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Well, look who’s blogging!

I dug into my archives today, looking for exact birth stats for some of my kids (I knew my blog wouldn’t let me down!), and I was so delighted to read the detailed entries I posted up until their births. In the years before Facebook became a common way to connect, people followed me via my blog. I reached out via my blog. I recorded a lot more! It was my journal.

I miss that. I can’t promise I’ll blog daily again, but I would like to try to record some thoughts today, as I look forward to the birth of our seventh baby.


This pregnancy has both flown by and dragged on. Such is the case when you already have six children to care for. Physically, I am very ready for this little guy to be born. My body is tired, I’m not sleeping well, etc. I’ve had a lot more heartburn this time than with most others (except Ellery), so I half expect a redhead. (After her pregnancy, I read a study that correlated heartburn in pregnancy with redheaded babies! Really!) I’m ready to get my body back and exercise comfortably and have energy again. My core was in pretty poor shape prior to this (somewhat surprise) pregnancy, and now it’s just plain shot. I have diastasis recti and an umbilical hernia. I’m honored and blessed to have been able to grow one nearly-term and six full-term babies in this body; it’s truly an amazing miracle that I do not take lightly. But the result of that is a tired core that could have used some care and repair between babies. I’m guilty; I didn’t do enough. I’m looking forward to a restful post partum/babymoon period and then gently working my core back into shape. Whether or not God blesses us with more babies, this body needs to be strong to keep up with the seven I’ve already got!

Emotionally, I’m also ready to hold my son. I can’t wait to see what he looks like. We have such a genetic diversity in our family that the most fun part of seeing our newest child is discovering his features! The three sons we already have couldn’t be more varied physically if they tried: from almost-black brunette to bleach blond to light brown hair; from almost-black to bright blue to hazel-green eyes – those boys are a rainbow. I love it. I love them. It makes it likely, then that this 4th son will resemble one or more of this brothers. There aren’t a lot of choices left! If he has red hair and bright green eyes, we will truly have covered it all. I know the first couple of weeks just fly by – oh, how I know! – and I want to rush to get there and THEN hit the pause button and just savor this new guy. My babies grow so very fast that I have to sit and just stare at them every day those first weeks to truly take it all in.

Logistically, I’m not really ready. I have more organizing and cleaning to do in our master bedroom. We had some basement plumbing and water issues last month, and we are still putting things back together from that (both financially and furniture-wise!) and the house hasn’t felt fully clean since everything blew up. There are dozens of small home projects that both Jason and I would love to complete before the baby comes. But really, we know it’s not going to happen. We just want to feel more clean & organized and then enjoy our new boy.


The kids are so excited. Well, except Lyra. She just turned two Sunday (!!) and has NO IDEA how much her life is going to change. She’s very much the baby, and doesn’t even like it when I hold one of her brothers on my lap to read, so having a baby that doesn’t leave is going to shock her a bit. She does like to see babies, though, so I have hope that she will surprise me with her adjustment. She is the youngest to become an older sibling in our family (the other kids are all 2 yrs. 2 mos. – 2 yrs. 8 mos apart) so developmentally, I don’t think she grasps anything yet. The older kids are anxious to hold him, know his name, and even witness his labor. Maya (13) has witnessed three of her siblings’ births and wants to be present for this one. Ellery (11) wants to be around but isn’t sure she wants to be present for the actual birth. Asher (8) claims he wants to watch, but I’m not sure he knows enough about birth yet to make that decision. I made the girls watch birth videos before they decided in prior births, so perhaps that’s the way to go with him. I’d better get on that.

The younger kids will likely hang out at a friend’s house if it’s daytime. I kinda hope it’s nighttime so they can just sleep and wake up to a new baby, easy peasy (for them!). Lyra is extremely shy, so I don’t think she’ll do well at another home, and thus she’ll stay home with Ellery caring for her. At least that’s the plan.


In terms of progress: last week at 37 weeks, 1 day, I was 1.5 cm diated, 40% effaced, -1 station. I was surprised by how closed I was! And I was surprised again today, at 38 weeks even, to find that I’m only 2 cm, 70% effaced, and cervix quite posterior. I’ve never been less than a stretchy 3 cm at 38 weeks, that I can recall. (Gotta go back and read more blog archives, I guess!). And remember, I was 5 cm+, 75% effaced, and waters bulging at this stage with Asher! I’ve been crampy and having irregular contractions/prodromal labor for the past two weeks, so I expected more. I’m always more open and effaced at this point. I know, intellectually, that numbers don’t mean much and I could still give birth any time now, but I also have my prior six pregnancies to compare to. I am just always more physically ready at this point. Puzzling, isn’t it? I know myself well enough to know that all of my emotions are normal (I’m never going to have this baby, I’ll be pregnant forever, I can’t wait another 1-2 weeks, What if this means my labor will be longer/harder?). I’ve done this before. But it doesn’t negate that fact that the emotions/thoughts are really there, and I have to deal with them.


So now: my job is to be at peace. Be content with every single day this baby is cozy and healthy and safe inside me. Pray for his well being, for his safe arrival, and try to be present for my family as I await the birth (whenever it comes!). Besides my first, who was born at 35 weeks, 5 days, the earliest I’ve had a baby is 38 weeks, 5 days. That would be this coming Monday. And the, ahem, data seems to suggest we may have a bit longer to wait. Whatever, I can handle this. I’m going to spend tomorrow nesting a bit, spending extra quality time with my current baby, play games and read lots of books, tell my older kids how much I appreciate their help, remind my husband how much I love him…and I’m going to try very hard not to think about how I’m not in labor.

Bubbles! 


Wanna have fun with your little ones? Our six-and-under set has been loving this no-spill bubble tub:

I used the bubble recipe on this page and it’s worked great. It’s been fun to see the three of them sharing and getting along so well – and no tears over spilled bubbles!

Someone New

We are very happy to share that we are expecting our 7th baby to arrive sometime in late July/early August – and we just found out it’s a BOY!!

Baby 7 Mar-16 3

I am 19 weeks and enjoying the middle of this pregnancy – no longer sick (it was BAD this time) and not horribly enormous yet. My core and ab muscles are pretty shot from all of those babies, so I’m wearing my belly support a little earlier this time. I am prone to headaches, but our amazing and miraculous chiropractor fixes that whenever they recur, so I’m feel pretty optimistic about that. Other than that, I feel great, and I’m enjoying some regular exercise.

We are planning our 5th homebirth (we have also had one hospital birth and one freestanding birth center birth) – and for the first time, we are using a different midwife. Not by choice, but rather by necessity; our beloved Linda will be on vacation (how dare she?!) the week I am due! So we are going with the daughter of the other midwife that worked with Linda during Ellery’s pregnancy (both of whom missed her birth entirely). We like Hannah very much and look forward to working with her.


This recipe makes two loaves of delicious, Trim Healthy Mama-friendly sprouted bread – without kneading or spending more than a couple of minutes tending to it. You simply need to be around to manage the process. You will be letting the machine do the mixing and kneading, and then you will let your oven do the baking. The original recipe can be found here – and you really should go visit that post and look and her step-by-step pictures. They are beautiful and helpful.

After making it according to the original recipe once, I simply adapted the ingredient amounts and mixing order to improve flavor and rising. Below is my version. (I have not yet adapted the volume measurements to weight, as is my preferred practice for baking, but I am working on it.)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1.5 tsp yeast
  • 4 2/3 c organic sprouted whole grain flour (I like 3 cups sprouted spelt + 1 2/3 cups sprouted wheat)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp butter

DIRECTIONS

  1. Put water, honey, and yeast into a 2 lb. capacity bread machine pan. For best results, use barely warm (not hot!) water to help soften the yeast and encourage rising.
  2. Measure flour and salt and add to the pan. Cut your butter into 8 small cubes and distribute them evenly over the top of the flour.
  3. Set the machine to the dough cycle and let it do its work. In the first few minutes, you will want to check the mixture and scrape down the sides of the pan with a rubber spatula, if needed. Add a bit of water if the dough is not very moist – it should be a slightly sticky dough, but still able to form a ball.
  4. When the dough cycle is complete, dump the dough out onto an oiled/buttered counter and press out all the air with your oiled hands. Divide the dough into two equal-sized lumps, form them into a tight ball, then a loaf shape. Put them in loaf pans and let them rise in a warm, draft-free place for 30 minutes (or until roughly doubled in size; this will take longer in cooler climates).
  5. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 for 30 min. Remove the bread from the pans and set to cool on a cooling rack, lightly buttering the tops to soften the crust (optional).

NOTES

  • Basically, if you put all ingredients in your bread machine in the order listed above, run the dough cycle, divide into two loaves, rise for 30, bake for 30, and set to cool – you will probably turn out with great bread. I add some helpful commentary for those who have not baked before, but I promise it’s much easier than my wordiness indicates.
  • If you’re going to set the timer on your bread machine and knead it later, you’ll want to place the yeast on top of the flour instead of in the water. The water and honey hydrates and activates the yeast faster for better rising, which is not what you want if you are, say, setting the timer for the dough to be ready when you get home from work. In this case, make sure the yeast is not touching the water or salt.
  • I like One Degree organic sprouted flours, both spelt and whole wheat. Try to find them locally (at a health food store or Whole Foods), but you can order online (I had to). Find the sprouted spelt here and the sprouted whole wheat here.
  • To make rolls, instead of dividing the dough into two loaves, divide it into your desired roll size. I make 24. Allow the rolls to rise in a buttered 9×13 for 20 min, then bake for 20. They are done when lightly browned on top.

There are probably hundreds of similar recipes to be found on the great big interwebz, but I tweaked this to suit a larger crowd. I use my 6 quart crockpot and serve with a nice, big pot of rice and tortilla chips alongside.

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken (breast or thigh)
  • 3 16 oz. jars salsa
  • 3 cans black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 3 cups frozen corn
  • 2-3 8 oz. blocks cream cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place first four ingredients in slow cooker. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-6.
  2. 30 min. before serving, shred chicken with two forks. Place whole blocks of cream cheese on top. It will melt in nicely by itself.
  3. Give it a good stir to incorporate the cream cheese fully and serve over rice or with tortilla chips. I like to include a bottle of hot sauce for the more adventurous.

We moved into this house in August 2008 with three kids and moved out in July 2014 – three days (!!!) before our sixth child was born. It had all but completely fallen apart on us over those six years, so we have poured our hearts, minds, energy, and money into this place. We love how it turned out, and can’t wait to see how the new owners take it to the next level! (It’s currently on the market; if you’re looking for a beautifully renovated 3 bedroom, 2 bath home on 10.2 acres in southwest Michigan, I’ve got a place for you! But act quickly, because activity has been hot on this place.)

These are all real estate listing pictures – befores from the previous owners, afters from the current listing. Just pics today; details in future posts.

EXTERIOR

Exterior Before

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Exterior After

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KITCHEN

Kitchen Before

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GREAT ROOM

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DINING ROOM/DEN

Dining Room/Den Before

Dining Room/Den Before

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ENTRY

Entry Before

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MAIN BATHROOM

Main Bathroom Before

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LOWER LEVEL BATHROOM

Lower Level Bathroom Before

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FAMILY ROOM

Family Room Before

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BEDROOMS

Master Bedroom Before

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Bedroom 2 Before

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Bedroom 3 Before

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LAUNDRY/UTILITY ROOM (no before)

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Laundry/Utility Room After

DECK

Deck Before

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PASTURE/PROPERTY

Pole Barn Before

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Pasture Before

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DRIVEWAY/WOODS/FRONT YARD (no after)

Driveway/Woods Before

Driveway/Woods/Front Yard Before

First Day of School 2014

We had our first day of (home)school on September 2, 2014. After a two week break due to the pukeys (so fun with such a big family!!) and getting our “old” house on the market, we’re back at it. I will try to update with a homeschool curriculum post soon, but for now, here’s a pic of my students for this year – our first year on the front steps of our new house. Sniff. Bittersweet!

From L-R: Silas (2), Ellery (9 - 4th grade), Callan (4 - preK), Maya (11 - 6th grade), Lyra (six weeks!), Asher (6 - 1st grade)

From L-R: Silas (2), Ellery (9 – 4th grade), Callan (4 – preK), Maya (11 – 6th grade), Lyra (six weeks!), Asher (6 – 1st grade)

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