Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Recent happenings

Our family is slowly getting back to "normal" life. Our Christmas this year was, of course, overshadowed by all the pregnancy complications, but the children hopefully didn't take much notice of that. I typically buy all their gifts throughout the year just because it saves money and evens out the cost. This year, I was extra glad I had finished up all the gift buying by fall, because that was one less thing to have to think about.

On Christmas Eve, the kids first had their own personal gift exchange in the boys' room. Back in September, we had drawn names, and each child was going to give a gift to only one sibling. Meaning a total of 6 gifts were exchanged between them all, rather than 30 if they had each given one gift to each sibling (Stephen was too young to participate this year). This was our first year doing this, and the kids were a bit skeptical, but I think it is definitely going to become the new tradition.






For the family, our tradition for several years now has been to open gifts on Christmas Eve in the evening. That way, the kids stay up later than usual playing, and then sleep in on Christmas Day, rather than waking us long before dawn, brimming with excitement. Plus, it's a great motivator - "We will open presents as soon as the house is clean and everyone is done with their chores!" Ha!
 
 Before the storm...



This little play store turned out the be the biggest hit with the girls and Stephen. They continue to play with it for hours each day. The play food, register, and grocery cart were previous gifts, but went along with this perfectly. It is set up in the girls' room now, next to their play kitchen, so they pretend to run a grocery store with a little built-in cafe.
  


Yes, our kids LOVE Playmobil. Like, a lot. I think it's great - they play with it for hours, even the older ones. Certainly beats video games in my book.

I spent New Year's Eve at home alone, while the rest of the crew went to our church's Watchnight Service. I just was not feeling well at all, physically or emotionally. It really was a very low point for me. At that point, we were still in shock from Baby A passing, and it looked like with Baby B's severely leaking membrane, we were going to lose him, too. Thankfully, things have been looking up since then. 

Our homeschool resumed last week, after Christmas break, and the children are doing well. Just this week, we have been able to add in all the extra-curricular classes they take: P.E., piano, and riding lessons (for Isaac only). For the latter two, we do not pay, but rather barter, which is extra work on my part I haven't been able to do, but now feel ready for. My husband is the one who takes all the kids to P.E. each week, even the ones that are too young to participate in the class. It really is wonderful to have a couple of hours at home all by myself, even if it is just spent catching up on housework.

With all the extra doctor's appointments, phone calls, paperwork and such, it has taken me until this week to get into my groove more. Thankfully, I upgraded our chore system while I was on bed rest, which is really working out well for us. I got the inspiration from an article in the most recent issue of Homeschool Enrichment Magazine, my favorite homeschool magazine on the market by far. If you are not a subscriber, I highly recommend it! I am hoping to share our new and improved chore system soon.

Pregnancy-wise, all seems to be going well. We see the specialist tomorrow, and with the amniopatch seemingly holding, are hoping to be released to being a low-risk pregnancy again. The surviving baby's amniotic membrane will remain compromised for the rest of this pregnancy, but with some basic precautions, that should not stop me from being able to go full-term. We are aware that things could turn ugly again at any moment, and are preparing accordingly, but are enjoying being able to catch our breaths a little bit at this time. I have been able to find an OB who supports natural birth, at a hospital with a level III NICU. When I toured the hospital, the nurse took me aside afterwards to tell me that since I had already had seven natural births, their nurses would treat me differently than a first-time mom, and give me whatever freedom from their "rules" that I needed, as long as my doctor was okay with that. 

The issue I had mentioned with the hospital bill in L.A. has been completely resolved. We will only be paying for the original estimated amounts ($13k for the first surgery, $9.5k for the second), not the much higher amounts that only apply if billed to insurance. So in all, our out-of-pocket medical expenses for both surgeries and all appointments with doctors and specialists in town are in the neighborhood of $35k, which is a huge chunk, but at least not impossible. We are very thankful to all who have donated any amount and helped us with this unexpected financial burden. We are equally thankful to those who have remembered us in their prayers, and ask that you please continue to do so.

Since my energy levels are still dragging from time to time, and I am supposed to be taking it easy to prevent  premature labor, I have been spending extra time at the sewing machine. I have finally made several new pajama pants for my poor, freezing sons (you know, because the house goes down to 70 degrees at night...), and also finally managed to finish a quilt I started for my husband a couple of months ago. It was supposed to be a Christmas gift, but at that time I was unable to sit at the machine and sew. Because of being pregnant, I am a light sleeper, and he often ends up in our guest bed so as to not disturb me. This quilt, while light-weight, is still warm. The batting is 100% wool, and the backing a warm flannel.



I may be signing up for another quilting or cake decorating class in the coming months. They are a blessing to be because in addition to learning a new skill, it takes me out of the house in the evening, which is the hardest time of the day for me at this point. The kids are their wildest and neediest, the house is a disaster, and I start breaking down emotionally and just want to be alone in peace and quiet somewhere, praying for the baby that is still alive, and thinking about the one that has passed on. My husband, who is generally awesome and loving, but has been especially so during this time, is happy to play my part at home while I go and enjoy a couple of hours at a craft class, and then come home to a clean house and sleeping children. If you have been thinking about trying craft classes at Jo-Ann's, I highly recommend you do so. This week, all their class fees are half off (at least in our area), so this is the perfect time to sign up.

Also last week, my cousin from Germany who visited with his family this summer was back in town by himself for a few days on business. We were glad to have him be able to spend some time with us. And as if that was not enough, he loaded us up with some wonderful German chocolates, and my favorite "muesli", though it's really not a health food but rather a dessert. Trader Joe's, who is owned by a German company, used to sell their own version here in their US stores, but discontinued it several years ago and I had not had any since then. I am very carefully guarding the muesli my cousin brought over, enjoying a little here and there as a special treat.




 My cousin handing out Kinder [beep] - it doesn't get much better than that!! Yes, in the land of GMOs  and Twinkies, certain chocolates are banned because they are hollow and contain small toys, a terribly dangerous choking hazard (all the warnings on the package notwithstanding). Thankfully, my kids made short end of the contraband, and no traces of evidence are left. Whew!

Speaking of chocolate muesli, I have been making chocolate granola for our family this last month, and love it. You can find the recipe here - I follow it to a T, with no changes, and it's a huge hit with everyone. It's especially good with a banana sliced into it!!

That's all for now. Thank you for following our story, and keeping us in your prayers.

29 comments:

  1. Definitely going to make some chocolate granola. Yum! At least it's whole food and low GI, much better than overly processed "cereals". Praise God you are doing better. Glad to see you keeping your chin up - so hard to do after a disappointment like yours. Lovely to see the kids enjoying Christmas. I think your idea of one gift from the children to one other is good. I didn't even give mine a gift to give to each other this year, I will consider a system like this next year. And I've started to prepare for this years Christmas already. Out of charactor for me, ha ha. Amazing what goes on sale this time of year.
    Anyway, blessings to you all for 2014.

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  2. Hi, this is Annemarie from Real Food Real Deals. I'm so happy to hear that your family is enjoying my chocolate granola recipe. It's always nice to know that a recipe is "kid-approved." I'll keep you and your baby in my prayers.

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  3. I'm so glad to hear things are starting to feel manageable. I'm also really glad that you are getting that away time in the evenings; not because we don't love and enjoy being with our children, but because sometimes, there is so much weighing on our minds and hearts ! I struggled with that, feeling like I could never take personal time without feeling selfish, but I really discovered through our loss that it is important to do that, if it means being spiritually, mentally, and emotionally the best I can be for my family.Your husband sounds like he is being wonderful too :) what a great example for all of the men in his congregation :)

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  4. Fyi, Kinder eggs are illegal in the US. People can be fined up to $2500 per egg, so you might want to delete the pictures of them on a public blog. Good luck with your pregnancy!

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    1. Seems ridiculous for them to be banned in the US, they are allowed here in Australia!

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    2. They have been legal here off and on, but banned for several years now. Indeed, totally ridiculous. I have yet to read about all the kids choking to death on the toy inside, seeing as they can be bought virtually anywhere in the world.

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    3. You don't get to pick and choose which laws to break simply because you find it ridiculous....and posting a picture isn't very smart.

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    4. Anon,

      We are now preparing for the FBI to carry out one of their no-knock search warrants on our home. If you don't hear from me again, you'll know what happened.

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    5. P.S. It's the commercial sale of these that is illegal, not their consumption. Customs didn't even bat an eye at them, since they were intended as gifts.

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    6. Before I knew that they were illegal in the U.S, I posted pictures of all of the yummy Easter treats that our friends had sent us to remind us of our time there. Someone posted the same thing to me....nothing came of it :D Because as you said, it's the sale that is illegal, not the consumption....and since our friends gifted them to us, as your cousin did to you, there was no issue. We have since then started making our own for holidays, just a fun reminder of the time our family spent there.I've shared pictures of those too, and interestingly, no one has ever commentd that those are an issue (which they wouldn't be, since I'm not selling them, but that doesn't stop people from saying something here). Goodness, people ?!?! This proves, they'll pick on anything ( thinly veiled in well-wishes of course) !

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    7. Their import for gifts is illegal also. Customs does "bat an eye" at them also. Mine were confiscated when we returned to the US after a trip to Europe. I didn't even know they were banned until that happened.

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  5. Kinder Eggs have been banned in the United States. Hefty fines involved, just to let you know.

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    1. Kinder Eggs... what Kinder Eggs???! :)

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    2. Hard to take it back once you spread it around on the Internet.....the internet is forever....you should keep that it mind.

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    3. Clearly, I was joking. I guess my sense of humor is lost on you.

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  6. So glad to hear that the patch is holding and "Baby boy B" is doing so well! Our family continues to pray for you, and your family, on a daily basis. I have also forwarded a vague version of your story on to my Grandmother and her prayer group, as well as several other friends and family members and their prayer groups across the nation. That sweet little baby of yours sure is loved, even before he's been "introduced" officially to anyone yet! And of course, you are very 'loved' too, along with your whole family! I'm glad you will be getting some much needed personal time to yourself, and it's great that the good pastor is being so understanding and helpful during this time of emotional upheaval for you. It sounds like he is doing very well at being the "rock" he is supposed to be! Thank you for keeping us all updated on the progress so far, and all I can say is just try to "stay strong" as it seems the worst is probably over at this point. Keeping you always in our prayers! With Love in Christ- Amanda

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  7. Glad to hear things are better. My kids LOVE those Kinder Shocolade sticks. My husbands family in Germany bring or send them often. World Market sells them here with "Kinder Chocolate" in English.

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  8. Zsuzsanna,
    So glad to hear the positive update. I will continue lifting you in prayer daily (actually multiple times through the day - as the Lord prompts). We have a German friend that brings us Kinder Chocolate. Yum! Please continue taking care of yourself and your precious little one. Thank you for sharing. In Christ, Tiffany F.

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  9. Soooo glad to hear that you are doing better , and glad to hear that your husband is helping you so much so you can have time to heal , love seeing the Christmas pictures , I showed Riley the picture of the quilt she said it was beautiful , I am going to try to find her a sewing class in our area , I can't teach her because I don't know how to use a sewing machine , thanks for the recipe to , we love chocolate granola , glad I can comment on your blog again , must have been a problem with my pc , your always in my prayers . Dawn .

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  10. I am so happy to read how you are doing. I love the grocery and confess many years ago we made one like that for our kids. I saved paper towel and tp rolls and made canned goods for the store. Lots of fun and great memories.

    I had no idea about the eggs. When we lived in Germany I bought many and even sent them to the states as gifts for family. I have all the toys that came in them and LOVE them.

    I am praying for you and your family.

    Jennifer

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  11. Everyone, brace yourselves for the brewing ***KinderGate*** scandal. This blog post will go viral, all because of German chocolate. Anyone reading or commenting on here will be tracked by the NSA.

    Oh, never mind, they do that to anyone now, all of the time.

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    1. Hahaha! I'm not worried, I'm pretty sure that around about the time I started regularly watching and "thumbs up"-ing your hubby's sermons I was added to the govt watch list! Not to mention the "inflammatory hate speech" I have been known to post as comments online as well.... you know, I'm a crazed lunatic since I believe girls should behave like girls and boys should be behave like boys, and that it's okay to foster, nurture and encourage gender-identity. That's just the "light stuff" too, I'm sure my stance against childhood programs that teach "tolerance" for cross-dressing and homosexuality probably earns me my very own "team" of surveillance personnel! Ha! So, it's good to know that if I'm going to be labeled some sort of psychotic domestic terrorist that at least I'm in good company! I'm very glad to see that your spirits are high enough that you haven't lost your great sense of humor! <3

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  12. Thank you for your update. We are praying for you daily. So glad the finances were taken care of. I am praying that you go full term.

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  13. Umm, you can buy Kinder Eggs here in liberal Massachusetts. Typically in European delis and import stores, but I've seen them in some grocery stores as well.

    So happy to hear that you are feeling better and that life is reaching a new normal.

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  14. Also, where did you find the grocery shop? My girls would love it and their birthday is next month.

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  15. I am thrilled to see such a good update, with such great pictures! You are doing an uber-amazing job of soldiering on through this challenging time - and doing it beautifully!

    I'm super-impressed at the quilt - and the all-year Christmas shopping! I'm still in the "Oh, no! Christmas is next week and I think I was supposed to buy some gifts!"

    Hoping to hear great things from the specialist appointment that you mention, and that everything can continue to go smoothly from here on out.

    If we don't hear from you, we'll know the Kinder-Egg police have moved in. :)

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  16. So lovely to hear the GREAT news you posted last night, and to read this nice family update! Solomon's face is a hoot - Playmobil is the BEST!! Anna (and the rest of the littles) look as though they are having a blast with their new grocery store. So glad that you all had a pleasant Christmas time, despite the obvious stress and upset.

    The quilt your made for your husband is beautiful! You did a really lovely job - I'd love to learn how to quilt!

    I was so surprised to hear that Kinder Eggs are illegal in the US!!! Bizarre!!! We do have them in Ireland - though I don't usually buy them. However, I must confess I LOVE Kinder chocolate! :)

    Blessings to you all from Ireland! :)

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  17. I had no idea Kinder Eggs were illegal!!! I loved them when I was traveling in Europe and would frequently buy them for a snack (I know, not healthy. But I was young and naive...haha). I swear I even saw them for sale here a few years ago. Although it could have been something else. Now I really can't wait for our honeymoon when we go to Europe. We haven't really made a definitive decision on where to go but looking forward to it nonetheless.

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  18. I was wondering if you made the little play store? I was looking for something like it for my kids, but so any of them are so expensive.

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