Thursday, June 30, 2011

This is one of the things I did....

...on my summer vacation while I was helping my mother after her surgery.  I finished something I started years ago, before I was married, I think.

I used this:
I started below her waist, where there is no coloring.  It discourages depresses amazes me that when I started this project, I actually had the brain capacity powers of concentration copious amounts of uninterrupted time necessary to keep track of where I was without marking on the pattern!
 
To make this:

The finished, KEEP-YOUR-HANDS-AND-PROJECTILES-AWAY-FROM-THIS, exquisitely framed product.
 



The only bad thing two bad things about this are:  it is HUGE and it is not going to be fun to pack the next time we move, and I don't think I'll ever have the brain power necessary to make something like this again it took a long time and cost a small fortune was really expensive to frame, so there may be SERIOUS BODILY INJURY I will be really upset if the children end up destroying breaking scratching touching breathing on it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More stories I never could have written if I'd never had children...

*In the mornings, Marie would wake up and call, "Mamaaaaaa!  Maaaaaaaama!"  Husband would bring her into our room, and she would lay on the bed contentedly saying, "My mama, my daddy" over and over again.

*David was learning to sound out words by making consonant-vowel-consonant words.  One day, he made the word m-e-s, and I said, "David!  You made a mess!  How could you make ANOTHER mess?"  He looked startled for a minute, but then thought it was SO FUNNY, and made sure to make that word every time we practiced after that.

*At the end of another LONG day, I was trying to get the boys to bed.  I told them to go brush their teeth and noticed that Ian was chewing on something.  When he spit it out, I wasn't too surprised to see what looked like a fingernail, and I told him to throw it away.  He looked at me with a face full of anger and contempt, and said, with absolute sincerity and frustration, "I don't think that's very fair!  I worked HARD to get that off my toe!"  (That made me want to cry =(!  He just didn't understand why I would take away his "prize" when he had worked so hard to get it.)

*Later that week, we were having another one of THOSE days, and Ian did one last thing that got him sent up to bed for the night.  He mouthed off as he headed up the stairs, then paused, said, "Hey, mom!  Look at this!", bent over, and waggled his rear end at me.

*One night, David refused to do his dinner chore, so I did it myself and told him that he would have to make his own dinner instead of eating what I was fixing.  This made him very mad, especially since he was really hungry, and he really liked the sausage pockets I was fixing for dinner.  Ian noticed how upset David was and, QUITE uncharacteristically for him, kindly offered to make David a honey sandwich (the main staple in David's diet, at the time).  David didn't like that idea, so Ian then offered to split his own sausage pocket (and Ian also really like sausage pockets) with David.  I nearly started crying because that was such a compassionate, loving thing for Ian to do, and it was such a RARE event.

*David used some of his birthday money to buy ice cream treats from the store.  Every time I let him have one, he would let Ian pick one out too.

*One day we had visitors, and I sent Ian and David upstairs to play.  After a while, I heard splashing and laughing coming from the bathroom;  I hoped they were playing in the sink like they often did.  After the visitors left, I went to change the laundry around, and discovered water dripping from the ceiling.  Because of previous experience, I did not have to frantically figure out where the water was coming from...I knew.  I headed upstairs to find the boys and the bathroom DRENCHED.  The boys had been in the bathtub flinging water all over the bathroom.  I was already mad when I saw that the rugs were soaking wet, and there was water all over the floor, but it was nearly the last straw when I happened to look up and noticed the water that was dripping from the ceiling, door frame, and shower curtain rod.

*"Joseph will nurse and nurse and nurse, and when he's all done he will fling his little head back to let go, and then, since he is contentedly asleep, his warm, little, milky face will flop back and snuggle into me."

*Every morning when it was time to start the day, Husband would bring Joseph in to eat, and there would be a mad dash parade into my room.  Husband would hand me the baby, then Marie, David, Ian, and the 2 cats would all race to the bed and try to get RIGHT NEXT TO ME.  So, I would end up with one cat on my pillow, one cat at my feet, one child on either side of me, and one child complaining bitterly that he or she wasn't next to me (I know, I know, someday I'll be LONELY and WISH people would fight over me).

I was sad that we didn't get the cats in the picture to tell the WHOLE story.

*Once, we loaded up all 4 children and drove an hour and half to get to the zoo.  The children's favorite parts of the trip:  eating the snacks we had brought (nothing special), spending their money at the gift shop (they didn't have much money), and feeding goldfish crackers to the local birds and squirrels.

*We went on a sight-seeing trip that involved driving 4 or 5 hours, so we stayed at a hotel one night.  The children's favorite parts of the trip:  the hotel pool and watching TV in our hotel room.  The most hideous part of the trip:  Joseph screamed THE ENTIRE, 4-HOUR DRIVE HOME!  (Oh, I wish I had thought to bring earmuffs on long car trips back then!)

*"Last week I FINALLY got Joseph to stay asleep (for the first time in over a WEEK!) when I put him down in the swing, so I went in the kitchen and announced that I would kill anyone who woke the baby up.  Ian looked up, concerned, and asked, 'Isn't that a commandment?'  I agreed, and Husband said, 'Don't make your mother break a commandment.'"

*"Last night (7 1/2 year old) Ian and (4 1/2 year old) David were in the living room, cleaning up their latest mess, when I heard Ian say to David, in a disbelieving tone, 'Did you know that some mothers clean up after their children?' and David replied, in a voice of astonishment, 'Yes!  EVEN WHEN the kids are going to play with it again and make another mess!'  Ian answered with a tone of certainty and assurance, 'OUR mother would NEVER do that!' And David agreed!" 
*One day I noticed ANOTHER hole in the wall.  This hole was different than the usual hole where Ian someone had scraped all of the plaster away from a nail that was trying to poke through, so I asked Ian about it.  After much questioning on my part, I finally got the full story from him:  he had been scraping the wall to get powder for his "powder cannon" (he had removed the cotton from both ends of a cotton swab and had the hollow tube).  He would somehow get the powder from the wall into the stick, the blow it out and pretend it was exploding in the air.  He had to have made A LOT of powder cannons to make that hole.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Mystery of Ian, Solved

The doctors brought up a few labels for Ian as he was growing up, but none of them seemed quite right:  ADHD, Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder, Oppositional/Defiant Disorder, General Anxiety...I forget what else. 

When Ian was about 7 years old, I heard about Asperger Syndrome, which is on the autism spectrum.  I read about it and thought, "This sounds like Ian!"  The clues were:  attachment issues, lack of sleeping when he was a baby, advanced verbal skills at an early age, sensory issues (food textures/flavors, bright lights, loud sounds, some clothing textures), being INCREDIBLY FOCUSED on one subject and knowing everything there was to know about it, talking "at" people instead of "with" them, difficulty with changes, difficulty with transitions from one thing to another (changing or stopping activities), difficulty feeling sympathy or empathy, and difficulty navigating social situations.  I brought all of this up to his psychologist, she asked me a few more questions, and Ian was finally diagnosed as being high-functioning Asperger Syndrome.

On the one hand, it was sad to know that my child had a DIAGNOSIS and a LABEL, but, on the other hand, it didn't actually change anything about him, and it was nice to know that it WASN'T MY FAULT that he acted the way he did....other than the fact that Asperger Syndrome seems to be hereditary, and I can clearly see where it has come from in MY family....so then, technically, it WAS my fault, but it WASN'T a result of crappy parenting on my part (and, in fact, I had been doing all the right things!)!  I wish I could have known earlier because I spent many years feeling like I was a failure at parenting and wondering what I had ever done to make my firstborn child dislike me so much (I suffered vile nausea for MONTHS!  I got up with him at least EVERY! TWO! HOURS! ALL! NIGHT! LONG! for A YEAR!  I thought it was going to kill me, but I DID IT FOR HIM!).  In a way, his diagnosis was a big weight off my shoulders because I had received QUITE A FEW sideways glances and disapproving comments from people who would have BEGGED FOR MERCY if I had let THEM be in charge of Ian for ONE DAY had typical children who actually RESPONDED to the usual behavior-altering parenting measures, or didn't have children at all.  My mother, who LOVES Ian (in fact, I would dare say, he is her FAVORITE) would often say, "Oh honey, you don't have to worry about [Ian] being kidnapped!  If anyone ever took him, they'd bring him RIGHT HOME and PAY YOU GOOD MONEY to take him back!"
**************

I really hesitated to medicate Ian, despite his CONSTANT irritating exhausting intense behaviors, because I was worried about the effect the medicine would have on his developing brain and body, but there came a time when I was more worried that he was going to hurt someone.  He had always been very irritable, became angry quickly, and had very little impulse control.  The day he tried to break David's arm with his bare hands, I called the doctor and made an appointment to discuss medication since it was obvious that behavior modification was not going to work by itself.  (I also looked into other things that might help, like changing his diet, and I read about the effects food coloring and other food additives could have on a person.

Each time we would try a medication the doctor would say something like, "Now, this medication MIGHT help with such-or-so, but he is still going to be the same child he's always been.  It might HELP, but the problem behaviors aren't going to go away."  The first medication we tried had been recommended by a director of child psychiatry.  I thought that I had died and gone to Heaven!  Ian was A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT CHILD!  He was PLEASANT, and CALM, and EASY TO GET ALONG WITH, and HE DIDN'T FIGHT OR ARGUE WITH ME ABOUT EVERY! SINGLE! THING!  I was so happy to FINALLY get a chance to enjoy this child!  BUT.  He gained 10 pounds in a month (one of the side effects of the medication), and that sort of unhealthy weight gain was going to continue.  I count it as one of my finer moments of motherhood that I did not choose to have him continue taking that medication even though I REALLY, REALLY wanted him to keep acting like he did when he took it it had made *my* life SO MUCH EASIER!

Along with trying different medications, I also took all food dyes and as many artificial ingredients and preservatives as I could out of Ian's diet.  We tried 3 or 4 other medications, but they either didn't have any effect or they had negative side effects.  It was time for us to move again, so we stopped trying different medications, but we stuck with the dietary changes.

I never was able to figure out if there was one specific food coloring or other ingredient that was causing him problems, but when I cut those things out of his diet, he did seem to be less.....I don't know.....Irritable?  Reactive?  Whatever it was, he never tried to break someone's arm with his bare hands again, and I was no longer worried that he was going to hurt someone in a fit of rage. 

I took a VERY firm stance concerning his dietary restrictions for about 3 years (ages 7-10), which was difficult when so many activities involved some sort of pre-packaged snack, and I suddenly noticed how often people try to give candy (usually full of food coloring) to children.  When Ian would ask why he couldn't have a certain thing, I would tell him which ingredients had caught my attention and that I was afraid those things were affecting his behavior;  end of discussion.  He would be disappointed or frustrated, but he also realized that his behavior was causing him a lot of trouble, so he soon stopped asking about things he knew he couldn't have.  I also made sure that I had things on hand that he COULD eat.  I have relaxed a little in the past year and haven't noticed any ill-effects.  I wonder if the food dyes, artificial flavors, and preservatives somehow irritated his immature, already-irritable, overloaded body?  Maybe removing those things from his diet gave his body a chance to mature with one less irritation to deal with and now he can handle those things in small amounts?  I guess it is another mystery....

When Ian was about 8 years old, I came up with a behavior chart that FINALLY seemed to be just right.  I had made many, many, MANY different charts in the past, but they just hadn't been....exactly what I wanted, but this one was just what I had been looking for and trying to create for so long.  This chart allowed me to give him constant, immediate feedback all day long, without me having to decide, at the moment, every single time he did something what the consequence was going to be. 
******************
When he was TEN YEARS OLD, Ian's behavior FINALLY calmed down. 


TEN. YEARS.


Ten years of:
*anger
*defiance
*arguing
*screaming
*tantrums
*destruction
*having to carefully transition him from one activity to another:  "OK, 10 more minutes at the park/playing with Legos/coloring/watching TV....5 more minutes....1 more minute....time's up!"  And even then he had a fit when his time was up...
*having to thoroughly prepare him for every change to his routine:  this is what will happen when we go on vacation, the new baby comes, we move to our new house....
*taking ear muffs when we were going somewhere with lots of noise, like a restaurant
*taking sunglasses when we were going somewhere bright, like the dentist
*having to ask him 3 or 4 or 10 times to do something, like pick up his shirt, or clear his dishes off the table, or put his book away....

It was a long ten years.
*************

Ian will be 12 soon.  The past 2 years have been SO! MUCH! EASIER!  (His current psychologist told me that it is often this way with Asperger kids:  they are HELL ON WHEELS really challenging in the beginning, but if you can survive once they mature in TEN! YEARS! a little, they aren't as challenging as their typical peers.)  It has been nice to be able to enjoy my child and not have to be on his case every single second be able to give him more positive feedback because he is doing more positive things!  He is still a challenge, but it isn't anywhere NEAR what it was before....which is nice because EVERY! STINKIN'! ONE! some of the people born after him are completely a little challenging strong-willed too.  We are still working on learning the finer points of social interaction, thinking about the feelings of others, and taking responsibility for our own actions instead of blaming everyone and everything around us, but it's hard to know how much of that is due to his GENDER age and how much is due to the Aspergers.

I fought off the ADHD/ADD label as long as I could, wanting to be sure that it wasn't just an issue of his age/maturity/gender, and he DID outgrow the "H", but last year I finally relented when I saw him highly motivated to do something and being unable to do it because he just COULD NOT pay attention =(.  I had still been feeling bad that the Aspergers came from my side of the family, but I can see that the ADD comes from Husband's side of the family:  we only have ONE Aspie, but we have 3-4 (it's not looking good for Baby) with ADD, so I don't feel SO bad anymore ;-)!

Interestingly:  I graduated in Special Education, but it never occurred to me that I would end up using my skills with my own children!  (And they didn't really cover how to deal with this behavior 24/7 anyway...)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Meeting the new baby and bringing him home

The kids were so excited to come to the hospital to see our new baby!
Big sister Marie checking out the baby's little feet
Giving Joseph kisses
Big brother David
Big brother Ian
I have lots and lots of pictures of Marie and David inspecting and enjoying the new baby...while Ian was in the background inspecting and enjoying the baby's rolling bed.

The foot!  The perfect, precious, tiny, baby foot!
Again, I felt wonderful after the baby's birth, and we went home as soon as we could even though the hospital staff acted like they were sending the baby off to CERTAIN DEATH, despite the fact that we had kept the first 3 children alive.  Apparently, that fact IN NO WAY reflected on our parenting abilities!

Keeping the baby company

It was so funny to me when Marie would hold Joseph because it seemed like he was almost as big as she was =)!
A 22-month old foot and a 4-day old foot
Despite my great hopes, the nursing agony had started again by the time I got home =(.  I was so bitter!  I had only stopped nursing about 4 months before, so SURELY I couldn't have forgotten how to do it already!  Three more weeks of toe-curling agony every time the baby latched on and blood...there was blood this time =(.

I dropped my mother off at the airport 2 days after Joseph was born, and, that evening, my mother-in-law flew in to help us.  She was SUCH a GREAT help, and I cried when she left, not sure how I was going to be able to manage without her!
Warm, soft, snuggly baby!

Again, Joseph lulled us into a false sense of security slept pretty well for the first 3 weeks, and then he started the 20-30 minute nap and the nightly scream.  At some point, we asked about trying Zantac, in case the reason he was screaming had something to do with reflux, and it helped, but I still had to be VERY careful about what I ate.  I lost a lot of weight while I was nursing him!

I had heard quite a few people say that after 3 kids, you might as well go ahead and have 3 or 4 more because 3 was the hardest and, if you could make it through that, you were all set.  I was quite pregnant with Joseph before I started to suspect that this might not actually be the case for us everyone.  When Joseph was about 3 months old I wrote: 
"I do try to enjoy my children.  It is hard on the MANY days when I feel completely outnumbered and overwhelmed with the simultaneous demands of 4 distinct individuals who all think I should take care of them first.  And, for the fourth time in a row, I have been blessed with another baby who has a stomach so sensitive that I cannot eat dairy products, chocolate, eggs, etc...without causing him to scream, and, just like his siblings, he WILL NOT SLEEP during the day, and doesn't do much better at night!  I keep wondering what I ever did to irritate God...some lucky people only get ONE child like this and EVERY ONE of mine has done it.  I really don't think I'm asking too much when I wish the child would sleep for longer than 15 minutes at a time.  NORMAL babies supposedly take 2 or 3 2-3 hour naps EVERY DAY, and it is truly amazing how much you can get done during those periods so that you can then enjoy your precious baby for the rest of the time that they are awake.  It's really hard when they never sleep and they want to be held every second, so all you can do is rock your sweet baby and watch your house fall apart around you.  And I'm not even one of those people who keeps their house perfect all the time!  My standards are pretty relaxed compared to a lot of people, but when the ants start moving in because your other children are feeding them so well and you haven't had a chance to either vacuum or sweep to discourage them, and you can't walk through one room of the house without stepping on at least one thing, and the laundry is piled, either clean or dirty, all over the house waiting to be done, and there are three day's worth of mail piled on the desk, and dinner can't be cooked by a person who only has one arm free...it starts to get to me!  I know it gets better because it has every other time, but this first year is really brutal!  A year is a long time!  The sad thing is, I'm also not one of those mothers who thinks "mother" in interchangeable with "maid", so everyone in this house is expected to help and it is STILL this bad...of course, there is something to be said  for that whole "it's easier to do it yourself than make someone else do it" thing...But I think it does children (and husbands) a dis-service to not teach them how to do all of these things so that they can take care of themselves one day.  I just wish I was stronger and had more stamina and energy.  And, as much work as it is, and as long as this first year is, I know it will go by quickly, and then I will miss some parts of it, so I truly do try to enjoy those rare precious moments as they come."
"I'm too cute to cause so much trouble!"
 A few weeks later:  "The other day I put Joseph down for a nap EIGHT different times and SEVEN of those times he woke up within 5 minutes!  AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!"

I had given the previous 3 children some sort of baby food at 4 months because I had heard that urban myth that the baby would SLEEP BETTER once it started solid food that is the usual recommendation, and each one of them had acted like they were being poisoned gagged and not been too happy, so I was determined to wait until Joseph showed definite signs of wanting to eat solid food, since I no longer believed it would help him sleep better anyway or until he was 6 months old (because so many things you hear/read say "4-6 months old").  Naturally, since I had made this plan, Joseph was trying to wrestle grab the fork out of his father's hand or grab the food off of his father's plate by the time he was 4 months old.  He would get very mad when we would keep those things away from him, so, one night I gave him some applesauce, and he didn't gag!  And he only got mad because we weren't shovelling it in fast enough!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Some fun rules at my house

Parenthood has forced me to be more creative than I thought possible.  Here are some of the rules that have become necessary at my house (in no particular order):

1.  If you wake the baby, you get to take care of him/her until the time that he/she should have woken up on their own.

2.  If you come out of your room after we have read stories, brushed teeth, and said goodnight, you are volunteering to do an extra chore, and who am *I* to stand in the way of a helpful child?  (I try to make it something that a person hates wouldn't ordinarily choose to do, for example:  cleaning the garbage can, cleaning the kitchen sink, scrubbing the kitchen floor with a cleaning cloth, scooping the litter box, etc...)

3.  If you leave marks* on somebody by inappropriately using your body**, you get to do the injured person's chores until the marks go away.

*Marks include, but are not limited to:  bruises, split lips, scratches or cuts, broken bones.
**Inappropriately using your body includes, but is not limited to:  hitting, pushing, tripping, or tackling someone, throwing things at to someone, throwing something that "accidentally" hits someone, touching someone when you are angry with them, "accidentally" hitting someone harder than you intended to with a pillow or other object, or not being gentle with someone smaller than you.

4.  If you are saying nasty, mean things can't speak to someone kindly behind closed doors, I will have your father take your door off of the hinges and put it in the garage.

5.  If you will not stop jumping on your bed or taking the mattress off of your bed frame, I will have your father take your bed apart and you will sleep on the floor.

6.  If you jump out and yell "BOO!" to scare your sister, she has permission to hit you as hard as she can, and if you hit her back you will move to the bottom of the behavior chart AND you will do her chores for a week.  (Normally, I do not condone violence, but delicate Marie is completely outnumbered by strapping, bruiser brothers who think--or used to think, before this rule--that it is funny to jump out and scare her when she is going somewhere in the house.  Strangely enough, after the brothers watched me giving Marie punching lessons, they stopped trying to scare her.)

7.  If you break something while disobeying rules (most often:  throwing or launching things), you must pay to replace it.

8.  If Mom is wearing earmuffs, it is because you people can't stop arguing, talking, screaming, singing, or making some irritating noise for ONE MINUTE she is grumpy, and you would be wise not to speak to her until the earmuffs come off. 

9.  At night before they go to bed, I remind the children to pick up everything they want to keep from the main living area of the house.  After they go to bed, I walk around with my laundry basket and pick up the things I find.  Some things I throw away (papers, magazines, toys I'm tired of picking up, craft projects), and some things go in my basket (shoes, socks, books, piggy banks, favorite toys, or toys *I* like).  I used to put all of these things in my closet and tell the children that they had a week or so to earn them back before I donated everything to Goodwill, but then my closet would get full with their things, and they would forget to earn them back.  Now, they must either earn back their belongings (by doing regular chores, extra chores, or schoolwork), or tell me to donate them, in the morning, after breakfast, before they can do anything else (read, play, go outside).  They are required to earn back clothes, shoes, and books, but they can choose to donate anything else.

That's all I can think of at the moment...I'll post again if I think of more.  Do you have any interesting, effective rules at your house?  I'm always looking for good ideas to keep people on their toes =)!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Am I in labor? Labor #4

This time, I had the feeling it was going to be a boy, and I was right!  I was also pretty certain that I had his name picked out, but I wanted to wait until he was born to make the final decision.

The THREE previous children had all been born during week 37 of my pregnancy, either the beginning, middle, or end of that week, so when it came time for my mother to come help, we planned to have her come week 37.  I became VERY GRUMPY as the week wore on, and the time for my mother to leave quickly approached, and there was still NO BABY.  I was very concerned about how big he was going to be, considering how big the others had been despite arriving early.  I ended up taking Marie to see the doctor that week because she had an ear infection.  After we got home from our appointment, the doctor's office called to let us know that while we had been there, someone had brought their child in with chicken pox.  NICE!  Then I not only worried about whether or not this baby was going to make an appearance while I had help, but I also worried that we were going to have chicken pox at our house with a new baby!  (Thankfully, there ended up being no chicken pox at our house.)

I did not want to make so many unnecessary trips to the hospital this time, so I thought back carefully over my experience with Marie and decided that frequency and regularity of contractions was NOT what I was looking for, despite popular opinion.  My clue that it was time to leave for the hospital was wanting to punch smack ANYONE near me who dared to BREATHE in my presence bother me when I was having a contraction.  I thought it was pretty sad that, so far, the only time I'd been able to tell that I was in labor was the time my water broke!

We were down to 3 days left with my mom.  Marie still had her ear infection and was very grumpy because of that.  I had been having an irritating contraction about every 45 minutes or so, but, despite the determined get-this-labor-moving walk we had taken that evening, nothing seemed to be happening.  I got up with Marie around midnight and ended up rocking her for an hour, and by the time I put her down I noticed that the contractions were hurting, but they were still very irregular.  I tried to go back to sleep for an hour or two, but I felt like someone was stabbing me in the stomach every so often, and I really wanted to smack someone during each stabbing incident.......hey!  I must be in labor!  I woke Husband up around 3am, and we told Mom that we were going to the hospital.  This was 8 days before his due date.

Of course, as soon as we started for the hospital, the contractions slowed down again, and I was worried that they were going to send me home, but when the doctor checked me I was dilated to 7cm.  (OF COURSE, it was the ONE doctor I didn't want because he had gone to high school with my brother-in-law!  OF COURSE!)  My labor had gone pretty quickly the previous 2 times, so I thought I would try doing it without drugs this time.  I was able to easily talk through my contractions, so I decided to walk down the hall to see if I could get things moving along.  By the time I got to the end of the hall, I realized that I had made a BIG MISTAKE in getting so far away (30 feet or so) from my room.  Suddenly I felt like I was going to throw up during each contraction, I also felt like I was going to pee on myself if I relaxed during the contractions, and I still had to get back to my room! 

By the time I got back to my room, I was dilated to 9cm.  I didn't want to start screaming at everyone in the room every time I had a contraction pee all over myself, and I couldn't stand the contractions without being able to relax, so I had my nurse send for the anesthesiologist.  The wonderful nurse lied and said I was only dilated to 8cm so that the anesthesiologist would give me something, and I opted for a spinal block this time.  The only worry was that it would wear off before the baby came (For some reason, I could never think clearly during labor.  It was pretty obvious THE BABY WAS COMING!).  I LOVED the spinal!  It took the edge off of the contractions, but I could still feel them and I could move. 

My contractions never did get regular.  Even when it was time for me to push, I would push through one contraction and then we would all wait and wait and wait (with every part of me just HANGING OUT for all the people in the room to see) for the next one;  thankfully it only took pushing through 2 or 3 contractions for him to come out.  I thought the spinal was GREAT.....until I FELT THE BABY CROWN!  (Later, I asked someone why nobody had warned me that I would feel the baby come out, and she said, "Oh, you didn't feel the baby crown.  You only felt 'pressure'."  ?!?!?!?!?!? I guess we have differing definitions of the word "pressure".)  After feeling that, I thought FOR SURE he had done some damage on his way out, but no!  All 8 pounds 11 ounces and 19.8 inches of him made it out without leaving permanent, severe damage necessitating any stitches.  He was born at 6:49AM.

Again, I had the extraordinary experience of holding my new baby as soon as he was out of my body.
My BRAND NEW baby!!
FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY CHILD-BEARING EXPERIENCE, when I looked at his sweet little face, he actually looked like the name I had picked out!  (He still looked like a cute little stranger, though;  quite adorable, but no "AHA!" moment when I looked into his eyes.)  On this blog, I will call him "Joseph".

Minutes old!  The serious face!

When I looked at him later, I really thought he looked like a sumo wrestler or a football player:

He had a little crimp on his right ear.  I loved it when my babies had something like that because then I could be CERTAIN there were no baby mix-ups while we were at the hospital =).

Saturday, June 18, 2011

SURELY it will be different this time: Pregnancy #4

In between pregnancies I would say, "Those pregnancies were so awful;  I just don't know how I'm going to do that again!"  And people would ACTUALLY SAY, "Oh, you'll forget how bad it was!" which made me think 2 things: 
1.  Apparently people either think I'm a big whiner about "morning sickness" or I'm just not explaining the severity of the misery clearly enough because I WILL NEVER FORGET how awful it was, and
2.  HELLO?!  I am not pregnant when we are having this conversation and, OBVIOUSLY, I STILL REMEMBER.

But that feeling that another little person wanted to join our family just WOULD NOT GO AWAY!  I was SO busy with my three littles, and there always the worry that I would get sick again if I got pregnant.  BUT!  I LOVED all of my kids, and I wanted this new baby too!  I STILL HAD HOPE:  maybe I was one of those people who just got really sick THE FIRST TIME I was pregnant with a boy or girl--now that I'd had one of each, maybe it wouldn't be so bad this next time!  Maybe it would be like my second pregnancy!  And SURELY it couldn't have been as bad as I remembered the other times!  SURELY it was just in my head and if I just REFUSED to be sick it wouldn't happen, right?  And maybe I hadn't felt as sick the 2nd pregnancy because I had taken the vitamin B and half a Unisom every night, so maybe if I started that the moment I found out I was pregnant, it would keep me from getting so sick this time!  (Ian's response when told him that we were going to try to add another baby to our family:  "Oh good!  If you get another baby in your tummy, you'll get sick and we can watch TV all day again!")

The planning of this baby was a little tricky because we knew we were going to be moving at a certain time.  So, either Marie and the next baby would be closer together than any of the others had been, or they were going to be much farther apart because we would need to be finished moving before I got pregnant (just in case...).  We only had a small window of time if we were going to have the baby before we moved, so we decided to try, and if I didn't get pregnant we would wait until after the move.  (I was thinking that there was a SLIM chance of getting pregnant because, hello!  Three kids!  HOW do people even have more children after the first few;  there is LIMITED opportunity, if you know what I mean.)  It didn't take long.  Marie was about 14 months old when I got pregnant.

We told the children that we would be getting a new baby in a few months and that Marie wouldn't be our baby anymore because she would be a big girl.  A few days later, David came up to me looking worried, and asked in the saddest voice, "Are we going to have to give Marie back since she's not going to be our baby anymore?"
Love that sister!  (Who pulled her beautiful, lacy headband off after 1 picture...)
Two weeks after I found out I was pregnant, despite taking the Vitamin B and Unisom IMMEDIATELY, the constant, severe nausea started again.  And, again, it was EVEN WORSE than it had been the time before.  THIS time, I had to lie down for 8 weeks, and then, for the next 4 weeks, I could stand if I didn't move too quickly.  I tried the Vitamin B and Unisom, sea bands, some homeopathic nausea medicine, Zofran, a special electronic bracelet thing that was supposed to zap a certain point on my wrist to keep me from feeling nauseous, crackers, peppermint, ginger, sour candies, drinking small sips of water all through the day...nothing worked and I vomited more than I had the last time.

I discovered at one doctor's appointment, that I had lost 12 pounds in one month.  Naturally, the doctor put in a referral for me to talk to the Nutrition Center because OBVIOUSLY the problem was that I didn't know how to eat properly.  The problem CERTAINLY had nothing to do with the unending nausea that flared into a fiery, erupting volcano every time I tried to eat or drink anything. 

My mother came to stay for 4 weeks to help take care of things while I was sick (Husband did what he could, but he had just started his Master's program).  She said, "This is terrible!  I can't believe you are suffering this much and nothing can be done!"  I said, "Mom, it was like this with Ian and Marie too."  She was shocked;  I guess you have to see it to really believe it, and she hadn't actually been around me the other times I had been sick.  Again I wondered how I person could feel SO AWFUL and not just die from the suffering.  And I wondered HOW IN THE WORLD I was going to be able to choose to do that again because I still felt like our family was not going to be complete after this baby.

Somehow I managed to nurse Marie through all of this (she was down to 2 feedings).  I kept nursing her because she was so tiny, and any time she would get sick she would fall off the weight chart.  When she wasn't sick, she would be in the 3rd percentile for her weight because she just wouldn't eat much.  I hated to wean her since she WOULD nurse, and I had heard that my milk would change around week 20 of the pregnancy, so I hoped she wouldn't like that and stop on her own.  No luck!  One week, she was about 18 months old, she had a cold, and couldn't nurse for a few days because of her stuffy nose, and that was that.  I SINCERELY HOPED that since I ended up nursing Marie for over half the pregnancy, that my body would still be in bfeeding mode and I wouldn't have the nursing agony this time.  (Have you noticed that my hopes are so frequently misplaced?)

Once or twice I had to take Marie to my neighbor to get her diaper changed because I knew I would throw up all over her if I tried to do it.  (BLESS THAT NEIGHBOR!!!!!)

Around the time I could stand again without throwing up, I went grocery shopping to see if I could find ANYTHING I thought I could eat.  I could eat something once, but it would immediately make me so sick that the next time I considered eating it I just couldn't get past that sick feeling.  I went to the store to see if there was anything I hadn't already tried eating, and I came home with a can of cashews.  Marie wanted some, so I gave them to her because nuts were one thing she WOULD eat, and they were high in healthy fat and protein.  I had noticed that every time I gave her peanuts she would stick a bunch of them in her cheeks, so this time I only gave her 3 cashew halves.  *sigh*  Twenty minutes later, she was covered in hives.  I had had an allergic reaction to something when I was a child, so I knew what hives were, and I knew that this could lead to trouble breathing.  I took her to the ER and told them she had eaten cashews and was now covered in hives;  they rolled their eyes at me (apparently many people think they have hives when they don't?), and then were SO SURPRISED when I took her clothes off and she was covered in hives!  (Thankfully, she never had trouble breathing.)  In the end, they told me I should keep her away from all nuts, and, by the way, this long list of things is also related to nuts, so keep her away from those too, and get her right in to see the allergy doctor. 

The first appointment we could get at the allergy doctor was SIX WEEKS LATER!  I DID NOT appreciate that AT ALL (HELLO!  LIFE THREATENING ALLERGIC REACTION!), and it was a very stressful 6 weeks!  When she finally did get in and get tested, she tested negative for cashews but positive for hazelnuts.  I knew we were in SERIOUS TROUBLE if she had had such a strong reaction without actually eating a hazelnut:  she had eaten something that had COME IN CONTACT WITH a hazelnut.  They sent me home with an epi-pen and instructions to keep her away from nuts and have her retested in a few years.  It was so frustrating to have to take nuts out of her diet because they were something she would eat and they were a good source of calories for her!  (I took her to another allergy doctor about 4 years later to be re-tested, and, thankfully, she tested negative for any nut allergies, however, even though she is still very thin and could use the calories, she refuses to eat anything with nuts in it.)

David and Marie were very excited about the baby in my tummy!  (Ian was....resigned to the fact that we would be getting YET ANOTHER baby at our house.)  They loved to feel my tummy and give the baby kisses.  Marie was quite proud that she knew where our new baby was.
Ian
I was quite surprised when 4 year old David informed me that Battleship was his new favorite game;  aren't kids supposed to be a little older before they can play (the old, non-electronic) Battleship?

David
Marie

Marie signing "shoes".  Oh the adorable girl outfits!!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Strawberries with Chocolate...or should it be Chocolate with Strawberries?

Today was another one of THOSE days seemed like a good day for some chocolate!  I try to be polite healthy, so instead of eating it out of the pan with my fingers I thought I would combine my chocolate with some fresh strawberries.

First:
In a saucepan, combine 1/2 Cup of butter, 2 Tablespoons (or more, depending on how bad of a day it was...I used 1/3 of a Cup tonight) of unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1/4 Cup of milk.  Heat to boiling, stirring constantly, or, you know, frequently.  Turn off heat and add 3 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar (whisk this in slowly if you don't want it to be lumpy, but dump it in and stir quickly if you are trying to SAVE LIVES!) and 1 Teaspoon Vanilla.  Mix well.
This is what it looks like when it's done if you opted for the "In the interest of saving the lives of those around me, I am dumping the powdered sugar in and mixing as fast as I can" method.  Lumpy, but STILL CHOCOLATE!
Then, to give anyone who may be interested a CLEAR idea of what to expect, take pictures to illustrate the finished project further.  The pictures must be EXCELLENT, so take LOTS of them, JUST TO BE SURE you are correctly representing the deliciousness.

Oops!  There's a lump of powdered sugar on that one...better lick it off and try again....
Hmmm, that kind of looks like I'm flipping someone off....better lick it off and try again....
Well, that one looks OK, but maybe I should demonstrate the polite way of getting the chocolate in your mouth proper way of dipping a strawberry in the chocolate, JUST IN CASE there is somebody out there who doesn't know how!  (This is all about HELPING OTHERS, so sacrifices must be made!)  Better lick it off and try again.....
Hmmm, not quite sure if that strawberry is in focus....better take a bite before the chocolate drips off and makes a mess and try again....
Well, hopefully this is good enough because I think I'm about to go into a sugar coma.  (HOWEVER!  The people around me don't seem as loud obnoxious rambunctious irritating bothersome as they were a few minutes ago!)  As you were.
*Note:  this makes a lot of chocolate, but you can keep what you can't eat because you're in a sugar coma what's left in the refrigerator.  To make it dipping consistency again, microwave it for 15-30 seconds and stir.  Keep microwaving and stirring until it is the consistency you want. 
*CAUTION:  For SAFETY PURPOSES, make sure your chocolate does not have an extended stay in your refrigerator.  We wouldn't want you to get sick from chocolate that has gone bad--better safe than sorry ;-)!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

PSA: Notebooks and More on Color Coding

*Edited at the bottom

We move a lot/see a variety of doctors, and I quickly became tired of one doctor asking me about one of the children's medical histories and me not remembering those details and the doctor not finding the information in the child's chart.  So!  I bought little spiral bound notebooks in family colors for taking to doctor's appointments.  (Actually, I originally had files on my PDA where I kept this information, but then the PDA died and I didn't want to replace it, so I bought notebooks, wrote down everything I had in the PDA, and figured that this way I could give the information to the child when they grew up and moved away.)

Mine is the sparkly heart notebook.  WHAT?!  They, uh, didn't have my family color.  (Also, disregard the dirty table;  the table-cleaning child isn't up yet...)

Every time someone has a doctor's appointment, I try to remember to bring their little notebook.  I write down:
*the date--helpful for looking up information from that appointment weeks, months, years later
*the doctor's name (if it is a specialist or someone different than the regular doctor),
*the height and weight measurements the nurse takes at the beginning--this has been helpful for figuring out the correct dose of over-the-counter medications at a later date when I don't remember how much someone currently weighs
*(during the appointment) the doctor's diagnosis and any medicine prescribed--this is helpful when you see a different doctor and they ask what medicines your child has been on already for long-term issues, or if you end up taking your child to Urgent Care for an ear infection or something that doesn't go away, and then you  see your regular doctor for the next visit.

I TRY (and often forget) to also write in their notebook when someone starts throwing up or having a cough or fever at home because the doctor always asks how long the symptoms have been going on, and these things tend to be a blur after days of dealing with cleaning up after a sick child, sick child being VERY GRUMPY, sick child waking up during the night....and I write down any incident that I think could lead to a future doctor's visit:  newly walking baby falling on his head multiple times in a day, any time someone falls/crashes into a wall/fights wrestles with a sibling and I wonder if it might lead to x-rays at some point, baby eating peanuts left out by siblings (possible allergic reaction), or anything I think is unusual (see below:  drooping eyelid and walking on toes).


For writing down appointments made at the doctor's/orthodontist's office in my portable calendar (planner?) I found one of those pens that has lots of colors.  This becomes tricky if you have a large family because most of the pens I found had only 4 colors.  I kept googling and eventually found one that had 10 colors on it!  (Similar to this one.)  It's not the best pen I've ever used, and some of the colors are light/not quite the right shade, but it works for keeping track of appointments made on the go (since I didn't want to keep 7 markers in my purse....although, my purse is already huge, so it probably wouldn't be too hard to keep the markers in my purse if I left them in their box...)!

Last night, as I was trying unsuccessfully to get to sleep, I remembered more things that I have bought in our family colors:
*Razor scooters conveniently came in our family colors!
*Those big (basketball size), rubber balls the younger kids like to play with.
*Bottles of bubbles--no fighting over who the bubbles belong to!
*Picture albums--oh how I wish I had noticed (did they even exist then?) photo books when I started keeping pictures for the kids!
*Popsicles--the dreaded, hated ice cream truck had whistle pops in our family colors;  this halted any chance of people fighting over the whistle when they were done with their popsicle.

More things I have used colored tape to code:
*Ear buds/headphones--although those can be bought in family colors
*(Inexpensive so they are all the same color) MP3 players

Edit:  I remembered something else!  I just recently bought a bag of balloons because my kids will be entertained for HOURS a while if I give them a balloon every so often.  BUT, I CAN'T STAND to hear "He/She's touching MY BALLOON!!!!" the whole time they are playing with balloons, so I purposely picked a bag that contained our family colors.  When I pass out balloons, a person is only allowed to play with THEIR color of balloon.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What's For Dinner? Quick and Easy Cheese Wedges

I LOVE a good biscuit, but I rarely make them because they are so sticky and messy (sticky and messy equals more cleaning up time!).  I finally found a recipe that is quick, so yummy, and it isn't messy!
The delicious finished product!
Original Recipe with my alterations in italics:
2 Cups Flour (for the above batch, I used 1 1/2 cups wheat flour and 1/2 cup white flour)
1 3/4 teaspoon Baking Powder (seriously?  I round it to 2 teaspoons and have noticed no ill effects)
1 teaspoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/2 Cup Chilled Butter
2/3 Cup Shredded Monterey Jack cheese (I use whatever is in the fridge;  I think it was some sort of 4 Mexican cheese blend for this batch.)
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan
2 teaspoons dried Parsley
3/4 Cup Buttermilk (I NEVER have Buttermilk, so I put about 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar in my liquid measuring cup, fill it up to 3/4 with milk, and let it sit for a few minutes.)
1 Large Egg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix dry ingredients (technically the first 6 ingredients, but I always add the parsley here too), then cut butter into flour mixture until coarse crumbs form.
Coarse Crumbs, I think....
Stir in cheeses and parsley.
Yum!  I have the bad habit of putting my measuring cup over the bowl and then dumping the shredded cheese in, so I accidentally end up with more like 1 Cup of shredded cheese because I love cheese BECAUSE SOME OF IT SPILLS when I'm dumping measuring.
Add milk and egg all at once.  (I mixed the egg in with the milk before I did this step.)
Knead into a 9-inch circle on floured surface <-------(I don't do this because it is messy and sticky!  I just use my spatula and mix it in the bowl.)
No floured surface necessary!
Cut into 12 wedges.
I scooped the dough right out of the bowl into this pan, smoothed it down with the spatula, and then cut it.
Bake for 20-22 minutes.
So delicious!  Try not to burn your mouth when you are overcome by the enticing aroma and must try it immediately!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It's Going To Be a Day

Despite going to bed at 10:30 last night, I didn't fall asleep until midnight or so.  I was awake when Husband got up at 4am (he has now started his new leave-the-house-at-4:30am-and-return-home-at-7pm job), but I went back to sleep after I kissed him goodbye. 

Baby, 16 months old, despite not going to sleep until 9:00 last night, woke up at 5:30 this morning.  WHAT HAPPENED TO BABIES NEEDING LOTS OF SLEEP?!  Normally, although frustrating, this wouldn't be a big deal because I could put him down for a nap at 8:30am.  But today, I have to leave at 8:45am to drop my kids off at my friend's house so that I can drive an hour and a half, if traffic is good, to a doctor's appointment. 

(Ask me why I have to drive an hour and a half to a doctor's appointment.....OK!  I'll tell you!  Because when I showed up for the same appointment last week, they informed me that someone in their office hadn't DONE THEIR JOB, so they hadn't heard from my insurance and couldn't do what they were supposed to do at that appointment, and I was going to have to re-schedule.  They had tried to call and tell me this, but I was out of town and didn't get their calls.  ALSO, when I returned home and looked through the pile of mail Husband had left for me, I found the correct paper from the insurance dated MAY 27th!!!)

(Ask me what last week's appointment was for.....OK!  I'll tell you!  Because at a previous appointment, the doctor had noticed a lump (nodule? something swollen that wasn't supposed to be) on my throat and was supposed to do an ultrasound of my neck to check it out.  (May I just mention here that I will forever be bitter about ultrasounds that do not involve A BABY IN MY UTERUS!)  Although he said that, depending on the results of the ultrasound, he may need to BIOPSY the lump on my throat, he was content to let me re-schedule my appointment for NINE WEEKS FROM NOW.  Since the word "BIOPSY" was mentioned, I thought it wise to re-schedule a little sooner.

So, I got up, found one of the 5 binkies Baby had thrown out of his bed, gave him a drink and the binky, rocked him, told him it was still night-night, and put him back in bed.  I tried to lay back down for another hour or so, but at 6:15 he was letting me know that he was still awake. 

QUICK, SOMEONE SEND CHOCOLATE!!!!

Edited to add:  ARGH!  SOMEONE forgot to put the garbage can out, so we missed the garbage truck.  NOT a good thing with a family of SEVEN!

H0mesch00ling

We signed with Marie, as we had with David, and she learned quickly. 

I was so excited:  She actually TRIED her birthday cake!! 
Marie is signing "all done"!
For size comparison:  On his first birthday, Ian wore size 5 1/2 shoes.  On her first birthday, Marie wore size 2 shoes.

One week, Marie was unusually grumpy.  Towards the end of the week, I changed her diaper, saw something round and black and thought, "That's odd;  we haven't eaten olives lately....and, come to think of it, olives aren't perfectly round...."  IT WAS A DIME!  The ONLY place she could have found a dime was at church FOUR DAYS EARLIER.  When I had leaned closer to check out the "olive" I also notice a small magnet from a Bingo game!  (When I mentioned this to Husband he said, "Oh yes, she was sitting on my lap the other day playing with those magnets."  WHAT?!)  No wonder she was grumpy!  I immediately took her to the pediatric clinic and had them x-ray her in case she had swallowed anything else I didn't know about!  (She hadn't, whew!)  I NEVER would have guessed that my sweet, quiet, little girl would be the one to necessitate an emergency x-ray!  (By the way, I kept the dime;  it's in my picture album.)
***************************

Before the school year had ended the year before Ian would be going, I had gone to the school, observed the teachers, and talked to the principal about Ian's challenges.  I had picked out a teacher that I thought would work the best for him, and the principal had said they would try to make sure he would be in that class.

By this point, part of me was feeling like I should DEFINITELY be getting the mother of the year award because, for HIS sake, I had kept Ian in his 2 hour preschool program even though he could have legally gone to the all-day Kindergarten.  I will not lie:  I was counting the days looking forward to Ian starting Kindergarten in the fall.  IMAGINE MY SURPRISE when I went to the school for Kindergarten parent orientation, and the voice of inspiration said, "DO NOT LEAVE YOUR CHILD HERE."  I looked around at the perfectly lovely classroom and the competent teacher I had picked out and said, "WHERE ELSE AM I SUPPOSED TO LEAVE HIM?"  (Never mind that I was a certified teacher and had graduated in Elementary AND Special Education...)  I started him at school anyway because, before this, I had never really considered that I would do anything else.  (Sure, I had HEARD of homeschooling, and it sounded like a lovely idea....but think about trying to homeschool Calvin, from "Calvin and Hobbes"...)  But the uncomfortable feeling WOULD NOT GO AWAY. 

There was Kindergarten screening for the first couple of days, and, at the end of this, the teacher met with the parents and told a few of the parents that their child wasn't quite ready yet (the teachers KNOW these things!).  Of course, the school couldn't enforce that suggestion, they could only provide the parents with the information.  All of the parents opted for the free daycare instead of keeping their children out for another year, so the class ended up having 21 children 4-6 years old with 1 teacher and an aide who was shared between 3 classrooms.

In Kindergarten, they were learning about shapes and letters and colors....but Ian wanted to be learning about George Washington and the Revolutionary War.

I volunteered in the classroom once a week while Ian was there, and I always felt SO BAD for that teacher!  She had one student who qualified for a full-time aide but did not have one because of budget issues, she had another student who was such a behavior problem that she spent most of her time dealing with him, and then she had 4 or 5 more who had moderate behavior problems (AMAZINGLY, Ian was not one of her behavior problem kids).  I knew it was just a matter of time before Ian figured out that the teacher couldn't keep her eye on everyone and he DID become one of the behavior problem kids.

Ian would come home from school crabby and exhausted.  The noise and chaos of the classroom was really hard on him.  One day, as we were walking home, he said, "Mom, sometimes during circle time my ears go numb and I can't hear the teacher." 

After the first time I had volunteered in the classroom, I started looking into homeschooling.  I asked Ian once if he wanted to keep going to school, or if he would like me to teach him at home, and he surprised me by saying he would like me to teach him at home.  By the second week, I just couldn't ignore that feeling that I was making a terrible mistake by sending him to school.  I found it HIGHLY IRONIC that I had to GET PERMISSION from the same people who had decided it was a fine idea to have 1 teacher in a room with 21 4, 5, and 6 year olds to take my child out of school to homeschool him.  During the week that I was waiting for my permission to arrive, I unpacked all of my teaching things and got everything set up at home so that I would be ready.

Even thought I was a certified teacher, I was still worried about teaching at home.  My mantra for that year was "It's only Kindergarten, it's only Kindergarten, it's only Kindergarten...even if he doesn't learn ONE THING from me, he still already knew everything they were going to learn in Kindergarten, and what are the chances, really, that he isn't going to learn ONE THING?"

The biggest challenge ended up being, of course, that Ian fought with me on EVERY! SINGLE! THING!, and that was VERY TIRING, but I persevered and he did, indeed, learn quite a bit.  Ian was very happy that I could incorporate the things he wanted to learn into the things he needed to learn.  I was very happy when reading finally "clicked" for him because children can learn SO MUCH just from reading books they enjoy!

Many people said, "You should just send him to school;  it would be so much easier for you!"  But it wasn't easier, actually.  When he went to school, I had to wake him, and anyone else who was still sleeping, so that we could get him to school on time.  At the end of his school day, I had to disrupt quiet time and wake anyone who was sleeping, so that we could go pick him up.  THEN I got to deal with the behavioral fall-out (anxiety, heightened irritability, less patience for dealing with things at home) from Ian being at school all day, while also trying to get him ready for his next day of school and take care of the other children.  Also, he went through a phase of wearing his clothes inside-out and backwards (the tags and seams were bothering him), which wasn't a problem if he was going to be home all day. 

Some people also said, "Why would you choose to homeschool Ian when he is such a difficult child, and especially since he fights with you at every opportunity?"  I did it because I felt like homeschooling was the best choice for him.  He needed CONSTANT, IMMEDIATE feedback on his behavior, and he wasn't going to get that at school;  the teacher had too many other things she needed to take care of.  Being in a regular classroom environment was VERY STRESSFUL for him, largely because of the bright lights and the noise that comes with a room full of children.  I still wasn't exactly sure what was going on with Ian, but I knew he wasn't a typical child and that, to have a chance to learn all the things he needed and wanted to learn, he needed modifications to his educational experience that the school couldn't provide.  *I* was certified to teach Special Education (not that I think a parent needs to be a certified teacher in order to teach their children, but I hoped my training would be helpful, especially considering Ian's special needs), and I knew how to provide the modifications he needed and provide him with an Individual Education Plan.  I'd always thought it would be ideal if everyone could have their educational experience tailored to meet their individual needs and interests, so I decided to try.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

These are (were) the days of my life....

*I went to read bedtime stories to the boys, and I told David to scoot over so that I could sit in the middle.  Ian piped up with "because you're so wide!"  I said, "Excuse me?"  So he came over to me, put one hand on either side of my hips and said, "You've grown so much this way!"

*At the end of another LONG day, I went to use the bathroom and sat down on a WET, not just a drop or two but COMPLETELY COVERED, potty seat...it was THE LAST STRAW!  Amazingly, I didn't start screaming like a maniac which is what I REALLY wanted to do, but I did charge Ian $0.15 of his allowance, and told him that I would continue to charge him if this continued to happen.  His excuse?  His wee wee lifts up when the pee pees come out.  AIMING?  Have we not talked about AIMING???????

*"Last night was one of those really discouraging nights when I spent all day making dinner and then Ian threw up all over the kitchen floor because the carrot he was trying from the soup had pea broth on it (not that you would know this by looking at it because the broth from this batch was pretty thin, so the carrot wasn't green or anything).  Sigh.  I'm afraid I have been exercising my vocal cords today...something about asking and asking and ASKING and ASKING a person to do the SAME exact thing OVER AND OVER AND OVER...and all those parenting books on letting the children experience natural consequences are a great idea, but MY children never get the connection between their actions and the consequences that follow (such as, throwing shoes and socks all over the floor and then not being able to find what they are looking for).  When the consequences present themselves the children just look at me like, 'Well, the reason I am having this problem is because YOU are CHOOSING not to help me!'"

*One of Ian's favorite things to scream at me was "I don't WANT to!"  I explained to him over and over and over and OVER that we ALL have to do things we don't WANT to do, but he kept screaming that phrase nearly every time I asked him to do something (usually involving cleaning up a mess HE had made).  I finally told him that if he screamed that at me ONE MORE TIME, I was going to take a break for 3 days and not do anything I didn't WANT to do.  NATURALLY, he screamed at me again, and I had a fun 3-day break of not cooking, cleaning, baking treats, doing laundry, sitting on the porch for hours while people played outside, or anything else I didn't want to do (except taking care of people who were too small to take care of themselves, of course).  He thought twice before screaming, "I don't WANT to!" at me after that.

*Husband let Ian get a children's anatomy book from the library, and then he let him look at it unsupervised.  So Ian comes up to me and says, "The pee pee balls are attached to something that looks like suction cups in that book."  He brings the book over and shows me the diagram of the ovaries =), and then argues with me when I point out the box a little lower on the page that shows the test.es on a man.

*Husband was gone on another trip for work.  Another LONG day was finally starting to look up in the afternoon when the boys managed to play nicely together for a few minutes...but then Ian yelled down the stairs that David had peed on the bed, so I had to go upstairs, strip the sheets, and tip the mattress up so it and the board underneath, could dry.  I thought that was the end of that, and the boys did manage to play nicely for a few more minutes, but when I came upstairs the next time, Ian was doing his best to scratch a hole in the mattress, so I took the mattress out of his room, and I then had a soft, comfortable headboard for my bed.  The next day started pretty well;  nobody woke up too early, we managed to stay organized enough to get things ready for church, I was able to get a shower during Marie's morning nap, got everyone fed, dressed, and in the van ON TIME (even after taking the time to have a pillow fight with Ian to help him get out some of his energy)...but then the van wouldn't start...because Ian had left a light on 2 days earlier and the battery was dead.  We had mint chocolate chip cookies for dinner that night..... 

*I had MANY long days:  "We are having yet another banner day at my house!  It all started when I mixed up a nice, big, 4 loaf batch of bread dough and put it outside (it was VERY warm where we lived) to rise...when I returned for the bowl of dough, it was obvious that one of the obnoxious, neighborhood squirrels had gotten into it, so I had to throw the whole batch out and start over (I put the bowl of dough in the car to rise from then on.)  Sometime during all of this, Ian and David flung all of the clean, white laundry all over the dirty front entryway and bathroom floors...and, of course, they did this 2 minutes before our visitors were supposed to arrive.  Once our visitors came in and sat on the floor, I noticed that the couch cushions were missing, which was especially nice considering how dirty the couch always is under the cushions.  Then my 2 boys trapped one of the other kids in the toy room upstairs and wouldn't let him out.  When the poor child finally made it downstairs to tell the tale, I told my 2 angels to stay upstairs until the visitors left so as to not further traumatize the other child, so my 2 proceeded to spend the rest of the visit yelling rude, angry things at me while they threw things down the stairs.  I don't recall any of this being in my contract."

*Each time I stopped nursing, I found myself thinking, "HOW MUCH HAVE I BEEN EATING?!"  I noticed an interesting pattern of my appetite going WAY DOWN when I finished nursing.  Perhaps this is why that whole "Bre*stfeeding helps you lose weight" thing never worked for me?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

More adventures in parenting....

I did try to write down the good things too!
"Today it was gray outside and pouring rain.  This afternoon I was able to stay in my warm quiet (the boys must have been unconscious out with their father) house and curl up on my comfortable couch with my warm, sweet smelling, sleeping, precious, soft baby."

Aaaaaand back to normal life:
*One day I wrote:  Because God hates me True to form, the baby wakes up every 2 hours all night long.  I got up this morning, prayed the boys wouldn't burn the house down or something while I dashed through the shower, tried to at least vacuum (let alone clean anything else or manage to eat breakfast) before our visitors came...didn't manage to get David pinned down to change his diaper before the visitors arrived (one would think one would WANT a soaking wet diaper changed, but no), so by the time the baby was asleep and I could pin David down, the diaper was so full that the gel stuff was starting to come out (of course, sliding down the stairs multiple times may have contributed to that problem as well...), and it was lunch time before I was able to get Ian to scrape the oatmeal he requested for breakfast, but then wouldn't eat, into the trash, but wait!  An important thing to note here was that it was right AFTER Ian ate his lunch that he finally got around to scraping the oatmeal in the trash, which explains why things were so chunky when he threw up all over the carpet AND kitchen floor because something about scraping the oatmeal made him throw up, so at this point I STILL had not had the chance to eat yet (not that my body could compensate by using up any of the MASSIVE stores of energy it has acquired or anything) which was probably good since I was trying not to gag while I was cleaning up after Ian (did I mention that his preschool bus was due in about 15 minutes?) and then I had to get out the carpet cleaner to take care of the carpet...at least the baby was happy in the swing for all of this!  And today is the day we are supposed to go to Ian's school in about an hour for his Halloween party, so I have to manage to get David, Marie, and I there on time with them in their costumes....which explains why Marie is awake NOW, so that she will be wanting to sleep about the time we get to the party...AND IT'S JUST PAST NOON!!!!  I have at least 8 hours of this day left!  It is not looking good....

*Around this time, I decided to start using cloth diapers.  David was so big that he needed size 5 disposables, and I just couldn't BEAR to pay so much for so few diapers, and if I was going to be doing cloth for him, I might as well do it for Marie also!  I liked it a lot more than I thought I would!  I still used disposables when we went somewhere during the day and for Marie at night;  David would actually soak through his disposables at night, so I kept cloth on him at night.

*Another day I wrote:  It is 1:43pm and I am just now getting my lunch.  Why, you may ask?  Because Marie keeps waking up every 45 minutes-1 hour, and, in between taking care of her, I've had to harass Ian into getting ready for school (Heaven forbid we should do ANYTHING the first time we are asked nicely), and fix his lunch, and David keeps peeing on the floor!  And we're not even talking about long periods of time here.  I will turn around and see him peeing on the carpet, get that cleaned up, and not 20 minutes later I will discover that he has peed on the kitchen floor or in his little thinking chair or on the rug in front of his dresser while he was getting a pair of dry underwear.  And he hasn't had anything more to drink!  And did I mention that I've been trying all day to make a carrot cake so that I can use up some carrots that are going to rot in the fridge?  I haven't even been able to grate the carrots yet.  POTTY TRAINING IS OFFICIALLY OVER FOR THE DAY!

*"IT IS NOT FAIR that it takes me 2 hours to get the baby to sleep for 15 minutes!"

*I was trying to put away laundry and the boys were jumping around the room on their giant, stuffed doggies.  Ian said, "Look mom, I'm a grasshopper!" and David piped up, of course, with:  "Mom I a asshopper!"

*In the middle of all of this glorious parenthood, Husband got sent away for a trip for work for a week and a half.  He called at some point and told me that he was going to need to stay for an extra 3 days.  I told him that I was going to need to buy a serger.

*I left the boys in the bathtub with EXPLICIT instructions to keep the water IN the tub while I put their sister down for a nap.  I heard suspicious laughing and splashing and returned to find water all over the floor.  I asked what had happened and Ian said, "We were making a tsunami in the bathtub."

What is this?  A baby who will spend time on her stomach without screaming!
This was one of my all time favorites:  (Ian was 5 1/2, David was almost 3)
*Ian got in trouble and was sent to his room.  David followed him upstairs and was pounding on the door.  Ian kept yelling, "Go away, David!  You can't come in!" and David kept pounding on the door, telling Ian to let him in.  Finally, Ian yelled, "Go away, David!  I'm in trouble!"  David paused for a second and yelled back, "I in trouble too!"  Ian paused and then asked, "What did you do?"  David replied, "I bump mama while she sewing" (earlier I had been talking to the boys about being careful not to bump me while I was using the serger), which was a BOLD FACED LIE, and Ian let him in!


Ian and Marie
*One day, the boys had been upstairs playing for a while, and I hadn't been hearing any screaming or fighting, so I headed upstairs to tell them what a great thing that was and see if they'd like a treat.....except, when I opened the door, they were both standing there completely n@ked, and David informed me that Ian had peed on the floor.  Ian explained that they had been playing n@ked sandwiches with the couch cushions, and he had forgotten where the bathroom was.

*Ian got off the bus scowling, clutching his backpack, and saying, "Don't look in my backpack mom!"  I kept asking him why, and he finally said, "I lied at school and my teacher wrote you a note."

*We got home from a LONG day of traveling, and Ian had fallen asleep in the car.  A few minutes after I came in the house, I saw him stumble in too.  I told him to go use the potty since we had forgotten about that before we had left the airport hours earlier.  The next thing I knew, I heard David in the laundry room asking, "Why are you peeing in there?"  I was thinking, "Great!  Wise guy is peeing in the litter box again!"  But as I rounded the corner I saw Ian standing there in front of the dryer, with the door open, peeing in the dryer (It just COULDN'T have been the WASHER, right?  Because THAT would have been TOO EASY to clean up!).  When I asked him what on earth he was doing, he told me that he had forgotten where the potty was and he was trying to get away from the cranes (he was obviously half-asleep).  Moral of the story:  DO NOT WAKE A CHILD FROM A DEEP SLEEP AND SEND THEM TO THE POTTY UNACCOMPANIED!

*One day I put bre@stmilk in a cup for Marie to drink.  At lunch, the boys commented on this because they knew Marie couldn't have regular milk, and Husband told them it was Marie's "special" milk.  So, when Ian came in for dinner that night he asked me where I had gotten Marie's special milk.  Before I could answer he said, "Did you milk yourself?"

*Ian was dismayed when he discovered that waking up the baby is the same as volunteering to take care of her until Mom finishes what she was doing during the baby's nap.
Baby food duty

*Ian and David took off most of their clothes, took the mattress off of the bed and replaced it with all of the clothes in their dresser drawers.  They were very pleased with themselves...until they had to clean everything up!

Notice:  our mother has PAINTED a picture on EACH DRAWER so there will be NO MISTAKE about where each article of clothing belongs!  (For all the good it does....)
The activities of a boy's day, proudly displayed on his shirt.
The last of the cute girl crocheting.
Why must babies find such great delight in making giant messes?
*I opened my bedroom door the day of Ian's birthday to be greeted by this:
"Where's the presents, Mom?"
*Days before her first birthday, Marie learned to walk.

...with a little encouragement from her biggest brother!