8.31.2015

Miscellany Monday, August 31, 2015:


Today marks six weeks since Noah's pacemaker surgery.  He is doing good.  As of today he is allowed to submerge his incision in the bath or pool.

It took Noah longer than we had anticipated to be able to walk totally erect again.  And he couldn't pick up Abigail for weeks...which made him so sad.  It was a banner day when he could pick up sister again...he was thrilled!

But it is tender still.  Is is tender still?  Or is it that he is now doing things again, and making it tender again?  Either way, we expect it to be all better soon...but we're keeping an eye on that.

So glad the surgery is behind us.

Thinking back, and talking it over with Noah, we have agreed that the Lord's timing was perfect (of course it was!).

 - It was great for the surgery to happen during the summer, so as not to interfere with school.

 - It was perfect for it to be near the end of summer (two weeks before we started school), so as not to interfere with summer plans and swimming.

 - We knew for less than three weeks that this surgery was coming, and it was perfect for us to not know way ahead of time that this was coming this summer, so we didn't have time stew/worry (Noah and I are both good at that).


Thank you, Lord, for arranging all the "little" details of our lives.



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I recently cornrowed Abigail's hair for the first time.


Her edges are going to be the death of me.


 All over, straight back into a puff bun.



Meh.

I can get the job done...but I know from watching countless YouTube cornrowing videos that I could be (need to be!) quicker and neater.  But I have been having trouble figuring out from the videos exactly how to hold my hands/fingers and the three individual strands that I am working with.









Time to call in the cavalry!

My friend Sheena came over Friday to visit...and then we had a mini-cornrow lesson.  

Abigail really wasn't as upset as she looks here.


Sheena made it look so easy!





She cornrowed the same little strip at least 4 or 5 times...with me jumping in there and alternating turns with her.

I am still not getting my hands right.  And I was trying so hard to do it a new way, that I even forgot how to do my old (slower) way.  I was doing WORSE than before, rather than better.



I need more practice.

I looked online for a mannequin head to practice on (can't you hear Abigail thanking me?).  The price wasn't as bad as I had feared.  But then it occurred to me:  I have two willing volunteers right here...for free!  

Thank you, Elisabeth and Lily Kay!


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I am on day 7 of a 14-day online course called "Make Over Your Mornings" by Crystal Paine (I have enjoyed reading her here and there in the past, but now I know to read her more consistently...sister has so much good stuff to say!)

I have always been a big believer in hitting the ground running in the morning, knowing that I accomplish my best work then.  And I figured out years ago that our home and our family work best if I get up before the children.

My current morning routine: I get up, take a detox bath (and read while I'm in there), then a (cold) shower and get dressed/ready, unload dishwasher...and then have my quiet time with the Lord at the kitchen table, while sipping a London Fog.

So this means that I am in the kitchen, fully dressed, hair done, makeup done, shoes ON (ready to run non-stop all day) when the kiddos get up at 7 a.m.

If I ever wake up at the same time as the kiddos, it is not a good scene.  I am playing catch up all. day. long.  Not good.   For anyone here at our house.

It is simply not worth it to me for a little extra sleep.

I've already got some good groundwork laid (she didn't have to convince me that things work best here if I get up before the kiddos)....but there is always room for improvement.

I have enjoyed and been challenged in this first half of the course...and look forward to learning and implementing more new things during the last half of the course!



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Jas and I have broken a personal record:  We've had two dates in one month!  Woohoo!

Friday night, while the children hung out with Shelly and Kevin, we went to opening night of War Room.

Loved. this. movie.

What a great call to prayer.  A wonderful reminder of taking our cares/concerns to Him...realizing that He is the one who works and fights for us.  It brings to mind one of my favorite verses - one of the first verses I memorized after becoming a believer -

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7)



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I am making my way through another e-course.  This one is called "The 4 Essential Habits of Healthy Families".  It is a free e-course put together by Stephanie of Keeper of the Home (one of my favorite blogs of all time).    She does short(ish) interviews with four of my other favorite bloggers, Heather (of Mommypotamus), Crystal (of Money Saving Mom), Katie (of Kitchen Stewardship), and Katie (of Wellness Mama).

I have listened to the first one so far.  Good info!

And free!  (Can't beat that!)



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WARNING:  If you are the squeamish sort you may want to close this window now.  Dead Chicken pictures to follow....











We're down one chicken....





Crime scene photos:


We think this is where the culprit attacked the chicken, and shook it....

...and this appears to be where it finished the dastardly deed. (This is about 30 feet away from first photo)

We've submitted the crime scene photos to veteran-chicken-owner friends via text.  And then...well,  all of our FB friends.  Some say hawk. Some say dog.  Some say cat.  Some say coyote.


The chicken had gotten out of the pasture (many of them do this, which doesn't bother us....well, it didn't until this happened), and was hanging out under our two magnolia trees.  The fact that it was under some pretty low-lying trees makes us think not a hawk.  And the fact that it was not in the pasture makes the dog possibility more possible.

We really have no idea.

We would like to know so we know what to do to help protect our flock in the future.  Get some geese?  Get some guineafowl?  Both are options that are helpful and that many recommend.

We still haven't decided.




















8.24.2015

Miscellany Monday - August 24, 2015: Hair, Retreat, A Date, and What I'm Reading and Listening To

My friend/hairdresser-for-13 years, Donna, went and moved.  She said they were going to do it...but I truly was in denial for quite some time.

I had to go get my haircut by someone new last week.  I almost cried.

But then I put my big girl panties on and went on in to see Tasha.  We had a great time talking (she is hilarious!), and I don't hate my hair.

I may survive.



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I stayed up late I set my alarm to get up at midnight to register for another Created for Care conference.  Amy and I went to the first one ever 4.5 years ago.  There are now two of these events a year, and they sell out fast (like 15-minutes-fast).

I am going with Amy, Amy and Vicki...and I could not be more excited.  Three of my sweetest and closest friends.  We have 18 children between us - 14 of them adopted.

I learned so much from the sessions last time...and just as much from the adoptive moms I met.  I am so excited that we get to attend this together!


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Here is something I never imagined myself saying:

"I am reading a book entitled, Lessons from Madame Chic - 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris."

WHA?!?!  That doesn't at all sound like the kind of book that I would normally be interested in...much less be caught dead reading.

But I have come to thoroughly trust Modern Mrs. Darcy's recommendations.  When she mentioned and described this book, I knew I would like to borrow it from the library.  I had to wait for it to arrive through our state's inter-library loan system, and I am so glad I did!

This book is fascinating.  It does talk about clothes...but it is so much more than that.  Food, Exercise, Clutter, Entertaining, Cultivating your mind.  It is about living well...intentionally.  I am thoroughly enjoying this book!


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Jas and I got to go on a date last weekend.



This cute couple got all crazy and went to the auto parts store (Jason's AC is out in his truck), and to a wings place.  We had a great time!  (It wouldn't matter where we went, and what we ate, I'd take a date with this cute guy anytime!)

I have always fully agreed with the suggestion that married couples should have a weekly date night.  That would be great!

But that is simply not reality.  Not for us.  Not right now.

"Babysitter Fees" would have to have its own (big!) line item in our monthly budget to make that happen.  There is just no way we can do that right now.

But even though we can't do weekly date nights, we have tried to be much more intentional about making dates happen this year.  This equates to approximately 6 dates so far this year.  (Might only be four or five, actually) Less than one a month.  Not great.  But...this is actually much better than any year since we became parents!  We're moving in the right direction!


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A fabulous coffee punch was served at a baby shower I attended several months ago.  It. was. so. yummy!

So when our community group hosted a baby shower for Marissa last weekend, I volunteered to make the punch.  Thankfully I had the link for the exact recipe I'd tried.  There are quite a few recipes floating around on the interwebz, but none look as easy as this one.  And they simply cannot taste any better than this one.

The Best Coffee Punch - from Dukes and Duchesses

This coffee punch only has 5 ingredients (6 if you count "water", which I don't!).

CAUTION:  There is NOTHING even remotely healthy or redeeming about this recipe.  Actually, I suppose "The Best Tasting Thing I've Had This Month" is a bit of a redeeming quality...

Now go pin this recipe for the next time you help host a shower.  You'll thank me...

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I am a bit in love with this song right now.


How Can It Be? by Lauren Dangle

You plead my cause,
You right my wrongs
You break my chains
You overcome

You gave your life
To give me mine
You say that I am free
How can it be?




I have been a Christ-follower for 16 years now (really?), and I still wonder all the time:  "How Can it Be?"

And then I am so thankful that I don't have to understand His reasoning to benefit from His endless love and mercy and grace.


8.12.2015

Outtakes and Great Takes from Abigail's 1st Birthday Pictures


With the package that we ordered from Britni we got 15 fully edited pictures.  But Britni took over 400 hundred pictures in the approximately 45 minutes that we were there.  So along with the 15 fully edited pictures, Britni also sent us a disc with all of the rest of the (unedited) pictures that she took.  

Oh, my!  I had such a blast looking through all of them!

First, what is not apparent with a glance through the edited pictures is that it was me, Daniel and Noah that took Abigail to her pictures.  I had planned for the two older girls to accompany Abigail and me, but something changed at the last minute (cannot for the life of me now remember what that was) and it made more sense for the older boys to go with us.  

Things could not have turned out better.  I already know how good my older children are with the two youngest, and how much they all love each other...but WOW!   The boys were so good with A, and were so helpful...and I walked away from the shoot feeling like such a blessed mama!

I loved seeing these unedited photos that show glimpses of the help we had.









Noah is apparently a little camera-shy, so you can't actually see his face in the pictures, but his hands show up in some.









And then sometimes...the big red-headed lady got in on the action...











...leaning in to wipe extra slobber away...or something equally important.







And since there were over 400 hundred pictures, it totally makes sense that some of my favorites might be a little different than Britni's.  


And here are some of the gems that I found just waiting on that disc of unedited pics:












Silly, silly girl:




Love, love this one so very much:




And when it was all said and done, Abigail apparently had bonded so much with Mrs. Britni that she gave her some good lovin':



If you live in our area, I highly recommend Britni.  Not only did we end up with great photographs, but Britni and her lovely assistant (husband Kevin) made the process so fun and easy!




8.10.2015

Miscellany Monday, August 10, 2015: Piano, Article Love, Granola (!)

August always means it is time to start a new year of piano lessons.



My sweet girls came out dressed alike this day...love them so!


This year it is again Lily Kay and Elisabeth taking lessons.  It is LK's second year of lessons, and Elisabeth's sixth year.

We all love Mrs. Cindy, and she loves us back!  She calls the children "honeys"...as in, "Come here and give me hugs, all you honeys!"


And when that sweet G-man wanted to be in the obligatory "First Day" picture...




....how could we say no?




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Mine and Jason's newest obsession:  Downton Abbey.

Yes, we're about 4 years behind.  But we're doing our best to catch up.

Love. this. show!




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I have followed and loved Sarah Mackenzie's blog (Amongst Lovely Things) for a couple of years.

And when she posted this a few days ago, I  am pretty sure she wrote it just for me.

And I think I may just need to break down (Oh, how I hate to spend money!) and buy her book!



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I love granola!

I haven't had any in almost two years (since starting GAPS), and while I am not still doing strict GAPS, my body is not liking oats right now (yet!).


SOOOOO...when I spotted this Coconut Granola recipe in my new Wellness Mama cookbook, I definitely had to give it a try.  And, WOW - is my family ever glad I gave it a try!







This stuff is good with raw milk.  It is good with homemade coconut milk.  It is good with yogurt.  It is good with kefir cheese and a drizzle of raw honey.  It is good plain.

It is just. plain. good.

We have made (and eaten!) three batches in the past week.  Nuf said.



8.03.2015

Miscellany Monday, August 3, 2015: Events, A New Fave Recipe, Songs...and School

Jas and the four oldest kiddos attended their first professional soccer match.



They went with several other dad/kid combos...and had a good time.  I would have really liked to go...but we knew they wouldn't get home until late, so I stayed with G and A so they could get to bed at a reasonable hour (meaning: before midnight).  


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We have been loving Jamie Grace at our house for quite a while now.  So, Elisabeth and Lily Kay and I had a blast attending a Jamie Grace concert with some sweet friends.  





On our way home after the  concert...by way of DQ

Jamie's older sister also performed at the concert...and WOW - she was fabulous!  So worshipful.  This was my favorite:






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It is not every day that Elisabeth, Lily Kay and I get to get dressed up and go somewhere, just us big girlies.   We had Noah snap some pictures of us before we left.

Elisabeth gets credit for planning the coordinating outfits




It amazes me how easy it is to take pictures when none of the subjects are 1 or 3 years old.  It was almost downright boring!


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I have followed Katie at Wellness Mama for years now.  I think very highly of her research and thought process as she strives to raise her five children in a healthy manner.  I bought her cookbook when it was released, but hadn't taken the time to look through it properly until a couple weeks ago. I immediately started writing down page numbers of dishes I want to try.  And this one is a HIT with all of us:



It is our new weekend tradition:  have this yummy Sweet Potato, Sausage and Apple Hash for breakfast...and since we double the recipe (two pans), we get to have another delicious, no-work breakfast a couple days later.  Win-win!




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We sang this song in church Sunday morning for the first time.  **Love** it:






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We are officially kicking off our 2015-2016 school year today.  I have 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th graders.  And a 1-year old and 3-year old.


This should be interesting!


7.26.2015

Noah's Pacemaker Revision Surgery

The battery in Noah's pacemaker had had it.  It lasted a little over 7 years, so we can't really complain.  The surgery is technically called a "Pacemaker Revision".  I originally thought they would take out the old pacemaker, pop out the old battery, pop in a new one, and put that pacemaker back in.  

Nope, they take the whole pacemaker out, and put a whole new one in.  With the way the technology is improving, that totally makes sense. 

Noah and I (and Abigail) headed down to the children's hospital the Friday before the surgery, for his pre-op physical.  He had been dreading being "stuck"...but he did great on his blood draw.  They also needed a chest x-ray.  Along with them taking a few other stats, that was it...but it took almost 3 hours.  

While we were in "the big city", and so Noah could get to do something fun...he begged asked if we could please go to the Apple Store.  So we did.  



Neither of us had ever been to one before.  It was neat!



For the surgery, we had to be at the hospital at 6 a.m. Monday morning, which meant we needed to leave our house at 4 a.m.  So the other five kiddos went ahead and spent the night at LaoLao and Papa's on Sunday night.

Noah was nervous about the IV being inserted and being taken back (away from us) for the surgery.  He needn't have worried about this part.  Once they gave him the Versed (aka "sleepy juice") he was very loopy.  They gave him the Versed, a "Child Life Specialist" came in the room, and while Noah played a car game on the iPad she brought, a nurse inserted the IV in his left hand.  He didn't notice a thing.  In fact, a little later he glanced at his left hand and said, "What is that in my hand?"  When we told him it was the IV, he said, "It didn't even hurt!"

And then we replayed that exact. same. scenario. 4 or 5 more times over the next 15-20 minutes.  It. was. so. funny!  Noah would look at his hand, "What is that?" etc., etc., And then Jas, playing with Noah, said, "Noah, what is that in your hand???"  Noah looked at it, "I don't know!"  Noah has had fun hearing about all of this since then...now I wish we had video to show him!

They told us the surgery would take about 1 hour and he would be "out of sight" for 2-3 hours.

But once they got in there, they discovered that one of the "leads" (wire that connects the pacemaker to the heart) needed to be replaced.  So the surgery took longer (it was 5 hours until we got to see him again), and his incision was much bigger than it would have been.  They had to follow the bad lead up close to the heart, cut it off as close as they could (leaving the ends that were attached to the heart still attached, lest it cause bleeding/problems if they took them off) and attach the new lead.

I don't know if they always do this in children, but in Noah's case his pacemaker has always been in his abdomen, just to the left of his center line.  (Not up in the chest like they do for adults.)

When they wheeled Noah back all he had was that IV in his left hand.  When he came to his room in the CVICU (Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit) he had quite a bit more going on:  An I.J.(Internal Jugular) "central line" on the right side of his neck (and IV/catheter into his jugular and straight into his Superior Vena Cava (I believe I have that right, or else it was the Pulmonary Artery)...due to Noah's heart physiology being different because of his Fontan).  He also had an "A-line"IV in his right hand, an IV in his left foot, and a nasal cannula keeping him in good supply of oxygen.

I had been so intent on getting Noah to and through the surgery, that I had not properly thought through what the recovery would be like.  It has been (and **is**) much harder than I was expecting.  It has kind of blind-sided me, which is totally ridiculous, as I totally should have expected this.  It has been some harder because the incision was twice as long and the internal Messing Around they did (that is a technical term) was increased because of the new lead.  HOWEVER, this would have still been hard even without that.

Yes, Chippyye and blankie were allowed to come.


The nurses - looking very pleased with themselves - told us they had saved something for  us.  Noah's old pacemaker!


 It is smaller than the bulge in Noah's abdomen has felt for 7 years:





Noah couldn't get out of bed until the day after surgery.  He couldn't even sit up by himself, or reposition his bottom for a couple days.   It is a good thing he only weighs about 65 pounds right now.  A four inch incision and Messing Around right in the middle of your core makes it hard to do those things!  In fact, Noah is still talking in a soft-spoken manner now (6 days post-op) because it hurts to talk normal/louder.

Daniel had the brilliance to get a homemade PVC light saber/sword for Noah to use as a cane the first couple of days he was home (why didn't I think of that!?!?).  It was very helpful.  And Noah was walking around looking like a 100-year old man for the first couple of days.  Then he was able to stop using the cane, and stood up a little straighter, and looked like an 80-year old man.

He currently can walk at normal speed, but it still somewhat hunched, and we say he is walking like a 70-year old man.

It takes core muscles to keep good posture...and it hurts him yet to stand up real straight.  But we look forward to Noah getting younger and younger over the next few days!





Jas and I slept on this in Noah's hospital room

The CVICU staff was just wonderful.  We had three nurses during Noah's stay (Scott, Danielle, and Shannon) and were extremely pleased with all three.  And the cardiologist on duty at the hospital that week was **our** cardiologist (Dr. E), whom we have loved for almost 10 years now. (We joke that we've known him longer than we've known Noah, because we met and consulted with him about Noah before we even were able to bring Noah home!)

The surgeon, Dr. C, is the same one who did Noah's open-heart surgery (his Fontan) in April, 2006, when Noah had just turned 2.  He is great...and I was so glad to have him again.  His bed-side manner leaves a little to be desired, but he knows what he is doing.  And he is a smidge Type A.  After watching his interactions with other doctors and nurses, I would totally not want to work with him...but I wouldn't want anyone else doing surgery on my child!


We were able to leave Noah's ICU room and the hospital about 24 hours after he first entered it.  

Heading home - woohoo!



As Elisabeth and Noah talked about what he should take with him to the hospital, she made this list for him:



And he didn't use any of it.  All he could do while we were still at the hospital was lay as still as possible so it wouldn't hurt.  (This makes it sound like they weren't giving him pain meds...and they certainly were!)

Noah felt nauseated also.  Thankfully he was never sick, which would have hurt/been bad with his incision.  They gave him a couple different meds to help with this.  Even though he'd fasted since Sunday night, he didn't/couldn't eat anything until Tuesday morning, because he felt nauseated.  But when we told him Tuesday morning that they wouldn't let him go home until he showed them he could eat ok...he became a little more motivated to try!


Our sweet M-family friends brought Noah a goody bag of playthings before we headed to the hospital.  Also, the C family and the T family brought over cards and goodies the night before we headed down.  


And then, we were blessed to be visited at the hospital by the R family (Ava happened to have a Dr. appt down in that city that day!) and by Mrs. Melissa (who happens to live in that city).  We felt very loved!



Noah slept in our room the first three nights we were back home...and during the day this was his headquarters:



Do Noah's friends know him, or what?  The C family and Mrs. Melissa brought these for Noah.
Noah's post-op appt was on Friday, 4 days post-op.  Noah had an EKG and a physical check of the incision.  The doctor (not our normal cardiologist) said the incision and everything looked great.  "If I didn't know he had a pacemaker, I wouldn't know he had a pacemaker."  Thankfully, Noah is not totally pacemaker-dependent.  His underlying rhythm takes care of most of the work during the day.  The pacemaker normally does most of its work at night, pacing Noah's heart at 60 beats/minute.  (His heart rate used to dip down into the 30's at night, before he had the pacemaker implanted at age 4.)

Because the pacemaker is not being used all the time, the first battery was able to last for 7 years, 3 months.  Of course Noah - being the math guru - has crunched the numbers and said that if this pacer last for 7 years, he'll be 18...and can drive himself the next time he has this surgery.

He said he would let us come along, though.






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