Saturday, September 27, 2014

We Added a Driver!

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! There is a new driver in our house!!

 Eden wasted spent all summer trying to study for her driving test. I gave her to the end of September...she passed just in the nick of time!

I'm so thankful that Mitch is willing to do the driving training. Yeah, it's like--I'll nurse the babies, he can teach them how to drive? Perfect. They didn't waste any time getting out behind the wheel. 

 You can see that we have the perfect vehicle for teaching teens to drive. We're not worried about scratches...

Way to go, Eden!!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Déjà vu...and Mercy is 18 months old!

Two years ago we dealt with Obadiah and his pooping issues. He wasn't losing weight, but he "fell out of his growth curve." Today Mitch took Mercy in for her 18-month visit (while I was at my own doctor appointment), and she too has consistently fallen out of her growth curve over the past 9 months. :( Seriously, it is so EXACTLY like what Obi went through at this stage that I just shrug my shoulders and I haven't been concerned at all. Since I wasn't at the appointment personally to speak with the doctor, I am a little more concerned. The doctor sent Mitch home with a stool sample kit. We are checking for fat absorption among other things (lactoferrin, giardia, cryptosporidium...). I made sure to make a supper Mercy would eat, and sure enough it produced a bowel movement within 2 hours. My guess is that Mercy will receive the same diagnosis as Obadiah--simply a fast motility. Thankfully we were able to get that stool sample this evening before bed (it was poop #3 for her today, but the first two were completely solid, normal poops, just small in size). I totally grossed the kids out as I transferred the sample from the diaper to the collection cup. That was fun. Ha! In all seriousness, I'm thinking about asking for a hemoglobin check...but that will be next if the stool sample doesn't turn anything up anyway.

I'm too tired tonight (today was overwhelming and exhausting) to get any pictures of Mercy uploaded. But at 18 months she:

~weighs 21 lbs and is 31 inches tall
~climbs on everything
~pushes chairs around so she can climb higher
~says a few words, often parroting her siblings
~loves to sing, especially "Let It Go"
~can count a few numbers
~gets stuck on some vowel and consonant sounds so that impedes her willingness to practice speaking
~is learning to sign "please" and "more" and a few other things
~takes one nap per day...preferring to go on a walk with Caleb and fall asleep in the stroller (I'm hoping the cold weather holds off a while longer!)
~goes to sleep around 8:30 pm in Eden's bed and sometimes sleeps until after 6 am, but sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night and comes into my bed
~is learning to jump (cutest thing EVER)
~gets wildly excited around animals, even when she sees them on tv
~climbs up and sits in the middle of the table while we are doing school
~is a busy body, following her siblings around, making sure she is not missing anything
~loves water, loves to play in it and to drink it
~drinks from sippy cups, regular cups, water bottles, and anything that anyone else is drinking from

I hope our little punkin' butter starts fattening up soon!!

Baby #10 is a...

We had our 20-week ultrasound today!

Mitch took the day off school. Zeke and Josh were invited to go along. I guessed girl, Mitch guessed boy, Zeke guessed boy, and Josh guessed girl, so that was fun. It was a lot of fun having the boys in the room and we explained many things to them about the ultrasound. Immediately after the tech started scanning, Mitch and I saw between-the-legs, but the tech didn't tell us her guess until the end of the scan. I thought that was funny. It was fun for Zeke and Josh to have to wait until the end. We had a really great look at the baby, who was moving around quite a bit. The baby's heart rate was 140 and the baby weighs approximately 15 oz. I only got two images of the baby, and only one of them I really like so here ya go...

I cried, like always. Happy tears. It is so amazing to watch on a screen!!

We planned a little surprise for the kids at home. We decided beforehand to go buy either pink or blue kool-aid. We also bought some cupcakes. It was REALLY fun, and Zeke and Josh did a great job of keeping it a secret until we brought out the stuff...

It's a GIRL!!

So exciting! It will be our first time having two girls in a row. 

Edit to add: I forgot to say that baby girl was moving around quite a bit. At one point the tech said she had to chase her. Still she was able to get good pictures from what I could see. I guessed that my placenta is on the top again, slightly to the left, and I was right! I feel good strong kicks on my right side, and occasional softer taps on the left. I rarely feel anything at the top. The baby was laying transverse, with her feet over on my right and her head over on my left. When I saw the doctor later, she said that the estimated due date according to the ultrasound is February 2nd. That is 9 days earlier than my calculated due date of February 11 (based on my last menstrual cycle). Since I was breastfeeding, it is possible that ovulation was just way off (I mean, I had had a year of cycles with apparently no ovulation, so it's possible!). And of course the ultrasound is only an estimation based on measurements and averages. For a fun little comparison, Josh was estimated to weigh 8 oz at 20 weeks, was born at 38 weeks, and weighed 7 lbs 5 oz at birth. Mercy was estimated to weigh 13 oz at 20 weeks, was born at 40 weeks, and weighed 8 lbs 12 oz at birth. My guess is that the extra 2 weeks of gestation is why she was a pound heavier than Josh, and her heavy weight at 20 weeks was no indicator of being born before my "due date." Interestingly, her estimated due date according to the ultrasound was exactly the same--or within one day of my calculated due date according to LMP.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

19 weeks pregnant--Poll up!

I am 19 weeks pregnant, and my ultrasound is one week from today (Thursday, Sept. 25th). We are pretty excited! I'm not sure that my blog still gets a lot of traffic, but I thought it would be fun to do a boy/girl poll before the ultrasound, since we hope to be able to find out.

Now, usually I need a little something to go on when I'm guessing. I don't put much stock in the old wives' tales. But--heh--it's still fun to guess.

First of all, there's the old wives' tale about carrying. Is it carrying high for a boy? Or is that a girl? I don't remember. I decided to put together some images from previous pregnancies...I had to work with what I could find, so it's not the best. They are relatively around the same time period...

Then there's the heart rate theory. Apparently if it's faster it's a girl, slower for a boy.  I have plenty of data to bash that one, but here you go:

At 12 weeks
Eden (girl):      150-156
Malachi (boy): 149-154
Tirzah (girl):    160
Obi (boy):        150
Baby #10:        158

At 16-ish weeks
Eden:         136
Caleb:        136
Malachi:    140
Tirzah:      142-147
Obi:           150
Mercy:       154
Baby #10:  147

There is the theory about morning sickness, but I can't remember if it's supposed to be sicker with a boy or with a girl?  Oh well...skip that...I took plenty of zofran and unisom to get me through. I didn't want to feel sick, so I tried very hard not to. I don't usually get zofran, but I specifically asked for it since I was traveling to Nicaragua. I really wanted to have things under control.

I've been craving sweets, besides the small bit of time that I would have gone crazy for some onion rings and fried fish.

Nothing else that I can think of. Please vote in the sidebar on the right!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Remembering Nicaragua

I sort of dropped the ball on finishing my Nicaragua posts. :)  Not like there's anything going on here...

After a few gentle reminders I finally finished uploading pictures. One of the art projects we did was to take individual pictures of each student at Vacation Bible School. We then had the pictures printed at a local mall, and the students made a picture frame and received their pictures to put in the frame. It created a lot of excitement (I think I wrote about that). It is beautiful to look at the pictures. Here is a slideshow:

And since slideshows are always better with music, I recommend this song:

I have been telling people that the trip to Nicaragua was "hard." But the hardest thing about it was not the heat. It was not seeing the poverty. It was not being away from my family. It wasn't sleeping on the floor or eating new foods. And it wasn't loving naughty kids. The hardest thing was what I saw inside myself. I could see much more clearly just how much I loved myself. I love to be comfortable. I seek my own comfort. I was much less willing to give of myself than I thought I would be. About halfway through the trip, Berto asked me, "So, is Nicaragua like you thought it would be?" We had been to a tough village in Mexico and the conditions were very similar, so I replied, "yes!" But I was not the same person that went to Mexico 14 years ago. Facing my own selfishness was hard. It is always hard to confront sin in my own life. I thought I was ready to go, and I was ready for many aspects of the trip, but I think I wasn't ready for that. But it was good. It was very, very good. I was challenged from a spiritual standpoint. I see how much I rely on my own strength of will to do what is right than I rely on the grace of Jesus Christ. This is why I fail so often! (I can't even get through one blog post without failing.) I am challenged to repent and pray more, so this is what I have been striving to do since I have come home.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Josh's Little Accident

Short story: While riding his bike last night, Josh was "bumped" by a car. He is 100% ok and we thank God for protecting him!

Long story: Zeke, Josh, and Malachi have permission to ride their bikes around our neighborhood. There are many bike paths, and they can go pretty far without crossing roads. They do have permission to cross a few roads, and have been taught how to do so. Apparently Josh was riding a bike with no brakes and was approaching an intersection with a private drive to a group of patio homes. He didn't stop, and a car coming out of the drive hit him. The entire row of houses is protected by a row of pine trees that lead right up to the drive, so the driver couldn't see the sidewalk or road and had to pull beyond the stop sign in order to check traffic before pulling out. So he didn't see Josh until it was too late. It looks like he just bumped the front wheel of Josh's bike, twisting the handlebars into Josh's stomach and leaving a superficial scratch. (The rubber grip on the handlebars was previously scraped off, leaving a rough metal edge anyway). Josh fell off his bike, of course, but didn't bump his head (he was not wearing a helmet).

I was in the middle of making supper when a neighbor called our house phone and told me one of the kids had gotten "bumped by a car" and "he was fine", but they thought I should "come right away and check him out." I left immediately without telling Micah where I was going and without grabbing my cell phone (I thought I would be right back). I jogged to the corner, where I saw some people waving me down at the next intersection a block away. I jogged to that intersection (I was thinking earlier that I should get out and enjoy the last warm day this week...ha!).

Josh was sitting up and talking, and everyone started talking to me at once. Josh looked fine to me. The driver, an older gentleman, was extremely concerned and apologized over and over again and offered to do anything he could to help. I sat with Josh for a while and assured the driver that he looked ok to me. It was evident that Josh was riding his bike very fast and had no intentions of stopping at that intersection. If anything, I held Josh responsible and I was somewhat mad at him for that. I asked him if he could walk home and he said he could. So just before we got up to walk home, we heard sirens. Someone had called 911. That is good, but at the moment I was like "Oh crud." So we sat and waited. Now, of course, I realize the wisdom in that and I'm thankful that people around were proactive.

The fire truck was the first to respond and they checked Josh over. Then the ambulance came next. The paramedics were very nice and asked Josh what happened. I declined a trip to the hospital (we could always take him later, I reasoned) and they told me what to watch for. They gave Josh a dairy queen certificate and warned him that if they saw him without his helmet again he would have to pay them back. The officer that responded talked with both Josh and the driver. Thankfully he did not issue the driver a citation. I'm glad there was no need to. But the fact that the bike didn't have brakes was a factor as were the trees blocking the line of sight at the stop sign.

Scott and Shannon were coming over for supper (which I hadn't finished making). They found Micah pretty worried because he didn't know where I went. They figured it out quickly, and Shannon came and sat with us on the curb until all the reports were done. She also gave us a ride back home (so no more jogging for me, LOL). As we turned to leave, we noticed Mitch had pulled up behind the officer, so he stayed and chatted with him for a few minutes. The officer apologized for not being able to issue a citation. Again, Mitch and I were just glad it was not necessary. We have no regrets. The gentleman who was driving the car was really neat. He has 12 kids ages 40-something down to 20-something (a 22-year spread). I wish we had met under different circumstances. He offered to fix Josh's bike (which was generous, but I declined). He was very sweet. One positive side to having a police report is now I have his name and address and we can send him a note. Josh is doing just great and is no worse for the wear. I hope this has been a good lesson for him, and I hope that Zeke and Malachi learn from it too. We sure did cause a fuss and got a lot of attention!

Friday, September 05, 2014

Homeschool 2014-2015

Micah is carrying a backpack full of school books for the first time since May 2007.

Our school year is off to a roaring good start this year! I thought I would provide a little homeschool curriculum update for the world to know what we are studying.

Micah (11th grade PSEO)
Micah is taking college level classes (for free!) through our state's Post-Secondary Enrollment Options program (PSEO). For now he is focusing on those classes that will meet his general education requirements for college but at the same time give him the remaining high school credits he needs.  He is considering a 4-year degree as a peace-keeping officer (law enforcement). The college classes he is taking are:
Diversity and Social Justice
Intro. to Critical Thinking
Analytical Writing
American History

He likes all of his courses and his professors, though we have had some interesting discussions about differing beliefs. He has several friends in the American History course. Micah was well-prepared for what he would experience in college I believe.

Micah and Eden (11th and 10th)
Even though Micah is enrolled full-time in college classes, I am still requiring some classes at home. Here are the classes that he and Eden are taking together:
Saxon Advanced Math (this course finishes up 1/2 credit of high school geometry and adds a full credit of trigonometry/pre-calculus)
I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (curric. by Apologia, book and workbook)

Eden (10th)
Eden is the only student continuing to work on a foreign language this year, and she is working on both Spanish and German. She uses Rosetta Stone as well as a free app that we love called DuoLingo.

Eden and Caleb (10th and 8th)
Caleb and Eden are taking the following classes together:
The Elegant Essay (Institute for Excellence in Writing) through the beginning of December (about 14 weeks)
Excellence in Literature: American Literature (IEW) December through May (about 22 weeks)
American History (we are using the TruthQuest History guides...more on this below)
I Laid an Egg on Aunt Ruth's Head (grammar--book and accompanying workbook)
Critical Thinking in United States History and Fallacy Detective (integrating into History...more on this below)
Keyboarding (using the website TypingPal...I was able to use smartpoints from the Homeschool Buyers Coop to get a free year subscription!) My goal for Caleb is 40 wpm and Eden is 45 wpm for high school credit)

Caleb (8th)
How Do We Know the Bible is True? (edited by Ken Ham and Bodie Hodge)

Zeke and Josh (5th and 4th)
Math-U-See Epsilon (Zeke) and Gamma (Josh)
Student Writing Intensive by IEW (we are using the Level B dvd's with the Level A reinforcement paragraphs since my boys are younger...we are co-oping with a friend.)
American History (same as Eden and Caleb)
Science in the Beginning by Dr. Jay Wile (I can't say enough good things about Dr. Wile!)
Keyboarding (TypingPal)

Malachi (2nd)
Math-U-See Alpha (almost done) and Beta
All About Spelling
All About Reading (from the same company...Malachi is on Level 2, but his reading skyrocketed over the summer so we are pretty much done with this level, and I'm not sure we will continue with any formal reading program. Instead I may just choose to select books for him.)
American History 
Science in the Beginning (he is not picking up as much of this as Zeke and Josh are)

Tirzah (Kindergarten)
Math-U-See Primer (she rocks at this!)
All About Reading (we are half-way through the Pre-reading level and will go on to Level 1 as soon as possible)
She loves to write, so there is no formal writing curriculum necessary. See for yourself how she learns:
So the whole mirror-image thing? This is totally normal for a kindergartner to do. Their brains are working hard. It is common for a child who can write their name to suddenly write it in a mirror image. They don't even realize they're doing it. The 3-humped thing on the left is a "shooter" and she had a very long description of how it worked. I love her imagination.

American History
The typical high school student takes a year of American History. We decided to come back to the TruthQuest History guides after my extensive search for the "perfect" history curriculum left me empty-handed. I seriously considered every decent curriculum out there. I particularly wanted a conservative curriculum by a Christian author, but I also wanted something that incorporated multi-media types. With the internet, movies, documentaries, computer programs, etc, that are available today, history should NEVER be boring! It should come alive. It should have multiple voices. It should be colorful. It should challenge students to think critically. It should avoid critical errors that both liberals and conservatives make. It turns out that a guide like TruthQuest History is the perfect answer for putting together a diverse history course. The only "problem" is that there are three guides that encompass the time period of American History, and these three guides, called Age of Revolution I, II, and III, cover all of world history during the time period. They are loooooong, big, thick books. History like this deserves two or three years of study, and the "popular" method is to squeeze it into one? I carefully considered which topics in the books we would focus on and eliminated some of the other world history topics (though we will briefly mention the goings-on in the world as we fly by). I used the tables of contents from the American History for Young Students guides to help me pick and choose what to keep at first, then I more carefully looked at each section of the Age of Revolution guides. I divided my school year up into thirds, and divided the chapters of each TQH guide as evenly as possibly among the weeks of each trimester, giving more time to longer topics and less time to less-important (in my opinion) topics. It was time-intensive, but it was also really fun to be in control of where we will delve deeper and where we will simply wade. I carefully researched and purchased resources that I thought would be useful to us throughout the entire year, and beyond. Some of the resources I purchased were:
Basic History of the United States (Vol. 1-5) by Clarence Carson
The Story of the Thirteen Colonies and The Great Republic by H. A. Guerber (reprinted by Memoria press)
Drive Thru History with Dave Stott (I got a great deal on this through the National Day of Prayer website and used a coupon code from the Homeschool Buyer's Co-op for an even deeper deal!)
I also used the website Teach With Movies to help find more movies in the time periods we were studying. This is not the only website out there like this--there are many! There's even a facebook group.
Once all the pre-work was done, the school year was ready to start. Each week I look at the coming week and the chapters we hope to cover. I make a list of what is available at the library, then go check out books. If I have time, I request books that are of special interest. Once I get back home I organize everything into a spreadsheet for the week. Eden and Caleb get a copy of the spreadsheet. One helpful thing that I put on the spreadsheet is the grade range for the books we have available. I encourage Eden and Caleb to choose some books that are at their reading level, and to keep a record of everything they have read. I also tell them it's ok to read the picture books that I've brought home for the younger kids. Why not? They're fun and easy to read! We begin each day by me setting up the topic for the day. I usually read Michelle Miller's comments from the TQH guides as I find them helpful. I sometimes have my own opinions and information found from various books I have read (even blogs--one excellent blog that I found recently is I set a minimum reading time of 1 hour each day. Reading the Carson books is required for Eden and Caleb. Other than that, they are encouraged to simply read what interests them, and to read a variety. I love studying history this way.

Critical Thinking
I really wanted to implement a critical thinking course into our curriculum this year. I think that developing critical thinking skills is highly important for a student of history and science. One resource that I found is The Critical Thinking Company's Critical Thinking in United States History course. First of all, the course is on cd, with full printing rights (making this an economic choice for our family). Secondly, the course uses many "source texts" for its exercises. Perfect. And I found that since it is chronological, I could easily line it up with our study of American History. For a little more focus on specifically fallacies, I borrowed the book Fallacy Detective by Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn from a friend (hi friend!!!). We haven't cracked into it yet, but I foresee using this during supper time as a family. It is going to be a fun book.

Daily Schedule
Our schedule is nothing so elaborate as I have tried in the past, but we do have a schedule. Micah is gone on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so we have to be somewhat organized.
We wake everyone up at 7 am and have morning devotions as a family before Mitch leaves for work.
Breakfast is after devotions. Clean-up begins at 8:00 am.
School starts by 8:30 am. We all begin with math. On Mondays and Wednesdays I teach two lessons of math to Micah and Eden so that Micah can do his Tues/Thurs homework on Mon and Wed. That takes a little more of my time. I work any problems that I noted both of them missed in their homework, and I briefly introduce the new topics. It is up to them to correct any additional problems and seek my help as needed.
Zeke, Josh, and Malachi try to work through one lesson of MUS each week. So on Monday they each get a new topic to learn. MUS has 3 worksheets that practice the new skill, 3 worksheets that review everything learned up to that point including the new skill, a test, and an enrichment activity. So on Monday I encourage them to work through 2 of the practice worksheets, to make sure they understand the new skill (we can slow down at this point if necessary). If they clearly understand the new skill, we skip the 3rd practice sheet. Tues, Wed, and Thurs they do one review sheet each day. Friday they do the test and the enrichment sheet. If I can sit with them and keep them on task (some need more guidance than others), they can get through math in about 30 min. Sometimes it takes them an hour. It really just depends.
The rest of my morning consists of moving the boys through their work as quickly and efficiently as possible, while Micah, Eden, and Caleb work independently. Tirzah's work is very easy and she is happy to work alongside the boys. She loves to color her sheets and goes above and beyond the work I give her. Spelling is taught individually, so the boys rotate through and I spend about 10-15 min with each boy on spelling. They each have checklists so they know what all they need to do each day. I also have a master checklist. These keep us moving.
Our goal is to be done with almost everything by 12. Eden has lunch ready for us and we eat. 12:30-1 is clean-up time.
We start history at 1 pm. I read to introduce the topic for the day, use maps, draw timelines, show movies, etc. When I release them, they have quiet individual reading time for 1 hour. I use this time to read, plan, or grade papers. Total history time is 1.5-2 hours.
On Mondays and Tuesdays Eden and Caleb and I have our writing lessons after history. They need me more on Monday than on Tuesday. Every other Tuesday the boys will have a writing lesson in the afternoon.
I also squeeze in critical thinking after history as needed.
No one is allowed to ask for "screen time" until after 3 pm, and the boys must keep their room clean and their bed made.
So far it just feels like the easiest schedule ever. I'm sure as time goes by it will get more complicated (generally we have a tendency to fill up empty calendars and time slots and make things harder than they need to be). I'm relieved we are off to a good start!

Ok, that is one entirely too long post and more than you ever needed to know about our homeschooling year! I will check back in in 2015 with an update. 

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Josh is 9!

We celebrated Josh's 9th birthday on Sunday.

For his cake, Josh wanted something with chocolate and caramel sort of running down the sides. I immediately thought of Cafe Latte's Turtle Cake recipe from Midwest Living. I left off the pecans in favor of picky kids. For dinner he chose General Tso's chicken, but since I had planned a largish lunch (hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill), we compromised: I made "snack" type foods for dinner on Sunday, and General Tso's on Monday. The snack foods we made included pigs in a blanket (little smokies wrapped in crescent rolls), and smokies wrapped in bacon and topped with brown sugar.

At 9 years old, Josh
~is in 4th grade
~likes science best ("because I like the projects")
~wears a size 8 pants
~wears size 2 shoes
~sleeps with Zeke and Malachi every night
~sleeps up to 10 hours each night

~can hardly be separated from Zeke, in fact
~is allergic to cats and horses, and we suspect some other allergies as well (cats are REALLY bothersome though)
~does not have asthma
~recently discovered the dangers of fire ants
~would rather doodle than do his math
~is generally obedient

~likes to ride his bike
~likes to try new things
~learns quickly
~is a good reader
~likes to read Bionicles books

~looked forward to a visit from Mrs. Emerson on his birthday...she brought him a cookie (which somehow I forgot to take a picture of!).
~also looked forward to having his friend Zach over.

~won a second-place ribbon at the fair for his Lego creation

~recently rode a Ferris Wheel for the first time

{silly boys!}

~and he got an impressive storm for his birthday...
...followed by a double rainbow

Happy Birthday, Josh!!  We are so excited to see what the next year holds for you!

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

17 weeks pregnant

Time is getting away from me.  Here is a quick pregnancy update:

14 weeks pregnant:

17 weeks pregnant:

I feel like I started showing the second I put maternity jeans on, but the fact is that by 17 weeks I *should* be showing. My regular pants were digging into my waist a bit and occasionally my waist won and pushed the pants down anyway. I haven't been pregnant during the summer for 9 years, so I don't have any maternity shorts or capris. I scored one pair of capris at Goodwill this past Monday. I will either wear my too-big shorts, convert some shorts, or tough it out in jeans...the weather is getting cooler anyway. But really, as soon as I put those maternity jeans on I suddenly looked pregnant, not fat. And oh my goodness they are so much more comfortable! Why do I wait so long!!

I saw the doctor last week. The baby's heart rate was in the upper 140s (147, 148) and I have gained 10.4 pounds so far. I was able to schedule my 20-week ultrasound for September 25th, where we will get our first peek at the baby (no ultrasounds yet this pregnancy...I know that I am falling into a minority now, as many other pg women usually have one earlier for various diagnostic reasons). We are very excited!  We have already decided that we want to know the gender.

I am feeling pretty good. Early in the pregnancy I had a lot of nausea. As I prepared to go to Nicaragua this was my main concern. The doctor gave me a prescription for zofran. I also used the "vitamin b6 cocktail", which is unisom (doxylamine succinate) and 25 mg of vitamin b6. I took either 1 or 1/2 tablet of unisom at night and usually 50 mg of b6. These both really helped with nausea. Unfortunately one side effect of zofran is constipation and that did give me a little trouble while in Nicaragua. I was almost ready to drink the water on purpose. Ha! I have been able to discontinue both medicines. I have had a perpetually stuffy nose and I haven't stopped sneezing since I came home from Nicaragua. I also get really tired in the afternoons and by the end of the day. I don't sleep well at night and I have weird dreams. I have felt tiny baby flutters but it's really hard to distinguish between digestive movement. The only difference I can tell is that the flutters are very localized close to where the doctor found the heart beat, and they closely resemble the kicks that come later. Yesterday I felt very "full" and had round ligament pains more than felt like my tummy was growing by the minute. I'm craving lots of sweets, so as usual I try to curb that by snacking on fresh fruits. Key word being 'try.'

Mitch is really excited about the new baby. Before I was even 13 weeks he said one day, "I can't wait to meet the new baby!" It was a rare display of emotion. :) But it's a long wait! He has several teachers at his school that are either pregnant or just had a baby. It must be in the water.

When I went to the doctor last week Obi wanted to go along. I told him I was going to go check out the baby. Being 3 years old, Obi is very literal. He heard the word OUT and assumed the baby would be coming out. He said, "I've never seen a doctor take a baby out before." He is too cute. I tried to explain that it would be a long time. He's three, how do you explain that? I said it would be after Christmas and after it is snowing. So hopefully that will narrow it down for us a little. I know that after Christmas I will have some more explaining to do. Maybe then I can say "after Caleb's birthday" and that should get us down to the last 3-4 weeks. We can make a paper chain.  LOL.

In summary:
Gained 10.4 lbs so far to weigh 135.4
Blood Pressure: 96/61
Baby's Heart rate: upper 140s
Exhausted in the evenings, difficulty sleeping, headaches, and a stuffy/runny nose with lots of sneezing.

To compare with my previous pregnancies, go here!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Garden 2014

I don't think I'll be harvesting from my garden as long as I was last year (right up until the middle of October). The blight (possibly septoria leaf spot) has got my tomatoes too bad. The kids and I are talking about possibly planting milkweed to attract monarchs next year. :)  Nevertheless, it's been a good year and I'm always happy with what I get from my little garden plot. Next year I will find a new spot for tomatoes.

 Not all my marigolds came up this year, but I think the ones that did were exceptionally beautiful. 

 I have 5 or 6 okra plants and almost enough okra now to fry us up a plate. :)

 I really don't like these wasps, but he was very photogenic! 

 I let two of my radish plants that didn't make radishes (at least not worth eating) go to seed, so I will have seeds for next year. I was thinking how un-ecnomical radishes are--you only get one small radish from each seed. It is pretty neat how these grew little pods all over similar to a pea pod. I'm going to have MANY seeds from the two plants. Now I have to see about harvesting them and when.

 In spite of the blight my tomato plants grew big, beautiful tomatoes. We have had a steady harvest over the past three weeks.

 I was hoping for a dozen ears of corn from my few plants. I think we have 10?

I started only one pepper plant from a seed back this summer. It was a multi-colored pack, and I only had one pot left big enough to start a seed in. I had no idea what color pepper I would end up with, or even if the plant would do well. (Talk about putting all your eggs in one basket!). It turned out to be a fragrant yellow pepper. This little plant far surpassed my expectations and the peppers are perfect on salad. 

I also planted three bush cucumbers. They have produced a few small cucumbers, but not much. I was disappointed. A friend of mine had an over-abundant harvest and shared with us, though, so Mitch has enjoyed trying out several recipes for cucumber salad. It is a delight!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Our Latest Construction Project

We always have projects going on around here...we are 14 weeks into this one so far...

{Hopefully you don't have to be a really nerdy person to notice the pattern.}

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Some Fun (or Funny) Things about Nicaragua

A post in pictures...beginning with food we ate.

This was breakfast at the hotel our first morning in Nicaragua. Some interesting things to note: those are hot dogs in the eggs (not spicy sausage). Bread served for breakfast tasted like what we would eat for dinner. It was mind-shifting! Rice and beans and fried plantains (platanos) were very common.

There was a small food stand inside the CNPEN compound where we slept each night. I was super excited when a Pepsi truck (with real GLASS bottles!) drove up the first day.

I thought it was a little odd when I noticed Nicaraguans walking around sucking on plastic bags, sometimes through straws, and sometimes just out of the corner of the bag. It turns out that because there is a deposit on the return of the glass bottles, vendors will pour the soda into a plastic bag and give it to you, rather than give you the bottle. While I was disappointed to not drink directly from the bottle, I did have a couple turns at drinking from a plastic bag. Interesting, to say the least. (And it was very sad how many plastic bags were in the streets and sewage ditches in the village).

Tip-top chicken is a Nicaraguan fast-food joint you just can't miss. Who would like some red (bubblegum) Fanta?

This is standard fare that we were fed for lunch each day. The meat varied, but the sauce (called salsa, but not anything like salsa...salsa is just the Spanish word for sauce), rice, and beans were the same. The soft tortilla is corn not flour.

Apparently there was some homemade juice that a woman sold out of the front of her home that was absolutely delicious...I'll take their word for it...I wasn't brave enough to try the mystery juice!

When we drove up to the resort/touristy area in the mountains we ate at a restaurant along the shore of the Laguna de Apoyo. I ordered fish, and this is what it looked like when it came:

Actually, it was quite good!

Ground Transportation...

Kids were often clamoring for a turn to ride in the back of Mario's pick-up truck. These guys learned the hard way (by the assistance of a police officer) that they must actually sit INSIDE the back of the truck, not up on the sides.

The rest of us traveled in safety inside this decommissioned school bus (which came years ago all the way from Indiana!).

In Nicaragua, the buses that come from USA do not have to be painted. This one bears the marks of its former school district. There were many buses like this all over Managua. Many buses, even some city buses, were painted with Christian sayings and Bible verses on them. (Oh how nice that would be in USA!).

We saw lots of "hungry" horses. In fact, I only saw one horse that looked healthy and not starved. Horses and carts often shared the roadways with motor vehicles. Nicaraguans also traveled by bikes, motorcycles (I saw a few of those spilled on the highway), city bus (hard to tell the difference between a city bus and a private bus), and also some little motorcycle taxi things...wish I had gotten a picture of those...

Well, there's always the universal mode of transportation, walking.  It made us very dirty.

One day I stood by the CNPEN outer fence and watched traffic for a very long time moving down the main highway. The disparity is amazing. I spent a lot of time pondering and asking questions. How do some in Managua live so well, while so many others live in poverty that most USA'ers (even those under the "poverty level") will never experience? Ok, hold that thought...this is supposed to be a fun post...

BEEP-BEEP  I forgot to mention the honking! I could write an entire post about driving in Managua. It was an experience to say the least. Many roads were narrower than we are used to. Maybe it was just me, but I felt like our drivers drove much faster than we would drive. I think the speed limit signs were just suggestions. But how would I know? The speedometer on the bus was broken. :) People honk frequently. Honking can mean "get out of my way" as it usually does in USA, but it can also mean: I'm not stopping, It's my turn to go, It is your turn to go but hurry up, I'm not picking you up, I will pick you up, I'm passing you, I'm in your blind spot, I'm going through this roundabout, Don't pull out in front of me, I'm behind you, and I'm sure many more things that I've forgotten. Mitch and I both were tempted to use our horns more liberally when we got back to the States. :)

Also, pedestrians do not have the right away. Get out of the way, or get hit. Really.

Experience a taste of it for yourselves:

CNPEN...the compound where we stayed at night.

CNPEN is sort of an association of evangelical pastors in Nicaragua (for lack of a better description). They provide support to pastors across the nation. Among others, we met Mario from CNPEN and two of his children and their families. They were a great help to us throughout the week, and it was easy to tell that they were old friends of Carol and Enrique. CNPEN was an interesting place. It was gated and protected by a 24-hour guard. The compound consists of several buildings and a large parking lot. At night trucks would pay to park in the secured lot. I was amazed at the parking solutions (ie: how many large vehicles they could cram into the parking lot, and just how they maneuvered in there). There were often large trucks hauling gravel or bricks, one night there were refrigerated trucks (which ran all night long), and there were always buses (did the city not have a city bus parking lot? apparently not). This was obviously a solution to keep trucks from being vandalized while their owners slept at night. They arrived late at night and left at the crack of dawn (which helped me wake up every morning by 6 am). Since our sleeping area was completely open air (open air does not mean fresh air), we smelled the diesel as we fell asleep and as we awoke. I personally form strong memories when attached to smells, so this will forever be a fond memory believe it or not. ;)

From google maps, here is an overhead shot of CNPEN. I wish there were such a shot at nighttime with the parking lot full! The white arrow is pointing to the main building (hidden by trees) and attached dormitory type area. The showers and restrooms were in the back of this area (no words to describe). The blue arrow is pointing to the open area where we slept. It was a meeting area, like a church. The yellow arrow is pointing to a row of buildings at the back of the compound. These buildings are clinics. There was a doctor's clinic, a pharmacy, an optometrist, and a dentist. There were people at the clinics every time they were open. (Go here to get a feel for how far CNPEN was from Santa Elena. Not far!)

 {Mario and Enrique having a little fun.}

 Meeting for debrief at night before we crash for the night. We each had about 3 thin mattresses, which we tried to place where a fan would reach each of us. Girls on one side of the building, boys on the other.

I know this post is getting terribly long. Sorry about that.

Friends and other random fun photos...

Carolina was always cutting up for the camera. I am going to do a post about her later.

We made friends with David Pavon, who came down to spend the day with us Sunday. His English was excellent, and it was awesome to have another translator helping us out for VBS and church services! Not only that, but I handed over my camera and he took photos for me too, meaning that I actually got to be in a few. :)

The kids in the village adored Darris. They said he looked like a famous soccer player, Messi, so that's what they called him all week long. This actually came in handy for one of the VBS skits where we talked about how the people turned from worshiping God to worshiping idols.

I personally loved having Gabe, the son of Enrique and Carol, along with us for the trip. He is 10 years old. I can't wait to get him together with Zeke and Josh, since they live only about an hour away from us.
 Yeah, if that had been Zeke (and it most certainly would have), I would have wanted to wring his neck too!
 Gabe is such a great kid!! He had a wonderful attitude about the trip and was so flexible.

This is why you should not be the first person to fall asleep. Haha.

The kids loved bringing their "pets" to VBS to show off.
 Love this picture...I bet it made you smile, too...

I forgot to put this one on a previous post. This is the little 3yo sister of Johanna. I tried so hard to endear her to myself. At least she did give me a hug goodbye. <3 p="">

My fingernails would.not.stay.clean.  I laughed and tried to tell the women (in my broken Spanish) that I needed to wash some dishes. It was so unbelievably dirty there.

Mitch, me, Hayley, and Esau (say "ay-saw-oo"). Esau was our bus driver for the week. He is a fellow brother in Christ. Mitch and I love him to pieces.

Hayley and Aaron both celebrated their birthdays in Nicaragua!

Mitch got to preach on Sunday morning at Esau's church.

Esau has five children (so far...grin). This is one of his sons, who is named Abdias Caleb (Obadiah Caleb).  How cool is that???  Such a handsome guy! My brother in Christ. He reminds me of my brother here in the states too.

After leaving the market and preparing to load the bus, all at once I looked down at the ground, which was covered with bottle tops. This is not anything unusual down there, but I can't believe it took me all week to think of this. Zeke collects bottle tops! Excitedly I yelled to Mitch, "Free souvenirs!" LOL We started picking up the best bottle caps we could find.
 What a good collection for Zeke!