Friday, October 29, 2010

Finer Things Friday - Pumpkin Patch!

Despite our horrible, no good, very bad morning (see this post) our family managed to salvage part of the day by visiting a local farm.
This included a hayride,
choosing pumpkins in a pumpkin patch,
being silly with aforesaid pumpkins,
playing in a huge bin of corn kernels (more fun than a sandbox, according to my girls)
though some of us slept the whole time.
And don't forget the tricycle races.
And giving a little sister a ride.
We did the corn maze in record time thanks to Prince Charming's hastily sketched map. He doesn't have a very good sense of direction in real life (um, don't tell him I said that) but in a corn maze, he's golden.

Not to mention all the farm animals, the little farmer game and picking out the funniest looking gourds to bring home.

An afternoon spent together at the farm? Definitely a Finer Thing.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Well...At Least I've Heard of Him

I write like
Mark Twain

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!


We hold them in our arms for a short time. (And, on occasion, in a well-beloved Moby wrap.) We sing, shush, whisper and just enjoy the closeness.
We walk alongside them, talking, listening, admonishing, encouraging, or just in silence. Enjoying the closeness.
But holding or walking, or even apart, they are always our babies.
And nothing can change that.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Words for Wednesday

The distorting feature of anyone's perception of their own life is that you are the central figure. Me; my life. But nobody else sees it thus. For others, you are peripheral. - Penelope Lively
 And, related to that:
Others are not nearly as impressed with our artificial lifestyles as we think they should be. - Mary Hunt
I've heard someone say that everyone is the hero in their own story. I suppose that's true. For those of you who read this blog regularly and comment, I want to tell you thanks. Thanks for letting me be a supporting player in your story.

And thanks for being one in mine.

Quick Polly update: she's bouncing back very well. We won't know for another couple of weeks how the tooth is really doing but it seems to be doing well. We're optimistic!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Long Tale of a Tooth

Do you know that nightmare, the one where you turn your back for one second and something terrible happens to one of your children? I can't be the only one who's had that dream. Well, it actually happened here Saturday morning.

Just as a review, this is what Polly looked like Friday afternoon:
Saturday morning I left Polly in charge of the baby while I went downstairs to switch the laundry. As I moved the wet clothes from the washer to the dryer I heard a "thump" and then a blood curdling scream followed by crying and "Get mom now!".

This is not good, I thought. I figured Lili had rolled off the bed or something and everyone was upset about it. I came upstairs to find Polly spitting out blood. She told me she had tripped in my bedroom with the baby and knocked her own front tooth out. I frantically checked the baby over (her sleeper was covered in blood, which all turned out to be Polly's). Tigger was crying, Lili was crying, Sweet Pea was oblivious but getting in the way and while I tried to look in Polly's mouth I started feeling faint. Have I mentioned that I do not do well with blood? Understatement.

I called Prince Charming to come home. I called my mom. My mom got here first (Thank goodness they only live up the hill! I have no idea what we would have done without her.)

We searched and searched and searched for that tooth. Prince Charming got home and started searching. Pastor Dad joined the search. In between searching we took turns checking over Lili and Polly. Polly laid down in her bed with a cold washcloth on her forehead.

There was much crying and desperate calls to dentists. Side note: never try to get hold of a dentist on Saturday. They all go fishing together, or something. Prince Charming did talk to the Pediatric Dentist at our local (highly respected) Children's Hospital.

The tooth was nowhere to be found. Pastor Dad took the girls to get some lunch. I took a shower and tried to settle myself. All I could think was my sweet little girl would never have all her permanent teeth, that she was facing months, if not years of painful dental procedures and...well, you can imagine the rest. We were all trying to be cheerful (but honest) around the kids but my own thoughts were not so optimistic.

We decided to keep our original plans for the day, which were to take the girls to a farm / pumpkin patch, since without the tooth there was no rush to do anything. This cheered everyone up and took Polly's mind off what had happened.

As we drove home, Polly fell asleep. By the time we got home she was waking up, upset and crying. She couldn't eat anything. At this point her mouth had cleared up for Prince Charming to get a good look. It looked like part of the tooth was still in her mouth (we thought the tooth had shattered because we did find one tiny piece of it). We decided that he would take Polly to Children's Hospital and have her checked out.

My mom came down again to help me get the little girls in bed and so that I wouldn't be alone. And then we waited. And waited.

And waited. No calls from Prince Charming (very bad cell reception inside the hospital). He finally called late that night. The story: Polly's tooth had actually been shoved up inside her gum. It was still in her mouth (although chipped). They were going to put her under in order to pull the tooth down, stitch up her mouth (she had damaged the bone, no surprise there) and brace her top teeth together. They told him she would need a root canal in a few weeks to deal with all the nerve damage. They also told him - Praise the Lord! - that her prospects were very good for keeping the tooth.

So here's what Polly looks like today:
Please pray that the tooth and bone would heal as they're supposed to and that there won't be any complications such as infection. Polly is a trooper and the hospital staff were very taken with her ("She's so cute!" being just one statement often repeated to Prince Charming during their very long wait & treatment) She can't eat much, only soft foods, but she's actually enjoying being allowed to eat exactly what she wants, since she's a bit of a picky eater. Her foods of choice right now: eggs in any form (especially scrambled or fried), cottage cheese, and banana (sliced up very small).

We're counting our blessings - she still has her tooth, Lili wasn't hurt, and we have one of the best hospitals for children in the country.

And yes, from now on I intend to wrap my children in bubble wrap even if they're just walking around the house. Just kidding, I think.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Lili at One Month

Dear Lili, It's hard to believe that you're one month old already! It seems like we waited forever for you to come and then, well, you were here!
So beautiful and perfect, ready to meet everyone and get settled in.
Now, I could be wrong, but I'm fairly sure I'm your favorite person. After all, you and I spend a lot of time together. You nurse about every 2 1/2 hours (sometimes you go a little longer, especially at night, but not often) and you like to sleep snuggled in my arms on laying on my chest.
But there are other people you're fond of too. Polly has a special "baby talk" voice that you like to listen to. And Polly is very careful with you.
You spend a lot of time with Tigger because she asks to hold you. A lot. She loves all babies, but you're her favorite.
And then there's Sweet Pea. She loves being your big sister and I know the two of you are going to be quite a duo once you get a bit bigger. (So don't grow too fast, OK?)
We introduced you to our church family when you were only 3 days old.  Your granddad prayed that Mommy & Daddy would raise you the way God wants and that you would grow up to know and serve Jesus. That's what we pray for you too.
You wore your beautiful dress from Gram that Sunday. It was a little big but that didn't matter.
When you were about a week old, Daddy gave you this pacifier. Unlike your older sisters (especially Tigger & Sweet Pea) you don't really like it much. But you tolerate it. One of these days you might figure out how to get your thumb or fingers in your mouth. I'm pretty sure that's what you would prefer.
You had your first bath when you were three weeks old. It was quite an event in our house! You liked the water pretty well, we thought. We had to cut your bath short though, because all your sisters wanted to help wash you and you got tired of that pretty quickly.
When you're not sleeping on Mommy's chest, you'll occasionally sleep in your car seat. You don't like your bed much at all. I think you've slept about 6 hours total in it your entire first month.
And just so you know, yes I do just hold you and look at you. I never get tired of watching you, whether asleep or awake.

Happy One Month Birthday, Little One!
Love, Mama

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Words for Wednesday

An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children. He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others. - A.W. Tozer
Hmm...that one takes some thinking. Or, as Pastor Dad would say, "It'll dunk your hat in the creek."
The greatest thing is a life of obedience in the routine things of every day life. No amount of fine feeling can take the place of faithful doing. - William Barclay
So many of the quotes in my commonplace book seem to fall along these lines (don't just think or feel: do!). Have I mentioned the book "Just Do Something" recently? No? Well, consider it mentioned.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Google, Ancient Chinese Charts, and The Like

I don't know what pregnant moms did before the internet. Where else can you do a search on some arcane pregnancy symptom and diagnose yourself, thereby becoming sure that you have some rare disorder that will most likely...

OK, that's probably not one of the best things about modern pregnancy. I have to actually tell myself, "Do not Google this" when confronted with medical symptoms. Headache? Doom! Rash? Doom! Tired? Doom! Can't sleep? Doom, again! Of course!

Back when I was pregnant with the child that turned out to be Tigger, I discovered sites that discussed old wives' tales about whether you were pregnant with a boy or girl. (Eating salty or sweet foods, carrying high or low, etc.) These type things are amusing, of course but sadly inaccurate. For instance, I thought Sweet Pea might be a boy because I just felt so "different" and the old wives' tale consensus seemed to say so.

Obviously, they were mistaken. Sweet Pea is the girliest-girl in our family. The child doesn't like to go out of the house without fixing her hair and donning matching (or not) jewelry.

One prediction method has been accurate for us, however. Have you heard of the "Chinese Gender Chart?" This is some silly chart that was supposedly found in an ancient tomb...blah, blah, blah. The thing is, you put in your birth date and when the baby was conceived and it tells you whether to buy blue or pink.

For us the chart is 4 for 4. So I was beginning to think it strangely accurate. Until I discovered that a friend would have a girl according to this chart and, lo and behold, she's actually expecting a little boy.

Hmm. So, just to satisfy my curiosity, was this chart accurate for you?

(Disclaimer: The Management wishes to make clear that this is a "just for fun" exercise. The management in no way endorses planning your life around, taking seriously or otherwise caring much about charts found in ancient tombs, whether Chinese or no. Thank you, very much.)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mom as Doctor

Did you know becoming a mother is almost as good as a medical degree? Don't believe me?

Well, I ask you, can a doctor simply kiss a hurt spot and "make it all better?" I can. And I do, almost every day (I have four children now. Someone is constantly in need of my make it better services.)

Another way this works is mad diagnostic skills. For instance, just this morning Polly came into my room.

"I itch all over," she told me, close to tears. (Side note: she had been working on a Latin lesson at the kitchen table for about 30 minutes.)

Time for Mom to diagnose what could have caused such terrible discomfort.

"Maybe put Latin away for awhile and work on something else," I suggested.

Problem solved. No need for creams, sprays, or even a closer look at her beautiful skin.

"You were right, Mom!" She called, much happier, from the kitchen a few minutes later.

Schoolwork may cause massive itchiness. Who knew?

Doctor Mom, of course.

Friday, October 15, 2010

There Were Never Such Devoted...

Sisters, of course!

Lili is the first child I've had since my sister had her little boy (The Ever Adorable Fen). Something about being able to share this experience with Princess (She knows what I'm talking about! She's been through this too! She understands!) really felt amazing.
And then there's Lulu, who traveled all the way from Far Points West, braving red-eye flights and spooky airport tunnels (ask her), just to spend a weekend with us. (OK, it was for our mom's birthday too) Lulu is an Aunt Extraordinaire (Seriously. She and her husband have twelve nieces and nephews. Twelve!) and All Around Fabulous Person.
Lili was thrilled to make her acquaintance, as I'm sure you can tell by the above photo. Lili found Aunt Lulu's arms to be the almost perfect napping place, thereby giving Mama's arms a rest (and giving Aunt Lulu's muscles a work out).

Sisters are definitely a Finer Thing in my life!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

All Mine

There's something about having four children that brings out the nosy (not to say rude) in people. I had my first "are they all hers" experience when Lili was only a week old. Ironically, it was at a family reunion.

Granted, these must have been distant relatives. As we walked to our (gasp) mini-van, preparing to make the trek back home, another relative was walking to his car. I was carrying the baby and the three older girls walked behind me, all in a row like Mrs. Mallard and her ducklings. "Are they all hers?" This relative asked his wife. She shushed him soI didn't hear the rest of the conversation.

Yes, they are all mine - Praise the Lord! Lili is only three weeks old and already we can't imagine life without her.

The next comment is a little more common but the different tones in which it is asked affect whether it is considered Rude or not. This question, of course, is, "Are you going to have any more?"

My stock answer for this is, "Not right now". I'm only 21 days postpartum. It's not the right time, not to mention Physically Impossible, for us to be having another child just yet.

Now this question could get sticky pretty quickly. How much does this person need to know about my views on birth control? General answer: not much. Should this person care whether I have more children or not? Probably not. Should I care what this person thinks? Again, probably not.
Do you know how I can tell whether someone is a true friend (whether related to me or not)?

They treat the arrival of the (gasp) fourth baby girl with as much joy and excitement as they did Baby Girl #1.

I've never quite understood treating a baby like something that is routine. Babies are not routine, they are miracles. Yes, I have a definite opinion on how many children I think might be ideal for our family and no, I'm not exactly sure what God has in store for us in the future. That's OK.

Meanwhile, they are all mine and I couldn't do without a single one.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

10 Tips for Life With a Newborn

1. Limit your to-do list. Sitting and holding your baby is a perfectly reasonable thing to be doing.

2. Get up and move. Sure, I said limit your to-do list. But trust me, you feel a lot better if you get the occasional shower, put on clean clothes, wash your face, brush your teeth and so on. Then get out into the sunshine (if there is some) or at least your local Target. (You'll need to buy diapers anyway, so you might as well make an event of it.)
3. Plan on a slight feeding "learning curve" if you're breastfeeding. Some babies take a little longer to figure it out than others. Some are such eager eaters they're willing to suck on whatever patch of skin brushes their mouths, whether it's the right part or not. Plan to try breastfeeding for at least a month. In my experience, it gets a lot easier after the first week. And by a month you'll be a pro. Oh, and get some of this:

You won't need it for long but when you do, it's nice to have.

4. Plan for interrupted sleep. In other words, manage your expectations. If you're not expecting eight hours of sleep it doesn't seem so bad when you don't get them. Babies need to eat frequently and most pediatricians don't want breastfed babies to go longer than 4-5 hours at a stretch. Our Lili usually eats every 2-3 hours but at night she sleeps from midnight to 4. That four hours is some good sleeping!

5. Accept offers of help. This was a tough one for me, at least until we hit #4. I've been pretty good at managing but I knew when we came home with Lili that I needed help, primarily with the older girls so they weren't being neglected or left out. And anyway, even if you can "handle it all", it's nice to let others feel needed, right?

6. Don't forget your husband. You're not going to be having any hot dates right now. You probably both look and feel so exhausted that you wouldn't be able to stay awake on one anyway. But sitting and talking, watching a movie together (on DVD. That pause function will be necessary), or playing a game together can let both of you know that the other person is still a priority even though the new little one is rather high maintenance, at least temporarily.

7. Don't forget the older siblings. Talk about "our baby" and "our family." Praise their "helping" efforts. Look at their baby pictures and compare to the new baby. Read a story together. Have them read to the baby, hold the baby, sing to the baby, etc. The baby is resilient enough to withstand kisses, hugs and even awkward holding by older siblings. (Of course you never leave Baby unattended with a toddler or irresponsible older sibling.)

8. Remember that babies cry. Again, you have to manage your expectations. Babies cry, it's a fact of life. Once you've ruled out the usual suspects (Hungry? Wet? Over-tired? Just needs Mom?) don't feel like a failure if she's still crying. It happens. It will stop. (P.S. Have you tried swaddling? It was a joke in my family when my nephew was born, "Stop crying or Aunt Karen will swaddle you!" And I did. And he stopped.)

9. Enjoy these days - they go by so quickly.

10. Enjoy these days - they go by so quickly. Yes, I know I already said that. But it's true. My oldest, whom I was just holding, rocking, changing, and all of that good stuff, is now almost nine years old. I blinked and that happened. Another blink and she'll be getting married or going off to college or both. The time, it flies. So enjoy these days.

This post is linked to Top Ten Tuesday at Oh Amanda.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Books of 2010 - September

Here, a little late, is the list of books I finished in September. You can get a lot of reading done when you're nine months pregnant. However, it's October 7 and do you know how many books I've finished now that Little Lili's here? Exactly none. Not one. Magazines and snatches of books are all I've managed.

1. A River in the Sky: A Novel (Amelia Peabody Mysteries) . Fiction by Elizabeth Peters. Series mystery. I always enjoy these mysteries. This may have been a bit weaker than my favorites in the series, but it was still an enjoyable diversion.

2. Buckingham Palace Gardens: A Charlotte and Thomas Pitt Novel Fiction by Anne Perry. Series mystery. Very interesting but I missed Charlotte Pitt.

3. Easy Labor: Every Woman's Guide to Choosing Less Pain and More Joy During Childbirth Non-fiction by William Camann & Kathryn Alexander. Bet you can guess why I was reading this one! Helpful and mostly non-preachy.

4. The House That Cleans Itself: Creative Solutions for a Clean and Orderly House in Less Time Than You Can Imagine Non-fiction by Mindy Starns Clark. Well, the house doesn't actually clean itself, but there are some good suggestions in this book.

5. Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born. Non-fiction by Tina Cassidy. Interesting but the emphasis on evolutionary biology put me right off. ("Lucy" as evidence for anything just makes me laugh.) Hard to read at times but made me grateful I was having my baby in this day and age instead of 200 years ago (or more!).

6. Becoming Queen Victoria: The Tragic Death of Princess Charlotte and the Unexpected Rise of Britain's Greatest Monarch Non-fiction by Kate Williams. Fascinating and charming book.

7.P*rnland: How P*rn Has Hijacked our S*xuality. Non-fiction by Gail Dines. (Asterisks added by me, obviously, in an attempt to hold off the spammers). Very difficult to read. Can't say I exactly recommend it but certain folks really need to read this book. It is a big deal, it does matter, and it's not what you think.By the way, this author is a self-described feminist and it is not a "Christian" book. This issue crosses boundaries.

8. Great Expectations.  Fiction by Charles Dickens. Took me a bit to get into this one but once I did, it was just as good as everyone says. I've read this one before but I think I was too young to appreciate it back then. The only thing that bugs is Dickens' penchant for "Surprise! - We're related!" and a regrettable dependence on coincidences.

9. The Well-Behaved Child: Discipline that Really Works! Non-fiction by John Rosemond. Rosemond is the parenting "expert" that Prince Charming and I invariably recommend to anyone with a parenting question. He's no nonsense, practical, and funny. (Well, I think he's funny, anyway...)

10. The Big Book of Birth Non-fiction by Erica Lyon. I don't remember much about this one, but then, I did finish it two days before Miss Lili came along.

11. Indivisible: A Novel Fiction by Kristen Heitzmann. "Fragmented" is the word that comes to mind. Heitzmann is great at characterization but this book almost has too much going on.

12. Cream Puff Murder (Hannah Swensen Mysteries)Fiction by Joanne Fluke. Mysteries with recipes are always a great idea when you want to curl up with something cozy, right?

13. Dearest Cousin Jane: A Jane Austen Novel Fiction by Jill Pitkeathley. I love all things Austen and this book could have been a great addition to the Austen para-literature but it was too jumpy. Ostensibly, it was about Jane's cousin Eliza but it jumped from person to person, from letters to diaries and so on. Fun for Austen enthusiasts who like spotting the "inside" jokes.

14. Black Ship: A Daisy Dalrymple Mystery Fiction by Carola Dunn. Series mystery. I like this series for the charm and setting more than the deep mysteries or intrigue. I wish she would have given her main detective (Daisy's husband) more to do in this book, but there will always be another in the series, and therefore another chance.

Totals for September:
Fiction: 7 (With a heavy emphasis on series mysteries, which means: easy, quick reads)
Non-fiction: 7
Dickens completed: 1 (Only two to go! "Our Mutual Friend" & "The Mystery Of Edwin Drood", which Dickens didn't actually complete)