Sunday, December 10, 2017

Pregnancy Update #11: Weeks 28-33

Week 28 is where I left off in my last pregnancy update post. I was given an iron prescription for my low iron and started taking it faithfully, with vitamin C, and not having dairy (calcium) within several hours of the iron.
Rebecca is a pretty active baby. She likes to be right under my ribs or turn sideways. It gets uncomfortable sometimes, but I'm trying to embrace every moment.

Week 29 I got a bad headache on Sunday, which is unusual for me. I did check my blood pressure (normal) and decided to just monitor things. As the week went on everything was normal.

Week 30 I had another pregnancy check up. Everything looks perfectly fine, we're cruising through third trimester. I scheduled the rest of my prenatal appointments for the pregnancy - unless baby decides to be especially late. I'll go in every 2 weeks for check ups through December and when January arrives we move to weekly check ups.

Week 31 was pretty uneventful. I'm just trying too enjoy each day of pregnancy. I am starting to have contractions every time I am out walking at the store or anywhere else for more than about 20 minutes. They settle down pretty easily when I lay or sit down for a while.

Week 32 I'm feeling gigantic. Just really big pregnant. Turning over in bed is awkward and uncomfortable. I'm starting to gather things for the end of my pregnancy:
  1. Dates - I eat 6 dates per day late in the 3rd trimester. There have been studies done that show eating dates for the last 4 weeks of pregnancy have a significant impact on increased dilation and going into labor on your own, as well as a shorter first phase of labor. 
  2. Red Raspberry Leaf Herbal Tea - This one is new for me. I'm drinking it beginning midway through the 3rd trimester. Drinking this during 3rd trimester can help strengthen the uterus (great for a VBAC mom especially!), improve the effectiveness of contractions, and reduce the rate of complications and interventions compared to women who did not drink this tea. 
  3. Postpartum wrap/support - As is normal for a woman who has had multiple babies I have diastasis recti, a separation of the abdominal muscles down the middle (vertically) of my abdomen. This places a number of movement and exercise restrictions on me (some things can make the split worse), makes me prone to back issues, and just isn't fun. Before this pregnancy I had worked to reduce my DR split from 4+ fingers wide to 2 fingers wide. However I'm pretty sure this pregnancy has undone all that work, and quite possibly has made things even worse. I have been looking into ways to help support my abdominal muscles and back after this sweet baby is born and then work to reduce the split again after the first 6 weeks postpartum. I've looked at a lot of different support belts/waist trainers/girdles/wraps and have narrowed down my options. Now to make a final decision and purchase. 
Week 33 - I'm 33 weeks and 3 days pregnant as I type this. I had a checkup on Thursday. Baby is currently breech (head up) but she flips around pretty often so we'll see what position she settles into as we get closer to delivery. I have officially gained 19 lbs for this pregnancy.

Several things came up in tests that we're now trying to figure out. First, I had high leukocytes and protein in my urine. That can indicate a UTI (urinary tract infection) or possibly preeclampsia. I'm to keep monitoring my blood pressure and symptoms to watch for preeclampsia. 

They also took blood to check how my body was responding to the iron pills I've been taking. I got a call the next day with bad news. My iron is still low - and not any better. Worse, actually. So tomorrow I head back to the doctor for more bloodwork to see what is going on. We will also be talking about whether we should continue iron pills or if I need to do iron infusions by IV. I'm guessing my doctor will want me to do the infusions because I'm so far into my pregnancy and the infusions are more effective quickly. I'm at higher risk for several things due to my age, pregnancy history (prior csection, 14 pregnancies, etc), and so on, and having really low iron is a bad thing for several of those risks. We'll see how things go!

Homeschool Notes Week 19

Monday was a mix of things that needed done woven in around school work. Things like phone calls, a trip to Social Security, a haircut, work for the teen, and so on. Also lots of hospital stay prep for Mason's surgery on Friday. Then we found out that Mason's new glasses were finally ready and so he and I made an unexpected 2 1/2 hour trip in and out of the city to pick them up. It was the only day before surgery we could do it, so I'm glad they came in.

Tuesday we kept up school, Makayla worked at the vet, and we had a usual day. I'm still planning and gathering and getting things ready for surgery. At the same time we are trying to keep some quiet time in each day to just relax as a family.

Wednesday dawned cold and sunny. School work happened around the table and on the couch and in bedrooms. Little ones played with puzzles and moved ornaments around on the Christmas tree (we put ours up last Sunday). Daniel's replacement pair of glasses was picked up. Makayla and Daddy each headed to work. There was Cub Scouts and our usual Wednesday night activities at church.

Thursday I had a prenatal appointment, which I'll talk about in an upcoming pregnancy update. Daddy oversaw homeschooling while I was gone. Then it was time to officially pack for Mason's surgery the next day.

Friday Mason and I headed early to the hospital. He had a knee contracture that the doctor did a hamstring release on. Basically a 'Z' shaped incision behind the knee from thigh to calf so various things in both areas could be cut down to the bone of the joint. Ow. Then he was put in a cast going from the top of his thigh to his toes. He did well with surgery and had a 1 night stay at the hospital.

Saturday we had it confirmed that Mason really was in zero pain from the surgery (all painkillers from surgery were long out of his system). It's a tiny benefit of the paralysis and nerve damage that comes with Spina Bifida. It's also a big drawback because he doesn't feel like he just had major surgery and needs to recover for a month. We got to come home in the afternoon with instructions to continue elevating and icing off and on through Sunday.

Right now it is Sunday afternoon. Mason is still doing well. Daddy and most of the children went to church. We're having a birthday party this evening for Emma with extended family because she turns 12 this coming week. The coming week has some uncertainties medically for me (again, I'll update in a pregnancy post soon) but other than that is pretty relaxed.


Friday, December 1, 2017

Homeschool Week 17 and Week 18 Notes


Week 17 - I popped in on the blog last week to mention that we were taking off the entire week of Thanksgiving. It was great! We had many things that needed done, a full work schedule for the teen, Thanksgiving with extended family, a trip to see Christmas lights, and kids beginning to come down with a cold.

Week 18

Monday started us off with a solid day of learning. Math lessons happened for everyone. The high schooler also had Latin with mom and did history, literature, and chemistry on her own. The middle schoolers had math, science, and grammar with mom and did history and literature on their own. The elementary schoolers did math, grammar, beginning reading, and science with mom and did writing, history, or literature on their own (different kids had different things scheduled here). Oliver and Caleb also started a math facts practice to really make sure those addition and subtraction facts are solid. I was just going to do this with Caleb, who is ready to move up to Math U See Beta, where you dive into multiple digit multiplication and subtraction up to very large numbers. Oliver is already ahead of that level into Gamma, which is multiplication. However it never hurts to review facts and Oliver and Caleb like the idea of working together on this, so I ended up with both boys.

Other things that happened today: Makayla got a bank account complete with debit card, and plans to set up direct deposit for her work checks this week. Daddy had physical therapy. We played Righteous: A Book of Mormon dvd game as a family in Family Home Evening. My husband's work schedule got changed to a weird 2nd shift-ish thing, which made me want to cry. I'm blaming it on pregnancy hormones. He'll leave at 11:30am and get home sometime after 9:30pm each day. Ugh. It complicates things like me being Cubmaster (and having 5 little children ages 7 and under who need watched while I'm doing scouts every week), medical appointments (when we're gone for 4+ hours those are a big deal leaving 8 kids behind), and even childcare for Mason's upcoming surgery.

Tuesday was a lot of trying to get things done before daddy headed to work. There were phone calls to make, a trip to the store and to mail a package, homeschooling, school work for daddy, dropping Makayla off at the vet for shadowing, and so on. After Daddy was off and gone for the day we had lunch, did Mason medical care, and then it was time for piano lessons. We have a sweet friend from church who comes each week to teach piano to the kids. Then it was simply survival while we all missed Daddy and tried to make it to bedtime with sanity intact.

Wednesday was life school. Meaning the kids could study anything they wanted while momma and Mason were gone for a morning appointment in the city before Daddy needed to go to work. When I got home I did some research on a vehicle we would like to one day move to (Ford Transit 12 Passenger Wagon). I was trying to figure out the cargo space and if it would hold a larger wheelchair as Mason grows. (Yep!) Now if only it wasn't $50,000+.

Wednesday afternoon the kids helped me gather supplies for tonight's Cub Scout Pack Meeting. It's a service project night and we're making fleece blankets for Project Linus. *Updated to add that we finished 5 blankets in one hour tonight! We had more fleece donated than we could finish so the rest will be a project for another day.

Thursday was back to the usual morning of school work after breakfast. I worked with most of the kids but a few went to Daddy too. He got to listen to beginning readers, which is always a fun exercise in patience. Joseph and Emma had quick appointments at the orthodontist today. Joseph will be getting his expander off and braces on in February and Emma is almost ready for the expander, probably at the beginning of summer. Our morning kept rolling along with a porch shoe cleanup, crafting, reading, piano practice, and fun.

Friday started off with Mommy not feeling good (lightheaded, headache). I checked my blood pressure and it was pretty high, but went down after sitting for a bit. I'm going to monitor it. closely for a couple days to see what is going on. Daddy and I did two quick projects. We pulled the 3T clothing bin out of the attic and found Tobias new long sleeve shirts because he has outgrown his 2T shirts all of a sudden.

The second project was changing out the toys in the living room cubicle. The little boys love when we do this, things seem all new again. This time we have out wooden food (one small bin), tools (half a bin), and Imaginext (two small bins). We try to be sure we have out few enough toys that the little boys can pick them up easily within 5 minutes or so.

After toys had been changed I sat at the table to be available for anyone needing help with school work. I quickly had several children around me with math work 'just in case we need you Mom'. Everyone worked steadily and finished by lunch time.

I made a phone call to one eye doctor to order replacement glasses for Daniel, whos frames haven't held up. Then I was called by surgery pre-op for Mason and answered a hundred questions for anesthesia. Currently Mason is on the schedule for surgery at 9am next Friday. We'll find out the evening before if his time gets shifted around at all.

It's mid-afternoon now. Makayla is off to work. Kids are watching a show on Amazon Prime (Dino Dan) or reading joke books to each other. I am going to get dinner cooking and read for a little while before the chaos of evening crankiness descends.

Monday, November 20, 2017

A Milestone and a Quick Note

This week we reached a milestone. We realized it was time to move Tobias out of the crib we'll need for baby sister in 10 weeks or possibly less. On Saturday we set up a toddler bed in the 'big boys' room. All 7 sons now share the master bedroom by using two triple bunk beds and a toddler bed.

Of course, Tobias won't really fall asleep in his new bed well right away. I've been through this transition 8 times before and I know we will need every bit of those 10 weeks before baby to make the transition. Saturday night was our first night. We simply followed our 'usual' routine of holding him while he drifts off to sleep, but did it beside the toddler bed instead of beside the crib. The goal is to spend a week doing this and then start laying him down awake in the toddler bed and staying beside the bed to encourage him to lay down until he falls asleep.

As I type this it is Monday afternoon. Tobias is taking the bed and bedroom change without a fuss for stage one. Hooray! One thing we've been doing to help that is shorten his afternoon nap. Tobias is still a good napper and will sleep 3 hours most afternoons. To be sure he's feeling tired at bedtime we're waking him up a bit early from nap.

Also, a quick note: We're enjoying the week off for Thanksgiving, some doctors appointments, baking day with grandma, and so on. No homeschooling this week!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Homeschool Week 16 Notes

Monday morning school work started with Mason reading to me from his All About Reading book. Next I read Beep Beep Vroom Vroom to Mason and Samuel. It's a book from the MathStart series about patterning. We pulled out red, yellow, and blue bear counters to work on making patterns after we read the book. Other kids worked on independent subjects like reading for literature and history, grammar, etc. Then I was surrounded by those needing math lessons, beginning readers wanting to read to me, a teen ready for Latin, and so on. We worked through everything in a slightly chaotic mass.


Science for the 7th grade and under crowd happened around the table after morning snack. Today we learned about using columns in architecture for strength and support of a building.

We made paper columns in two heights (tall (11") and short (3")) and began stacking books on top. We used the tall columns first and kept adding books until the columns buckled and collapsed. Then the kids predicted if they thought the shorter columns would be weaker or stronger than the tall columns.

We stacked the exact same books in the exact same order onto the short columns. When we ran out of books we grabbed even more. The short columns won! We kept piling on books until those buckled and collapsed as well.

After that I read a page about floor plans from Architect Academy and passed out a copy of a small floor plan for the kids to complete. The basic outline was a four room apartment. They were to decide where to place doors, which room was bedroom, bathroom, living room, and kitchen, as well as any features like sink, tub, and toilet. Kids rearranged windows and some went so far as to add furniture.

We got lots of other small projects done around the house today, daddy had a doctor's appointment and physical therapy, and we fixed my computer, which decided to have two different blue screen errors at once. There was laundry washed and dried. Makayla got the final element for her new snake habitat and set it up for Olympia her Ball Python. I started reading Renegades by Marissa Meyer because my library was able to get me a copy today.

Tuesday the first school I was a part of was listening to Oliver read about wombats in his All About Reading level 3 book. I also helped a couple kids with math and played with miniature trains with Tobias. Writing projects were started for the week (written narrations of any recently read history book). Latin translation happened with Makayla. The day was just a nice, normal Tuesday, including Makayla's usual shadowing at the veterinary office.

Wednesday the kids were willing enough to do school. I just wanted to read a book. It all got done in the end and the kids didn't mind a distracted mom one bit.

Thursday the kids had a day off of school. Mason and I headed out at 8:45am for Children's Hospital and didn't get home until 2:00pm. He had his yearly checkup with his developmental opthomologist (the one who did Mason's double eye surgery).

Both eyes are stable. Mason picked out new glasses, which will be ready sometime in the next month. Then he had blood work for his upcoming surgery. Thursday afternoon and evening were just quiet at home time as a family, my favorite!

Friday is here and as I type this the only thing left for school is some science with the younger kids. We've been busy this morning doing lessons. I've made phone calls to doctors and specialists. We have had lunch. Kids have been playing piano, drawing, painting, and reveling in their interests. It is a good day.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Homeschool Weeks 14 and 15

Week 14 was break week. This Sabbath schedule is lovely. We school for 6 weeks and take the 7th as a rest week. I know we won't be able to stick exactly to the 6 weeks on 1 week off schedule for the rest of the school year because of Christmas break and having a baby in late January or early February. I will just play that by ear.

The week was full of visiting family, doctor's appointments, and life in general. The only big thing of note is that we scheduled Mason for his 19th surgery. He'll be having a hamstring release on his left knee in early December because his knee contracture continues to get worse. Then he will be in a cast for 6 weeks, which brings its own challenges because of his lack of sensation and weak bones. The last time he was in a long leg cast he ended up with multiple broken bones in both legs, including one femur all from the casts themselves, not the surgeries. And we made the long drive every few days for a new cast because his kept slipping due to no muscle tone. It will be an interesting way to spend December and January. If all goes well we will be finished with the cast before this sweet baby girl is born in late January.

Week 15

Monday was our first day back to homeschool after break. I had taken the time over break to prepare so all I needed to do Monday morning was sit at the table and help kids as they needed me. I taught a bunch of new math lessons including multiplying by 6, subtracting 5, using the multiplicative inverse to simplify equations, conjugating numbers to remove radicals and imaginary numbers from the denominator of a fraction, and prime factorization.

This 6 weeks the oldest 4 kids (independent readers) each chose a literature book. Makayla is reading Fahrenheit 451, Joseph is reading 100 Cupboards, Emma is reading Five Kingdoms book 1, Daniel is reading Socks. The 3 beginning readers are working on their All About Reading books.

While most lessons just continue from where we left off one that doesn't is science for the 7th grade and under group. For this six weeks we are studying building and architecture. Here are the books we have on the shelf for this:
  • Architect Academy from Usborne books
  • Building Structures and Towers by Tammy Enz
  • Build It: Structures, Systems, and You by Adrienne Mason
  • The Story of Architecture by Johnathan Glancey
  • Peeking Under the City by Esther Porter
  • Curious Constructions by Michael Hearst
  • Building Big by David Macaulay
  • Earth-Friendly Buildings, Bridges, and More by Etta Kaner
The six weeks will be a mix of reading, hands on activities, and creative work. Today is a simple example. We read about footings and foundations today and then used materials to explore how a foundation helps support a building. We learned a bit about 6 historical buildings and 6 modern buildings. Then we learned that an architect makes a 'program' first. This is a list of wishes their client has for the building and it's surrounding's functionality and use. The kids each made a program (wish list) for a home. 

Makayla is continuing with chemistry and finished up her review of unit 4 today with me. Next up is chapter 5: Covalent Compounds and their Molecular Geometry. Other lessons that happened today include Latin, grammar, writing, handwriting/copywork, art.

Midafternoon found Mason and I at the physical therapist. Because of the upcoming surgery and time in a cast we are taking a break from PT starting now. We can work on his core strength and upper body strength at home. We came home to the smell of meatballs in the crock pot and just had to make a pot of pasta for dinner. Yum!

Tuesday school work was slow and steady. Kids did writing, reading, math, and more. Makayla was off to work for 5 hours in the morning so she did most of her work before she left. We had construction vehicles working on our street today and my little boys were thrilled to sit at windows and observe. We have no idea what is happening but there is digging going on and my boys couldn't be happier. Our dinner was polish sausage stir fry and fruit. Just keeping it easy.

Wednesday morning kids ate breakfast, got dressed, and started their day. Some did chores early, others dived into school work. Makayla had work again this morning. Dinner went into the crock pot (a beef roast for shredded beef sandwiches). I spent some extra time with Joseph and Emma on math today because this week's lesson just isn't sticking. It has a lot of steps for a single problem and they're not slowing down and writing out every step, which makes for more mistakes. Today we ditched the workbook pages and did each problem on the wall dry erase boards. They were required to write big (another issue, they try to cram things into a small space, which then jumbles letters and numbers together).

Caleb got to choose a writing prompt today. My younger kids do not often do writing beyond copywork, so when they get to they love it. We sat at the computer and he talked while I typed his words. He talked all about what zoo animal he would love for a pet, what he would need for that pet, how to feed it, what he would name it, etc. His animal of choice: a stingray. Oliver is excited for his turn tomorrow.

Thursday - I pretty much want a do-over. A long visit at the allergist with a teen who didn't want to be there. Doing homeschool in a scattered way after that with the rest of the kids. A husband who got home from work in time to turn around and go to his 3 times a week physical therapy (work related injuries) that went an HOUR over, two kids at each other all.day.long, a husband who has to be in bed an hour before the kids because of his 1am wake up for work, and me - a too tired, cranky, needing a break mama. I finally laid down in the living room and napped in the middle of the chaos while kids played around me.

Friday was a nice, normal day. Kids were motivated to get school work done because it was the end of the week. I snuggled up on the couch early on with Mason, Samuel, and Tobias to read stacks of books. We moved through our day. Baked bread for lunch. Played games. Then we started a Lord of the Rings Extended Edition Marathon. We don't actually watch even an entire movie in one sitting, but for us it just means when the whole family is looking for some movie time together that is the set we are working through. My younger ones don't really watch, they're usually busy playing away from the tv but still in view of the family in our long front two rooms. It is always interesting to see which kids watch, who notices something new, asks a question about something in the movie, etc. Lots of interesting points for discussion when you watch a sweeping saga of good versus evil!

Saturday was grocery shopping day again. Joseph was my helper and we got all the food and nonfood items on our list and were home just a little bit after Daddy got back from dropping Makayla at work. Other things we did today:
  • Showed Mason how to use Lego instructions to build something step by step.
  • Removed all but one pair of shorts for each person and most of their short sleeve shirts from dresser drawers. Waking up to 22 degree F temps will make you admit winter is fast approaching. 
  • Completed 85% of the Christmas shopping online. Two kids left to finish up, which we plan to have done before the end of the weekend. Yay! I love having our shopping done before December so we can simply enjoy the season.
  • Cleaned the house. You just can't get away from cleaning with a large family.
  • Sorted clean laundry and sent it off with various kids to put away. 
The evening is winding down and it's time to get kids ready for bed so that's the end of my report for the week. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Looking Back at the Second Six Weeks


    This six weeks has been pretty smooth. Our routines are solidly in place to carry us through our days. Kids have gotten acquainted with each subject and how it works this year. One thing that has been really helpful this six weeks is that I try to sit down at the table for an hour or two in the morning so that I am ready to help any child who needs me during their individual work. When I'm up and doing other things it takes time to track me down, get my attention, have my help, and then to move on. When I am at the table for an hour or two in the morning kids can sit in a chair near me when they need help. They know where to find me. I am ready to help.

Is it hard to do? Yes. Some days I simply can't put off all the things I need to be doing to sit at the table and wait for someone to need me. But individual work goes much more smoothly when I commit to this simple habit. And when nobody needs me I'm reading or writing or playing with my younger (non-school age) children at or beside the table.

Books We've Read as Individuals or Together
This list does not include the many picture books read to my younger three boys. I don't keep track of that because there are too many. Also: Please remember that not all books are for all ages or families. And on my list are even a couple books that were just my own reading. Pre-read books to be sure they fit your family's reading guidelines for a child. An example from my list: We are cautiously allowing some of our children to read the Magnus Chase series, depending on maturity. There are some issues we discuss along the way, including a character who, due to their godly parent Loki, is gender-fluid. This means at different points in the books they are more female or male. I feel like the issue has been tastefully handled. One thing I have appreciated is that the entire series lacks the 'bedroom romance that shouldn't be in a teen book' for the characters. Yes, there has been an occasional kiss (maybe 2 per book). That's it. So, as always, preview books before handing them to your kids!
  • Who's Your Hero? Volume 2
  • Across Five Aprils
  • Kids on Strike
  • Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin
  • If You Lived in Colonial Times
  • If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620
  • How Do Birds Find Their Way?
  • A Nest Full of Eggs
  • Flash, Crash, Rumble, and Roll
  • What Will the Weather Be?
  • The Cloud Book
  • Follow the Water from Brook to Ocean
  • Awesome Autumn 
  • Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn
  • The Pumpkin Book
  • Pumpkin Circle
  • Pumpkin Cat
  • Why Do Leaves Change Color?
  • Max and Ruby Collection
  • Cobblestone Magazine (several issues on history related topics)
  • Rocks
  • Let's Go Rock Collecting
  • Dave's Down-to-Earth Rock Shop
  • Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer
  • Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor
  • Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Ship of the Dead 
  • Slayers
  • Slayers: Friends and Traitors
  • Slayers: Playing with Fire
  • Mary Poppins
  • Mary Poppins Comes Back
  • Mary Poppins Opens the Door
  • Mary Poppins in the Park
  • Mary Poppins in Cherry Tree Lane
  • Gregor the Overlander
  • Gregor and the Prophesy of Bane
  • Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods
  • Gregor and the Marks of Secret
  • Gregor and the Code of Claw
  • A Meeting with the Principle: An Education to Usher in the Millennium
  • Five Kingdoms
  • How to Train Your Dragon series (several books)
  • Mathemagic
  • Fablehaven

We did not get through as many books in history as I thought we might this six weeks. I'm okay with that. Everyone enjoyed the books they had, they just wanted to keep choosing books without moving on to new events in the time period. We will pick up where we left off for the next six weeks. There will always be more good books to read than we have time for, so the task is deciding when to linger and read just one more, and when to move on.

One thing we simply did not do, that I had planned to begin this six weeks, was our Shakespeare study of A Midsummer Night's Dream. We had many different things going on and it just never fit in. I suspect this will happen during our slower winter days instead. I'm fine with getting to it when we get to it.

Other things we did:
  • Consistent progress in math by all children. Even in Algebra 2, hallelujah. 
  • Consistent writing or handwriting practice depending on age. 
  • Art! We did a big painted paper project, have done some drawing, and various kids have started projects filling up notebooks with their art. One child worked on stop motion animation as well.
  • Beginning reading progress by all 3 beginning readers. They still each love All About Reading and so do I! 
  • Latin. We are keeping a slow but steady pace. I was surprised to hear Makayla tell someone the other day that her favorite subject this year is Latin.
  • Chemistry is still going well. It has been a balance of independent work and working with me when there are concepts she doesn't quite understand. 
That covers our second six weeks of the school year. We have been on break this week and looking forward to the next six weeks. I'm off to gather books for that!

Read about our first six weeks here.