Mamaw update

She's still in hospital. Too weak for angioplasty/surgery so they're going to try medication and also run some more tests. But for now, she's stable.


Please pray for my 90 year old grandmother. My Mom just called saying she's had what appears to be a heart attack and that she looks to have suffered some damage.


New book, new dessert

(not at all related!)

Crazy Christmas week around here. Will update about the holiday and my parent's visit later. For now, I wanted to get a blog out there about 2 things I've discovered this past week.

I love to read. My nightly ritual, in fact. I'm particularly a fan of Christian fiction (like the "Love Comes Softly"series by Janette Oke or the "Mark of the Lion" series by Francine Rivers both of which I've read all of). I've now discovered a series of Historical Christian Fiction and, IMO, it rocked! I'm ready to jump into book 2 of "The House Of Winslow" series by Gilbert Morris. The first book "The Honorable Imposter" was excellent and centered around the sailing of the Mayflower. You should check it out. Easy read, loved the interjection of history (although admittedly I couldn't tell you how much of it was accurate), and a love story to boot (very clean, btw).

And, if you're looking for a cheap way to curb a sweet tooth, here's a great dessert!


1 package of chocolate chip cookies
1 tub of cool whip

Pour milk into the bottom of a bowl. Soak the cookies individually for just a second. In a small casserole dish (like a 1 qt, perhaps (?) -- certainly not anything cake pan size although it would be very simple to double this recipe to fit a standard 9x13 cake pan), layer the bottom with milk-soaked cookies. Then add a thin layer of the cool-whip. Continue layering until you near the top (I think my Mom had 4 layers but I'm not sure). Then add the remaining cool whip and crumble any remaining cookies on top for decoration. Let sit in refrigerator for a few hours before serving and that's it. My personal favorite part of this dessert was actually hitting a chocolate chip from one of the cookies so I think adding mini-chocolate chips to the top of the cool-whip layers would be great although you certainly wouldn't want too many. Or if you run out of cookies, that would certainly make a great topping for decoration. Either way, I plan on adding them next time. Someone said something about it sounding too sweet and I can definitely say that didn't happen.

Happy reading and eating!


What a difference a year makes!

Timothy was born on 12-6...after being discharged from the hospital on the 8th, he was admitted to Children's Hospital -- our very first time being in that hospital! -- on the 9th for jaundice but discharged on the 10th. Lots of drama that week including a "fight" with the doctor as we had to have blood draws to make sure his levels were going down. Then, just when things were starting to seem to get back to "normal", along came December 23rd. I noticed Timothy seemed kinda stuffy on the 22nd and that John was coming down with something. Then, right before bed on the 22nd, Timothy started making weird noises. I thought to myself that he was holding his breath but then I thought I must be crazy. Even though he didn't seem really sick, I was very uneasy about both him and John and decided to take them to the dr on Christmas Eve. Jonathan thought I was loosing it or hormonal or both. "But," I thought, "I don't want to be going to the ER on a holiday, should one of them get sicker". John's turned out to be nothing or at least nothing serious. I honestly can't remember what his symptoms were or what the dr said. At first, the doctor said that Timothy did appear to have a cold or something similar and while he really wasn't holding his breath in the office, it would not be uncommon for him to hold his breath with a virus and to keep an eye on him. They had him on a pulse-ox monitor and his stats were steady in the 90s which is good. Then, he dipped into the 80s. After it took a while for him to get back up into the 90s, it was decided that we were to go to the ER at Children's for observation. After he never really improved -- and after being put on an apnea monitor that monitors breathing and after he set off that monitor several times -- it was decided that he should be admitted. Admitted to the hospital on Christmas Eve. I missed Christmas morning with my other 4 but after several break downs, decided to go have lunch at my in-laws house with the rest of the family so I could at least see my kids opening SOMETHING on Christmas Day. Turned out Timothy had RSV, a form of the common cold that does very UNcommon things to little ones, even causing death. He was admitted on Monday and discharged on Friday....

And here we sit, exactly one year later. The Lord has certainly stretched me beyond what I thought I could handle with Timothy's breathing issues and hearing loss. But as I sit here this morning, watching him pull himself up to standing by the couch, feeding him oatmeal (he loves the cinnamon roll flavor!), wrestling him for over 5 minutes to get his hearing aid in his ear, listening to him babble and cry, with the realization that he's got a baby sister coming in less than 100 days, I'm amazed at what a difference a year can make, at what strength God gave us to endure what we have endured. And I wonder what surprises are in store for us this next year with a new addition to the family and the drs appointments Timothy continues to go through. If the Lord wills, we'll be blessed to watch John turn 4 (and hopefully be potty-trained?!?!) and Elizabeth turn 5, both in May. And Nathan will hit double digits in July, turning 10. And then the Christmas season will come again, if the Lord wills, and we'll watch Caleb turn 7 and Timothy turn 2, not to mention the multitude of things Lydia will probably go through in her first 9 or 10 months of life. If the Lord wills..... Never have I realized more than this year exactly what that means. And never have I been more grateful.

I wish you all a very blessed Christmas!


Fun with ultrasound pics, part 3

Last but not least, 2 pics of her looking at us!

Fun with ultrasound pics, part 2

Next up is her foot. No help with this one, it's should be self-explanatory.
Then we have an arm.
And last, for this post, a profile picture.

Fun with ultrasound pics, part 1

Some ultrasound pictures as is and some we've "helped" you with via Microsoft Paint.Net.

First up, like we've already said, it's a GIRL!

Second, this will probably be the most difficult to "see". This is JUST a pic of her nose and mouth. We've rotated it, too, so maybe that will help.


3 blog posts in 1 day?!?!

Aren't you lucky?!?! :) Actually, this is more of an FYI than anything. As many of you know, Timothy is being followed for his "noisy breathing" by an ENT specialist. After a bronchoscopy in October, they wanted to repeat it in February just to keep an eye on things to make sure his airway is growing appropriately. As of today, Timothy has an appt with the ENT on 1/30 and is tenatively scheduled for another bronchoscopy for Monday, 2/9. Of course seeing the ENT could change things but that's the plan for now. I didn't want to wait until that 1/30 appt to schedule his next bronch b/c I knew they scheduled as much as 6 weeks out and that would be mid-March and we all know that's a bad, bad time for him to be in the hospital! So there you go....

Good news for OH homeschoolers

From the HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association):

December 17, 2008

Ohio--No Change to 08 School Regulations

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

We are pleased to be able to share good news with you. After the legislatively mandated 5 year review of the regulations governing non-chartered, non-tax supported schools, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) has told HSLDA that it will not recommend any changes to the regulation and that therefore the State Board will not be making any changes.

That means that everything stays the same as far as homeschooling laws/regulations in the state of Ohio. It's scary what some families go through in some states and other countries for the "right" to homeschool their children. I pray my children have the same freedoms I do when they're having children of their own!

Little behind on posts....

So here's a recap....

First, I had a wonderful ultrasound last Friday! I seem to have misplaced the pictures (thank you, pregnancy brain!) but when I do find them, I'll post. Lydia weighed in at a healthy 1 pound, 14 ounces! Little bit bigger then "average" but still considered normal. At the time, I was 24 weeks, 3 days pregnant and she was measuring 25 weeks, 4 days -- about a week ahead which is totally fine. Next appointment isn't until 1/2 and aside from the occasional contraction, some nagging hip pain, and my carpal tunnel syndrome being worse than usual, I'm feeling really well. Progesterone shot as usual yesterday -- only 10 more to go! YIKES! I know, I say that a lot but -- YIKES! I'm starting to panic thinking about how soon this little girl could be here.

Second, if you haven't seen it yet, look on the right side bar under the baby countdown (which is about to go UNDER 100 days -- YIKES -- which I think I've already covered). We're twittering now! :) Twitter, for those of you who don't know, is basically a mini-blog, meant to be a place to put in 140 characters or less what you are doing at that very minute or to share a link or something useful. Little micro blogs. You can see my twitter page at www.twitter.com/Mom2HalfDozen and Jonathan's twitter at www.twitter.com/Jonathan75. The twitter update that's on the side is just my lastest entry.

Third, major family drama. Jonathan's grandmother has 2 surviving sisters after the passing of her sister Patty recently (early this year or late last year, can't remember). One of those sisters, Jonathan's great-aunt Janet, is in the hospital for the 2nd time in just a few weeks. She's very weak, cannot take care of herself, and has had at least 1 confirmed heart attack. The other sister, great-aunt Doris, was diagnosed with a brain tumor literally out of the blue. We had no idea there was something wrong. She's been moved up here (from Portsmouth, where she lives and was helping take care of Janet), is in a rehab facility and is supposed to start having radiation treatments. No biopsy scheduled at this time but they have said the tumor is inoperable and that she has 6 months to a year. Pray for Jonathan's grandmother first and foremost for her own salvation and, of course, as she's the only one to really take care of things for both sisters, complicated by one of them being here and the other one being in Portsmouth.

Last but certainly not least -- pictures! You should have seen our little "cherubs" on stage Sunday night. Caleb, Elizabeth, and John are in Cherub Choir and sang a Christmas version of "Mary had a baby boy" and the first verse of "Away in a manger". Nathan is in Music Makers and their class performed a Christmas program and did a fabulous job. Unfortunately, I was not in a good position to get pictures of Nathan. I'm not biased, it was just easier to get pictures of the little guys. Caleb couldn't pose seriously for a picture if he tried, I'm almost certain!

Then some funnies. Turned around and saw Elizabeth like this the other day in the play pen with a pacifier....

And I came out of the room on Tuesday to hear them laughing hysterically and singing a version of "Jingle Bells" except they were saying "Jingle Buddies". "Buddies" is what they call Timothy. Lo and behold, I find them putting Elizabeth's Christmas headband -- with tiny jingle bells on it -- on the little guy. Perhaps a glimpse of what Lydia might look like?!?! Once I took a picture of Timothy, John decided to get into the act with Elizabeth's green sparkly headband saying he was "Sparkly John-John".

And while I don't have a picture to share -- I thought it was sooo cute to watch Timothy "talk" on the phone with my dad the other day. Nothing more than "Ah" over and over but he was certainly trying to talk. And I think that's it. Busy week coming up! Timothy goes for a hearing aid appointment tomorrow, got to finish up Christmas shopping, and then got to get ready for Mamaw and Papaw's arrival on Christmas Day!! I can't believe Christmas is already here! YIKES! :0


Happy birthday, Justin!

It was a Saturday last year....We were getting ready to be discharged with Timothy after a rough couple of days since delivery. Timothy had failed hearing tests, I had barely tried but already given up nursing, Timothy had mysterious bruising that prompted tons of tests that revealed nothing, and he was starting to get real jaundiced. Anyway, as we were preparing to leave, I got a phone call. As I was giving Candace an update on Timothy -- and she sounded completely normal, by the way -- I was telling her about the jaundice and she said something like she thought her baby would have jaundice, too. Took me a minute but then I got it. "What baby?!?" I asked. And then she filled me in. Sometime during the wee hours of the morning, she had given birth to a tiny little guy -- ALONE, I might add! (Matt was in the bathroom, midwives were on their way) I totally thought she was bluffing! It was pretty neat to have gone through pregnancies together (she had come over to do something, what I can't remember, the day after we had gotten back from visiting the beach in May and when I told her I had gotten a positive pregnancy test that morning, she told me she thought she was pregnant, too....kinda weird, but that's just the way it worked out) and then to have had these 2 little guys at the same time. So a very special "Happy First Birthday" to our buddy, Justin!
Timothy (L) and Justin (R) in March
Justin (L) and Timothy (R) in May, matching outfits!

Timothy (L) and Justin (R) in October at a baby shower



Good news from the OB....Urgent Care, take 2

Much to my surprise, everything looked very stable today at the OB! Blood pressure still a little elevated but unlike my house nurse, the docs are not concerned about my feet swelling nor are they concerned about my blood pressure. Not to be too frank, but every woman who's ever been pregnant knows that they take a urine sample at each visit. They check for white blood cells (a sign of infection) and measure your level of protein. At every visit this pregnancy, my protein was +1. Today, however, it was back down to "trace" which is less than +1. That's really weird considering my blood pressures are creeping up but great news! My cervix was also surprisingly stable -- last time, it was all over the place, measuring anywhere from 30mm to 34mm. This time, every picture they took was 33mm so for it be not only stable but also over 30mm is GREAT! I go back next Friday for a growth scan to see how Little Miss is growing and the not back for a cervix scan until 1/2, provided I have no symptoms!! WOO HOO! I feel like a huge burden has been lifted! Praise God!

But then there's the rest of this post....Nathan....Fever started on Thursday morning (so church friends beware!) but by this afternoon, it was over 103 and he was talking funny so I knew things were getting crowded back in the throat. Indeed, his tonsils were huge! Getting a strep test done was a treat. Nathan may only weigh 58 pounds but it took 1 nurse to hold his hands while I held his head while the other nurse took the test. Then the dr comes into tell us that it is indeed strep throat and tells me I have 2 options for treatment (I'm sure you can all see where this is going....). Much to Nathan's dismay, I chose the faster injection, I mean, option. Took him FOREVER to "get into position", having to have his mp3 player and headphones and having to be promised a milk shake and a trip to the store with $5 (okay, so maybe that was overkill but I was still reeling from holding him down for the strep test). Anyway, now I'm sitting here wondering a few things -- 1, tomorrow night is our Sunday School class' Christmas party and Nathan will be 1 hour shy of his 24-hour no-longer-contagious cutoff (do we take him?!?); 2, are any of my other kids coming down with it and I don't know about it yet (and again, do we take them?!?!)?; and 3, Nathan went to church on Wednesday night as we all did so I'm wondering who we exposed....Here's praying all is well tomorrow! *sigh*


It's official

The Stevens Clan is pleased to announce that our soon-to-be baby girl has a name! I'm anal like that and have to have a name picked out so that I can call the baby by its name instead of "he" ."she" or worse -- "it". Chances of changing our mind? Pretty slim -- we don't usually do that. Apologies to Jonathan's family -- we know you don't like the name but this is our pick. My husband, clever as he is, picked this name because he says Elizabeth and John's names "go together" in the Bible -- Elizabeth being the mother of John the Baptist. Lydia "goes together with" Timothy's name (Timothy Paul) because Lydia in the Bible is a convert of Paul and Timothy -- see Acts 16. So from here forward, Little Miss' name shall be

The Stevens Clan....Jonathan, Karen, Nathan, Caleb, Elizabeth, John, Timothy, and Lydia :)


Nurse's visit

Prayer request -- The nurse was just here for my weekly progesterone shot. I had a rough night last night, not sleeping well, and the kids were up at 6:30 (ugh!). My blood pressure wasn't great but was higher than usual -- 130/70 as opposed to 120/65 which is my average. The bad part was that my feet/legs are starting to swell. That's a very big no-no in pregnancy. So until I get to my dr on Friday, I'm on orders from the nurse to keep my feet up as much as possible, to drink tons of water, and to monitor my stress level.


Surprising results

We had a WIC appointment tonight and John, Elizabeth, and Timothy were weighed and measured. Elizabeth nearly weighed 40 pounds!!!!! She has 4 whole pounds on John, something that's NEVER happened. She was always so tiny that she and John were often within less than a pound of each other. We printed off some growth charts for the fun of it. Here's some results (we weighed and measured Nathan and Caleb at home also for the fun of it):

Nathan weighs 58 pounds (25th percentile) and is approximately 53 inches tall (50th percentile) so he's average in height and a little on the small side

Caleb weighs 42 pounds (50th percentile) and is approximately 45 inches tall (50th percentile) so he's average in height and weight

Elizabeth weighs 39 pounds (WOO HOO!) (approx. 40th percentile) and was 43 inches tall (90th percentile) so she's nearly average in weight (finally) and very tall for her age

John weighed only 35 pounds (gasp!) (50h percentile) and 41 inches tall (75th percentile) so he's average in weight and a little on the tall side

And last but not least, Timothy weighed 23 pounds, 14 ounces (approx. 60th percentile) and 28 inches tall (approx. 25th percentile) so he's a little over average for weight and a little under average for height

In case "percentiles" have never been explained to you, let me take a stab at it. We'll use Timothy's numbers. Timothy is in the 25th percentile for height. That means if you measure him up against all other one year old little boys, approximately 24% of them will be shorter than he is and approximately 75% of them will be taller than he is. And for weight, approximately 60% of all one year old little boys will be smaller than he is and 40% will weigh more than he does. The basic idea is this -- you want to be as close to the 50th percentile in both numbers as possible. Okay, bed time now -- must run!

Happy 6th Birthday, Caleb!

Caleb was due November 28, 2002, Thanksgiving Day. The weekend before Thanksgiving, Jonathan spent some time in the ER with stomach pains. Being as pregnant as I was and not knowing for sure what was going on with Jonathan, my mom and dad came over from Illinois, where they lived at the time. Once Jonathan was home (with a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome which basically means "we have no idea why you're in pain"), they decided to stay for Thanksgiving and, of course, Caleb's big debut. Thanksgiving came and went and mom and dad decided that they shouldn't miss another Sunday so that Friday, they took Nathan and went back to Illinois with the plan to come back on Monday as my doctor had promised I could be induced that next week. While they were on their way home, I went in for my final appointment and was told I could pick an induction date. Since Jonathan was scheduled to have a colonoscopy on that Friday, I picked that very next day, December 3rd, so I could be out of the hospital and home before Jonathan's procedure. Went home after my appointment and went to sleep. Woke up around 4:30 with plans to go pick up Jonathan from work, grab some dinner, and do some Christmas shopping before Mom, Dad, and Nathan got home around 9:30. While at Lifeway, I realized I was having contractions and wanted to go home. We picked up Jonathan's car and headed back to our townhome. When I got out of the van, it happened....my water broke. It was just before 7. Thinking we had all the time in the world (because Nathan's labor was 15+ hours), we tok our time -- packed some final things, changed the outgoing message on our answering machine so my parents would know where I was, and I think I even did some dishes. Then we stopped at Arby's to get Jonathan something to eat. Check-in time at the hospital was just before 8. Only 1 bed left in triage but it's monitor was broken so they reasoned that since I was scheduled to be induced the next day, even if I wasn't truly already in labor, they'd probably have mercy on me and go ahead and induce me that night so I got a labor and delivery room. And boy is it a good thing I did or I'd had that baby in triage! Little after 8, I don't remember how dilated I was but I was in some serious pain and begging for an epidural. Anesthesia, please! Then I was told the only anesthesiologist was in a c-section and it would be a while so I got a measly little shot of something in my IV. Right at 9, when I was REALLY begging for something, they determined that I didn't have any time left. Caleb was born around 9:15. Mom, Dad, and Nathan still wasn't there....and my in-laws had taken their time, too, because they didn't think I'd have him any time soon. So, Caleb's entrance was with me, his Dad, 1 doctor, and 1 nurse, and no pain relief. Everyone else got there around 10. Caleb weighed 7 pounds, 15 ounces -- identical to his big brother. Have no recollection of how long he was or the exact time he was born (happens from multiple deliveries and the lack of writing anything down!). So today, that baby turns 6. Happy Birthday, Caleb!
(Caleb at one year)(Caleb at 3)

(Caleb helping his dad put together the new bunk beds last weekend)

Too cute!

This is pretty funny! Be sure to stay for the outtakes at the end.


Also, Leah had commented on our bunk beds in the last post. Well, Leah, the first set came from KMart and we really like them. They're wood and I believe the cost somewhere around $200 (gift from Jonathan's parents). This second set we just put up is a metal set, which we really didn't want to have, but they were free from our next-door neighbor who's girls were getting ready to be in their own rooms. So we have a lovely metal set of bunk beds which cost us nothing! KMart periodically puts their bunk beds on sale so watch the circulars.

Post coming later to celebrate someone's birthday!!


Busy, busy, busy

Seriously. Crazy is the only word to describe it. I'm loosing track of time, loosing track of my mind (or at least I feel like it), and maybe loosing track of my kids but latest head count proves they're all accounted for (joking, of course). Here's a snipet of our holiday weekend:

Last Thanksgiving we decided we wanted to start a tradition of our own, one that we could continue whether we were celebrating with Jonathan's family here at home or with my family in South Carolina and/or Tennessee. So we decided that every year there was a kid friendly movie playing, we'd take the kids to the movies on Thanksgiving. Last year, I don't remember what movie it was (I think it was "Bee Movie") but we could only find whatever-movie-it-was at the dollar theater. Turns out the dollar theater had been robbed the night before and has never reopened. So, no movie last year. But, we were succeesful this year! We thoroughly enjoyed "Bolt" and highly recommend it. Good clean, kid-friendly, interesting but not scary, family movie! John's fever was breaking by that point so we had a successful trip. Nathan was the only one that needed a bathroom break and Timothy only got cranky once. After the movie, we headed to Jonathan's family's dinner, ate some very good grub, and then us ladies played Hand and Foot (a card game, not a disease).

Friday Jonathan was off again so we decided to conquer 2 big projects. #1 was setting up a new set of bunk beds in the kids' room. We already have 1 set of bunk beds in that room with Nathan on top. Caleb, originally on the bottom of the 1st set, now resides on the top bunk of the new set. While we're waiting on 2 new twin mattresses, John and Elizabeth's toddler mattresses are in a T shape on the bottom of the new set and that seems to be working out. Very, very crowded in there now but, hey -- what's a growing family to do?!? We also got down the Christmas tree and other decorations. Tree went up Friday night; other decorations went up last night.

Saturday we had decided to take the kids to the zoo to see Wildlights. Elizabeth already had plans to spend the night with her cousin Kaylee and her grandparents. So when they called and said they'd like Elizabeth at 5, we decided the zoo was out since it would just be getting dark around then. Off to COSI, we decided, but stopped to get lunch first. That's when we saw that Caleb was acting awfully weird. Yep, his turn with the virus that Nathan and John had already had. So, back home we went after lunch. I went to the store to gather cookie making supplies for next week's cookie exchange and did a little Christmas shopping. Dropped Elizabeth off, ran to Target for another few minutes of quiet Christmas shopping, then home to watch Wall E with the boys.

Yesterday was church but, of course, Caleb was sick and Tiimothy was still sick. John still was questionable so I stayed home with those 3 yesterday morning. Went last night but only because I had nursery and the kids (Nathan, John, and Elizabeth) needed to get to choir, if at all possible with the Christmas programs coming up. With Timothy still no better today, I decided we needed another visit to the dr and turns out I was right -- another sinus infection and this one is worse than the one he had a few weeks ago. So we're going to start with a 10 day set of antibiotics, a different one this time, and if that doesn't work, we'll go for the full 20 days. John's still got a runny nose but Caleb's fever broke yesterday. That leaves Elizabeth, me, and Jonathan....

Please pray for us in a few specific areas:

#1 -- that little Timothy will be able to get well so that we might not have him in and out of the drs office all winter

#2 -- that my drs appointment on Friday will show that I'm holding stable

#3 -- that we would be able to find someone to come in and help me a few days a week with the youngest 3 so that I can work with Nathan and Caleb on getting school done (any volunteers?). School is really suffering around here and we are prayerfully considering what step, if any, to take next.