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June 2013

A Prayer for Archie?

Archie in new window

Let me preface this post by saying that Archie is OK, but he's recovering from surgery this morning and could use a little prayer and/or a good thought on his behalf ...

Ok, so - we moved in Friday afternoon and on Sunday morning we noticed Archie had a wound of some sort on his belly - he was constantly licking at it and it looked pretty awful, although otherwise he seemed ok. (Eating, drinking, acting fairly normal for a cat that's just been moved into a new house.) So I called the vet first thing yesterday and got Archie in for an early morning appointment ...

Turns out - he had a "very deep" puncture wound on his belly and we have no idea how it happened! From the looks of it, the vet feels it happened before our move, and she said Archie was "extremely lucky" because the puncture missed anything vital and it was not yet infected.

So Archie was taken in for surgery - the wound was cleaned and stitched and he was given an antibiotic shot. He came home last night groggy and stressed, with all kinds of instructions for post-surgery care. On Thursday he'll get the drain out so until then we have to keep him from bothering it which is a bit of a challenge (the e-collar was not successful - he got that thing right off) and just generally keep him quiet and comforted.

Now other than this unhappy situation, Archie and Ollie are adjusting pretty well to the new house. They are sticking mostly to the bedrooms upstairs but slowly exploring their new surroundings. I think they take comfort in us, each other, and the familiar smells of our belongings. This little snafu put a little kink in Archie's transition but hopefully in a couple of days it will all be behind him/us.

So if you have a moment, please say a prayer that our kitty heals quickly and easily, and that he leaves that darn drain alone, lol! I'll let you all know how he is doing later this week. :)

And thank you all SO MUCH for all the well wishes on our new home! I'm excited to share more of our new "digs" with you as we get things settled in here.

Have yourselves a good Tuesday!

**


Home Sweet (New) Home ...

Peony 1

Good Monday Morning, my friends!

So ... I've thrown a lot of "big" news at you recently ... a pregnancy, a college decision, a blessed birth and a homeschool graduation ...

Well, here's yet another bit of "life-changing" news, something I've kept under wraps for a couple of months now:

We've moved!

Yes, as you may have guessed from my post title, last week we moved to a new house and a new town! And since this move may seem a bit out of left field, let me tell you how it all came to be ...

When we found out we were expecting our fourth child last October, we took a look around our 3-bedroom house and did some simple math ... we "simply" did not have the room for our impending family expansion!

So we started discussing our options: move to a new house or add on to the one we already had. Our first choice at that time was to add on, because we were really happy with our home and location. I think you all know from my blog just how much joy our home gave us!

Well, I waited to tell you all about the building project, because I wanted to be sure it was really happening. And it was taking a really long time to get off the ground - working through plans, estimates and measurements etc. - but before any building actually started (and before any contracts were signed) the project stalled out. Too many major issues came up (for example, a town sewer line would be in the way of the new foundation) that turned the project into something much more complicated and hugely expensive - as in, the original estimate was doubled! It became clear we just could not add on in a financially repsonsible way.

So ... more discussions ensued, and we finally decided this April to look into moving instead.

(Let me just say, this decision was not made lightly, nor without tears on my part - remember, I was pregnant and hormonal these past several months!)

We had a very specific list of "requirements" in regard to the location and setting, etc. and after a very short search we stumbled upon a house we absolutely loved. Honestly, from the moment we drove up for the initial showing, I was filled with a feeling of home. A brand new listing, it met all our requirements and then some ... and most importantly, it just felt right.

And here we are, two months later, all (or mostly) moved in!

Now, I'm sure over time, you will come to "visit" the various corners of our new home, but for today I'll share just a couple of pictures. Considering how important it was to us at our old house, I bet you are wondering where our new learning room will be ...

New learning room 4

New learning room 7

New learning room 6

This is a sunroom located off the back of the house (off the family room), and as you can see it is filled with windows just like our old learning room. It looks out to the backyard and faces the southern sky, so it's a very sunny and airy room. I can't wait to get it all set up!

As for nature study, another big part of our home-learning space ...

Hawk in tree 4

This is the sight that greeted us this morning as Earlybird and I walked down to the mailbox to pick up our paper. He or she is without a doubt the largest hawk I've ever seen! 

Our two acres here are even woodsier than our old home's 1/4-acre setting, and I expect we'll have a lot of fun acquainting ourselves with the flora and fauna that inhabit our new surroundings. So far, in the past three days we've been here, I've seen a red squirrel, chipmunks, the aforementioned hawk ... a cardinal pair, hummingbird, nuthatch and last night I heard an owl.

Oh, and our neighbors have chickens and a rooster, goats and a horse!

:)

So stay tuned for more on the learning room as well as the rest of the house. We're still unpacking and settling in ... so my posting may be a bit light for a time. But I wanted to let you all know what was going on with us and explain why the background of my pictures will look decidedly different from here on out!

**

Happy Summer, everyone and Happy Monday, too. Enjoy your new week and we'll touch base again soon!


Our Bookworm Has Officially Graduated!

Graduation 7

Thirteen years of homeschooling behind him ... the whole world ahead!

:)

Yesterday, Bookworm took part in the graduation ceremony at our homeschool learning center, a vibrant and gracious community in which our kids have participated for the past couple of years. This year there were 18 seniors graduating, and the ceremony was just lovely! The seniors - some in cap and gown, and some in formal dress - entered a packed auditorium together (walking in file to this tune) and were each presented with words of love and praise by their families ...

A bit of our own presentation to Bookworm:

So are we ready to send you off? 

Well, WE might not be quite ready - I don't think parents are ever really ready to let go - but the important thing is, you're ready

You're ready because you're excited and eager to learn, and you've got a dear, kind heart and a great head on your shoulders. You've worked hard and you've remained true to yourself … all qualities we hope you take with you to college this fall.

Along with all that, know that you're taking the love and support of your mom and your dad, your brothers, your grandparents, your uncles and aunts and your friends …

 We're all with you, Bookworm … and we love you very much. 

(I wrote our speech, but Bill had to read it - I was far too emotional!)

The ceremony itself, and the potluck celebration after, was so joyful and personal - a perfect way to cap a terrific homeschool high school experience!

So congratulations, Bookworm and may God Bless you! Homeschooling you has been the greatest and most rewarding adventure ... for many years it's been our privelege to lead you ... now we can't wait to see where you take us!

**

My friends, it sure has been a few whirlwind weeks for us - between Owen's arrival and Bookworm's graduation - and, if you can believe it, I have some more big news to share with you a bit later this week! Stay tuned, and I'll fill you all in very soon.

In the meantime, have yourselves a wonderful evening ... and as always, thank you for stopping by and sharing in our joy ...

I'll be back here again just as soon as I can.

:)


Tummy Time with Mama ...

Owen on tummy 1

Owen on tummy 2

Owen on tummy 3

:)

Owen is actually laying on top of me in these pictures (I got the pics with my phone). Our pediatrician suggested he spend a few minutes each day on his tummy to help develop his head and neck muscles. He's surprisingly strong for two weeks!

He's also using his hands now to reach for, and grip things - like the binky in his mouth or Bill's finger. He's quite alert and loves to look your face all over ... loves to be talked with and sung to ... and LOVES to play around with "the baby in the mirror." (We have a large mirror directly behind his changing pad and he's made quite the friend of his reflection.) And I'll have to get a picture of his feet - he's got the longest, somewhat startlingly flexible little "monkey" toes!

***

Well, I hope you all have a great week! I know I've been posting a lot of pictures of Owen lately, but that's where I'm at right now - just enjoying this baby so much, and our first happy, slow weeks together.

I will, of course, eventually get back to posting about other things, too ... ;)

Have a nice Monday, my friends!

**


Knitted with Love

Good afternoon, my friends ... I hope you are enjoying your Friday.

I had to share with you some pictures of the absolutely beautiful sweater set my dear friend Cherice hand-knitted for Owen ...

Baby knit set 1

How darling is this?

Baby knit set 2

Made from buttery-soft, organic cotton ...

Baby knit set 3

And the colors ...  so yummy.

Baby knit set 4

A soft cadet blue and a warm harvest gold ... just perfect for our little boy! Not to wish away summer (or any of these precious early weeks) but I can hardly wait for autumn to begin!

With many thanks again to Cherice - and her family, who all had a hand in making this very special gift. So much love in those stitches, we will treasure these knits well beyond the years our little boy can wear them.

**

Have a lovely weekend, my friends ... I will see you here again sometime soon!


The Swing of Things

Owen in swing

Owen had his first time in his new "Snugabunny" swing yesterday!

(I think it helped that he went in sleepy to start with.)

:)

He had a short nap here - maybe 30 minutes or so before something - ahem, someone - woke him. But that's ok, he's getting used to the sounds of the household around him and sleeping pretty well just the same ...

Hope you all have a Happy Friday ... I'll be back later today with another post!


Baby Books & Recent Visitors

Baby book 1

Isn't this the sweetest thing? This is the front cover of an absolutely beautiful baby book ~  a gift from our dear friends, Vicki and Paul. It's a brand new book, but originally published in 1969 (my own birth year!) and it looks JUST like the books my mom kept for my brother and me (mine in yellow, his in blue). I adored those books ... I read them over and over as a child, poring over the pages and practically memorizing the details. The illustrations were (and are) so dreamy and charming ... I can't wait to jot down our notes.

One page that I can begin filling in is the Visitors page:

Baby book 2

Over the past week, family members have been stopping by to say hello and warmly welcome Owen to our world ... I thought I'd share a few pictures here.

At the hospital ...

Op 5

Big brother Crackerjack ...

Op 6

Big brother (and godfather-to-be) Bookworm ...

Op 4

Nana ...

Op 8

Papa ...

Op 9

And Uncle Matt ...

At home ...

Owen day 6 visit with aunt ami

Aunt Ami ...

Owen day 6 with grama b

Grandma Barbara (with Mama and Crackerjack) ...

Owen and marcia

Great Auntie Marcia ...

Owen with kate

... and godmother-to-be, cousin Kate.

How blessed we are to be surrounded by such love!

*

Now, many of you have asked how Earlybird has adjusted to his new baby brother, and to be honest ... he had a tough time at first. In fact, the day we got home from the hospital he spent mostly in tears. He had been SO excited for us to come home, and he was all talk of "Owen, our baby" coming home ... and when Bill pulled into the drive Tuesday morning, he came flying out the front door ... only to stop abruptly as he watched me climb out of the back of the van. Suddenly he was overwhelmed with the reality of the situation (and probably a lot of emotion and concern) and for the next several hours he really didn't want to have anything to do with his baby brother. My mum was here and comforted him as best she could, and sure enough, he started coming into the bedroom where I was with Owen, and taking a peek ... making a comment or asking a question ... and by the end of the day he was more at peace. I think it's still an adjustment for him - as it is for us all - and EB is very much a creature of habit and comfort. He likes - relies even - on things staying "just so."

But now that Owen has been here nearly a week, he's handling it all very well. He pretty much does his own thing and pops in to see his brother now and again. If Owen cries, EB puts his hands over his ears but it's with a bemused smile on his face - as if to say, "Wow, he's loud!" He's gotten used to me having a baby in my arms or over my shoulder most of the time (the first day he would tell me to take Owen back to the bedroom, lol). And he is SUPER helpful with diaper changes - as soon as that little bundle is wrapped up he picks it up and disposes of it for us. And he just assumed that job on his own. :)

The older boys have been terrific - both are thrilled to have Owen here and are extremely helpful to me in many ways. Crackerjack, especially, is just smitten ... he is always checking in on Owen - or "Opie" as he likes to call him - and asking to hold him. In fact, he spent a lot of time with me in the hospital - he just didn't want to stay home! I'm so pleased with his reaction in particular because he will be quite helpful to me ... especially once Bookworm heads off to school in the fall.

*

A baby brings such life and love into a family - and it's an extra special joy to share our little one with our loved ones. We're blessed to have so many hearts and hands to help with our little guy!

Well, my friends, I hope you are enjoying your week ... take care of yourselves and your loved ones and I will see you here again sometime soon.

**


One Week Old! (And a Birth Story)

Owen 1 week 3

It's all about the sleep around here!

Owen 1 week 1

Bliss.

I've been so out of it lately - I basically abandoned my calendar and FCS several weeks ago - but I just realized Owen was born on Trinity Sunday! How lovely ~ I absolutely love this feast day! :)

I've also learned of a couple of friends' birthdays he shares ... which is neat, and he's the first May birthday we have in our immediate family and that's fun, too!

So looking at May ...

Its birthstone is the emerald ...

... and the birth flower is the lily of the valley, that sweet little woodland plant ...

Lily of the valley

In the Language of Flowers, the lily of the valley means: sweetness, a return to happiness, you've made my life complete ...

And in the Catholic Faith, the month of May is devoted to the Blessed Mother ...

I think May is a beautiful birth month, don't you?

:)

 So, how about a birth story this morning?

*Note: This all might be TMI for some people, so read on only if you are comfortable with birth stories ...

So ... one week ago yesterday, I reported to the hospital for induction. Now, my due date was Monday (Memorial Day) but my midwife and I had discussed induction for several weeks beforehand ... for a couple of reasons. First of all, both Crackerjack and Earlybird came incredibly fast, and their births were somewhat frantic - CJ was born in eight pushes and barely three hours of labor (first pang to first breath) and EB was just about the same. EB also had a cord complication that made delivery tricky and a bit harrowing. So I was concerned about another fast labor and getting to the hospital on time ... on top of that, I tested positive for GBS so I needed two four-hour doses of an antibiotic before Owen could be safely delivered. Well, considering my history, there was a good chance I'd never make it through even one dose! A managed induction would give us time - for me to get to the hospital and to get the needed medication into my system. There was also the added challenge of my severe allergy to most antibotics. We decided to go with penicillin since according to my chart (and foggy memory) the one time I had penicillin in my early 20s it upset my stomach, but didn't cause any true allergic reactions.* 

Anyhoo! When Bill and I reported to the hosptial (Mum was home with the boys) they started my IV and got the penicillin going, and told me to just "relax." My midwife was on a 24 hour shift so I was basically assured she'd be the one to deliver our baby, something that made me very happy and comforted. So a few hours later, once the first penicillin dose had been administered, I was started on pitocin to get my contractions going (I was about 3 cm naturally at this point). Now, I've had pit before (with Bookworm) and I remembered how strong (and painful) it makes the contractions but I also knew that I could have an epidural once I got uncomfortable ... 

And indeed, roundabouts 11 p.m. the contractions were getting pretty intense, so the anesthesiologist was called in ... and 20 minutes later I had a line in. I've had epidurals with each of my babies - though I joke that epidural aside, Crackerjack was my "natural baby." He was coming so fast ... and the epidural had just been put into place when my water broke and he was born within the next 10 minutes! And with Bookworm, it took a really long time to get the line in - apparently because I have a very short torso, my spinal column is packed quite tightly. The doctor at that birth had a horrible time getting the epi started - as you might imagine, it was not much fun waiting for him to get that needle in just right!

Ok, so - epi in around 11, and things quieted down nicely ... so nicely I dozed on and off for a couple of hours ... as did Bill. But close to 3 a.m. another cervix check showed I was 6 cm - and with a very gentle push during the next contraction I increased to 7-8 cm. So we were getting close!!

Over the next 20 minutes, our Owen Paul was born. It was a wonderfully calm and gentle birth - I only pushed a handful of times, and actually we let the contractions do the pushing for me near the end ... the lights were dim, the room was quiet ... it was just Bill and myself, our midwife Beth, and Maura, the most wonderful L&D nurse I've ever had. And although the epidural made things quite comfortable, I could feel everything - I felt Owen moving down through the canal, his crowning (his little head presenting) ... and then the whole of him coming right out ... AMAZING. So amazing, such a miracle ... I can't find the words ... but I know many of you know exactly what I mean. :)

So at 3:17 a.m., our little night owl was born. And our world was changed forever.

**

* A note on the penicillin - it did cause a reaction after all. I had to have 4 doses in all (due to the length of the labor) and by delivery time I was starting to itch. By the next day I was having a full blown allergic reaction - a red, puffed, itchy face, a swollen tongue and hoarse voice. Kind of scary to be honest. They started me on Benadryl and I stopped all other medication (including pain meds). Sometimes when I have a reaction like that my system goes hairy and I react to anything at all, even my normal vitamin. Suffice it to say, this is something I need to look into, but for now all is well. The reaction had mostly cleared up by the time we were home.

Our hospital stay lasted till Tuesday morning, and Bill jokingly referred to this as our "spa" weekend. We've delivered all our babies at this hospital and they've always been wonderful. We felt so taken care of, and it was good to brush up on the basics of newborn care, nursing, etc. ... it has been eleven years after all since our last babymoon!

And here we are a week later! Time has flown by already. It has been so nice to settle into our nest and our little routine - or Owen's routine I should say, which is basically, sleep-eat-poop-charm-the-pants-off-everyone-around-him.

:)

Thank you again for all your kindness and prayers ... they mean the world to us. I'm having such fun posting our baby notes and sharing our joy with you all. I'm not sure how often I'll be posting once Bill returns to work, but for now, I'm relishing these cozy days and these quiet hours when baby's napping and I'm at rest nearby. We are blessed to have lots of hands close by to help out - as you can imagine, my mother has been an enormous help - practically speaking and otherwise. This is a very special time for us all ...

**

 Before I go, a little peek outside my window ... our irises in full bloom:

Irises 2

I hope you all enjoy this glorious Sunday ... thanks so much for joining me here today!