Announcement

Hey! I haven’t dropped off the face of the planet! We’ve just had *a lot* going on this past month, and I figured now is a good time to update you all on some of it.

For starters, potty training has come to a screeching halt. If Phoebe has no pants or underwear on, she uses the potty no problem. But by putting training pants (thick underwear, not pull-up diapers), she forgets she’s not wearing a diaper… And with school and other things going on, I don’t have the time or energy to spend with her on it.

However, my usual reason for potty training my second-youngest has come up again, and we are overjoyed. (So I will be working on it more diligently, probably during Christmas break.

For those of you who need a little assistsnce deciphering a sonogram, allow me to hilight key points. At this point in the pregnancy (9 weeks), the baby looks like a gummy bear… Thick abdomen and head, short and stubby arms and legs. But it is important to note that all body parts are there.

The first thing the ultrasound tech said was that there is only one baby in there… Not that I have a family history of twins, but I suppose that’s a relief at this stage in the game. One baby adds chaos to our routine… I shudder to think of what two babies would do!

We have never had more than two children in diapers at a time, and would like to continue that trend… Especially considering this will be our longest gap between babies; Ezekiel will be a nearly-ancient 18 months when this baby is due to arrive. Which, coincidently, is a few days after Ethan’s 8th birthday… 7 babies in 8 years.

Ethan says he only wants to share his birthday if it’s a brother. Unfortunately, none of us has any say in that matter. Except I may choose his birthday for simplicity’s sake and induce again.

I have never had two boys back-to-back, but I have also never had a girl in the spring. Either gender will offset our equilibrium, so it matters to me only so I know which room to make space in and which set of newborn clothes to get out of storage.

I am currently 10 weeks pregnant (a pregnancy typically lasts 40 weeks) and that means my favorite pin is especially relevant right now. This pin shows the actual size of a baby’s feet when he or she is just 10 weeks. How tiny, yet beautifully formed! How awesome is our Creator!

My favorite Psalm:

Psalm 139

1

O LORD, you have searched me and known me
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.

3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.

5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.
7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?

8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say,”Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.
13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.

19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me!

20 They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain!
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?

22 I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, andlead me in the way everlasting!
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PT … Potty Training

I have half-heartedly been potty training Phoebe this summer. Potty training in the past has always been prompted by the strong desire not to have more than 2 babies in diapers at a time. She will be 2 on August 2, so I know I’m a little early, and there is not yet a baby on the way to force the issue, hence the half-hearted attempt.

She is the 5th child (so 4 older brothers and sisters to watch use the potty, plus Mom and Dad), and she has been informing me of her bodily functions before they appear in her diaper, so I figured now is the time. And after she has told me, if I have not done anything about it, she will bring me the diaper wipes and lay down on the kitchen floor for me to change her because “she’s stinky,” rather than walk to her bedroom for the changing table (which she loves because she loves to look out the window and see if the “goggies” (doggies with a “g”) next door are in the yard.

Here’s my method, and it really takes my whole attention for a few days (again, hence the half-hearted attempt, as my attention is split 6 ways):

1. Start the training as soon as the child wakes up. Juice, flavored water, whatever the prefered liquid drink is that will prompt them to pee so much. Normally, these things are not kid-drinks in my house, so they are extra special. And we have a special doggy cup with a straw that is only used by potty trainers.

2. Bottoms off. We have hard wood floors, which are beautiful, and easy for cleaning. Given the amount of liquid being taken in, I can predict a few accidents will happen, so I am always prepared to wash the floor, and spot clean to boot.

3. Frequent “potty breaks.” Whether or not the child acts like they have to “go,” I sit them on the potty every 15 minutes or so.  The first few times may warrant a candy (of their choosing… Gummy bears for Phoebe) just for sitting. Usually the first day or two we’ll watch a movie while sitting on the potty and drinking. If something ends up in the potty, the first time everyone (all kids and I) celebrate by doing a happy potty dance and everyone gets some candy. Subsequent times, only the potty training child gets the reward. I will adjust the frequency of potty breaks once I get a sense of the child’s rhythm. I still remember Ethan had a 20-minute-40-minute cycle. And he has a bladdar I’d steel today.

4. Add clothing of layers slowly once the child recognizes the need to “go to the potty.” This can be the most difficult step, or at least the most time consuming. With Naomi, each layer (training pants, then pants, then switching to panties and not training pants) was a month setback…  

I don’t do diaper-like training pants, but the cloth extra-thick undies. Each child has their own undies, but the training pants are re-used from child to child. They’re not cheap…

That’s about it. I don’t consider night time when considering if a child is fully trained, so nighttime diapers are used for a while, but usually stop around age 3 sometime. 

My family seems to deviate from the standard “girls are easier” myth… Ethan and Daniel were way easier than Naomi and Olivia. Naomi was the first, before Ethan, to sleep through the night without a diaper, but it took her 3 or 4 months to be potty trained to the point of wearing underwear under her pants. Olivia had a different sort of journey, but that is a long story… It took almost a full year for her to be fully potty trained, although she was sleeping through the night with no diaper before she stopped having potty accidents. Ethan and Dan, however, were done in about 2 weeks each (not counting nighttime)

Last night, Phoebe had PJs on and it was almost bedtime. She took her PJ shorts off (by herself) and Olivia told me Phoebe had to go potty. I noticed her droopy diaper, so I took it off, and let her run around a bit before putting a new one on… And she sat and peed on the potty for the first time!!! Completely unprompted by me, as I was putting Zeke to bed and I had no part in it at all! 

This morning, she woke up as I was getting in the shower, and her diaper was dry! She went potty in her potty… And received candy at 7am. Then, she asked for more candy, and I told her she had to pee in the potty to get more cans… So she did it again around 7:15! 

Potty training will now be in full effect since I now know she can do it… So if you stop by my house, don’t be surprised to see a half-naked little lady running around.

Feed the Babies

In one of last posts, I mentioned how babies #1-3 all gained weight well, and babies #4-6 have thrown a couple of curveballs my way. (This post has cuter pics, tho.)

One curveball was my inability to feed them as I had always been able to before. I’m talking about breastfeeding. There, I said it. 

You still with me? Good. 

How about a picture of a not-breastfeeding baby? 

 

When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I never questioned how I would feed him. It never occured to me that I could opt to not breastfeed him. Added benefit was that money was tight and we wouldn’t have to buy bottles or formula… but that didn’t occur to me until after I had made my decision.

After Daniel, my 4th child, my husband (who is a carpenter) began working 12 hour shifts, at a location an hour’s drive away, 13 days out of every 14. (That’s 15 hours a day away, with only every other Sunday off… Even when he was home, he promptly took a shower, ate dinner, and went straight to bed. Not exactly helpful for relief from the stresses of raising four young children).

From 4 to 5 months, toward the end of the crazy work schedule, Daniel only gained 4 ounces. From 5 to 6 months, he lost an ounce. Not huge numbers, but enough to know that something was up. That something was that I was losing my milk supply, most likely from the stress of basically single-handedly raising 4 children ages 4 and under.

Phoebe, baby #5, made it through the 4/5 month period without losing weight, and I was relieved that nothing was “wrong with me” again. But from her 6-month well check to her 9-month well check, she stayed the same height (25.5 inches) but she went from 16 pounds 10 ounces to 15 pounds 5 ounces. Not encouraging at all.

Ezekiel (baby #6), went from 3 months to 5 months (because… Busy mama forgot to schedule the 4 month) and lost 12 ounces. Who knows what the 4 month well-check would have shown. 

Well-checks aren’t just for vaccinations, people. I thank God for those well-checks because I probably would not have noticed the weight loss until they were well on their way to starving to death.
By 6 months (only 1 month of not breastfeeding), Ezekiel had gained 13 ounces and was back on track as the good doctor showed me the curve and where he fell on it.

I know, and genreally agree with, the notion that “breast is best,” although I feel silly telling people that. What is really best is feeding your baby in a way that fits with your family. Obviously, eating out at McDonalds every day because ‘you’re a family on the move and the dollar menu is cheap and everyone likes it’ isn’t what I mean by that, so there are some ways that are better than others… But don’t beat yourself up because you do something other than the doctor-recommended method.

One thing I remember reading, I believe from one of the ladies who write the blog at feminagirls (years ago when ibwas new to the parenting thing), is that there are principles and there are methods. The principle is that mamas feed their babies. The method could be breastfeeding, formula feeding, or homemade-formula feeding. 

Maybe there are even other options out there. Like starting baby cereal at 4 months or 6 months or one year. (FYI, I start at 6 months) Or breastfeeding, to some degree, until age 4 (My goal has always been 12 months). 

I’m sure everyone (mother/parent or not) has opinions on all of those things, and you are entitled to your opinion. But you shouldn’t (dare I say “can’t”) force your opinion on others. (I realize that is my opinion… But you are not forced to keep reading.) You do what works for you, and maybe offer advice if asked for, but don’t be outraged by someone not doing what you do, because they are not you.
Now, if you’ve ever tried to build back up your supply, you know it is not easy. If I breastfeed, then offer a bottle, somehow more and more of the bottle is taken and less and less from the breast. So, I didn’t try to kill myself by sleep deprivation to pump. Yet, my babies have never tasted store-bought formula either. 

Cow’s milk is a big no-no for people under age 1, but goat’s milk is most like human milk, with no known allergies. Even adults who are lactose intolerant can have goat’s milk. But for an infant, plain goat’s milk is not enough. Added to the fact that it’s naturally deficient in vitamin B12 and folic acid, goat milk is only the base for a make-your-own baby formula.

Mt. Capra (as in capra-corn… Get it?) makes a delightful powdered-goat milk that I used as the base, and if you subscribe to their emails, they will share their formula recipe. (Although I got it from a friend before subscribing to them).

And thanks to bottle feeding, I could enjoy a nice Cosmopolitan, with raspberry vodka, at Easter.

*Side note: the brain is made of fat, so consuming fat is critical to brain development in those early months and years of life outside the mama. Also, the typical amount of protein in the ratio for making pure goat milk using the powder would be a bit much for one so small as a baby. So the formula isn’t some super-secret ingredients, but just ratios tweaked enough to be best for what a baby needs.

A week ago, I changed my last size 3 diaper. Ezekiel, at 7 months, is in the same size diaper as Phoebe, who will be 2 in August. Both of them are on track, and doing great! And that is a relief for this breastfeeding mama who was unable to breastfeed as long as expected.

The Cure for Cradle Cap

***Note: I just figured out how to upload pictures in my posts… Which I have been wanting to do before posting about this. So Sorry if it’s picture-heavy. And they’re not pretty photos either, so reader beware.***

My first 3 babies were (are) carbon copies of each other (aside from the obvious difference of the first being a boy and the second and third being girls). They nursed well, packed on the pounds in an exponential fashion, and they met milestones as expected, with zero hitches. My first baby was easy, my girls are slightly higher maintenance, but nothing too bad (yet), but my fourth, fifth, and sixth babies have thrown a few curveballs my way… Nothing major, I’d still say they were “easy,” but we have had a few hiccups that I simply did not have to deal with during my first three go-arounds.

Ezekiel (baby #6) is currently six months old, and finally recovering from cradle cap that has plagued him for the past 3 months.

It was terrible. A thick scale-like ‘cap’ covered his scalp. It started out patchy, but it quickly spread to cover the entire top of his head (oddly not the sides).

At first, I tried the “cure” that worked with my previous 5 babies… Baby oil rubbed in after a bath. One time of this procedure had always worked before, but not so with Zeke. 

I am slightly interested in using essential oils, so I asked a more experienced friend what she suggested. Lavender oil, practically a cure-all in the world of oils, is a tried-and-true cradle cap cure for others, so I mixed some in coconut oil and slathered that mixture on Zeke’s head with a soft-bristled toothbrush.

For 3 weeks, I applied it at least once (sometimes twice) and what you may expect to happen happened: his poor little head would bleed where the soft bristled brush had brushed away the scaley skin. (Very very slight bleeding, but still nothing a mother likes to see her baby go through, much less be the one to cause such a thing to happen.) Not only was the lavender oil NOT working, but he started to lose what little hair he had; the skin on his head was getting too thick for the hair to come through.

At his 5 month check-up, with no discernable difference in the apperance of his cradle cap, his doctor prescribed a steroid cream. In general, I am not a fan of medicine, my disdain stems from how people turn to it unnecessarily before trying simpler, natural, cures… but since my “natural” cures weren’t working, now was the time to go for stronger stuff. I started applying that every morning, and the lavender oil every evening.




Olivia, who is 4 (child #3) would constantly be grossed out by Zeke having “skin on his head” (if I may interpret for you, she disliked the skin that seemed to be flaking off his head… I think she realizes everyone has skin covering their skull). It didn’t seem to bother him any, although there occasionally were scratches on his scalp, so maybe it did itch a bit…? He didn’t complain, at any rate; he’s the strong silent type. 😉

After about a week of that, with still no relief from the cradle cap, I ditched the steroid (because why continue a medicine that clearly isn’t working?) and was ready to give up trying to cure it and hope he’d just grow out of it… But smart phones + boredom lead to random Google searches.

Finally! Trusty Google revealed the common cause of cradle cap: there is a build up of oil secreted in the hair follicles that were preventing the old skin cells from falling off. The cure was not what I expected: daily washing of the “hair” (which makes sense to me) followed by application of more oil (that seemed to me counter-intuitive, but who am I to question Google?). The washing would clear away the oil buildup, and the reapplication of oil would help prevent it from building up again… Or something. For fear of drying out his sensitive skin, I am not in the habit of daily bathing babies… One or two times a week is my standard, unless a diaper explosion or something else necessitates immediate bathing. But armed with baby lotion for his body and coconut oil/lavender oil for his head, I was willing to give it a try.

After two weeks of these daily baths, there is a discernable difference in what his head looks like. His hair is regrowing, and his scalp looks much healthier. I can’t imagine applying oil over longer hair (if he were older, as I read some cases with older toddlers), but at his age, this was just the treatment he needed! 

None of us are grossed out by his head anymore, the young kiddos can kiss his head without fear they’d catch whatever disease was on his head (because…kid-logic), his hair is regrowing soft and fuzzy, and he is still my happiest baby. 

But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. Matthew 10:30-31