Sunday, October 17, 2010

Catching up

Blogging has been so far from my mind these past few months. I guess you can say I've been busy with the 4 kids and preparing for Number Five but, the truth is, it's mostly my brain that's been in overdrive.

Just about every week, I make a new list of things that need to be done before Number Five gets here. And, nearly every week, the list gets longer, instead of shorter. And the house gets messier. And the kids get crazier. And my body gets bigger. And the budget gets tighter. You get the picture.

I'm a few days short of 31 weeks pregnant, and my goal has always been to finish preparing by 37 weeks. That's SO not happening! While I'm very glad to know deep down that all I REALLY need is a car seat, a few outfits, some cloth diapers, and my boobs (and I have all but the car seat right now), my brain won't shut off when it comes to all of the secondary gear.

But it gets crazier than that. For one thing, my due date is 3 days before Christmas. When I consider my history of going into spontaneous labor at 1 day past my EDD, all the way up to being induced at 13 days past my EDD, I get panicky about having my water break while trying to fill stockings.

On top of that, it was recently announced that my midwives will stop catching babies in the only hospital I feel comfortable in TWO DAYS before my due date. As much as I loathe the thought of another induction, I feel myself starting to give in to the idea, which is making me even more stressed, when I thought it would do the opposite.

But there are positive things going on, too!

After what felt like ages of alternating between avoiding naming conversations and fighting about them, we're pretty sure Number Five has a name! Having had plenty of experience with judgments that make naming an even more difficult process, I won't be revealing this one until the ink dries on the birth certificate. All I'll say is that I finally gave in to breaking my two-syllable rule. I did stick to my guns on keeping everyone's first initial unique, though!

And the best current news of all is that the husband and I will be celebrating our 10th anniversary tomorrow. 10 wonderful, crazy, trying, exciting, eventful, stressful, hysterical, busy years of laughter and tears with my very best friend. I have no idea how we've managed it, but I can't wait to see how the next decade unfolds!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Back to normal

It has been so... interesting, trying to get back to normal around here.

For a couple of months, we were turned upside down by injuries and the idea of a new baby. Then we were turned inside out by the prospect of losing a baby. And then the joy of discovering all was well was a bit shadowed by all of the things we needed to catch up on after such a chaotic time!

Finally, our 2010/2011 school year is closed out (J received an excellent evaluation, by the way!), the laundry is almost caught up, the clutter is... being worked on, and we're all able to BREATHE again!

Through all of this craziness, we did manage to celebrate 3 birthdays (4, if you count mine), with another one (2, if you count the husband's) next month. Suddenly, all of the kids seem so OLD! J, with his tween attitude, H and M with their insane growth spurts, and even C, with his exploding vocabulary and stubborn independent streak.

I know that, if I weren't pregnant right now, I'd probably be satisfied with this new stage of parenting, in and of itself. But now I'm starting to get really excited about watching the first four grow up while still getting one more chance to cuddle a newborn!

And then I'm reminded that I will have a kindergartener and a college student at the same time, and I start to get all nervous again!!!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

The call

My anxiety over these test results really began to soar Wednesday night. As much as I hated the waiting, I figured waiting was better than bad news. Our genetics counselor had told us to expect the results on Friday, but be prepared to possibly wait until Monday. The husband arranged to stay home on Friday so I wouldn't be alone with 4 kids and the news. So I set out to make Thursday as calm and relaxing as possible. There was a good chance it would be the last day to resemble any sort of normal for quite a while.

Thursday morning, I watched my younger 3 fly construction paper kites and build a "pool" out of garbage bags while J caught up with the sports channel. I sipped my coffee while surfing the internet and wishing my baby sister a happy birthday. When I got up for a refill around 9:30, I decided to grab my cell phone from the charger upstairs. And then I saw the Missed Call icon.

At 8:57, the office had tried to contact me. My voice mail was blinking.

I took the phone into the bathroom, afraid I was going to throw up. I wasn't prepared to get this call yet. The husband wouldn't be home until after the kids were in bed. I probably would have been better off waiting to listen, but I just couldn't.

"Hi. This is Kay, from 'ABC Baby Place'. I'm calling with good news...."

And then I just started bawling. "Good news." I hadn't really planned for those words. My 9 days of researching convinced me that my energy would be better spent putting that idea aside. My numbers were just too far off to cling very hard to that hope.

"You indicated on your paperwork that you'd like to know the sex. If you've changed your mind, hang up now!"

After finding out the sex of J, H, M, and C, I had been trying to convince the husband that this tie-breaker should be a surprise. He wasn't really going for it, and, faced with all of this pain, I had checked off the "yes" box. I guess that was my little bit of hope shining through. I might have hung up if my tiny BlackBerry keys hadn't been so blurry.

Our baby has 23 evenly matched sets of XY chromosomes. The boys win!

I called the husband and gave him the news while he was with a client. There was no way I'd be able to wait until he got home! I'm not sure how the client reacted to his choked up sniffles, lol.

We're having a baby boy. Our lives can get back to our version of normal. I can start shopping for a baby who will be coming home.

And I can actually look forward to the knock-down, drag-out fight that we call baby naming. :-)

9 weeks ago, my positive pregnancy test scared the hell out of me. It took me nearly 2 months to make the news public. I was afraid of other people's reactions, but I think I was also afraid to make it "real" to myself. And now I'm just so elated that I want the entire world to know how much I'm looking forward to meeting Number Five.

I'm so damn excited that I have enough left over for Number Six and Number Seven if need be! Well, not really. But close!

It's a beautiful Friday.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The scariest thing yet

I don't actually believe in jinxes, but I'm getting close.

Just days after making taking this pregnancy public, we got the first trimester screening results back. There was no real reason to suspect any issues. I'm barely 33. I have 4 healthy kids. The ultrasound went well. I went for the screening mostly to see the baby and put my mind at ease.

I knew this screening came with a "high false positive" rate, and I accepted that. Women are encouraged to have additional testing when the results for Downs or Trisomy 18 or 13 are around 1:100 or so. My results for Trisomy 18 or 13 were 1:<5. Trisomy 18 and Trisomy 13 are considered incompatible with life.

We did chose to follow up with CVS testing. The procedure was scary enough in and of itself, but I'd do 100 more if I could trade away this waiting. 3-7 more days to go.

I can't really say much more other than I'm numb. I've chosen to be numb because it makes the time pass a little easier. As hard as the waiting is, I'm afraid it may be even harder later.

I hope this story has a happy ending. And I hope I can find the strength to get my family through this if it doesn't.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

It's Facebook official

I had a family event to attend yesterday, and I knew I was going to look huge. After carrying 4 babies, the stomach muscles are no longer all that interested in holding back a 12 week fetus! And after having lost so much weight about two years ago, I really didn't want people thinking I was *only* getting fat. So I had to spill the beans.

Announcing a 5th baby has been an awkward experience for me. Large-ish families are so controversial, and I already hear all the usual comments with "just" my 4. To top it off, I feel like I'm surrounded by people who have lost babies and who are trying to have babies (or both), which adds a huge dose of guilt. Thankfully, I seem to have pulled off my "I dare you" attitude well, because I've gotten nothing but congratulations that at least appear to be genuine.

I still haven't completely adjusted to this whole idea, myself. I had an ultrasound the other day that confirmed we are having a human baby and not a litter of puppies. That was good. I've thumbed through my fabric stash to plan for more cloth diapers. And I wore a complete maternity outfit yesterday. It's almost becoming real.

Of course, my little demons are busy being little demons, and I'm somewhat afraid that 5 will be able to pull off a successful mutiny. Then again, by the time I have another toddler, I will also have 14, 10, 9, and 5 year olds. SOMEONE will make sure I get an occasional nap, right?

It's just after 6am now. The crew is still asleep while I sit here, on my front porch, overlooking my little yard littered with scooters, bats, balls, kiddie chairs, and Little Tykes pieces. It's kinda cute. And there actually is plenty of room for more.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My legitimate excuse

I know I said I was going to do better with this blog thing, and I really did mean it! But there was a glitch. Or several.

For one thing, I'm 7 weeks into recovering from a fractured foot and sprained ankle. After surrendering my house to 4 children, a husband with long hours, 2 cats, and 2 dogs, this place became a real pit. Which is saying a lot, since I'm no Suzy Homemaker to begin with.

As I began to recover, I began doing a little more around the house. As I began doing more around the house, my recovery began slowing down. And so on and so forth. And now my house is a REAL real pit and I fear I'll never catch up on laundry, let alone the ever growing gob of toothpaste (and whatever else has stuck inside of it) in the kids' bathroom sink. We won't discuss dishes.

On a positive note, I no longer require crutches. Which is good, because J is using them now. He has been diagnosed with Severs Disease, which I still don't fully understand, but have come to learn is not nearly as scary as it sounds. He's out of commission for the next two weeks, which happen to be the final two weeks of baseball season. :-(

Have I mentioned that I've still been hauling all of the kids to baseball 3-5x/wk on this bum foot? That's been fun. We'll continue to attend the next few games so J can support his team, but I'll be so glad when it's over!

We're also in the home stretch of our homeschool year. We tend to continue school in bits and pieces through the summer but, legally, J's paperwork should be wrapped up next week. His evaluation needs to be done and his portfolio has to be submitted. Also, I have to get H's paperwork in soon, so we can count summer work toward the '10/'11 school year. It'll be her first year on the record!

Summer work is important this year, because I intend to take a LOT of time off in December and January, for the exact reason I've been ignoring my blog. I'm finally ready to make the announcement.

We're having another baby!

So, yeah, all of the above has been combined with health concerns, nausea, and extreme exhaustion.

Fortunately, we've determined that F (for Fetus) is in the right spot. The nausea is subsiding for the most part, and the exhaustion is probably best for my foot, anyway.

And now that I've got that off my chest, I need to start looking for a new excuse for being a lazy blogger.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Insert interesting title here (or not)

Oh. Em. Gee.
10 days on the injured list and I'm ready to scream! But I'm miserable enough dealing with it. I don't want to write about it, too.

Instead, I'll write about one of my homeschooling weaknesses. My favorite homeschool weakness, in fact.
I love sarcastic answers.
H may be the queen of sarcastic answers for the K-4 set. Unfortunately, I find it too entertaining (and sometimes even impressive) to make a big deal of it.

Name something that is about 12". A foot.
Explain the difference between multiplication and division. Multiplication multiplies and division divides.
Is 2x4 more or less than 3x3? Yes.
Why do you think so-and-so did such-and-such? Because that's what it says on page 5.

Today, she handed me a worksheet with every "answer" marked "Not fare". (Yeah, I know. We'll get on homophones eventually.) I couldn't wait to examine her reasoning.

Instead, I was confronted with another one of my homeschool weaknesses - attention to detail. I had handed her a worksheet from next week's lesson.

Friday, April 16, 2010

I have brats

Being stuck on my derriere is hell. And that's SO not fair, because I'm always dreaming about doing nothing but sitting on my ass. This is supposed to be my chance to fulfill that dream.

Instead, I get to spend the time staring at all of my housekeeping and parenting inadequacies. As I type, my children are wearing filthy clothes, ignoring my orders to brush their teeth, and I think M is actually lost in her bedroom.

Oh, wait. H is reporting that M got in the car with the husband.

Okay, confirmed.

Don't get me wrong. My kids have been more than willing to fetch me things. The olders have been happy to feed the "baby" and the pets. They've managed to wash a few dishes as needed (or reuse when especially lazy) and have stayed out of serious danger, for the most part.

But anything else? Fair game. Because what's Mom going to do about it, anyway? Her crutches only reach so far.

Boy, are they in for a world of hurt when I'm mobile!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I never learn my lessons

H likes to play outside in heels. I'm forever telling her not to, and she's forever sneaking them out the door. How could I ever have thought she was going to be my tomboy?

I make her compromise fashion for safety because the majority of our property is covered in rocks. Big rocks, little rocks, stone pathways, slate stepping stones... It's like we live in a quarry.

3 or 4 years ago, almost to the day, I went running down our stone pathway and sprained my ankle.

I may not remember the exact year, but I do remember sitting in H&R Block with crutches. It wasn't 2 years ago, because I didn't have a baby when it happened. It wasn't 5 years ago, because we didn't live here then.
I know it doesn't really matter, but it's bothering me that I can't remember whether this was 3 or 4 years ago.
Which is probably the Vicodin talking.
Because, on Monday, I went running down our stone pathway and broke my foot.

Maybe I should try wearing heels next time.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Today's lesson

I am so tired.
I'm physically and mentally worn out, just from existing. No legitimate reason, simply fried.

So today's biggest homeschool lesson involved teaching the children how to type "hEllo" and "BOOB" on the calculator. Far be it from me to deny them this important skill.

Tomorrow's lesson: Spitballs

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I love Max

When I first heard about the new series Parenthood, I was excited to see a "normal" show in the works. Then I heard a little more and decided it was going to be boring. THEN my sister reminded me about the premiere, and I had an empty slot on my TiVo. And that's how I fell in love with Max.

I'm still not sure how I feel about the show as a whole, but I have to admit that I'm fascinated by Max's story and the family's journey through his Asperger's diagnosis.

J was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome more than 6 1/2 years ago. I can't even begin to wrap my mind around that fact. I can barely remember a time when I didn't know, or at least suspect. And yet, I can't believe it's been so many years.

My kid chooses a Yankee wardrobe over a pirate costume, and he was pulled out of school rather than kicked out, but so much of Max IS my kid.

My family didn't get all kumbaya and what not while going through evaluations, but we all dealt with so many of the same thoughts, emotions and fears, and the show is navigating them beautifully.

The biggest difference between J and Max is baseball. Max didn't want to play. J is obsessed with becoming a Yankee.

A couple of years ago, J joined our local Challengers League - Little League for special needs kids. J asked to quit within weeks, and we let him. I thought it was because he felt it was too hard. I'm not a big fan of quitting, but I've always had to pick my battles with J, and I did (and do) believe that those battles should be reserved for the important life skills he'll need to work extra hard on. Baseball didn't fit that category.

This year, J begged to try out for "real" Little League, and my stomach immediately tied itself in knots. He's 11 years old. His LL peers have been playing since before they could read, and J can't seem to walk across an open floor without tripping.

The husband, the ex and I had many serious conversations about this, and we all worried about J taking on a competitive sport, particularly one he loved so much. If he didn't measure up against the rest of the players, he would be crushed. And a crushed Aspie can transfer that emotion to EVERY SINGLE aspect of their lives. But we decided to risk it and sign him up for tryouts. The kid who can't ride a bike, or even tie his shoes well.

My extraordinary husband volunteered to take J, which was great, because I was going to make him anyway. I was too afraid I might tell J the school had burned down or baseball had been outlawed half way there. Or worse, that I'd get there and throw up on a coach's shoes. I knew J had to go through this experience, but he sure as hell didn't need me making it worse.

So J and the husband took off early to watch the younger kids try out. There was a flurry of text messages between the two of us while I stayed on the phone with the ex, relaying messages and venting my nervousness.

J was looking a little green.
The husband spoke to the LL president about J's "situation".
J was being given a separate tryout to see "what he had".

And then J called me to let me know he'd made the minor league team!

It turns out, the kid is a decent ball player, with real potential as a pitcher (the position he covets).
Which means the husband, the ex and I had seriously underestimated the child.
Which means it was an exhilarating moment mixed with some serious guilt.

I'm left wondering what else I've overlooked in these past 6 1/2 years. Have I held him back from other opportunities and desires? Have I pushed him to accept defeat by default in other areas where he could have excelled? I'll probably never know.

What I do know is that I have one very excited son. He can't stop talking about, writing about, or watching shows about baseball. I'm not ready to buy into the idea that he will be a Yankee one day, but I sure won't count it out. I won't count anything out!

Meanwhile, the writers of Parenthood have put Max in an astronomically expensive special school. The average parents of similar children do not have the access or the finances to do such a thing. I hope they plan to bring things back to reality by highlighting not just the gifts that these kids possess, but the incredible (and not so incredible) surprises they bring. I have enough material to get them through 6 1/2 seasons.

But first, I have to tell my 11yo child that his button down jersey is on backwards.

Monday, March 15, 2010

There are better things to fight about

If you weren't already aware, my husband and I are atheists. That doesn't necessarily mean we're raising our children to be atheists, despite our parents' (irrational) fears. Instead, we take more of a "free thinkers" method, though I didn't realize it had a name until I read Dale McGowan's Raising Freethinkers.

Since we began homeschooling, we've been studying history chronologically and science from an evolutionary stand point*. Since we're just now getting toward the year 1CE, we've yet to really dig in to Christianity and have only briefly touched on other "modern" religions. The majority of our focus has been on the ancient religions of the middle eastern and eastern world and standard physical science.
*My 11yo has obviously had more time than the girls studying history and science before being homeschooled, but we all know how school textbooks typically deal with these things.

Despite not being raised to be good little (enter any religion here), my children have managed to translate what they know to a broader concept.

J and I were having a conversation in the car, discussing whether it was feasible to be both Jewish and Christian (his father's family is Jewish and mine is Christian). Rather than give him an answer, I gave him a few contradicting points to consider. H and M were quick to take offense.

"Stop fighting. It isn't okay to fight about religion!"

I found it fascinating that 1, they would consider our calm, polite conversation to be 'fighting' and 2, that they - my 'unsocialized and sheltered' little girls - intuitively understood the personal nature of belief and the hurt that can be caused by (perceived or real) challenges to those beliefs.

Obviously I need to work on explaining the differences between discussion, debate, and fights. Our upcoming lessons on the Roman invasion of Britain should prove interesting. And as they continue to prepare for Tooth Fairy visits while questioning the plausibility of Santa Clause, I really have no idea where their world view will end up. But I'm pretty confident in their ability to determine what makes sense to them while respecting the ideas that lead others to different conclusions.

As of right now, J is still determined to mesh Christianity with Judaism. H labels herself a polytheist. M is determined to find fairies and C worships whoever holds the cookies. If they can manage to live together and respect each other (at least on this point, lol), how is it that so many adults have so much trouble doing so?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A whole bunch of nothing

So I decided to log in this morning and report that I've been a lazy sack, up to nothing for the past 4 months or so. Then I thought about it and realized that "nothing" includes:

1. Chasing a 2yo
2. Chasing a 2yo while educating 3 kids
3. Chasing a 2yo while doing laundry
4. Chasing a 2yo while volunteering in my community
5. Chasing a 2yo while volunteering as a Parent Community Coordinator's assistant for Foundation Beyond Belief
6. Chasing a 2yo while doing dishes
7. Chasing a 2yo while revamping the household budget
8. Chasing a 2yo while planning next years curricula
9. Chasing a 2yo while practicing more home cooking
10. Chasing a 2yo while playing Word Twist on Facebook
11. Chasing a 2yo while (finally) reading The Omnivore's Dilema and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
12. Chasing a 2yo while adjusting to the husband's new job responsibilities
13. Chasing a 2yo while reorganizing my pantry
14. Chasing a 2yo while (repeatedly) plunging toilets
15. Chasing a 2yo while trying to potty train said 2yo

My baby turns 3 in less than 2 months. I have very mixed feelings about that. On one hand, I'm ready to be done with the terrible twos. On the other hand, feeling I probably don't have the strength to raise any more 2yos, it's difficult to accept that this is the last time I'll ever do so.

Instead, I'm focusing on learning how to raise chickens, goats and sheep. Society doesn't expect me to potty train them, so surely it's a whole lot easier!

We've had a little taste of Spring these past few days, and I'm really hoping that will pull me out of my winter depression (which I don't believe actually exists, and yet I truly believe I do have) enough to play on my blog more often. Don't hold me to it!