Wednesday, April 4, 2012

First Trimester almost over??

So I'm expecting again! With my first baby I suffered hyperemesis terribly. The first trimester I went completely unmedicated, and oh, it seemed to go on forever! Such a difference this time, I still have it but I also
a. have a medication and treatment plan from the begining,
and b. know much better how to manage my diet for myself.
I'm just sick enough to not want to do much during the day, but well enough that I know I should be! My ability to eat is less, and my portions are tiny, but compared to my last pregnancy I feel amazing. That's why it's so strange to be 11 weeks already. Last pregnancy it dragged on and on, the first trimester felt like a lifetime. This time it's been so much more tollerable, the time seems to have flown by.

It's funny, what I have is still probably considered moderate to severe 'normal morning sickness', though it dosen't even rate on the HG scale. But I suppose it's all perspective right?

On the other hand, I AM having some awful hormone imbalances, quite severe ones with panic attacks and other things that have caused concerns for safety for myself and my daughter. So I've been spending a lot of time at my grandparents as Andrew just got a night shift job >_<! But we're hopeful, the signs and symptoms are pointing to this sorting itself out in the second trimester.

It's been a hectic few months, Andrew is trying to study and start his own business and all sorts of endeavours, we figure if he tries enough at once something has to come through right? :)

On a positive note, Arwen is 14 months, walking everywhere, has the personality (and the stubbornness!) of a 2 year old, and has no interest whatsoever in words, despite having the comprehension skills of a much older toddler! A walking contradiction just like her mother!

Speaking of which, someones woken up from her nap

Monday, November 28, 2011

Vision Forum?

I don't like shameless plugs, I don't like telling people to buy something unless I really know it's good and should be bought. So to be fair, I have never actually purchased from Vision forum, but I want to! There are a number of recourses there I would love to have in my home. I would love to own a number of their Christian Books and some of their toys look like a lot of fun! This post is to enter the competition currently running to win vision forum gift certificates (if you haven't heard of it, it's running on a few blogs, go read one of my favourites, Raising Olives, to find out about it.), so I thought I would post about a few of the items on my wishlist.

Large Family Logistics - I've been reading the blog for years, so I was very excited when I found out there was a book! This has all sorts of tips for managing a home and family when homeschooling, and the ideas are just as applicable to a small family as a large one

Jonathan Park Series - I've heard a lot of good things about these CDs, teaching science from a biblical point of view in an exciting way. They sound like a wonderful supplement or unit study base. As someone who's education was jumpy at best, I'm sure I could learn a thing or two from this!

The Biblical Theology of Miscarriage - As some of you saw in a recent post, we have just suffered a miscarriage. I have been told this CD is a must hear for grieving mothers. I can't find anywhere in Australia that stocks it.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Hard Truth

We will not be perfect parents. It's not something we want to hear but we will make mistakes with our children. And while we hope one day our children will, as the verse says, rise up and call us blessed, there will still be mistakes in there, things that could have been done differently.

Our own parents made mistakes. Some made more than others, but none of our parents were perfect, and neither are we. The only perfect parent is God. That's one reason why it's so important for our children to know Him, to have a relationship with their perfect Father in heaven, even more than their imperfect one on earth.

But our imperfections and our trials are what shape us. We often lose sight of that.

I look back on my childhood with fairly negative feelings. There were good points, but all in all, I generally have to hide or distort facts when I tell about myself as a child. This has been all too relevant as I have been responding with what I hope are encouraging ideas on Fruit in Season's 10 days of 'I wish I had known'. ( is the address, she has some great points and encouragment for homeschooling mums there). To make them encouraging I have had to leave bits out or even tell small white lies. The ideas are true and real but their sources are not always so, especially in relation to my mother. I hate that. I hate that I can't speak honestly about my childhood without bringing the mood down. I feel like I would be putting a bad face on homeschooling if I tell the truth. That I would discourage, rather than encourage. I feel like I am a bad result of homeschooling, though I known I would have been far worse in public school because of the severe bullying that happened.

But I am who I am today because of that childhood. I would be a very different person if they hadn't made mistakes. Now hopefully no one reading this will make mistakes in the magnitude of the ones my mother made, but you will make mistakes that will alter your childs future, and God will use them. It is through you making mistakes that God can recieve the glory. Through the unlikeliest of circumstances that God brings forth miracles, even small miracles.

Making mistakes with our children is not a good thing, but my point is, rather, that we will, no matter how hard we try, and that is when we see God's work in our children, he will use our weaknesses just as he uses our strengths. We need to accept that we are not perfect and ask him to show us His plan each day.

Take from this what you will, I'm not even sure I understand what I'm trying to say yet :) But God is trying to tell me something this week, whatever it is.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Summer is coming!

Ahh, summer in Queensland, Australia. People around here say it isn't really summer until the steering wheel is too hot to hold!

I was watching an american show recently. They were complaining terribly of the 'oppressive' heat and how horribly hot it was. Apparently that day it was so hot they decided to try and cook an egg on the sidewalk. And I'm sure, to them, it was very hot. But then they showed a picture of the thermometer, which read 37C. I smiled, that's an average summers day where I grew up. (it's a little cooler where I live now, but only by a couple of degrees)

But it spells the beginning of the christmas season. I always know it's time to start shopping for christmas presents when I get my first mangos of the year (which dosen't happen until the cheaper varieties come on sale!). How different it must be for the rest of the world, trying to shop in the freezing cold and snow! But as pretty as a 'white christmas' sounds, I can't imagine my christmas any other way but hot, humid, and spent mostly around the swimming pool.

One of my memories of christmas past was the fact it was usually the first time all year we ran the air conditioner. It was far too expensive to run our old, energy inefficient air con except on the hottest of days, which usually occured in january and feburary. But mum and dad would turn it on first thing christmas morning, and I remember the smell it had the same way others seem to remember the smell of the fire. Perhaps not as romantic or pretty, but memorable nontheless.

I didn't grow up in a christian family so I didn't have a lot of those christian traditions surrounding christmas, but I hope to create them.

I'm finishing up some canning and homemade goodies to give out, as well as the last few gifts. We actually have a lot of birthdays around this time of year, including my husbands brother who was born ON christmas day! I'm not sure I'd like that personally... but they always make sure to give him some special time, including opening his birthday presents seperately. There's also one of Andrews sisters, and one of his brothers, my sister, my grandmother, and technically my mother... all between mid-november and christmas. Busy time!

Arwen managed to get born into a quiet spot, no birthdays except for our best friend who actually shares the same birthday as her (I swear it wasn't intentional! Yes she was induced, but it was coincidence!)

I suppose I'm rambling now. Best go do something useful!

Monday, October 10, 2011


Miscarriage is something I always expected to happen to someone else. I knew it wasn't uncommon, my mother and my grandmother both had them. I guess I just didn't expect it this time. I was ready to be pregnant again. I am ready to be pregnant again.

But the Lord, in His wisdom, gave and then took away a baby in August.

At least I know the little one will be at the Lords throne, waiting for me. I'm sure my sister is taking care of her up there.

In the Lords timing, I hope to be blessed with another child, soon.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Journey Through "Morning Sickness"

I am preparing for the possibility of another little blessing in the not too distant future, and in preparing for that I need to deal with what was the biggest issue of my previous pregnancy, because the fear of it happening all over again is looming over me, and reassuring myself things will be different this time will hopefully help me. I'm scared but I know God can work miracles and I'm praying he will work one in me. I am sharing my story, not to whine and complain about how bad it was, but hopefully to make someone else not feel so alone, or to help someone else get the help they need. I've not gone into great detail with names and brands here, but if anyone is suffering and would like some more infomation feel free to comment and I'll email them.

I now know I suffered from a severe form of morning sickness, hyperemesis. At 6 weeks the nausea kicked in, bad. Relativly late onset for most HG women actually, but it made up for that by sticking around for the entire 9 months of pregnancy, which is what I dread the most. I think I could cope if it was only 2 or 3 months, but 8 months is a very long time to be that ill. I was also fortunate to be able to keep down fluids, but this also meant that the doctors refused to help me, claiming if it was more than just normal morning sickness I wouldn't be able to drink, and refusing to give me vitamins or anything, until I hit third trimester by which point I was self-medicating and had things under control. I was also not vomiting often, perhaps once a day, mostly because I didn't eat anything which would cause me to vomit, which was, well, everything! But I had constant unrelenting nausea that was so bad I was unable to stand, and often unable to sit.

I lost 15% of my body weight between weeks 6 and 16, at which point I was feeling faint whenever I stood up, and having dizzy spells regularly. This was completely unmedicated except for travel sickness bands which took the nausea from i-want-to-die, to i-feel-like-death. One morning I woke up and I had this strange feeling. I've always considered myself pretty in-tune with my body, and that morning I just felt like I had nothing left to give. I felt like some vital vitamin store was depleted or something, as it would be, really, going 3 months eating nothing but a couple of crackers and a piece of fruit each day, which is about all I could manage. I decided something needed to happen and went to the ER, where they basically told me to stop whining, that it was almost gone, and had trainee nurses stick an unneeded IV in my arm (I had one epic bruise from that, because she got it completely wrong, and punctured the vein like 3 times.)

After arguing they finally gave me something, Maxalon (Reglan I believe in the US), fed through the IV. When I recieved it I began panicing, I thought I was dying, and I very seriously contemplated ripping the IV out and simply running out of the hospital, I was hysterical. But I did not show the major side effect risk of maxalon, being muscle spasms, so they sent me home with the bottle of pills. I continued to have panic attacks and delusions, though they were less severe than the first time, and on the 3rd day I researched maxalon further, discovered my panic attacks and delusions were a side effect of the maxalon (confirmed by the fact it was much worse when given via IV as opposed to the pills) and the maxalon didn't help anyway, it stopped me throwing up, which wasn't much of an issue for me, but it made the nausea so much worse.

Of course, a 'rare few people' suffer from withdrawl from maxalon. And of course, my oversensitive body went right into that group. I ended up calling my MIL to come pick me up my first day off them because I was losing time and blanking out, and couldn't focus on anything, (not distracted non-focus, actually unable to look at anything and think about it for more than a couple of seconds). Due to the way I grew up, which I can't go into here, I had to learn to have a lot of control over my mind. I do not think idle thoughts, I simply can't. So being unable to focus, losing time, it scared the heck out of me. Needless to say my husband knows the medication and knows to check anything I'm being given if I'm not able to, and that maxalon must not be given, even as a 'just one dose' medication. I won't go through that again.

After that I was desperate, I felt an urgency inside me that I needed to do something. (something that didn't involve ginger!) so I bought some travel sickness pills. they worked! I mean I was still nauseous but I could eat small amounts and bland food, and I could stand and walk. They took it from HG to 'normal' morning sickness (normal 9 month morning sickness >_<) and I was so greatful. I never thought I'd be greatful to have normal morning sickness lol! As time passed on the nausea lessened but it never fully let up until after I gave birth. I found out after the birth these pills (which no doctor would approve of me taking for insurance reasons, however their only other option was zofran, far too expensive for me) are actually made up of components commonly used to treat HG and nausea in pregnancy in the US and Canada.

(just so no one thinks I took a random medication in pregnancy, I actually did a LOT of research and even went as far as to read and compare medical studies and read through various professional doctors. I'm very grateful that I was taught to comprehend those things! By the end of it I knew more about my medication than my doctors did.)

I am trying to convince myself it won't happen again. This time, I know more, I know the medications, I know the signs, I know what dosen't work, I know what helps. I feel safe taking certain medications in the first trimester, I can stop it getting worse at the start. And this time, I have a history, doctors and family will know it's not 'just morning sickness'. But I am still frightened. It seems silly, it's not even the worst thing to ever happen to me, and I've seen a number of women with HG who have suffered worse with it than me, but I still fear it.

So my plan of attack.

Find out all I can to prepare
Get house in order so that I don't need to worry about deep cleaning
Obtain various pills and treatments ahead of time
Eat more beans - just a theory that beans might help, I believe it may have even come from Kim at Life in a Shoe.

Positive pregnancy test
Prepare make ahead meals, begin asking friends and family to make an extra portion and send it over.

As soon as it begins
Begin wearing sea sickness bands
Try 'treatment' (I am going to experiment with a controversial 'medicine' that I believe is safe, but don't wish to share the details of here. Again, if you want more info, comment and I'll email you.)
If treatment dosen't work begin travel sickness pills immediately (again, comment for ingredients)
Arrange family to come over and help out regularly
Inform doctors of situation and past history with it, insist on talking about options that are not zofran or maxalon,
Begin taking anti-natal vitamins and iron supplements at night before bed to minimize sick feeling from iron.
GET OUIT OF THE HOUSE, it's never as bad if you're out and about.

Hopefully this will get me to a stage where it is simply 'normal' morning sickness, AND, the theory is, treating early lightens the severity and shortens the timespan, perhaps even clearing it up before baby is born (I found last pregnancy I was able to half my medication in the final month, I don't know if it was my body or the meds.)

That is all I can do, and I pray God will help me, give me the strength to care for myself and Arwen, and perhaps even prevent another HG pregnancy!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Wearing Skirts?

I wear skirts and dresses every day and have done for almost 2 years. I don't look down on women wearing pants, I actually only let go of my remaining pants and jeans last month, after finally being convinced that, if I hadn't needed them for over a year, I won't need them again. Funny that, how I felt I 'needed' this item of clothing. So I understand it's a personal decision and certainly not a salvation issue. Nonetheless, I thought I would share some of my experience on the matter as I see a growing number of women wishing to do the same, and some inspiration as to why.

Yesterday, while ice-skating at a local rink (yes, in a skirt) , a girl around 12 years old came up to me and complemented me on my outfit. Now, my outfit was whatever I could find as I was rushing out the door with a baby that hadn't co-operated all morning. Not the prettiest thing I've ever worn. But it was the skirt that stood out to her, and her friends who I caught watching me later in the afternoon. I now regret not taking those extra 5 minutes to put on something nicer. I made an impression on these girls, an impression of femininity. In my 3 years of skating at this rink I have never once seen another woman in a skirt at or below knee level (there have been girls in short skirts and tights, slightly different). We make an impression on people wherever we go, whatever we are doing people are watching just as we are forming an impression of the people we meet, the lady behind the checkout, the woman sitting at the table next to us, we always make an impression on someone. What impression do you want to make? Clothes play a big part in this impression.

Now the practicalities. I have done a lot of things in skirts, and modestly. I have
Ice skated
Ridden a horse
Ridden on rides at a theme park with those stupid between the leg harneses
Camped by the creek
Done heavy work in families yards
Bike riding

With a bit of luck I will soon be adding rock-climbing to this list. Many of these are traditionally 'pants' activities, but why? All of these can be done safely, comfortably and modestly in a skirt WITH THE RIGHT CARE TAKEN. I emphasis this point because in some of these cases, it's not a matter of modesty or practicality, it's a simple matter of safety. If you don't think about the type of skirt you're wearing, it can be downright dangerous to do some of this in it.

So below are the major objections to skirts in various activities, and my best tips for them!

Lets deal with this one up front, if you go bike riding in a loose skirt it will get caught and you will crash. If you go skating in a tight skirt, you will not be able to separate your legs far enough and you will fall. Think about the situation. I had a dangerous situation when I went swimming in the surf in a skirt for the first time. I didn't have a modest swimsuit, they are much harder to find in Australia and were too expensive for me at the time. So I wore a slightly below the knees, light and quick-drying pleated skirt over a maternity one-piece. I got in the surf, and my skirt clung and begun to get tangled. It also did not give me anywhere near as wide a leg span as I had expected. Thank God I was a local who knew how to be safe in the surf, knew about rips and whether the tide was coming in or out, etc. If I had been a tourist who had never been in surf before, I could very easily have been pulled out and unable to get back in what turned out to be a very constricting skirt. Modesty or not, I will not wear a longer than thigh length skirt in the surf until I can be sure the same won't happen again (hoping the swimdress I am ordering shortly will be suitable for surf!) So please think about the safest type of skirt for the activity you are doing, and then build the rest from that.

 The first thing I would like to say on this topic is, pants are not immodest, pants are unfeminine. There is a difference. checkered material is generally considered less feminine than floral prints, does that mean florals are more modest than checks? Absolutely not, and in the same way, pants are less feminine than skirts, but not necessarily less modest, and a skirt can be very immodest also in certain styles. And that leads me onto my next point, being, layers are your best friend in situations like these. When I went on the rides at the theme park I knew the harness would come between my legs, so I wore a pair of pants specifically set aside for layering underneath. It didn't matter if I looked feminine while on the ride, it DID matter that the people lining up couldn't see my underwear! With a bit of maneuvering I did manage to get my skirt covering my thighs most of the time, but for the occasional spot where they were visible, pants covered my modesty and, frankly, at those times no one noticed whether I looked feminine or not! Upon getting off the ride I smoothed my skirt down and looked feminine once again. Keep a couple of pairs of tights or plain pants for this purpose. Maybe if you're wearing something victorian in nature you'd even like to try out a pair of bloomers! In other instances your legs may be showing more than you'd like, but not all the way up. In this case, I LOVE thigh high socks, which reach a couple inches above the knee. I think they look great in the right outfit personally.

In winter I have people say 'it's too cold for a skirt!', In summer 'it's too hot for a skirt!'. The preferred dress is jeans or shorts in these instances. So when is it ok to wear a skirt then? I can't speak for very cold temps, I have never even seen snow, so I give no advice to those living in those climates, maybe you really have to wear something other than a skirt?. But I can speak for the Australian winter, which feels pretty cold to me! and the Australian summer, which can be sweltering, especially in a country where air conditioning is not considered a necessity.

To keep warm there are thigh highs and pants, layers are great. But I rarely ever use them, because I consider the material and style of my skirts. Some of the skirts in my wardrobe are paper thin, others are denim or material that's very thick. Some of my skirts have underskirting with them, others do not. Some of the skirts allow air to blow through the material to a point, others block it out completely. And then we have A-line skirts and gathered skirts, skirts that come straight down and skirts that poof out with lots of material. I have skirts that I can wear stand-alone in any temperature my climate gives. Wear thin, straight skirts in the heat of summer, and thick, gathered skirts in the winter.

PRACTICALITY much less of an issue than people think. Really, unless you wear short skirts or tight skirts, kneeling down, climbing up, and moving about are not a problem most of the time. Our grandmothers used to only wear skirts, and many of them were much more active than we are today in out age of the internet.

I'm yet to find an activity I can't do in a skirt. With a little forethought and consideration, you can do anything in a skirt just as well as you would in pants.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Taking time for the little things.

I'm currently typing this one handed as my 6 month old sleeps on my lap, curled into the crook of my arm. This is the same 6 month old who, despite rubbing her eyes in tiredness all day, has refused to sleep for more than half an hour at a time, but has now decided mummys lap is a good spot to snuggle in for, what has so far been, an hour and a half nap. I have things I need to do (namely all the things I couldn't get done because of her lack of sleep and refusal to be put down all day). The kitchen needs cleaning, the dress I am making is half finished with the makings of it scattered around the living room, and dinner is yet to be begun.

But she looks so sweet, so innocent, so lovely lying against my chest like this. How much longer will this little girl sleep upon her mothers lap? The kitchen can wait, the living room can wait, and even dinner can wait a little longer. My baby wants her mummy, and I want to savour these moments with her. She grows up too fast to wait for 'later', to be put aside for housework and chores.

Does your 'baby' want you today?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Housekeeping Help for the Easily Overwhelmed and Obsessive

I get overwhelmed. Easily. And when I get overwhelmed I lose all motivation to do anything. When faced with my house in a mess that seems too big for me to fix by myself in a matter of hours, I simply don't do anything because I think that I *know* I can't do it. And then, when the house is made spotless by a day of hard work that someone else has motivated me to do, I then feel like I have to keep the house perfect, and I have to deep clean it every day. I can work on the house for half the day, but if I go to bed that night and see clothes on the floor, or a dirty mark on the bathroom sink, I feel as if I have failed. Some might say I am OCD, and they could well be right. It's this feeling that stops me from doing anything, because it no longer seems worth it, and leads to my home becoming a wreck once again.

Does the first point, becoming overwhelmed, sound like you, or perhaps, more likely, your children? Children are more easily overwhelmed than adults, and I can fully appreciate why! Our primary response to being overwhelmed, generally, is to simply shut down and not know where to start. For the children that suffer worst from being overwhelmed, this often leads to lessons on lack of diligence, or obedience, etc. Not to say that those are not justified responses, regardless of the excuse the child did not obey, but sometimes we set our children up for failure in this area, just as I can make no excuse for failing in my housekeeping to this point, though I too feel 'set for failure', without the right tools or resources to cope with the task. Does the second point, obsessing and feeling failure when one element is not finished, sound like you or your child?

Recently I've NEEDED to get on top of it all, my husband is working again, and we are open to being blessed with a second child in the near future, which could mean a terrible few months of hyperemesis. Even though I am preparing and have options to make the hyperemesis livable (I am fortunate enough to have responded well to medication last pregnancy) I will still be in 'bare minimum' mode for certain periods. And after many tears and research, this is what I've come up with. I hope it can help you also.

Lets start with the first point, the point most likely to affect your children rather than yourself. Being overwhelmed. I see my house after a busy weekend. Clothes, paper, dirty dishes, rubbish, toys, lying everywhere. I see chairs out of place, bean bags not put back, clutter on benches. A few weeks ago I would have simply sat in front of the computer, wasting the day away, maybe motivating myself to pick up one or two rooms, but feeling a failure and asking for help when hubby comes home. Why? Because it seems like an impossible task. Clean the house. Where do I begin? With the rubbish in the loungeroom or the dirty dishes in the dining room or the clothes in the bedroom? It's too big, and I feel defeated.

But today was different, I broke it down into bite size chunks.

Neaten the loungeroom
Neaten the dining room
Do the dishes
Hang out the washing

When I finish each one, I have accomplished something. There is no more or less work, but lets say I don't manage to get the washing hung out today. If my task is 'clean the house', then I have failed. If my task is the above list, I achieved 3 things! It also allows me to break things into segments during the day, I can sit here relaxed writing this because I know I only have 5 items left on my list of about 20 things to do today, and I know I can finish those 5 items before the end of the day, instead of seeing the rest of one big task looming ahead of me and never really finishing it for the day. Another thing is remembering. It's easy to get sidetracked, but having this list and breaking it up I can remember what I have and haven't done. For example, instead of writing 'Do a load of washing' I have

Put on load of washing
Hang out load of washing
Bring in load of washing
Put away load of washing.

This means that, if the first 3 are ticked off, I can still look at my list, see I've accomplished some of the task, giving me motivation, and remember that I still have a basket of washing sitting on my bed.

Lets translate this into something more applicable to your child. You tell your child to go clean the playroom. He walks in and sees a huge mess, and doesn't know where to begin. You can't always give him a checklist of what to do broken up. But you CAN teach him to take bite sized chunks. Assess the room. There are blocks on the floor, toy cars on the floor, a blanket scrunched up in the corner, and assorted items that don't belong in the room. Teach him to recognise those tasks, and then set about finishing one task at a time. Eventually he will learn to break it up himself.

Now the second point, obsessing, feeling like you need to do everything everyday. Without a to-do list, I feel like I need to do everything. That isn't possible, or needed, and feeling like you have failed everyday because you didn't do everything is a problem. And then I say 'ok, I only need to vacuum once a week', but then that once a week never comes, and I never vacuum. And this is where my to-do list comes in. It's what I need to do each day. I need to do no less, but more importantly for me, I need to do no more. When I have finished it for the day, I feel as if I have finished my work for the day, I am done, and there is a sense of closure. It doesn't matter that I didn't vacuum today because I know I will do it thursday and that's when it needs to be done. Nevermind that there is still clothes in the washing basket, I did my load of washing for the day, and those clothes will be done tomorrow. It gives me a much needed goal, a finish line, and allows me to relax without worrying about a bunch of things that I think need to be done, that in fact do not. I can go to bed at night and not be bothered by the mark on the bathroom sink because that mark wasn't part of my jobs for the day, and I'm ok with that.

It's all a mindset, but this is what has helped me with my problems. If you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments!

And finally, here is my current 'checklist' that I try to follow each day, as an example. For the sake of this list, 'neaten' means make presentable, put away objects not meant to be there, etc, meant to be able to be done in a couple of minutes. 'clean' means organizing the storage spots, dusting, clearing out that corner that everything seems to collect in etc. See the difference? Also, a number of the daily chores are accomplished during my '20 minute tidy' where I set music to play for 20 mins and get as much done as I can in that time. It helps motivate me to knock a great deal off my list in a short amount of time and helps me keep focused for 20 minutes instead of doing one room then wandering off.

Daily Tasks
Neaten Lounge Room
Neaten Dining Room
Neaten Kitchen
Neaten Study
Neaten Baby Bedroom
Neaten Mummy Daddy Bedroom
Wash Breakfast Dishes
Wash Lunch Dishes
Wash Dinner Dishes
Put on Washing
Hang Up Washing
Take Down Previous Washing
Put Away Previous Washing
Unpack 1 Box
Take Out Bin

Weekly Tasks
Clean Toilet
Clean Lounge Room
Clean Laundry
Clean Computer Room
Christmas Project
Grandma Day, no extra tasks
Or get a head start on Monthly tasks
Clean Out Fridge
Monthly Tasks

Monthly Tasks
Change Bed Sheets
Clean Bathroom
Clean Linen Closet
Big Project?
Clean Out Freezer
Clean Baby Room
Clean Craft Room
Clean Bedroom

Monday, February 7, 2011

Baby Arwen has arrived! Reflections on my quiet morning with God and my baby

I have so many things to reflect upon in the events of the last 3 weeks, and I will probably spread it over a few posts. 3 weeks ago we recieved the diagnosis of Cholestasis in Pregnancy, and faced the reality that my baby girl would be delivered a month before we expected her arrival, and my plans for a natural water birth in the birth center would be switched for an induction and the mainstream ward. As it turns out, God watched over us in this situation, and the induced birth went so much better than anyone ever imagined, with an outcome even the most encouraging of midwives didn't consider possible for my situation. But that's a story for another day.

Tuesday 1st of Feb at 6pm my darling Arwen Hope was born. Estimated at just 37 weeks 2 days (though, we believe now it was probably a bit further on than that) she came into the world as perfect as any newborn can ever be in our fallen world.

It has been hard. Bear wirh me, as this post does become positive. More than hard, my baby never took to the breast as she should have, and we didn't realise until Friday what had happened, because as a new mother I didn't realise the small amount of breastfeeding she was doing was nowhere near enough. We went from days of increasingly hysterical crying which we believed was gas, and now makes me cry to think about her desperate hunger, to spending the weekend forcing her to wake up to feed on a combination of expressed breast milk and formula. My milk is not co-operating with the expressing, and I spent the weekend expressing every 90 minutes, which, when it's a 30 minute process from start to finish, was completely emotionally and physically consuming, made worse by the fact even with that I could not produce even half of the amount she needed to be fed (I think it's a letdown issue at this point, we return to the hospital today to attempt to figure out what's going wrong now that baby is rehydrated and contented, I have stopped such regular expression as I couldn't handle it, but the amount recieved each expression is the same 10 or 15mL at 4 hour intervals that it was at 90 minute ones). This whole process becomes all the more daunting through the fog of hormones that course through every woman in the first weeks after birth.

It's so tempting at times, when the hormones spike especially, to give up. Thoughts run through my mind that I am a horrible mother, what good mother can let her newborn starve without realizing, what good mother can't get her breasts to produce any milk, as if I didn't already have enough things 'broken' within my body. This weekend my husband had to feed our beautiful girl while I sat and watched, pumping at my already aching breasts for what I saw as nothing. The fact he was feeding her and not me broke me down. Friday and early in the weekend I couldn't even hold her, as the smell of my milk threw her into a fuss, and I felt so useless as a mother. I was frightened to become attached to her, I couldn't explain why but I called her 'the baby' instead of her name, Arwen, because of fear.

But God has given me peace, He has given me the strength to do this, in body and mind. I am so blessed to have the husband I do, who has been endlessly patient with me, and understanding of my emotions. He took so little sleep in the first few days that he became delusional, just to try and calm our screaming infant and allow me a little rest, as I had not fared much better myself. He has been strong for me where I can't handle it anymore, and he has taken on so much more responsibility than most men would ever consider doing, because on top of the regular challenges new parents face, he also has to help cater to my visual impairment, which often involves learning a process fully himself before trying to show it to me in a way I can manage (a particular challenge with bottle feeding, which I have only mastered this morning.) This man was created to be with me, as I was him, and God made him in a way to suit that. I have never understood that clearer than I have the past few weeks, as I see all he is doing to support and help me.

Last night my husband desperately needed sleep, real sleep, as even though he has been catching up it has been in two hour blocks, which his body has never coped well with. So I told him to sleep and remained in the lounge room with Arwen resting in her basinette. In this situation, in the quiet of the early morning, God has really spoken to me and used this time. I have only slept two hours myself, but my body feels good, I feel strong and capable despite it, in fact I have to force myself to stay off my feet, as I know rushing about doing a lot on my feet would be bad right now, but I am not suffering from the lack of sleep, and my body is quite happy to settle for a sleep 2 hours, wake one hour, repeat, routine.

(I can feel my breasts letting down right now, but I know, from having done it multiple times in the past two days, that by the time I get up, grab the pump, take my top and bra off and begin expressing, they will refuse again, which is almost more frustrating than not being able to express to begin with)

My relationship with God has suffered in certain areas over the past year. My understanding of God in a theological way has increased dramatically, but the complete reliamce on God, the sence of wonder and awe about His power and creation, the amazement at how He has blessed me, that spiritual, emotional, instinctual aspect has faded as I have become more consumed in the world and the physical things. These points, which are not just important as a christian but also such vital points to my personal testimony, are things I must never lose sight of. I don't want to lose the feeling of amazement when I see the beauty in nature, because I remember vividly the first time I felt that amazement and what a life changing event brought it on. I have always been strongly spiritual in my faith, but the busyness of life has a way of interupting that.

This morning, as I pumped milk at 6am and watched my 6 day old baby sleep, I sang worship songs. I then got up and began playing some through the stereo (Arwen will sleep through anything until she is hungry it appears. She can be passed from person to person without stirring, or sleep through a loud crash, but will wake hourly for food if she wants it!). This is something I once did on a weekly basis, but have not done in far too long. It was so refreshing to just sit and focus on God. I haven't done that in so long. Sure I have prayed, or sat in church, or worked through a bible study, but it has been a long time since I just sat and worshipped Him and opened up that spiritual side. The stresses may not have passed but I am peaceful about them now. I stood by Arwen's basinette and sang worship songs with her, and I saw that face and love washed over me. She's not just a baby anymore, she's my daughter, and that's the first time I've been able to say that. She's my daughter and she is beautiful, and I feel my heart swell up as she looks around, as she sleeps, as she hiccups (which she seems to do a lot!). I know day to day life will mean I will not always swell with joy whenever I see her, but in those quiet moments I will feel this feeling again, and I hope that will last as she grows from a baby, to a child, to a young woman and a mother herself. I am grateful to be able to appriciate these moments, I can't believe it's been a week already, and she will change so fast.

It's been a long time since I've spent the morning with my Lord, but it won't be a long time before it happens again. I am not the 'devotional and quiet time for half an hour before breakfast every morning' sort of person, I'm a 'peaceful afternoon of thinking and praying while worshipping and doing some light work' sort of person, I used to spend sunday afternoons doing a project or job that didn't require too much thinking, and just allow my mind to wander to the things of God as I sang and worked. But so many people tell me I need God every day and I have felt, how can I spend time with God if I don't do devotionals everyday like all the other women I read about and see. But I realise now, it's walking in it that's important, it's seeing it, it's feeling God's presence even after the devotional is finished. It's not relying on God when reading the bible that's hard, it's relying on God while scrubbing the bathroom, or while holding a screaming baby, that's hard. As for my focused time on God, whether it's half an hour each day or a restful sunday afternoon, does God really prefer one over the other? Or is he just happy we have taken the time to be with him, however that fits us personally.

I'm not sure how much sence this post makes, it's a bit rambling, and whether I feel it or not I am running off very little sleep, but it makes sence to me right now. At least it will help me remember these days, which I suspect will pass all too quickly.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Emergency Preparedness

One of the biggest problems in the flooding right now is simply how unprepared people are. There is panic for those who are isolated because no one keeps a pantry anymore and people are running out of food after only a couple of days. In the places that have not been cut off yet there is panic buying, and supermarkets are finding themselves with, quite literally, nothing on their shelves. There are huge lineups for sandbags, and families left with absolutely nothing but the shirts on their backs. There are diabetics coming to evacuation centers without insulin! It dosen't take much work or time to become prepared but it may make a huge difference if disaster ever struck. We can't plan for everything, nothing could have helped the people of toowomba when 5 inches of rain was dumped on them within a half hour period without warning. But planning ahead could have lessened the blow to the now isolated residents of caboulture, and they could have helped the evacuated townsfolk of ipswich. Forward planning would have prevented the mass panic we saw in the city yesterday.

I was fortunate to be raised in an old fashioned family, where having a stocked pantry was a must, and having emergency supplies was expected. I never realised how uncommon that attitude is these days, or how much people seem to rely on convenience. I couldn't comprehend only having enough food for one or two days at any given point in time. Some of these families don't even appear to own a torch! The fact food needs to be flown in only 24 hours after the towns have been cut off astounds me.

Having said that, I've discovered a lot of people genuinly don't know how to prepare. They don't know what they might need or what they should store. This is evident as, in their panic to store food, people are buying things like fresh herbs, or microwave meals, or fresh meat, apparently with the hope that their power stays on (meat is not a bad thing to store in case of emergency, but when you are storing as a reaction, rather than a prevention, and you know the emergency you are reacting to will probably mean your power being cut within the next 24 hours, it's rather pointless)

Andrew and I have been discussing lately the importance of preparing and what steps people can take.
Obviously not everything will work for everyone, for us right now we can't do everything on the list because we are living in a very small unit as caretakers to a commercial property. But it is a step in the right direction.

Once-off preperations
  • Keep all your most important documents in one place. - With the technology we have today a lot of paperwork is redundant, but there are some items that are very important. Birth Certificates, Marriage Certificates, adoption/fostering papers, written wills, important medical reports/perscriptions, important bank details/stock certificates, and anything else you might need in an emergency or would take a lot of time to replace should be in one folder, hopefully with a waterproof cover or a plastic sleeve, and kept in an easily accessable but secure place. Make sure adults are aware of where these are, and that papers are returned if taken out. Try to make the place they are stored as accessable as possible, so that in the case of a fire you may have the possibility of grabbing them as you run out the door (do not go BACK for them, nothing is that important in the case of a house fire, but if they are in the drawer beside the front door, and the path to leave out the front door is clear, it should only take a matter of 5 seconds to open the drawer, pick it up, and go. Make sure you don't have to search through anything to find it.)
  • Keep some cash on you - Bank cards are great, right up until the power goes out, or your bank decides to have issues at just the wrong time. We experienced this first hand yesterday, as the card to the only account with money on it stopped working, and we were unable to get to a bank branch to make a withdrawl. Being stranded in the city would have been bad enough, being stranded with a total of $1.65 accessable to us would have been far worse. I used to be very prudent about keeping a $20 or $50 note in my purse in a special pocket for emergencies, but had become lax over the years. I will begin doing it again now! You should also keep some emergency money in the house. This we had actually done, but we were caught without warning. You should always try and keep some savings on hand 'just in case', even just a couple hundred dollars will help should the worst ever happen. Under the matress, in a cookie jar on the top shelf, in an old jewelery box, whatever.
  • Have torches, batteries, a battery operated radio, rope, and depending on your area perhaps a cheap blow up raft or canoe/dingy, and make sure they work!
  Ongoing Preperations
  • Keep a First Aid kit in your house, and in your car - A few band-aids and some cream do not constitute a first aid kit. You don't need to go overboard, but keep things like a few gauze bandages, wound dressings, medical tape, safety pins, alcohol swabs, antiseptic cream, thermometer, tweezers, etc, as well as over the counter painkillers, and any other regularly used over the counter medications, all in one place. Keep it up to date and stocked.
  • Medications - Obviously stockpiling medication is a big no-no for many reasons, but that dosen't mean you should never have any on hand. If you're on a regular perscription, don't wait until the last dose to go buy the next box, try to keep a week, or at least a few days supply on hand if possible. If you're on insulin keep an emergency supply. If you take an over the counter medication regularly, keep a box spare. I'm not talking about hoarding antibiotics here, just ensure if you have an ongoing medical problem that you don't find yourself taking the last pill and unable to obtain any more. If you have warning of the possibility of becoming isolated, try to arrange to see your doctor for an extra perscription.
  • Keep Food! - Becoming isolated with no access to food is a scary prospect, and households that only keep a couple days supply are taking a great risk. It dosen't have to be expensive, or take a lot of room. At the moment I only have my husband and I to worry about. I always keep a few packages of meat and a bag or two of frozen veggies on hand. I also keep a couple packages of pasta/rice in the pantry. A loaf of bread in the freezer, some jars of simple pasta sauces or stir through sauces, and a few potatoes and onions can always be found in our home. Also remember the possibility of losing power, I keep a few tins of baked beans, ready to eat soups, canned fruit, muesli bars, oats and cerials, and long-life orange juice/milk. It's not as healthy as we would usually eat, the meals mightn't be the nicest ones ever, but they would be food. Right now the two of us could survive a month or so with power, or a couple of weeks without it, without too much trouble. It could last longer than that if it had to, depending on the circumstance.
  • Keep Water - One of the major issues right now is a lack of clean drinking water. Those who have power are boiling it, but those without power or those not connected to the main water supply because they use tanks are in a bit of a pickle. Slabs of water bottles can be bought relativly cheap at the shops, or a large container could be used to store tap water, but do keep some on hand somewhere.
  • Know where your most treasured belongings are - One of the things that keeps coming up is heartache over losing family photos. Things have changed in todays world of digital storage, but keep those old photo albums easily accessable and TOGETHER on a bookshelf, so that if there is a need to evacuate and you have more than two minutes to do so, you can race in, grab them out without looking through a pile of 100 books to find them, and race out again. I would also encourage people to keep a keepsake box so all those important little somethings are in one place. You cannot take your computer with you, but hard drives are not hard to remove if you are in a non-emergency evacuation situation, so have a little time to spare. Find out how to do it, or better yet, use one of the new online backup services to put the most important documents on.
  • Keep a backup of fuel - Most of the time individuals can store a limited amount of petrol or gas in containers in their sheds. We are about to have a serious fuel shortage here because of people filling their tanks up fully at the last minute, even having just a few liters/gallons on hand can make a difference
  • Teach your children how to deal with emergencies - If there was a flood or bushfire within view, do your younger children know to come to you and listen, that it is not the time to misbehave? Or are they more likely to go outside to see the fire coming because it's such an amazing sight? Far too many of the missing persons in Queensland right now are children who went outside and got swept away in the waters, or wern't being closely watched. If you tell your older children that the family is evacuating, do they know what to grab, or would they panic and find their iphone and favourite book because they are too paniced to think straight? If you were seperated in the chaos, do your children know where they can/should go and who to trust, or would they run down the street yelling out your name in a panic There is no need to make a child paranoid, but children aren't always good at being rational in emergency circumstances, and just like fire drills, if they know what to do it means they don't need to nececarily think straight, it will hopefully just be a default reaction. Preperation also biulds confidence, which will help to stop them from panicing.
  • Remember preventative measures - Not every disaster calls for evacuation. Towels and Sandbags can help with minor flooding, as can moving items to the second floor of a two storey home or digging out a drainage channel (please don't dig your drain so it runs into your neighbours house! This happened to a friend of mine who was a pensioner, and he lost far more than he should have, plus the house was unlivable for a time. The position of the house meant it would not have flooded except for the drain dug by the neighbour). Running the hose around your home may be all that's needed to protect you from a small bushfire in a rural area. I don't know much about snow but I suppose there must be ways to prepare for all these blizzards in America right now. During storm season secure your outdoor belongings, keep some old blankets by the place you park your car or in the shed so if you see that telltale green tint of hail clouds you can quickly cover the windscreens before it hits.

At-the-time precautions

Sometimes the worst really does happen, and it's better to be safe than sorry. If you find yourself in a flood or bushfire affected area, don't wait for the emergency services to tell you to evacuate before you get things together. If there is any chance of the emergency hitting your family, do something. Backpacks are a great thing to keep on hand. They needn't be fancy, the ones on $5 clearance after school goes back will work fine for this purpose. Hand held bags are heavy and need to be lugged around, they are a pain and do not make for an easy and quick exit, especially for children. Packing up shopping bags is just dangerous. But backpacks are much easier to slip on and go, and less likely to get too heavy, or get in the way, or get dropped or slow you down. As soon as an emergency begins threatening your area pack these bags with some basic clothing, including warm clothes, and blankets, plus a little food and the paperwork/keepsakes/torches/first aid kits/medications etc we have been talking about, none of these items should be large. If it is a fire risk and you'll be able to drive, then just pack the car. It's easy enough to take it all inside should it not be needed, then it is to grab it on the way out the door.

If you have no time, it's happened suddenly or overnight and you need to go quickly, you should be organized enough to be able to grab what you can COMFORTABLY AND SAFELY carry out the door. Depending on the ages of your children, they may be able to quickly pull out a set of clothes, a jacket, and a blanket each on their way out the door. Even in this emergency situation where you have little time, unless the house is actually on fire make sure you pick up your document folder and any current medications, as there is no garuntee you'll be able to get medication away from home, and while for some people this isn't a big deal, for others it may be life threatening. Nobody who has warning of an impending disaster should show up at a shelter with nothing, the limited resources available need to be reserved for those who really didn't have warning or time.

I hope this might be able to help some people. Of course like anything this checklist will vary from family to family and from area to area. There is no need for me to ever prepare for snow, but there is basically no need for my friends in central Australia to ever prepare for flooding. My town becoming isolated would be a very different situation to my grandmothers town becoming isolated. But just a few inexpensive steps could make a huge difference should they ever need to be used.

Flooding and my Emergency Survival List.

While no one really reads this blog yet, I am going to type an account of the flooding so I have something to link worried family and friends to.

Queensland, Australia, is going through it's worst flooding since 1974 right now. I'm told news coverage is now international, and I wish I could say it was being over-dramatic like usual, but unfortunately this time it is not. My husband and I found ourselves caught yesterday, as the inner city was officially evacuated yesterday afternoon. This is a major event. To understand the severity you have to realise that Australia is sparsely populated. There are a lot of towns around, but only a handful of true 'cities', Brisbane being the 3rd largest. Despite having a river run right through the middle of it, Brisbane was thought to be near floodproof after the 1974 floods caused council to biuld a very big dam as a buffer. That dam is now overfilled to the point that they have no choice but to release water. Even this wouldn't be such a big deal, except that the massive amount of water that has fallen further north is flowing into Brisbane at the same time. Up north they had what can only really be described as an inland tsunami, as a wall of water 2 meters high hit the township of Toowomba without warning. The flood affected areas are reported to be larger than the state of Texas (You Americans really like comparing things to Texas don't you?) 

It was amazing to see the river break it's banks, and the city evacuate yesterday, so many people! We were at the hospital due to pregnancy complications, and saw doctors and nurses packing up and rushing home to families before they were flooded in. Only a core staff remains there, and the families from the homes nearby have been sent to the emergency shelter. We are very thankful to the Lord that we were able to be seen yesterday, and got home before we were completely cut off. We're now on our own and praying the Lord watches over us, that nothing gets worse in the pregnancy until the roads reopen. We are on high ground, and even had sun today, but we are completely cut off from all family right now, made worse by the fact that at least two of those households are flooded in because of water along their own driveways (rural towns, these driveways are a few hundred yards each)

They have stopped comparing it to the 1974 floods now, and have instead begun comparing it to the 1890's flooding, an event we do not even have living memory of anymore.

But we are safe, and very fortunate as it turns out. Even though the local river has also burst it's banks, it would take a lot more water to make it to us personally, though some friends are begining to get antsy as the water creeps nearer. Prayer for the families of those who have already lost their lives in the floodwater, especially the children, would be much appriciated by all. Also, prayers for the many people still missing, and the emergency services risking their lives to find stranded survivors, especially up north, where the worst of the devestation remains.