Friday, December 20, 2013

Mercy can also...

After I published her 9 months post, the kids helped me remember some things that Mercy has learned to do recently.

~can clap her hands

~opens and closes her fists with her arms outstretched to say "give it to me" when she wants something (probably my favorite thing that she does right now, because it's a very direct, purposeful communication)
~swats at her siblings as a greeting (hopefully in the future we'll teach her that a simple "hi" is more polite, or at least a wave without making contact)

~is a Houdini...she can easily wiggle out of the high chair belt, and she proceeds to climb...oh it starts too early! Climbing on the table is one of the "problems" we have around here.  The problem is it's modeled by so many little children and it's harder than it seems to nip it in the bud.  Perhaps in the background Tirzah is demonstrating another "problem"...hehe...I didn't see that when I snapped the picture.  Sorry, future adult Tirzah.  :)

Mercy is 9 months old! (And an update)

Whew...we almost missed it this month!  Let's see, the last time I blogged was Sunday night (after a busy day of baking pies, not to mention my little head bump).  Not long after I finished the blog post, I rounded up kids and headed to bed.  First thing I noticed was that Mercy had a croup-like, sharp cough.  She didn't sound good at all.  She was crabby, but  her nose was not stuffy.  We cuddled up in bed, and she struggled to get comfy.  Not too much later, Mitch buzzed in and out--he had been playing basketball, and was on his way to the cities for a technology in education conference.  I got Mercy settled back down just in time for a knock on the door--Zeke was not feeling well.  A few minutes later there was another knock--Micah came to tell me that he and Zeke were both throwing up.  At this point I was juggling Mercy and keeping her comfortable was extremely difficult.  I was praying that Tirzah and Obadiah would sleep and not get sick.  I asked Micah to help Zeke the best he could, and decided that I would clean up whatever--even puke off the carpet--in the morning.  Yep, it could sit all night.  I texted Mitch, who text me back to let me know he had just pulled over and threw up.  I implored him to turn around and come home, but he said there was no way he could make it, he nearly fell asleep on the drive down.  ::sigh::  Mercy did not sleep well, but the warzone the next morning was not as bad as I imagined.  Two more kids--Malachi and Caleb--had joined the ranks of the ill.  I can't remember having so many people under one roof get sick at exactly the same time, but you know what?  I actually breathed a prayer of thankfulness.  I can't stand it when one person gets sick every other day and it takes 2 weeks for a virus to move on so we can give the "all clear."  Mercy was SO sick all day long.  Her cough definitely sounded like croup to me, and she was running a low-grade fever.  A couple times I picked up a stethoscope to listen to her lungs, which sounded clear to me.  I had her 9-month well-child check already scheduled with the doctor on Tuesday morning, so I decided to wait it out.  Mitch was on the mend, and at this point I encouraged him to stay and rest--I figured that maybe he could take in some of the conference, and at this point he had already exposed his roommate.  As I headed to bed with the kids again, I prayed that Tirzah and Obi would not get sick.  But I also went to bed with two bowls and a stack of towels in case they did.  Sure enough, Tirzah did get sick.  It turned out to be the one time all night long that I was able to put Mercy down.  I threw the bowl in front of Tirzah just in time, laid Mercy down, and then helped Tirzah clean up.  She didn't get sick any more.  I wasn't feeling so hot myself, and Mercy was really not doing well.  When she was awake, she would have stridor so bad that she couldn't hardly even cry.  (I later learned that this should have scared me.)  It was a really long night.  I remember lying awake at 10:30 thinking, "Ok, we are an hour and a half closer to dawn." And then at 11:00, "Ok, that's two hours down."  Continue...all night long.  At the doctor the next day, both her nurse and the doctor were not pleased.  They each checked her pulse/ox level first using an older machine (better for adults) which gave a scary number, then using a machine borrowed from peds which gave us 99-100%.  So she was getting oxygen!  The doctor agreed with me and said that her lungs sounded great (whew!).  But the scary part is that the stridor was caused by a swelling of the throat around the vocal cords.  The concern there is that just a little more would mean a blocked airway.  The doctor gave her a dose of Decadron, and said that though we had most likely lived through the worst of it already, she would turn the corner now for sure.  Looking back now, I wish I had taken her in on Monday.  I understand that my circumstances were so overwhelming that I just couldn't even really see it at the time, but it would have been so much better for her if I'd gotten her help sooner.  This is one of those times where I am so thankful that God is in control.  Our lives were in His hands all the time, and He brought her through it (and He brought me through it too, rather naively!).  Everyone is on the mend, and I think I'm getting caught up on sleep finally.  Final count for not throwing up: me, Eden, Josh, and Obi.  Did we get a gentler version of the virus or is it going to be in our future? I think we got a gentler version.  We all had days where we just felt "off."  I took Mercy back in for a follow-up visit on Wednesday, and her stridor was nearly gone.  She only struggled when she got upset--if I could keep her calm, she could breathe normally.  By today she is just suffering from a normal, productive cough.  Sometimes the gunk makes her gag and throw up, but otherwise we pretty much have our happy sweet girl back.

So...Mercy was 9 months old on Tuesday in the midst of all that craziness!

At 9 months, Mercy
 ~had her first candy cane
 ~is 17 lbs, 7 oz (8 kg)
~is 27.5 in long
~wears 6-9 month clothing, with a couple 12-month items
~still wears size 3 disposable diapers (we've not been using cloth for a few months)
~has 6 teeth
 ~seems to be doing better with her eczema issues
~has not made much improvement in the area of eating solid foods--she still refuses most purees served on a spoon, but will taste anything she finds on the floor (gross!)
 ~endured her first stuffy-nose virus just after Thanksgiving (anyone who has nursed a baby knows how difficult it is for a baby to learn how to nurse while they can't breathe out of their nose)
~now has endured her first bout of croup (sad face below is from Tuesday when she was so sick)
 ~bites us on the arm/shoulder when she is mad or frustrated (argh! I don't know what to do about this nasty little habit!), of course she has nipped me a few times while she is nursing too, and I try not to make a big deal out of it.  Sometimes it means we just are done nursing for the session.  She looks genuinely confused when it happens, so I hope she figures out the connection soon.
~does some babbling sounds: ma-ma, da-da, etc, but I don't think they mean much yet
~"sings" along whenever we are singing, listening to music, or at church
~is bravely trying to let go when she pulls up to stand

 ~is going to have one sad, sad momma when she grows out of ^that shirt
~is in a really bad habit of "needing" to be held in order to stay asleep, but when she was sick, that was a given.  Since her best buddy Caleb was sick on Monday, Josh stepped up to lot.  They fell asleep together on the couch:
I think that's it for least it's all my brain can think of!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Pie Baking

I don't know how this all got started, but it ended up with George teaching us how to bake pies.  We were joined by another family we have been friends with since Patrick was here.  We had a crazy chaotic day that was full of fun and laughter.  George left his camera here, so I got the pictures from the day...I'm glad SOMEONE was thinking to take pictures!

George made all the pie dough ahead of time.  And he made a lot.  So some of it we rolled out and used cookie cutters and just made cookies.  We sprinkled them with cinnamon and sugar.  They're actually quite tasty!  At some point we started punching little holes in them and made some ornaments for our (still) undecorated tree.
 {George and Tirzah}

 {Sheila and Mercy}

 {Obi's turn}

 {Kids playing games}

 {Malachi's turn}

 {Zeke and George making an apple pie}

 {Cookies out of the oven}

 {Zeke stretching his arms after rolling the dough??}

 Ok, so I had to post this picture because it was so funny.  Sid was rolling out some dough for a pecan pie, and George stepped in to give a little guidance.  He said something along the lines of she needed to pay attention and push her dough into a circle, because "pies are not square." 
Without missing a beat, Mitch piped up, "Actually, pi r squared."  (get it? area of a circle)  
You can see my reaction captured perfectly in the background. Good belly laughs all around.
 More cookies from Eden and Sid

 {This was my attempt at a funny message for George.  I was rolling out my dough after he had left and I didn't have the benefit of his teaching.  I noticed what an odd shape the dough was and thought he probably would not be so proud.  Haha.}

Our party began to go downhill fast.  Somewhere around 5:30ish I attempted to open the back door to put a mixing bowl outside (the recipe for French silk pie said it should be chilled).  See, I wasn't very smart about it though.  I have a blanket "hanging" over the door because it is drafty.  The blanket is anchored by a large can on top of the cabinet on either side of the door. I just tried to hold the blanket to the side and sort of "pitch" the bowl into the snow on the deck.  Too slow (in my thinking, that is), I was whacked on the head by a large can of tomato juice, and I just about nearly passed out.  Yep, it bled.  Whew.  Time to wrap this up.

 With pie crust to spare, we made cookies, apple pie, pecan pie, cherry pie, French silk, and two German buttermilk pies.  A little later, some of us got to sample the pies and we also sent some home with Sheila.  The pecan pie is good!

I was chatting with a clerk at the grocery store and she said that when she was growing up one of her fondest memories of Christmas was that her mom would make an "edible" tree.  That is, she would decorate her tree with cookies she had made.  I thought that was a pretty sweet idea.  Especially since I'm having a hard time "wanting" to get the ornaments out this year.  Every year ornaments get broken, and I get sad.  This went well.  Maybe we will make some more.  We have dough, and they were tasty!  I've wanted to string popcorn too with the kids, so maybe we'll actually do that this year as well. 

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Repost: The Christmas Story

I have been struggling with the how of preparing my family for Christmas this year.  They are excited, to be sure, but I am worried that their focus is still on the material aspect of Christmas.  I have contemplated a few different ideas for advent.  I read the Solid Joys devotional from Desiring God, so MY heart is being prepared, but I can't help but feel an urge to lead my children's hearts.  There are lots of wonderful ideas floating around.  Ann Voskamp has an attractive new book out.  Pinterest is easy to get lost while trying to navigate.  But I needed something simpler.  Today God pressed this idea from Christmas two years ago.  Rather than just copy and paste it like I did yesterday, could I just ask you to follow the link?

Two years ago I did it on Christmas morning.  This year I'm going to spread it out and do one a day.  This will even allow us to have more time to read more scripture!  I have to talk to Mitch and work out the logistics.  Seeking to put CHRIST first in my children's hearts this Christmas, I am now starting to feel excited.  I finally have a game plan, and my heart feels lighter. 

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Repost: Bad Children Won't Get Any Christmas Presents

I originally posted this in December 2009 (four years ago already?!).  Always at this time of year is the temptation to hold the promise of presents over my children's heads in order to get good behavior.  Some old habits really die hard.  Very hard.  No matter if you decide to play the Santa game, use Elf on the Shelf, or other fun traditions, remember the truth of the Gospel:  Jesus came as a gift BECAUSE we were naughty.  No, worse than that: 

"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."  (Romans 3:23)

And not just a lump of coal, but rather:

"For the wages of sin is death...

...but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)

Tonight I was tired.  I admonished my children to clean up the living room floor, which was scattered with duplo legos, various baby toys, and broken crayons.  They weren't cleaning fast enough.  A thought popped into my head, programmed there years ago by popular children's songs and television, and the words almost left my lips.  A manipulative thought, words that just might work.  We don't play the "Santa game" at our home...pretending it is Santa who leaves presents on Christmas Eve for "good" little girls and boys or lumps of coal for "bad" children.  But I almost declared that there would be no presents as naughty children don't deserve presents.

Boy, do I learn my lessons hard.

This year I have been learning the lesson of grace over and over again, and in an instant my thoughts betrayed me and proved that I have much more to learn.

What have we tried for weeks to prepare our children for?  What is Advent?  What is Christmas really about?

Emmanuel, God with us. 

Why did he come?  It is painful, but it is SO true.  He came to die.  In a few months we will mourn the road to the cross and celebrate the resurrection.  He came because we are in a desperate situation.  In our sin.  Undeserving.

The ultimate Christmas gift.

And I have been so very badAnd so have you.

Lord, help us to remember and to share Your light, Your grace, Your love with the world.  I am saddened by how easily and quickly my heart was turned away from the true meaning of why we mark the remembrance of this holy day, even with the reminders constantly around me.  Thank You for the one real gift that matters.

No-Shave November and more

Micah has taken a liking to dressing up, especially for church on Sunday. This past Sunday, Mitch taught him how to tie a tie:

Mitch decided to let his beard grow out this past November.  I suppose that Duck Dynasty has wore me the past I have been opposed to a beard, and now I find that I like it.  :)  Do I think he should grow it out like the Robertson's?  No, probably not, but stranger things have happened...

Recent conversations led me to realize my kids are growing up like crazy.  Yikes! I had sort of held my breath--Eden had a growth spurt, then leveled off for a few months, and I thought maybe we would end up being the same height.  It was not to be.  The evidence has stacked against me:
(I still don't think she will end up being as tall as her aunties, though...we'll see.)  

Do you think Micah will overtake his dad?

Oh well, this one is still a shrimp...and such a good helper, too:

The winter storm that wasn't.  We all went to bed excited last night (and from what I heard, so did others around the neighborhood).  The snow was forecast to be 6-9 inches, with a bulk of it arriving overnight.  We were expecting an early morning call with--at the minimum--a school delay.  We woke to a paltry inch or two, and though it is still coming down, it did not result in a snow day.  Poo!  If Mitch had gotten to stay home today, I was hoping we could put up the Christmas tree.  Otherwise, nothing really changes for me--we're still doing school, playing in the snow, sipping hot chocolate, and all that fun stuff.  And of course hoping that Daddy drives safely!

Sunday, December 01, 2013


Hand-me-downs are crucial around here.  I have an organized system and stacks of tubs where I keep items stored for future use.  The boys pass on stuff until it is too worn out for anyone to use.  When we didn't have another girl for ten years, though, we gave away most of our girl stuff  (even now when Eden grows out of clothing, I pretty much always give it away as I realize holding onto it for ten more years is impractical).  I did keep a few special items, and it makes it even more fun when I have pictures of Eden wearing them.