Thursday, February 15, 2018

One month old (and giveaway winner announced)

Baby Peter is one month old today. He is a very mellow, easy baby, and already on a very predictable eating/sleeping/awake pattern. One of his nap times coincides with that of the other little kids, which is very considerate and sweet of him. :) His favorite sibling so far seems to be Becca - she can keep him happy when nobody else can on those occasions when I am tied up and cannot tend to him right away.

Peter was born at 8 lbs 1 oz. At his lowest, he got down to 7 lbs 5.5 oz, which was still above the acceptable threshold of 10% of body weight lost in breastfed newborns. He weighed in at 9 lbs 1 oz yesterday, which is an excellent rate of weight gain. My milk supply with him is really good, thanks to him not having a tongue tie like most his siblings had.

Peter and I were off to a bit of a rough start after his easy birth. When Peter was just one week old, he caught the cold that had been going around the family. My husband had it right around the time Peter was born, then my mother-in-law, Sue (who had come out to help after the birth) caught it and she had to go home after just a couple of days here. Peter and several of the younger kids got it next. The kids all had it pretty mild, but for Peter even a slightly stuffy nose made nursing almost impossible, especially since he was still so little and had not yet had enough time to develop a good latch. Being sick, he was also not very interested in eating, and tired to boot.

We consulted with his pediatrician, my midwife, as well as a lactation consultant. For an entire week, I pumped and finger-fed him. The finger-feeding was to help him develop a good latch, but it took him about an hour to eat the 1.5 to 2 ounces he was to eat every three hours. I pretty much spent that entire second week of his life pumping and fingerfeeding around the clock. I did give him a couple of bottles of pumped milk every day, too, just to make it easier on us both. 

In his third week, with his nose less stuffy and his latch getting better, I was able to transition from finger/bottle feeding to nursing him with a nipple shield, which helped him get a better latch. And not a minute too soon, since my husband and Isaac were going on a missions trip that week. They had booked their tickets long before Peter was born, when we were planning on Sue being here to help me. Even though she had to go home because she got sick and didn't want to spread it to the kids, I did not want the guys to miss out on their trip. Isaac had used his own, hard-earned money to go on this trip - no way was I going to mess it up for him so I could have more help from my husband at home. With the help of the other kids, I knew we'd muddle through somehow - and we did. It really helps that Solomon has a license now.

Starting last week, Peter was all better, had a great latch, and rejected the nipple shield. He has been nursing exclusively for the last week. SO much faster and easier!!! He was doing so well I was able to attend a 2-day seminar earlier this week that I had signed up for months ago, that I had all but given up on attending when he was sick having trouble eating. It all went very well as he pretty much slept through the whole thing. Thankfully for my husband, his mom was back in town and helping him with the other nine kids at home. 

At the same time as Peter was sick with the cold, I myself had a minor though painful afterbirth complication from a ruptured blood vessel on my perineum. It probably ruptured during birth from the strenuous pushing because Peter was so high up for so long. By 4 or 5 days postpartum, my perineum started to feel sore. The swelling from the ruptured vein continued to get larger and more painful. Right around the time Peter caught the cold, I had to go to the OB for multiple visits to diagnose, treat, and follow up on the problem. When the doctor lanced the large hematoma and started cleaning out the mass of old, coagulated blood, two veins going into that area started bleeding considerably, requiring some time and effort on her part to stop the stubborn bleeding. I was numb while she did all this, but the next few days felt like I had a painful episiotomy. This while I was sitting down pretty much 24/7, pumping and finger feeding. Ack! Thankfully, after a few days, the pain was completely gone and the recovery has been rapid and uncomplicated since.

Most of the other kids either were spared the cold, or had it fairly mildly. This is also the time of year that Isaac and Becca struggle with seasonal allergies and subsequent asthma. I have had a few rough nights doing breathing treatments and taking care of Becca, but they are both well on the road to recovery now. We have been getting rain this week, which helps their allergies tremendously.

One thing that was a huge help during all this, that I am thankful to have had on hand, were frozen meals. We are STILL eating the meals I pre-cooked and froze before Peter was born. I had made 30 breakfasts and 30 dinners (with enough of the latter to have leftovers for lunches), which I expected to last us about 6 weeks. 

If you have not yet discovered freezer cooking, I encourage you to check out Once a Month Meals. They have far too many great menu options to list them all here, but they are a true sanity and time saver. Their menus are super user friendly. (affiliate link)

Once A Month Meals

And now for the giveaway winner of the ring sling: I printed all the comments/entries and let Becca draw one randomly.

The winner is: 

Please leave me a comment with your address below (will not be published). 

I have a couple more giveaways coming up just as soon as I get a chance to write more blog posts, so don't forget to check back here. 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Ring sling sewing tutorial and giveaway

Having a baby carrier is a great tool for getting things done in spite of a baby that wants to be held 24/7. 

There are different kinds of carriers, each with their own advantages. My two favorites are ring slings, and the K'tan carrier (like a wrap, but much easier to use). 

My girls love holding the baby, which is a great help to me. When Chloe was a baby, I bought Miriam the smallest size K'tan, which worked well for her. She is now using it for Peter. Becca has been asking to have her own carrier as well, but even the smallest K'tan is still too large on her as she is petite for her age. 

I had the idea to make her a sized-down ring sling instead. Becca loves it, as does Peter.

Ring slings are very easy to make, even for adults. Here is a tutorial on how to make a ring sling (adult or child size):

I had extra fabric from making Becca's sling that I used for the sling in the tutorial. I am giving away this extra child-size sling. Please do not enter if you don't have a child that could use this, unless you are a tiny adult with a tiny baby. 

To enter, please 

- leave a comment below and/or

- share the link to this post on Facebook and leave another comment below and/or

- "like" my FB page, Are They All Yours??!? and leave another comment below

Winner will be drawn randomly. You can comment anonymously.

I assume no liability for use of the sling. Children should be closely supervised while holding a baby. 

Edited to add: entries for giveaway accepted until midnight on Sunday, February 11, 2018.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Birth announcement and story (and pictures!)

We are thrilled to announce the safe arrival of Peter László Anderson!

Peter was born last Monday, January 15th, at 10:11 p.m. weighing 8 lbs 1 oz and measuring 21 inches. 

Birth story below. Please do not read on if blood and guts make you queasy.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Links to my most helpful hyperemesis/morning sickness/NVP blog posts and remedies

I have had ten full-term pregnancies, and suffered from hyperemesis with the first 7 of them.

Slowly, over time, I learned more and more things that helped me not only survive, but go from nausea 24/7 and throwing up 20-30 times per day from weeks 6-20 to zero throwing up with nausea for about 2 hrs out of every 24 hrs from weeks 8 to 12.

Below are links to what I consider my most helpful and information-packed blog posts on this topic, starting with the oldest and going to the most recent. If you have time, I suggest you start at the top and read your way down, to follow the progression of things I have learned.

If you are in urgent need of the most recent info, start at the bottom and read your way up.

I hope this helps other suffering moms. There IS hope!

The Cause and Cure of Morning Sickness and Hyperemesis Gravidarum (November 5, 2013 - pregnancy #8, first non-hyperemesis pregnancy)

Relief for Morning Sickness and Hyperemesis Gravidarum (January 17, 2016 - pregnancy #9, second non-hyperemesis pregnancy)

Whole grains, folic acid, MTHFR, and morning sickness (September 7, 2017 - pregnancy #10, third non-hyperemesis pregnancy)


Not cure related, but might be of interest:

Severe morning sickness (May 27, 2010)

Hyperemesis gravidarum and being open to children (March 17, 2011)

And a great hyperemesis blog with much more info and experiences from other moms: 

The Whining Puker

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Recipe for Quick Einkorn Sandwich Loaves

This recipe is an adaptation of One Good Thing By Jillee's English Muffin Bread.

As written, the recipe does not work with einkorn flour. While einkorn contains gluten like modern wheat, it is structurally far weaker than the gluten in high-bred modern wheat. While it will allow the bread to rise, it will then quickly collapse either during the rise, or when baking. 

It is therefore critical to not use too much yeast, and to not allow the dough to rise as high as it theoretically could (before collapsing).

The good thing about this recipe is that the dough is very wet, more like thick batter, which is ideal for working with einkorn. 

Weighing einkorn flour (as opposed to measuring it) will yield far better results, as it is much more accurate. Kitchen scales are inexpensive and save a lot of time, so if you don't have one I highly recommend getting one. 

I use and love these loaf pans. I buy all my einkorn flour from Jovial Foods. I typically whip up one batch of the dough, then move the first four pans to the oven and start them rising while making up a second batch, and then bake 8 loaves at a time rather than just 4.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

36-week ultrasound and some baby prep

Last week, I had another ultrasound. At my 20-week anatomy scan, the baby was in such a position that the tech could not get all the heart images they were supposed to get. That, combined with the fact that this baby's heartbeat has been more challenging than average to track on Doppler, made my midwife recommend I go in for another ultrasound just to make sure all is well. 

All did turn out to be perfectly well, praise the Lord, and of course we had the added joy of watching this little one 'live on screen'. The 3-D ultrasounds are incredibly detailed now. Baby opened and closed his/her eyes, sucked on his/her hand, and looked just like our other babies.

We again chose not to find out the gender, so I have no exciting announcements in that regard. Baby was measured at approximately 7 lbs 1 oz, which made me think they must be way off on the growth predictions, but the tech said they are usually within one ounce, give or take. I don't know if she's wrong or if this baby is indeed large for dates. The last two of our three babies were 6 lbs and change at birth, whereas this one might still gain as much as a half lb per week for the next four weeks!

I was especially surprised by this estimate since I myself have only gained 15 lbs thus far with this pregnancy, having stayed on Weight Watchers the full nine months (in maintenance mode) to keep from gaining unnecessary pounds. Looks like I might be shedding most of that overnight when the baby is born! I will blog another time in more detail about WW and following the program while pregnant or breastfeeding.

36 weeks pregnant

Speaking of food, I am almost completely done stocking the freezers for after the baby's birth. Between making room for the precooked breakfasts and dinners, and organizing a group beef buy from a local ranch, I went through all four of my freezers over the weekend, tossing odds and ends and taking inventory of everything, as well arranging it all for maximum efficiency. I do this every six months when I do a group beef buy, but this was the first time I actually made detailed inventory lists for each freezer, which I mounted in the kitchen so I can update them anytime we take out or add anything to any of the freezers.

Our basic setup is that we have two fridge/freezer combos in the kitchen (called kitchen fridge and office fridge), as well as two deep freezers in the school room (called chest freezer and stand-up freezer).

Here is the list of foods I have made for this time around. You can click on the images to see them in larger.

The meals in red still need to be made and frozen, hopefully this week. I did manage to bake and freeze two gallon bags full of lactation cookies today, so that was an accomplishment and a load off my mind. I greatly depend on those in the early weeks to bring in my milk.

This list is kept in Google Drive, that way I can update it anytime, anywhere, from my phone. It might seem my logistics and inventory sheets are a little overboard, but with a family my size, I need to outsource as much of my mental energy as I can. Very rarely do 10 seconds go by on any given day between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. when someone (or multiple someones) do not come to me with various needs. It's like having 9 phone lines (10 if you count my husband, 11 with the new baby) that all ring, all day long, often at the same time, while I am the only one in the call center answering calls while also doing the day-to-day tasks that go into feeding, clothing, educating, and keeping alive and healthy all these people. If I can write it down and not have to remember off the top of my head, sign me up!

My mother-in-law will once again fly out as soon as I go into labor to help watch the kids during the birth, and in the days after. My biggest dread is a) going through labor again (it does NOT get easier the more babies I have had!), and b) giving birth in the winter. It's cold even in the daytime, but at night when I usually seem to be going into labor it's even colder, not to mention I labor in a birth pool and getting in and out will be misery in the cold. "Cold," of course, is a relative term. It's Arizona after all. Outside temps are between 50-75 in the daytime, and about 35-60 at night. In the house, we keep it an even 72 degrees. Still, that's cold for us, plus the days are shorter so it seems cold and dreary.

Please pray for a safe, easy delivery during a temporary heat wave! Preferably on this tax year - ha! :)

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Thanksgiving and Christmas 2017

 You have been warned: total photo overload coming! 

Thanksgiving 2017 

Breakfast - Chloe was still asleep. We had eggs, bacon, and French toast made from croissants, something I learned on the Pastors' Wives retreat this summer. A game changer, I tell you! Costco sells really good ready croissants that are not full of junk that are perfect for making this. 

I spent the morning leisurely getting the big Thanksgiving dinner cooked, though I had prepped much of the food in the days ahead so there was not too much left to do. I used the slow cooker for the stuffing and the InstantPot for the mashed potatoes, which made things even faster and easier. 

The rest of the family enjoyed board games, decorating a gingerbread turkey (thank you, Trader Joe's - but dang, those candy-coated sunflower seeds are like crack!), reading, going to the park, and making music.



 The game is called "Settlers of Catan". It's a favorite with the guys in this family. Isaac won.

We had the typical Thanksgiving meal - brined turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato rolls, and corn. Check out my gravy boat - that's a half gallon measuring cup! The one dish I didn't make this year was green bean casserole. I love it, and I knew my husband liked it, but nobody else cares for it. I figured nobody would miss it, so I skipped it. When I later asked him what his favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal was, he said it would have been the green bean casserole, but that there was none. Ha - lesson learned! Evidently, my husband really loves it! I won't be skipping it next year.

Stephen looks excited for the meal!

 Check out little Chloe stuffing her face with food! It is unbelievable how much food that little girl can put away. Actually, she's not so little anymore, but a hefty toddler.

After the big meal, most of us lay down for turkey-coma induced naps. Those who didn't played more board games. After very long naps, we had our typical dessert-for-dinner meal to round out the day.

Christmas 2017

We do not have a set tradition of when we open Christmas gifts. Sometimes we do it on Christmas Eve after nap time, other years on Christmas Day in the morning. Some of it has to do with what day of the week those days fall on. Since this year Christmas Eve fell on a Sunday, we were busy with church all day. Our church hosts a Cookie Bake-Off on the Sunday afternoon closest to Christmas, so it was even busier than usual. 

We don't do stockings. I did not grow up with that tradition, and have never adopted it since we do advent calendars for each of the kids instead. 

So this year, we opened gifts on Christmas morning. I told the kids the earlier they got up, the later we'd open gifts, but they were still all up bright and early long before the sun - even Chloe who typically sleeps until 9 a.m. I changed my game plan to, "We'll open gifts as soon as I get a nice picture of all of you smiling."

That looks like a lot of gifts, but there are a lot of us! :) As in the last few years, we tried to keep gifts mostly focused on events, outings, memories, and consumable goods rather than more toys. (We do make an exception for outdoor toys.) Having a family of almost 12 in a 1,550 sq foot home requires me to be a minimalist.

Solomon and Isaac each got a gift card to a local roller-coaster park, and a new shirt/sweater each. John got a subscription to TinkerCrate*, and a retro handheld game console. The big girls each got Christmas dresses (we did let them open those of the morning of Christmas Eve so they could wear them to church that day), as well as a kid's craft class at Jo-Ann's. Miriam also got a book and a single craft kit from DoodleCrate* (which she loved, so I will get her a subscription for her birthday in February), while Becca and Anna got matching outfits for themselves and their dolls as well as some books they had been wanting. Stephen got a Duplo pizza parlor, a knight costume, the latest Patch the Pirate adventure, and a sweater. Boaz got his first bike and a coloring book. Chloe got a Christmas dress, as well as PJ's, and a CD with lullabies. 
(*Both kids loved these kits. If you are thinking about signing up, please consider using this affiliate link and I will get a small credit applied to their accounts for future kits.)
The bulky thing under the blanket is Boaz's bike. There is a funny backstory to this gift. Back in November, my husband and I went on a 'date' to Wal-Mart. We brought 'Hurricane Boaz' along because he was up early from his nap and tends to wake the rest of the house once he's up. Once we got to the store I stayed behind in the van because I suddenly needed a cat nap myself, while Dad and Bo went into the store together. Shortly afterward, I received this photo from them. My husband, who grew up riding dirt bikes with his Dad, just could not resist this little bike for Boaz, who fell in love with it the moment he saw it. It took much convincing to get my husband to agree to at least hide it as a Christmas gift. Even though Bo already knew about it, I figured he would forget, plus he would be disappointed on Christmas if he didn't have a gift under the tree like the rest of the kids.

Who COULD say "no" to that face??!?

Then of course there were gifts from the siblings to the siblings. Again, to keep things simple, our tradition is that for Christmas, each sibling gives a gift to only one other sibling, keeping the grand total of gifts exchanged to 9 (as opposed to 72 if they exchanged gifts with every sibling - help us all!). There were also gifts from other relatives and friends.

 My gift for my husband, to keep in his office. I had asked him not to get me anything because he spoils me so much year-round that I could not think of a single thing I would have wanted much less needed, but he still surprised me with some thoughtful things he knows I enjoy.

The girls at church in their Christmas dresses

Chloe singing along

Being 37-weeks pregnant, I kept the meal a simple affair. I made a prime rib roast that came out sublime thanks entirely to grass-fed beef and Pioneer Woman's  foolproof recipe. The side dishes were German fried potatoes, roasted broccoli, and popovers. Fast, easy, but oh so delicious!

 I love these cast iron muffin pans!

Unfortunately, shortly after we opened gifts, Isaac and Boaz started coming down with a sickness that had been making its way around our church and finally seems to have caught up to our family. Boaz went back and forth all day between running a fever and throwing up, and being perfectly fine, while Isaac was lying down sick most of the day and even missed the big Christmas dinner. Both are feeling better today and on the mend, but now Solomon and Anna are on the downward. Hopefully, this will work itself through the family quickly. I have been giving them these capsules and Reed's ginger ale (with real ginger) which seems to help them get well very quickly.

For us, Christmas holds another special place in our hearts. Our church started twelve years ago on Christmas Day 2005. My husband preached a wonderful sermon on Sunday night, recounting some of the memories. I love our church, and our people, and am so thankful for it! Here is the sermon: