Summer, Diary 3, 2016

We may or may not have strep throat. As a family. Whoopee!

So I made blood jello with my kids today.

As in: I mixed up raspberry jello and called it plasma, and they dumped in strawberries (red blood cells), marshmallows (white blood cells), and strawberry licorice (platelets).

Homeschooling is the bomb. 🙂

Waiting for cultures to develop and results to come in, it seemed a good day to learn about the human body. So we watched some Magic School Bus episodes, and went through a book on the human body complete with little flip up tabs with extra facts and pictures. My focus for this day was on blood. What makes it up? How does it work?

Strawberry flavored Australian Style Licorice, mini marshmallows, and cheerios glued to red tissue paper made up the four components of blood: plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Of course the kids LOVE to make things they can eat, too, so we made the jello, which unexpectedly helped them have an “Aha!” moment in regards to why blood needs plasma, because all of the add-ins just stuck together in the bottom of the dish, but as soon as I poured in the jello it all began to flow and move freely.

Sore throats and mild temps… and a lot of fun.

Advertisements

Summer, Diary 2, 2016

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Today is Memorial Day, a day where we remember those who have given their life for our country. To honor their sacrifice, their love, and their courage, so that others might be safe, might be protected, and might be free.

I know my country is not perfect. It is a large land full of many different people from many different backgrounds, beliefs, cultures, mindsets, and circumstances. But here is the thing… we fight so much because we have the freedom to. This country has immense freedom, more than we realize or even wish to acknowledge.

So I want to remember the good of my country. I want to uphold what is right in it, so that the good will grow and grow until there is no more room for the bad.

In America we are free. Rejoice in it. Use it. Do not squander it.

We have the freedom to pray. Cherish that and pray for those who don’t.

We have the freedom to worship. Worship without fear and celebrate.

We have the freedom to form our own lives, to choose to sit back and do nothing, or to work hard and make something of ourselves. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” We do not have the right to happiness, but the pursuit of it. Whether you have a happy life, a good life, or not depends on you. That is your freedom. So form your life well.

We have freedom with our children. Realize what a blessing this is— to be given charge of a brand new life who will rely on you to train and guide them so that they can grow up and live their own life. Don’t squander this! Raise them with all of your might, or give them the hope of a good life by finding the best parents possible for them. In this land of freedom, don’t abuse yours by taking away theirs just because you don’t want the inconvenience. There are too many options out there. Be that child’s blessing, however that might be.

We have the freedom to make our voice heard, through online blogs, social media, sitting in a cafe with friends, or voting. Use that freedom. Don’t waste it by saying “My voice will never be heard, my vote means nothing.”

We have the freedom to help. Pass it on, no matter who it is.

We have the freedom to do our best. Reach for the stars!

With freedom comes responsibility. Freedom is a gift to be cherished and utilized. It is an amazing tool that can become deadly by those who take it for granted, who use that freedom to take instead of to give.

Our founding fathers did not begin this country, and our men and women who have fought and died, did not sacrifice to gain and keep freedom for us to abuse it.

Make their sacrifice worth it.

Live well.

 

“This is my family. … It’s little, and broken, but still good. Yeah, still good.”

Lilo and Stitch

***

1st Peter 2

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.

Summer, Day 1, 2016

It’s really been about a week of this, but today somehow seemed to hit home for me. The air, the sunshine, getting to leave the door open (with the screen closed, of course, to keep the invading wasps outside where they belong).

Sometimes I struggle with being very global-minded, which means I see the entire picture. Not a detail, not one part, but every single part. It means I am very, very good at multi-tasking and dealing with multiple children, and I can tell you the entirety of a movie or book that I have only seen/read once. It also means that I often get overwhelmed. The house is messy? I see the whole mess: dishes, laundry, toys, socks on the floor, food and crumbs on the dining room floor, shoes all a-scramble by the door, coats and gloves-without-matches creeping their way through my living room, kids clothes that are out of season and suddenly too small needing to be changed over and, of course, my boys can rarely keep the clean and the dirty separate… I mean, who puts clothes in drawers and hampers? So sometimes I just melt down because I see ALL OF IT and it’s all equally important, and I just don’t know what to do.

Then I found my old copies of the Little House books on my shelf, lovingly worn books my mom read to me since I was small that she recently passed on to me, and I pulled down Little House in the Big Woods and started to read.

I don’t know what it is about this book. I love all of the books; really, really love them, but there is something about Big Woods that just zones me. Something about Ma and Pa going about daily life, methodical and intentional and simple and happy, refocuses me and helps me look at my own house and see what to do. Suddenly everything wasn’t a mess around me, and by reading a little bit each day I receive a daily dose of Focus and I do the dishes, I make the meals, I sweep the floors, the kids do chores and school… and guys, I am getting extra done. My counters got cleaned off of the miscellaneous stacks that pile up (a result of my youngest now knowing how to walk and growing tall enough to catch things off the table and pull them off onto himself). I de-caned, fertilized, and mulched our patch of baby raspberries. I cleaned out the rhubarb patch. I planned my garden. I finished my book… honestly, I don’t know what happened. Where did this energy come from? Where did my time come from? But I swear that every time I read Big Woods it re-centers me and this miracle happens again and again. I think, in part, it helps me focus on today. I mean, God tells us we’re not supposed to worry about tomorrow. He tells us to just think about today, and it’s so easy for anyone but for a global-brained person it is especially easy to succumb to worry and becoming overwhelmed. And I realized that I don’t have to get it all done today, I just have to get a piece done. Who cares what that piece is; whatever I do, it’s one more thing than I had gotten done before. Hoorah!!!!

We put up the hummingbird feeder today. My kids did their chores, ate a good breakfast, my 1st grader did his school and my preschooler watched his science video, and then out they went into the warm sunshine to play and I got the entire Mount Everest pile of laundry on my futon folded, made a batch of hummingbird syrup, and while that cooled I and the kids marched down to Sackett Man’s shed and found the rain gauge, a piece of garden decor, and the humming bird feeder. We put up the rain gauge, stuck the garden decor in the ground attractively, and the kids crowded around in fascination as mother hung almost upside down on the shepherd’s crook that the feeder hangs decorously from.

You may laugh, but that thing is a beast to force into the ground. I leaped on it, hung from it, planted my feet and grabbed it and heaved, red-faced and sweating, till FINALLY that pointed end sank into the ground deeply enough to be stable.

Then they cheered, I grinned through the pain of pulled muscles, and then they crowded around and watched as I lifted the small sauce pan of syrup and poured it into the feeder, and screwed it shut. I hung it up, and we watched the glass and syrup glitter in the sunlight, and then we went inside for a cool drink and supper.

Now it’s bathtime, and the boys are laughing and playing upstairs while I bathe my daughter. And I feel so good and so happy.

Thank you, Ma Ingalls. Thank you, God.

Signs You May Have Kids

Signs You May Have Kids:

• Your toothbrush tastes like hand soap.

• Your spouse’s voice: “Why is there a stuffed dog in the toilet?”

• A child streaking through the hall into the living room from the direction of their room/the bathroom, stark naked. They see you and freeze, and immediately say: “I didn’t do anything.”

 

 

The First Sign of Spring

It has been so warm the last few days. From cold Wisconsin winter weather to 60˚F. GORGEOUS! My boys have been outside more this week than they have in the last two months. Getting wet and muddy, thanks to the melting snow, but having a blast. And excepting today, it’s been sunny too. Sun! I’m a sun addict. I can actually feel sunshine like a physical touch, and my body literally feels like it’s soaking it in. Like, actually soaking. Of course today is grey and dreary, and it is so windy that out protected little homestead (surrounded on three sides by wooded hills) is being buffeted and blown. That’s windy, my friends.

A few days ago my Mom was visiting. Because she was here to chase after my rambunctious 22 month old daughter (I can do little chasing these days), my little girl actually got to go outside, and I didn’t have to worry about the muddy, spring-mess she might eat or coat herself in.

What a wonderful treat for us all. My two sons ran about the yard, my husband busied himself happily with work in the fresh air, I got to sit on the deck and soak the sunlight and chat with my Mom, and Rose got to run about our large deck and play in the sunshine, breeze, and balmy 55˚ air. Her blue eyes shone, her cheeks flushed pink, her golden hair bounced around her neck in wisps and baby curls.

She wanted a good cuddling when we came in later. That much fresh air after a long winter of very little does a little girl in. I held her, wrapped up in my arms and her little blanket, and stroked her head while she just rested and listened to Mommy and Grandma. And this is where I found the First Sign of Spring.

The smell of sunshine in her hair.

Yes, little kids actually trap sunshine in their hair. And yes, it has a scent. A lovely, nothing-else-like-it scent that you could just breathe in for hours and hours. Warm weather in March in Wisconsin does not always mean much; it can turn on you in the blink of an eye. But the warm smell of sunshine in the hair of a child?

Hello, Spring. 🙂

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 2.45.00 PM

God Knows Best

I have been in to the hospital three times now with false labor. Well, the first time was because of some blood. The next two times I had contractions 3-4 minutes apart for hours before they suddenly would just disappear! What?! Why? The last time I was positive it was real. It hurt so bad and was so constant! And then ‘poof’. Like magic. I was SO FRUSTRATED! We live 40 minutes from the hospital. We have three kids that we have to drop off at a relative’s house every single time. My husband usually ends up taking off the next day of work because I end up so sore that I can hardly move the next day. These trips are not simple or easy, despite the medical staff always breezily telling us “Oh, just keep coming in each time. Even if it’s a dozen more times. No problem. One of these times it will happen!”

No problem? Says them. It’s a two day ordeal for us.

What I have come to realize though is this: I think God is stopping it each time. Why? Because a) Sackett Man has got the mother cold of mother colds. He wouldn’t be able to hold or kiss his new baby boy. And b) stomach flu has hit our house today. Not exactly the best time to introduce a new baby into the family.

So I’m okay now. I wasn’t before; I was getting mad and frustrated with the emotional and physical stress of thinking “This is it! Hello, William!” and then having it not happen. Now, this morning, I’ve hit a new understanding that God has not only kept this pregnancy healthy and safe, kept me from having him prematurely (yay!), but He is also making sure that William comes when we are healthy and ready to receive him.

So I’m taking a deep breath, and I’m just going to wait for the germs to leave us. Because I know I won’t be pregnant forever, despite what my pregnancy hormones keep telling me. I just need to be patient. God knows what He’s doing. 🙂

Gestational Diabetes

Yep. I’ve got it. I went in for the obligatory glucose test, and darn it if I failed! Obviously my insulin did not study for this particular test.

I felt ill all day. It’s no joke to ask a pregnant woman to fast from midnight the night before until after the 4 hour test is done. I didn’t get to have anything at all to eat until 3 pm. That, my friends, is hard. I would have been able to stand it better if they hadn’t forced 8 ounces of orange-flavored sugar syrup into me three hours earlier, at noon. That much sugar would make me unwell on a good day, but on a stomach that had been empty for 14 hours? Then they drew my blood every hour for three hours to track how my body processed that much sugar. This is all done to see if you’ve got Gestational Diabetes or not. And when they’re done testing you, what do they offer this potentially diabetic lady? A third of a cup of juice. And 2 cinnamon sugar graham crackers. In other words, sugar and carbs.

Now I am being somewhat sarcastic. I knew it would be like this; I’ve been through it before, and knew what to expect. Which threw them, for some reason. But I just wanted to share some of my frustrations with being Gestationally Diabetic— not because I’ll have to eat carefully, sugar-free, low carb, and have to prick my finger before and after every single meal— but because I’ll have to deal with a couple ‘experts’ in the diabetics department who, honestly, I’d really rather not.

What is Gestational Diabetes? It’s pregnancy caused diabetes. There is nothing you can do to prevent it; if there were, I wouldn’t have it. The reason is because it’s the placenta that’s causing all of the trouble. Placentas become ‘plugged in’ to your body’s nutritional system, and are therefore perfectly poised to mess with your body’s insulin levels. A healthy placenta will leave well enough alone. A placenta that formed ‘wrong’ in some way, won’t. It will mess with your body’s insulin and therefore your ability to process sugar and carbs and voila! You are now diabetic.

The good news is that it ends literally the moment you give birth. The placenta is discarded with a ‘good riddance’ by the body and the baby, and that’s the end of that.

The other good news is that you can, ABSOLUTELY, control it with a sensible diet. I had Gestational Diabetes when I was pregnant with my daughter. I researched till I was blue about Gestational Diabetes, and got smart about my activity and eating. I used My Fitness Pal, an online food diary that you can completely customize to give you exactly the nutritional info you need, and I set it to show me: carbs, vit. C, iron, calcium, and protein (but there are many, many things you can track beyond that). I found that 20-30 carbs a meal (3 meals a day) and 10-15 carbs a snack (morning, afternoon, pre-bed) was perfect. My blood sugar numbers were glorious at those levels! My baby girl wasn’t affected at all, I never suffered low or ultra high sugar spikes, and everything was dandy.

The fly in the ointment, so to speak, was the gestational diabetes counselor and the g. d. nutritionist. After one meeting with the nutritionist I refused to see her anymore. The reason? Here’s one of many: she told me to eat a full cup of ice cream for my evening snack because the ‘protein content was worth it’. And what about the sugar content? You know, the sugar that could make me spike, said spike could mess with my growing baby, and I might need insulin shots to control it? She just shrugged and said ‘Then you’ll need insulin. No big deal.’

The g. d. counselor was very upset with me for several sessions because I wasn’t eating enough carbs. She wanted me to eat 40-60 carbs per meal, and if that caused problems for my blood sugar I could just take insulin. Needless to say I didn’t do that. I continued eating the amount I’d found worked, and I and the baby continued to be healthy. She scolded me. I was nutritionally depriving my baby and being irresponsible. I finally went onto www.myfitnesspal.com and printed off the last 3 weeks of my food diary and took it in to her. She was quite suspicious (insultingly so) and dubiously took the papers from me. Her expression changed as she glanced through, and soon she was mumbling something about ‘one of the best diets she’s seen’ and ‘tons of good nutrition here’ and ‘maybe I was all right.’

For example: for breakfast that morning I had made myself a 2 egg omelette with a slice of cheese, a ton of sautéd greens and cabbage, and a cup of decaf coffee with a splash of whole milk. Low carb, delicious, and so so satisfying! It’s still one of my favorite breakfasts.

Now, two years later, I have a perfectly healthy and rambunctious 18 month old daughter, and I am pregnant with a healthy baby boy. And darn it all, if I don’t have to start dealing with those two medical diabetes ‘experts’ again!

So please, mothers, if you find yourself gestationally diabetic: educate yourself. You may luck out and end up working with a fantastic g.d. counselor and nutritionist (my sister-in-law did). But if you end up with people like I did… take what they say with a huge grain of salt and educate yourself and do what’s best. Please.

No one knows you and your baby like you do anyway.

 


 

Check out my pinterest board for low carb meal ideas: http://www.pinterest.com/phoenixvoice/the-low-carb-plan/

 

Pregnancy Advice, from the Experts(?), to a Mother of Three

The holidays are over. Fun, food, gifts, family, visiting…

… wait… where’d my SLEEP go?!!! I’m sure one is supposed to get at least ONE morning to sleep in during the holiday break!

You mean I missed it? I missed my chance?

I’m going to lay my head on the table and cry now.

Sackett Man kindly told me the other day that my being tired right now, in this third trimester, is good practice for March. If I think I’m tired now…! Ohhh, just wait! Of course I refrained from pointing out that we have three children already, so I am well aware of the malady that afflicts twelve out of ten mothers who have new infants. Somnus Privatio is the technical term. We know it by it’s common name: sleep deprivation.

I have been feeling the effects of Somnus Privatio most acutely this pregnancy, and was interested in the possible causes. I first looked up the effect on the mother’s body of growing a human being from scratch. It’s actually quite incredible and also a bit… well, almost unbelievable. Did you know that in order to successful nurture and grow another human being, the energy output of the body is equivalent to running a marathon? Every day? Without having trained first?

No wonder I’m tired. I’ve been running a marathon every day for 202 days!

I also have kids. Three of them. Did you know that kids are a major cause of Somnus Privatio among parents?

I’m pregnant, and a stay-at-home mom of three, and I homeschool. I have Somnus Privatio coming out of my ears.

To combat this fatigue, experts say one should get plenty of safe exercise, lots of sleep, and naps. One should schedule one’s nightly routine so that one always goes to bed at the same time, and make sure you get 10-12 hours of sleep. Don’t eat 2-3 hours before you go to bed, but a eat a snack right before lying down to combat any heartburn or queasiness! Don’t work too much in the evening as that will keep your energy levels up and mess with being able to go to sleep. If you’re tired, sleep! 30 minute catnaps through-out the day, whenever you need one.

Now I realize that much of this advice is for new mothers who have the luxury of owning their own schedule. But what about for us veterans who lost said ownership years ago?

Safe exercise? I’ve decided that taking care of three children under the age of six counts.

A scheduled nightly routine? My kids have a nightly routine. Mine consists of ‘get done what I can now that the kids are in bed, fit in time with Sackett Man, and hope I remember to brush my teeth before I topple over on the couch in the middle of what I’m doing!’

I’m kidding. It’s not really that bad.

(Yes it is.)

10-12 hours of sleep? That sounds lovely! When I’m retired and mature that luxury will at last be mine! Mwa ha ha! For now I’ll have to do with 7-8 hours. Chopped up into little bitty pieces with bathroom breaks, little kids, and a teething toddler. (So make it 5-7, depending on the night.)

Don’t eat too close to bedtime, but eat something so that you don’t get heartburn? Well, because I’m efficient and organized… (don’t laugh! I heard you laughing!)… I like to combine the two and just get it over with in one go.

Don’t work too much in the evening? A) If I have work that needs to get done, guess what… it needs to get done. My husband and children like having clean dishes to eat on and clothes to wear. B) By the time evening rolls around, if I don’t have to do any work (aka: Sackett Man did the dishwasher, and no one is in danger of needing to wear a pillow case or towels  the next day) I’m usually way past the point of of even contemplating more work, much less doing it.

“If you’re tired, sleep. Take as many naps as you need.” Okay, this is my favorite one. Really. Because in my experience, unless you’re lucky enough to be staying at home even before children, you can’t sleep whenever you want. Much less when you have kids! I can’t even take a 2 minute bathroom break without something happening. What would happen if I checked out for 30 minutes?!

“Sir, do you have any idea what happened here today?”

“No, officer. I came home to a pile of smoking ruins, my kids in a tree looking like Call of the Wild, and my wife standing in the middle of it all in a crazed daze muttering ‘I just took a nap. All I did was take a nap!’ ”

I even get this advice from the nurses and doctors when I go in for my prenatal appointments. I’m tired? Take a nap. Get more sleep. Take a relaxing bubble bath. Go in for a spa treatment. Read.

Again, I know that 99.9999999999% of the advice is for new mothers. You know what is lacking? Practical advice for the rest of us. What can we do when we’re tired?!

Someone needs to write a book.

Here are some things that I do:
A) Sackett Man and I had several conversations, and I ‘accidentally’ left some web pages open on the exhausting effects of pregnancy upon the woman. So he knows, is aware, and I ask for help. I don’t whine about my aches and pains and weariness and the kids and whatnot, and then expect him to magically know what I need. I ask for it. I say: “I did this and this, and we (I and the kids) did this and this. I’m really tired and sore now, and really need to sit down. Could you switch the load that’s in the washer, and load the dishwasher after supper? That would help me so much!”

And guess what? He’s happy to do it!

B) I drink tea. No, I’m not kidding. I avoid almost all herbal teas as there’s this whole what’s-safe-and-what-isn’t thing. I drink: black tea, green tea, and peppermint tea. I am quite serious when I say that a cup of hot peppermint tea is relaxing and rejuvenating (I don’t care if it’s only in my head; it works).

Photo on 1-2-15 at 3.17 PM

C) I try to stay organized. I get up one morning, and sit down with a steaming cup of coffee. One cup of caffeine is not going to kill you or harm the baby, I promise. Just don’t drink 3 or 4. I open my planner and my computer, and I take the time to organize my calendar and plan my son’s school, my doctor’s appointments, the grocery lists… whatever I can think of. One day of organizing can take the stress (and thus weariness) out of a dozen weeks.

D) I cut back on sugar. No, I’m not on a sugar-free thing. I just try to eat smart. I eat lots of vegetables, good grains, hearty proteins… I don’t put sugar in my coffee anymore (sadness) because it’s one daily thing that can make a big difference. No harm in indulging a bit during the holidays or if you get that sweet-tooth craving, but all in all… moderation! Moderation! Moderation! Also, if you can’t or don’t eat a lot of that good-fatty-fish doctor’s like us to eat, take fish oil. I get the enteric coated fish oil (the coating keeps that fishy after-taste from happening!). Fish oil does amazing things in regards to health and mental/emotional feel-good. I started taking it when I suffered postpartum depression after my first pregnancy, and I’ve never stopped! A healthy diet can help more than you realize when it comes to weariness.

C) I don’t ‘exercise’ when I’m pregnant, but I don’t just sit back either. Firstly because I can’t. I have three children depending on me. And I firmly subscribe to the belief that: If you don’t use it, you lose it. Lift those laundry baskets and keep your arms trim! Use your abs when you do things, not so that it hurts and you end up with sore crampy muscles, but so that you can feel them working. When you lift things or do stairs, use those leg muscles and buttocks! Tighten it up! You’d be amazed at how much you can stay fit just doing the everyday. And when it comes time to have the baby, you’ll be so glad you did. Keeping yourself moving does actually help combat weariness (even if it does nothing more than distract you!).

D) Realize and accept that you won’t get it all done, and that’s okay. Pick what needs to be done. Your family needs clean clothes. Clean dishes. Food. Your kids need your time. Your husband needs your time, too. (A healthy marriage makes for a much healthier, happier family.) The floors should be swept once a week. Clean the toilet every week or two. Change the bedding every couple of weeks. Make sure the cat gets fed every day. You know, the important stuff. Because you know what your kids will remember the most later on? You. Not the corners of the carpet being crumb-and-fuzz-free, not the house being Martha-Stewart-perfect. You. Did you take care of them and love them? Or were you crabby because you were over-stressed trying to do it all?

E) Do set a time of evening when you stop moving. If someone needs underwear and socks, throw them in the washer earlier in the day so that all you need to do is throw them in the dryer that evening. They can rummage in the dryer the next morning for their clean underwear. Somewhere between 8:30 and 9:30 at night is when I stop. And I mean stop. I don’t think about the work around me, the next day, the next week… (unless there’s something that needs to be thought about)… I just relax and be. I open my eyes and look at my Sackett Man. I breathe. I recline against the couch pillows. I watch whatever it is we choose to watch. I talk with my beloved about whatever (the day, some frustration I have, a problem, the new movies coming out in theater, what our favorite foods are…). I rub his neck, he rubs mine. My thoughts wander hither and yon, or just settle and I go blissfully blank. I let myself get tired and drift off. And after a while Sackett Man gently rouses me enough that I can walk to bed, and I crawl under the covers and return to sleep.

And pray that none of the three critters in their rooms wakes up before dawn.