, he really did. (Really sounded like willy)
Penelope: And it was the day Aunt Shar-Shar picked us up.

 I’m putting dishes away and standing in front of the open cupboard of mugs. I tell her that it’s not broken, I point to the two tone rustic brown mug in the cupboard. The words COUNTRY GIRL are turned away but it’s totally my mug. “See right there it is” I say.
Sebastian and Penelope go crazy laughing and jumping up and down, “It’s not! It’s really not your one.” I look at it closer and notice the rustic coloring is a little different (each mug is individually unique).  Now I’m thinking all-be-darn is that my same mug? I use this mug everyday…  I suddenly half realize and remember the weekend they were with Aunt Sharon my mug was missing! I didn't look very hard for it at the time. I figured it would turn up.
I still insisted, “See guys THIS IS my mug.” In one swift swoop I picked it up, turned it right side up and around so the words were facing me and I notice the words scrawled across it… FARM GIRL. 
The coloring variation is more vivid in person, but you get the idea

HUH?! I’m totally baffled! I start busting up in serious laughter. I did not see that one coming at all.
Penelope and Sebastian couldn’t wait out the sibling secret any longer; they just had to get it out. They squealed wildly, “Charlotte bought you a NEW MUG! Told you it wasn’t your old one.”

Laugh my butt off. Those two little kids kept that secret for 5 days! I'm impressed. 
I never noticed on my own! LOL!

I love my new mug! Charlotte had bought me my old one three Christmases ago at a feed store two hours away and she bought me my new one too. Love those kids. And Charlotte is so sweet to think to stop at that same feed store. It’s my new favorite!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Beatrice's Unassisted Birth Story (half hour labor and birth -with extra info on my favorite topics of vernix, cord cutting, and not pushing)

 On Thursday June 13th (40 weeks 3 days pregnant) I had a strong feeling while grocery shopping that if I went into labor I wouldn’t make it home on time. That night Ricky and I fell asleep early with the kids. At 11:30pm I woke up, got online, and piddled around the house. It was 2:30am before I knew it. I finished up some laundry and moved a couple of kids out of our bed while deciding that I’m probably going to hold onto this baby until 41 weeks. I wasn't antsy about the birth, I felt patient and at peace. I crawled into bed, Ricky snuggled me sweetly into him, and I dozed off.

  I started having contractions like I usually do at night. They were coming and going as I drifted in and out of sleep; as they got stronger I started the visualization I had been doing for weeks of the baby being pulled down and my cervix being pulled open. Three stronger waves of contractions followed, I breathed deeply and kept focus on baby pushing down and cervix opening up. I could actually feel my uterus, baby, and cervix working synergistically (and had felt this feeling for weeks during night time waves like this). While half-asleep Ricky rubbed my belly in response to my wiggling around and deep breathing. I found it really hard to stay asleep despite the fact that I kept dosing off quickly over and over again. Soon it was too much pain to deal with while lying down so I tried a different position. I got on my hands and knees in bed and breathed through one more attention stealing short wave. Ricky asked if I was okay; this was practically a nightly ritual by now so neither one of was thinking I’m really in labor, but it definitely could be because it has to start sometime! I lumbered out of bed to use the bathroom and to see if I feel like it's active labor picking up. On the toilet I had a few really deep, strong contractions; I had to breathe though them and at one point I was grabbing onto the sides of the toilet like the world had just been turned on it's side and I was hanging on for dear life. Good golly I think I dilated to 7 in just that *one* contraction -no seriously I probably totally did. I checked and felt a nice, soft, very medium sized cervical opening. Wow! It's now very officially baby night! I don't rely on dilation as a timeline of progress, I just use it as a guide, so I never actually guesstimate how many centimeters. I measure cervical dilation more like this: small, medium, large, and oh the baby is coming out now.

  After going to the bathroom and composing myself I went to the bedroom to tell slumbering Ricky the baby is going to be born tonight! I tell him that I’m going back to the bathroom and I’ll come get him in a bit. I think it's 3am at this point. In the bathroom I feel for cervix again and there has been a lot of change. I feel like I really want to have this baby …like in a few minutes. Or now. I feel a familiar pressure that I recognize as the baby’s head slipping down a little. I actually kind of dismiss the feeling a little bit! I still had planned on walking around and visualizing opening just like I'm in early labor. Instead I just felt like squatting and letting the pressure consume my whole body. I decide that I need to relax and find relief in the shower or bath -I feel desperate for the shower. (In all my births I get in the shower during transition and then end up sitting in the tub, then I get out of the tub to give birth. I think I’ve trained my body to go there when it’s time. Plus it's comfortable!) The shower is the most comfortable, safe, warm, soothing place for me. 

 As I undressed for the shower I began shaking. My teeth were chattering and I was trembling. I smiled ear to ear and thought to myself this is unbelievable, I am totally in transition! I looked like a mad woman, determined and strong, tidying and nesting the bathroom while trembling and quickly stashing shampoos and soaps in the cupboard. I was breathing very deeply in and out through my mouth and nose. I remember having a couple of contractions, but I worked through them like a cheetah trying to outrun something. I swiftly scrubbed the tub out (for the third time that week) so it was as clean as possible. I felt like if only I could get into the shower I’d wrap my head around how fast it was all happening and labor and birth would unfold. It was happening so fast that really the only thing that was unfolding was birth itself! As I was getting into the shower I stopped and looked back to the mirror to admire my teeth chattering and marvel at my body shaking and trembling. As I looked back at myself in the mirror a wave of realization came over me: if I get in this shower Ricky’s going to miss the birth. I felt for cervix again just to be sure, and sure enough a wonderful squishy intact sac of waters met my curiosity. Only a few minutes had gone by since I told him I was in labor. It writes out like 15 minutes, but it’s just a mere few minutes.

 We had a really loud fan going in the bedroom and I don’t think I could have yelled for him quietly enough to keep the kids asleep but loud enough to wake him so I tip-toed to his bedside dripping water along the way. I bounced from one foot to the other while shaking and chattering through my teeth as I woke him; “I’m having the baby, I’m sure I’m in transition! Look at me shaking, my teeth are chattering, I can’t stop shaking!!! I’m getting in the shower and there's a water sac already!!”  

 In the bathroom we were chatting energetically as I stepped into the shower. We were surprised and excited. I was wide-eyed and had this crazy smile plastered across my face... the kind you have when you first fall in love and everyone around you knows it. (oxytocin hard at work) 
 I put my hand against the shower wall and pushed against the wall as I had a contraction. I said I felt like squatting but I didn’t want to unless it was really time. I had another contraction; he stroked the arm I used to push against the shower wall letting me know he was there for me. Contractions came fast and they left fast. Between them I was communicative, laughing, excited, talkative, and I paced in the shower. I never stopped moving my body. I had a cervical lip with my last birth (Everett's) that took a lot of pressure and pain to work through so I wanted to make sure I stayed upright and walking to use gravity for the best possible dilation and baby position. I think laying around too much in labor while watching TV contributed to the painful cervical lip I had with Everett's birth

At one point I blurted out, "I'm scared." in reference to that previous cervical lip, I did not want to experience that again so I was wary of squatting down and feeling that again. He told me I knew what to do and if I had a cervical lip again we'd get through it together just like last time.
 I felt for cervix or baby's head and found even more squishy water sac and absolutely no cervix, cervix was probably "fully" dilated ages ago and I knew it. I told myself that this is not like last time and everything is perfect. I marveled at the silky but textured water sac membranes. Suddenly it popped like an awesome water balloon into my right hand, like I was trying to catch it. I exclaimed that it broke and told Ricky how cool it was to feel it pop into my hand like that.

Soon I had a calm labor intermission before birth comes. That after "full dilation" awesome pause where everything just stops. (It's also called the rest and be thankful phase) Surely natures way of letting you compose yourself, breathe slower, think, sip a drink, and restore energy. This is also a time baby and mom can use to get into a good position for birth. If people were at my birth they'd all be staring at me waiting for something to happen, an undereducated birth attendant, ignorant in the true physiology of birth, would tell me to push. I realized a few births ago that a lot of women probably don't feel or get very close to this stage because they are told to forcefully push the baby out when they are 10cm. I don't do that. I try to really feel this phase and just be. When so many people are trying to rush a baby out I pause and wait. (10cm is actually an arbitrary number, women may dilate more)

 Writing about this "lull" is important to me because I haven't really written much about it in the past, nobody seems too write about it, and it's a super important part of birth -what should really be a whole stage of labor is completely overlooked and largely undefined. My friend Molly writes about it here.   
 The next thing I remember is asking Ricky to plug the bath tub -I wanted the tub partially full for the birth to keep warm and I needed to turn the shower off so I could squat. I had no intention of getting out of the tub, usually I do, but this time I wanted to stay in there. As I was standing there in the still of the labor lull a rush of hormones hit me and the baby’s head slipped fully into the birth canal. I squatted down instinctively. I was then super indecisive: I flip-flopped between on my hands and knees to squatting, then squatting with one leg up and one leg down, then a leg up on the side of the tub, then standing upright, then a squat-stand and finally then back to the other positions all over again. This baby was going to start to seriously crown in a big way and I had no idea where I wanted to be! Having done this so many times I had way too many choices in my head and I knew what they all felt like. Later Ricky told me he got nervous that I was moving around so much in the tub; he was worried I’d slip and fall. I however felt firmly planted like a rock. I told him later I felt like I had sticky gecko pads on my limbs and slipping never crossed my mind. 
 Our baby was starting to crown as I finally squatted down low with one leg higher than the other (I was out of time to change things up. I'll just squat and do it the same 'boring' highly effective way I always do it I thought lol.) I used some counter pressure on her velvety head to help ease her head out but it wasn't really needed and a painless contraction inched her head fully out. I noticed I talked a lot to Ricky about what was happening like I was giving him a play-by-play of a sport. I stood up on two legs again. (Okay writing this out now I see why Ricky was worried about me slipping. I was all over the place!) As I stood up Ricky took a few pictures of me holding her fully birthed head with one hand and I said, “Get a picture of me smiling.” I totally posed for a picture while I cradled her head between the two worlds of womb and Earth. Our child waited (and I waited) patiently for my body to spontaneously eject her. I squatted again and my body did its job with no forceful pushing from me, slowly she slid out further and further, one shoulder, the other, half a body... and then finally she slid out into my waiting hands. Read in detail about the Fetus Ejection Reflex and why peace and solitude in birth is important for it here.
 I caught her at 3:26am, I'm lifting her up to me for the first time as I start to sit down, look at that vernix!
 I brought her to my chest just barely a half hour after I declared I was in labor. We heard her making a noise and then a small tiny cry erupted into a larger sweeter one of her taking in air. I sat down in the tub and brought her to my chest and she got quieter, the first thing I noticed is that her cord was short. I sat down and over and over through joyous tears and smiles I said in awe, “Oh Ricky we did it, we did it again, we have another baby *just like that.* Ricky, we DID IT, another perfect baby.” I was overcome with emotion because human babies are exquisite blessings and we make them. We both noticed she was a girl just like we thought all along. 
I was in total amazement, like it was the first time a baby had ever come from my body. I'm so glad she came to us. I kissed her bunches and smelled her. We had four boys and four girls now!
  She was pink and tiny; she had a tiny scrunched up face and she looked as if we had seriously disturbed her from a tranquil slumber. 

She was covered in creamy white moisturizing vernix. I love a vernix covered newborn baby! After a short while she opened her eyes to meet us and see what all the fuss was about...
Vernix Caseosa is a creamy white substance that is full of skin protectants. Antimicrobial properties of amniotic fluid and Vernix are similar to those found in breastmilk. I literally watch this buttery cream melt into our newborns skin over about an hours time. I borrow some too and rub this lipid rich cream under my eyes! Cosmetic companies heavily research it and try to replicate this cream!
Links about why we don't wash our newborn babies:  
Benefits of Vernixit’s amazing stuff (and here’s the scientific research to prove it) 
Don’t Wash That Baby! -Vernix does more than act as a protective barrier from liquids while in the uterus.  It acts as an antioxidant, skin cleanser, moisturizer, temperature regulator, and a natural, safe antimicrobial for the new baby post delivery.

  We laughed and laughed at the looks she was giving us, at first she was like 'who are you people and why should I care?' She looked around confused and we just marveled at her. Everett (two and a half) woke up and was overjoyed and surprised to find his mama and new baby sister in the bathtub, just minutes old. 
Everett woke up and to his surprise his baby sister was here! He had been waiting such a long time to meet her. A pregnancy is a lifetime to a kid as little as him.
 I nursed her and she latched on eagerly and knew exactly what to do; her seemingly uncaring demeanor transformed into needfulness and we were one again. Soon the placenta came and we drained the bath and put fresh water in. I sat in the tub for a long, long while. Longer than I ever had post-birth. I didn’t want to leave it all behind: the experience of having her so quickly, the joy, the surprise, the miracle of birth, the magic of watching a newborn tasting air for the first time. I so enjoyed having her, what a wonderful start to a wonderful life!

Daddy holding his fresh new baby, her cord still attached to placenta. The cord is now thin, white and limp, and drained of blood. We delay cord cutting so baby gets all her deserved blood, iron stores, vit K,  and stem cells. She also continues to have oxygenated blood while taking her first breaths instead of being abruptly cut off and on her own during that transitional period. The cord while purple and still pumping blood is a lifeline, especially if a baby gets a slow start or needs resuscitation efforts.
 Cord Cutting:
 We try to cut the cord with the kids around. The longest we've waited to cut the cord is 4.5 hours, the shortest 30 min. You can see in this visual informational video from Penny Simkin about why. This is one of the things most midwives and homebirthers like me have been doing forever and researchers are just now coming to understand! I did not like waiting 30 minutes the time I did, I like waiting longer. Even though when I waited 30min it was white and limp it still seemed like a bunch of extra blood still came from the cord both from baby and placenta. We don't tie off the cord when we delay cutting...we just cut when I decide it's time.

Cord cutting info:
Delayed Cord Clamping After Birth Better For Baby's Health
Study Finds Benefits in Delaying Severing of Umbilical Cord
"Improved iron stores in theory could help reduce the risk of learning deficiencies and cognitive delay in children, which have been linked to iron-deficiency anemia in school-age children."  
Faebook page/ lots of info: Leaving A Baby's Umbilical Cord To Stop Pulsating (Delayed Cord Clamping)
Common Objections to Delayed Cord Clamping – What’s The Evidence Say?
Delayed Cord Clamping: An all of human history practice (20th century exempted)

Three years ago I told the kids I would wait to cut Everett's cord until they woke up so they could help, but when I actually had him I decided I'd do it without them. I don't remember my reasons, I just probably didn't want to deal with the placenta bowl at that time. Most of them were really disappointed so I promised if we had another baby we would do the cord cutting as a family. I sat snuggled up on the couch with baby and placenta bowl until everyone was awake and together.

Gathering around to meet the new baby and cut her cord together

Showing the kids the cord is white now and explaining to them that when she was born it was purple, thick, and full of blood cells that were being transferred to her. She got the stem cells and iron stores that belonged to her.

Sebastian's inquisitive face looking on happily

Everyone holding her gently so she doesn't get her arms and legs in the way as we are separating her from the placenta so she can be free. We said, "You are free, you are your own person, have a good life baby!"
A little bit of excess blood left in the cord is on her leg, it dries up really quickly and stops bleeding quickly. The leftover white cord piece dries up, shrinks, and turns brown within a day. It fell off of her completely in just 3 days. I left about an inch and a half to two inches of cord on her, it shriveled up and dried up tight and much smaller.

A family picture after a great big breakfast prepared by daddy. I had a huge, huge plate of eggs with onions and peppers, toast, tomatoes, sausage, fresh baked cinnamon rolls. Seriously, the best meals ever are after a great birth!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

11 Ways Your Child Loses When You Rush Him Through Life

 I have to constantly tell myself to slow down; especially after having so many kids I have realized that there was a time that I was more patient, and a time where I was less patient. And then a time I was more again... and then less again. It goes in cycles. I have to remind myself to not rush everyone. Their life is new and not passing them by. There are one thousand little ways I could/have/do rush my children.

 Having so many little people demanding so much from me and so many mouths to feed can be overwhelming. I actually use emotional recall at least once a week to remember the days when I had an abundance of patience and time to enjoy the little things. Then I take a step back and try to implement those things into our life. When Charlotte (now 17) was two we used to have picnics almost every day in a school bus pop up Play-Hut. If it was bad weather then we'd eat lunch, mostly together, inside.

 I would make a beautifully laid out lunch for us and take blankets and the bus outside and we'd look at the sky, sing songs, laugh, play... and simply just be. I taught her all kinds of things. Too be kind, to love, to not go into the road, anything I could think of to fill her growing brain with goodness. We did flashcards. We made pictures and put paint on our feet and walked on paper. Back then there were a million hours in the day.

 During holiday time we'd paint the front windows of the house with the holiday theme. On hot days we'd play in the sprinkler. We'd use sidewalk chalk all the time, we had pet mice, we danced like fairies under a 30 year old willow tree as the thin branches full of wispy leaves brushed our faces. Multiple children are amazing... but that one where you do everything for the first time is a moment frozen in time.

 I try to recall those times when I find myself rushing Everett from the hen house or through the grocery store. I try to remember to slow down when fetching meat from the basement freezer so a preschooler can ask me four questions about whatever they see before we get back upstairs. I have to work on sighing at the sight of spilled milk because it's the 7th kid and one billionth time it's happened... but to them it seems like only the 5th time they'd ever spilled anything (lol). If find myself frustrated over chores (theirs and mine) taking too long (they probably aren't taking too long I'm probably impatient) I then try to ask myself 'what does it matter?' 
 See, I'm a part of a rush along through life society and I have to make a conscious effort to slow down. I find myself rushing children who should get to enjoy the cycles of the day and childhood. Plus, what will *I* miss out if I rush them... I miss out on them. I only have them a short time.

 So the above link is a great list and a reminder of why and how slowing down helps grow really great and happy kids. I want to cut and paste the text of it below for my future use as well:
Rushing our children through life: 1. Influences the developing brain. Your child's brain is being built every day, and the shape it takes depends on his daily experience. Some neurologists hypothesize that reinforcing neural pathways in a daily context of stressful hyper-stimulation creates a brain with a life-long tendency to anxiety.
2. Increases the levels of stress hormones in kids' bodies, which contributes to crankiness, difficulty falling asleep, weight gain, and immune suppression.
3. Makes them feel pushed and controlled, which triggers power struggles. Studies show this feeling--in adults who work at jobs where they're at someone else's beck and call--sends stress hormones sky-rocketing.
4. Overstimulates them so they can't process everything coming at them, which undermines learning.
5. Habituates them to busyness, so they become easily bored, craving electronic stimulation.
6. Keeps them from discovering and pursuing their own passions, which is necessarily a slow, organic process of experimentation and dabbling.
7. Creates a chronic feeling of incompleteness, which steals the joy of mastery.
8. Keeps children from attending to their emotions throughout the day, so in the evening they have a full backpack of feelings pressing for escape. That triggers meltdowns and can eventually lead to addictions like food, media consumption and shopping, which distract us from our emotional baggage.
9. Constantly interrupts their developmental work of exploring the world, so they lose their curiosity.
10. Forces them out of the groundedness of the present moment, into the breathlessness of scrambling to keep up, which undermines their authenticity and connection to deeper meaning.
11. Overrides their natural inclination to "do it myself," sabotaging the development of competence.
Not to mention, rushing makes us less patient and less nurturing with our children, so it's impossible to parent well.  A mom wrote me the other day that she realized her son wasn't dressing himself partly because she was always in such a hurry that she just dressed him, rather than helping him learn how to do it himself. Another mom wrote that after she got into a fight with her daughter, she realized she had been “too distracted, too busy, to slow down and just be kind.”
This week, notice how often you rush yourself and your child.  Notice the price you both pay. 
  • What can you change to slow life down?
  • How can you build more time into transitions so you aren't always rushing?
  • What small daily rituals can your family use so that everyone has a chance to connect to deeper meaning, rather than just hustling through each day? Think deep breaths, gratitude practices, moments of quiet cuddling.

And maybe even stopping to watch the sunset.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bowling Kids, I Spelled my Kids Name Wrong *LOL*, Niceness at the Grocery Store (and quick tangent about how this week I'm full of awesome...) Also... our baby is such a sweetie!

I took the crew bowling. The older kids had fun at the homeschool bowling morning we are trying out near us. The younger kids had fun when they weren't complaining about it not being their turn (Sebastian and Everett are still pretty young, impatient and WILD little boys). On an out-with-kids-adventure scale of 1-5 (one being mild and five being bat-shit crazy) it was probably a 2.

 At first the kids couldn't get ANY dang momentum from rolling their ball (and me helping them one handed because I'm holding Beatrice was not helping much). The guy at the alley saw us and gave us a ramp thingy for the kids to push their ball down. It was amazing and really saved us!
 Everett got a bit squirrely towards the end, but we made it through all 10 frames. And Everett won without any help from me!

After playing for a while I noticed I spelled Everett "Everette" on the bowling computer which was funny. I got to spend a good 10 minutes pondering if his name had an E at the end or not (because I'm losing my mind lol), and then pondered why we chose no E. Since both are correct spellings how did we chose which one to use? I don't remember that conversation. ~~~Wait now I kinda do.
After bowling we went grocery shopping which was a 3 on the 1-5 adventure scale. At the store we got a lot of attention and an older lady commented that the kids were so beautiful and asked a bit about them, then I told her I had 4 more kids not with me. She said, "Oh good for you! God Bless your heart." She was adorable. Then the cashiers helped me load my groceries on to the conveyor belt. I was like a celebrity in Aldi's today. Go me! Everywhere I went people cooed over our baby today! And I can't blame them, cause she's like the best thing ever. 

 I feel like the super-est mom and wife this week. The flow is going well, the homeschool stuff is rockin', we are getting out of the house a bunch, laundry is churning along (I'm supposed to be folding right now but I'm being totally bad and writing instead). Husband's clothes are mostly caught up. I made lunch for my dear husband everyday except one and tomorrow lunch is already done! I've been to the store (I'd almost rather starve than go shopping). I've been creatively cooking all week. Lentil soup one day and navy bean soup with seasoned pork the other--my own made up recipes even! I'm working hard to balance it all and keep on schedule...

 I LOVE when I can cook meals all week without effort. I love when ideas come naturally and I make time to get dinner done early in the day instead of stressing out over it at dusk, and I LOVEEEE when one meal can lead into the next. Slow cooked pork one night ...then use juices and leftover tender pork pieces for navy bean soup for lunch or dinner-side the next day. I even made chicken fried steak this week with mashed taters and gravy. Sometimes I'm so darn sick of figuring out what's for dinner and I'm like: 'here have some cereal or PB&J, leave me alone now'. Other times I'm like a kitchen ninja! 

And don't get me wrong I still wonder how I'm going to get a bazillion other pertinent things done this week and next, and next...but for now *shrug* I'm hanging tough.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Uncle Neal Died

My stomach was gnawing away at me, it told me to expect the worst. So I prepared myself. After as much medical intervention and treatment that was humanly possible my Uncle Neal died.

I never knew how awful waiting at the hospital was until we did it with Penelope last year. It's surreal. It's: uncomfortable, hard, cold, bright... and sanitized still feels dirty. Last week I escaped the hours and hours of pacing, sitting, and upright-sleeping because Uncle Neal had enough family there and I had to take care of the kids. The plan was that I/we would visit when he had healed for a few days and was up for a visit. I had cleared our schedule over the next two weeks and imagined Ricky and I taking 8 kids to visit the hospital in shifts. His recovery would be long and he'd be in the hospital for a minimum of 8 days. But he never got better. Nothing worked out like we imagined or planned as everything that could go wrong did. I carried my cell phone around with me for 3 days and each time it rang it was worse news. Mini heart attack, pneumonia, intubation, an unexpected second surgery. Every phone call I prepared the kids for what seemed like the the inevitable; he very well may die. On the morning of September 7th he died. We told the kids and we were all pretty numb. Some of us cried, some did not. Some have tears yet to come. I was numb until nightfall and then I cried. I sobbed harder when I remembered the last thing he ever said to me. Because he loved us so much and he loved the kids so much, his last words to me were "absolutely beautiful" and it was about photos of my family and new baby on facebook.

I don't know why it makes me cry so hard. They are gorgeous last words and a treasured memory I can keep... but it just makes me sob. Why do we have to love people so much, so that it then hurts so bad when they leave?

We are busy preparing for the memorial. I always notice how hard it is to deal with anything else besides our normal routine. It can be fun stuff or bad stuff, doesn't matter, but it's hard doing anything else but taking care of house or kids. Everyday is FULL of chores, cooking, cleaning, laundry, caring for kids, changing diapers, school, breaking up fights or fits, feeding animals, Etc, Etc, Etc... it's not that I'm complaining but it makes me realize how different and time consuming life is with so many kids. It's SO time consuming. I am constantly telling myself to take one-step-at-a-time because it's overwhelming. Like right now, I do not have time to finish this blog post... 

I'm at that place where it feels like the world is spinning all around me and I'm yelling for it to stop because *I* lost someone. It hurts and I want everything to go away. I don't want to go out and buy chicken feed. I don't want to deal with bills and a dental billing/insurance mistake that I made that we now owe a ton of money for. I don't want to deal with toddler meltdowns. I don't want to look at the calendar. I don't want to deal with a 9 year old who is angry and defiant and hiding every feeling she possibly could about her great uncle's death. I do not want to deal with the fact that we have fleas and now obvious flea resistant medications for the animals (dogs now treated with meds that are working, cats still not though). I have too much to do, too much to think about and school is supposed to have started for us. We're supposed to be having piano lessons and bowling and enjoying our new Science Center membership. I'm supposed to be planning Penelope's birthday party. And this week were were supposed to be bringing cheer and hand drawn artwork from kids to Uncle Neal's hospital bedside. So in other words: everyone and everything should stop everything and clear the floor for me so I can be woefully sad and profoundly grouchy. During the day I'm numb but okay as we all are going through the motions of life and prep for Wednesday, by each nightfall I want to use the F word and I get so mad at nearly everything. Then I cry.

Layla and I have been at each others throats since Uncle Neal died and I now realize it's because she's hurting too. She's not crying, she's angry and she's being defiant and mean and hiding her pain. :(  To make things more painful she didn't get to go on her annual float trip with Uncle Neal this year because he was too sick. She also missed the last trip out to see him because she was in school. Horrible. She seems a little more at peace today. It's all going to hit us harder when we get to the family resort tomorrow.

 Poor, poor sweet Charlotte has to try not to cry because her wisdom teeth are still healing and she has a ear ache because of it. We are afraid her ears will clog up from crying.

 On the morning I told Penelope that Uncle Neal died I didn't know what to expect. She blinked her little blue eyes and I thought she was going to cry -and she almost did. She stared blankly at me and optimistically and ever so sweetly said said, "Well, you have to get to Heaven somehow. Right mom?"

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Finding Peace

I knew a Lincoln Log was down the bathroom drain, it's been there for weeks!
(the drain stopper broke and was discarded a year ago, sure we need to buy another one but it's obviously been put on the 2014 to do list lol)
I knew a small toothbrush got dropped down there too. The sink still drained normally though! That left two busy parents very little incentive to fix it. Finally the sink was stopped up and Ricky fixed it. I asked him what else was down there. He said, "Oh, all kinds of gross a carrot." LOL.

The weekend was rough.  Nah, not because of the sink. That's baby stuff.

Trying to regain balance in the home (or life?), cracking down on little kids who are talking unkind to us, a noisy house, and a stressed out mom and dad with more on their plate than they thought. Everett is a handful. This place is familiar.

 I'm trying to find peace and learn to let go. I'm trying to find happiness and let go of things that don't matter.

I've embarked on a soul searching quest for contentment. Contentment is a worn path for me to follow; there's a fight between the fire within me that can't sit still... and contentment. Fire tends to win.

Ricky's swamped at work, he's working on a mountain of projects and there is no end in sight. The stress is starting to show. It goes unnoticeable for a long time but then I can tell after a while. It's times like this I realize how he feels when I'm at a breaking point. We can't stand to see one another unsettled.

We found ourselves cranky and snappy over a beautiful holiday weekend (Labor Day). It was at first unfortunate and sad, but then it was okay and uplifting because while we were cranky at each other and easily irritated we were also understanding and forgiving of each other too. We never fought, we just went with it.
It reminded me of this picture. Especially when he made me a fancy breakfast on Sunday morning.

 We growled and grumbled at each other but we gave each other the permission and space to do so. 
Our Marriage Mantra

Saturday, August 31, 2013

What was that I was saying about shoes?

Everett ran and fell into a prickly pear cactus bush today. Our dogs got out of the fenced part of the yard and while rounding them up some kids followed me out. Everett was barefoot of course. We didn't know it but the neighbors apparently have what appears to be ornamental cactus in the middle of nowhere. It's a huge weird, low lying cluster. I was at a distance when Everett didn't listen to me and ran away from me. I saw him fall on grass and cry but I didn't know he was hurt or that there was any cactus under him. I thought he was just throwing a fit. :(

 Layla was the one who carried him all the way back home and met up with me informing us that he was hurt. We all rushed around him at the kitchen table grabbing pillows and giving him chocolate to distract him. He had huge, huge clusters of the orange glochids which I thought we could remove in large clumps with tweezers, nope. They came out one by one sometimes in broken pieces. I almost gave up and went to the hospital. Ricky took over the big clumps and I did the scattered invisible ones. Ricky luckily had better and faster luck with the large clusters than I did, but it was still slow going. So many of his little plump toddler toes were just covered in clumps!! It was awful to see. He had a bunch of them scattered across his legs and feet too. They are SO much like fiber glass, pretty much exactly like that. We of course got some of them in us as we worked on him.

The good that came out of this is team work. I ordered each kid a job: grab the light in the basement, get pillows, hold this leg, get wet paper towels, get the laptop for a movie, give him a chocolate. When he had finished two chocolates Layla offered him a sucker she had saved for herself from school. What a sweetie!

Charlotte is recovering from wisdom teeth removal surgery (and is doing well!) and she hopped up to help with the baby; when Beatrice wouldn't stop crying I nursed her and continued to work on Everett's foot. Charlotte went right to Everett's head to soothe and distract him and we powered on through.

What a morning that was! Many hours later I'm happy to report he is walking around and doing great! We also did a glue trick we read online. Spread white glue over affected area after you pluck what you can, wait to dry, peel glue off. We told him we were making him have snake skin. Three other kids did it with him too. lol. :)

When do babies eat? Whenever they want!

surface of prickly pear

magnified, look how beastly and sharp! Like shards of glass.