Saturday, November 22, 2008

FAQ

If you missed yesterday's post, you might want to scroll down and take a look. Otherwise, you're going to be a little lost. I'll wait.











There. So, we're pregnant. Or I'm pregnant. Or we're expecting. Or whatever you prefer. I interchange all of the above, because I'm just that PC.

From in-person/on-phone conversations and the various places I've posted my "announcement" picture, I've received the same several questions, so I thought I'd go ahead and gather them all in one place and answer them. Some were answered in the comments from yesterday. Feel free to make use of your scroll feature (or your nifty two-fingered track-pad move, if you are privileged enough to have a MacBook).

How far along are you? According to that wheel due date predictor thing that doctors use (what is that called, anyway?), I'm currently 6 weeks* along.

When are you due? Again with the wheel thing: July 17th. Give or take a day.

How are you feeling? Actually, already a little nauseous off and on, but I'm trying to combat that by keeping my stomach full (eating lots of bananas, healthy protein) and by drinking lemon ginger tea (just dried lemon and ginger in a tea bag), since ginger is supposed to help with nausea. So far, that seems to be doing the trick. I have been progressively less sick with each pregnancy, so I'm hoping and praying that that trend continues.

What do the kids think? MA is delighted and keeps referring to the baby as "her...or him." She'd really like a little sister. MS thinks that, to be fair to MA, it should probably be a girl but would be happy with a boy. JW is nonchalant. ZL is clueless, although he keeps looking at us suspiciously when we talk about him not being the baby anymore.

Is this going to affect your trip to the States in the Spring? We are still planning to travel the same dates (don't have tickets yet, but we're making reservations soon), mid-March to mid-June, although I'll probably need a doctor's note to travel back. We feel fine about that. We've always talked about handling our own birth, anyway. We never planned on it being the back of a plane, but...

Just kidding. Most often I go over my due date by about two weeks, so it really should not be a problem.

***Are you going to find out the gender? (Added for GfG's sake) Yes, we've found out each time so far. With MS, it was very helpful, since we were moving overseas six months after he was born, so that I could spend my pregnancy pre-shopping for his first couple of year's worth of clothes. With the ones born overseas, it's a little difficult *not* to find out, since you have an ultrasound each visit (and, no, I don't want to know the potential harmful effects; I'm not dying on that hill; I save my hills for delivery preferences). And, then, with MA, who'd pregnancy we were back in the States for, it was again helpful to do all of that little girl shopping while we were there. This time, I have to know which set of bags of clothes that I'd *just* culled through to give away to actually give away and which to keep. (I literally spent last Monday going through all of MA and ZL's outgrown clothes keeping only what I absolutely could not part with, which means all the practical stuff was set to be given away, reasoning that someone else should be getting use out of it. Fortunately, I hadn't actually followed through on that yet.)

Are you crazy? (okay, so no one actually said/wrote this out, but you know some of you were thinking it.) Yes.

And my favorite comment on my Facebook: Awww...another dependency exemption on your tax return (I'll make a note on your file!!) from our accountant. :-P

*Yes, I know it's early to make an announcement. We have never had a miscarriage, but we are keenly aware that it is always a possibility. I have maintained since my first pregnancy that, for me personally, I'd rather people know and walk through that with me than not know. So now you know.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My Outstanding Person



Amy over at working title has posted a contest. Share about "a person in your life who has stood out- you may not see him/her often, but knowing this person has left an impact." If you leave a comment on her blog sharing how someone has impacted your life, she'll enter you in a drawing for one of the cool magnet sets pictured above. Lower-case or upper-case. Your choice. If you win. Post about the contest on your own blog, and she'll enter you twice. Getting suspicious as to the reason for this post?

I haven't been getting around the blog world for that long. I usually come across contests too late to enter them. Or it's not something really practical to where we live. But I know Amy. I mean, we've known each other for years. I've prayed for her. She's blessed me. We're friends. Okay, so I've never actually met her. That's just a little detail, right? Amy's an e-maginary friend. Someone I met on the Sonlight discussion boards. I have prayer for her. And she has blessed me (okay, so I passed the sling that she sold me at cost on to a new mom who needed a sling more than I needed a second one, but I also knew that Amy would want me to). But I digress.

So, in my comment on Amy's post, I wrote: Okay, I will cheesily claim my husband as the person whom I've known who's had a great impact on me. There are many others, but, above all, he's walked with me through the valleys and to the mountain tops and (mostly) understood and (always) supported me the entire way.

(And, don't worry, I'll save you the shipping and pick these up at the BFM*, if I happen to win. :-)


And that's my answer. I'm sticking to it. There are many people who have impacted me over the years. Many. I could do a post a day for at least a month. No, longer. Some of you are even reading this post right now.

The thread through it all, though, has been ML. And I am so, so grateful for him. Just this morning, he "proved himself" again, and it was so sweet (more on that soon).

I love you, honey!

*For those scratching their heads, I'll explain about that later.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

'Tis the Season...

Sometimes, I forget how commercialized and overdone Christmas is in the US. And then I see someone's picture of their kid with all of his/her presents, and I'm just bowled over.

Then again, I remember the year we did that. MS was almost three. It was the year after WM died. I think we were compensating (and by "we," I mean ourselves, my parents and ML's parents). He had a lot of presents. JW, though, had the best time watching him rip all of the paper, so I guess it wasn't a complete loss. :-/

Since then, we've worked on reigning ourselves in. And we've always emphasized the Reason behind it all (e.g. our family Advent service, as well as many books and videos that come out after Thanksgiving).

Consequently, I'll admit, I kind of ho-hummed when I saw Grateful for Grace's post on how we celebrate Christmas. Not that I thought it didn't need to be said, just that I thought I'd kind of gotten the message already (yeah, yeah "pride goeth" and all that; I know). Plus, videos usually don't play well for me on blogs. They're choppy and don't stream well (the joys of "high speed" internet access outside the Western world). So, I skipped watching it.

Then, Mary Grace posted the same thing. Please believe me, GfG, it had nothing to do with the fact that MG was posting it. Just that it was the second time I'd seen it. If you'd have posted it second...

Anyway, I watched it. Wow. Not only was the video well done, but it had a point I hadn't pondered. Maybe we shouldn't just cut back in the name of the Reason. Maybe we should do something in the spirit of the Reason. Hmmm.

I don't know exactly what this looks like at this point for us. I'm thinking we'll probably do something local, since there is a lot of hidden need around us (it is to a family's shame to be out in the open with need, but it is there, if you look). Maybe finding a family to buy a heater or coats for. Or an anonymous scholarship to a secretarial training program for the woman I visited with this morning who's husband left her with three daughters and no education and no income. I'll talk it over with ML, and maybe we'll discuss and come up with something as a family.

Whatever it is, though, I'm grateful I caved and watched the video. Oh yeah. The video. Here it is (hopefully; this is my first experience with imbedding video):



And the original site for the video. And a sister/spin-off site with a similar message.

I'd love to hear what other families do, if anyone has anything to share.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Big Read

I discovered the list of the top 100 books printed on Melody's Vita et Vertas blog and thought it would make for a good post today. I've succumbed to a form of the Mystery Virus, and this was a relatively simple post to make. While I sip on my chicken noodle soup. At 4:00 in the afternoon. The first thing I've dared put in my system. :-l

The Big Read has determined that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books printed. How do you stack up?

The Rules:
1) Look at the list and put one * by those you have read.
2) Put a % by those you intend to read.
3) Put two ** by the books you LOVE.
4) Put # by the books you HATE.
5) Post.

I, of course, couldn't leave the rules alone, so I added one: Put a ? by the books you think you might have read. I did a *lot* of reading in Jr. High and High School (ask my teachers; I often had a book in my lap in math, science, band, even*), and I'm not positive whether I did or didn't read some of these.


And, because I wasn't familiar with all the books and really just needed something mindless to do, anyway, I decided to put Amazon links for each book (I'm choosing the cheapest, often, to link, although occasionally, I'm going with the most visually appealing cover), in case you were curious, too. I think the kids and I will watch a movie...

As I'm working through the list, I've contrived another symbol: %%. Books I learned I would like to read from researching them for this list. Some of them I'd heard of before. Others are completely new to me. But none marked %% would I have said for sure I'd want to read before looking at the plot summary today.

And then, of course, I had to know which of the 100 are included in Sonlight cores (not that I think they all should, just that I was curious). So, the bolded ones are.

*1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
%2. The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien
*3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë
%4. Harry Potter series - J.K. Rowling (well, I read the first one, does that count?)
*5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
**6. The Bible
*7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Brontë
**8. 1984 - George Orwell
%9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
?10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
*11. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
%%12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
%13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
%14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
%%15. Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier
*16. The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
%%18. Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
%%19. The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
%%20. Middlemarch - George Eliot
?21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
%%22. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
%%23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
**25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams -
%%26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh -
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
*28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
*29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
*30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
%%32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
**33. Chronicles of Narnia- C.S. Lewis
*34. Emma - Jane Austen
%%35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
**36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis -
%37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis de Bernières -
%39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
**40. Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
*41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
%42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
%%43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
%%44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
%%45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins -
*46. Anne of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
*48. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
*49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
%%50. Atonement - Ian McEwan
%%51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52. Dune - Frank Herbert
%%53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
?54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
*57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
*58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
**59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
*61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (hated it...)
62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
**65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69. Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
*70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
%71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
?72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
*73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
%%74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses - James Joyce
%%76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
%%77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal - Émile Zola
79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
%%80. Possession - A.S. Byatt
*81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
%83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
%84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
%%86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
*87. Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White
%%88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
**89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
%91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
%92. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
%94. Watership Down - Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
**97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
*98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
**99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
%100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

ETA: So, that means I've read 33-37 of the 100 books (you'll notice that most of the ones I'm not sure about have movie versions, so I can't just check to see if I recognize the plot :-/). And now, I have a list of books to check out for myself when we hit the library in the US in the spring. This process also made me think that an electronic reader is likely in our future. Especially living overseas, the instant access to so many of the books via a Kindle or some other reader is quite tempting.

Oh, and I couldn't find a copy of this list on The Big Read's website, so I had to clean up Melody's list myself (and just to make it look "right," I had to put a "." after each number; I'm a little anal that way). If anyone wants to post the list, let me know, and I'll put up the "clean" version to save you the trouble.

* Case in point: in 8th grade, I worked very hard to get my English teacher's "Outside Reading Award" for which we catalogued all books read outside the ones she assigned to us. It was neck and neck between Katie Shelton and myself, if I remember correctly, but I won (sorry, Katie, wherever you are). Only some of my other teachers protested. They claimed that I had could not win an "Outside" reading award when in fact the reading had been done "Inside" their classes. :-P (They were kidding. Sort of. But I still got the award.)

Healing.

We have a mysterious virus making the rounds at our house.

Warning: non-specific, but repetitive discussion of children throwing up. Read at your own risk.

Last week, Saturday through Tuesday, ZL threw up once each day. For the first 24 hours or so, he was lethargic, but after that, he was his normal self (read: sometime fussy, sometimes fine). Only he'd throw up. But only once per day. And it didn't seem to matter how much or what he ate. Poor kid, we even took all the kids to the dentist on Monday, thinking he was finally fine. He fussed through his cleaning. And then threw up on the floor at Schlotsky's (yes, we have a Schlotsky's; it's new; it's right next to a new Starbucks; I told you they're everywhere here, too).

So, after much agonizing, and another "incident" on Tuesday, ML and I cancelled our overnight away last weekend. Okay, so canceled is a bit dramatic. We rescheduled to December. We just couldn't count on ZL being better by the weekend, and we didn't want to do that to our (childless, so far) friends who were going to watch the kids.

ZL, of course, has been fine since Tuesday.

We had arrangements with some other friends to swap date night babysitting sometime this month, so we arranged to go out Saturday night, at least, if everyone was healthy at that point. Everyone was, and we had a great time. Gathered the kids from our friends' house (ZL was asleep in his playyard, MA in our friends' bed with her daughter; the boys were awake).

Got home, put the kids back in bed, put ZL back in bed, watched some NCIS, put ZL back in bed (apparently, he'd gotten too much sleep previously just to drift off, that and being sick threw off his sleep schedule, watched some more NCIS (because it's generally not a good idea to go to sleep before your three-year-old), put ZL back in bed. ZL drifts off, MA throws up, ZL wakes back up. MA goes back to sleep after being moved to a sleeping bag on the floor and assigned a lined trash can. ZL is up for a while longer. Sigh.

Yep, you read right. Round two of the mystery virus. A complete week after the beginning of the first round. That was Saturday night. She threw up again last night. And again tonight. A little sluggish during the day, but otherwise, fine. Eating bland foods. Resting. Doesn't seem to make much difference.

And, in the midst of this, I earned the Mother of the Year Award: I kick into practicals when my kids get sick, but still, do you think I could have remembered to pray for either one of them before last night? Sigh.

I have since then, though. Want to join me?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Goofball.

A few months ago, we began to get a little concerned about ZL's communication skills, or lack thereof. Okay, I got a little concerned. ML was pretty sure there was nothing wrong. However, he admitted to not remembering the "talking timeline" of our other kids, so he was willing to do some looking into the situation.

Thinking back, I distinctly remembered having a conversation with JW (our other in-house introvert child) about what he wanted to exchange his pacifier and "buddy" (his bear/blanket thing) for. And I know that we've never had a kid make it to three with a pacifier (well, until now). The "discussion" part is my heads-up that we can get rid of the security items. I feel like I owe them an explanation, since it was really for our convenience that we attached them to the things in the first place (and, boy, is it convenient sometimes; instant comfort on-the-go is a high-value commodity in our life).

Here's the rub: I don't feel like I could have that kind of conversation with ZL right now. Not and know for sure that I was being understood. So, I began to worry. I started with some on-line research (read: I outlined the situation on Sonlight and asked for opinions).

He does not have any tell-tale signs of autism (one of the first things to look for with speech delay at his age): he's snuggly, he doesn't fixate, doesn't do repetitive motions. He obviously has a high level of receptive language: he knows all his letters and letter sounds (from videos), shapes, colors, etc. And he uses appropriate phrases that he's been taught or has heard. When prompted. He just doesn't initiate conversation that much. But he does repeat phrases, whole sets of lines even, from videos he's watched. After watching them just once or twice (then again, he is genetically related to his Uncle CB, so that alone could explain that).

I went so far as to ask my in-laws to bring a book by Dr. James McDonald recommended by the Sonlight ladies. Probably not the best idea. A) They couldn't find the book. B) Grandparents get a little overly concerned about things like this. We're still working on calming them down.

I also called our wonderful pediatrician and made an early three-year check-up for after my in-laws left. I wanted her opinion of the situation.

Of course, even in those few weeks his verbal skills advanced. And, armed with the questions the Sonlight ladies (some of whom were Speech Language Pathologists by profession/training) asked, we noticed a lot of positives: he plays imaginatively, he makes things talk to each other, he initiates affection, he only lines things up once or twice a week (normal for his age).

And it turns out kids who don't feel totally at ease socially (read: introverts) often use lines from videos/TV shows, because they're predictable and can be slotted into the appropriate social setting based on the original context from the show. Makes perfect since to me now that I think about it.

Fast forward to the doctor's appointment: ML hangs out in the living room with the older kids while ZL and I go into the office with Dr. A (love a doctor with a clinic in her home :-). She does the normal measurements, asks the normal questions, and then we get to the whole talking thing. She asks about affection, fixations, repetitive behaviors, and I laugh as I check them off, knowing what she's fishing for (a reaction she expects from me, because she's gotten used to the well-researched-mother type that I am, and bless her, she puts up with it). Then, she interacts with ZL a little while and watches me do so, as well.

Her diagnosis: an introverted fourth child of a mother who is busy homeschooling the older three but in tune with her fourth child. The introverted part meaning he doesn't have much incentive to talk. The busy homeschooling mother part meaning he doesn't get as much of my attention as the older three did at that age. The in-tune part meaning that I know and anticipate what he needs, and he doesn't often have to ask (see "not much incentive to talk"). Turns out, her third child didn't even talk as much as ZL does at this age. Very similar circumstances. He ended up with speech therapy and is fine now.

Since ZL is talking as much as he is and making progress, Dr. A says let's give it six months. If we're still concerned, we can do an initial visit with a speech therapist. Oh yeah, big part of the appointment: the part where she tells me that there's a great English-speaking speech therapist available in-country. Big sigh of relief. It's the same one they used with her son, and she speaks highly of her.

Prescription: be more purposeful in interacting with him and make him talk more.

So, we've been doing that. Do you know how easy it is to let an introverted fourth child just do his own thing? Too easy. We're overcoming that, though. And he's blossoming. He's initiating conversation more. He really is a delight to be around, and I'm glad we're being more focused about getting to know him and helping him make himself known.

As for the making him talk, I was trying to do just that the other day when I was sitting on the floor playing with him (see? I told you I was being purposeful). He was enjoying being tickled, so I tried getting him to ask for more. I got, "Tickle, please." Good, but we're working on moving on from two-word phrases, so I asked him to say, "Tickle me, please." In hindsight, that's a little hard to insert that particular word in there, and I probably should have picked a different hill to die on, but I persisted. After a minute or so, he said, "No, that's alright," and moved on. Goofball. I think the child who can appropriately use the phrase, "No, that's alright" is going to be fine verbally, even if he can't be bothered to get the "me" into, "Tickle me, please." :-P

And I think he's just Uncle CB's nephew (Uncle CB being the person who for years had to label sentences as "original thought" lest everyone assume it was yet another Simpsons line). The other day, I asked him if he wanted some bread, and he started mumbling something a little indistinctly. I asked him to repeat it, and it made me laugh. He was saying, "A loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter." Yes, my kids, including ZL, have been very into classic Sesame Street these days.