Tuesday, October 11, 2011

State Cake

Pauly has spent the last 9 weeks more or less studying his home state of Kansas. On Friday, we made a cake in the shape of Kansas to celebrate.

Bob and Pauly making the plan. 
 The cake after being cut and iced.
 Pauly adding the major rivers.
Pauly and the finished cake.


I've been meaning to blog regularly. I was planning an update on our homeschool year, what we thought of the materials, adjustments that we were making, new things we were doing. It hasn't happened. I've been planning on updating about the baby, what new things he was doing, my evolving thoughts on on the feeding/medication decision, and always plenty of pictures. It hasn't happened. So I'm posting this to let all my faithful readers (all three or four of you!) know that I'm being lax.

Friday, August 26, 2011

That Elusive Smile

Julian, at almost six weeks, is at that age when it is just about impossible to actually obtain photographic evidence of smiley interactions. He was being smiley and cute, so I grabbed the camera and propped him up for a better shot, but this is all I got.

I caught a hint of a smile in the last pic, but he smiles more than that, I promise!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Gratuitous Cute Baby Pics

Here are my favorites of the pictures taken by the hospital photographers.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Who knows what to expect? Part 2 - The Necesarean

After the BPP, things began moving. My nurse came back into the room and announced, "I was right! You're being admitted and we're going to deliver the baby." She had prepared us for this possibility earlier, when Bob and I had still thought that it was likely that we'd just be monitored for a while and then go home. Of course, after the baby completely failed the BPP I knew that it was time for him to be evicted. During the time we'd spent monitored at the hospital, the contractions I'd been having started becoming more regular and distinct, although they were still not that strong. His reaction to the contractions also became more obvious. I heard the resident doctor and nurses discussing the fetal heart rate strip in preparation for calling my own doctor, and I was surprised to hear them using terms like "some late decels, little to no variability, no accelerations." There are different kinds of deceleration patterns, some worse than others, and I knew enough about fetal heart rate monitoring to know that this terminology meant that the fetal heart rate pattern was worse than I'd thought.

The resident doctor called my doctor, Dr. D, while she was in my room and while they were finishing up my admissions paperwork. I was surprised that after she'd spoken to him for a while, she handed the phone to me and said "He'd like to talk to you himself." He asked me what had brought me into the hospital so he could hear what had been happening in my own words, and he talked about the test results from the heart rate monitoring and the BPP, and why he thought it was best to go straight to a cesarean. I was in complete agreement with that, though I'd never have predicted before hand that the word "cesarean" would be a relief to me. I wanted to know my baby was safe, and I didn't see how he could tolerate stronger contractions when he couldn't handle weak pre-labor ones. I handed the phone back to the resident so the doctor could give his orders, and I started getting prepped for the section.

I absolutely thought this section was the right choice, medically, but I was completely terrified. I was worried about the baby's safety, but I was also worried about the section itself. I'd never had significant surgery, and since I'd had four natural deliveries I'd never even had an epidural. I wasn't sure what to expect from the experience itself, it was totally different from what we'd done before and what I'd been preparing for.  While they weren't wasting time, it was also not a desperately urgent section. Baby continued to be monitored while we prepared for the section. I talked to the resident doctor, the anesthesiologist, and signed the necessary paperwork. The nurses tried to keep the mood as light as possible to be reassuring. We joked about how good Bob looked in the blue surgical scrubs, and lamented the fact that the camera was out in the car, we hadn't expected to meet baby that night. My OB arrived, and I was never more grateful for his sense of humor. The first thing he said was, "See what happens when you choose an OB for prenatal care? You have all kinds of complications."

Still, by the time we got to the OR I was terrified. The nurses and anesthesiologist were wonderful, but it was still very difficult for me to relax. The idea that I'd be able to feel what was being done, but it just wouldn't hurt, was very scary. I finally began to relax some and was able to chat with the anesthesiologist and the nurse once I was pretty sure they'd begun the surgery, and I hadn't felt any pain. When the doctor ruptured the amniotic sac, he noted that there was a lot of meconium, another sign that baby had been significantly stressed in utero. They suctioned out his mouth and nose before he was even all the way out, then unwrapped and cut the cord (it was wrapped around his neck and shoulder twice) and handed him to the nurses. He shocked everyone by making his first weak cry on the way over to the warmer. They'd been prepared for a medically compromised baby, but he really did quite well. Bob tells me that he was purple and limp when he was born, but he began to breathe on his own right away and soon began to pink up and regain his muscle tone. I was so happy I was practically crying as I watched them examine him in the warmer. His wiggles and stretches were all the more precious because they'd been absent for the last several hours before he was born. Soon the NICU pediatrician attending the delivery said that he was obviously not needed here, they quickly weighed and measured the baby, and he was brought over to be with me while we waited for them to finish the closure of the incision. Everyone thought he was beautiful, of course, and there was much discussion about whether or not he had red hair.

After the section, Dr. D told me, "Your tubes and ovaries look great, and the incision is a low transverse one. You should be good for four or five more vaginal deliveries with no problem." Bob appreciated this, but I don't think we'll take him up on his suggestion. We joked that I'd "gone over to the dark side," since I'd had a completely medicalized delivery after four natural, low intervention ones. The dark side seems to have cute babies.

When we got back to the same labor-delivery-recovery room that I'd been monitored in, they unwrapped baby and we got the skin-to-skin cuddle and breastfeeding time that we'd missed out on right after the delivery. I got some juice and crackers to snack on. Bob fell asleep.  Overall, the experience was far, far better than I had thought a surgical birth would be, and luckily the recovery has also been easy so far. I hope that stays true. In any case, I have a beautiful healthy baby.

Here's a gratuitous cute baby pic -- Julian at two and a half days old, ready to go home.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Who knows what to expect? AKA Birth Story - part 1

Sunday was a day of waiting and anticipation. It was two days past my due date, and I was hoping that it would end up being The Day. My doctor was on call during the weekend, but was going to be off most of Monday, and I was afraid I'd end up delivering during the one day he wouldn't be available. Bob had been predicting a birth date of the 18th, which would be Monday, for some time, so that just encouraged me to hope for baby on Sunday. Saturday evening I'd had a good string of contractions about eight minutes apart, but they stopped once I went to bed.

I was encouraged Sunday morning by a couple episodes of bloody show. That meant labor couldn't be too far away, but it certainly didn't promise that it would happen the same day. Unfortunately, the rest of Sunday was disappointing. Despite walking around at Target to encourage things, overall the day was quiet. I seemed to be having less frequent pre-labor contractions than I'd been having. Around four in the afternoon, I noted to Bob that the baby had seemed quiet all day. He hadn't been active during my nap like he usually was. I just assumed that I'd been focusing so much on the absence or presence of contractions that I hadn't noticed his movements as much as usual. I figured I'd lie down later and he'd be moving just fine, but right then I had things to take care of. In retrospect, I wish I'd taken the time right then to lie down, drink a cold sweet drink and count his movements. Instead, I fixed dinner, did household chores, and stayed busy until bedtime. At that point, I remembered that baby had been quiet, and after thinking about it, I actually couldn't recall when I had last felt a distinct, strong kick from him.

I was a bit worried, but not too much. I lay down, and tried to stir him up a bit. Usually, if you would push on him a bit, he'd poke back, or move away, but definitely be responsive in some way. Both Bob and I had enjoyed "playing with him" this way in the past, and it was pretty reliable. Sunday night I couldn't wake him up. When I pushed on him, there was no pushing back, no moving away, no resistance. It just didn't feel right to me at all, especially combined with the thought that he'd been quieter all day. I desperately tried to remember when I'd last felt him move, and all I could come up with for sure is that he'd been very active after I'd gone to bed the night before. I thought that he had made some small movements throughout the day, but I couldn't be sure, and that terrified me. I went and drank a Dr. Pepper to hopefully wake him up, and I called the doctor's office nurse helpline, but I was pretty panicky at that point. I went ahead and called my mom to come up and watch the other kids so we could go get checked out. I was supposed to wait 30 minutes after drinking the cold, sweet drink to go in, but I knew I needed to go in for my peace of mind, regardless. I wasn't sure whether I was being reasonable, or was being unnecessarily paranoid, or if I'd already messed up by not going in earlier.

On the way to the hospital, I felt one soft movement that I was pretty sure was Julian. After we checked in, I felt one more brief movement. At that point, I figured that I just hadn't waited long enough for the soda to kick in, and we'd find out that he was fine. Still, I think the sound of his heartbeat when the nurse first found it was an amazing relief. They wanted more than a brief listen, so I assumed we'd be monitored for an hour or so, find out he was fine, then get to go home. It didn't turn out that way.

It wasn't long before I noticed the first deceleration -- or slowing down -- of his heart beat. It was noticeable just from listening, I couldn't see the EFM strip from where I was. The pressure sensor for the monitor wasn't in a good position, after a while they moved it so that it would pick up the small, prelabor contractions I was having. It became clear to them (I could already tell) that the decels were definitely related in time to the contractions. While I heard the decels, I wasn't aware of something that is actually more significant: he wasn't having any accelerations in his heart beat. This lack of reactivity is a significant sign that baby may not be tolerating the uterine environment. The doctor ordered a biophysical profile, which is an ultrasound that looks at particular measures of baby's well being, to find out what was going on.

When the ultrasound tech arrived to do the biophysical profile, I was well aware of what to expect. I'd already had a couple BPPs this pregnancy, because the doctor had wanted extra monitoring of the baby due to my exposure to fifths disease, which can rarely cause problems with the baby. In those BPPs, the whole thing was over fairly quickly, as the necessary movements were noted quickly. The BPP Sunday night was different. The ultrasound tech took the measurements to estimate baby's size, and measured the amniotic fluid index, then tried to meet the other criteria. She was looking for body movements, extension and flexion indicating good muscle tone and practice breathing motions. She had to note the presence or absence of these movements over a thirty minute time period. As I noted before, with my previous BPPs, all the movements were noted quickly, and the whole procedure took 15 minutes or less. This time, we spent most of the thirty minutes watching a perfectly still baby on the monitor. Poking, prodding, shaking, speaking to him, etc. did not elicit any kind of response whatsoever. The tech kept asking if I was feeling any movements, she didn't want to miss recording something. I wasn't feeling anything. She'd periodically check his heart rate again, which did provide some reassurance. Still, the ultrasound made it clear that something was very wrong with the baby. It was not easy to watch.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Julian Pictures!

Here are some pictures. They aren't perfect, but they'll do. We just ordered a CD of the pics they took here in the hospital, and we'll post those when we get a chance.
 Julian's a grumpus.
 This pic looks a lot like his daddy's baby pics.
 The older kids enjoying their baby brother. Verity is not in the picture since she's busy climbing the walls.
 Julian was mimicking Pauly's facial expressions, and cracked all the kids up.
This last pic, Verity had asked to hold the baby and Grandma helped her out. She held him about 30 seconds, then screamed "No, I don't WANT the baby!" and pushed him away. Thank goodness grandma was right there to help Julian.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Roger made himself lunch today. I was mean and would not let him have cold cereal because he'd already wasted nearly a whole bowl when he didn't finish it at breakfast, so he decided to make himself some scrambled eggs. Four, to be precise. I warned him, "You'd better eat everything you fix."

When he got up from the table to go play I asked him, "Did you eat all the eggs?" "No!!" he exclaimed. "Why not?" I ask. "There were a whole lot of them and I was full!!" I looked at his plate and saw that it was empty. "What did you do with them, did you throw them away?" "No!!" "Then what happened to them?" "I was full, I couldn't eat them!"

Finally, I figure out that he thinks I meant all the eggs in the fridge when I asked him if he'd eaten all the eggs. The whole time I was thinking, "What the heck happened to those eggs, then?" and he was likely thinking, "Is mom nuts??"

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Two and a half weeks left

until my due date. Things are now going swimmingly with the pregnancy. All of the various issues I'd been concerned about have cleared up and things are going along normally now. Hopefully it will stay that way through the delivery!

Are we ready? Not in the slightest. I haven't gotten the infant seat from out of storage at my parents' house, haven't washed and organized the baby's clothes, and in fact don't even have drawers or a box or anything to put the cleaned and organized clothes into, and don't have a place for such drawers even if we had one. We haven't gotten the cradle out and put it back together (and I'm not sure where the cradle's sheets are!), or packed a hospital bag, or collected phone numbers together so we can call people after the birth (my address book has met a sad an untimely end). The house is still a pig sty, no meals in the freezer, I'm sure I could list more things that are undone. The child has no socks at all, but does have a fedora waiting for him. Don't you love our priorities?

In other news, the boxes containing all our homeschooling materials for next year are now in the state, and will be delivered tomorrow! Ten to one those things will be gone through, organized, and carefully put away before I even think about the baby things.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Should we trust birth?

"Trust birth" is a phrase that I've commonly heard among those in the natural or home birth advocacy movement. There are even Trust Birth groups springing up advocating this. Such groups may state that trusting birth is natural, and fearing or distrusting birth is unnatural and has simply been taught through our culture. Is this correct? Fear of childbirth has in fact been common throughout history, in all times and cultures. Why? Because while birth is a natural process, it is also naturally a dangerous process. Childbirth in humans is an evolutionary bottle neck, where the advantageous feature of large, well developed brains conflicts with the advantageous feature of narrow pelvises, to aid bipedalism. It is also a complex process, to which no other natural process can be an adequate comparison. Pregnancy itself precariously balances the needs and health of the fetus against the needs and health of the mother. The result is historically high rates of both perinatal (around the time of birth) mortality for the babies involved and maternal mortality. This has the evolutionary purpose of keeping head and pelvis size in check, yet as a human event each loss represents a tragedy. We are not willing to accept the death of a human being as simply "evolution in action."

Improved sanitation and nutrition and modern medicine -- including antibiotics, safer cesarean sections, improved ability to monitor the health of mom and baby during pregnancy and childbirth, and developments in neonatal resuscitation and life support, among many others -- have dramatically decreased the perinatal and maternal mortality rates, although attempts to further reduce it are constantly being made. We now take these improvements in mortality rates for granted. We assume that mother and child will come through birth and be fine. Ironically, it is these very improvements that allow us to assume that birth is low risk and worthy of trust.

If we cannot trust birth, should we then fear birth? Are all interventions good and necessary, with no harmful side effects? Is the best response to make birth a completely medicalized event, attempting to remove all uncertainty? This position forgets that birth, as a natural physiological process, is not fully understood by science. We know of what can go wrong, but still often do not know why it goes wrong. We don't fully understand the purposes of the natural physiology of birth -- we can't know for certain what elements in the process of birth serve a purpose in the health of the mother and child, and we don't always know the long term effects of medical interventions.

I propose the best attitude of a birth attendant is not "trust birth," nor is it "fear birth," but rather is "respect birth." That is, respect birth both as a natural physiological process which goes well much of the time, AND respect birth as a complex event with inherent and natural risks. Birth attendants need both to allow labor and birth to unfold, and to exercise vigilance and intervene when deviations from normal begin to put mother and child at risk. This balance isn't easy, it likely takes significant training both in normal births and potential complications. It means accepting and responding to the scientific evidence on birth practices and interventions without prejudiced ideology. It means abandoning simple catch phrases or black and white positions and truly grappling with what we know, and what we don't know.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

30 1/2 week update

Less than 10 weeks until my due date! Only 10 more weeks of stabbing pain when I walk, joy!

Mostly I am doing the same, feeling gigantic, getting plenty of "Is it twins?" comments, and being exhausted. I had another ultrasound yesterday, to verify that my previously low-lying placenta had moved up (it had) and to check on baby's growth, since I've been measuring big and have been getting increasingly bigger -- I'm now measuring 5 cm ahead. I have never measured big this early, and it is definitely making me more uncomfortable. I'm already experiencing shortness of breath and I can't see how I'll have room to grow for 10 more weeks. The ultrasound showed a baby on the bigger side, but not gigantic. It also showed what my doctor called "a generous amount of amniotic fluid." In my understanding, this can be problematic but at this point we will just need to continue to monitor it, so I'll likely have another ultrasound in a few weeks. Baby is already head down and hopefully will stay that way. Here's some pics:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

28 Week Update

Well, I'm gigantic. Or at least I feel like I am. I am measuring 5 weeks ahead, but doctor seems to feel that this is likely due to stretched out muscles from my four previous large babies. I do have an ultrasound scheduled for 30 weeks, to check baby's growth, check my amniotic fluid levels and verify that my placenta, which was low-lying at my 20 week ultrasound, has moved up.

My ligaments and muscles aren't very happy about the size of the baby, and they'll probably only get less happy. I'm feeling pretty feeble but resting and using maternity support have helped. I'm considering making an appointment with the physical therapist at my OB's office, but I'd need to get a referral from my primary care provider and am not sure it would be worth the hassle and the time for the appointments. I am going to try following a stretching and exercise regimen I found online.

Had the gestational diabetes screening today, I'll find out the results in a day or two.

Here's a pic of my hugeness:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Breastfeeding, Mental health and Medication

I was perusing science-based parenting blogs this morning, and came across a blog focused on postpartum depression. As someone who has suffered PPD after each of my pregnancies, this was very interesting to me, and I was even more interested to see a couple of recent posts on balancing breastfeeding with the treatment of PPD. The initial one is here, and there is also a follow-up post here.

My psychologist finally figured out this last summer what was at the root of my struggles with depression and anger -- untreated ADD. Taking stimulant medication significantly improved my quality of life and my ability to function as a mom. It was very difficult to adjust to being off the medication during pregnancy, and I have been looking forward to getting a chance to take it again. However, the medication I was taking, an amphetamine derivative, is contraindicated during breastfeeding. It tends to concentrate in breast milk and would result in a nursling, especially a young one, getting far too much of the medication. It might be possible for me to take an alternative methylphenidate based medication, such as Ritalin, since the amount secreted in breast milk is far lower than with the amphetamines, but there is not good information on whether or not this would actually affect a young nursling or not. I do plan to discuss this option with my ARNP, but I am not sure that I am comfortable exposing a nursling to even low doses of stimulants. Finding accurate information to aid in the decision is difficult, as so much of the affects of medication while breastfeeding are unknown. Even experts disagree. Some who are strong advocates of breastfeeding view the benefits as outweighing the risks of nearly any medication, with only a few rare exceptions, while others view the possible risks of many medications as being potentially more significant than the risk of not receiving breastmilk. For many medications, there is little to no good research on milk transfer rates or possible affects on baby.

I could avoid the whole issue by remaining off the medication for a year or so to enable breastfeeding, but that would affect my ability to mother not only the baby but all my children, as well as affecting my adequacy as a homeschooling teacher. Would we all survive? Yes, we've done it before and we're doing it now, but now I know how much different things were when I was on a medication that got to the root of the problems I was having. Providing external structure through meal plans and a pre-planned easy to use curriculum will likely help, but it will likely all be much more of a struggle than I would have it I were taking a medication that I know works.

At this point, I don't even know which way I'm leaning. Still thinking through all my options, and trying to figure out what will be best for the whole family.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Soccer has taken over our lives.

With two boys in soccer (and only two!) we have practices on three evenings a week and games on one weekday evening and Saturday morning. It has meant that all the kids are getting to bed later on a regular basis, especially the girls who beforehand and usually been in bed and asleep by 7:30 or so, and it means that I am constantly thinking about what we have each evening, whether there are clean soccer socks and shorts, etc. I will admit that Roger wore the same pair of socks two evenings in a row this week when I just didn't get the laundry washed. I think we may need to invest in a few more pairs.

I'm naturally a homebody and like to stick to a routine, so this is definitely a stressful time. On the other hand, the boys, especially Pauly, really need to be out moving around. Pauly would be happy spending all his time sitting on his bum reading or playing video games. He will be active if we go to a playground, but it is a struggle to get him outside and moving around at home. It has been very nice to see him at soccer practice and games. He is obviously out of shape and needs to work on endurance, but he has been giving it his best and doesn't stop trying. Roger has been enjoying himself as well. Still, I'm glad that this will only last a few more weeks before the end of the season. I'll enjoy just having evenings at home again!

No pics to share because I am too forgetful to take any. Maybe I'll get some done before the end of the season.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What Math Manipulatives are For

If you thought that they were for school work, you're sadly mistaken. They're for making and then attacking a fort.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Break!

I decided that we would take a break from schoolwork, to coincide with Bob's break from university classes, but I'm not letting the kids rest. Instead, I'm attempting to put them to work. I'm not sure how well it will work. Today Pauly cleaned the windows in the kitchen and living room, which does look much better, and he also swept the floor in the kitchen.

Rosie mopped some in the kitchen, but I had to finish that up. Roger folded laundry, but that didn't get finished, and of course his work managed to get undone through the course of the day. I ordered Rosie to clean her room half a dozen times, but I'm the one who actually did the vast majority of the work that got accomplished.

Rosie, the Not Cleaning Fairy

I'm hoping to get our mountain of laundry folded and sorted, and I'm really hoping that I'll have the time and energy to go through the kids clothes, choose many to give away, and get out some warm weather clothes. That is a huge deal, and I'm not sure if I'll be able to do it.

Verity scrubbed some of the kitchen chairs for me. :) I HATE HATE HATE fabric covered seats on kitchen chairs. They simply aren't compatible with the kids. These ones are especially horrendous because the chairs are ancient.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Loving Your Children Equally

A recent blog post at Babble is causing a lot of stir, as the author admits that she loves her 20 month old son more than her three year old daughter.  (There is now a bolded clarification at the bottom of the Babble post as well as a "follow up" post that were not there when I wrote my reaction.) The author writes about a difficult birth experience and then postpartum sickness that interfered with bonding with her daughter, while with her son she felt an immediate and passionate bond of love as soon as he was placed in her arms after his birth. As far as this goes, this not uncommon and there is nothing really wrong with this, yet this mother seems to have taken this "I love him more" to a new level. She writes, "I think it wouldn’t be so bad if I lost my daughter, as long as I never had to lose my son," while then admitting her feelings of guilt over feeling this. Having dark or horrible thoughts, while definitely a problematic warning sign, isn't a sign of a "bad mother" either, as long as one gets help for those thoughts (if needed) and works against them. However, the author does not seem to recognize that love isn't dependent only at bonding at birth, that it isn't an issue of unchangeable feelings, but is indeed something that can be worked on. 

It is normal to get along better with one child than another, due to clashes of personality or similar issues. Some kids are just a lot more difficult than others, while some kids you may share an instant bond. Sometimes it is the kid that is just like you that is tough to deal with, while for other parents it may be the kid who is nothing at all like you. Sometimes it really is the circumstances in their infancy that affect bonding, a sickness in mother or child, or postpartum depression, or difficult life circumstances that pull your attention away from the baby. However, the ease of positive feelings isn't about how much you love the child, and you can increase your positive feelings for any of your children through working on changing your thinking and by actively engaging in bonding experiences with your child. It isn't always easy, but as a parent you owe it to your child. Each child deserves love and affection from his parents.

The author of this article on Babble, however, doesn't seem to recognize that her feelings can and will change, either through the active changing of her thoughts and actions (CBT, anyone?) or simply through the passage of time as her children change and grow, enter more and less difficult developmental phases, become more independent. Sadly, this mom doesn't seem to think that she CAN learn to love her daughter for herself, even if it will take work to build those feelings of love. The author writes, "I secretly hope that this new baby is a girl.  I want to start over with a little girl now that I’m healthy and an experienced parent." While she writes that she hopes that learning to love a girl will help her learn to love her older daughter, she still seems to view the bond with her older daughter as outside her control, and loving feeling as something that just happens. She messed things up with her first daughter, maybe she can make it work with a second. Sadly, unless she actively works on things with her older, adding another baby is likely only to add another child who is "loved more" than her first.  I hope that after this blog post, she truly does look for some a good therapist, who is willing to challenge her rather than promote that all feelings are good, valid and unchangeable.  Love is more about a decision than about feelings,but the feelings will follow the thoughts and actions.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

A Long Overdue Update

I haven't blogged in over three months, but I'm going to have to work at fixing that. I think that blogging is a good release for me.

On the medical front, my bloodwork is now mostly normal. I do still have a positive ANA, but I am no longer positive for the specific autoantibodies for which I'd tested positive before, and which could have harmed the new baby. It looks like this pregnancy will be low risk and normal. I'm delivering in the hospital this time, as I am not comfortable with the out-of-hospital options in the area, and am both dreading having to deal with the hospital routines and looking forward to having the peace of mind knowing that there is a competent backup, should something go wrong. My OB, Dr. D, is really fantastic and has a great bedside manner, good sense of humor, and spends lots of time talking to me at each appointment. I hope that he will be as great during delivery, and I think that he will be.

Once I entered the second trimester I began to feel much better physically and mentally. We are back into the swing of things with homeschooling, and have abandoned some things only to pick up others. I feel that we get a good amount done each day, though. With Pauly, we are concentrating on improving his handwriting (through the use of Callirobics) and his spelling (with Spelling Power). I became concerned that he would not be ready for forth grade level work if he didn't show some significant improvement.

Roger is doing fine. We are now using the computer program Funnix for phonics, reading and spelling. Apart from the horrible name, I think it is a pretty good program. I have a few quibbles with it, but Roger likes to do it and even asks to do extra lessons, and I am happy with all the skills it is covering, so we'll probably keep using it until he finishes the program. His reading has really taken off, and he is now spending a lot of his own time reading books like the Magic Treehouse series. Rosie has been doing the beginning to read level of the same program and is doing quite well.  Now I am starting to think about next year, what I'd like to do, and what I'll realistically be able to do, considering that we'll be adding a new baby to our already chaotic mix.

Here's a recent picture of me, at about 21 weeks along. Halfway there!