Back in Business

Did you miss me?

A friend got in touch last week to say she had tried to donate to our Lifesong grant but my blog seemed to be down.  Another friend confirmed it.  When my own attempts to log in failed, a panic began to settle over me.  For eight years I have been chronicling our life here (albeit patchily at times!), and for a day or two, I really believed it might all be lost forever.

Thankfully, my incredibly resourceful husband spent a few days emailing back and forth with a tech support guy and was able to troubleshoot the issue and get us back online.  I have told him that all I want for my birthday next month is a hard copy book of my blog.  I don’t ever want to go through that anxiety again!

But of course, that only explains the last week of my absence.  The few weeks before that were full of the last dregs of summer and the busy beginnings of our Fall schedule.  We are now in full swing with Bible studies, AWANA, and even our first ever homeschool co-op (read: I’m teaching science to children other than my own for the first time in twelve years!)  It’s busy, but so far it’s a good busy.

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A little more camping.

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This baby girl turned one and a half…

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And *this* baby girl turned eleven!

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A bit of hammocking… does this count as a sport?

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Happy boy…

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Happy girl!

We are still waiting for our immigration approval before moving on to the next step of the adoption, but have you seen our thermometer up there?!  ^

We have been totally amazed and humbled by the outpouring of love and support people have shown through our Lifesong grant fund.  I’ve been thinking maybe we will celebrate the halfway mark ($2000) with a name post.  What do you think?

The End of School Year Crafties

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This lovely young lady has recently taught herself to knit from a book from the library.  She will humbly tell you that I taught her, but, in fact, she figured out casting on completely by herself and I only showed her the main stitch once.  I hardly know how to do it myself.  When asked by her home school evaluator what her goal is for fifth grade, she replied without a moment’s hesitation: to learn to purl!

Her first proper project was this adorable headband for little Annis.  Isn’t it sweet?!

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Won’t be long before those little fingers are stitching away, too.  It’s been a very crafty place around here now that the school year is winding down:

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Annis Octavia’s Pink Octopus, crocheted by Bea.

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Football for Pop-pop, sewn by Niko.

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Phillies cell phone case, crocheted for Pop-pop’s birthday by Bea.

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Two Hawks, crocheted by Ro, just because.

We’re going to go through a lot of yarn this summer!

Stitching It Up

 

I have had a lifelong fascination with needle crafts, and I can’t even describe how exciting it is to me that some of my kids are now old enough to share in this hobby with me.  Yesterday, Pippa picked up a cross-stitch she started months ago to work on it again and inadvertantly sparked a stitch-stravaganza!

*** Warning: Shameless Bragging on Kids Post to Follow!***

Most of them had wielded a needle before in some capacity, but actual cross-stitching was new to at least Bea and Niko yesterday, and all four big kids really impressed me.  (The little two were napping, but I think they’re great, too.  See?

(Look, June can sew too!)

(Coraline, not so much, but she is an excellent drooler.  Does that count as a craft?)

(Coraline, not so much, but she is an excellent drooler. That’s kind of a craft, right?)

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Little Bea surprised me with how tidy her little rows of x’s were while she worked on a little fox pattern from a book.  I thought she’d be pretty high maintenance since she’s only five (and a half!), but she very quickly got the idea of following the pattern and was completely delighted with the whole thing.  She had already picked it up to work on it again before I even got breakfast on the table this morning, and I’m thinking she probably also took it to bed with her tonight (sneaky thing!) since I couldn’t find it anywhere to take a picture of it just now.

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 The boy does super well given his eyesight and dexterity issues. For some of his stitching, I did the dashes and he went back and crossed them, but it was a tricky pattern, to be fair.  He’s definitely getting there.  And he also knows how to crochet, which never ceases to amaze me.  (Oh.  Should I be concerned that people will think it’s weird that I’ve taught my son to do these things?    He certainly will not be left out of any activity I’m doing with the girls, so it’s kind of inevitable.  What can I say?  I guess being the only boy in a family of all girls has its advantages.  He does also get plenty of hitting-the-wiffle-ball-in-the-backyard time with Daddy, so I’m sure he’ll come through it all unscathed.)

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Romilly is the girl who insists she does not like crafts. Yeah, nobody’s buying it.  See below.

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And last but not least, my Pippa… so much like her mama.  Loves starting projects, kind of ‘meh’ on finishing them, but she’s definitely got threads and yarn coursing through her veins.  She’s been granny-squaring up a storm since she finished her Bible verse sampler yesterday.  I think she’ll have her new scarf done well in time for… summer?!

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I think once we’re done school for the summer and have more free time we’ll have to find a good cause to crochet or stitch for or we might quickly be overrun with projects around here!

Little Girls

 

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See these two little girls?  These two little friends have done a lot together. They played with Cabbage Patch Kids and read Nancy Drew books together.  They watched Smurfs and Touched by an Angel together.  They dyed Easter eggs together but did not go trick-or-treating together (it was tradition, after all).

They shared each other’s families. They gained weight and lost weight together. They fought and made up.  A lot.  They cried over sad times and celebrated happy ones together.  They were each other’s Maids of Honor.  They have been friends for thirty years.  Thirty!

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And now, I am so very excited to share another great adventure with my best friend: motherhood.  In about seven weeks or so, my dearest friend Mary, the sister I never had (until I had sisters), is having a baby girl!  We celebrated her baby shower together on Saturday.  I have never looked forward so much to meeting a baby that wasn’t my own. I am so excited for Mary and her husband to experience the joy that awaits them.  And I cannot wait for another generation of little girls to walk through life together.

Weekend of Megan Awesomeness

 

We had a stay-up-late-chatting, ice-cream-eating, strawberry-and-peach-picking, too-much-coffee-drinking, bike-riding*, you-tubing, not-much-crocheting fantastic weekend!  We love you, dear friend!

(*Look at our two new bike riders go!  Congratulations to Romilly and Niko who have both become a lot more confident in the past couple weeks.  We still cannot recommend this method of teaching bike-riding highly enough!)

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday: Recovering

 

I hope you’ll pardon my little absence last week.  I had minor surgery to remove a bump from my leg and a littler bump from my nose (as the nurse commented: “an odd assortment of boo-boos”).  Both of them were completely fine where they were, but nevertheless bumpy, so I’m happier without them.

RSV: A Field Guide for Newbies

Tiny babies aren’t supposed to get colds.  It just shouldn’t happen, and when it does, it’s pretty much the saddest thing ever.  It would seem, though, that with having so many little germ-carriers in our home, nasty tiny baby colds are something we are just doomed to keep having to deal with.

Coraline and I are just back from a day-and-a-half hospital stay for RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) and bronchilitis.  Unfamiliar?  Not me.  Our family’s lived through it once before, when poor Romilly was just 11 days old.

Romilly, February 2006

This time, poor Cora started having a rough time right in the middle of the holiday weekend.  Not particularly wanting to head to the ER on New Year’s Eve, we watched and waited, remembering the signs of real respiratory distress from last time around.  By Sunday evening, it was clear she was struggling, so I called our pediatrician, who advised us to call Monday morning and make an appointment.

RSV usually runs its course in about 10 days, with a peak (or trough?) at about day 5.  Sunday, we now know, was Coraline’s “day 5”, and by the time we got to the doctor, she was already over the worst.  But she was still struggling enough that the doctor walked us over to the ER with the intention of having us transferred to a children’s hospital in the city.

We waited for 10 hours in the ER, thankfully in our own room rather than a waiting room, before the transport team from the children’s hospital turned up.  Coraline received two treatments of epinephrin through a nebulizer, despite the fact that her O2 was generally staying at the lower end of the acceptable range, which seemed to help her some.

We finally got settled in our room at about midnight, greeted by a party of doctors and nurses asking us a million questions I had already answered many times that day.  After the doctors cleared out, the nurse whispered to me, “I’d have sent her home from the ER.”  Super.

Though her oxygen dipped down enough to require a teensy bit of oxygen through the night, she was really doing much better by morning, even back on room air, and we got discharged by late afternoon.

So, for posterity, or just in case we ever happen to come across RSV again (apparently 60% of babies get it in their first late fall/winter/early spring season but only 2-3% require hospitalization.  If I believed in luck I’d say that makes us exceptionally unlucky, but I don’t.  I will instead acknowledge that God certainly had good reasons for both times He allowed us to go through this ordeal, some of which we have already been able to see.  But I digress…), here are somethings I’ve learned (or relearned) about RSV and about life in general in the last few days.

  • Blood oxygen saturation, sometimes called “sats” (UK) or “pulse ox” (US, at least on the show ER) is measured as a percentage.  100% is really good. Below 92% is cause for some concern.  This number, measured by a little ET-like red light on a finger or toe, is the main indicator of how serious one’s respiratory distress is, though there are other signs.
  • Watching this number fluctuate from 87 all the way up to 100 all day can make you go insane, so I tried really hard not to stare at the monitor.  Tried.
  • Oxygen levels normally dip when you sleep, because your body doesn’t work as hard at breathing.  So basically, in order to get to go home, you have to be a straight-A student, even in your sleep.
  • Another sign of distress is belly breathing or “retractions”.  You can see this happening if you watch the chest of struggling little one as they breathe.  The skin under the ribs seems to pinch in and the belly gets big with each breath.
  • If you happen to use the word “retracting” when talking to a doctor, they will think you are either really smart or really unlucky.
  •  Other signs of respiratory distress include grunting, head-bobbing, flaring nostrils, “gunky” chest sounds, and a paler or bluish skin color.  We never got to blue, thankfully, but I’ve heard.  Another biggie is failure to feed or vomiting.  This was the big red flag with Romilly, who had to have IV fluids for a couple days.  Coraline never stopped nursing, but they gave her an IV anyway, “just in case.”
  • The bits of nose around your nostrils are called your “nares”.  Did you know this?  I did not.
  • If epinephrin (aka adrenaline, and the same stuff they jab into you with an epi-pen if you have a bad allergic reaction) is administered as a breathing treatment, you will not be going home in the next 24 hours, because it can cause elevated heart rate and blood pressure.  They should tell you this before they give it to your kid.
  • Most of the parts of RSV that are scariest to behold (the I’m-dying-Mommy cough, the sleeping with the neck arched way back and mouth wide open, the crazy snuffle-scream) are actually some of baby’s most effective defenses against her own stifling snot.  I was amazed more than once to watch Coraline have a crazy scary coughing fit in her sleep only to see her oxygen level then jump from 91 to 95.  Coughing works.  Our God has indeed made our bodies fearfully and wonderfully.
  • A 36-hour hospital stay feels surprisingly like a vacation to a mother-of-five, poor sick baby notwithstanding.  I finished the book Trevor gave me for Christmas and half-finished crocheting Romilly’s birthday present.  It is amazing how many hours there are in a day when you only have yourself to look after.
  • My husband is amazing.  He makes looking after four small children look easy.  They even did school while I was away.  Wonderful!
  • And here’s a freebie.   Nothing to do with RSV, but I did have many occasions to use this recent revelation during Coraline’s sick spell, and so I will share here anyway since it took me *five* babies (six if you count cousin Ellie) to figure it out:  In case of diaper blow-out, onesies can be removed downward instead of upward.  This, I’m quite certain, is why they all have that funny widen-able neckline.  Clever stuff.  Now I’m wondering how many times I had to smear grossness up and over my poor babies heads over the years in order to figure that out… Did you know?!  I feel so silly.

Sweet Coraline

Busy, Busy, Dreadfully Busy!

It is never harder to blog than when so much has happened since the last time I posted anything that I don’t know where to begin.  Except when I’m keeping secrets, which, in this case, I’m not.  Really, what secrets could I possibly have left at this point?

Anyway, it’s been busy!

You already know Uncle Adrian was visiting, and in part at least, I will claim that as my #1 excuse for not blogging in forever – after all, my blogging room was his bedroom.

Things I might have blogged about while he was here had I had more free time and access to my computer include:

  •  Some of our very dearest friends moved to Brazil.  I haven’t cried so much about a friend moving away since my friend Lisa and her twin sister moved to Georgia in fifth grade.  Brazil is a lot farther away than Georgia.  It’s been rough.
  • My baby turned seven!!!  What on earth?
  • We went on day trips to Philly, Lancaster, New York and Valley Forge, and I’m pretty sure I officially lost my trouper status when I burst into tears outside the ladies’ room in the World Financial Center.  Who looks an eight-month-pregnant woman with three small children in the eye and puts the “Out of Service” sign out to clean the restroom anyway?
  • I’m pretty sure Adrian thinks we’re crazy for having four-going-on-six kids.  Moreso for having lived with us for two weeks.  That made me think perhaps other people might think so, too.  I’d quite like to blog about that.  Remind me some time.
  • Adrian went home at exactly the wrong time.  Not only was it *on* the tenth anniversary of 9/11, but we just all missed him like crazy this past week.  Come back soon, okay?

But I’ve just admitted that he’s been gone for a whole week now, and still the blog has been a ghost town.  Here’s what I would have blogged about this week, had I not been actually *living* this week:

  • We finally started our school year.  Barefooted and silly.  What else is new?
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  • The Ladies’ Brunch is over!  Because I wasn’t blogging, you don’t know that I was in charge of putting on our Ladies’  Fall Brunch with one other friend from church, nor that I am the least qualified person in the world to be in charge of such an affair.  You also don’t know that on the original date of the brunch, after hours of preparation the day before, the church was flooded by a huge thunderstorm overnight.  Nor that the other lady I was working with had to attend a wedding in Minnesota over the week of the new brunch date.  I was a ball of stress, literally lying awake at night thinking of quiches and nametags and fall-colored napkins.  It’s just not my scene.  By God’s grace, and the invaluable help of 1. My mom and 2.  Our ever-faithful church property-manager/facilitation-engineer/awesome-at-everything-and-super-duper-helpful-to-have-around guy (what is Norm’s official title?), it all came together, and though numbers were low, it was a lovely morning and I think those who came were blessed.
  • On Friday, my precious Great Aunt June (aka Junie the Original, since I get hate mail when I call her “Big Junie”) was admittted to the hospital after suffering a prolonged dizzy spell at the grocery store.  She was there until today when she was transferred to a rehab facility to rebuild the strength in her heart.  A million and one tests showed essentially, that there is nothing wrong with her, yet she has been in poor health for years.  Please pray this extended time of recovery will yield some answers that will improve her quality of life.  We intend to have her around for a lot more years, and we’d like her back to full steam so that she can enjoy them.
  • In happier news, I had a “Surprise Boy Shower” on Saturday!  Who knew?!  (Did you know?)  We are now completely kitted out for a little five-year-old boy to move into our lives.  We have matchbox cars and nerf footballs and legos and even some little boy undies.  What a blessing to be surrounded by so many amazing friends and family. Although I know lots of people were involved in pulling it off, I have to especially thank my very-best-friend-since-kindergarten Mary who relentlessly spearheaded the whole shindig, my dear friend Cindy for mobilizing the church army, and again, of course, my mom, who couldn’t utter a word last week about being way too busy to help me with my brunch crisis and didn’t.  I love you all so much!
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  • Megan was here this weekend!  Second only to the surprise of the shower itself, was the wonderful moment when Megan, who drove up from Maryland for the occasion, appeared next to my chair.  She stayed until dinnertime on Sunday.  We crocheted and talked names; it was marvelous.  She was sadly on the wrong end of the camera all weekend, but I do have photographic evidence of her visit in the form of a new dress for the doll she made Pippa for her 4th birthday.  So thankful for our impromptu visit, friend!

On the adoption front, things are finally moving again!  We believe courts have reopened in Little Man’s country, but we’ve heard they will not be giving dates to adoption cases until October.  That’s soon enough, as we are now scrambling to get our medical and criminal checks updated (re-notarized and re-apostilled, naturally!) and have them waiting there with the rest of our paperwork for our court date to be assigned.  We don’t need to be there for court, but please pray we get “a good judge”, as we have heard there are a few who tend to drag the process out as much as possible.  After court, there is about a month of paperwork to be done before LM is ready to come home.  It still seems a long way off, but having a whole houseful of boy clothes and toys sure makes it a lot more real!

Good.  Now we’re all caught up and I can resume blogging about life more-or-less as it happens.  That is, until things get *really* busy!

 

 

 

Thousand Words Thursday: Moo!

Last Friday marked our third annual celebration of Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-Fil-A.  What are we celebrating?  Why, $33 worth of free food, of course!  Doesn’t that make you want to party?

Mary with all the loot. She enjoyed telling complete strangers what a good investment this cow costume was way back in 1993. I have to agree.

If you fancy a stroll down memory lane, here we are at our first Cow Appreciation day, and our second.