Saturday, September 28, 2013

3 years ago.....

Three years ago today, I knew something was wrong, I just didn't know how wrong....

Somedays it sucks being right!

As I woke up that morning, I knew things weren't right.  My active baby who typically kept me awake moving and rolling at all hours of the night was barely moving, but there was still movement.  We had had a non-stress test the day before and had passed, but just barely.....barely seemed to be the word.  It was a Tuesday, I headed out the door for my weekly moms group at my church.  Things didn't feel right.  I expressed my concerns and asked the moms at my table for prayers.  When I got home I laid down and counted movements.  Yes, there was still movement, but they weren't the same.  I got up and called my friend who was supposed to be doing a maternity photo shoot for me that afternoon and told her that I just wasn't up for it.  I really regret that now.  I should have gone.  I have no pictures of me pregnant with Tori other than a shot Jay took of me being put into the ambulance later that night.  I really regret not having a picture of me enjoying those final moments.  Only I didn't know that they were the final moments.

After I got off the phone with my friend, I called the doctor's office.  The nurse responded with "the baby is moving, right?" to which I answered "yes, but it isn't the same".  We had all thought that this pregnancy would end with me bleeding, since the placenta had escaped from the uterus, bleeding would certainly be a sign, but there was no blood, no crapping, just a nagging feeling that something was wrong.  The office was ready to close for the afternoon, but the nurse said "I am sure things are fine, but if you are worried, drive over to the hospital and go into triage and have them check it out".  I guess that was one huge advantage of being a high risk mom, they were always trying to calm my fears, even when they had delivered the diagnosis of placenta accreta, they tried to focus on the positives, while making sure I was still aware of the possible outcome, the likelihood that one or both of us wouldn't survive.

From the beginning the outcome didn't look good.  Slow fetal heart tones at the first visit, then the bleeding started.  The look on the doctor's face when he said he felt this pregnancy was not viable, that it would end in miscarriage like my previous two pregnancies.  But the bleeding didn't get heavier, it remained light, constant, but light.  And then at 17 weeks it stopped.  And I could feel baby moving.  The doctors were wrong.  Then the ultrasound with strong fetal heart tones and a baby with 10 fingers and 10 toes...and a chubby belly....already a chubby belly.  Why didn't we see it?  Well maybe because that day they saw something else....the blood flow that should have been in the uterus wasn't, it appeared to be below it, like the placenta wasn't where it belonged.  They ordered an MRI and confirmed that what should never happen had happened.  The placenta had grown out of the uterus.  The outcome that didn't look good for the baby in the beginning became an outcome that looked grave for us both.  There was nothing to do but wait.  And pray.

We left for the hospital, but not before dropping Sophia off at her girl scout meeting.  We were both in denial, certain we would go to the hospital and be back home within a two hour window,

When we got to the hospital, they were expecting us.  Thing moved both quickly and slowly at the same time.  Tests were run and read, monitors attached and we waited.  Then we got the news.  Something didn't seem right and because we weren't at 32 weeks gestation we needed to be transferred to a larger hospital with a level 3 NICU. They called for an ambulance to transport me!

We got to Good Sam right before midnight.  They hooked me back up onto the monitors and made sure that we were both stable.  Yes, something was wrong, but no one knew for sure what that was or just how wrong it would be.  Little did we suspect that the next day would be birthing day!  Little did I know that the babe still tightly tucked in my womb would soon be battling for her life.  Little did I know the trials we would soon face.

Ironically as I type this, I can hear the Reds game in the background.  3 years ago to day they clenched their division, not going to happen today! 

Yummy Chicken Casserole Recipe

OK, found this on Facebook and have made it twice and the kids love it.  We tweaked it a bit so I am posting it here the way I made it.  I am going to experiment with adding more seasoning to it when I make it again.  Maybe a little Cajun seasoning or ranch mix?

4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts  (I cheated and used the frozen diced chicken breasts from Kroger)
6 strips of quality bacon – cooked and crumbled
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
1 box (16 ounces) dried spiral pasta
1 tablespoon garlic powder
Salt & pepper to taste ( I did not add any salt)

Cook & crumble bacon. While bacon is cooking, cut chicken into bite-sized chunks. Set cooked bacon aside for later use. In the same pan, cook chicken in bacon drippings. Add garlic powder & salt & pepper to taste.

While chicken is cooking, prepare pasta according to directions. Spray a 9 xc 13 inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (original recipe called for 400 degree oven, the top of the first casserole we made ended up too crisp).

Drain pasta, return to pot. Add chicken, both cans of cream of chicken soup, cheese and bacon , mix well and pour into 9x13 dish.  (the original recipe said to use 1 cup of Monterrey Jack cheese ~ stir to mix well. Pour into prepared baking dish. Top with crumbled bacon. Top with remaining Monterrey Jack cheese but we didn't like the layer of browned cheese on the top so we opted to mix it all together and LOVED the results).  Bake for 20-30 minutes, just until cheese is melted and beginning to brown on top.

Fear of bridges

OK, I have quite a few fears that I have no real explanation for....fear of clowns (admit it, they are creepy!), fear of heights, fear of tunnels (its the coalminer's granddaughter in me!), fear of sharks (who actually kill less people each year than dogs) and fear of bridges!  With the co-op we are attending being across town, I am being forced to confront my fear of bridges each week, twice in one day!  No matter which way I go (there are at least 3 routes from the house) I am forced to cross the Western Hills Viaduct each week (so bridge 1)....and unfortunately the route that seems to be the least congested involves we crossing into Kentucky and approaching Cincinnati from the south, which means crossing the river not ONCE but TWICE on the commute (bridges 2 and 3)!

I can't explain it, but even sitting here, typing this, the thought of crossing those bridges makes my palms sweaty!  I do the best with crossing the bridge on 275, probably because I can navigate across it in the center lane and I do the worst with the bridge on 471, probably because I have to cross it in the right hand lane and because of the time of day, each time we cross it I have been left STUCK sitting on the bridge in bumper to bumper rush hour traffic, it doesn't help that as I approach it that cars are frantically trying to merge as they enter the expressway from the final ramp in Kentucky.

Sophia laughs at me, as I chant or hum or sing a prayer as I cross the bridge, it is all I can do to keep my focus.  The thoughts that race through my head are irrational...the bridge collapsing, the car breaking down or running out of gas (forcing me out of the car) or worse yet a car crash that sends my car and my family plummeting over the side of the bridge and into the murky river below. I always put gas in the car before we head out, so the probability that I would run out of gas on the bridge is almost non existent, but I can't keep the thought from coming!

The viaduct scares me.  Depending on the route I take I am either on the top (which plays into my bridge fear) or on the bottom which gives me the whole bridge fear coupled with an "almost in a tunnel" feeling it gives me.  Concrete surrounds me. I try to regulate my breathing.  I can feel the sweat roll down the back of my legs, my palms slip on the steering wheel.

I try to do the rational thing and research my fear.  It doesn't help that when I try to google bridges that the first search that came up was something along the lines of "millions of Americans cross bridges that are structurally unsound each day"!  THANKS GOOGLE!  Statistically speaking, there have only been 15 bridge collapses in the United States since 2000, so about 1 per year, and most involved no fatalities!  The worse of those collapses was in 2007 on the I-35 W bridge in Minneapolis that killed 13 and injured 145.  I don't know how many people cross bridges each day in the United States but I am guessing that the odds of me being on that one bridge that collapses each year at the precise moment that it gives way is probably less than me getting hit by a car crossing the street or getting in a car accident.  OK, I can't google the likelihood of any of those, because if I do, I might never leave my house again.

But fears AREN'T rational!  So if you see a woman in a blue minivan in front of you on Thursday mornings, with her windows rolled down and her lips moving in seeming unending prayer, it is probably me....stay off my bumper, join me in prayer, we WILL make it to the other side.....

Thursday, September 26, 2013


We have divided our science class into to topic areas:  Hands on Science and Mini Weapons!

We are using a series of books written by John Austin as a basic guide:  Mini Weapons on Mass Destruction...yes only with a group of homeschoolers would such a book seem like a good idea!

We made blowguns out a pvc pipe and a reducer (to keep the younger kids from sucking the projectile back into their mouths and to produce a tighter seal around the gun).  The design is simple, cut a piece of pvc pipe about 12 inches long, attach a reducer (we needed the aid of a hammer to attach this), insert your projectile (we used marshmallows, nerf darts and paintballs) and blow!  This is a fairly cheap project as you can get a long piece of pvc pipe for under $3 (I think it was either 8 or 10 feet) and reducers cost about $.30 each.  We did find that rolling a piece of paper or two and putting it into the barrel to reduce the diameter helped some of the projectiles fire more efficiently. 

We also constructed 2 additional blowguns.  One using a piece of paper that shot darts made out of a toothpick and a 3"x3" post it note and another made out of 2 pens (with ink cartridges removed) that shot a dart made out of a toothpick and q-tip.  The directions for both of these blowguns were found in the Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction books.

Vincent Van Gogh

I am so excited to have the opportunity to study art with another group of young people.  I have learned so much since the first time I decided to attempt this class and am excited to revisit some favorite projects and explore some new ones!

We have started our study off with the artist Vincent Van Gogh

Here are a couple of websites I used to inspire projects:

We also found these three books particularly enjoyable:
Vincent Van Gogh Sunflowers and Swirly Stars by Brad Bucks and Joan Holub
And these two titles from the Metropolitan Museum of Art:
Vincent's Colors Words and Pictures by Vincent Van Gogh
What Makes a Van Gogh and Van Gogh?

Interesting facts we learned about Vincent Van Gogh:
1) He wasn't rich, in fact his brother had to support him and buy him art supplies.
2) He cut off part of his ear and sent it to a woman he was in love with as a gift.
3) He only sold one painting in his lifetime.  It was called "The Red Vineyards"
4) He was only an artist for 10 years.
5) He didn't start painting until he was 27.
6) He created over 1,700 drawings in painting during his short career.
7) He thought that the name "Van Gogh" was hard to read so he signed his pictures with just his first name!
8) His most expensive painting (of record) sold for $82.5 million in 1990.  It is the "Portrait of Dr. Gachet".  Not a personal favorite of mine!

We started off the first week with our rendition of "14 Sunflowers in a Vase":

The second week we tackled "Starry Night":  Each student got to choose what size (and color) of background paper that wanted to use!

 by Sophia
 by Laura
 I love that William boldly signed his name just like Vincent did!  Guess he thinks William is too hard and has shortened it to Will for the sake of his art!
by Luke

And the third week we explored the concept of line by doing this project that I found at the Art Projects for Kids website:

and then we decided to combine 3 of Van Gogh's works into our own masterpieces-- "14 sunflowers in a vase", Starry Night" and "The Red Vineyards".  I love how these turned out!

Preschool Week #3

Tori really wasn't in any mood to cooperate with getting her picture taken after preschool this week!  She tends to go to bed late and getting up at 8 AM to leave the house for co-op it throwing off her sleep cycle.  It is rough, because I actually prefer her to sleep later most days, I am sure we will eventually figure out a way to make sure she has enough sleep the night before!  Each week she has fallen back to sleep during the drive across town in the morning and then she naps on the way home.

This week the preschoolers were read the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle and made their own egg carton caterpillars!  Tori liked her caterpillar but you certainly can't tell from the photo!

Think maybe I could nickname Tori the "Very ANGRY caterpillar"?


Sunday, September 22, 2013

It's Official!

It's official!  They are engaged!  He put a ring on her finger!  Darnell proposed to Hannah on Sunday September 22, 2013!  No date has been set yet, but I can't wait!  Hannah is a pretty independent young woman, but I am sure she will indulge her momma with allowing me to help with some of the details! Darnell will join the ranks of this family as my first son-in-law (unless Emily does something CRAZY and runs off to Vegas or something!  Don't get any ideas Emily.)!  One thing I am sure of, this will be one heck of a PARTY!