Friday, August 30, 2013

Getting a peek at our baby!

Yesterday we had our ultrasound.  It was a crazy busy day.  Isabella and Moira volunteer at the Equine Exchange that happens once or twice a year.  By volunteering they get to shop with the rest of the volunteers before the general public is allowed in.  It took a while to come up with a plan of action.  But we settled on heading out to the Exchange, in the city, then taking a short drive down the road to the kids favorite park.  The girls had made muffins for lunch.  The day before shopping day proves for some slim pickings, and definitely nothing of notable worth for a picnic lunch!  So muffins it was.

After the park we drove home. Jeremiah met us there.  After settling everyone in, Jeremiah, Saoirse, and I headed out for my appointment which was farther south than where we had been that morning.  So lots of driving!  We got there early for the paper work.  It was a long wait, as I didn't see the doctor until almost 45 minutes past my appointment time.  I am SO glad I only took Saoirse with me, and not the whole crew. That would have been a disaster! 

It has been a while since I was last there, five years.  But, I was very much hoping that I would not get the same doctor that I did the last time.  This ultrasound center is different than most.  They specialize in OB/BYN ultrasounds, and it is a doctor who actually does the scan, not a tech.  This way you get to talk about what you see on the screen, as the scan is going on.  As opposed to having a tech do the scan, who can not tell you what they are seeing, and will only tell you that you need to wait to speak to a doctor about your results.  So that is the wonderful benefit of choosing to go to this particular u/s center.  The downside?  They used to have two doctors, but now only have one.  The one that I do NOT like.  The last time I was there I got a very lengthy lecture on my *ADVANCED* maternal age.  He was rude during the scan, as he wouldn't tell me what he was scanning unless I asked.  I had also told him that we did NOT want to know the gender of the baby, so when he was moving toward that area, if he could let me know, so I could look away.  Well, he didn't tell me, and he just whisked that scanner down there at one point, showing what VERY much looked like boy parts.  I tried to reason with myself that it could have been the umbilical cord, but Isabella who was with me said, "MOM!  There was NO WAY that was the unbilical cord!  That was a BOY!"  Yeah, it was that obvious.  Grrr.  So I definitely went into the scan with reserve when I saw that this doctor was going to be doing it (I had hoped that another doctor would have signed on since my last visit).  I even had my own "lecture" to give, should it be needed.

I am very happy to say that the doctor was much more pleasant this time around!  No lecture, and he wasn't rude.  He even told us before the scan that since I was 19 weeks along, the gender would be quite obvious, especially to someone who has had multiple scans in the past. He said he could turn off the screen.  But I told him, no, I wanted to see the baby, but if he could just warn me when he was heading that way.  And he did!  A much nicer experience than last time!

The baby had been active the 15 minutes before the doctor came in.  But then was quiet when he got there.  When the doctor first put the probe on my tummy, our first look made Jeremiah and I VERY concerned.  The baby was curled up in a ball.  Think of a baby at 8 or 12 weeks gestation, and you get the idea.  The doctor said it was an uncommon position for a baby to be in, but it didn't mean anything was wrong with the baby.  He said, once we got the scan under way the baby would likely wake up and move around and stretch out.  And that is exactly what happened.  Phew.  This was one VERY active baby, once he woke up (I'm still thinking boy).  The most active baby on u/s that we have had so far!

The doctor was great about telling us what he was looking at, and he warned me when he was heading 'south'.  The first couple of measurements that he made were of the baby's head and tummy.  I was 19 weeks 1 day along, and those first couple of measurements were calculated to be 18 weeks.  I know that it is normal for an u/s to be off by a few weeks, but I asked if those measurements were ok.  The doctor said that if my dates were truly accurate then the scan should be no more than 1 week off.  He said that those measurements were just within the normal range.  This had me a little concerned to see what the rest of the baby's measurements were.  I think since I've had to take allergy meds during this pregnancy I've been a bit nervous about the baby.  The ONLY other baby that I took ANY medications at all with, was with Jedidiah. So seeing that those first two measurement barely squeaked into the 'normal' range had me worried.  But the rest of the baby's measurements were for 19 weeks, and the average of them all came out to be 18 weeks 5 days...totally in the norm.   Phew!  And, yes, I worry too much :-)  That is my job. Ha, ha.

We talked about further testing options, since you know, my age (ahem), but we decided to just have another scan at 28 weeks to make sure all is still well with the baby.  We left with some pictures of our wee one, which you can see below.  The rest of the night I was tired from being out in the heat for most of the day.  But I managed to make a yummy dinner and then I crashed :-)  On the way home I asked Jeremiah and Saoirse what they saw on the u/s.  Saoirse basically said she was clueless.  ha, ha.  Jeremiah said he thought he saw, "two buns"...which if you've seen u/s pictures of girls (you can google that), that would be a girl.  BUT that being said, for the few u/s that were done of our girls, he thought they were boys.  So who knows!  I will say that having a girl would go along with this pattern breaking baby :-)  I am still sticking with it being a boy for now.  I suppose I will get more of an idea when a name starts vying for my attention.  So far, 7 out of 7 pregnancies, I've only liked ONE name each time.  And that name happened to be for whatever gender we had!  But, again, if this is going to be a pattern breaker...anything is possible.

Here are pictures of our sweetie:

 I really, really thought this baby looked SOOO cute, and very much like Aubrey.  Yeah, I know, like I could *actually* tell that. But that was the first thought that ran through my head when I saw the baby's profile.  You can just see the baby's fingers at his head (on top).

The baby waving at us.  Actually the baby mostly had it's hands in a fist, but for some reason the baby kept opening it's hand, and mouth, while putting it's head back during this part of the scan.  It kind of had me concerned, as it resembled one of the 'scare reflexes' that a baby has after it is born.  I am hoping that the scan wasn't freaking out the baby. 

Monday, August 26, 2013


Oh, finally! Way back when, months ago, I was lamenting the ill focus of my new camera.  I waited a year to get my camera back, and when I did, I couldn't get the focus right.  Sarah was kind enough to send me a link about focus.  I read it, and re-read it.  I tried to figure out what buttons I had to push to set this up on my camera.   However, I was smack dab in the middle of first trimester morning sickness/heart racing.  I could barely take my camera out to take a picture, let alone figure the focus thing out. 

Fast forward to today.  I took the pictures of the kids outside working in the garden and was once again disappointed about how they turned out, focus wise. So I finally sat down to work it out.  I decided to google my camera in particular to figure it out. Before that I did switch the focus setting to al servio. Oh, my!  Soooo much better!  I will have to wait to see if I got the setting right the next time I take my camera out, but for now, it is working so much better.  I am still not too keen on some of the clarity of the pictures.  This camera just seems to have it's issues.  When I had my old camera is was pretty easy to make things work right from the box.  This has not been the case for my new camera. A big learning curve.  Here are just a few of the pictures I took today, after I set my focus to al servio:

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Our gardening work, and a preggers picture

So, here I was feeling pretty good about this pregnancy.  As some of you know I get a wee bit worried about the baby's size, and my size :-)  I wish I could be exercising more, but with my magnesium issues and back to back sinus/illness issues that area is a bit slack. Moira and I are exercise partners and we try to encourage each other to get up and move.  That has helped. 

But then, I got the crazy notion to take a picture of my belly.  There has definitely been a growth spurt for this baby in the past 5 days, but my goodness, I had no idea I was this BIG!!  Ha!  I am 18 weeks along, almost half way.  I don't feel as big as I look, so I suppose that is good!  Without further ado, here is an outside look of our growing babe (a boy babe...for sisterly competition jabs :-)).


It has been so nice out today, perfect outside working day weather. And that is just what everyone was up to. Except me. I got out there to hang laundry, and take pictures, but there were dishes calling my name. Here is everyone else at work:

Jeremiah pulled up the wood around the garden beds, and transferred them to the front.  So far the only thing really to grow well (besides some bell peppers) have been the strawberries.  The amount we go through as a family is, well, a lot!  So we decided to make this whole area into a strawberry patch.

 A bunch of roots that the kids dug up.  Our whole property was laden with trees, so there are roots everywhere.

 Transferring a lone blueberry bush from the back to the front yard.

 Moira transplanting strawberry runners.

 Saoirse helping in the transplanting efforts.

Jonah was doing a great job loosening up the soil...until he discovered if he dug in the fork tines he could ride the handle like a horse!  Eventually his weight won out and there would be dirt flying every where. The dirt is definitely well loosened now :-)

The goats were let into the dog area to eat some greens.  They LOVE that.

I can't get my cursor to move past this last picture.  Below you see Isabella watching over the two non working boys.  They both did help out for a while, but found the trampoline more enticing.  Off to fix some lunch for my hungry crew!

bye-bye facebook

So I did it...I deleted my facebook account. I didn't post anything to it, but maybe a couple times a year.  I personally don't like that type of communication.  Not to mention that they have been deleting Christian users, but the scum of the earth are free to share their disgusting photos and such. Granted I am sure there are other things I am using that are doing the same, but at this moment I don't know which ones.   So, if anyone was wondering why I went 'missing' in fb land, now you know!

Friday, August 23, 2013

One of those days!

Yesterday... yesterday was one of those days. After three posts about scheduling (with two more to come, homeschooling and our consequence sheet) we had a bummer of a day.  I am praying that today will not be a repeat, we shall see.  This really starts a few days ago though, the impact of those days was more on my sanity than anything else.  Let us just say that no matter WHAT holiday or celebration is coming next it WILL NOT be celebrated with gluten and sugar. Oh. My. Goodness.  The collective impact of all these birthdays decided to show up the day after Isabella's birthday.  Pretty much everyone is having some sort of health issue.  Most very minor.  Thankfully! But for Saoirse?  Words can not describe how horrid it has been!  I was ready to rush the child off to see a psychologist!  Seriously, though, she was losing it.  She had real, though greatly thrown out of proportion, physical ailaments.  But she followed me around for the first 48 hours after the birthday telling me of E. V. E. R. Y.    S. I. N. G. L. E. ache, pain, tickle, itch, lump, bump, etc.  This would happen every 30 to 60 seconds the first day.  NO JOKE.  The next day it was about every two minutes.  She cried and cried and cried over it all, and more.  It was very hard on her and I.

Thankfully by the third day she at least had half a day of no big problems, but they popped up that evening.  The next day, yesterday, I felt would prove to be much better.  I knew it was going to be a good 3 to 5 days before the gluten and sugar were done with their work.  Yesterday morning, I was getting breakfast ready.  Saoirse pulls up a chair, as far into the kitchen as she could, without being in my way.  Um, this can't be good.  She then embarked on moaning and whining about how much her tummy hurt.  At first I thought it was a matter of needing to eat.  The past two days she was filled with fear of choking and wouldn't eat anything that wasn't soft.  That pretty much meant eating only fruit.  But she kept going on and on and on and on!  It became evident that she was actually sick with a tummy bug.  She spent (as did I) the rest of the morning on the couch...crying, moaning, whining.  At some point she kept saying, "It won't come up, it won't come up."  Bingo, I knew a remedy for THAT!  I never, never, never get a homeopathic remedy right for my kids tummy issues. But that particular symptom I *knew*.  I got her the remedy, and in 15 minutes she was feeling better, and by 45 minutes she was herself again.  PHEW!

Through this all, it also became evident that *I* was fighting off something, as my magnesium levels were taking a huge hit!  So I was couch ridden until almost 2 PM. By then Flannery and Moira were in full sick mode as well, though not with a tummy bug.  They had all over body aches, sore throat, weakness, that sort of thing.  Really?  At some point in the late morning Aubrey came up to me with a book and wanted me to read to him.  He also likes to have a milky snack when reading a book :-)  Now, we've been going AC free this past week (more on that in another post) and it was pretty hot in the house.  BUT, my mommy radar picked up that he felt a bit too warm.  I tried to blow it off.  I was trying to deny the fact that this hotness I felt was a fever.  Um, yeah, you know how that ended up!  By evening he had a full blown 102* fever.  Thankfully he was full of energy and acting totally normal.  Very weird. 

So what does this all mean?  It meant that the schedule was blown out the window :-)  We ate popcorn for lunch and homemade french fries for dinner.  No joke.  Sad, I know.  But I had NO energy, my oldest was at horses, Jeremiah was out helping someone in need, and the next two oldest were sick as well.  Before heading to bed, I heard Jonah coughing. Of course I was hoping it was just because he had something in his throat.  That thought went out the window when we woke up this morning and he is coughing, coughing, coughing....and on top of that is feeling slightly warm to the touch. 

Thankfully my energy levels seem to be a bit better today.  I am very thankful that when Jeremiah got home last night he did a ton of dishes.  So my goal today is to keep on top of dishes, make sure that laundry keeps going, and maybe, just maybe get in a bit of school work for those who aren't too sick.  One thing I am hoping to get done is my chart for earning or losing computer time.  I made up a messy list, but I need to organize it on two sheets, and make a way to keep track.  The schedule has truly been my 'path' out of the chaos we have been living in for years.  BUT, even though we are a month in, there have been far too many kiddos trying to slack off.  My goal is to not be the one that has to make everything run smoothly around here.  Ok, that might not have come out right.  I AM the one who is in charge to make things run, but my olders are old enough now to read what is next on the schedule and actually *DO* it.  I know that Isabella's horse instructor does not follow her around, telling her what job is next to do.  I KNOW that doesn't happen, and so there is no reason that she can not do the same here :-)

Anyways, sorry for the whining and complaining!  I need to jump back on the wagon, and pick up where we left off. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Scheduling Part 3: Chores

Taking care of any household takes time and a plan.  Those plans just get bigger when you have more people involved :-)  We've had what we call, room chores, for some time now. I used to have the girls all clean up in one room, each having a couple of items assigned to them to pick up.  That plan failed miserably! There were always 'left overs', something that didn't fit the assigned items that needed  picking up.  So we moved to room chores, where each girl only cleaned one room, in total.  This helped a lot with getting things done.  However a few things have changed since I first implemented that plan that necessitated a change.

1.  The boys.  A few years ago, when we switched to room chores, the two youngest boys were an easy going toddler and a baby.  But, as the boys have gotten older, and have gotten better at making messes, the rooms became more cluttered and messy on a daily basis.

2.  There were a lot of other chores, that all ended up being in my care: All laundry (for 9 people), all cooking, 80% of the dishes, mopping, cleaning both bathrooms, on top of the homeschooling, gardening and animal care.

It was time to delegate some of the work to the girls, AND train the boys to clean up their own messes.  I took a long time in thinking over how best to make this happen, and work it into our schedule.  I am happy to say I think I have found the right approach (at this time!) that is working for our family. 

Room Chores:
The girls still have room chores.  Isabella is in charge of the family room, Moira has the bathroom and hallway (though I  may add in my bathroom as this only takes her 5 minutes a day to maintain), Flannery has the dining room, Saoirse has the living room and I have the kitchen.  The boys are responsible for keeping their toys in their bedroom, and if they bring them out they have to be the ones to put them back, no matter which room they are in.  This has given the boys responsibility for their belongings and at the same time reduces the work load for the girls (who were growing resentful of always cleaning up after them).

I wish I had enough courage to show you a picture of our laundry room, and where our laundry usually hung out after it got washed.  I have to say that a living room was not meant to house heaping piles of clean laundry,waiting to be folded!  I am glad to have my living room back :-)  The dirty laundry had to be rounded up all the time.  From the bathroom floor, the bedroom floors (never mind that we had 6 laundry baskets!), the family room floor, where ever!   But now I delegated the laundry in this way:

I didn't like the idea of each person doing their own laundry.  I want them to know that being a part of a family means helping each other and caring for one another. So I have each set of girls washing their combined laundry, plus towels, plus either boys' laundry or sheets.  This promotes keeping their laundry in a basket, because THEY will be the ones hunting the laundry down if they don't.  And I can assure you there has been no shortage of help needed to make that happen,  you can see by the pictures below:

Now, personally, I thought this was pretty self explanatory.  But, apparently not!  So I had to add this sign, to the FLOOR:
 This sign only caused the offenders to throw their laundry on the laundry room floor!  These are all able bodied readers, so maybe they need extra reading lessons? :-)  So, I added this sign, hanging from the laundry doorway:

It has since been taken down, as it isn't needed anymore! BUT, I was determined to make this work.  So don't give up when you face opposition.  This has kept all the dirty laundry in everyones respective bedrooms, leaving our bathroom floor clean and our laundry room floor clean.  Since we have a chest freezer, refrigerator, one very large metal shelf, and two smaller metal shelves in the laundry room, there isn't room for laundry baskets (for 9 people) back there.  They do 'fit' back there, but then you have to climb over them to get to the freezer, fridge or to get out the back door.

Since we are each doing the laundry two times each for the week this leaves us usually only three loads each day to do.  One of towels, one for our own laundry, and one for the boys/sheets. Everything gets folded and hung up as it comes out of the dryer. When all the laundry is done for the day it gets put away where it belongs.  No more laundry hanging out in the living room!  Plus, no more molding towels or clothing.  Here in the South, with our humidity, anything damp, if not washed right way, would get moldy.  All towels, and wet things are put in the laundry room to be washed daily. 

This has been such a blessing!  I'm not trying to manage everyones clothing. And for those kiddos who saw nothing wrong with trying something on, changing their mind, and being too lazy to put it away, they would just throw the clean clothing in the laundry!  Now, if they do that they end up having to be the one to wash, dry, fold and put it away!  They are learning it is time saving to just put it back right away :-)

We had couple of girls who just could not remember where to set the dryer dial.  That was their excuse as to why the clothing just sat in the dryer...wet.  So, I came up with this:

I made sure that they *knew* that I was not giving up on this scheduling idea, and there would be no excuse for their work not being done.  Problem solved!

The dishes used to be who ever had their rotation of the kitchen being their room chore.  But this proved to be too much for just one child and myself.  So I decided to take on the kitchen as my duty, which has greatly helped in a myriad of ways.  I can let a bit go here and there in other rooms (lowering my expectations of how I think things should be done, especially if a younger girl was in charge of that room), but NOT in the kitchen.  A little mess left here, or there, really, really adds up, making it unsafe to cook food there! So now it is just my job, and things are getting done the way they need to.  Plus, the dishes are now all kept up on since ALL of us are responsible for washing them.  Here is our 'schedule':

Even the boys are involved.  They have to unload all the silverware, cups, plates and bowls.  That leaves the glass jars and mugs for the girls to put away.  The girls are responsible for filling the dishwasher back up. My name isn't on the list, but I am responsible for washing all the things that don't go into the dishwasher (serving wear, pots/pans, 1/2 and gallon size glass jars, etc.).  I do those after each meal, which means the dishes are being kept up on, leaving our kitchen clean.  Sooooo much better than having piles and piles of dishes to do! 
Here is Moira's list I put up on the inside of the closet door.  I gave her the choice to do all the bathroom cleaning in one day (with the everyday maintenance being to take a wipe to the counter/sink, and picking up of items left out), or to spread it out over the week. She chose to have it spread out like this:

For the first time since living in this house, we finally have a clean bathroom on a daily basis!  Since this takes her such little time, I may be giving her charge over my bathroom.  Which would be very easy right now as we don't have a bathtub, shower, or a floor to mop, just swept or vacuumed.  The 'kitchen faces' you see for Friday are a wipe down of the front of the fridge/stove/dishwasher, etc.  With a lot of people in and out of there all day long, those fronts really can't wait for a spring cleaning day to be gotten to!

The bedrooms are to be tidied up each morning, and are the responsibility of those who sleep in it. 

The vacuuming is done by each girl for their assigned room.  The kitchen and dining room have to be done daily, but the other main living areas are done every other day.  Bedrooms are done on an as needed basis. 

This has really been working out very, very well.  I may add in: taking out the garbage, taking out the compost bucket, and egg washing as assigned tasks.  Right now it is whoever is available. BUT I have to be the one to *tell* that someone when it needs to be done.  So sometimes we've had 60 eggs needing washing, or 5 bags of garbage to be taken out, or an overflowing compost bin before these things were done.  They are really something that need to be done daily or every other day (in the case of the compost).  I just haven't sat down to think through who will do it, and should we rotate that job each week, each month...?  But for now, I am very pleased with how this approach is working for us.

One of the tips I've read for success of chores being done is *accountability*.  I need to be checking to see if everything is being done as it should be.  This has been made easier by having a certain person responsible for a chore/room, and that we have scheduled times where we are all doing these chores.  I can very easily run through and see if it was done, or in the case of two girls in particular, that they are staying on track with their work.  Before, accountability was overwhelming. For one, I was the one doing most of the work, leaving me no time to check up on the kids getting their work done.  Spreading out the work REALLY helped in that regard. Since the boys are responsible for their messes, which were the majority of the messes in the main living areas, this has freed the girls to help in other areas (laundry and dishes).

Animal Care:
These chores are listed on our actual daily schedule, which I shared in another post.  Here is where that daily schedule lives, along with the other chore assignments:

(The top row:  Our big dry erase calendar, and dish chores, bottom row: daily schedule, weekend schedule, and laundry schedule)

The animal chores needed tweaking as well.  Although we had divided the milking chores between Isabella, Moira, and myself, we had too much work to do outside, making it impossible for that person to jump into the next things that needed to be done.  That left the rest of us waiting, which would end with kids trying to run outside to snatch some play time, or disappearing into their bedrooms to read or play.  So I needed them all involved somehow.  This is what is working for us now:

Isabella: Milks goats on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.  Feeds the chickens and baby goats in the morning on her milking day.  She feeds the dog twice daily, gives fresh water daily.

Moira: Milks the goats on Monday, Wednesday, Friday.  Feeds the chickens and baby goats in the morning on her milking day.  Will sometimes be called upon to tie up the adult female goats (we only have 2) in the evening if I can't get out there to help, and Jeremiah is left to do the nightly feeding alone.  Those stubborn goats refuse to be caught by Jeremiah!

Flannery:  She feeds the male goats each morning.  She feeds the cats twice daily.

Saoirse:  She refills all the goat water buckets (except the males, which Flannery does, as they are located in a different area), and chicken waterers.  She gathers the eggs.

Jeremiah and myself:  We feed the goats and chickens each evening and refill their waterers.  I milk each Saturday.

Although the other two girls are doing most of the milking this year, I thought that was a good trade off as that gives them free time in the evenings when Jeremiah and I do the feedings.  I gave them the option to milk less, but then have to take on some evening feeds, but they prefered to get the animal work done in the mornings. 

I think a lot of our success also stems from the fact that I have given them more say in how or when things were done.  They still had to be done, but having a say to how that all played out really helped them to see I was working with them, giving them options when I could.  Some things like our wake up time have been a challenge still.  For one, if I wake up at my allotted time I really need a nap in the afternnoon (pregnancy!).  But I found if I got one more hour of sleep in, I could go without a nap.  So this means we are starting an hour later, but it works out for all of us.  I still have two sleepy heads who still can not understand why it is neccessary to wake early each day, as opposed to 10 or 11 AM!!  We are working on that.  I am too tired at night to sit outside their door to make sure they do lights out at the assigned time. Something to work on for sure.  Because it takes them F.O.R.E.V.E.R. to wake up and actually function :-)

But I shall press on.  My goal is to fine tune the things I mentioned above, and to have the girls take over my jobs once a week, or every other week, in preperation for when I have the baby.  I do not want to have to dig out from that  chaos that WILL ensue if we don't carry on with our assigned chores after I have the baby.  I know this ALL TOO WELL. Do not want to ever have a repeat of that again.  Seven times was enough!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

How can this be?

Time, it's a funny thing.  We either don't have enough of it, or it goes too slow, or  we have too much on our hands, or we loose track of it.  Either way I look at it, it appears that Time has played a nasty trick on me.  Either that, or I failed to observe one of the major rules of a parent....I blinked.

You see, tomorrow, my baby, my first born, the one who should still be a toddler (right?) is turning sweet sixteen.  SIXTEEN, people.  That is a 1, and a 6.  How can this be? 

Whoever coined the phrase, "the days are long, but the years are short", I am pretty sure they had kids.  I remember very distinctly thinking the crying, diapers, cleaning up after, tantrums, etc...were never going to end.  And since I've been in that stage for 15 years, I think it just sort of snuck up on me. 

Isabella has a bonfire party planned at the horse barn.  Unfortunately it looks like it may have to be put off as it is raining today.  Either way, I am sure the event will be fun.  We have a rain date set, and I am hoping all her friends that will be able to come tomorrow will be able to reschedule if we need to. 

I guess I had always thought we would do something 'big' for this day, but she just wants to hang out with her friends at the barn, dancing (ballroom), indulging in some snacks and cake, all around a bonfire.  Her birthday dinner will happen tonight, if the party is still on, and if not, we'll have it tomorrow on her actual birthday.  She requested alfredo (no chicken), watermelon, and the beloved cranberry sauce. 

So it is back to cleaning up.  We had fallen behind last weekend and are having to make up for it today. We have to learn to stick to our schedule on the weekend. I had been more relaxed about the weekends, but no more. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Meeting the Midwife


A big sigh of relief, a weight off my shoulders.  Finding a new midwife was something that was getting a little unsettling. Our past three midwives are no longer midwives :-(  In a state where it is illegal for a woman to become a midwife (unless under the direct supervision of a doctor, AND you are a nurse midwife), it makes it pretty hard to find one!  Thankfully a friend of mine told me that a mutual friend of ours used a midwife that I hadn't heard about yet.  So I called her.  And had to wait.  And wait.  Turns out she was on a 3 week vacation!  I was starting to wonder if God was trying to tell me something.  After our last birth, I am trying to listen!  Ha!

The new midwife came for a visit the other day.  And to our joy, she fits right into our views on pretty much everything.  She has lots of experience, as she's been a midwife for over 35 years. And she happened to be the one who trained each of our last three midwives!  We really liked her view point on what she sees her role being, and what our role is.  I was quite relieved to hear that come labor time, if I *FEEL* she needs to be here, then she will be here...unlike our very unfortunate experience with our last midwife.  She has the same equipment as the others do (did), though she said she no longer uses a doppler (but has one on hand in case it were to really be needed) due to the new research she has read on the safety (or lack there of) of dopplers/sonograms. 

It was a great visit.  She did a quick prenatal check up.  I was a bit bummed to not get to know the heart rate of the baby (she said at this stage of the pregnancy the placenta sounds are louder than the baby's heart tones). Though she heard the heart beating (and, really, I wasn't concerned as I've already been feeling the baby moving and kicking).  But, I do like to use that number for our little guessing game :-)  So far, the old wives tale of a high heart rate (160) being a girl, and a lower one (140) being a boy, has rung true.  That's a 7 out of 7 record!  But, eventually we will get to know.

I still plan on getting an ultrasound done, hopefully soon.  I know it isn't the best to do, but it really gives me some peace of mind (especially what happened with Jed) to know that the baby is healthy and growing fine.  But there is no peaking to see if it is a girl or boy!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Scheduling Part 2: filling in the blanks

When you embark on putting a schedule together, whether with paper and pen, or with an Excel type program, I can assure you of one'll be faced with a lot of 'blanks' to fill in!  I can also assure you that if you did your homework, by following the ideas for 'planning', that this stage is much easier to do.  You'll have an idea of the things that need to be done, who will be doing them, and how long they will take.  It is best to start off with some bench markers.

Bench markers being things like wake up time, nap times, meal times, etc.  By plugging those in first you have something to work around.  Every family will have their differences.  You may have a child who works best in quietude, or one who does better after some running around outside.  For our family, with three young boys, it is important to get them outside first thing in the morning to get some outside play time in.  I also spaced out their play time with their most active sister on purpose, so they would come in, have some 'work time', or play alone time for a while, then they have a play time with their active sister.  This sister enjoys rough housing, or running around, jumping, etc.  Then there is some more quieter activity, followed by lunch, rest time, and then outside time.  This way the boys run off their energy productively!  Otherwise it's taken out on my furniture, or by lovely displays of toys spewn across the whole house.  Unfortunately our modern education system does not take the VERY REAL differences of boys and girls into account.  My boys still have to learn to sit still when needed, but I take into account their very real need of expelling energy in very real physical ways. 

After I scheduled my bench markers I figured in when and how often to do chores.  This was much easier than figuring out our homeschooling.  I knew I wanted the bulk of our homeschool work to be done before lunch.  Knowing who needed my help with different subjects helped as well.  I will say, that for us, Librivox has been a God send!  It really helps with the time I have to give to each child in need.  The older two girls can read on their own.  Flannery can read just fine, but some of the books are a bit heavy vocabulary wise, so I (or Librivox) read those to her. Saoirse is only in an early reader level, so all books need to be read to her.  Each of the girls only has about two books that are on Librivox (out of 7 possible books for the week), so that still leaves a lot to reading for me to do.  After I figured out our homeschooling time, I was able to work on free time, family time, baths, etc. 

Below you can see our schedule for Monday through Friday:

If you click on the schedule above it will open in a view that shows up a bit darker and slightly enlarged, for a better view.

I noticed that the 7:00AM slot for the girls was blank, it should say, "Wake up, dress, clean up room".  And in a earlier post I told how we needed to switch lunch to the 12 o'clock slot, and I pushed math with the older girls to after lunch. There are a few things not listed on the schedule, like snack time, which usually happens around 3 o'clock, which is during free time (which is why I didn't feel I needed to 'schedule it in').  Where you see 'clean up' after a meal, that is when we do our room chores (each of us, except for the boys is assigned a room to clean up).  Later I will share how I split up our chores, and how that is working for us. 

Monday, August 05, 2013

Scheduling Part 1: the prep work

So three weeks down, and it seems a bit premature to be writing about our schedule, but we are still at it!  No schedule has ever lasted more than a week, and that week was horrid.  But, this time things have been totally different.

There are many reasons a schedule may not work out.  I certainly couldn't try to even possibly cover every reason.  But a few of the most common would be:

1.  Not spending enough time in the planning stage.
2.  Not being realistic with your time committed to each scheduled activity.
3.  Not having the support of your family.
4.  Having medical issues (realized or not) that are effecting your ability to carry out the scheduled activities.
5.  Not planning for the transition period, that any schedule will produce, and giving up too soon.
6.  Not planning for the 'little' things. Trust me we all have them, and they do add up.

The above is by no means a complete list.  But these are definitely some of the top problems people encounter with trying to implement a schedule.

I know for myself, in the past, I didn't spend enough time in the planning stage.  For everyone that planning time may look different, but these areas that I made sure to thoroughly think through were important:

::  Taking into account the current state of my house.
I have always taken this into account, but I knew I had to dig a bit deeper this time around.  In the past I would make sure to clean up the WHOLE house so that we could start our schedule.  I would still recommend this, however, there needs to be measures put in place to keep it clean.  I thought hard about the areas of our home that were always out of control, and how to best address the ongoing upkeep of them once they were clean.  I set up signs, posted how-to's, and have signs for who does dishes, when, etc.  This was important for me, AND for my kids.  I even have the boys names on some of them, even though they can not read.  This was more for my older kids, but to also show the boys that they too have work that I am expecting them to do.  I will have a more detailed post on what measures I took to help with the everyday upkeep of the home.

::  Taking into account the needs of all family members.
This is no small matter.  With nine of us, that was quite the job.  Some things I needed to consider were the abilities of the children and the work I was expecting of them.  For homeschooling, who needed my undivided attention, and who could be left on their own to do their work.  The needs of young boys.  Not only diaper changes, or help in the bathroom, but their need to run and jump :-)  Some girls have outside activities, and those that don't needed to have free time.  Then we needed to fit in some family time, family worship and bed time routines.  All those things needed to be considered, and worked into the schedule.

::  Planning for how long things *ACTUALLY* take and not how long I *THINK* they should take.
I've mentioned this before, that this one particular tip was the key to making my current schedule workable.  No matter how much I think that milking the goats should only take 30 minutes, if it is taking my kids 45 minutes to do it, then I need to schedule 45 minutes.  End of story.  Dinner prep, or schooling, no matter the activity, it doesn't matter how long I think it should take.  I made sure to be VERY mindful of this when making out my schedule.  Diaper changes need to happen, kids getting dressed, all of those take time, and that time needs to come from somewhere.  I don't have diaper changing scheduled, nor do I have a scheduled time for laundry, but when I was making up my schedule, I took those activities into account knowing that they would be scattered throughout the day.  In other words I scheduled a wee bit extra than I thought we would need to do a certain activity, knowing that those smaller things were going to have to happen through the day.

::  Planning chores.
This too was a big job.  Who is going to do what, and when would it be done.  Dishes, laundry, washing off the table, sweeping, bathroom clean up, trash...etc.  I spent a LOT of time really thinking about how to divide the work load.  This too will have it's own post since it took a lot of work putting it all together.

::  What are my weak areas?
Taking into consideration the problem areas of keeping our house running, really, REALLY went far into making our schedule successful.  For example, one of our biggest weak areas was the improper management of 3 rambunctious boys :-)  No, really, they are like little tornadoes.  When looking over the majority (obviously not all) of the messes was from the 3 little boys.  Trying to do school while they were running around wild, or trying to make dinner while they were running wild, or trying to meal plan, or trying to...well you get the idea.  Little tornadoes running from one end of the house to the other.  By having scheduled times for the boys to be having 'school' time, or play time with their sisters, this has been the answer to our house being a mess all the time.  When the boys are finished having a play time with one of their sisters they are to clean up their mess.  So basically, cleaning as they go.  There is also free play, but I have a clean up afterward, that THE BOYS are responsible for cleaning up. 

Those are some of the areas that I made sure to really work on before putting the schedule together.  These considerations took time, even days, before I came up with a suitable answer.  I will tell you  that each time I prayed about any sticking point, the Lord was faithful to open my eyes to the answer.  As much as I just wanted to hurry up and get on with this whole scheduling thing, since our household was so out of control, it was this planning stage that made us successful with our schedule and finally be in control!  So take your time, there is no rush.  I will have posts that show how I dealt with scheduling things like chores, and homeschooling coming soon.
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