Chaos ~ Family Life


Happy Thanksgiving.

I’m breaking the rules.  Siblings  – the single best gift I gave my children.


Happy Thanksgiving.

It wasn’t really planned, but apparently I took a bit of a break from blogging. 😉

Things have been just a wee bit wild around here lately.  We’ve been blessed by joining a local co-op and that has taken our Wednesdays.   It seems that we have steadfastly avoided that steady rhythmic pattern fall schooltime eventually hits.  Sigh.  But we simply could not force ourselves into a real schedule, but I promise I have a decent excuse… If you’ve ever lived in the Pacific Northwest, then you know – TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE GOOD WEATHER!  And Fall here in Oregon this year?  GASP!  Beautiful!  Crisp, lovely, and best of all – sunny.

It’s been raining for a week now and we’re only preparing to start week FOUR of school.  Nope, not kidding.  And I’m not remorseful.

But, I’ve had my hands full with a couple of other projects.

This is an incredibly poor picture of the carrier, but after adoring our spring market carrier, I was feeling a little itchy.  That lovely half buckle made it’s way to a new mama and I was feeling a little orangey. 🙂

Do notice La La’s pants please in the second photo.   🙂  Possibly my most favorite upcycle EVA’, they were a wool scarf from Goodwill.  The most gorgeous, stripiest, most delightful pants in the world with a little icord at the waist.  I’m seriously thinking about looking for another on Ebay as I’d bedeck myself in those stripes! 😛  Ooh!  I do need to add – the appliqued straps were a breeze!  After years of considering applique torture, I ran across a blog some months back that suggested two things – Steam a  Seam Lite and Sewer’s Aid needle oil.  I’m so grateful!

Other than that I’ve been just a wee bit lazy if truth were told.

Let’s see… What have we made this season?  A carrier, a couple somethings for a sweet friend I’m finishing up today, wool pants, a pair of woolly leggings…  I know I’m forgetting something.  OH YES!  Now I remember!  A new baby! 😉

Our tenth beloved addition should be joining us sometime this next year about mid-summer if we’re any judge at all.  Considering the chaos of the previous pregnancy, prayers are deeply coveted.  I’m not terribly excited to have to go searching for a new obstetrician when I have one I love back home, but these things are relatively minor considering I’m being blessed with a whole new human being.  Praise God!

~Have a wonderful day!~

Recently we were driving down the road when we saw a zippy little car next to us.  It was a car for a housecleaning service and it had the motto printed all over the car…  “Because you have better things to do.”

Really this post is the culmination of a lot of irritants and realizations in my life.  Because we have better things to do with our time… Hmmm…

We, as a people, have so much STUFF.  We have stuff so we buy stuff to organize our stuff.  We “outgrow” our homes because we have more stuff than we have space.  Listen to me now:  Stuff, all stuff, takes maintenance.  That isn’t necessarily bad.  Some stuff is WORTH maintaining.  And I don’t mean cost effective.  I mean that it has value (remarkably different than cost) in our lives to such a point that it is worth the time & effort to maintain it.  If it has no value or worth to your daily life WHY ARE YOU WASTING TIME & ENERGY MAINTAINING IT?


Let me provide you with a few examples.  If you have more than one set of sheets for each bed, or if you are insane, like most of my immediate family and require 3-5 sets of sheets per bed, this is crazy.  Take them off, wash them, put them on.  This whole maintenance thing of take off the sheets, go through the laundry closet, get out the new set, do the laundry, fold up the other set, organize them in the closet is NUTS!  Wash ’em, put them back on the bed.

We have recently had the remarkable experience of moving from a glorified 2 bedroom home to a much larger home.  The old farmhouse we were in had one bathroom, one bathtub, one toilet, and two upstairs bedrooms.  Okay, one bedroom upstairs and a moderately sized, square hall a.k.a the boys’ room.  We had a little office off the living room for our room.  When I say little I mean little… We had a bed, an upright dresser, and enough room to walk around the end of the bed if we walked sideways.   Frankly, I thought it was cozy.  Honestly?  I really liked it.  Because the bedrooms were small we weren’t tempted to “store” things in them i.e., use them as storage facilities to maintain things of no value.  There was only one bathroom.  Sure, that meant sometimes you waited in line.  It also meant there was ONE bathroom to clean.  We are currently renting a home that has three bathrooms.  I would NOT have been so excited if someone had explained to me I was going to need to clean all three of them.

I am *not* complaining.  I like this house.  Maybe not the house exactly, but certainly the acreage and the space and the trees.  I love the neighbors and the community.  But, I’m telling you folks, we have not set up our LIVES to accomplish our goals.

The old farmhouse was built quite a while ago.  It had a very small living room and a huge eat in kitchen.  It was a “cooking” kitchen – meant to prepare meals in with everyone lending a hand.   This current, modern kitchen is cute.  It’s definitely large and bright and I like that.   But it’s certainly set up more for entertaining with separate areas off of the kitchen.   It’s not meant for family togetherness.  There is so much space that everyone spreads out, goes their own way.

We re-evaluated a couple of things this weekend, rearranged some areas.  Our television has made its’ way up to our bedroom.  And as I rearranged the family room I realized we had set up the entire room to focus around the television.  For a family that insisted we continuously TRY to cut down “screen” time, we had certainly set ourselves up for failure.  What do you want to do?  Oh, I don’t know…  And the television beckons from EVERY angle of the room.  Interesting.

Time.  None of us ever has enough, do we?  We spend time maintaining things that have no value.  It could be actual things… It could be doing laundry when we could simply cut down on our clothes.  It amazes me how I complain about not having enough time, but yet I don’t want to do anything difficult or uncomfortable like give up internet or things of that nature.

Earlier this week a friend sent me a letter.  I didn’t find the TIME to write her back.
Last month Abigail took a scissors to my comforter.  I couldn’t find the TIME to repair it.
Elizabeth has given me two shirts and a skirt to repair – I hadn’t found the TIME to sew them.
The garden has run to weeds…  I haven’t made the TIME to keep it up.

Look at those four things.  They’re relatively important.  And yet they’ve shifted down my list of priorities below “entertainment” certainly as blogging, Facebook, and screen time has misplaced them.   I can’t say I spend a crazy amount of time on the internet, but certainly more than absolutely necessary.

Recently I gave up the internet for a short while.  We had it put on vacation… It was a bet with my sister, I lost.  During that period, I became acutely aware how dependent I am on immediate gratification.  And how impatient it makes me.

Letter writing?  No time – send an email.   Can’t keep a garden – not enough time?  Pick up veggies at the market.  Stitching a shirt?  Bah, she has more in the closet.    Ripped comforter?  No time!

Tonight I sat and stitched the two shirts, the skirt, and the comforter by hand.  It took a good deal of time, about two hours.   For two hours I was still, moved slowly, was quiet, and just concentrated on my task at hand.  There was much peace and a good deal of satisfaction to be gained from that.  The same is true with a letter written to a friend or a loved one, vegetables grown by your own hand, a new skirt given to a daughter, or something gifted made by hand.   These things take time.  They develop patience, sweetness, perseverance.

How we complain that the world moves too quickly, that there are not enough hours in the day, that children grow up too quickly….  And yet we constantly set ourselves up for failure.  *WE* are the ones tearing down our own homes, brick by brick, rather than building them up.

I humbly pray that we not live our lives in THEORY, sitting idly by the internet as real life takes place around us, without us truly PRESENT.

Go.  Be PRESENT.   Interact.  Do not numb yourselves with a screen or a book today.  Do hard things.  Do things that take TIME.  Be still.   And be grateful.

This is a reprint from my old blog June 19, 2007.  I always find it fun to do reprints, because it’s amusing to see where I was, where I am, and the contrasts are often striking.  When I originally wrote this Timothy was 2.5 (he’s now five) & Abigail was the baby.  We have since added Sarah Elaine and Daniella to the family and it’s almost three years later…..

This struck me today, though I’ll admit it is not the first time.

Romans 1:28

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind,, to do what ought not to be done.  They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity.  They are full of murder, strife, deceit, and malice.  They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their paents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.  Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserver death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

So exactly how should we view disobedience?  God puts it into the same category as God-haters?  Wow.  Hmm…

I think it’s important to realize we are to train our children in the way they should go.  It’s an easy thing to say and a difficult thing to do. However, if God has called you to this task of parenting, then it is our obligation.  Let it be said that this is very convicting for me, because I used to be far more consistent.

Somewhere along the line, about the time Rebecca (#5) and Tim (#6) were born eleven months apart, I wore out. 😉  As a result, I have three delightful children, one recovering monster, a two year old terrorist, and the baby.  In case you’re doing the math and it doesn’t make sense, we had a little girl in 2001 (#3) that has already made her way to Heaven.

It’s strange but I also read a bit of Hebrews this morning and this one verse kept jumping out at me.  Unfortunately, I’m just not entirely sure of the entire reading, but I’m certain that if I pray on it, God will let me know what He means me to get out of it.  But I do see how it can tie in with this.

Hebrews 5:14

(It is being taught that these men are slow to learn.  They are not maturing as they ought.)

“… But solid food is for the mature,, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”

How interesting.  We can train ourselves (and our littles) to recognize good from evil simply by putting into use what God teaches us to be right and true.

How much does that speak to the importance of doing the right thing over and over and over again?  It is exhausting some days… teaching these little ones things over and over again.  To make our olders ones redo work with the right attitude as we train the heart.   To carry on *our* tasks cheerfully, quickly, completely as we are trying to instill in our children.  I know I like to grumble some days!  But would I want my children to pick up that attitude?

To be so conscious of our actions and attitudes is so hard.  Especially if you’re like me!  I’m not terribly aware… I lack peripheral vision for the things going on around me.  Generally I’m a focus person… I focus on the one thing in front of me and that is a difficult thing to unlearn.  May God help me on this one!!

This was the original blog post.

I’d like to add a verse that has lately been discussed in our home though.

James 1:13-15

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Each person is tempted by different things.  I can remember reading something by CS Lewis and he was talking about temptation and how certain things have just never tempted him.  I think that’s true.  I’ve seen others who struggle wildly against things that would never tempt me and yet there are things I struggle mightily with that others never find to be a problem.   I was trying to explain this verse to the children the other day, trying to explain to them why it’s important to not “dabble” with temptation….   When one sees a sign ahead with the printing “Beware of Quicksand” one should avoid the area at all costs.  Too often when we see that sign, we have a tendency to just want to “get a little closer” and take a peek.  Just a quick peek.  Hmmm… Well maybe just a *little* closer?  Pretty soon you’re sticking your toe into the quicksand just to see how it feels.  You’ve given into temptation and the Lord tells us that following those desires can and will lead to sin.  Before you know it, you have one foot in…. And then you’re up to your neck.  And what does sin lead to?  Death.  That’s right… Practically before you can figure out how in the world you got into your quicksand up to your neck, you’re going to die in that sin.  So much for “dabbling” with temptation, eh?  Sometimes we think, “Oh, just a little can’t hurt.”  It can.

How serious is disobedience?  How serious is it to let our children dabble in disobedience?  How vitally important is it that we teach our children to submit to a greater authority?  That we instill the habit of obedience?  That we not allow the temptation to sin to take root in our own home, in our children?  Obviously they are fallible humans, as are we!  But, we must put forth great effort to recognize sin and reject it and teach our children to do the same and not be indulgent….  Indulgent.  Interesting word.  How difficult is it to not indulge your children, just a little, in selfish and sinful behaviour?

in·dulge yield to an inclination or desire; allow oneself to follow one’s will
2.  to yield to, satisfy, or gratify (desires, feelings, etc.)
3.   to yield to the wishes or whims of; be lenient or permissive with: to indulge a child.
4.   to allow (oneself) to follow one’s will
In other words, to indulge is to satisfy one’s own will rather than the will of another.
Interesting that a synonym of indulge is “spoil” and yet the antonyms are “moderate” and “abstain.”  Hmmm……..

This thought has been on my mind for a long while and I haven’t yet put it to any good use.

We talk about tithing, we talk about treasure, we talk about money, storing, investing, saving, spending….  It seems to me that money takes up a good portion of our energy.  And not that is not needfully so sometimes.

But, there are those of us who believe that money is not our only treasure.  I believe this is especially true of Christian mothers.  If treasure is defined as something of great value, great worth, that isn’t easily come by, then I know of a treasure more precious than money in our household.  Money might be hard to come by, difficult to budget, and quickly gone, but I can think of one thing of greater value, more difficult to come by, incredibly hard to budget, and even more quickly gone than money.


Oh, Christian mothers.  Could I beg that we tithe our time?  Or more importantly, let’s look at Matthew 6:21.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

So I want you to evaluate – how do you spend your time?  Because how you spend your time will tell you where your heart TRULY lies.

Homeschooling mothers, do you spend over 95% of your schooling on academics and give a mere 5% to teaching your children about God?  Christian wives, are you spending your precious time on things that do not support your God given role of wife and mother?

How we spend our time is one of our best reflections of our hearts.   If truly we love and honor God should we not give Him the first fruits?  The best of the best?  Shouldn’t He get our best and not what is left over?  Should we not devote our “riches” to furthering His good, His will, His intentions?

Today, the Lord has granted you twenty four hours.

How will you “spend” it?  How will you honor Him with it?  Will you use your time in a grateful and obedient manner, fulfilling your God given purposes through Him and for Him?   Will you tithe your 10%?  Will you go even further with a joyous and obedient heart?

Not as busy as I *should* be, lol, but still….

Picture heavy post this morning just because I feel like it.

First and foremost, Happy Easter.  Er, um, a little late…

We’re rolling with school and it feels good getting settled in!  Everything, with the exception of my canning jars are unpacked!  Hurrah!  We’re getting used to Oregon and the natural beauty this state has to offer truly is breathtaking.  I wish it was a wee bit closer to Iowa, but still love it, love it.

So, one of Becca’s new little friends had a birthday the other day.  Yes, I *totally* did use it as an excuse to make something.    We dyed the yarn with kool-aid and found this cute little dice bag on Ravelry… Of course the two purled lines actually started as a mistake – I’m not terrible good at the whole knitting thing yet, lol, but I think it adds texture and character.  (Or maybe not and it’s still just a mistake.)

Ignore the dates on the picture.   Obviously these were taken after my batteries went dead.   The doll is an upcycle project, btw.  The dress is from scrap fabric from a bathroom project in February.  The skin for the doll is actually a t-shirt from Goodwill and the 80% cotton velour is taken from lounge pants, also from Goodwill.  We cut off the legs to make “capris” out of them for oldest dd.  And we used those scraps for the hat.  I was pretty tickled by how it turned out, though I still despise sewing on knits.  I’m sure I’ll improve.  Not too bad for my first doll since 2001.  And let me just add that THAT doll didn’t go well either.  We still have her but she’s missing many of her parts. 😛  (I’m not good at hand sewing either.  I think it’s a general lack of patience.)

I have about a dozen current projects in the works and they are NOT going fast.

I pulled together a lot of ideas from various tutorials and didn’t have a pattern for it.  I’m going to do a link post here, hopefully tomorrow of skirt and dress tutorials.  I’m loving not needing a pattern and I think it helps me be a little more creative.  Creativity is NOT my strong point and I have a tendency to only be able to view something one way.

I need to get to it and do it, but oh the commitment of projects…  And I get so sidetracked.  The most vital is Ella Pie’s cocoon.  I need to finish it up and get pictures of her before she’s too BIG!  That’s right, I said it!  TOO BIG!  So, the Iowa City doctor called me last week.  It turns out that they are changing their “norms” on those tests that she was positive on…..  So that a child like Daniella would not have been labeled as having MMA.  I’m grateful.  Maybe it will spare someone else a lot of heartache from a false diagnosis.   I’m just flat out grateful.  But there are children out there with metabolic disease.  And just think, I never thought about it.  Not once, not ever.  Until I thought it had happened to me.  There but by the grace of God………

At any rate,  we visited our pediatrician here last week and she is officially ON the charts at the fifth percentile.  She is now officially four months old and she weighs in at a whopping TEN pounds and two ounces, lol!  She has outgrown her newborn clothes! Finally!  She actually looks downright CHUBBY!

And, yes, those ARE upcycled longies from a Goodwill sweater! 😉

What’s on the list of projects?  Well, first and foremost I seriously need to sit down and look through my spelling curriculum and get Christian started on it.  He’s not a natural speller and we desperately need to make some headway in that general direction.  Ana has picked out fabric for a new skirt and I have a tutorial in mind for it. 😉  I have some applique work I did two weeks ago I’d love for you to see, but unfortunately NO pictures of it.  Applique has ALWAYS been hard for me.  I read a few tricks, got some needle oil to make it slide easier and the “lite” version of Steam a Seam.  Oh the lovely difference it made – zero frustration.  But in the meantime I did finish Abigail’s dress.  (And I’m a little horrified to admit out of fabric that I had bought for Sarah’s first birthday.  She turns two in May.  Oh the shame of it all!)

So the project list:  I need, desperately, to make some more diapers and I have the most adorable fabric for wipes.  I might be enlisting Ana’s sewing skills or maybe even teaching Lizzie.  She’s remarkably crafty for being eight.  We taught her to knit (on needles) a couple months ago.  Last week we taught Rebecca to finger knit.  How fun!

To continue on the list – a carrier.  I have the fabric, the tutorial (which I’ll be sharing), and the desperate need.   And I simply MUST finish my Boaz longies from A Time to Dye.  The colorway has been very enjoyable and they are so close to finished!  Only one leg left!  I did manage to get our play stands sanded yesterday and need to apply the oil to be done.   They were pretty marked up from the last couple years of use and needed some touching up.   Oh the list….  But, I’m not getting ANYTHING done here, so off I go.  Hopefully the pressure of this post will motivate.  It’s wrong to use you all to further my project list, but it needs to be done.  Peer pressure – a beautiful thing.

A post in response to a mama worried about the newest addition and how in the world does a mama make time for the things that need to be done each day and for all the little people in her  life……..  So many people address the logistics – cleaning the house, making the menus… But, truly, is that what we mamas worry about?  After all that stuff will get done.  Or it won’t.  And at the end of the day, who really cares?  But we can make ourselves heartsick worrying over the investment of time and energy in our children.

No, I think I know what you’re saying. You’re not worried about the logistics… Or are you really? It sounds like you’re worried about the relationships, the time, the INVESTMENT of commitment we pour into each child. I mean with little ones around they’re so physically demanding that sometimes you worry about having enough time and energy to pour into the older ones. It sounds to me like you aren’t worried about how to get clothes clean, or how you’ll change diapers again. It sounds to me like you’re worried how to divide the 24 hours you’re given into each child so that the real investment is still there. I get that!

And there are days!

But oh my. What in the world would I do without #5? Or #6?

Everything in life is a trade off. You’ll always have to prioritize in order to make what is important happen. With five kids, or eight, you’ll have that. There WILL be times when your oldest gets ignored… If you choose to call it that. We prefer (since she’s almost 14) to think of it as giving her a little space/time to figure out who she is. It doesn’t mean we ignore her, but it doesn’t mean I couldn’t hover if I wanted to, lol.

That said, Ana and I make sure we CARVE OUT TIME because it’s a PRIORITY.

This last weekend we left the kids with Daddy for a bit and she and I went to check out the local bookstore (we just moved here) and our local yarn store. Last year we took knitting classes (something that interested both of us) and now we have an interest we can share. I like to knit, but she likes to dye, so it binds us together a bit. We both LOVE reading, love books, love talking about authors… It gives us a reason to get away, have a cup of tea, or coffee, or cocoa together.

Our second oldest likes outdoors. He and Dad are joining Scouts together. It will give him some one on one time. He’s almost 11 and he and his dad need to CULTIVATE some activities together as well.

There are families of four who don’t bother to carve out time together. There are families of 12 who work hard to make sure they come together at night to share a meal, talk, play games, read, and cultivate relationships.

Trust me, it has NOTHING to do with family size. Those of us with really large families are so aware of it that we go out of our way to make sure no one gets lost in the mix. Those with small families can sometimes not work so hard because they don’t worry about it as much! The perk of a large family is that it keeps you aware that it takes work to keep up on a relationship with each individual child, kwim? I also think being part of a large sib group takes a lot of pressure off. For example our Elizabeth loves plays, drama, etc. So do I!!!!!!!!! If we didn’t have Lizzie, I’m telling you right now, I’d be dragging Ana to plays, lol. But Ana is free to have her likes/dislikes because I can have mini-me (Liz) to tag along with me.

I know it seems overwhelming. I have those days. The kids are talking about “needing a baby brother” and the current baby is seven weeks old. It’s taking a lot of self control not to bite the children. Um, do they know how much work this takes?! But I’m telling you it’s all worth it. And yes, they have days when they’d really like to not have toddlers going through their “stuff” or drawing on their math…… But at the end of the day they are REALLY close. And I wouldn’t trade my life with anyone else. Our new little one may have some serious issues. We’ll see. The first eight weeks of her life have been really, really hard. We’ve been up against some things we haven’t faced before. But she’s an absolute gift from God Himself. And I’m pretty grateful I have her. And my kids adore their Baby Ella. As she hits or misses milestones, we’ll walk this together. And I have a hard time believing my kids will ever resent her from “taking” their time/my energy because they aren’t raised to think that way. We’re a family… Not just a group of individuals thrown together by happenstance. It’s never about one, but about the family. And I think they’re better human beings because of it.

Have a blessed day.

I know many of you prayed for us while we were pregnant with Baby Ella and I’m very grateful.

If you’d like to continue in prayer, Ella was diagnosed three weeks ago with MethylMalonic Acidemia/Aciduria (MMA)

While we don’t actually believe this diagnosis, we do know something probably isn’t quite right.

4 weeks ago, Daniella was hospitalized in Iowa City for a few different reasons – elevated ammonia levels, failure to thrive, etc.  She had had a positive marker in her PKU test, but when it was repeated, it came back negative for any problems.  But then she didn’t gain.  She was a very “sleepy” newborn, but she was just over three weeks early so I kind of thought she was my odd one out.  None of our other early babies had been so sleepy, but I was just deeply appreciative of the 3 hour gap between feedings for the first time ever!  She had a pretty uneventful four day stay in the NICU right after she was born… Was born too quickly and her breathing was too rapid and she needed oxygen and to be watched.  But she bounced from that pretty quickly and they let us go home right after Christmas.  She dropped down to 5lbs. 13 oz. in the NICU (from 6.10) but we knew she’d regain once she had a chance to eat all the time. 😛

Unfortunately she really didn’t.  At one week after, she hadn’t regained, and was at 6.1.  So we went back to the pediatrician (OUR beloved pediatrician was on maternity leave) a week later and she was only at 6.2.  I was given the standard “New Mom” speech on how to breastfeed.  To be fair to him, he is a pretty new pediatrician.  Never mind the other seven children in the room WITH us that I had somehow managed to keep alive through breastfeeding, lol.  So I got the 15 minute lecture on how to wake up a sleepy baby, to nurse at both breasts, and for how long she needs to nurse.  Sigh. 🙂 At three weeks our ped. came back from her maternity leave and we visited her.  She was now up to 6.4. 😦  A baby at that stage should be gaining between 4-7 ounces per week.  It should be said I actually LIKED the new, inexperienced pediatrician.  Very nice man.  However, he was completely unfamiliar with our family and our kids so it wasn’t really his fault that he blamed nursing.  And to be even MORE fair, I really thought that maybe with how busy we were (packing, organizing, moving, preparing the house for the landlords, and Mark was gone in CA for the month of January) that I wasn’t nursing as often because she was really undemanding.

When we had our pediatrician, she felt based on our family dynamics (nursing on demand, co-sleeping, etc.) and with me having been an experienced nurser, that it was unlikely she wasn’t getting enough.  She was also worried about me mentioning that Ella seems to “tire quickly” at the breast.  So we went down for a chest x-ray and some labs.  Then an echocardiogram.  Then a consult with a pediatric cardiologist.  Then some calls to metabolic clinic in Iowa City.  Then some more blood tests.  The first appointment had been at 10:00 that morning.  By 3:30 we had had the echo and the consult.  At 5:00 the labs came back with a high elevation of ammonia.  At 5:30 they were arranging her stay at Iowa City and I was thanking God that all this was happening now, with family around, instead of a week later in Portland with NO friends and NO family!!!   (And maybe pleading a little too.)

They hospitalized Ella that night in Iowa City and ran tests and tests and more tests.  Honestly, labs, blood draws, medical whatnots, don’t usually bother me.  But they stuck her SO many times it was crazy.  She probably had approx. 20-30 sticks in those four days.  It wasn’t so bad pulling from her arm or her hands, but when they would stick her in the top sides of her feet, she’d scream.  😦

She has been having very muddled tests.  Initially we were met a couple of times by a metabolic physician/geneticist to examine our family history.  They felt she had a metabolic disorder that was genetic.  But, being the ninth child, it would be odd that we hadn’t experienced something like this before, statistically speaking.  And there is nothing in our families…. Mark’s dad is one of 12, my mom and dad are each one of 11 (well, Mom’s side had 12 but one died at birth), and Mark’s mom is one of six.  It seemed unlikely that with all of our family and cousins, etc., that something genetic wouldn’t have shown up before now.

In the end they sent us home saying there might be nothing wrong.  It looks like there were just coincidental false positives on three tests.  Okay, great!

Then on the following Thursday they called us to say, “We have a diagnosis.  She has MMA.  The metabolic team will be in touch to arrange how to care for her.”  They overnighted special formula, called in a prescription for levocarnitine.  That Saturday the pharmacy (CVS) prescribed the wrong drug to her.  They gave her an anti-seizure medication by mistake… To our six pound, three week old baby.  And I dosed her with it TWICE before I looked at the bottle and thought, “Hm. That doesn’t sound right. I wonder if it’s a generic for what she should have had?”  ALWAYS, ALWAYS check your childrens’ prescriptions.  ALWAYS.  In the end, six hours at the ER, it turns out that if the mistake had to be made, then this one was fairly benign.  Thank God.

They made an appointment for more tests and for a consult with the geneticist to better explain a plan for Daniella.  I should say that MMA is a horrible disease.  If a child has it moderately then the average life span is 6.5.  If they have it severely, the life span is now 2.5.  BUT, there are some adults who are diagnosed with it, and if they have it mildly they can live into adulthood.  Most are neurologically damaged and experience seizures or strokes, often in the first year or month of life.  Daniella has not experienced any of this.  They are also very likely to have problems if they get sick.  She has RSV right now… and NO metabolic crisis.

On the next meeting the metabolic physician explained to us that he is not happy with this diagnosis.  It just doesn’t seem a likely thing… Nine children, no metabolic problems.  Her MMA levels were only double normal levels whereas in a classic case of MMA you might find a child with 10-50 times the normal MMA level.  Also, further testing (albumin and pre-albumin) have come back normal or close to normal.  So, right now we’re in a holding pattern.  They stopped testing in Iowa City and turned her over to a metabolic clinic in Portland.  So, now we’ll see.

We aren’t entirely sure that she isn’t perfectly fine.  If you ask me she is absolutely NO different than any other newborn we’ve ever had.  At seven weeks old she is beginning to focus on faces and follow motion.  She is responsive to touch and sound.  She stops crying when she’s soothed and held.  She’s alert and adorable.  She has big blue eyes that focus well and she eats beautifully.  There are many reasons to doubt the MMA diagnosis… One that it’s genetic.  For another, MMA babies usually don’t nurse well.  For another, despite being sick (RSV with an ear infection currently) she isn’t having any kind of break down.

That said, she’s seven weeks old and even after having a GREAT gain of four ounces last week, she weighs only seven pounds and two ounces.  She eats great.  She potties just fine.  She has plenty of wet diapers and a great appetite.  She is a strong nurser.  In Iowa City they had us pump and feed her.   They needed to insure I had adequate milk supply.  And more importantly they needed to know the amount she was keeping down.  She ate more than enough to gain weight and yet didn’t convert that milk into weight gain.  That’s an issue.  She is very thin.  Her legs look like skin draped over bone.  Her little face is chubby and round and she has Abby and  Elizabeth’s round little cheeks.  I think her thighs are beginning to put on a little bit of chub.

So, we don’t know what’s going on.  But it seems like there is an issue.  We could use continued prayer.  I could use continued prayer.  I’m not normal a stressed out person.  But, her pregnancy was filled with a huge amount of stress, and then Mark being gone for a month right after she was born, then the cross country move, coinciding with several days in the hospital and a lot of medical appointments….  Well, I’m not a very pleasant person these days and I don’t really like walking around with a bad attitude all the time.  Added to that I’m not really used to no sunshine.  It really DOES rain a lot in Oregon, lol.  We’ve all been sick.  We started throwing up two hours after the plane ride.  (Better after than during, right?!) Seven out of the eight kids and Mark all got sick.  Sarah ended up with pneumonia and then Ella got RSV and an ear infection.  I have something as I think I’m going to cough up a lung eventually.

All in all I can honestly say everything is starting to get sorted out.  We’re mostly moved in.  The house Mark chose is lovely and very homey.  The kids are feeling MUCH better.  Ella is through the worst part of the RSV I think.  We have an appt. next week with the metabolic physician.  And we’ve found a pediatrician here that we might keep.  Much of this is answer to prayers.

I want to thank all of you for praying for our family.  We really, really needed it these past few months and I have no doubt that we are here now in Oregon for a good reason.  Pray that I stay faithful, leaning on God in all things.  And prayers for Ella are so very, very appreciated!

Now that we are getting settled in and life HAS to be calmer than the previous months, lol, I’ll be blogging a little more often.  I’m so sorry to those who have asked questions in the last couple of months and I’ve been unable to respond.  I’ll be trying to get to those soon as time permits!  Thank you again!

Daniella Hope is here!  Born at 36 weeks and 6 days, December 23rd – Elizabeth’s birthday, she weighed in at a hefty 6lbs. 10 oz.  She is a round little thing and it  was a lovely birth, if a little TOO fast.  I have to congratulate my beloved obstetrician this time though – he did ACTUALLY make it to the birth, although we made him run for it.  Did he get to catch the baby?  Well, no, he didn’t.   To be fair to me, I had too little warning to tell the nurse.  One moment we were chit-chatting between contractions, the next moment I thought she was crowning… Up from the birth ball and wasn’t sure I’d make it onto the bed.  She called for the doctor and another nurse, I got to have another contraction – and my husband announced, “Yep, there’s the head” as our Dr. O tried to get on his gloves.  “Oh, she’s here!” was his next comment, poor doc still with no gloves on.  But he made it!  And that was quite a change from Abigail’s birth – the one he missed and the nurse delivered, lol.  We hear that he literally ran down the hall for our room at the phone call… Pretty amusing and I’d like to have seen it as this would have been no small feat.

Miss Ella did have a bit of a breathing problem.  The neonatologist tells us that it was most likely because she didn’t get “squeezed” in the birth canal and was born just a bit too fast.  Once she was stabilized in the NICU for having a troubling oxygen saturation she did much better.  They kept her on CPAP for the evening and the next morning, weaning her down to room air.  Today, Christmas, they’ve removed the IV, the ventilator, the feeding tube and she’s a champion nurser.  We hear we’ll get to go home tomorrow morning.

And so our so very precious ninth child has made her way into this world.  She is indeed a very real miracle as those of you who have read the journal of our pregnancy can attest.   What an amazing and lovely testimony to God’s goodness.

May you all be blessed this lovely Christmas season as we celebrate not only the birth of our Saviour, but give thanks to our Lord for His goodness in watching over every little detail of our lives.   And for blessing us beyond comprehension.

No, the sweet baby hasn’t arrived yet!  We’re anxiously awaiting the delivery of baby #9.  The obstetrician cut the cerclage on Thursday and we eagerly anticipated her arrival.  The plan was (considering the last two births) to do an augmentation.  I *always* dilate to at least 4-5 cm. when the stitch is cut, then we’d just head over to the hospital.  Obviously God had different plans.  We dilated to 2.  This hasn’t ever happened to me before so we were a bit surprised.  We walked and walked (and nearly finished our Christmas shopping) but no cervical change.  We went home, expecting a baby very shortly.  Lo & behold it’s now Monday and no baby. 🙂  It’s okay though!  Anticipation is part of the fun I suppose.

But, no, that isn’t our big news.  Earlier in the year, we expected so much medical intervention with this pregnancy we were planning a move closer to the University hospitals.  Once they were able to place the cerclage, we didn’t need to make that move.  However, in the meantime, plenty has happened and my sweet husband is being transferred to… (drum roll, please) Oregon.

Yup, that’s right ~ Iowa to Oregon with one newborn, seven other children, and one 100+ lb. German Shepherd.  Can’t wait for that road trip!  I’d be lying if I said we weren’t secretly VERY excited.    We’re also more than a little nervous.

Plenty to do today… I still have three pairs of little girl flannel nightgowns to sew before Christmas and if time allows matching dolly pajamas!  I DID indeed “master” knitting and we made a pair of longies with matching hat for the new little one.  She does finally have a name and we expect Daniella Hope soon.  Now if only I can get these booties completed as well.  Unfortunately they take a backseat to the nightgowns.

Daniella's First Longies dyed by JuliBeans

I hope you’re all having a very merry and lovely Christmas season!

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