Wednesday, December 30, 2009

All I Have to Give

I was born and raised on country music, rockabilly, rock and roll, etc. I actually don't think you can be raised in Tennessee without developing at least an appreciation for all the music genres that call Tennessee home! One song I have always identified with is Me by Faith Hill. These are the lyrics for the chorus:

Me, that's all I have to give
What you see is what you see
No second guessing, no pretending
With you, all I ever have to be is me

I have always felt comfortable being "me." I never felt like I needed to pretend to be somebody else. I figured if people didn't like "me," then that was their problem. This did obviously lead to some bruised feelings on my part, but I never felt that I should be any different than who I am. Anytime you put a part of yourself out there by trying to make new friends, speaking to a group of people, blogging, etc, you risk rejection, or at the very least misunderstanding. I have been very fortunate not to have negative comments on this blog so far. However, I am aware of several places that have blocked my blog for questionable content (probably due to the posts on breastfeeding, feminine hygeine, hormone imbalances, etc).

I wanted to take a moment to share with my blog followers (and blog stalkers....I know you are out there...) why I chose to write those types of posts on my blog and why I intend to leave them for all to see. First and foremost, I believe it is better to be real, than to give people what they want and be fake. Secondly and perhaps most importantly, the kinds of information I post to this blog, are oftentimes things that people don't know much about.

Lets take breastfeeding for example, nutrition experts will now tell you that infants need to be fed only breastmilk or formula for the first 6 months of life. Less than 30% of parents in the United States feed their children exculsively breastmilk or formula. Significantly fewer of those parents exculsively breastfeed. Now, I am NOT trying to say that moms who don't breastfeed or add cereal to formula are inferior. That would be ridiculous. If you love your child, then you are doing a heck of a better job than a lot of parents out there. However, that does mean that there is significantly less support and knowledge available for exclusively breastfeeding moms versus the overwhelming majority (and lets face it....some of the knowledge that is out there is crap).

God made breasts so that mothers could feed their babies, and I have no problem talking about how it works, problems that might come up, etc. Likewise, God gave women their reproductive tracts and cycles, and I have no problem talking about that either. Especially in light of the fact that if you leave a commercially produced tampon in for too long it can kill you, I think that is a very important product to discuss. I understand that different amounts of information are appropriate at different ages, and I do try to keep the information I do present factual and tasteful. However, this has made me wonder.....could it be that some of the problems we are seeing: teen pregnancies, lack of responsibility, etc, could be related to the fact that we shield children from the facts and responsibilities of life for too long? I don't know the answer, but I do know that if Jessica were to ask about anything in the next year or two that I have posted on here, I would be completely comfortable explaining it to her: "Well, when girls grow up, they bleed sometimes. It's normal." "Well, when you become a mommy, you make milk to feed the baby." "Daddies don't make milk because God didn't make them that way, but daddies do sometimes help."

I am sorry if I ever make anyone uncomfortable. It is not intentional. However, I do not appologize for the content of this blog and do not intend to change it. I write about real life and how to live it in a frugal, healthy, and self-sufficient way. If you ever have a personal or regional crisis, this is the kind of information that will help you make it through the tough times, and you just might discover that some of the things our grandparents used to do aren't really so arcaic after all.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

You Are What You Eat

This weekend we went out to lunch with some friends. At one point the conversation turned to nieces and nephews who are picky eaters. One of our friends relayed a story about her niece who is about 10 years old and said, "I don't like that" in response to what they were having for dinner. My friend said, "Well, we are also having this so you can eat that if you like." The niece said she didn't like that either so my friend responds with "Well, there is peanut butter in the pantry if you would like to make yourself a sandwich." As it turns out, the niece wanted someone else to make her a sandwich as opposed to doing it herself! I have been thinking about this all week, because you see this kind of thing A LOT these days whether it is a child or young adult telling their host that they don't like something or a 4 year old who won't eat anything but chicken nuggets and fries!

When I was little, Mom had a pretty tight grocery budget. I know she once made 1 pound of ground beef last 5 meals! But she always managed to put food on the table. It might not have been foods we liked, but it always consisted of the nutrients we needed. I have mentioned before the important lessons my parents taught me about money. If there is anything else they taught me that has been as useful as what they taught me about money, then it would have to be what they taught me about food. When I was growing up, if mom cooked it, then you ate it because you weren't getting anything else. There are several foods I am to this day not a huge fan of, but I always eat them if someone goes to the trouble of making them. You never know, one day I might start liking lima beans! I also learned that you should never put more on your plate than you can eat because those leftovers could be saved for another meal. Once it was threatened that I would have to eat the ketchup I had put on my plate with a spoon! I will admit I still have a little problem with this one.....probably because growing up in a large family I also learned that if you don't get it the first time it goes around, you won't be getting any!! Of everything I learned around the dinner table growing up, I think it all boils down to learning to value and truly appreciate the food you have to eat.

I think the kind of eating habits and behavior we are seeing in younger generations is just another sign of how spoiled and unappreciative our society has gotten as a whole. Used to be whether you liked it or not when dinner was served you sat down and ate it without complaining because at least you had the good fortune of actually HAVING dinner that night. I really think society has done younger generations a huge disservice by not engendering an appreciation for having food to eat. What we end up with is a society full of people who don't know what a balanced diet is, who don't like foods that are good for them, who are very picky eaters, who go to a dinner party and tell the host, "I don't like that," and who are generally ungrateful. When you really think about it, the saying, "You are what you eat" takes on a whole new meaning.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Homemade Gifts 2009: Part 1

Since most of my family is in a cabin in the mountains, I feel pretty safe going ahead and sharing what we made them for Christmas this year. If you happen to see this and have not gotten your gift yet. Then consider this your warning: Do not proceed any farther if you want to be surprised! (David's family may continue.)

For the grandparents on both sides, I will be sending dvds full of pictures of Jessica, videos from Christmas and Jessica's birthday, and the ultrasound of the new baby. However, they will not receive these until the end of January because some of these events have not occurred yet! A very economical gift, but something they will truly enjoy!

For my parents, all of my married siblings, David's sister, and a few neighbors, we made gifts baskets that included a variety of homemade goodies: strawberry jam, oatmeal honey soap, fudge, magic bars, hot chocolate mix, ranch oyster crackers, and sugar cookies! This was also a very economical gift, but it is also really nice because everything is consumable!!!! No random gift items to figure out what to do with when you go home! I am most excited to see what my sister, Kim, thinks about her gift because she always loves homemade gifts!! My unmarried siblings got dvds we found on sale at Wal-mart. They both really enjoy watching movies.

What made the experience truly....memorable....was that I had two friends from down the street with all or most of our small children in my house at least once a week for the last month making all of these things!!! It was truly an experience!! But, we did have a lot of fun!! There were quite a few times we messed things up because we were trying to multiply batches and keep up with all of the shrieking children in my house! Thankfully, it all turned out just fine! If we do this next year, then I think we will have to start earlier!!!

And those are all of the gifts we made this year outside of Jessica's (which you already saw) and one for either David's dad or David's mom. I am keeping that one under my hat until we exchange gifts with them in a few days! Overall I felt like we came out pretty well this year: all homemade gifts except for 4! Hopefully, everyone will enjoy them as much as we enjoyed making them!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

This year since we were not traveling to see family, we spent Christmas Eve mostly just bumming around the house with our friend Christopher. We also enjoyed eating David's homemade burgers and me and Jessica's homemade Christmas sugar cookies. Jessica spent most of the evening just being silly (Note the Christmas ornaments for earrings..)! We think she must get this from my side of the family...

We also opened gifts that my extended family had mailed to us since we weren't going to be able to make the trip this year. Jessica enjoyed playing with her puzzle, play fruit/veggies, Sesame Street figures, and her bathtub baby doll; however, she spent most of the rest of the evening accessorizing with a box my mom had sent that included one new outfit with quite a few different matching accessories!

She definitely doesn't get her sense of fashion from either of us...

Once Jessica went to bed, I did my best to set the tree back the way it was before many tiny hands redecorated it for me.

I was somewhat successful...

Yes, to the left of the tree is what Santa brought Jessica! This is the same kitchen David build earlier this season. We finished it out with a paint job and a few new accessories! I set the dishes and play food she already had on it to make it look like Santa played with it! Here is a picture of the whole thing!

Isn't it darling?!?!?

A close up of the stove top my friend painted for us! We are thinking about adding some knobs to the left.

The inside of the oven, complete with her pan of felt cookies from Easter!

The inside of the fridge, complete with the bag of fruit and veggies from Grandma and Grandpa.

We don't have any still pictures from Christmas morning, just video, which is not edited yet. When we let her out of her room, she ran straight past the living room into our kitchen. I had to turn her around to show her that Santa had come! Then she said something that sounded like, "What's this?" Followed very quickly by a, "Wow!" She immediately started cooking. Her daddy made a point of building the kitchen to be very strong; however, she already managed to break the oven door so Daddy is going to have to fix it so it will be even stronger! I was also glad he thought to build it to be very heavy. Once the cat jumped up on it, Jessica decided she wanted to climb it too!

We still have a little bit more Christmasing to do this week when my sister comes to town followed by David's parents, but so far it has been a very restful and enjoyable Christmas!

Baking with Mommy!

Jessica has always been interested in "helping" around the house. Before she was a year old, she was emptying the dishwasher, and around her first birthday, she started picking up her toys. Recently, she has began to show interest in "helping" me cook so this year we baked sugar cookies together! We only took pictures of the first 5 minutes.... Between making sure we were making the cookies correctly and making sure that Jessica didn't get into too much, we had our hands more than full! Here are a few of my favorite pictures!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Re-usable Giftwrap

If there is one thing I hate buying above all other things, it is gift wrap! Invariably I don't have the right kind of wrapping supplies for the particular gift I am giving. I also see no point in spending money on something that will get ripped open a couple hours later and then thrown away. I have seen many different solutions to this: decorated butcher paper, Sunday comics, pre-wrapped boxes that are used year after year, cloth draw-string sacks, and something called a furoshiki (It is a piece of cloth used in Japan to wrap gifts in a variety of ways for different sized packages). However, this Eco Christmas Gift Wrap caught my eye, so I decided to make my own version!

Isn't it cute?? I made one for myself and one for a friend as a Christmas gift. This print is a Christmas/winter print; however, I bought some Christmas fabric 60% off that could easily be used year-round (It is a blue, red, green, and white stripe). I made a few changes to the original design. First, of all my bow snaps on and off, which should be great for travel and storage! Second, instead of using batting and a liner fabric, I just used pieces of quilted material! Third, I sewed the velcro on before putting it together so my seams would not show through the "wrapping paper" and so I could get the velcro as close to the edges as possible.

Before I tell you exactly what I did, I would like to add a couple suggestions in case you have a problem with "peekers" at your house! One person suggested doing a quick little whip stitch at the top of the velcro closure. Since each person's hand-stitch is about as unique to them as their handwriting, no one would be able to peek!! However, if you don't want to whip stitch them all closed, then you might consider usinga zipper instead of velcro and make tiny stitches right under the zipper to keep it closed. A master peeker can unwrap and rewrap packages; however, getting into this gift bag should prove a real challenge if not impossible!

Now, the first thing I did was cut out 2 pieces of pretty fabric. I chose to make mine 10"x10" so that it would easily accomodate dvds and standard sized books. Then I cut out two pieces of quilted fabric the same size. Being raised by a slightly OCD mother, I surged around every edge of every piece. (Mom always said the inside should look just as good as the outside...) Next I cut out ribbon and sewed them on the top and bottom pieces of the "wrapping paper." You don't have to do it on the bottom. I just thought it would make it look more like a paper wrapped gift.

Next I sewed a "wrapping paper" piece to a quilted piece with right sides together and did the same thing with the next two pieces. I went ahead and took the opportunity to sew the velcro into place at the top of the quilted piece on each of my two pieces. I also went ahead and sewed a snap on the top piece so I would not have any seams or threads inside my gift bag. (Another carry over from my mother teaching me how to sew...)

Then I put the two pieces together with right sides together with "wrapping paper" on "wrapping paper" and quilted fabric on quilted fabric. I also made an effort to match up the ribbons as close as possible. Next I sewed a seam all the way around, leaving an opening at the end of the quilted material.

At last it was time to turn the "pillowcase" of sorts right side out! Then I tucked the edges under at the opening and sewed a little seam to close it up. Finally, I could tuck the lining into the "gift bag."

And there you have it. An absolutely adorable re-usable gift bag that looks like a real paper wrapped present under the tree!! We will definitely be using these for years to come around our house, and I think these would also make a great gift with perhaps a little something inside them!

I am still thinking on how to do gift tags. I thought about tags that velcro on. I thought about paper tags with a hole in them that would fit on the snap for the bow. I also thought about sewing on a plastic material that you could slip a paper tag into, but I am still undecided. If you have a good idea on how to do the gift tag, let me know!

Monday, December 21, 2009

In Search of New Christmas Traditions

We always go home to see family for Christmas (except for the year I was pregnant with Jessica and a lot of them came to us). However, we all got sick so much this winter that David does not have the off-time for us to go this year. We are going to miss seeing most of the family this year, but we are excited about being home. It will be nice to not have to be anywhere to see anybody, nice to not spend 30+ hours in the car, nice to be in our own beds in our own home, etc.

2008 Santa Picture

This will be a different year for us, and we have been trying to think about what kinds of Christmasy things we would like to do as a family this year. After Thanksgiving, I usually:
1) Put up a tree, outside lights, and a few trinkets
2) Finish making at least some of our gifts for extended family
3) Get Jessica's picture made with Santa
4) A few days before we leave town (usually a week before Christmas) we have Santa at our house so we don't have to pack Santa in our tiny car and so Jessica has something new to do while I pack!!
5) Many of the Christmas morning traditions will remain the same except it will actually be on December 25 this year! Jessica gets 1 big homemade toy (or 2 small homemade toys) from Santa as well as a couple books, and a stocking (usually fruit, candy, some clothing item she needs, and perhaps a small toy). Outside of a joint gift for David and myself, we don't do any other gifts. We also usually do pancakes for a late breakfast, and that is about the extent of our holiday traditions.

2009 Santa Picture

This year...
1) I only put up the tree because I figured I would be tired and pregnant enough after Christmas that I wouldn't want to put anything else away!
2) We made almost every single gift we are giving (more on that closer to Christmas).
3) We also have made a lot of holiday goodies, since we will not be enjoying all the goodies my mom and my sister usually bake!! We are making a lot of sugar to come soon!!
4) We have watched a few Christmas Specials. We really liked Prep and Landing!
5) Sunday we got Jessica's picture made with Santa at a brunch after church.
6) We might make a gingerbread house with one of the girls down the street.
7) We plan to take the family to look at Christmas lights some evening this week. A guy down the street has an absolutely amazing display....I need to remember to take pictures.....apparently he lets people tour his backyard!
8) We are planning to do burgers for Christmas eve (Jessica will not touch a fast food burger. She will ONLY eat David's burgers!), and Christmas Day should be about the same as usual.

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions? I am on the look out for other traditions we might like to try this year; however, I have also tried to choose things that don't add a lot of work or pressure. Doing a mostly homemade Christmas takes enough work!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Card 2009

Hello Everyone,
Apparently Mommy never intends on getting around to writing Christmas letters again, so as the responsible kitty of the house, I have taken it upon myself to send our holiday greetings. I know you did not hear from me last year. My apologies, but it was not my fault. I knew something was up, but by the time I figured out what was going on Mom had had surgery for melanoma, Grandma had comes down to take care of that thing they call their “little bundle of joy,” and before I knew it they had all left to stay with Grandma and Grandpa while Mom recovered. Thankfully we are not having any of those shenanigans this year! However, once again there are some very strange things going on at our house...

I am getting the sneaking suspicion that Mom and Dad might be bringing home another one of those tiny human creatures that cry all the time. I don't see why they think we need another one of those around our house. I think one is more than enough!! I am not sure if her name is “Jessica” or “No Ma'am.” I hear both quite frequently, but I do know that she is a very loud creature who seems to get joy out of tackling me, using me as a rug, chasing me, pulling my tail, and in other words causing as much mischief as possible. What is really bad is that she has FRIENDS! They all come over to the house, and then they all shriek at me, chase me around the house, get in my face, and in general try to be as annoying as possible. On the bright side she does seem to have a genuine affection for me. Of course this is expected as everyone knows that I am a very lovable creature! She also has the problem solving skills of a cat....very impressive for a mere human. I have learned to stay near her, particularly when she is in the kitchen or on the porch. You never know when she is going to pull out some tasty treat that Mommy had hidden away or let me outside if Mommy forgot to bolt the door! Apparently the neighbors have noticed her cat-like problem solving skills because I have heard them talk about how nervous they get when she visits their houses. She also seems to have a cat-like radar for cookies, knives, and anything that can be taken apart. Thankfully she has not figured out that people and more importantly, kitty cats, can be taken apart because I am sure she would figure out how to do it!

Friends and family, Nutmeg is correct in his assumption that we are expecting a new addition to our family towards the end of May. We hope to get a good view of this new addition at the ultrasound on January 15th. Nutmeg is also correct in saying that Jessica is a bundle of energy with a certain exuberance for life, and she most definitely inherited her Daddy's problem solving skills! What something is called is of no interest to her unless she can figure out how to make it work or how to take it apart! I am sure that this next year will be full all kinds of excitement at our house!! We are so thankful for the blessings all around us, but most especially this year for good health.

Love, David, Amy, Jessica, (The New Baby), and Nutmeg

PS I apologize for the picture, but we haven't been able to get Jessica to sit still since sometime this summer!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Card 2007

Hello Everyone,
Mommy has been rather preoccupied as of late so I have once again taken it upon myself to update everyone as to the goings on at our house. I must say it has been a very trying year for me… It all started when Daddy started going out of town looking for a job…whatever one of those is! Then Mommy and Daddy took off for a whole week and came back smelling like dog! Traitors! (Apparently they had stayed with Bella and Rocco’s parents.) As it turns out, they were looking for a house because Daddy had gotten a job. Then Mommy and Daddy took off AGAIN for a long weekend. They said they were signing papers for the house they bought, but things haven’t really been the same since. A few weeks later Daddy left. Then our furniture left! (This was a very traumatizing time for me!) Finally Mommy and I left. I was not so sure about all of this (hence the puking and peeing all over myself) until I realized that Daddy was at the new house! That made it all better!! I had missed our evening bonding time (Meaning he pets me and treats me like the most important member of our household…because of course I am!)

I know you think I am done, but no things continued to be even more traumatizing from there! Mommy was not feeling so well so she spent the next few months home with me, which I didn’t mind. However, I was not getting the kind of attention I deserve. Obviously, this called for drastic measures, so I made sure to get sick several times in the month of August to the point of having to go to the vet and have surgery. (That was NOT a part of my grand plan!) I know you are all thinking surely things cannot get any worse, but they do! All of the sudden I realized that there was less room available in Mommy’s lap for the most important member of this family. I know you all think I am joking, but seriously, she is beginning to look like the big blow up guy dressed in red in the neighbor’s front yard! Now I have to sit on the couch next to her because there is so little room! And do you want to know something scary??? Sometimes I like to put my head in her lap and my paws on her tummy, and you won’t believe this…but it MOVES!!! I have also noticed that Mommy and Daddy have finally decided to acquire furniture kitty-sized! There is this nice white bed just my size that even has bars on it to keep me from rolling off! Oh and the coolest item is this chair with wheels on the bottom of it. Mommy must have finally given up on training me to walk on a leash! The only thing that really throws me off is that they keep running me out of the room where they have put all of my new furniture. I have concluded that they must be saving it for my Christmas present this year!

Friends and family, I will try to clear up a few of Nutmeg’s observations! David and I are expecting a baby girl in January. We moved to the coast in May, and it has been a whirlwind year! David found the perfect job, I am working at Sylvan Learning Center part-time as I will be able to take Jessica with me, and we have found a church where our children will learn to love others like Jesus did. We are particularly thankful this year for our friends, both old and new, who have made moving to a new place that is far from our families easier, especially with all of the changes we have had in 2007 and expect in 2008. We wish you all a Merry Christmas and pray that God blesses you in 2008 with all that is most important!

Love, David, Amy, (Jessica), and Nutmeg

See! I told you Mommy was huge! Just pretend her shirt is red, and I know you will agree that she looks like Santa!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Card 2005

Hello Everyone,
Mommy said that since everyone seemed to enjoy my Christmas card last year so much that I could write it this year. Between you and me, I think she is just trying to keep me busy so she can finish wrapping presents! Would you believe that the area under the tree is so filled with presents that there isn’t any room left for me to take a little catnap! And to top it all off even though I can’t read, I am pretty sure that none of those presents under there say “To: Nutmeg Love: Mommy and Daddy!” But don’t worry! I have made sure that Mommy won’t forget to wrap my presents!! Aside from my usual tricks of meowing really loudly to remind them to feed me and balking at Mommy’s efforts to toilet train me, I have started trying to climb the Christmas tree, using the ornaments as my toys, laying all over Mommy’s wrapping paper, and when I am particularly desperate, attempting to unwrap everyone else’s presents! So far I am not seeing any presents under the tree for me, but I am confident with more mischief making they will begin to appear! Oh and by the way, in case you were curious, Mommy really is trying to toilet train me. What I don’t understand is why I can’t use the other white bowl in the bathroom. I mean it is the perfect size to curl up in and take a nap and then when I need to go to the bathroom I don’t have to move because there is already a drain right there! Ah the convenience of modern day science! You know a cat had to design that one!

Well I suppose I had better get on with this letter and update you all as to the goings on at our house! Mommy says it has been quite a year. If she means the hurricane and three tornados that came through our town then I must agree! Currently there are a bunch of guys replacing every roof in our apartment complex. Their loud banging frequently disrupts my hourly naps. Why can’t they do that at night when I am wide-awake? Anyways, back to what has been going on at our house. Something really funny happened this year. Mommy decided to slow down on getting her PhD, and so Daddy decided he would get his PhD since he would need something to do for a couple years. Well, then Mommy decided that she wanted to get an EdS instead of a PhD after Daddy had already been accepted to his PhD program! Translation for all of you out there like me that do not speak graduateschoolspeak: Mommy is getting a degree between a Masters and a PhD and will start working in July (assuming she finds an internship), and Daddy is going to work on his PhD for the next couple years. This means he will continue drawing pictures of things that go on the computer. I keep meaning to ask him if he could draw a mouse for me…but I digress. I am very excited about Mommy having more time at night to play with me. Maybe now that she will be off in the summers she can take me to kitty daycamp! Maybe this means she will also have more brain cells to devote to remembering to feed me! Oh, Mommy says to tell you that we hope that God has blessed you with the things that are most important! (I wonder if she means food?) Daddy says to tell you Merry Christmas (NOT Happy Holidays)!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Cards

When I was younger my mother received numerous Christmas cards every year (probably because my father never meets a stranger....actually most of the time he figures out that he's related to said stranger....)! My siblings and I always enjoyed perusing the Christmas cards that came to the house. Our favorites were the pictures! The ones we liked the least were the ones that included a letter about 5 pages long talking about how perfect their only child was and all the wonderful things they had done with their only child that year. Eventually my siblings found it so annoying that they decided to send out their own Christmas letter one year where they talked about how perfectly everything was going in our family and made up all of these ridiculous things we had been up to that year. For example, I think they said my sister, Katie, was going to be in the Winter Olympics the next year for the Figure Skating competition!

When I got married, I did not want to send out just a card with our names in it because I always thought those were kind of boring, and I didn't want to take the time to write a personal note in every single one! So, I started having our cat, Nutmeg, write our Christmas card every year from his perspective! If gave people an idea of what we were up to in a funny way so as not to sound like we were talking about how wonderful and perfect our lives are. I am planning to post a (very short) "Best of" series over the next day or so followed up with this year's Christmas letter. (I am not mailing out Christmas letters this year, unless I know it is a relative who does not have computer access. Last year I did not send out a letter because I had just had surgery, and the year before cost me a mint in postage!!) Do you do anything creative with your Christmas card or do you even do Christmas cards?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Baby Update!

Well, we just got back from our appointment, and we got to see the little one on ultrasound! We didn't get to find out whether or not it is a boy or girl because the ultrasound machine was not very high tech. We will find that out presumably January 8th. However, we did get to see that the little one has two arms, two legs, a beating heart, a brain, a bladder, a spine, ribs, etc, and I couldn't be more pleased!!

Can't see much here except its hand, legs, head, and brain, but I am pleased as punch!

I also got a chance to discuss with the doctor in more detail what options we are looking at for delivery. Last time I was in they found a concentration of Strep Group B in my urine. About 25% of the population are carries for Strep Group B. While this is not a problem for those carriers, it can, though rare, have potentially fatal consequences for babies born to those parents. Because of this, all pregnant women are now tested towards the end of their pregnancy for the presence of Strep Group B in the vagina. If they test positive they have to have penicillin during delivery to cut down on the risk to the baby. This is what happened when I was pregnant with Jessica. If I had tested negative this time, they probably would not have given me the penicillin, but since they found it so early in my urine, we do not pass go, and we do not collect $200. This means that I have a fairly concentrated colonization, so no matter what the tests say later I will be getting penicillin during delivery.

They have to give the penicillin to you in the form of an iv because otherwise too much of it is metabolized before it gets to where it needs to go, so I will be hooked up the entire delivery no matter what. They also like to give you at least two rounds before the delivery, which takes several hours. This was of concern to me because we suspect that delivery of this child will be less than 6 hours and we live almost an hour away from the hospital to begin with (David actually works even farther than that from the hospital). Therefore, we decided that although it is not medically necessary, it would be good idea to do a scheduled induction for this child to avoid any unnecessary risk of complications. The doctor also said that given what we know about Jessica's delivery, we will probably start me on the penicillin before we start me on the petocin (usually it is done the other way around) to make sure we get 2 rounds of penicillin in me before delivery. He said it was unlikely that we would do an induction before May 23 (the week before my due date); however, we will know more once May gets here and we can see how things are progressing.

I did not have an epidural with Jessica, and I had hoped to avoid an epidural and petocin with this one; however, I think given the available information, an induction is the best choice for the baby. I still hope to avoid an epidural again because I just do not like having drugs in my system if I can help it (It makes me feel weird); however, since each labor and delivery is different that is a decision that will have to wait for the labor and delivery room.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Family Planning

I have heard lots of discussion lately concerning the Duggars, probably because they are currently expecting their 19th child. This has also led to a lot of discussion about family planning: How large is ok? How far apart is best? etc. People are all unique right down to their fingerprints. Families are made up of these unique people so it stands to reason that families will also be completely unique. My husband grew up in your somewhat more traditional 2 parents, 1 boy, 1 girl, and a pet kind of family. I grew up the oldest in a family of 5 children, which is a little more unusual. (To make this post more interesting I am including a couple cute pictures of Jessica!)

Jessica at Publix with her best-friend! Sometimes it is difficult being friends with Jessica because she has so much exuberance for life that she can quickly overwhelm those around her. It is truly a beautiful thing to see!

I always did a lot of helping out. Large families have to be team efforts. Overall, I think that was a good experience for me because it taught me to be responsible, how to take care of a child, how to share, and that I wanted very much to prevent having a child until I was ready!! For a period of time while my mom was sick, I also had a great deal more responsibility that I would call raising children (to a degree). This was very different from what I had previously been accustomed to. I was concerned about what kind of adults they were going to turn into, that they learned certain self-help skills, that they learned appropriate social skills, etc. While I did not punish them, I did develop my own way of correcting problematic behaviors and decisions. To this day, I stalk my siblings on facebook and maintain close relationships with them. It has allowed me to be aware of choices that they might not share with Mom and Dad and take action to suggest possible consequences for those actions that they might not be thinking about. I really do see most of them as my children more so than my siblings. I still get a little misty eyed when looking at my graphing calculator that has lady bug stickers all over it from my baby brother, when I think about picking my baby brother up from school when he was in kindergarten and he would jump into my arms, and when I think about how very quickly he is growing into an adult. Do I think helping raise my siblings at that time was harmful to me or a disadvantage for me? Not in the slightest. Yes, there are aspects of my childhood I probably missed out on (being able to be carefree and completely self-absorbed); however, none of us gets to experience everything in life. I also believe that it brought great joy to my life to have siblings/children to share the journey of life with.

It amazes me how different these two girls are and yet how I can love both of their very different personalities!

All of that being said, do we want 19 children? No. In fact one of the things I am very cognizant of is could we still manage to care for our children in the event of a crisis? While I do love having lots of brothers and sisters and would like my own children to have the opportunity to have a bunch of live-in best friends to fight with, I think family size and timing is something that we will have to constantly re-evaluate as we go along. Some of it depends on how many we can handle and still maintain the type of family life we enjoy. Some of it depends on the needs of the children that come into our lives, and some of it depends on at what age we would like to be empty-nesters! No matter how many children we have, we are truly blessed to be given the opportunity to share our lives with such precious little ones as we help them grow into the adults God made them to be!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Thankful Jar

We have a new centerpiece on our table. It is our Thankful Jar. The idea is that every night at dinner it will remind us to have a prayer as a family, and each person (who can talk) will have to say something they are thankful for. If someone had a tough day and cannot think of something they are thankful for then they have to pull one from the jar. You might be thinking, "It sounds like a nice idea, but why are you doing this?" First and foremost, Jessica thinks you can only pray after reading a book, and we would like her to learn that you can pray at other times as well. More importantly though, I think it is a great opportunity to emphasize to our children that no matter what there is always something we can be thankful for, and I really want my children to learn to be thankful in all circumstances. Not only does it seem to make you a happier person, but it also seems to make you more content with the things you do have and not so concerned about the things you do not have.

I have also been giving some serious consideration to the purpose of prayer for several years now. It just did not make sense to me that we should ask our "Santa Claus in the sky" or our "Genie in a Bottle" for the desires of our heart and expect to get them because we asked. I have concluded that the purpose of prayer is actually to change us. When we thank God, it reminds us of all the things we have so we don't get hung up on what we do not have. When we tell God about the desires of our heart, it allows us to evaluate what is truly most important, His will not mine. When we share our joys and struggles with Him, it reminds us of who we are, and when we praise Him, it reminds us of who He is: The One who made it all including each of us, "flawed" in just the way He intended. It seemed to me that while all of these different aspects are important, the most developmentally appropriate one for a small child is being thankful; therefore, I created our Thankful Jar and stuffed it partially full with items that we can always be thankful for!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Our Tree Skirt

For the first several years we were married, I artfully draped leftover fabric under our tree as a skirt. Last year however I had a brainstorm! We had received a lovely table topper one year as a Christmas gift, but it just never looked right on our tables. So, last year I took out the scissors, made a cut from one corner to the center, serged the edges, and put it under the tree! I really like how it turned out!! I was going to turn the serged edges under and hem it, but I still haven't gotten around to it yet....maybe next year.....nahh! I would have included a picture of the tree. However, I have had lots of little kids over to the house recently, and I have been letting them redecorate the lower half of the tree (I only put soft or plastic ornaments on the bottom half). On Christmas Eve I intend on setting it right so it will be beautiful when we take pictures Christmas morning!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Front Porch Friday: Single Parent

I have been a single parent for the last couple days, an experience I rarely have. Jessica has been very good, and we have adjusted just fine. However, we are both very excited about having Daddy back!! Between getting ready for Christmas, birthday parties for Jessica's friends, and a baby shower for a friend down the street, it has been super busy!! Amazingly enough, I think it is all going to come together, and I have several new projects that I am looking forward to sharing next week! At some point our office needs to be cleaned out (all of the projects in progress have made quite a mess), and at some point I need to take some pictures of Jessica! Things have been so busy lately, I haven't taken a lot of pictures, and I think the family is beginning to wonder what she looks like these days!! Now off to make some to come later!