Monthly Archives: May 2007

Poison ivy remedies

Yesterday morning ds (almost 5) woke up with a nice amount of poison ivy rashes on his face, legs, arms, and neck. Since ds (almost 14) also recently got some poison ivy after pulling it up from the garden, I needed to look up some quick and easy home remedies. Since it’s that season for everyone, I’m sharing some of what I found here in case it will be helpful for one of you.

– fels napa soap is supposed to be good to use
– paste of baking soda and water or activated charcoal and water- it draws out the itch
– make a paste, put it on a piece of gauze, put some plastic wrap on the outside of the gauze (to hold the moisture in), apply it to the rash and wrap it so it stays on several hours
– oatmeal baths relieve itching
– milk bath or milk paste – mix up 1 c. corn starch, 2 c. milk powder, 1/2 c. baking soda, 1/2 c. finely ground oatmeal – mix a small amount of mix with water to make paste, dab it on the rash and leave it on until it’s partially dry, then rinse it off. Don’t wait for it to totally dry because it will be hard to get off. For a bath, use 3 T. of the mix in the bath water.

Have a great day!


One or two??

Today my midwife came for her monthly visit, and after the usual interesting conversations that we have, we finally got to the checking the size of the baby part. As she was taking out her measuring tape, I asked her, “I already know what the answer to this will be and feel silly answering since of course the answer is no, but my kids wanted to know, so I’m asking. Is there any possibility we could have twins this time?” (They were hoping during my last pregnancy, too!) So she said, “Well, let’s see,” and proceeded to take the fundal measurements.

I was absolutely positive that that would be the end of it all and the answer would be a definitive ‘no’, but to my surprise she made a ‘hmm’ sound and told me that I’m measuring at 28 weeks (I’m 23 weeks). I asked if that could be just because I haven’t eaten as well as I usually do and gained more weight than usual, and she said no. I asked how significant the difference in measurements is, and she said it’s significant. She spent a lot of time listening to the heartbeat, trying to determine if she was hearing two heartbeats or hearing one heartbeat from two different positions. She couldn’t say definitively, but said in another month it should be obvious if we are just seeing one baby who went through a big growth spurt right now or there are two babies, but that I should start eating extra protein in case it is twins.

Well, that was kind of a surprise (a nice one, though)! I have no family history of twins and hadn’t even considered the possibility at all. It would certainly explain why I’m looking noticeably more pregnant than usual! Usually people can’t even tell I’m pregnant until 8+ months, and now it’s already starting to be obvious at 5 months. It’s nice to think of having something else to pin the extra weight gain on, but I’m going to suspend any thoughts one way or the other until we know for sure. I’m at the stage in my life and parenting that twins is a really nice thought, in any event.

I told my kids what the midwife said (because they asked me why dh had a funny look on his face :)), and they immediately started planning what baby gear we would need for two babies, even though I firmly told them we really don’t know at all yet and in a month could find out there’s just one. I happened to have been given a huge amount of gorgeous baby girl clothing on Sunday by a first time mom who had seven baby showers, and received lots more clothes than her baby could ever wear. I have no idea if we’re having a girl or boy (we wait until we see the actual baby to find out), but if we end up having twin girls, we would certainly be set for the first 9 months for clothing! :)

I’m sure you can imagine what we’ll be wondering about for the next month. :)


Memorial Day

I hope all of you had a wonderful long weekend with your families!

We just got home from buying our new (to us!) van. Our current van has been faithful for years but is reaching the point that it feels like everything is starting to break down. If it was just small stuff, we would get it fixed, but when we saw the transmission starting to go, we didn’t feel it was worth it to fix the smaller things. It’s not gone yet, but backing up is a problem – I’ve learned to become aware of the slightest hills when parking, so that I can line up our van to take advantage of it and roll backwards downhill when I’m ready to go!

So I’ve been keeping my eyes open for used passenger vans that have the features that I want for the last few weeks (I didn’t want to wait until we were literally stuck with a van that wouldn’t go!), and spoke to someone yesterday who had what seemed like a good option. We went to see one van this morning, but the owner didn’t show! Fortunately, the van was there and we could determine by looking at it that it wasn’t for us, and the good part about him not being there was I didn’t need to tell him that I didn’t like it. A couple of hours later, we drove out to meet the person we bought this van from, and pretty quickly the money and paperwork changed hands. I told the kids what a good thing it was that so many things were going wrong with our old van, since now they appreciate all of the things that work in this one! (Things like an unbroken mirror, a driver’s door that opens and closes well…)

They especially love that this has a cassette player. We installed a cd player in our van, but we have lots of story and music cassettes that we can usually only listen to at home. They brought some cassettes with us when we went to go look at the van, in case we bought it, and it was so nice to have music that I don’t often get to listen to, but really enjoy while I was driving. They were also pleased that the seller gave them a basketball that was in the van – we recently got a basketball hoop for the backyard, but haven’t yet gotten a basketball. So they rushed out to try it out as soon as we got home. :)

We still need to install a third bench seat (it currently seats 8), but for right now, it’s fine since dh doesn’t usually go places with us. And by the time our yearly camping trip rolls around in a few weeks, I hope to have the additional seating in.


The girls’ baking business

People have sometimes asked me (and the girls) about what kind of business my daughters have, and how old they are.

One is 12.5, and the other will be 11 in August. They have been cooking and baking for five years, so despite being relatively young, they know their way around the kitchen!

Their business is pretty small at this point, but I think it’s good to encourage my kids in their business ideas. It builds a confidence that they can follow through on their ideas and be successful. They offer a rotating menu of cakes and side dishes available for pick up every Friday. Regular customers are on their email list (they set up a business email account just for that) and get a message about that week’s selection at the beginning of the week, and have until Weds. night to finalize their orders. They did some paid advertising in a local supplement that comes out twice a month a couple of weeks ago for the first time, and were quite disappointed that there was no response, since it seemed like a lot of money to spend for no results. I told them that advertising doesn’t usually pay off until people see it a number of times; I don’t know if I will encourage them to continue advertising because they could easily spend the bulk of their profits on it, without any definite payoff. That’s a hard thing for kids this age! They also once made colorful flyers which were distributed by a friend who works in an office close by (she offered since she thought it was a service her co-workers would appreciate). There was also no response to that (though I met someone from that office in line at Baskin Robbins a couple of weeks ago who said she had heard all about us)!

So their business has come from word of mouth, and that’s a gradual process. I think they have mixed feelings about the amount of business they have – it’s exciting but a lot of work for them on the weeks they have lots of orders, and kind of a relief on the weeks that there are very few orders. I do regularly meet people in the community who tell me they heard that my girls are very good cooks, so I guess the word is slowly getting around!

This week my house was smelling delicious – cheesecakes (marble, vanilla, and non dairy), quiche, lasagna, and spinach cheese casserole were some of the things on their list of offerings. This week their schedule was a bit different than usual, so they have pickups today instead of Friday. Fortunately, there is only order left that needs to be picked up – it takes up my fridge and freezer space so I’m happy when it’s in their customers hands!


Monday, May 21, 2007

Good morning! I’m up at the computer earlier than usual today, since ds1 woke up and the children who usually rush to get him the second they hear him peep are still sleeping. So today I get to enjoy him by myself. :)

Yesterday was a nice full day. We started off by doing yard work – it’s amazing how fast the grass grows when it’s warm outside!

In the past, ds13 has been the mower – since he mowed other people’s yard for pay and I drove him with his mower where he needed to go, it seemed like a fair deal for all involved. Yesterday, I decided to give someone else a turn at the fun, and dd10 was quite eager to have a go at it. She did it together with dd6, and the yard looks great. The trickiest part is not to run over the electric cord, since this year we are using an electric mower instead of a gas powered one. Dd12 trimmed all the bushes in the back, ds13 trimmed the bushes in the front, and then four of the younger kids pulled ivy and other weeds growing along the fence between us and the neighbor. Ds also pulled some poison ivy that was growing out of one of our ornamental plants. Hopefully we can keep it at bay, if not get rid of it.

The baseball games were great, as usual, and my weekly social opportunity to speak with other moms when neither of us are rushing to go anywhere (which nowadays is a hard thing to come by). Both boys hit home runs – they keep track of their batting averages for the season, and are very pleased with their how the season is going. It’s not a league that focuses on competition, but on having fun, which I really appreciate. But they still enjoy doing their best.

Grandma took the kids for slurpees after the game, so it was kind of late when we got home and started dinner. It was our monthly video night, too, and by the time we got the video started, it was 8:30 – after most of the kids are supposed to be in bed. That’s why the house is so quiet this morning. :) The video was called Dusty (1987), and I was very pleased that it was so family friendly. We don’t watch anything more than PG, but even so, I still find it hard to find videos that meet our criterion – clean, positive, and enjoyable.

Today I’m going to take the girls shopping for the remaining ingredients they need to fill this week’s orders for cakes and side dishes. They offered cheesecake for the first time, so our family will benefit too, since they make for our family whatever they bake for their customers. You see, I’m not totally altruistic about supporting their entrepeneurial enterprises. :)

Have a great day!


New dining room chairs

Some of you probably remember when I wrote about reupholstering the chairs that someone gave us when we bought the conference table from them. Those chairs looked great, but where kind of bulky, and didn’t give us the increased seating space we wanted when we bought the bigger table. On Friday, I bought 14 chairs from a private seller – he listed them as conference chairs, which is officially what we already had. But in the picture, I saw that they were standard width, and attractive looking. Since they were made for the commercial market, they are supposed to be nearly indestructible (though as I said to dh, I don’t know if the makers reckoned on a large family using them!). They have a ‘mountain backed’ chrome frame with super comfy cloth seats and backs. The seller used them for monthly meetings in his home for his business, and paid $100 new for each one. They are in great condition, and he sold them to me for $15 each. :)

Dh is really glad I got them. The dining room feels larger and more comfortable with these chairs replacing the old one. Our dining room isn’t too big, so it makes a big difference. Whenever someone sits down in them, they sigh and tell me again how comfortable they are. That should fade in the next day or so. :)

What did we do with the other chairs, you may be wondering? Since I got them for free, and reupholstered them with material that was free, I didn’t feel like selling them, even though they were very nice looking after all of our work. I posted them as a giveaway on our local Craig’s list and put them behind the garage for the first taker to come get them. Within a half hour, they were gone, to a very happy couple! It’s such a nice feeling to do something good for someone else, and that feeling is worth more than the money I could have sold them for.

We’ll be busy with our usual Sunday afternoon routine for this season, cheering on our boys who play baseball. The entire family goes to every game, and though it’s a long afternoon (each of the boys is in a different league so we spend about 4 hours out, first watching the younger league play, then the older league), it’s something we enjoy sharing. Enjoy your Sunday!


Shopping, bargains, and compliments on ds

I’ve noticed that super busy days around here are usually followed by slow days, and today was no exception. Yesterday was very full – we started with an orthodontist appointment for my 12 year old dd, who had her braces taken off. Now she has to wear a retainer for the next six months, and since it’s something that takes adjusting to (it’s not easy to speak normally with it in), she’s not looking forward to it.

Directly from there we went to PA for our big shopping day. We stocked up on bulk grains, fresh milk, canned goods, and lots more, but our big bargain of the day was free range eggs! We stopped in at the bulk foods place for our usual items, and they had a sale of 79 cents a dozen for brown free range eggs! (This was an especially good price, since around here regular eggs are $1.39 dz.) I took all the cartons that were out (just 9) and asked if she had more. Turns out they had lots more – so I got a case of thirty dozen in addition to the 9 I had in my cart. I asked why they were so cheap, and she told me that a local farmer had a bunch of laying hens and made an error in estimating how much he would have to sell. He had lots more than he could sell and asked this store if they could sell some. So I relieved them of some of their overflow. :)

I met a lovely lady months ago at one of the stores I visited yesterday, and we’ve stayed in sporadic email contact, so we arranged to meet there again. I also met another mom of seven kids in the store. She was in line right behind me, but I was busy with my zillion things that I was putting on the conveyer belt, so I didn’t notice her. My daughter whispered to me that there was someone with seven kids behind us – we’ve noticed before that though seven seems to us like a small family, when we see others with a similarly sized family, it looks really big! It helps me remember what other people must see when they look at us! I turned around and said hi, and started chatting with her. It turns out we’re both due with number 8 around the same time – she’s due two weeks before me. I left the store, but while I was loading my van, she came out and thanked me for my comments, and we continued chatting a bit longer. Her kids were waiting in the van for her, though, and we all know how hard it is to talk at leisure when we know the kids are feeling impatient! I took her number so maybe we’ll have the chance to connect another time in the future.

I really need to get a separate freezer. I somehow make do with the top of the fridge freezer, but it doesn’t allow me to bake or cook in bulk like I used to, which was a big time saver. (It’s so nice at the end of a busy day to be able to reach in to your freezer and pull out a delicious dish!) And on big shopping days like yesterday, I really push the freezer to it’s absolute max. That’s being careful not to buy all that I would like to buy, knowing how limited space is. I would love to buy more milk so I could put it in the freezer, but I really can’t make room for more than four gallons. The fresh milk is the main reason we go so far for shopping (it’s not available in our state because of ridiculous legal restrictions), but I don’t like to go more often than once a month, which means that for two weeks we have plenty of milk, and for two weeks we have none. Feast or famine. :)

I got home just in time to see a friend’s husband getting in to his car. He was delivering some of their overflow food, since people are making food for them following the birth of their baby (this is the friend I wrote about in my last post) and they can’t eat all of it and don’t want it to go to waste. We certainly enjoyed having a nice meal at the end of a busy day that I didn’t have to do anything to prepare! We quickly unpacked all the groceries, and made it in time for my older son’s baseball game, only ten minutes late (he went ahead of us). We took the food with us, because everyone was starving by the time we got home – it was really, really nice to be able to just dish out something filling and tasty for everyone in the short time we were at home.

Ds is a really good baseball player, and this seasonal league is something he looks forward to all year. I was talking to the wife of one of the dads who coaches for my son’s team, who told me her husband said he is ‘awesome’. She went on to tell me that her husband isn’t one to give compliments out lightly, and was really impressed by his character. It’s always nice to hear things like that, isn’t it? To me, character is the most important thing, and if he were a terrific ball player who was selfish and disrespectful, it wouldn’t be worth two cents to me. It’s a constant conscious effort to help our kids work on their character, but it is so rewarding to see them grow up as mature and self aware.


Gratitude for a miracle

This past week has been emotionally one of the hardest I can remember even having in my life. My very dear and special friend finally went into labor (ten days overdue – and we expected her to be early so it felt very overdue!), and we had her adorable toddler stay with us while she was in labor. Unfortunately, it was anything but a normal or predictable labor.

She had an extremely rare complication known as an amniotic fluid embolism, which is fatal in the large majority of cases. She had an emergency cesarean and was in surgery for several hours, as she was bleeding for hours without any stop (due to the embolism), and was continually given blood transfusions (she lost the equivalent of all of her blood twice). By truly a miracle, she made it through, thanks to the prayers of many, many people, and the wonderful staff who all ‘happened’ to be in the right place at the right time.

I don’t know if it was good or bad that I realized something was wrong early on, but it was a horrible feeling to have an increasingly strong sense that something was seriously wrong and not know why I had that feeling. I tried to intellectually tell myself that nothing could be wrong and I was just imagining things, but it didn’t help. I finally called her husband after an hour and a half (before that we had just spoken briefly to make arrangements for me to pick up his daughter, and I had no idea what stage of labor she was in) and apologized for bothering him, but told him that I was really worried and just wanted to find out what was happening. I’m not an anxious kind of person, but I was hoping that he would tell me I had been worried for nothing and the baby was born and everyone was fine. That’s when I heard she had been in surgery for over an hour and was having a lot of bleeding. Having a good amount of knowledge and experience with childbirth as an educator and doula, I immediately realized this was way out of the norm for reasonable complications and it seriously scared me. When an hour and a half after that the bleeding still hadn’t stopped, it was beyond frightening.

My kids realized by my tone of voice when I spoke to him the first time that something was very wrong – one of them later said that my voice sounded flat – and they all started praying for her. That day, even before I knew what had actually technically happened and how bad it was, I felt the situation was very tenuous. Literally, like someone’s life was hanging in the balance. And it really bothered me the entire day that I felt so emotionally dead – I kept asking myself, “What’s the matter with you? Your very close friend is in this terrible situation and you can’t even shed a tear?”

It wasn’t until later in the day when I heard that she had stabilized and was in critical condition and in the intensive care unit that I finally cried. And cried and cried. And since then I’ve been crying every day several times a day when I think about it. I read something yesterday that said that when a person isn’t ready to deal with an emotion, they don’t feel it, and that’s exactly how it was for me in those first hours. The possibility of a tragic outcome was so horrible that I just couldn’t feel anything.

So while I’ve had lots of thoughts on many things to share with all of you (some connected to this, some not), this has been foremost in my mind, something that I think about most of my waking hours. I’ve been too emotional about it all to even think of writing anything. At this point, I’m just grateful beyond words that she will be okay, and the baby is healthy – it’s like she won a high stakes lottery, as the statistics for both mother and baby in this situation are very poor.  Most don’t make it, and if the mother does make it, brain damage is a result in most cases. Life is very precious, and times like these are a real reminder of that.