December 2014
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The End of an Era Means a New Beginning

19 August 2014


We left our home for the last almost 5 years to begin our new adventure in Iowa.  Thomas, Nathan, Caleb and Sean all rode in the mini van.  The girls, Levi and I rode in the Giant Blueberry.  Both vehicles were jammed packed with children and stuff.



I know this is an awful picture, but I wanted to show you just how full the van was in the back.




Pilot Mountain in North Carolina.  I think we took this picture just about every time we drove that way.





The capital building in Charleston, WV.

When we arrived in Iowa, we had a couple of days before we could get into our new house.  Once we were able to get in, we explored the land.  The kidlets found quite a few cicadas, some alive, some just skins.




Olivia was the brave girl who tried to pick it up and see it more closely.



Caleb, Elianna and Levi looking out the front window standing on boxes we had unpacked.  I love those windows.  They let in light and let the little ones be able to see all that is happening outside.




Miriam organizing Elianna’s clothes.




Bethany hanging up Sean’s jacket to put in the closet.  We are going to try to be organized if it kills us, and it just might kill us.




Olivia’s two top front teeth were loose when we moved in, super l0ose.  She looks like the princess and the pea.




You can see it sort of hanging out of its socket in this picture.





And it fell out, but she lost it somewhere in the house as soon as it fell out.  We looked and looked and looked and never found it.




Sean putting up a bunk bed in the girl’s room.




Thomas and Nathan putting up the triple bunk in their room.




Our room, what a mess.




I am so thankful for all the people who came to help us unload the truck.  We unloaded a truck and a half in less than 2 days.  Those men, boys and young ladies worked so hard.  What a blessing they were.




Olivia lost another tooth the next day (August 23) but she did not loose this one in the house.





Because she lost both teeth within one day of each other, we gave her a new nickname, “Hillbilly Hillary”.




She is such a joyful young lady.


No, we are still not organized and everything does not have a place, yet.  That time will come, it may take a couple of years, but it will arrive one day.



Baby Bird Has Arrived

3 December 2014 – Wednesday


After having contractions on and off since Monday night, the 1st of December, I called the doctor’s office to go in to see if we could get things more consistent with a membranes sweep or something.  Sean was at work and I did not think it was wise for me to drive myself to the doctor’s office, so I had a dear friend come pick me  up and we met Sean at the doctor’s office, which is connected to the hospital.  Yes, I brought all my stuff with me.  Thomas offered to drive, but all we had was the big van and he has not driven it a lot yet and I did not want him to get stuck at the hospital in case we stayed.  I did not think we would be saying, but I was trying to be optimistic.


Here I am right before I  headed out at around 11:00



I had a contraction or two on the way to the doctor’s office, but nothing too consistent.  Upon arriving at the dr. office, he checked me and surprisingly, I was at 6 cm.  Although that was good news, it was a mixed blessing because I knew that I was not having regular or consistent contractions.  I was having painful contractions and they were long and painful, they just were not consistent.  Anywho, I knew at 6cm, he would send me to the hospital and we would see things progressed from there.  (10 cm and 100% effaced means it is time to push and have the baby)


The doctor offered to get me a wheelchair and I just laughed and said I needed to get my stuff from the car in the garage.  He suggested Sean just get the stuff and I go right over.  I declined.  Sean and I walked to the parking garage and decided that we would make a quick stop at QuikTrip across the street to get a few snacks, a slushy, and some newspapers for the day.  After our errands, we drove back to the hospital, found a place to park and headed in.


They were all ready for me.  They took me to a room, one I had not been to yet.  The room next to where Olivia was delivered.  I got checked in, changed and then they attempted to put a hep-lock in.  It took 6 sticks before one took.  I usually have great veins, but I had not drunk a lot that day, so I am sure I was dehydrated.  After the six sticks, I got on the monitor for 20 minutes.  I met the doctor on call, whom I had not met before.  She broke my water and then we waited.  It was about 2:15 at this time.  I was 6-7 cm and 80% effaced.


Here is a picture of me during a contraction.



After that I went to the whirlpool tub in the room and stayed there for quite awhile.  While in there, I got busted because I was supposed to be on the monitors the entire time.  I claimed innocence.  They found mobile monitors and put me on those.  That stunk because I could not have the jets going because they could not get good monitoring with the jets going.  Booooooooo.  I tried to get away with not  being monitored, but it just did not work.  I did enjoy the hour or so that I did get without the monitors on.


I stayed in the tub for about a half an hour after I had the monitors on, but without the jets, it was just not the same.  So out I got.  I walked around the room, sat in the bed, the monitors had a hard time catching heart tones.  It felt good to be up and about.


When I was checked at 4:15, I was only 7 cm and 80% effaced.  1 cm in 6 hours is not good progress.  Honestly, I was not surprised.  While I was getting hard, painful contractions, they were not consistent. Because I knew progression was slow and I had not slept much in 2 days, I decided I would get an epidural.  I first needed to have a bag of fluid before I could get the epi.  At 4:55 I got some Fentanyl to take the edge off of the contractions while I waited for the fluids.  Yes, it worked wonderfully.  The epidural was placed just over an hour later at 6:05, that took 3 sticks too.


What a difference an epidural makes.



At 6:30 when I was checked, I was still 7 cm and 90%.  Because they were having a hard time getting consistent heart tones through the external monitor, an internal monitor was placed on baby’s head and I was so thankful for that. I was also thankful I had the epi for that experience.  I tried to rest, close my eyes and just relax.  It is hard to do that when people are in and out of my room every hour or so.  Sean and I “watched” tv for a bit.  I must have fallen asleep on and off.  I do not remember all of the show.


At 8:20 I was still 7cm and they decided to place an intra-uterine contraction monitor.  It was nice to not have anything over my belly anymore.  Around this time, Dr. Gisi also suggested we start a whiff of pitocin to get the contractions more consistent.  He said I could, at any point in time, ask for a repeat c-section, but he knew that is not what I wanted, so we kept on with the plan.  The pit definitely made the contractions harder and more consistent, but I could only feel the pressure of the contractions and no real pain, so I was good and relaxed.  I had pit one other time, with Abigail for the same reason.  I did not have an epi that time.  I was, again, relieved to have it this time around.


Not much changed at 9:45, so the pit was turned up slightly.  There was still pressure, but no real pain.  I was so very thankful to have the epi, words cannot even describe it.


At 11:25 I was all the way to 8cm but a -2 station.  The baby seemed to be retreating.  Just a dash more pit.


At around 11:40 the dr. suggested I try to push the baby down as he/she was still high and not engaged.  So, that is what we did.  I pushed and he helped baby get around the last of the cervix that was not dilated.  I pushed for about 3 contractions.  At that point I heard something about decelerations and the desire for baby to get out as soon as possible.  So I pushed through two more contractions.  During the second contraction, he told me to stop pushing while he removed the cord from around the baby’s neck, two times.  Then I pushed the baby the rest of the way out.  Dr. Gisi held the baby up to show Sean the sex and Sean announced, “It’s a BOY!”  I also saw the baby was a little purple at this point in time.  Instead of letting Sean cut the cord, they cut the cord and took baby right over to the warmer to stimulate him a bit.


Baby Bird was born at 11:56 pm on Wednesday, December 3, 2014.


Sean went to the warmer and said, “He has so much hair!”  I could not believe him because I had asked the drs. and nurses every time they checked me for dilation if they felt any hair and they all said no.  Hahaha.  He has a lot of blond hair.


Sean finally cutting the cord.



Me looking at all his hair and smelling his newborn smell.  Yes a head full of blond hair.  To me, the does not look like a newborn in this picture.  I am not sure why, but I had not just birthed him, I would think he was a week or two old.





Baby Bird weighed 9 pounds 3 ounces and was 22 inches long at birth.  He also had a true knot in his umbilical cord.




The proud parents and the little bundle of blond hair.


Here he is, hours old, on his blanket.



While this was not the birth that I had planned, it was still an amazing birth and I could see God’s hands through the entire thing.  I am so thankful that Dr. Gisi was on call as he really understood my desire to have a VBAC and did all he could to make it reality.  He was kind and worked with us and he was so very supportive.  I felt like the decisions he made were truly in my best interest and the best interest of the baby.  We worked as a team instead of him dictating how things would go.  I am thankful for the epidural because it was a horrible, horrible labor.  You know if I say that, it means a lot as I have delivered 7 babies without any medication.  They say every baby is unique and different and so is every labor.  It was a lesson I learned, yet again, with Baby Bird.


Thursday morning, December 4th.

Sean brought 8 of 9 kids up the next morning.  Thomas had to work.


Caleb, Baby Bird and Levi.




Olivia, Baby Bird and Elianna




Miriam holding Baby Bird while Levi looks on.




Bethany, Baby Bird and Elianna.





Yes, his head full of blond hair is still there and I am still in shock.



Baby Bird and Abigail.





Nathan and the little man.




After Thomas was done with work, Caleb and Sean picked him up and they came and visited me while the other kids were at the house with Grandma and Grandpa.   We still kind of laugh that Sean had the day off and Thomas had to go to work.


Boy 1, 3 and 5.




Friday 5 December

Baby Bird, 2 days old and still nameless.



Sean and I had not decided on a name. There were a lot of reasons, a busy, busy fall, a busy work schedule, and many more excuses.  Thursday night, Sean and I had another great naming conference.  We came up with two names but decided to wait until morning to decide for sure, we wanted time to pray about it and think it through.  Sean brought the kids up the next morning and we had one final conference in the bathroom, out of the earshot of the kids.  It was down to 2 names. We decided we would let the kidlets have input between the two names.  I said if we let the kids have input, I knew which one they would choose and I was correct.  We were OK with both names and were excited to have the kidlets be part of the decision.  They actually suggested the middle name Friday morning over breakfast and we liked it so much, we went with it.


Baby Bird is now…


Jeremiah Luke

Just the 10 of them.



Bethany, 10(almost 11), Elianna, 3, Miriam, 9, Caleb, 6, Olivia, 7.

Thomas, 16, holding Jeremiah, 2 days, Nathan, 14, holding Levi, 2, Abigail, 12.



We are now evenly divided, 5 girls and 5 boys!


Abigail, Bethany, Miriam, Elianna, Olivia

Thomas, Jeremiah, Caleb, Nathan, Levi


Just a few more shots to make you smile.



I love his eyes.


Jeremiah Luke

3 December 2014

11:56 pm

9 pounds 3 ounces

22 inches


Psalm 127

1 Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.


The Finishing Touches and the Last Meal

August 2014


Another friend came to say goodbye, it was fun to see him one more time before we left.  Levi was not impressed with him.  hahahaha.  We lovingly refer to him as our token African friend because he is really from Africa and he eats exotic things like zebra and lion.  hahaha

Those crazy Americans.



Cleaning up the basement.  We tried to leave the house cleaner than it was when we arrived.  I don’t know that we achieved that, but at least we did the best we could do.  It was helpful that the kidlets were older and could help a lot more.




You can see we still have stuff to pack.



The hallway is clean.



Our last family picture at our home of almost 5 years.




What will we do?  We are going to be homeless, really we were.   OK not really.  Remember the house that we looked at and made an offer on before we left Iowa, after some back and forth, the Sunday before we left NC we finally came to an agreement on price and a move in date before closing.  If that is not God, I don’t know what was.  I know that seller may have been a bit anxious that we would not follow through after we moved in, but anyone who knows  us knows that we hate moving all our stuff, so once it was in, we were not going to move out and it is cheaper for us to buy than to rent.  God had opened the door for every single step of the move and we could and would trust him for housing and for a quick closing.  So, Monday I spent the day getting utilities lined up for our new house.




Trying to gather last minute things to get into the vans.  I cannot believe how much garbage we threw away and how much we were able to recycle.  Soo much garbage and I thought I had gone through and gotten rid of a bunch of garbage in the previous few months.  Garbage seems to multiply when one moves.




Since we had no fridge and no dishes and we were all work out of take out, Ted took us out for a late lunch that Monday, to Steak and Shake.





Nathan and Levi.



The entire tired group.




The cutest ones of the group.




Ted and his crazy egg burger.



It was such a fun time to just rest, relax and not see empty spaces or think about our long drive the next day.  We just rested in the moment.



And the Truck Arrives

August 14, 2014


The week we had between vacation and the moving truck arriving was so very busy.  We were able to get so much done in that short week.  God is good.


We used ABF/uPack when we moved to NC and we moved them again when we moved back to Iowa.  We love this company.  Yes it is pricier than using a move yourself place, but it is worth every single penny.  We had three days to pack the truck, not including the weekend and when it gets delivered on the other end, we get three days to unpack the truck.  They pick it up and drive it for us.  It is great.  No, I am not a paid spokesperson, but I would recommend them to anyone doing a long move with a family.



Levi loves trucks, so does Caleb.



Adios Mr. Driver Man.  The boys were enthralled with the entire process.



The empty truck.





The truck full of energy.



The truck had 28 feet of space to pack all of our stuff in it.  (hint, it did not all fit, we had to get a second truck, still worth every penny since we only had to pay for the part we were going to use, not the entire second truck.)


Friends came to say goodbye. :(



Olivia supervising the packing by blowing bubbles.



All of our stuff laid out to go on the truck.  God gave the best weather to pack.  Not too hot, not too humid, just perfect, until the last day, that day it was hot and humid, but still, no rain.  That is amazing.



This is about the time we realized we would need another truck.  It was Thursday afternoon.  I called and got this truck scheduled to get picked up on Friday and a new truck dropped off at the same time.  It worked great.





So much stuff.  I guess that is what happens when you move a student’s library, homeschool books for 12 grades, clothes for 11 people, beds for 11 people, and all their other stuff.  I actually think we did pretty good.  Yes, we still have more to get rid of, but it was a good start. 11 bikes, outdoor toys, tools, snow shovels.




Thomas wondering how we are going to be able to get it all in the truck and wondering why we have so much stuff.



Levi making sure his fire truck is not packed just yet.



Still working hard, making use of every single inch.


I tried to stay inside and not give my $ .02 at every decision made.  I think it worked well.  I tried to do the same on the other end too.  We needed to have one leader and it was not going to be me.  We were blessed by some special friends who came to help us pack the truck and clean and keep me entertained and occupied so I did not wander outside too much.




Thomas Makes Ribs

August 2014


We had been watching some cooking shows.  Thomas loves ribs.  I do not like ribs, the smell, the feel, the anything about them.  I asked if he would cook them if I bought them.  He said he would.  I bought the stuff and he made them.



Slicing the perfectly cooked ribs.





It is all about the presentation.



Chips and ribs.



Thomas doing the honors of serving them up.



Is he going to get the perfect bite?  I believe he did.



Olivia trying the ribs.


Levi even tried them.


Sean, taking the perfect bite and Elianna hamming it up in the background.




Nathan enjoyed the ribs.

I am the only one who did not try them.  See the first part of the post. ;)  Most people enjoyed them, not everyone liked them, but I was proud that they tried them.  Thomas even said he would make them again if I would buy the ingredients.  I will take him up on that offer for sure.



























Living Among the Boxes

August 2014


While we had already started going through things and packing before vacation in anticipation of a move, when we got home on August 5th, we had to pack quickly as the truck was being delivered in 8 days, on August 13.  We worked hard every day to get as much done as we could get done.  Because our house was not every big and we did not have a lot of places to store things, boxes went wherever they could go, even if that meant in the middle of the room,


behind the couch,

in the basement, where we used to do school work,

in the area where we keep our outdoor toys,



our storage room,



or the other part of the basement.



The little ones loves the new play set in the family room.



I am not really sure the game, but they had a great time.



Fighting over the throne?






Cutting Vacation Short

August 2014


We had to cut our vacation short so we could head home and pack up our house and move to Iowa.  We left on Monday, August 4th.  We drove as far as we could the first day, but also tried to enjoy the ride and stop at beautiful places to see the sights.  Here we are at a rest stop in Illinois, just over the Iowa border.



Really, I needed to get out of the van and walk around as I was dealing with lots of swelling at the time.




Such a pretty shot, looking toward Iowa.




Then we stopped at a rest stop to eat our lunch.  Bethany was supervising the boys.


Levi supervising the girls.


Beautiful Kentucky scenery.


Olivia swore she did not fall asleep, so we took pictures to prove it.


Love this girl.

Winding roads of West Virginia.  I love the drive.  I will miss the scenery, but I will not miss the drive.

Levi is out.  The chupa was taken away from him soon after his second birthday.  This may be one of the last pictures with him and his beloved chupa.
Until next time.









Happy 9th Birthday, Miriam


July 2014/August 2014


Because we were heading to Iowa and Wisconsin for vacation, Miriam took her blanket pictures before we left for vacation. Ignore the stained carpet. hahaha


9 years old.



Taller than her blankets, by more than a head.




She is so full of joy and giggles.




She even lost a tooth before we left for vacation.





We spent part of her birthday at a friends house and then came back to the church apartment to open gifts.  Just about everyone was ready for bed, it was late, but what is a birthday without gifts?





Yes, we love Amazon at our home and the box was big enough to bring all the gifts along.




Small Lego Friends set.





She turned 9, time for her own sewing kit so she can sew all the things that need to be repaired.





A couple of dolls, clothes, Lego sets and a sewing kid and a few tired children.




Just because she is so cute.





When we got home, in the frenzy of packing, she and her sisters made and decorated Birthday Cupcakes.




And we celebrated her birth again.


Happy Birthday, Sweet Pea.



Until next year,



The Great Water Fight



August 2014


When we heard they wanted to have a water fight the last day and there were some who wanted to fill up 2000 water balloons, we had our doubts.  That was a lot of water balloons to do in one day.  So someone suggested they start filling them earlier in the week, so that is what they did.  In order to get them to stay intact, baskets and buckets were lined with garbage bags and then as balloons were added, water was added to equalize the pressure on the balloons.  I believe they call that physics.





There were a lot of balloons, hahahaha, a lot of balloons.  And these are not even all of them.

It started out nice, with a toss.  It was nice of the big kids to team up with little ones.

And then the craziness began and the balloons began to disappear quickly.  I tried to stay out of the fight and sit with the kidlets that did not want to get wet.  I also guarded phones, glasses and other valuables of people who got pulled into the fight.
Even the older people enjoyed the water fight.

But the balloons were gone much to quickly, according to the kidlets.  Hahahaha.  For  how long it took them to fill the balloons, it was over way too quickly.  For the risk of getting wet, it went on too long. ;)


More Vacation Shots

August 2014



Lunch with friends after VBS one day.



Bible memorization in the background, Thomas in the foreground.

Of course the baby is in Abigail’s arms, or Bethany’s or Miriam’s or Olivia.  Elianna did not even get jealous.



Even with all the hours we spent in the van, they were still smiling.






Big sisters are a pain in the neck.




I’m still here too.




No one was fussy because we were meeting friends at HuHot.





We had to sit at two separate tables, a kids table and an adult table.  Not our favorite option.




Levi was much happier this time.




I have to laugh at this picture.  See, the girls had the camera this night and when I looked at the pictures, there were all sorts of pictures of their food.  I have no idea who they got this from.  bwahahaha.



Elianna and her chicken and french fries.




She is demonstrating how to use chopsticks the proper Irish way.



Mom and Miriam in the food line.

Hanging out at the church one day.

Taking notes of things we need to do now that we are preparing to move in less than 3 weeks.

Shoe earmuffs, the new fashion trend.