Monday, January 31, 2011

Owen's Arm

In the January that Owen was 17 months old, he fell off a bench at our dining room table and broke a bone in his baby arm.  He wore a shirt that I embroidered to say "My 1st Broken Arm."  Many commented that hopefully it would also be his last!  

Three years passed and as boys do, he racked up his fair share of bruises and scratches and the like...and then on Saturday, he had a run-in with a brother and a hula hoop, lost his balance,  and fell onto his right arm.  When he didn't get up but lay on the floor crying instead, we knew something was wrong, and when we helped him to his feet and he continued to hold his arm near the shoulder, we decided that Brian would take him to the emergency room. 

And so my boy who is strong and hearty and rarely sick (he has never even had a stomach virus!) is now down with his second broken arm.  This time it is his humerus bone (the bone between the elbow and the shoulder) and aside from keeping it tight against his body in a sling, there is no treatment-- no cast, no pin, no anything.

The doctor is predicting a three to four week recovery and Owen has to be x-rayed weekly to watch for continued healing of the bone.  (I am so thankful that Brian is off from work for another four weeks.  God's timing is perfect.)

Owen needs help with everything. He needs help getting in and out of bed, going to the bathroom, getting dressed, eating.  Though we had warned him, he had an emotional breakdown today when he discovered for himself that he can't color since he broke his dominant arm.  The boy loves to draw and color so it was heartbreaking. Being only 4-years-old, he doesn't understand how seriously he needs to take this injury.  Now that his pain has lessened, I catch him leaning on the bad arm or playing a little too roughly. Keeping him subdued is a full-time job. 

Brian and the other four kids are sick with colds so I am the only healthy and whole member of the household and I'm praying it stays that way.  I need my strength to care for this bunch! 

Your prayers are appreciated.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"You Knit Me Together"

A glimpse at today's art class:

As a first grader, Maddie is required to take art as part of our homeschool requirements.
I'm not an art type of person.

Today, art wasn't limited to paper and paint or pencils... 
but it was art and it was fun!


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Woman to Woman: Breastfeeding, Pt. 3

(Part 1)
(Part 2)

Nursing Problems
  1. What can I do if my supply dips?

    Thankfully, I have not had a lot of experience with  low milk supply. If the low supply is caused my the body's inability to produce enough milk, I have no advice to offer, but if the low supply is a result of busy baby or busy mama, I have a few practical tips:
    • Drink lots of water and get adequate nutrition.  Seems simplistic, but supply can be affected if you are not providing your body with what it needs to make milk. 
    • If your baby is older consider limiting your baby's solid food for a time.  Use common sense, but if the baby is hungry, he will nurse...and if he nurses, your supply will increase again. 
    • Encourage your baby to nurse for a few minutes even when you are busy and even when he doesn't seem overly interested.  Even short bursts of nursing can help reestablish a lacking supply.

  2. What kinds of problems have you had with nursing?  What did you do?

    I nursed Gavin from birth with never a problem.  It was too easy.  Then  Maddie came 20 months later and within days of her birth, I woke up in the night shaking uncontrollably.  The next day I was achy and miserable...and dealing with my first case of mastitis.  I've since had mastitis at least seven more times and seem to be rather prone to it.  I've had the range of symptoms-- fever, chills, aches, generalized pain, and headache.  Though mastitis can clear up on its own, I've generally had to resort to antibiotics to get any relief at all.  Wicked stuff!

    Then there were the milk blisters when I was nursing Benjamin.  Google it if you must, but let's just say it was no fun and extremely painful.  Turns out, mine were a result of thrush.  I continued to nurse while gritting my teeth and the condition healed with no medical treatment.

    I also dealt with tongue tie when Benjamin was born.  I wrote about it in detail here.  In our case, he was able to latch properly and nurse well.  He was gaining weight and thriving, but I was in excruciating pain so we chose to have his tongue clipped. 

    I am currently being challenged by a very reluctant nurser, but I'll save that story for Part 4.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Children's Book Monday

Polar the Titanic Bear
written by Daisy Corning Stone Spedden
illustrated by Laurie McGaw

I found it on a shelf clumped with other seasonal books and slipped it into our bag between Henry and Mudge and Mr. Putter and Tabby.  I selected it for Owen who loves bears. The words "A True Story" were especially intriguing to me, but when we got home, it found its place in the book basket and  lost itself among the contents.  By the time someone selected it to read a week later, I had forgotten it was even there. 

I was expecting a cutesy story of a teddy bear, but did not imagine the rich text and history hiding between the pages. Titanic survivor, Daisy Corning Stone Spedden, wrote the text for her son Douglas in 1913 , but the story ended up buried in a trunk amongst family papers and keepsakes.  A relative discovered the manuscript in the 1990s and had it published.

As young Douglas must have been almost 100 years ago, my oldest children especially were captivated by the story of this wealthy family (and beloved bear) who were voyagers on the Titanic.  As this book was a bit longer than a typical picture book, we read only half before taking a lunch break and sandwiches were scarfed down in anticipation of the continuation of the story.  When we finished, they talked for days about the Titanic and wanted to see pictures of the Titanic wreckage.  Their Daddy brought them a non-fiction book from the library and pored over it at it while I read aloud other books. 

I regularly scour the internet for picture book suggestions and so when I found this one and had never heard of it, much less read of its wonderful-ness, I wasn't anticipating such a well-written, engaging, all-around entertaining tale...and I certainly never imagined how it would take over their thinking and their play.

Perhaps the best part of the book to me was that along with the color illustrations, the pages were brimming with black and white photographs of the Spedden family and young Douglas's nurse.  There are photos of exotic destinations, photos of the Titanic, and photos of the actual polar (teddy) bear that journeyed with the family.  I surely looked odd as I stopped to hold the book up close to my face to view a photo more closely, but I so enjoyed my window into another time.


Elise has taken a short break from her blog and Children's Book Monday, but you can still browse her archived suggestions by clicking here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

In Parting

In 2001, there were six of us.

Dad. Mom. Me.  My brother. Two sisters. 

My youngest sister was born in the spring of 2001 so when we started the year, there were only five of us.  You could count us on one hand.

 But then she was born and I got married four months later... and my brother got married a few years after that...

...and we all started having babies...

And now it's 2011 and there are sixteen of us--ten people in ten years!

The miles separate us and until this week we hadn't all been in the same room in almost two years , but the reunion was sweet.  Cousins played and aunts doted and grandparents kissed babies and we all drank it in because we don't know when we will be together again. 

If we never meet again this side of heaven
As we struggle through this world and its strife
There's another meeting place somewhere in heaven
By the beautiful river of life

Where the charming roses bloom forever
And separations come no more
If we never meet again this side of heaven
I will meet you on that beautiful shore

"If We Never Meet Again"  by Albert E. Brumley

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Another Peek

A glimpse at our dryer:
The dryer door is precisely at child's eye level so it has become our school bulletin board.  

I taped a clear binder folder to the door (and another on one side).  Papers easily slip in and out when we change topics.  Each kid loves to be the first one to spot something new:  a painting for our picture study...the food pyramid...a number chart...our Christmas advent calendar...

It is the perfect spot for spontaneous learning.

Friday, January 14, 2011

One Quarter at a Time

This summer when I was writing my weekly Thrifty Thursday column, I talked about how we save all of our loose changeToday  I am featured on Money Saving Mom. You can read the story of our day trip funded by quarters by clicking here.

It gets better.  I submitted my story to Money Saving Mom in the fall, but since then we were able to buy a new sofa for our living room.  It holds all of seven of us-- at the same time!-- with room to spare.  We bought it during a holiday sale after Christmas and we were able to put $450 worth of quarter money towards our purchase! 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Engraved in the Palm of His Hand

My thoughts were born in the same place that many of my deeper thoughts are woven together: the quiet monotony of rocking my baby to sleep. The four older children had brushed their teeth, listened to  two chapters of a book, and gone to bed, but Alaine's lashes still refused to meet.  Swaddling her and holding her close, I paced the room, half-listening to the special news report broadcasting on the TV.  Broken people gathered in an athletic arena to hear the President offer words regarding Saturday's shooting tragedy in Arizona. 

He spoke a few words and I began to rock in place, drawn to what he had to say.  While he spoke words of tribute to the victims, sympathy to those who lost loved ones, and praise to the heroes, I was struck by the absence of hope. 

"There is nothing I can say that will fill the sudden hole torn in your hearts," he said. 

But there is One who can fill the holes, mending the hurts. We are unlike them who have no hope. We are not immune to pain.  We still ache and we still groan for relief, but  "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." 

"We are grateful for... a volunteer in Gabby's office who ran through the chaos to minister to his boss... We are grateful for the men who tackled the gunman as he stopped to reload. We are grateful for...Patricia Maisch, who wrestled away the killer's ammunition...And we are grateful for the doctors and nurses and emergency medics who worked wonders to heal those who'd been hurt."
The list stopped there while my own heart cried out, "Are we not  also thankful  to God, the one who placed those heroes among the chaos of that day?  Who gave strength to the hands of the medical workers?  Who gave healing to the victims, if not our Lord?" 

"Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding."

I am so grateful that His word also assures that, though we do live in a fallen world and we don't always understand why bad things are allowed to happen, we that know Him have hope.  Even when He seems to be silent, He is moving.

I've always loved the story of Elijah in I Kings 19.  Finding himself in a desperate situation, Elijah was waiting for the presence of the Lord.  Having been witness to the awesome power of God,  he assumed  the Lord would show Himself in a powerful way.  After looking for the Lord in the wind and the earthquake and the fire, Elijah heard a gentle whisper and knew the Lord was near. 

He has not forgotten us
for we are engraved in the palm of His hand.  There is no other place I'd rather be.

Please excuse these stumbling words as I write outside of my element.  Politics and "news-y" things are so outside of my comfort zone!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Just in case one would forget where we keep the soap...

(Never fear. It was a bath crayon!)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Weekend Reads

Sharing the words of friends...

You're Just Yourself (a word about learning and life and grades) from Kathi

Reactions! (a word about children and God's plan for big and small families ) from Lu

Monsters Under the Bed (a word about fear and compassion and understanding) from Amy

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Woman to Woman: Breastfeeding, Pt. 2

(Part 1) 

Touchy Topics

  1. Did sleeping with your nursing newborn make it harder for you later?  How did you get your babies to wean during the nighttime hours?

    We've all heard stories about the 10-year-old who sleeps in his parents' bed and can't sleep on his own and the parents who wish they had never started sleeping with him as a baby because now they don't know what to do.  I will admit I worried about that when we pulled Gavin into our bed in our  sleep-deprived first weeks of parenting, but adequate rest was worth the risk to me.  Having nursed and weaned four children and successfully (and gently) moved them out of my bed, I'm here to tell you it can be done...and before age ten, too!  I chose to enjoy the newborn night snuggles and save the night training for later.

    Night weaning is  a struggle for me only because I love my sleep and it takes a little bit of work to move a baby out of my bed.    I have to be really ready to tackle the issue to be willing to lose sleep, but when they become toddlers and wiggly disruptive sleepers, I get down to business.  (Either that or my husband says, "I'm tired of feet in my back.  Please teach him to sleep!")

    We typically wait until our kids are about 18 months because they seem to be able to understand a little better when we say, "No," or, "Wait until morning."  I'm sure you could attempt it at a younger age, but 18 months worked for me.  Gavin was our toughest because I tried to night-wean him  and train him to sleep through the night, but still keep him in our bed.  When I night-weaned Maddie, Owen, and Benjamin, I moved them to a crib mattress on the floor by my bed at the  same time.  (We don't even own a crib anymore!) 

    We kept the same going-to-sleep routine, but when the baby woke in the middle of the night, I would say, "No, we are going to wait until morning."  Not being used to the lack of  night snacking, the baby cried, so I would lay down with him on the mattress so he didn't feel alone or rejected.  (I'm a softy.)  Sometimes, if he just couldn't settle down, I would nurse once, but it would be on the baby's new mattress bed.  The first 3-4 nights were frustrating and long...and then the baby suddenly began sleeping through the night without waking and without eating.  It was just a matter of breaking the habit.  Once the baby knew he couldn't nurse, it wasn't worth waking.  We wait until closer to 2 to actually move an all-night-sleeper to their own (or siblings') room.  Benjamin was our only exception.  He was younger, but ready.  

  2. Have you ever used bottles or pacifiers?

    Neither of my kids has ever used a bottle, but a few of them have had a pacifier.  I've gone back and forth on how I feel about them (pacifiers, not my children!). Gavin was extremely fussy and agitated in the car so I waited until nursing was well-established and introduced a pacifier at around a month of age.  We limited it to the car and sometimes offered it at bedtime, too. Around a year of age, we lost the only pacifier we had left and he gladly gave it up without a fuss.   Maddie had a similar story, but she began to refuse the paci by 11 months.  

    For various reasons, when Owen and Benjamin were babies, I decided not to offer a pacifier at all, but I had another change of heart when I was pregnant with Alaine.  With four other little ones in the house, I decided I needed something to offer when she was fussy and I wasn't able to nurse her right away.  We did not wait the recommended 3 weeks, but introduced it to her at 2 days old.  I felt confident enough in my nursing abilities to correct her latch if she had trouble transitioning between breast and pacifier.   In fact, I did hold back the pacifier for a day or two in the first weeks when she tended to fall asleep with it and not want to wake to eat.  At four months, though, breastfeeding is firmly established and the pacifier is our welcome tool for the  between-times. 

  3. My baby is 11 months old and my cycles haven't returned.  Did you experience this? Is this normal? 

    "Normal" is so different for each mama.  The return of a regular cycle depends on how often you nurse, how often (or if) you nurse at night, your own hormone balance and metabolism.  My own "normal" has been anywhere from 8-16 months, but I've known women who see a return to menstruation at 4 months and others who don't see it for over 2 years!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Grooves and Ridges

I gravitate toward what I know.  It's like riding a bicycle down a dirt lane. I avoid the bumps because the well-worn grooves of our school days are comfortable.  Sometimes I need to go off of the smooth path, though, and to venture into new territory.  Sometimes the path I know isn't the easiest anymore or doesn't get us where I want us to go. 

I have been inspired numerous times by ideas mapped out by other blogging and Facebooking mamas.  When I need a new direction, they act as my trip guide, offering tips and inspiration and  new track to follow.  Yet somehow I forget that I may have something to offer, too...and so I'd like to spatter this new year with pictures and phrases from our learning times-- not how-tos, but simple glimpses to inspire and spark your own ideas.  
:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

A peek at our dining room wall:  
Our missionary map takes no more than a few stickers and a biography a month.  
(Local mamas, we are slowly collecting the YWAM's entire missionary series for young readers and are eager to loan out the ones we are finished reading.)

The missionary map.
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation."

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