Monthly Archives: June 2007

No twins after all

The midwife was here yesterday morning, and it looks like we’re NOT having twins after all. But I told her that I really feel I need absolute closure on this and want an ultrasound. So this morning I’m going to pick up a referral for an u/s from another midwife who is a friend of hers who does work within the traditional medical system. My midwife said that she really expected to come and confirm the twins, because it looked so strongly likely at the last visit. All the signs for twins were there (including what seemed like two heartbeats), but I guess it can sometimes happen that everything can look one way and just not actually be like that.  My midwife also said sometimes a woman can just have a pregnancy that is outside her personal norm on all fronts, and maybe that’s what this is for me.

I’m still measuring ahead of my dates but only by 4 cm this time (last time was 5), but she can only hear one heart beat. I suppose the u/s isn’t necessary since she’s pretty sure about this, but after four weeks of thinking there would be two and then hearing there aren’t, I just want to know 100% and not wonder if somehow the positioning kept her from hearing one of them, or something like that. I do feel disappointed, but I knew there was a chance that this is what we would hear, and I kept stressing that possibility to the kids. They aren’t as disappointed as they thought they would be – they were always excited about the idea of a new baby, and that is still something to look forward to.


Back from Camping Trip 2007

We’ve gone and come back from our camping trip, and had a great time!

The campground we went to was the most beautiful we’ve ever been to, and very private. There was a beautiful stream running through the campgrounds, and we had a fun time climbing the rocks in the river, tubing, hiking, and on the last day, swimming at a nearby thermal lake. And of course there was the usual camping fun of collecting firewood, building fires, roasting marshmallows and hotdogs, making smores, etc.

We also made a trip out to gorgeous Blackwater Falls (WV), which was only 40 minutes from our campsite. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the camera with us for the thermal lake and waterfall (accidentally left behind at the campsite), since that was a very fun part of our trip that would be good to have visual reminders of. But the main thing is that we had the experience! (Though I’ve often found that what we have pictures of we remember for much longer!)

When we were packing the van to go there, we were really glad we didn’t need to take tents this time since we didn’t have any extra space in the van! Everyone thought the cabin was cute (I had to take the smaller one since the bigger one that would have been more suitable was taken), but once nighttime came, the four oldest kids had a hard time sleeping because they were so squished.

And honestly, I usually enjoy the rustic experience, but this time (being six months pregnant), I really wouldn’t have minded electricity or being closer to the water pump and porta potties (the bigger cabin is right next to those and has electricity). Three trips in the middle of the black rainy night to use the facilities wasn’t much fun. And it wasn’t much fun walking ten minutes to get to a bathroom first thing in the morning, either, when the closer one (three minutes away) was taken. But that was really the main complaint, and that’s being kind of nitpicky.

Fortunately, we didn’t spend much time inside during the day! The weather was on the cool side – it was rainy and pouring the first night there, but cleared up the next morning and it was clear and sunny. Since it was in the mountains, it didn’t feel hot at all – temps were only in the 80s.

The modest swim suits I made were really a worthwhile use of time, as it enabled us to have fun as a family in the water in situations that I would usually stay away from. I was working on mine until 1 am of the morning that we left, knowing how disappointed my kids would be if I didn’t finish it. It was worth the effort; they were thrilled that I made it in time for the trip and I had lots of fun swimming with them!

We decided to leave a little early and not stay for the third night – the larger cabin was available and we initially planned to move into it for our last night there, but then decided it was silly to spend energy moving in there, when we were just going to pack up first thing the next morning and go home. I had terrible back pain from the mattress I slept on (I could feel the metal bars of the futon frame through it) and didn’t want to cut our trip short just because of that, but the second night some kids were so cold that they weren’t looking forward to the third night, either. Part of that was their own fault – three of them forgot to bring the warm clothes that we told them to pack, but part of it was being in the mountains, and it being much colder at night than we’re used to on past camping trips – we would have brought more blankets if we had realized. I can only imagine how cold we would have been if we had camped this year in tents like we usually do!

We got back at 1 am on Friday morning (it’s always nice to be home!), and when we woke up, got everything unpacked and washed up. Then we had special overseas guests for dinner that I’ve known online for over six years, but never had the chance to meet in person until Friday evening. (We spent most of Monday before we left cooking and freezing food so we wouldn’t be too pressured when we got home from the trip, and were able to just pull things out of the freezer.) They also came for lunch the next day, and we thoroughly enjoyed them – what wonderful people! They also had a daughter 11.5 who both my almost 11 yo and 12.5 year old really enjoyed getting to know. The consensus of all the kids was they wish we could have spent even more time together with their family!

Saturday was our 15th anniversary – doesn’t that sound like a long time?! The years have flown by! Marriage is an amazing thing, and I’m incredibly grateful to be married to such a special person, who I love more and more every year.

Today was a really nice day, very relaxed and filled with nice time together with the kids – a movie out (check your local theaters to see if any offer free matinees in the summer – many do), a trip to the library, some special shopping for ds13, and then a trip to friends for another child (and later, swimming there for two of my boys while I got to enjoy time with their mother, a good friend who I never have enough time to talk with :)). We had dinner outside in the back yard where it was cool (the house was uncomfortably warm) before getting everyone ready for bed. Now we are getting looking forward to a visit from a family from Texas who is coming tomorrow. I’ve known them since I was 16, so we’ve seen each other through many stages of life!

Tomorrow morning the midwife will be here and I’ll finally get the official verdict about if we have one or two babies on the way (these four weeks have dragged by, waiting and wondering). I’ll be sure to keep you posted!


Planning our camping trip

I’ve been busy making plans for our yearly camping trip. Actually, we just call it our yearly camping trip, because that’s how often it’s supposed to happen, but somehow it has so far worked out to every other year. Dh and I put off planning longer than we usually do, which isn’t a problem if you don’t mind camping at busy times in the season when everyone is there, but since we do mind, I needed to do a lot more research than usual. By mid June, the campgrounds are filling up, and we want to go next week.

Something we love about camping is the peaceful quiet, and it would really take away from the experience for us to go when there are lots of people around. I heard about a new privately owned campground that’s a few hours away. The thought of spending three hours in the van getting there wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for gas prices being so high (and large passenger vans are notorious for their low mpg!). I called the owner to ask some questions, and although the campsites are very large and one could easily accomodate our two tents, we would still need to pay for two campsites, since the price for one campsite is based on having only four people using it.

I’ve sometimes felt in situations like these that large families are penalized, because of regardless of how few resources or space you actually use (often less than much smaller families because of the choices we make), you are charged per additional child the adult rate per day. Anyway, once I saw how expensive renting the campsites would be, I started looking at the more expensive options that I wouldn’t usually consider, because they were no longer significantly more. They have two tipis, but they officially only sleep four, and I didn’t feel confident without seeing them that we could comfortably squeeze in to one. (I’ll check it out once we are there for future reference.) Then I looked at the cabins, which are the most expensive options.

There are only two cabins, one is larger but not as ideally located (right off the main parking lot and there is a light from outside), the other is smaller but in a more woodsy and private area. Since the larger one sleeps 7, we decided to reserve that even though we really like the location of the smaller one more. But when I got online to make reservations, the larger one was taken. That made the decision very easy! I happily reserved the smaller one (sleeps 5 adults), feeling that it’s the one we were obviously meant to have, and it’s the one we would be happier with. The cabin is as close to tent camping as you can get – there is no electricity or running water, and the stove provided is the typical Coleman camping stove. But it will save us the extra set up time when we get there, and save us time preparing since we won’t need to take out the tent equipment ahead of time to be sure it’s all there.

Here’s how we plan on sleeping everyone – there’s a double futon for dh and I, and above that is a twin bed that ds (5) and dd (6.5) will share. There’s a loft that has two twin beds, and two kids will share each bed, by putting their heads at opposite ends and their feet in the middle. Two boys to one, two girls to the other, and then we’ll bring the port-a-crib for the baby. We’re bringing sleeping bags, and if anyone feels the above sleeping arrangements are too tight (and they ARE on the tight side, though the girls often share a twin bed at home because they like to), they can camp out on the floor. This is the first time going camping without taking tents, and a couple of the kids initially balked at the idea, and still want to know if we can take a tent for them to sleep in if they want. I don’t mind if they do, so I’m happy to accomodate them and bring a tent along.

This site looks beautiful and seems to have nice water areas – enough for tubing, wading, and swimming, some waterfalls, and lots of boulders for climbing and exploring. There’s a thermal lake nearby that we plan to take everyone to, as well as some caves and hiking areas that I’m trying to convince dh not to take everyone to this time. (I love how peaceful it is when we can just all enjoy being there once we get there, and don’t want to spend too much time leaving the campgrounds.)

I made the older two girls modest bathing suits that they love and look lovely in, so they can feel comfortable in the water even if there are other non family members around. (They’re very practical, too, since they can wear them to hike in and then keep the same suit on for swimming.) I’ve been feeling tired in the evenings and have been putting off sewing one for myself and my 6.5 dd (who likes her older sisters’ and keeps asking when she will get one), but that’s something I really need to get to this week. Once I get started it shouldn’t take too long, but I’ve put mine off because I’m not sure how to size it so it will fit now and later on in pregnancy, because I really wanted to use it when I’m not pregnant. I’ve been thinking I could add in extra panels on the sides, and then remove them later on. Or I could make a separate pregnancy suit in the material that I like less (I got two different materials to use for the various suits) and make another one later on, which probably makes the most sense. Well, I’ll let you know once I decide. :)


Foosball tables and family fun

Wow, I’m feeling tired today. And I woke up late, too, and just finished a nap. I need to rework my mornings, since I’m sleeping in later than usual and dd10 has been waking up and taking care of the little one when he wakes up (earlier than everyone else, of course and she’s the one who hears him first!). Very sweet of her, but she needs to get started on her morning routine when she wakes up and this keeps her from being able to get started the way she would like. When I go to sleep earlier, I wake up at 4 am and can’t get back to sleep for a couple of hours and then oversleep until 8:30 or 9; when I go to sleep later, I wake up at 8:30 or 9 am and the kids are all up before me. I’m wondering if I should just go to sleep early and then wake up at 4 am. I could certainly get a lot accomplished in a quiet house! And maybe then I could schedule in a mid day nap.

Anyway, I fortunately have some time to get ungroggy before I need to head out to buy the game table that I called someone about. We currently have a foosball table that we got (for free) that the kids LOVE. I never really played foosball as a kid and it had no attraction for me, so I didn’t anticipate how popular it would be. When we moved it to the basement, the framing had to be dismantled and now won’t easily go back together, so it’s a bit shaky. I pointed out to ds13 that all we need to do is get some small screws and redrill the holes for two cross boards, which he agreed about, but in the meantime, I found someone selling a junior game table. It has foosball and several other games (like mini ping pong, knock hockey, shuffleboard, pool), and I thought it would be nice to have since it maximizes the games they can play and takes up the same amount of space as the individual foosball table. (I really like items that maximize space by doing more than one thing.) I stumbled across this when I was looking for a used air hockey table, and getting this solves part of the dilemma I was wondering about.

Here was my dilemma – we only have room for two game tables in the basement, and one has to be junior sized. If I got a full sized air hockey table, some of the kids would be too small to use it, but if I got a kids’ sized version, then the older kids wouldn’t be able to comfortably play. So this solves it – the new game table will have several games for the younger set (assuming that when I see it, it’s what I want and I buy it), and then when I find a full sized air hockey table for the older ones, I’ll get that. The older ones can still enjoy playing at the smaller table for the games other than air hockey.

Why all the effort and thought about game tables? I’m really not one to believe my kids need lots of toys or have to cater to their every little material whim. (People assume that since we spend so much time at home and the kids like it, I must have loads of toys, but I really don’t.) These were my idea; they never would have even thought of asking for them. Though I could certainly find other uses for the space, I feel it’s important for the home to be a place where kids want to be and enjoy being. Part of that is getting along with your family members, and part of it is having nice things available to do with each other and with friends who come over. So these are being purchased based on my values and goals for our family. These items encourage playing together – you can’t play on your own – and having fun together on a regular basis bonds siblings even more. Strong sibling and parental relationships are an integral part of the goals I have for our family.

How do you make your home a place your kids want to be?


Rearranging rooms and making space

My, doesn’t life move quickly sometimes! I often feel like every week around here goes fast and is packed full with much too much to tell. :)

My mom, who’s been living with us for ten months, found a place to live on Thursday morning, so we spent part of Thursday, Friday, and then last night helping her move all her stuff with our nice big van and the arms of many willing helpers. I’m glad we were able to have her for this time, but I think she’ll enjoy her own space, and we will enjoy having the extra space.

While my mom was living in the basement, we used one of the bedrooms as a playroom. Contrary to popular expectations, big families don’t necessarily have or need much bigger houses than everyone else. Our house is a pretty modest size, though I’m very happy with the layout and it works well for us. We have three bedrooms, plus the new bedroom that we just finished making in the attic (ds13 painted most of it yesterday, and will hopefully paint the ceilings today).

You may be wondering how everyone fits in (I’ve been asked before :)), so here’s how we do it: the 3 older boys are in one room, the 3 girls in the other – we have two bunk beds in each kids’ room, so there is still room in each of those two bedrooms for another child. We’re in the attic bedroom, and ds14 months just moved to the third bedroom/playroom a week or so ago. That bedroom is the smallest and has all the toys, books, dress up clothes – you know, everything. :) Last night we started moving stuff down to the basement, and it’s wonderful how roomy both the basement and third bedroom now feel!

I’m so glad that my mom moved in with us a couple of weeks after we bought this house, before we ever got used to having the basement as a living space. That way, it wasn’t something we were giving up to have her using, and now, it’s like a new house almost to have more space! We’re doing a lot of shifting things around. We moved all the board games and a bunch of toys down, as well as the foosball table. Mom is leaving her futon, so we will continue being able to have her as a weekend guest, or have other people stay down there. It’s important to me to be able to have guests able to stay overnight, which is why when I bought our living room furniture, I made to sure to get a sleeper sofa. Then when we needed more seating space, I got another sleeper sofa, this one with two separate twins beds. So technically we could sleep four people in the living room, but there’s no privacy so it’s nice to have the basement for them to stay in. (The kids love to sleep there, though, on weekend nights it’s a special privilege that we often allow.) Until about a month ago, we also had a full sized futon in the playroom (for potential guests), but that was given away when we decided we’d rather use the space for a foosball table, and then last week, we moved ds’s portacrib in there. So it was getting a little squishy in that room.

Are you wondering what we will do what that third bedroom now? Don’t worry, the space won’t be wasted! We still have all the bookshelves in there (for now – when we finish the attic bathroom, I’m thinking of moving them where they can line the hallway that leads to the attic), and the dressers. The current baby will continue to stay in there until he’s ready to move into the boys’ room (at least that was my plan until recently, and haven’t decided on a new course of action yet), and then we will move the new babies in when they are old enough to leave our room. (We usually move our babies out of our room around at a year old.)

It’s just amazing how much space this relatively small house has for us all when we use it well!


Twins? Interesting way to ask

I told you a couple of days ago about the strong likelihood of twins, and thought that it would be pretty agonizing to wait for another four weeks for the next midwife’s visit to know for sure. I don’t do ultrasounds as a matter of routine, but was really starting to think about getting one done just to find out for sure.

Since the midwife told me to start eating a diet for twins, that same day I called a friend with twins and asked her if she had any books to lend. She asked who they were for, and was quite surprised when I told her they might be for me, since she saw me the day before and didn’t realize I was expecting. I explained the situation, why the midwife thought what she did and why she was waiting one more month. When I got there, she took me down to her office and took out her crystal pendulum. (I didn’t know she would do this, and didn’t even think of it as option to explore using.)

A little background here – this friend has lots of experience with alternative healing type of approaches, and I got to see her use the pendulum several years ago when we were neighbors. At that time, my young daughter was coughing very badly all night long, and I had asked her for recommendations for which homeopathic remedy to use. She took out her pendulum, and asked several questions about specific remedies, and told me what to use based on that.

The way the pendulum works is that it helps accesses the intuitive mind and bypasses the conscious/intellectual mind, channeling unseen energies. The person asking and person being asked don’t know the answers consciously, but on the soul level, the answers are known. That’s how I explain it, anyway. It sounds hocusy-pocusy and many people don’t know why or how it works, just that it works. So the pendulum will spin to the left for a ‘no’, and to the right for a ‘yes’. Only yes or no questions can be asked.

Back to my story. I went downstairs with my friend, and she told me to hold out my hand, and took it. Then she took out her pendulum and I watched her hand stay perfectly still as it started spinning right, then left. After several minutes, she picked up the book Having Twins from her desk and said, “Here, you need this.” I told her, “No way, I want to hear the questions asked out loud, you can’t just think them to yourself and then give me the book!” She told me she wanted to check first about the possibility of polyhydramnios and the health of the baby/ies and didn’t want to ask it out loud in case the answers weren’t good.

So she did it out loud for me – here were the questions:
– Is Avivah a male? (left)
– Is Avivah pregnant? (right)
– Is Avivah pregnant with twins? (right)
– Does Avivah have polyhydramnios? (left)
– Are both babies healthy? (right)
– Is Avivah pregnant with identical twins? (Not saying :))
– Is Avivah pregnant with fraternal twins? (the opposite answer of above)
– Is Avivah pregnant with two girl babies?
– Is Avivah pregnant with two boy babies?
– Is Avivah pregnant with a girl and boy?

The answer to the last three was a ‘no’ to two of the questions and ‘yes’ for one of them. I’ll keep all of you in suspense and let you know in a few months if the specifics are right. As you can see, there were some questions that might seem redundant (like the identical/fraternal one), but are a good checking mechanism.  One possibility to stay aware of, though, is that the emotions of the one using the crytal can ‘cross’ with the one being tested.  And since this friend has had twins, that’s something for me to keep in mind.

She asked me before all of this what my intuition was telling me, and I told her that I don’t like to say what my intuitive thoughts are until after I know the facts. This process did confirm my own intuition (or is it wishful thinking?), and fit in with a dream I had the night before the midwife came (that we suddenly needed a larger dining room table to fit everyone), which suddenly came flooding back to me as soon as the midwife did the measurements.  That would still make sense if we were just having a singleton, though.

So that was interesting. It remains to be seen if it was accurate or not, so I”ll still be waiting for the most part for an official confirmation before mentioning anything (in real life) to anyone one way or another.