Dinner helpers

Dinner helpers, originally uploaded by groftzoo.

I’m getting started a few days late on this 365 picture blog, but I am sure I will catch up with more than one picture per day at least a few times. (I started today then backtracked Jan 2, 3, and 4)

Today was a hectic one, as I spent a lot of time updating and adding some new features to my blogs, and dinner suffered. Especially since Jay was going to grill and he didn’t end up getting home until well after dinner. Thankfully Paisley was around to lend an extra set of hands tonight, and Molly and Lily were there to “help” make salad.

So in the end, we all got fed.

Kids update, Early 2011

And now to catch you up with the rest of the family!

Paisley and James are navigating early adulthood’s bumpy waters, neither one took us seriously when we told them we weren’t paying for college or a car and now they have to figure those out on their own.  But they are around a lot and still love to be with the little ones and spend time with the family.  So for all their mistakes, they seem to have the basics of family love figured out.  Paisley lives about 5 miles away and is over often.

Posy (15) has been paying attention to how things have played out with P&J and is working very hard in school and hoping to get scholarships.  She is even saving for a car.  She works hard with the youth group (and has a bit of fun there too), sings in the choir for the evening Mass, and is planning to go on a mission trip to Mexico in February.

Ben (13) is a comedian, we switched his school this year and it was perfect for him.  Praise God!  He is blooming in his new environment.  He has great friends, good teachers, and is smarter than is good for him.

Tessa (8) is a sweetheart.  Every week several people come up to me and tell me how she went out of her way to brighten their day or say something nice.  She really knows how to lift people’s spirits.  Around the house, though, she can be a bossy little know-it-all.  But it really is just because she wants things done properly in the best way for everyone.  We’re working on more diplomacy around here.

Max (6) lives on his own little musical planet.  He has learned most of the beatles songs inside and out, he figures out songs on the piano, and he loves to play video games.  We have to limit his screen time because he gets very emotional when he has had too much.

Lily (3) is a firecracker and a half.  She is outgoing when she wants to be, never plays with toys, is always in my face about something and is FINALLY weaned.  She was recently diagnosed with asthma as well and is finally not coughing at night.  She and Molly are inseparable.

Molly (1) my fussiest baby by far.  She has been a bit of a puzzle medically, with allergies, reflux and asthma, all sorted out except the asthma.  She seems to be verbally delayed, but has very good receptive language skills and excellent sign language.  So for now she tested out of services.  She also won’t eat solid foods.  She is smart as a whip, and stubborn as a mule.  She is a serious baby, and saves her smiles for when she really means it.

This crew keeps me hopping every day, running people here and there takes up most of my time, and laundry and cooking take up the rest of it.  But we have a great family and James was recently quoted by our priest in a homily about large families.  He said something to the effect of there is always enough love to go around, and even if they don’t have the stuff they might want, the love multiplies and keeps everyone happy.

Our older kids like to be around the younger ones and will spend time with me and my husband on purpose.

So I have a feeling that somehow, we will all make it through this alright.  🙂

Zoo Week in Review

This past week was a busy one – but then most weeks are – this just had a different flavor of busyness.  There was a storm that blew through the city and dropped a little rain, leaving the air with a cooler feel and the skies darker.  Around here, things just felt stormy as well.

A few tidbits:
There is almost $4000 damage to our van from the recent hailstorm here, but everyone has their car in the shops already so we are waiting a week or two to send ours in.  At least it wasn’t totaled.  Some of our friends found themselves car shopping once the insurance had a gander at their cars.  For now we are just a big gray golfball, hurling through the city.

We endured a fair bit of drama from Ben’s school this week. It seems that my jokester son and a couple of his friends had tried to reach out and include a child they judged as lonely, which can aparently get a person in trouble for “Bullying”.  The school conceded that it was probably more like “Pestering”, which, knowing my son, is not so far out of his league.  To me, Bullying encompasses threats, fear, and physical harm.  Pestering, on the other hand has more to do with unwanted fart noises and other 13 year old boy jokes.  So after many hours of discussions, phone calls, written accounts, emails, and commiserating with other parents, the issue is declared DONE and we can all move on.  But it sure ate up a lot of my week.

My birthday was this week!  (I’m not 40 yet.  That’s all I’ll say!)  A few years ago I managed to finally give up my childish idea that my birthday should be a national holiday and just came to expect a normal day with a few nice surprises in it.  And so it was.  Mostly.  A friend brought me chocolate, my mother in law gave me a little money to spend on myself, and Paisley stopped by with a chai latte and flowers.  Jay took me to lunch and got me more flowers and a card.  (Lest you think that was all he did, he also schlepped all around my favorite mall with me last Saturday and got me a nice pair of shoes.)  So my day was going along swimmingly until I opened my email.

In my email was a notice from the older kids school (yes, the one I was already having issues with this week) informing the families that they had selected a new campus.  Yay for them, Boo for me.  This new campus is two and a half times further from us than the current one.  I already spend 2.5 hours per day just in getting my kids to and from schools and the thought of extending that…  Ugh.  How can I look at my younger children, learning about the world and developing their bodies and tell them that they have to spend 3-4 hours per day strapped down in the car?

For this and other reasons, this just would not be a feasible arrangement for us.  So I proceeded to freak out entirely. (Which involved crying for about 2 days.)

Since then I have calmed down quite a bit, and all is not settled with this move for this school.  There is still quite a bit of time before I will really need to panic (or otherwise figure out what to do) and I am resolved once again to let the future be the future.

In other news around here, Molly has added in several baby signs.  She signs: nurse, eat, drink, dog, thank you, cat, bird, more, shoes, and I think she has done all done and blanket at least a couple times too.  She has grasped this concept that she can communicate with us so readily that she wants to be able to tell us more.  She will fling her arms around trying to tell us something, but she can’t figure out which sign to use.  Then there was grocery shopping. Because she can tell us what she wants now, she is more likely to get it, so she got so frustrated when we walked through an aisle with lots of cups and she couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t give her a drink when she signed it over and and over!

She also really likes baths and was on a mission to get one today.  She fell into the (empty) tub once, and then later managed to remove her diaper and try to climb into the toilet while Posy was in the bathroom curling her hair.

Molly also experienced her first oreo cookie today.  I hoped she would get all chocolated and gross, but she was a pretty dainty eater.  She first removed the top cookie, proving she is a genius, and licked at the filling a little.
 Molly's First Oreo

She decided she didn’t like that a whole lot, so she scraped that off the bottom cookie and just worked on eating that part.

Molly's First Oreo

Finally, she got to the cookie part.  She made a little slobbery mess with it, but not too bad.  I guess the real mess with have to wait for her First Birthday Cake.  (Two more weeks!)

Molly's First Oreo
In other news Max and Tessa got rave reviews at their teacher conferences, although Max’s teacher said he has a hard time remembering not to sing all the time.

Jay hurt his back again, and has been hobbling around in pain all week.

And I managed to mess up the garage a little more in and effort to clean the garage.  Which I know sounds counter-intuitive, but is really progress.  I have to dig out all the clutter-infection to clean the wound so to speak.

And that, if you can believe it, is just a small sampling of what went on around here this week.

Checking in

I’m not going to start this post with another apology that it has been so long since I posted and make a bunch of excuses about it.  My whole life is an excuse not to write while at the same time being ripe pickings for juicy blogging goodness.  So here I am, taking a few not-so-spare moments to check in here.

The last post was about Molly’s ailments.  I am happy to report that we have some resolution to a little of those.  About a month ago she tested negative to all her previous positive allergy tests.  She was still having trouble swallowing food at the time and tended to choke and vomit when she tried to eat.  But with the lifting of the threat of an allergic reaction, we were able to offer her a wider variety of foods and came up with some she was willing to practice her eating on.  That was victory number one.  Next she underwent an endoscopy to check for the extent of her GERD, gastrointestinal allergies, eosinophilic esophagitis and celiac.  We just got the results back today that she is clear of all of those, except the GERD.  This was the best possible news we could get from that test. Victory number two.

And while I don’t want to claim it yet as victory number three, I just got her to go to bed without nursing to sleep.  (Silent cheering!)

I would love to say that the rest of my life is boring right now, but it is only boring in the typing of it.  My days are filled with driving the big kids here and there and spending the quiet moments sitting on the floor with Molly and Lily and enjoying their littleness.  It is so tempting to get pulled away from that to go do things that look more important, but given the choice this is still where I want to be.  Getting to the end of the day and finding that my to do list has grown instead of shrunk is not any big problem (although it can be frustrating) and a day will come soon when I have plenty of time to clean my house and no nursing and rocking left to do.

Which reminds me, just tonight, as I rocked and nursed Molly, she stopped nursing, sat up and gave me a kiss.  Then she giggled and went back to nursing.  She did it two more times right after that.  It was very sweet.

The Medical Mystery That is Molly

Miss Molly has been a puzzle from day one.  First, she broke up the whole girl, boy, girl, boy pattern.  Then there was the medical drama of her first day, and she hasn’t quit trying to keep us on our toes ever since.

She began as one of those run of the mill fussy babies.  Screamy might define her a bit better.  From birth she could be heard across the house even without a baby monitor.  She is a zero-to-sixty crier.  She is either content or screaming.  There is no middle ground.  Her cry is something between a fire alarm and the screeching of a Ringwraith.

Around 2 months old she added coughing to her repertoire.  Her cough was dry, breathy, and most troubling of all – constant.  I have heard that cough before in asthma kids after running or jumping around.  I asked around to see if she could have environmental allergies, but was assured by many people that it takes 2-3 seasons of exposure before those kinds of allergies can develop.  We waited a bit to see if it was just a mild cold , but after a couple months we caved in and took her to see an allergist.

During a grueling two hour appointment, Molly was tested for both environmental and food allergies.  Many of the environmental ones came up strongly positive. (One of the allergists later told me she had the worst environmental allergies of any baby she has seen.)  And the big surprise was that she tested strongly positive for several foods as well.  She was 4 months old at the time.  We left the allergist office with several prescriptions including asthma medications and an Epipen Jr. and one very shocked mommy.  Around the same time we also began (with great success) treating her for GERD, which reduced her fussiness.

Over the last couple of months we have dealt with two major asthma attacks, some asthma misinformation from a well-meaning pediatrician (which caused the second attack) and muddled conclusions with regards to the food allergies. 

So for now we have established an asthma baseline for Molly’s maintenance medications, and her GI doctor and Allergist both agree that she should remain Top 8 Free with regards to foods for at least her first year, if not longer.  (The Top 8 Food Allergens are: milk, soy, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish, plus apples and chicken, which she has tested positive to, and pears which she seems to have failed on trial.)  It has been hard to get used to having to give daily medications to a child who looks so well, but we have seen the repercussions of taking her off the medications.  The truth is that she is well because of those meds.

Other than that, Molly is doing amazing!  She is nearly 9 months old now, completely uninterested in solid food, crawling fast, and determined to figure out how to walk.  She waves Bye-bye and says Mama, Dada, Buhbuh, and Nana – which may or may not mean anything depending on what she is pointing at and who she is talking to.  She is a serious baby and saves her smiles for those who really earn them, and she LOVES to swim.  When we put her on the top step in the pool she will scooch her butt off the step and into the water and “swim” to us.  It’s very cute!

Molly’s First Day

Sort of a continuation of her birth story:

Once Molly was out and breathing well and we had all settled into bed, the midwife mentioned that she heard a heart arrhythmia.  She had heard it during my labor but had thought it was just Molly moving around.  So she hung around for quite a while – the whole rest of the night and checked up on Molly periodically.  She left sometime between 8 or 9am and told us to get Molly in to see the pediatrician that day to check out her heart sounds.

We took Molly to see one of the pediatricians in our practice (not one we usually see, our first mistake) and had him take a look.  He said she sounded fine, but didn’t specify if he heard the arrhythmia.  And we didn’t ask. (Our second mistake.)  So we went home thinking all was fine and tried to get some rest.  Carol (midwife) came to check up on us at 7pm and wasn’t at all satisfied with the pediatrician’s reaction.  She could still hear the arrhythmia (and so could we, it was pretty obvious) and really wanted Molly to have an EKG.  Apparently as babies switch from womb to outside, there can be a little trouble for some little hearts.  She was really concerned that Molly was headed for such trouble.

Off to Phoenix Children’s Hospital Urgent Care we went.  They did a 3 line EKG, but weren’t satisfied that Molly was out of the woods.  They called ahead to get Molly a spot in the PCH NICU and sent us there so that Molly could have a 12 line EKG and see a cardiologist.  By this point I had been awake for over 42 hours with just a few snoozes and had given birth besides.  To say I was beside myself is such and understatement.  I SOBBED the whole way to the hospital.  I had no tissues and had to use my sling to wipe my face.  I was worried about Molly and I was so tired I couldn’t even think straight anymore.

We arrived at PCH a little after 11pm.  We were ushered through the flu-infested ER straight to the NICU and to a cozy little corner to call our own.  I had a recliner to sit in and a little barrier to provide some privacy.  Molly’s little isolette was right in our area and her nurse had a desk right there as well.  The lovely nurse-practitioner did her best to calm me down and answer all of our questions.  We decided that Jay should go home and get some sleep and come back to the hospital after getting the other kids off to school in the morning.

Molly was hooked up to all sorts of monitors and we settled in for a breastfeeding marathon and the long night began to tick by moment by moment.  I was informed that I could not sleep in the recliner while holding Molly.  But every time I set her down in the isolette she would cry.  So I held her through the night and caught 10 minutes of sleep when the nurse wasn’t looking.

Getting a 12 line EKG on a newborn is no easy task.  Her skin had not been washed yet and so the adhesives didn’t stick to her well and the probes would fall right off.  Then she was moving around and not wanting to be put down, so they couldn’t get a good read on her.  We tried three separate times (about 2 hours apart) before we finally got her still enough, and we still had to hold each and every probe on her.  She also got a rash from the contact with the adhesive.  Great.  But we finally got enough of a read on her and then I just waited for morning and for the cardiologist.  It was a very, very long night.

The cardiologist came through early in the morning, 6am I think, and talked with me and cleared her.  He said the arrhythmia was just a little hiccup in the top part of her heart and that she could have it her whole life and never suffer any ill effects.  But if it had been in the lower part then it would have been a concern and could be serious, so it was good that we brought her in.

Around 8:30 Jay came in.  I don’t think I have ever been so happy to see him in my life.  Finally I changed clothes and told him all about my night.  By 9:30 we were on our way home with our healthy little girl, ready to finally get some sleep.

Molly’s Birth Story

Well, she’s 8 months old now, it’s about time I got this posted.

November 3rd – I woke up and noticed throughout the morning that my usual braxton hicks contractions were different. They had a sharper, more painful quality to them.  They didn’t seem to be coming any closer, and I didn’t feel like timing them to see it they were.  I figured that if they really started to grab my attention I would start timing them.  But the contractions were persistent, even if they weren’t all that painful, so in the early afternoon I called Carol, my midwife, to let her know what was going on – that the contractions had changed, and I really thought that labor would begin in earnest in the middle of the night.  She told me to keep her posted and I went about my day.

I picked the kids up from school as usual and found that being in the car made the contractions not only stronger, but settle into a timeable pattern.  While I was driving they were about 6-7 minutes apart, still light enough to talk through.  At about 4pm I told Posy that things were probably started and I canceled our dinner plans.  Jay was already home from work and had started getting the pool set up.  I called a friend and asked if the kids could come to their house for dinner to give us some down time and see how things developed.  By 5:30pm, when we were supposed to have friends over for dinner, the contractions were good and strong and I knew for sure we were on our way.

But my labors have a way of hesitating, so I wasn’t sure I wanted Carol to come over just yet.  But since she had missed Lily’s birth, she convinced me to let her come over then and check me and just be there with us for a while.

My labor built very slowly through the evening.  At some point the kids came back home and were put to bed in their own rooms.  I labored on the birth ball a lot and paced when I felt like it.  Around 9:30pm, Carol siad she would like me to try laying on my left side for a while to see if that helped the labor or at least let me get some rest.  I had wanted to keep moving to keep the power in the contractions, but I agreed with her that some rest would be a good idea.

Wow.  Once I was on my left side there was no rest to be had.  Jay laid down with me and dozed, but my contractions took off like crazy.  They immediately went to about 3 minutes apart and took all my concentration.  Sometime around 11, I decided that if I had this lovely pool all ready to go to help ease my pain, I might as well use it.

I got into the pool and Jay supported me from outside of it. I labored in there until past midnight and eventually started pushing. But the water was on the hotter end of birth pool temperatures (probably 101-102) and I was working hard, so I got very hot and uncomfortable.  It finally started to make me a bit dizzy.  Jay said that seemed to alarm Carol when I said I was dizzy. She told me to get out of the pool and finish pushing the baby out on the floor or bed.  But as soon as I turned over to move and get out, Molly moved down a bunch.  It was too late to go anywhere.

So I knelt, facing the wall of the pool and pushed like crazy.  I kind of roared as she came out.  The position I was in made it very hard for the the midwife to catch her, so Molly popped out, almost all at once, just into the water.  As soon as she was out the midwife could reach her and she pulled her up out of the water while I turned over.  Pushing had only lasted about 15 minutes once I got serious about it.  She was born a little after midnight on November 4th.

Molly was retracting some and snorting, so we moved out of the pool right away and they cut the cord and gave her some oxygen.  Immediately upon receiving the oxygen though she recovered and started to breath properly.  She was a teeny little thing at only 6 lbs, 12 oz, 19 inches long.


Is it Twenty-ten or Two thousand ten?

Either way it is a new year and time to put in an update around here.  As is my custom, I have slacked off entirely on writing for a while – some four months to be exact, which is a bit of a record slack off around here.  But I have lots of lovely (and a few not so lovely) excuses.

1. Molly Catherine was born at home, in the water, on November 4th.

2. Molly is a handful.  She started out with a bang by sending us to the NICU for her first day with some heart arrhythmias that needed to be figured out.  Thankfully all was well.  But she has kept us hopping by being very vocal about her needs.  I suppose one has to be vocal, being an 8th child.  But she is beautiful and healthy and is now settling nicely into life outside the womb.

3. Besides taking care of a newborn, we have 4 schools to contend with this year.  I may have mentioned it before on the blog, I’m too lazy to go back and check right now, but this has been just as much work as I thought it would be.  And then some.

4. And this one is the doozy: When Molly was just a month old, I was involved in an accident that resulted in a fatality.  We are all physically fine, and I was not at fault, but it has been a lot to grapple with and I didn’t feel that those details belonged on the internet.

And now, as a reminder list to me and to give you a teaser of what may be to come look for posts on a few of these things:

And plenty of other stuff, I am sure.