Wednesday, July 23, 2014

If I had a nickel everytime someone said...

"Wow, you sure have your hands full!"

I typically just ignore whoever says it, because I HATE that comment! If it's a nice old lady, I might give her a big friendly smile. If it's a rude jerk, I might say, "Wow, I've never heard that before!" But most of the time, I just pretend I didn't hear them.
Yes, I have my hands full. Is that wrong? And is that the most creative thing you can think of? And could you kindly stop communicating the message to my kids that they are a burden, whether that's what you are trying to say or not? Just because you are stating an obvious fact does not make it okay to say (again and again and again and again). Do you really think you are the first person to say that?

Imagine me commenting to random strangers:

- Wow, you sure look lonely! (to the single)
- Wow, it must be horrible not being able to walk/see! (to the disabled)
- Wow, your family sure is small!
- Wow, you sure look old/young/haggard/fat/tired/etc.
- Wow, you sure are covered in tattoos!
- Wow, are you really going to eat the junk you just loaded into your cart?
- Wow, you sure are wearing an interesting outfit today.

I could go on. Remember, there is a time and a place to voice whatever your opinion is, such as "I think birth control is stupid and wrong," or, on the contrary, "the planet is overpopulated and people should stop breeding." You are fully entitled to your opinion. But you will not find me personally confronting individuals I encounter at the store about their choices. That's just common courtesy.  Now if it's something grossly inappropriate and reprobate, such as a big burly guy in a flouncy summer dress, you may overhear me telling my kids to stay far away from you and not look your way, but I don't think we fall into that category, so please resist the urge to add to the thousands who have said, "Wow, you sure have your hands full!"
So, what is your favorite response to this stupid remark?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

You can't miss us!

For Father's Day this year, I made up and ordered these shirts for my husband and myself:

I figured these would be fun to have on outings this summer, when we are asked the typical questions (repeatedly) pretty much every time we go anywhere with the whole family.

And since I like to dress the kids in matching bright colors so as to make it easier to keep track of them at busy venues such as the zoo etc., I also ordered shirts for the kids with their name and birth order on the back.

My favorite? Boaz' tiny onesie :)

All these shirts were ordered through CustomInk, and I cannot recommend them highly enough. Outstanding customer service, great turnaround time, easy to navigate website, and the best prices I found anywhere. I have no affiliations with the company, just recommending them because they deserve the publicity.

We have also updated the sticker on the breedermobil family van....

The lady who originally sent us these stickers had wisely included the baby on the far right for future use :)

and changed the license plate to reflect our growing family size. 

We can be spotted (and heard!) from a mile away... :) Most all of the time, people are very friendly and happy to see our traveling circus. The critics are definitely the exception, not the rule. 

And if you want to make the kids' day, just ask "Are they all yours??!?" They will break out in cheers because we spring for a round of ice cream each time we get asked that, just so they never get resentful of hearing that question. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Abiding Radio

At the homeschool convention, I was excited to come across a booth by "Abiding Radio", an online conservative Christian radio station that streams music 24/7 on four different channels. As it turns out, they are based out of Mesa, Arizona - right here in our own backyard. I enjoyed getting to know the people behind the radio station a little bit. Like us, they are independent, fundamental Baptists and share our conservative values. Not to mention they were just simply nice people!

This radio service free because it is supported purely by donations. You can connect not only from your home computer, but also through a smart phone app.

The children have been enjoying tuning in to the Kids' channel during meal times, car rides, and other down times. They know all the "Patch the Pirate" songs on there by heart from owning all the albums. I love how many scripture songs they play on there, too. Baby Boaz is not at all fond of riding in the car, but as long as I keep the music playing for him, he will either listen contently, or doze off peacefully. 

Maybe you, too, will be blessed by their ministry! :)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Large family joys

Having a large family definitely comes with its set of challenges, not the least of which is having lots of different personalities trying to live together in harmony for the most part. There just are so many possible combinations of family members to interact with one another that conflict cannot be avoided all the time. 

Yet, by the same token, seeing our children being sweet and loving with their siblings is one of the greatest joys for this mama.

This big guy has been with us almost since the very beginning. Truly, children of the youth are as arrows in the hands of a mighty man. My husband and I were both just young pups ourselves when we had this guy, so he's been there for most of the growing and learning we have done as adults and as parents up to this point. I'm thankful he is an especially loving and forgiving soul! :)

Isaac loves helping with his younger siblings in the service. Little Boaz is clearly enjoying it :) Anna in particular adores him, and always wants to have him be her "buddy" when we are out in public and the kids are paired up. Isaac is also my go-to guy for helping with getting the youngest ones ready for bed and all tucked in. He can brush their teeth, bathe them, and wash their hair like a pro!

John is another doting big brother. Little Boaz is very popular around here :) His favorite thing is to bring younger siblings along on his animal chores, and to play Legos and Playmobil with them.

Relaxing on Miriam's shoulder while waiting to get our tire fixed. She's basically a "mini me" with the babies.

Becky is only allowed to hold Boaz while she is sitting down, so she usually mothers Stephen and Anna. Here, she is pretending "house" with them and her dolls, tucking them in for a nap.

Look at the difference in size 22 months make! Stephen is still super excited about his baby brother, and dotes on him daily with kisses, hugs, pats, and occasionally trying to sneak him food. 

I am thankful that for the most part, our kids get along with each other wonderfully, and treasure their siblings. I truly believe that there are two keys to their close relationships: For one, the fact that rather than being separated from each other all day in different grades at school, they are around each other all day, every day. And secondly, the fact that we view children as God's greatest earthly blessings has been impressed on each of them as the years are going on, and the family keeps growing. Somehow, they seem to have caught on to the notion! :)

Friday, July 18, 2014

The three little fishies

Our kids go swimming in the pool pretty much every single day from April through October, as well as a few days a week in March and November, when the water is almost too cold. By "almost too cold" I mean 70 degrees, which is my threshold for letting them go swimming.

All that chlorine in the water was really doing a number on the girls' hair this year. Miriam loves jumping in and diving underwater, so her hair was getting drenched every time she went swimming. Her hair became dry and brittle, and the ends were feeling like plastic doll hair - yikes!

I found these cute little swim caps on Amazon, and must say they work great! Only the hair around the very edges of the cap gets a little damp during swimming now, no matter how wildly the girls play in the pool. They go on pretty easily, though it helps that I braid their hair first. At age 7, with hair all the way down to her hips, this swim cap still fits Miriam well, though I doubt it will still work next year.

The girls also came up with a fun little game, "The three little fishes and the big bad shark." The big bad shark being one of their brothers chasing them around the pool. 

No affiliate links or anything - just wanted to say these swim caps are cute and very good at keeping the girls' hair dry. :)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

My personal gelato shop

My husband really is the greatest guy! 

For years, I had been wanting a compressor-style ice cream maker. Unlike machines that require the bowl to be frozen, those with their own compressor have a built-in freezer. This offers several advantages. For one, they can keep up with the Arizona heat and crank out a batch of firm ice cream even on the hottest summer days. More importantly, they can make batch after batch, without the bowl having to be frozen overnight. A major boon when feeding 9 eager mouths hungry for ice cream. 

Anyhow, several weeks ago, I found a commercial gelato maker on Craigslist. I just love commercial anything, because they have greater capacity and there are so many of us. Plus, commercial stuff usually holds up much better. The price was ridiculously low, just a small fraction of what this puppy costs new. The only problem was that the people selling it lived a couple of hours away in the sticks, which must have been why they kept lowering the price. (By comparison, someone was selling a BROKEN unit for three times that price here in the city.) 

I had mentioned it to my husband, but there was no way I was willing or able to go that far to pick it up, with Boaz still being little and not liking to ride in the car. Later that week, I was having a particularly rough day. My husband came home from the office that night, and realizing I'd had a long day, asked what he could do to cheer me up. To myself, I thought "I would really like that ice cream maker right now!" but of course didn't say so. 

Well, he walked back out to the van, and walked back in - with my new (to me) gelato maker! I thought he had been at the office all afternoon, but he had, in fact, driven for hours to get it for me. I had not seen that coming, at all! Ever since then, we have made "ice cream" part of our family's daily food pyramid :) So many possibilities!! Just check out my Pinterest board for ice cream recipes :)

I set up a dedicated "ice cream station", where we keep the gelato maker, ice cream dishes/spoons/scoops, paper and plastic tubs for gift-giving and freezing, jars with various toppings, and a waffle cone maker. It has seen a lot of use this summer!

Pumpkin Pie gelato, topped with whipped cream, graham cracker crumbs, and pecan pieces.

Mmmh mmmh! Let me tell you, fresh ice cream goes a long ways towards a happy marriage!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Highlights from the Homeschool Conference

And by highlights, I mean cute pics of my family :) 


The conference was great, as always. I loved catching up with friends and acquaintances in the homeschooling world, being around thousands of like-minded people, browsing the exhibit hall for fresh ideas, sitting in on a few sessions, chatting with fellow exhibitors when we got there early to set up our own booth and stay late to clean up, etc. In a way I wish the conference were longer, and in a way I'm glad it's not.

Day 1 - Orange

 Day 2 - Yellow

And a happy baby both days!

We had a booth for my husband's "Complete Church Piano Course" again this year, and also gave out thousands of sermon CDs and hundreds of the "After the Tribulation", "New World Order Bible Versions," and the 22-hour Revelation series DVDs for free. 

We were busy half the day on Thursday packing and setting up our booth, and were at the conference about 12 hours each on Friday and Saturday. With 8 kids who needed to be fed, watered, entertained, kept in line, (some) diapered etc. this was no easy feat!!! Plus, I wanted to go to some of the sessions and shop for materials, too. A sweet lady from our church helped us all day both days of the conference, which was absolutely awesome!

Would you believe Solomon is starting 9th Grade this fall? I just cannot believe how fast time is flying by. Isaac will be 7th, John 5th, Miriam 3rd, Becky 1st (she is repeating last year because she only finished her books half-way, being as she is only 5 and likes to play a lot), and Anna has a few Pre-K workbooks.

Speaking of Solomon, he got his first major paying job at the conference! When we went to the exhibit hall on Thursday to set up our booth, before it was open to the public, we got to chatting with a fellow exhibitor, "Creating a Masterpiece". He mentioned that he needed two volunteers to demonstrate the art curriculum he was selling by going through the DVD, following the instructions, and creating a piece of artwork during the hours that the convention was open. Both Solomon and John jumped on the offer. The exhibitor then asked if Solomon was interested in helping other kids go through the DVD both days of the conference, 2 kids per hour, during the public hours of the exhibit hall. Of course, Solomon said yes! His job was basically to start the DVD for the kids, stop it every time the instructions got to the next step, help as needed, etc. Then repeat every hour from 10 am to 7 pm (minus breaks).


I must say both his Dad and I were mighty proud of him. He worked hard, even though I am sure that after going through the same DVD for the 15th time, it must have started to be a bit boring. Every representative at the booth that he was working at said he was a big help to them. His boss paid him $9/hour, which I thought was very generous for a 12-year old. Not to mention the fact that they were willing to work with someone that age in the first place, and offer him such a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow. Solomon spent some of his money buying 3 of the art DVDs because he liked them so much (I bought 3 more, because they really are wonderful), and took the rest of his wages in a paycheck. (Sniffle!) Where oh where has my little baby gone??!?!?

They offered him the job again for next year. Of course, Solomon excitedly told them "Yes!" I do hope it works out for him.

All the kids did remarkably well, especially considering how much time and effort we put into this. It's been several days, and I am just now getting caught up on sleep. But always so worth it!!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Progress update on Trim Healthy Mama

If you have read my previous posts on the popular "Trim Healthy Mama" book, you may remember that I like the plan, except for the frankenfoods and artificial "natural" sweeteners it promotes. If you have not yet done so, you can read my previous posts on the topic here and here

The authors' insistence to the contrary notwithstanding, YES, the plan works fabulously well when raw honey, dark maple syrup, or other wholesome sweeteners are used in the recipes. Yes, you CAN kick stevia and erythritol/xylitol to the curb where they belong, still have great success with the concept of separating carbs and fats, and see the pounds melt away.

I started THM 2 weeks postpartum, and have lost 15 lbs in the 7 weeks since then, or roughly 2 lbs per week. Because I am not restricting my caloric intake, losing weight at this rate has not negatively affected my milk supply. In fact, I feel that it is better than ever.

You may think that being so recently postpartum, I was bound to lose weight without effort, but that just is not true for me. Without a concerted effort on my part, I would weigh what I weigh the day after giving birth indefinitely. Even now, if I go off-plan, my weight loss immediately stops, even if I do reduce portion sizes when "off-plan."

Specifically, I have never limited how much honey I use with "E" dishes (carb-fueled), and limit myself to about a tablespoon or so per serving for "S" (fat-fueled) or "FP" meals. The exact amount may vary from person to person. Generally, I do not sweeten my foods very much even when not trying to lose weight, and mostly avoid desserts. If your goal in eating THM-style is to be able to eat desserts at every meal, the plan may not work for you with natural sweeteners. I am saying that because a lot of ladies in the THM camp sing the praises of being able to have chocolate for breakfast, cake for lunch, and ice cream for dinner. Okay, maybe that's a slight exaggeration. In any case, moderation is key - that should go without saying. But by and large, I do not find that the plan is any less effective now that I use honey than back when I used it with stevia. 

I also make an exception for milk, allowing myself one cup of raw whole milk most days with E meals, without any adverse effects.

If you follow the THM plan and have advice or feedback to share, please do so in the comments below.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

More summer fun

Oh my, has it REALLY been two weeks since I last blogged? Waaaah! - where has the time gone??!? This summer is certainly a busy one. We have been working down our "bucket list" some more:
  • Visit the Arizona Science Center: We went with friends from church. Their daughter is the age of our oldest two boys, which made it particularly fun for them.

Both Becky and John were picked as volunteers for one of the demonstrations :)

  • Go hiking at Mt. Humphreys, the highest point in the state of AZ: This was for the guys only! About 15 men from our church went that day, plus our three boys. Conditions on the mountain that day were insane, with wind speeds approaching hurricane force. Of course, as there were only guys on this trip, nobody would be dissuaded from soldiering on to the very top, in spite of the fact that every other hiker they encountered that day turned around when they reached the timber line, and were exposed to the elements. I'm just glad nobody got blown off the side of the mountain, and made it home safe and sound... 

  • Go geocaching: We finally tried it, and loved it... more or less! :) I think this pastime is best enjoyed by more nerdy-leaning folks who enjoy high-tech scavenger hunts. Some of the caches are simply impossible to find, clues and coordinates or not.

  • Make marshmallows from scratch: There are many recipes online for making your own marshmallows. I chose one that uses honey and high-quality gelatin, thinking that something cannot both be a yummy candy AND completely wholesome, but was glad to be wrong: the kids LOVED these, and I felt good about letting them eat as many as they wanted. I didn't take a picture, but in spite of the honey syrup being brown, as I whipped the mixture, it became perfectly fluffy and white, as one would expect a marshmallow to be. We saved some of the marshmallow creme to make rice crispy treats, too.

  • Make personal pizzas: Of course, this is always a favorite with the kids!

  • Go on a camping trip: Our church's annual camping trip was at the end of June. This year, we had a total of 80 people, with 41 of those being children (38 of which were 9 or younger - wow!)

Fair warning: get ready to be photo-bombed with my cute littlest camper, who has been giving us the biggest and sweetest smiles :)

  • Set up the projector in the back yard and watch a movie/docu while floating in the pool after dark 
  • See fireworks  
We combined these last two into our 4th of July activity. The kids all agreed that they would much rather set off their own fireworks than watch a big display somewhere else. My husband set up the projector, and we played "KJB - The Book that Changed the World" on the back wall of the house by the pool, while he grilled sausages for all of us to enjoy as we floated in the pool and watched the docu. Once it was over, him and the kids set off fireworks on our street. It was close to 11 pm by the time everyone was in bed that night. 

  • Make s'mores: I wasn't motivated enough to make a solar oven with the kids, or to light the fire pit, so we just made these under the broiler in the oven. To make it more fun, we used PB cups, mint patties, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and coffee & cream chocolate for the s'mores.  

One activity that was missing from our bucket list, but that I was hoping to be able to do, was playing in the rain. We simply cannot count on rain in the desert, but thankfully, we have so far had one dust storm, followed by torrential downpours, this summer. It started late at night, just as I was about to send the oldest kids to bed. Funny enough, the kids had all been told to go to bed in their swim clothes that night, because we were planning on getting up at the crack of dawn and heading to the splash pad for a picnic breakfast before the sun got too hot. So it was easy enough to just send everyone out the front door, even though it was getting late. Miriam had fallen asleep already, but since rain is so rare, I decided to wake her up and see if she wanted to go play in it. She was so disoriented when she got up, that she started brushing her teeth, thinking it was morning and we were leaving for the splash pad. The next day, she had no recollection of that, whatsoever! :)

The rest of this week is very full as well. Tomorrow, I have to get some dental work done, take  a meal to a new mom, and then there is church at night. Thursday, we are packing up for the homeschool convention, and setting up our booth in the afternoon (we are exhibitors again this year!). All day Friday and Saturday will be spent at the convention. Sundays are busy days for us, and by Monday I will be ready to just crash and rest.

Thank you for checking in! :)

    Tuesday, June 24, 2014

    Baby swing woes and triumphs

    Today's post is a quick, absolutely honest, non-sponsored shout out to the company Fisher Price after they bowled me over with their customer service today.
    You see, baby Boaz loves to sit in a swing as much as any baby. In fact, he loves it so much, I could even put him in it awake, and he would quickly doze off, and stay asleep for a good 2 or 3 hours, predictably and reliably. It doesn't get much better than that, folks. Showers, urgent phone calls, dinner, and other things I used to take for granted B.C. (before children) can all be attained with a good baby swing and a swing-happy baby.
    Our last swing before this current one was purchased used, and saw us through 4 babies (Miriam through Stephen). It still works, but the padding has been compressed to being virtually non-existent. Plus, it was always a bit too upright for little babies to comfortably sleep in, even fully reclined.
    Because of this, even though the old swing still worked, I decided to buy the "Fisher Price Snuggle Bunny" cradle swing, minimally used, from a neighbor. By minimally used, I mean they only used it for a couple of weeks, and then never again. As the name suggests, this swing cradles the baby and is very well padded, making for cozy naptimes. The swing comes with other bells and whistles, such as plugging into an outlet rather than only using batteries, but that is beside the point here.
    All was well until two weeks ago, when I put Boaz in the swing for his usual morning nap and the motor would not turn on!!! Noooooooo!!!!  After a collective use time of not even two months on this swing, I found that rather unacceptable. Even used, we still paid $100 for the swing, since it was like new.
    A glance at online reviews quickly revealed that the motor giving out is a very common problem on these particular swings. In fact, I found a popular YouTube video tutorial showing how to replace the motor in the swing with a motor from a $5 air freshener. No joke! It should come as no shock that such a motor will NOT hold up in a baby swing.
    Several responses to the reviews on the Fisher Price company site encouraged disgruntled customers to call their Customer Service department, but seeing as I had purchased the swing used, and rarely have time for more than the most pressing phone calls, I didn't bother calling them.
    Instead I tried putting Boaz into the old swing for naps. He would stay asleep through me transferring him from my arms to the swing, buckle him, get it all going, but he would wake up within minutes, crabby and tired, but not happy with that particular swing. I tried adding extra blankets to make it softer, but that didn't help. Many days I just carried him in the sling for naps, but that's not always convenient, especially when I'm cooking or doing work outside in the heat.
    What to do, what to do? Buy a new $200 swing with an air-freshener-quality motor? Surely not. But that's the only one baby was happy with. Follow the tutorial and replace the motor ourselves? It didn't really look like something we wanted to dabble with. Desperate, I decided to call customer service - maybe they could advise me as to how to fix/replace the motor.
    The lady I spoke with was very friendly. She was rather surprised when I mentioned this was our 8th baby, and told me she herself was #9 of 11. I always love talking to people from large families, and finding out what number baby they are! I told her the swing was used and several years old, but had not been used much. She was able to look up our swing by date code and product ID, and even though it was manufactured in 2011 and was never registered, she offered to replace it, completely free of charge. Normally they only send out the top part of the defective swings (a very common problem as they were well aware of), but since our particular model is no longer on the market, she offered to send me a whole new swing, completely free of charge! She even gave me a choice between the "Snuggle Monkey" or "Little Lamb" design. She also mentioned that they have redesigned the motor assembly, and I can only guess they are using better motors to avoid such problems in the future.
    Whoa - I was (and am) still shocked! I told her this was the best customer service I had ever experienced, and that I would leave a positive review on their website to let others know about it, since there is a lot of negative feedback regarding the old swing motors out there and the company is clearly trying to get back in customers' good graces. If and when we need a new swing, we will purchase new, and it will be from Fisher Price. I absolutely LOVE good customer service, and will be faithful to those companies for life.
    The new swing should be here within a week. What to do in the meantime? Well, my husband had an idea that was as hilarious as it was practical. See if you can spot the solution to the problem?
    Isn't he so cute even in his sleep??!?
    Yep, that's a piece of string connecting the comfy swing with the bust motor to the old, uncomfortable swing with the indestructible motor. Put baby in comfy swing, turn motor on the old swing on, an voila - we have motion! Funny, no? The kids and I all thought so. More importantly, for the first time since the swing motor broke, Boaz has been happily napping in the swing for a couple of hours and counting.
    P.S. If you are a new mom to your first child, and fret over whether or not you should feel bad about baby sleeping in a swing, please let me tell you: DON'T!!! I, too, was once plagued by guilt and doubt as to whether or not sweet little baby Solomon should be "left" in a swing for extended periods of time. After 7 babies that have made it to toddlerhood and beyond, I can testify that the swing did no harm to them. They go from helpless newborn to rambunctious toddler emptying every cabinet in the house in the blink of an eye, so enjoy these rare quiet moments while you can. A happy baby in a safe spot allows mom to take care of other things as well as herself, and makes for harmonious family life all around. Your baby will still be spending hours a day in your arms, especially if you are exclusively breastfeeding and sharing your bed at night. And as the case of the poorly padded swing proves, if baby isn't happy with the arrangement, they have ways of letting us know about it loud and clear! :)

    Friday, June 13, 2014

    Home Birth Haters

    Yikes, I thought I had heard all the objections to a planned, midwife-assited home birth. Then I became pregnant with twins, experienced multiple complications that required major medical interventions, and was thankfully, eventually, cleared to being "low-risk" again. And, went on to successfully deliver at home for the seventh time.

    The specialist we were seeing  kinda, sorta, under the table even encouraged us to go ahead with a home birth, saying in his report there were no contraindications for a home birth, while adding that technically, he could not recommend such a choice (Ah, liability! A truly American phenomenon.)

    My midwife, Dr. E the consulting MFM, and the awesome tech at his office that did all our ultrasounds. All getting along and working together as a team - what a blessing!

    And, unlike the OB I was also seeing but who dropped me from her care when I would not rule out attempting a home birth, Dr. E was genuinely thrilled to hear about our healthy, safe birth, and about meeting little baby Boaz when we stopped in for a visit. The OB? When my husband and I stopped by her office with Boaz, we waited for 40 minutes, and she would not even see us at all. Knowing that she spends about 90 seconds on each of her patients, I have a hard time believing she was just too busy that day. 

     The kids and I dropped off a gift for everyone at the office as a little "thank you."

    When we go to Southern California for a family vacation later this summer, our family will also be stopping by the office of the surgeon that did both procedures during my pregnancy, and thank him and his staff. Humanly speaking, they more than anyone else involved in this pregnancy are responsible for saving Boaz' life when TTTS and PROM threatened to take it. We are thankful for medical advances and the professionals that carry them out, when needed.

    Anyhow, leading up to the birth, I received a number of comments from those trying to dissuade me from a home birth. I will be responding to these below. Buckle up!

    With all of the complications you have had in this pregnancy, why on earth would you ever consider a home birth? Why in the world would you risk your baby's health and perhaps even his life? If you were so willing to allow extensive interventions during pregnancy, I just can't understand why you would risk everything at the end? I'm not trying to be critical, I'm just completely baffled. I've heard one too many stories (one of which happened to someone close to me) of babies dying because of the lack of adequate care during a home birth. With all of the difficulties you've had during this pregnancy, I just don't understand why you wouldn't want the care of those who could save your baby should a complication arise during the birth.

    I would like to make one thing really clear (again - because people keep missing this memo):

    We are not, and never have been, against medical treatment, if and when warranted. That last phrase is crucial. The Bible tells us that "they that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick," which sums up our philosophy perfectly. I like to call it "medical care, a la carte." In other words, we must be discerning consumers of medical services, taking responsibility to educate ourselves and make the best choices, so that we get the care we need, when we need it - nothing more, nothing less.

    Nor are we against modern medical advances, as long as they do not pervert God's creation, or take the life of others in the process. We are all in favor of restoring health, but not at the expense of destroying life or perverting nature. These are great guidelines to help direct any decisions regarding treatment of anything from infertility to debilitating illnesses.

    "For low risk moms and low risk babies, home birth is as safe or safer than hospital birth."
    Or something like that.

    Zsu, you are NOT low risk. After all you have been through, to still entertain the idea of home birth is astonishingly reckless. And that a "midwife" would agree to attend you is hubris of the highest order.

    I desperately hope nothing goes wrong and both you and your baby will be alive and safe 2 months from now. But even if that is the case, it is little different than the man that will drive home drunk this Friday and claim that because he didn't end up smashed into a telephone pole that it was still safe for him to drive drunk.

    Well, according to all the doctors treating me, I WAS low risk by the time I was far enough along to even consider home birth. But yes, dear anonymous person on the internet that has much better medical knowledge of my reproductive system than my doctors, I shall consult with you in the future - NOT!

    And giving birth at home is every bit as irresponsible as drunk driving? Say WHAT?

    If your baby is born in a hospital, he has a near 100% chance of survival with minimal to no long-lasting effects.

    Keep that in mind as you consider having a homebirth to a high risk baby at 36 weeks into the hands of a woman with no medical training far from a NICU. If your baby dies - he would have lived at the hospital.

    True, babies born in a hospital have a near 100% chance of survival. As do babies born at home. Scores of studies have shown that in terms of survival rates, home and hospital have virtually identical numbers, though some studies come out in favor of home birth. The big difference is not in the mortality rate, but in the morbidity rate, i.e. the number of interventions and complications. Of course, home birth outperforms hospitals by a long shot in every aspect of this. Same outcomes, with fewer complications at home. Yes, I'm fine with that. 

    And no medical training? Do you know who my midwife is, or what training she has undergone? What a ludicrous claim! (insert eye roll)

    The net is to prevent the young children in the audience seeing a person's brains splattered on the floor. A C-section is to prevent the unnecessary death of a young child. The idea that you see a "catastrophic home birth transfer" as win-win is unbelievably delusional. What exactly is your definition of "catastrophic"?

    I desperately hope things will be fine...and they probably will. But after all you have been through to bring this child into the world away from medical care (a CPM with an oxygen mask is NOT neonatal resuscitation) is so incredibly reckless. You have a proven pelvis Zsu, many times over. You do NOT have a 30% C-section risk. Go to the hospital.

    For sake of time, let's ignore the claim that I ever considered a catastrophic transfer a win-win, though I suppose words can be twisted to say anything. 

    And as for the proven pelvis? It wasn't proven in a hospital. In fact, they did not believe in my pelvis, at all, as proven by the unnecessary interventions I was subjected to. I was lucky to have made it out of there without a C-section. True, maybe I could, after 7 home births, stand up to the hospital policies and doctors as necessary. But why would I do that, when I can just avoid the confrontation altogether? If I need a hospital, I'll go to one, and let them do their thing without me telling them how to do their job. But when there's no problem? I'll just stay home and do my own thing.

    One more thought - still no comment on the January CDC report? Ever fooled around with the CPM infant birth/death linked data in the CDC Wonder Database? Fascinating stuff.
    Haven't seen or heard of such a report, and don't care to. I do not trust government agencies that tell me how to be healthy, as they advocate for vaccines and disease-riddled homo lifestyles, while going after raw milk. Hm, I wonder if they have an agenda?

    It's not a "turf war". Really, Zsu? After all you've been through and you view one of the OB's that has helped keep your baby alive as just some petty kid on the playground? It never occurred to you that she might just be concerned for the well-being of you and your baby?

    Out of hospital birth represents a potential loss of income. CPMs cannot decide to practice in a hospital, here or in any other first world nation because they are not qualified. So who exactly has more at stake here - the OB or the CPM?

    Also, your OB isn't going to parade this birth around to all her colleagues but I guarantee you your CPM will trumpet her success in managing a twins, TTTS, post-surgical, post-ROM, etc etc etc pregnancy to all her CPM friends. Who knows, it might even make a crowdsourcing Midwifery Today post.

    But of course, if something goes wrong you'll be happy to run to her and beg her to fix it. When she could have prevented it in the first place with a hospital birth.
    The OB did near zero to "help keep my baby alive", unless measuring my fundal height and listening to the heart beat a half dozen times fall into that category. Anyone, and I do mean anyone, could have done the same. 

    CPMs cannot practice in hospitals because they cannot buy malpractice insurance, which the hospital requires. 

    Your OB is smart for bowing out, if something goes wrong because of your insistance [sic] for control , you would not hesitate to sue her for neglect,

    Suing the OB, or anyone involved in my medical care for that matter? No. Again, that's an American phenomenon, one I find particularly disgusting. Bad things happen, and often, it's nobody's fault. 


    Facts are stubborn things. At the end of the day, fact is that I have had 8 natural deliveries with zero C-sections, when statistically, I should have had two or three by now.

    Fact is that at our church, some 25 babies have been born since we started, and all but one were natural births. That comes out to a 4% C-section rate - nothing to sneeze at! That Mom had a prior health history that all but ruled out natural delivery for her. No complications or "catastrophic transfers" with any of the natural deliveries. 

    I wonder how many more people have been educated and influenced regarding home birth through the online sermons or this blog. I know of many of them, but I'm sure there are others I don't even know exist.

    My goal with this post is not to start a debate. Rather, it is to encourage parents to think outside the box of standard American obstetric care. For low risk moms, home is the best place to be. If you are not low risk, you have many options available to try and help resolve problems before it comes time for the birth.

    Thursday, June 12, 2014

    Summer 2014 Bucket list

    Summer break is here, which is otherwise known as the busiest time of year! I sometimes have to remind the children that the only change in our day-to-day routine is the absence of school work, not complete absolution from any and all chores or other work.

    Actually, I am continuing to do a little school work with Miriam and Becky over the summer. At their age, taking three months completely off would just lead to some major loss of what they just spent the last year learning. Plus, I get to devote more one-on-one time to them during this time. The older kids are continuing to spend some time each day practicing the piano, plus we are making an effort to speak/learn more German than we have time for during the school year, and they are reading lots of non-fiction books during their "silent time" each day. Other times, they spent those couple of hours on an art or science project they enjoy. I guess learning never stops in earnest around here. :)

    Still, that leaves our mornings wide open for special activities and fun! On our routine, everyone is to be ready down to the shoes, and have their younger "charge" ready, by 9 am. That includes breakfast done and mess cleaned up, hair and teeth brushed, and the morning chores all taken care of. Since the sun comes up before 5 a.m. in Arizona this time of year, the kids are usually up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed no later than 6 a.m., more than enough time to get ready by our goal of 9 a.m.

    Back in April and May, I came up with a bucket list for this summer, with not a little help from Pinterest. We try to do at least one fun activity each day, except on Sundays, which are the closest I will get to a "day off" while having a house full of people that demand to eat three square meals each day.

    Here is what we have done so far:

    Toy car snacks: The kids loved these! So much so, that they were all gobbled up before I got a chance to grab my camera. We also made some from cantaloupes and grapes. If you follow the link, you will find more great ideas of what fruits and veggies to make these out of. 
    Source here

    Make ice cream or gelato: This has been an almost daily occurrence. Just check out my Pinterest board of ice cream recipes! I may or may not have even fed my kids a dinner of ice cream a time or two this summer... which, really, is hardly the end of the world considering wholesome ingredients such as milk, cream, egg yolks, and honey. A couple of times, we have also made waffle cones to serve the ice cream in.
    My favorite flavors have been: fresh mint (and I usually HATE mint ice cream) with chocolate chunks made of raw cacao paste, banana Nutella, and tiramisu. If you are a fan of pistachio (my husband is), you will LOVE this one. I have yet to try other enticing flavors such as cake batter, buttered popcorn, and root beer (that one's for Father's Day). 
     Going swimming - another daily activity

    Sign up for the summer reading program at the library, and go to special summer programs they offer: Solomon is in the TEEN category for the first time this year. Yikes! Where did time go??!?!? He was just a newborn, like, yesterday. I remember it so clearly. Waaaaaaaaah!

    We have already attended several of the special performances, all of which were (as always) great fun.

    The one, the only Arizona Rick
    Make projects from various incomplete art books: Over the years, we have accumulated a number of books that give step-by-step instructions, with some pre-printed pages and supplies.The older kids really enjoy helping the younger ones with these.

    Make watermelon flavor moon sand: I didn't even take a picture of this one. Not sure where in the instructions I went wrong, but it was a complete flop. By the end of it all I had sand that was nothing like moon sand, smelled terrible, and left my hands dyed bright red.

    Make pretend-play ice-cream: This one turned out great! All the kids loved playing with this stuff.

     Notice the cherry on top... :)

    This little guy quickly figured out that the ice cream was technically edible

    Build marshmallow guns: Another popular activity this summer. I showed the boys how to build the first one, and then let them build the guns for all the other kids. We still need to decorate/paint them.

     The girls made up some sort of pole dance with the PVC while the boys were working

     Action shot!

    And here is what we still have planned for this summer:

    • have a board game night and popcorn at church
    • go on a camping trip
    • set up the projector in the back yard and watch a movie/docu while floating in the pool after dark
    • put light sticks in the pool and yard and go night swimming
    • set up the terrarium OR hamster cage
    • go to the homeschool convention (we are exhibitors again this year!)
    • visit the Arizona Science Center
    • visit friends in Prescott
    • go hiking at Mt. Humphreys, the highest point in the state of AZ (guys only!)
    • go kayaking at Canyon Lake
    • go to the kids' favorite playground/splash pad super early, have a picnic breakfast there
    • go geocaching
    • light the fire pit, make s'mores
    • have a lemonade stand
    • make marshmallows from scratch
    • build a puzzle as a family here and there over several days
    • have a water balloon and sponge ball fight
    • make cotton candy
    • make personal pizzas
    • see fireworks
    • go bowling
    • go to IKEA
    • have a tug-of-war on stumps
    • freeze an ice block with trinkets for a treasure hunt
    • build a balloon dart board
    • surprise the kids with a donut tree for breakfast
    • throw paint-filled eggs at canvas
    • paint rocks
    • have an indoor bean bag toss
    • build a homemade water park (plastic sheeting, PVC kiddie car wash, 2-liter bottle suspended from a hose)
    • make solar oven s'mores
    • bake pretzels

    Plus, we will also be going on a family vacation to Southern California later this summer. The kids all earned tickets to Magic Mountain, and we will be doing some other fun stuff while in the area.

    Yay for summer!!!!