Archive for the ‘Pregnancy/Childbirth/Babies’ category

Cassidy’s Birth Story

August 4, 2012

Well, there I was finishing up the last day of my 38th week of pregnancy on Tuesday night.  And I was ready to have this baby.  I went for walk with my husband after dinner, and I asked him to come with me to my midwife appointment the next day.  I also planned on bringing my hospital bag just in case.  The hospital where my midwives deliver is 30 to 40 minutes from our house but only 5 to 10 minutes from my OB office. 

I woke up on Wednesday morning (August 1st) around 4 am for my usual trip to the bathroom. I had slept for about 3 1/2 hours.  My back and abdomen started aching horribly and non-stop.  Then on top of that I started feeling waves of extra pain.  They kind of felt like contractions, but it was hard to tell for sure.  They were really inconsistent in frequency and duration, and I didn’t want to get overly optimistic when it could have just been extreme intestinal cramps.  The constant ache had stopped by 8 a.m., but I felt a little worried that more might be going on then I realized and that any minute I might start having bearing down pains and end up unintentionally giving birth at home.

So, I decided to go on in to my OB office early to have then check me out.  Thankfully my mother-in-law was already scheduled off work, so we just had to go knock on her door to tell her what was going on and leave.  I had my husband run me by McDonald’s for a sweet tea on the way; it’s kind of my trying to get through the day on less than 4 hours of sleep ritual, especially when I’m in labor.  I also got two hash browns, but I only had the appetite for one.

When I got to the office they put me on the monitor for about 30-40 minutes.  I had about three good contractions while I sat there, and when Patti, the midwife in the office at the time, checked me I was at six centimeters.  She sent me on to the hospital where the midwife on-call, Lee, would meet me.  Each of the three midwives has caught a baby for me before, and Lee had caught my last one.

It didn’t take long for us to get to the hospital, but I noticed that my contractions weren’t coming as regularly as they had been.  By the time the they checked me in and poked and prodded me (IV lock and blood draw), my labor had completely stalled just like with my fourth daughter.  For the next hour and a half I only had two or three contractions.  I tried walking and dancing and doing squats to no avail.

So, Lee and I decided to try a little pitocin to get things going again, like we did with #4.  While we waited for that to kick in a bit, my husband and I tried to get some sleep.  He had been up most of the night listening to me breathe through my pains and dealing with our four-year-old who doesn’t sleep well at night.

At first I didn’t feel the contractions start back up even though they were registering on the monitor.  Then I started having to deep breathe my way through them again.  The pain started to get a little more intense, and I started to get that slightly panicky feeling.  I started singing a few of the verses and the chorus of “How Can I Keep From Singing?” in my mind during contractions.

The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,

A fountain ever springing.

All things are mine since I am His.

How can I keep from singing?

That verse especially helped me focus on peace instead of fear.  I knew that being afraid would just make things more painful and possibly be counter-productive physically.

When Lee checked me again I was still only about six centimeters, but the contractions were definitely more intense and coming about every two minutes.  Since my last baby was born two years ago, the hospital had added a new wing which included the new maternity floor.  Each labor and delivery room now had a birthing tub, which I asked about using.

The hot water felt good, but it didn’t relieve the pain quite as much as I expected.  But it also could have been that the pain got a lot more intense once I got in.  (It’s like the old question about why so much bad stuff still happens if you have a guardian angel looking out for you.  Answer:  just imagine how much worse things would be if your guardian angel wasn’t on the job.)  The pain probably would have been even worse if I wasn’t in the tub.

I was only in the tub for about 30 minutes; the water never had a chance to get cold.  But I transitioned completely during that short time.  I started feeling the desire to not resist pushing, even though I knew that it wouldn’t be smart to actively push until I was fully dilated.  I went from just blowing air out to making deep guttural noises with each contraction.  And I really started to get that panicky feeling.  I wish the tub had some bars to hold onto during contractions, but I think one of the perks of the tub was being able to lift my butt up in the water, kind of like a crab crawl position, during some of the contractions without gravity adding extra pressure.

Finally, Lee told me I had to get out of the tub.  I really did not want to do this, even though she had warned me that she would get mean if I didn’t get out when she told me.  I got on my knees and leaned over the side of the tub during a contraction.  Lee was like, “As soon as this contraction is over, you have to get out.”  I said, “I don’t want to.”  Lee was adamant, “You can not have the baby in that tub.”  My reply:  “Why not?”

I barely made it to the bed in an all-fours position.  Lee raised the head of the bed up as high as it would go and suggested that I hang over the top of it.  That actually worked really well.  I would start each contraction at the top of the bed, and then start bearing down the bed as I pushed.  I’ll be honest and admit that by that point I was squeezing and even biting the top of the mattress and being very loud.

I remember Lee checking me once and saying I had an anterior lip (basically a little section of my cervix was kind of in the way).  Then I vaguely remember her moving it over.  Then she said that the only thing stopping the baby from coming out was the water bag, which still had not broken.  She went into break it; she wasn’t sure she had done it but I could feel that she had and hollered for her to get the probe out.  Almost immediately, I was pushing out the baby.  At one point, I started to move back to my pre-contraction starting position, and Lee and my husband started yelling “Don’t do that!  Just  stay down and push!”  And then she was out!  It was 5:04 p.m.

They had to help me roll over onto my back amidst the tangle of the baby, the umbilical cord, and my IV tubes.  It was a few minutes later that I noticed that I had actually pulled my IV lock out of my hand.  Lee started to panic a bit about that.  She had been really concerned about the possibility of my hemorrhaging after delivery due to a post-partum complication I had 8 weeks after my previous child was born.  She had counted on a continuous drip of pitocin after labor to help my uterus contract faster.  So until they could get a nurse to insert a new IV lock into my hand, Lee administered a fast dose of cytotec, which is like extra-strength pitocin except they don’t insert it through an IV or give it to you orally (ugh!).

The next forty-five minutes were just as miserable as labor.  I was so cold and tired and my legs were shaking, but they were trying to administer the cytotec and they kept pushing on my uterus really hard.  Then I needed one stitch and the anesthetic shot didn’t seem to be working.  I just wanted everyone to let me put down my legs, bring me warm blankets, give me my baby, and leave me alone.  I had tried to hold her as much as I could while they worked on me, but it was getting so painful that I had the nurses take her to wipe her down and diaper her.

Finally, they were finished with me, and I snuggled up with Cassidy Veronica and let her start nursing.  She weighed 6 pounds and 12 ounces and measured 20 inches long.  While my husband left to go get the rest of the family at home, I devoured a cold turkey sandwich and french fries like a wild animal.  Then the nurse helped me get cleaned up in preparation for the arrival of the family and my eventual move to the post-partum section.

I could hear my party coming down the hall, and before I knew it my bed was crowded with four big girls who just couldn’t stop touching and fawning over their new baby sister, especially Sabrina (2).  My husband commented on what a large family we were in the room:  three grandparents, two parents, and five kids.  The nurses had to interrupt and kick everyone out temporarily while they moved me to my regular room.  I was tucked in my new bed when everyone was allowed back.  Sabrina looked at me happily and then got this perplexed look when she realized I didn’t have the baby in my arms.  Then she saw Cassidy lying in the bassinet and forgot about me for awhile

They couldn’t stay long because it was getting late.  Katie (4) got upset when she realized that I wouldn’t be coming home that night.  The other three girls just wanted the baby to come home as soon as possible.  As they left a nurse commented about how the girls would be too wound up to go to sleep that night, I just laughed and said, “Well, it’s not my problem!”

And so I began my roughly 40-hour vacation.  As usual, the nurses poked and prodded me all through the first night.  But once I got my IV out the next morning and was able to take a shower, I was able to just relax and enjoy quiet time with Cassidy (except for when the family came for another manic visit).

Overall I’ve been recovering pretty well.  I was up and around well by the next morning.  I took my Motrin pretty consistently for the first 24 hours, but now I’m just taking it as a I feel like it for general muscle ache.  My milk came in really gradually this time which has made things a lot less painful, but it still hurts a lot when Cassidy first latches on. I know that will pass, as it always does.

The girls adore their baby sister, and I have to be really careful that they don’t maul her with affection.  It is an adjustment for everyone, though.  Right now I’m just trying to get/keep everyone back on our feeding and sleep schedules and then get as much rest as I can (sleeping or relaxing on the couch) while I have a lot of help.


7 Quick Takes (v. 72)

August 3, 2012

1.  These are going to be really quick takes since on Wednesday, August 1st I gave birth to Cassidy Veronica.  We got home from the hospital around noon today, just in time for lunch-time chaos.  This is of course just on top of the other chaos that has been going on since I left for the hospital Wednesday morning.  The older four girls have been thrown off their food and sleep schedules by the arrival of their new baby sister, the visit of their Memaw and Papaw, and my absence.  And this mini-heat wave is not helping matters either.

2.  The hospital where I deliver just built a new wing with a new maternity floor.  Some of the changes in the labor/delivery and post-partum rooms I really liked.  There are other things that I wish they hadn’t changed.  But I was happily surprised last night when the massage therapist showed up in my hospital room for my free 15-minute massage session.  I was scared that was something they had done away with in the renovations.

3.  They do have this new thing as they wheel you through the double doors from labor and delivery to the post-partum rooms.  At the push of a button a Kenny G. version of “Brahm’s Lullaby” plays to welcome and announce the new mother and baby.  After the trauma of childbirth, I really didn’t give a crap about pushing the silly button, but I didn’t want to be a curmudgeon, either.  When the music started up, though, I seriously regretted doing it; I just wanted to hide my face under one of my warm blankets and die from embarrassment at the cheesiness.  I started thinking it would be much cooler if the button played one of the two notification songs for the emergency room ambulance bay at their sister hospital in my town:  the theme song from MASH or the Imperial March from Star Wars.

4.  Do you have any idea how much I loathe having an IV?  Well, every single healthcare provider in that hospital does, because they had to listen to me complain about the “stupid IV” non-stop for about 24 hours.  I hate the way the tubing makes me feel trapped and is always getting tangled, and I can’t fully use whichever hand they put it in.  For extra fun this time, I seem to have some sort of residual nerve damage that keeps making my wrist and thumb go numb where the nurse unsuccessfully tried to insert the IV lock the first time.  Then I accidentally ripped out the correctly inserted lock right after delivery, so I got a third puncture when they switched the IV to the other hand.

5.  The girls are really wound up over their new sister.  They keep begging non-stop to hold her, and they keep climbing on me to get to her.  I am scared to set Cassidy down for five seconds without an armed guard lest one of them should try to carry her off or accidentally catapult her from the bouncy seat.  They they are constantly poking and prodding her.  Hopefully some of the newness will wear off in a day or two once they realize that while she is extremely cute she is not really going to be that entertaining for awhile.

6.  So far I am digging the My Brest Friend nursing pillow.  I wasn’t sure that I would like the little strap around the back, but it actually feels pretty good on my sore muscles.  And I’ve been using the pocket to keep my new Udder Cover nursing cape.  I just wish I could remember where I packed up my little tube of nursing cream I got from the hospital.  I forgot just how painful the first few weeks of nursing can be even when you know the tricks of good positioning…and I’m just waiting for my milk to come in fully.

7.  Well, I think Cassidy and I are going to head upstairs to bed and see if we can get a few hours of shut eye.  Of course, Cassidy will probably have some weird wide-awake period as soon as I try to get to sleep.  But a girl can hope.  We’ll see when I can get around to writing up Cassidy’s birth story.  I will say that her birth gets the awards for “Best Transition” and “Fastest Pushing”.  You’ll just have to wait for all of the gory details.

7 Quick Takes (v. 71)

July 27, 2012

1.  Well, the world has gone mad…over Chick-Fil-A of all things.  The advocates of gay marriage have chosen a chicken sandwich restaurant chain that has always espoused Christian values, such as observing the Sabbath, as their battle ground.

We actually went to Chick-Fil-A last night for dinner.  We had no political agenda; we just really like the food.  My six-year-old composed a “Chicken song” for our last visit there about two weeks ago.  We used to plan our trips back home to Kentucky in order to stop at what was then the nearest Chick-Fil-A in Indiana.  We just really like Chick-Fil-A, and apparently so do a lot of other people because the place was packed as usual.  We are excitedly waiting for the one in our town to open soon, so that we don’t have to drive 30 minutes every time we want to eat there.

2.  But after I posted a Facebook link to what the Chick-Fil-A CEO really said, my best friend from high school replied that anyone who publicly opposes same-sex marriage is being hateful and bigoted.  I sincerely questioned why he wanted to have any relationship with me or the Catholic Church (with which he claims affiliation) since we both publicly oppose it and therefore must be hateful and bigoted.  He then de-friended me.  It makes me a bit sad, but at the same I feel that it is probably for the best and I wish him no ill will.  But still…all of this over some tasty chicken.

3.  When I went to my weekly midwife check-up (38 weeks), she was a little bit concerned about the baby’s heartbeat, so they put me on a monitor.  Let me clarify, they sat me down in a comfy recliner in a cool room where the only sound was my baby’s rhythmic heartbeat.  It took all of my will-power not to fall asleep and take them up on their offer to let me stay and nap for a few hours even after they were sure the baby was fine.

4.  My nesting obsession for this week was scrubbing down all of the kitchen chairs from top to bottom.  Over-all the house has been staying much cleaner since we instituted the eating schedule and ban food and drinks (other than water) from the living room.  It has taken a lot of effort to make sure we keep to the schedule and deal with the occasional whining, but the trade-offs have really been worth it.

5.  I had been rereading the first Harry Potter book at night as I waited next to my four-year-old’s bed for her to fall asleep.  When I got to the part where Harry, Ron, and Hermione are trying to figure out about Nicholas Flamel all I could think was “I bet they wish they had a muggle computer with Google on it about now.”

Of course, Google did not exist when the story is set in 1991, and most people were barely aware of the internet when the book was published in 1995.  But even my crappy library had a computerized card catalog by the mid-80’s that probably could have pulled up something about Nicholas Flamel, if anything existed in the library about him at all.  And I would bet some wizard would have at least invented a spell that works like the “find” function on websites to find key terms in a book by then.  It just goes to show that magic can’t solve every problem, even in a fantasy world.

6.  I have developed a fear of orange juice as my due date approaches.  I have read in a few pregnancy books over the years that orange juice + labor = puking.  I think one of my midwives even said something to that effect at one time.  So, while part of me would be almost willing to superstitiously drink orange juice expecting Murphy’s Law to kick in and start my labor, I really, really, really hate puking.

7.  Everyone else in the house keeps freaking out every time I express some sort of pain and discomfort, which at this point is at least 20 times a day.  They see me grimace or hear me suck in my breath suddenly and then ask if I’m in labor.  Then I explain that the baby has jammed her feet into my left side for the 5000th time or that I just did some minor chore that turned out to be more strenuous than it would have been even three days ago or I clumsily whacked into something.  You’d think that by the fifth baby everyone around me would realize that labor in real life normally doesn’t go from absolutely no feeling to excruciating pain out of nowhere.  But I think everyone, including me, is just on high alert right now.

7 Quick Takes (v. 69): 36 Weeks with Pictures

July 13, 2012

1.  I am officially at 36 weeks.  Do I look pregnant now?  I did one naked belly picture, so that everyone can get the full effect.

2.  I finally gave in and washed the baby’s new clothes.  All of the little tiny outfits are just so cute.  Of course, all of the baby books and baby magazines would be horrified by just how few clothing items I bought.  They always advocate 15 of every item, even though most newborns out-grow half of their clothes before they get a chance to wear them once.

3.  Speaking of the wide array of baby crap available, this is basically what I feel is necessary at this point:  Pack ‘n’ Play Bassinet with Changing Table attachment, bouncy seat, feeding chair, nursing pillow, diapers, nursing cape, and baby sling.  The only things not pictured are the second bouncy seat, second nursing pillow, and bath pillow upstairs and the double stroller in the garage.

4.  I haven’t actually installed the infant car seat, but in case you’re wondering how in the world we’re going to get around with all of these kids….Piper is in the booster seat in the far corner of the back seat, Bailey is in the middle, and Katie is in the other booster seat.  Then Sabrina and baby #5 are in the middle row.  Unfortunately, there is no room left for Granny to ride with us anywhere.  We’ll have to start taking two cars to Mass on Sunday.

5.  We still haven’t completely decided on a name for #5.  We have a name, but we don’t love it.  We keep hoping that we’ll come up with something else that we’ll both just know is the right name.  So, I’ve been looking over my books trying to come up with a new list of suggestions.

6.  I do have everything fairly set up for our fall semester of homeschooling.  I will have to order a few resources from the library around the second week of August, and things will have to be tweaked once we see how things flow during the first week.  But I feel that I’m as ready as I’m going to be.

7.  As I mentioned in my last post, I have started trying to pack my bag for the hospital.  I happened to be at the Meijer that carries my favorite trail mix, so I bought an extra box just to take to the hospital.  I thought trail mix, a few packs of peanut butter crackers, a few pineapple cups, and my usual pack of cinnamon graham crackers would give me plenty of snack options for those middle of the night feedings in the hospital (in addition to the extra snacks I order with all of my meals).

Going to the Hospital Round 5

July 9, 2012

Back in May of 2008 I posted about what I had packed in my hospital bag.  Now it’s time to pull out the duffel bag and start packing once again.  But I am using that old list to remind me even though it’s only been about two years since the last time I did this.

Clothing: Nursing gown (to change into after I get a shower), nursing bra, two pairs of thick socks with skid tractions on the bottom (cold chills are common after delivery and hospital floors are always cold), house slippers, a loose and comfortable outfit to wear home (black sweats, long-sleeve tee, regular socks), and one pair of underwear*.

Well, the nursing gown mentioned is long gone, but I have some nifty pajamas that I’ve been wearing during my pregnancy and the top is made to be pulled down for nursing access.  I just have to decide if I want to take the blue pair or the gray pair (very Civil War of me).  And I’ll probably wear my flip flops instead of my house slippers to the hospital this time.

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Ladies Black Interchangeable Flip Flops

Hygiene: Body wash, shower poof, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, floss, deodorant, razor, and hair brush. Basically, pack what ever you need to feel clean. I also pack a few maxi pads, even though I might not use them.

Not too much has changed there, but I may need to get some new travel sizes.

Nursing Supplies: Lansinoh nursing cream (even if you know what you are doing your nipples will still be a little tender for the first few weeks), nursing pads in case my milk comes in early, and a nursing cloak.

I doubt I’ll buy a new tube of nursing cream to take with me.  Usually the “free” sample they give me in the hospital is enough to last me.  But I will take my nursing cloak with me again so I don’t have to kick my dad or any visiting priest to the other side of the curtain or risk making them feel uncomfortable.

Baby Stuff: Two sleepers for baby’s first photo/going home (one gender specific, and one gender neutral), a few thin cloth diapers (as burp/spit up cloths), and a few extra diapers “just in case”.

I’m a little torn about which outfits I want to take for the baby.  I’ll probably take a couple of sleepers and one onesie outfit and then see how horrendously hot the weather is when we get discharged.  I’ll probably also leave the cloth diapers at home and just pack the newborn disposable diapers in the diaper bag I keep in the van rather than my hospital bag.

Miscellaneous: Digital camera, extra batteries, two disposable cameras, wallet with checkbook and insurance card, charged cell phone with phone number list, Sudoku book with pencils and a lightweight (physically and mentally) book to read for entertainment, and a plastic baggy full of Honey Maid cinnamon sticks (for snacking).

We really need to get a new digital camera since our old one is on the fritz.  I’m still debating about a disposable camera.  But I know that I will be bringing my new Acer Iconia Tablet and taking advantage of the free WiFi at the hospital.  Not only can I access Facebook, blogs, Netflix and the Laudate app (Catholic Bible, Catechism, prayers, etc), but I also just bought the e-book of Style, Sex, and Substance to read using the Kindle app while I’m in there.  Of course, I really need to remember to bring the charger as well.

Now I just need to print out this post and start packing….

7 Quick Takes (v. 66): Baby Stuff

June 22, 2012

1.  This week I switched all of the older kids seating arrangements to make room for the infant car seat.  I think the only one that is not completely freaked out is Sabrina (2).  She’s just as content sitting in the seat behind her daddy and letting him buckle her as she was behind me.  The other three are constantly complaining and fussing and fighting.

2.  The only actual baby-related things that are left to do before I go into labor are:  install the infant seat, switch the double stroller back to a two-seater from a sit-and-stand, get the bouncy seats and nursing pillows out of the closet, and pack my hospital bag.  I should probably wash the baby’s new clothes, too, but I can’t help wondering at this point if that is absolutely necessary or one of those anal retentive over-board things all of the baby books tell you to do to prove before birth that you are a good parent.

3.  I had to have a second external ultrasound this week.  They have been kind of worried about Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) because my uterus has been measuring small again (as it does every pregnancy) and the baby’s abdomen was slightly small at my first ultrasound.  But this time they said she was perfectly within normal ranges for gestational age, weighing in at approximately 4 pounds and 2 ounces.  We even got this great picture of her.

4.  We kind of have a name front-runner.  We don’t absolutely love it, but we just can’t think of anything we like better.  I told my husband that I would really like to use a saint’s name for at least one of the names, and there is one that sounds really, really good with the first name we are considering.  Neither name is super popular, but interestingly they were back-to-back on the top 1000 names for 2011 according to the Social Security Administration.  But we never reveal chosen names to anyone other than grandparents until after the baby is born.

5.  I bought some new nursing bras and nursing tanks at Motherhood Maternity last week.  There’s one bra that I could just live in all of the time if I wasn’t sweating like a pig in The House Built Without Heating/Air Ducts, but alas it needs to be washed after a day or two of absorbing all that sweat.  I am also really digging the tanks because I can wear them right now on their on when it is hot, and I should be able to wear them under other shirts during cold weather.

6.  Partly due to the whole IUGR concern, I had to have my check-up today with one of the doctors in my OB practice instead of my usual midwives.  Whenever I am pregnant I develop a fairly innocuous condition called thrombocytopoenia.  Basically my platelet count starts dropping which could cause clotting issues if I wanted/needed an epidural during labor.  There is not really anything that can be done to make my platelet count increase, but the doctor suggested loading up on high-iron foods for the next 7 weeks since iron helps blood clot better.  I see lots of meat, broccoli and eggs in my future.

7.  We’re up to 15 appointments and 4 classes attended so far for the month of June.  You know your life is crazy hectic when you think to yourself, “I’ll get a lot more time to rest and relax when the baby comes.”  LOL

7 Quick Takes (v. 61)

April 28, 2012

I know that it’s Saturday, but…

1.  This is one of my rare brilliant ideas that was completely inspired by my more common bouts of laziness.

We spend a large portion of our days in the house, especially in the winter.  As a result the kids and I spend most of our days barefoot.  (Sorry, FlyLady!)  But in the evening there will be errands, appointments, and activities which require socks and shoes.  Now we also spend a large portion of our day on the middle floor of our three-story town home, and it’s hard enough to get everyone out the door without walking up and down the steep steps to the top floor fifteen times trying to get matching socks in all of the right sizes.

So, about a year ago, I brought all of the socks (except my husband’s) to the living room.  In that year, I’ve tried various storage bins and boxes, but recently I relocated these Sterilite drawers downstairs.  As you can see, I labeled one drawer for each person’s socks, so that it is very clear whose is whose.  In the bottom right drawer I keep diapers and extra packages of diaper wipes, and the top left drawer will eventually be filled with some clothes and supplies for the new baby.

There have been a few other bonuses from this:  1) I was also able to also keep panties handy for my potty-training preschooler, 2) said preschooler has been learning to write her name and her sister’s names by copying the labels, and 3) the socks can go straight from the dryer to the drawer instead of being lost in laundry basket limbo with the rest of the clean clothes.

2.  Have I mentioned that I also keep a basket for dirty laundry on top of the dryer because I am lazy?  It’s really nice to have some place to throw dirty socks, training panties, spill towels, and other clothing that would otherwise just collect indefinitely all over the living room and kitchen until I got around to carrying them upstairs.

3.  I’ve been getting homeschooling supplies delivered for the summer and fall semester.  Except for putting together my modern history outline, I have the other subjects all prepped (vocabulary, literature, math, typing, and grammar/Latin).  I decided to do the Family Formation program for religion next year, but since they won’t send me the first packet until August, there’s not anything I can really do there.  I’m just a little nervous about how close my due date is to the beginning of the semester, but I know it will all work out somehow.

4.  I’m currently at 25 weeks, and I’m starting to slightly panic in general.  Our wall calendar for the May and June is quickly filling up as I try to get everything done before my due date.  In addition to already-scheduled swim classes and dental visits, I had to schedule Katie’s 4-year check-up, Sabrina’s 2-year check-up, my Level 2 ultrasound, and long overdue eye exams for myself and the three older girls.  Then there are my regular midwife visits (including the glucose test).  I still need to schedule a routine hearing test for Piper (something I do when each kid is in first grade), and then I’m trying to get the van as up-to-date on all of its maintenance as we can afford.  Oh, and I have to go to the DMV and get a new driver’s license made before the current one expires!

5.  Back in September my mother-in-law and I rented a small storage unit in preparation for her moving in with us.  It gave us both a place to get some things out of the way while we re-arranged the house.  This month we completely cleared the unit out.  We both ended up donating some things to Goodwill, and now that things have settled we found some spare storage space in the house for the rest.  After hearing horror stories about people who end up paying for these units for years and years after moving, I was kind of proud of us for getting it cleared out as soon as we did.  And we both appreciate dropping that monthly payment.

6.  Piper (6) is technically in kindergarten, but she’s already over half-way through first grade math.  (We use Singapore Primary Mathematics U.S. Edition.)  This time around I bought the Home Instruction Guide for set 1B.  While I obviously understood how to do first grade math in general, it was nice to know which concepts were meant to just be introductory and which ones were meant to be mastered in preparation for the next level.  Right now we are at a point where Piper needs to have her addition  and subtraction facts to and from 10 pretty much down before we can move on to the next unit in her book.

As I expected, she has the addition ones pretty much down, but she was struggling with her subtraction facts.  It made me think that  I should share the two online math resources that I use most often for extra math practice.  If I just want basic worksheets, I go to  They have an extensive collection of free printable worksheets about a wide variety of math topics for various grade levels.  For a little more fun, I have the kids play at Fun 4 the Brain.   I especially recommend Cone Crazy for addition or subtraction facts and Minko’s Milkshake Shoppe for multiplication and division facts.

7.  Leila at Little Catholic Bubble has added a new section to her blog called “Little Teachings” .  These are a variety of posts about Catholic teachings that might be of interest to Catholic and non-Catholic friends alike.  She has a great way of explaining things, especially topics that are often misunderstood by Catholics and non-Catholics alike.  I’m looking forward to reading through them all myself.