Thursday, May 27, 2010

Severe morning sickness

The term "morning sickness" is a real misnomer. True morning sickness can strike any time of day, or rather, often lasts all day and night. If you find yourself sick only upon waking, you may just need to eat a larger meal with more protein before bed to keep your stomach fuller while sleeping, or eat a small, easy snack any time you wake up during the night (like almonds, cheese, etc.).

I have had severe morning sickness with every single pregnancy except one. By severe, I mean non-stop nausea, and throwing up more than a dozen of times every day. It feels just like food poisoning, except that it lasts for months instead of hours or days. I figure that to date, I have spend almost 2 years of my life dealing with severe morning sickness. This condition is called "hyperemesis gravidarum", and trying to explain it someone who has never experienced it is hard if not impossible.

The nausea is all-encompassing. There is not one second any given day that I do not feel like I am going to throw up immediately, and many times, that is exactly what I am doing. There is a permanent taste in my mouth that is a disgusting mixture of vinegar and metal. I may think I am craving a certain food, go through the trouble of fixing it in hopes it will stay down, only to take one bite and realize it tastes like - vinegar and metal.

Then there are the insane amounts of mucous and saliva that my out-of-whack pregnancy hormones make me produce. This is another throwing up-trigger. Plus, throwing up when my throat is coated in mucous has the unpleasant side effect that I will for hours afterward taste and smell the stomach acid and vomit residues that inevitably stay behind. It does not cancel out the vinegar and metal taste, however.

Are you grossed out yet? I know I am. This has been my daily, hourly, every-second reality for the past six weeks, and there seems to be no relief in sight. In the past, I always got completely better by about 14 to 16 weeks pregnancy, and I am just past 12 weeks right now. It is hard to imagine I will ever in my life feel normal again, but that's what has always happened in the past, so I'm hopeful.

All my senses are on hyper-stimulation mode. If I smell or taste any food, if I hear a loud/sudden/rhythmic noise, if I see busy patterns/flashing/bright lights, or if anyone touches me, I get sicker. Some examples of everyday situations that put me over the edge include: getting ads in the paper for fast food/pizza, smelling any personal care products on other people (soap, shampoo, perfume), my kids chattering excitedly, changing dirty diapers, cooking any food, people suggesting or discussing various foods, not getting tons and tons of sleep (as in, 12 hours per 24 hour period), my husband or kids touching or trying to kiss me, going from lying down to sitting to standing, and vice versa, going to a grocery store and seeing food products, heat (and we are approaching 100 degrees every day here in Phoenix), showering (the heat and humidity are just too much), sudden screaming and crying, a door slamming, a busy pattern on a tie, talking on the phone, kids walking in and out through the back door repeatedly, the vibrations of the floor from rambunctious boys running around, and literally another 100 everyday situations. In a perfect world, I would never leave my bedroom, much less the house, but that is obviously not an option.

One major challenge has been that I cannot under any circumstances drink more than 3 sips of fluids at any given time. Yesterday morning, I took Solomon to a music lesson and afterward drank a half cup of water in one sitting, just because I was so thirsty. I hardly made it back to the van before violently throwing up not only all the water, but also my breakfast. Yes, I keep a trash can in the van for occasions such as this, which occur pretty much on any given day that I leave the house. Of course, such limited fluid intake will quickly lead to dehydration, which further aggravates the morning sickness. I have tried to stay ahead of that by taking many small sips, but even at that, I am probably getting no more than 2 cups of water in per day right now. When I am not pregnant, 12 cups per day is nothing for me. I have tried to offset this by eating lots of melons and grapes, something I am always craving when pregnant. I also try to eat lots of soups. I tend to get kidney infections easily when I am pregnant, and drinking so little does nothing to help avert those.

Severe nausea like this has been compared by those who have experience both to the nausea typically associated with chemo therapy. I am glad that I am sick because me and baby are healthy, and not because I am battling for my life. Still, such nausea has repercussions on every area of life, physical, emotional, financial, and otherwise.

Physical, because my throat feels like someone took a knife to the inside of it, a result of all the stomach acid going where it was never meant to. I'm sure I'll need a couple more fillings in my teeth when all is said and done. Emotional, because this is the hardest, most discouraging, and most depressing thing I ever go through in life. Which, honestly, isn't that bad compared to much worse things I could be going through that others face, so I'm not complaining here. Financial, because I spend much more than I usually would on food and other convenience items such as paper plates and cups. Not only does most of what I eat end up in the toilet, only for me to have to consume yet another meal, but I can usually also only tolerate to eat everything once. If I throw it up, I can never ever eat it again, so there is a constant need to get new foods I am craving (the only hope of it staying down). Plus, I neither have time to cook nor shop the sales right now.

There are many mornings when I wake up, and cry because I cannot possibly face another day of sickness and being completely out of commission. Then the kids wake up and excitedly climb onto my bed, the jiggling from which makes my stomach turn right there and then. From then on, the day becomes one giant act of trying to maintain as normal a life as possible. Thankfully, the older kids are very understanding, and when the girls take their nap they will play or read silently while I also lie down. Tonight, Solomon hung and folded a couple of loads of laundry for me, and straightened up my bedroom. Isaac has been very good about taking care of the dog and the other outside chores, such as watering our vegetables. John is great about playing with the girls and keeping them busy if I have to lie down unexpectedly, and he also writes me the sweetest and most encouraging notes.

I know this post must sound like one big giant whine, but the nausea is a small price to pay for the wonderful blessing that children are. I am hoping that someone else who suffers from debilitating morning sickness may feel encouraged that they are not the only ones going through this, that it is worth it, and that it will end.

I have blogged before on dealing with severe morning sickness. Today, I also happened across a blog called The Whining Puker, that has some great info, encouragement, and links on this topic.

In the end, I just try to focus on keeping a positive attitude. Cuddling my little girls reminds me of why it is that I am feeling sick - I am growing another human being at breakneck speed.

I am also very grateful for how caring, understanding, and helpful the boys are. My husband has been very understanding, encouraging, and helpful during this time, as he always is. Several ladies from church have come over pretty much every week to help me with the chores that I simply cannot keep up with these days. I do tend to feel slightly better in the evenings after the kids are in bed and things quiet down, which gives me a chance to catch up on a couple of critical chores and make myself a large meal before bed.

This, too, shall pass. If you are so inclined, please pray for me to get over this very, very soon.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Yay, I have hit 100 followers on Blogger, and that in spite of the unpopular things I write about.

I am also coming up on my 500th blog post. If you have any suggestions for a subject you would like me to blog about in the near future, please submit your idea in the comments below.

There are several unfinished posts I have been working on here and there, as well as another Q&A with the questions I did not get to last time. Please bear with me as I try to just survive during this phase of morning sickness and fatigue. I am really hoping it will be over in the next couple of weeks.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

You have got to be kidding me

Or: What will they think of next?

The First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana has been in a tailspin ever since Dr. Jack Schaap became the Pastor there after Dr. Jack Hyles passed away. I never cease to be amazed with the new things they come up with. I find many things objectionable and perverted about Dr. Schaap, such as this and this. Other things, such as today's exhibit, while still wrong, is just ridiculous to the point where I can't help but laugh, scratch my head, and wonder why nobody in that church is saying "Enough!".

So, what am I talking about? Well, First Baptist Church just started their "First Baptist Bible Institute", an online learning system that promises to

enable you to become grounded in core Christian concepts and doctrines. It is our desire to give every believer a foundation that will equip them for the service of God. We believe that it is our responsibility to fulfill the Great Commission. "Go, Win, Baptize, and Teach" is our motto and our creed. The purpose of this system is to accomplish the fourth part of the commission!

Okay, doesn't sound wrong, does it? I mean, maybe redundant, since such teaching should occur on a weekly basis from the pulpit, but maybe they are thinking it will get people to learn who do not or cannot attend the services.

But remember the above phrases, "it is our responsibility to fulfill the Great Commission. "Go, Win, Baptize, and Teach" is our motto and our creed. The purpose of this system is to accomplish the fourth part of the commission!"

The Great Commission does, in fact, command churches to teach all nations, which this program aims to do, and FBC makes no secret out of the fact that this is not optional, but rather a "responsibility".

Matthew 28:19 says: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:"

So this teaching is not optional. It is, according to the Bible and FBC itself, a command of God.

But why, if teaching new converts is a command of God, are they charging $99.95 to fulfill this obligation? That's the reduced price; after May 31st, the regular price is $149.95. What's next? Admission prices to church? Or do they now ask people if they would like to know how they can go to Heaven, and then charge a fee for telling them how to? I mean, they ARE saying it is part of the Great Commission.

When we were going to church there, we had to BUY the invitations that we used for soulwinning from their bookstore. Not just the nice glossy ones (they were more expensive), but even the cheap tri-fold copied ones on colored paper. We also had to pay a weekly fee to work in their chapel ministry (an outreach ministry in South Chicago). I should add that all students of the college were required to participate in one of the ministries, and that all of these charged a weekly fee of about $10 of every one of their workers to cover their operating expenses. At our church, the tithes and offerings cover these costs, as they should.

And why is this material not covered in their regular services? I mean, a lady I know from when we lived there was saying online that her husband and whole family are taking the Bible Foundation course, in spite of the fact that they have been Christians for many years. They both attended this church's Bible college. Maybe they are on staff and are required to take it? Who knows.

Wow! I guess First Baptist Church has to pay for that new big empty palace of a church building somehow.

Friday, May 21, 2010

She's a big girl now

A week ago, Becky graduated to her big girl bed. I wanted her to make the transition in plenty of time before the new baby, so she wouldn't feel pushed out or replaced. We were also getting tired of her new trick of laying in bed in the exact opposite direction of us (the three of us basically forming a giant "H"), and kicking/shoving us both in the chops all night long.

For having spent the first 18 months of her life in our bed, she made the switch very happily and eagerly. In fact, she was nothing short of thrilled. If any of her siblings tries to get near her bed, she shrieks and gets mad at them.

Solomon, the sweet big brother that he always is, sewed her a cute pillow all by himself. It's hard to see in the pictures, but he used a bunch of different special stitches to "embroider" the pillowcase.

One night, when my husband was gone on a business trip, Becky woke up to drink some water as she does every night. After giving her some, I was going to move her to my bed for the rest of the night, but she would have none of it. She only wanted back to her own bed and her special pillow :( I'm over it now...

So now, on nights when my husband is gone, the other kids quickly figured out that there is plenty of extra room in my bed, and they have been taking turns spending the night there. I will have to pull the plug on their fun shortly, because I am a light sleeper and the big kids all toss a lot and wake me up.

They always grow up much too fast!!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My Cookie Jar

I know that since my last post, you all have been waiting to see that wonderful cookie jar I made. Okay, so maybe not, but I for one could hardly wait until it was ready to be picked up this afternoon. It is impossible to predict how a piece will look until it's glazed and burned, which is what makes the colors and other effects come out.

I was not following any sample or pattern at all. At first, it took me almost a half hour to find a piece I wanted to paint, and to get some basic ideas of what to put on it. But once I started, I kept getting more and more ideas, until it all came together like this. It's amazing how my brain will start working when I don't have five little voices bombarding me from all sides!

So here it is...

A close-up of the "Cookies" across the front. I was trying to incorporate cookies into the letters.

The jar lid says "Just One More...". I also tried to paint the knob to look like a cookie.

The inside of the jar.

The back. All the cookies on this jar are outlined in puffy black paint, which is also what I used to make the "chocolate chips" in the cookies. It really adds a neat effect.

Across the bottom of the jar, I wrote: "A broken cookie...

... doesn't have ...

... any calories!"

Of course, it would not have been complete if we hadn't also baked cookies today. They did not really come out as dark as the picture is making them out to be. These are oatmeal peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips and walnuts. Personally, I find cookies much too sweet, but the kids each had a couple of them with a glass of milk during story time tonight. Then they were all saying how they are getting up early tomorrow morning to be the first to raid the jar for breakfast... eek! Let's hope not!!!

I really, really hope this jar lasts a while and does not end up shattered on the tile, like every other pottery project I have ever made...

Monday, May 17, 2010

A rare day of R&R

This morning, I woke up unusually worn out and kind of dreading the rest of this week. We have been doing a lot of spring cleaning around here these last couple of weeks, which not only made me sick, but also very tired. My husband is going to be working a lot this whole next week, so he will not be able to help me virtually at all. He was home most of today, though, and I really wanted to get out of the house and get a break from my daily tasks.

So shortly after noon, after I had fed the family lunch and put the two girls down for their naps, I took off. I had a light lunch at a sandwich shop, and lucky for me, they had tomato soup, which is what I had been craving for days. Afterward I got a large iced tea at a coffee shop and headed for a matinee viewing of "Babies".

I am not usually one to go to the movies, because I refuse to watch the garbage put out by Hollywood. In the last 10 years, I have only been to the theater twice (the other time was to watch "Food Inc."). I liked "Babies", although I definitely think it is for ladies only - there is a lot of al fresco breastfeeding going on the whole time. The documentary has no narrative or story line, no subtitles. It is simply footage from following four babies from birth until their first birthday. There is one baby from Mongolia, one from Japan, one from Namibia, and one from the USA. It was interesting to see how much alike parents and babies the world over are. It was funny to hear a mother scolding her child in another language that I do not understand, yet it was entirely clear what she must have been saying. Babies everywhere fuss, make messes, and keep their parents on their toes. And they are all adorably cute, bring smiles to everyone around them, and explore the world in the same way. One of my favorite scenes was the Mongolian baby having a piece of white bacon fat popped in its mouth for a pacifier, with a matchstick stuck through it as a "stopper". In fact, I think I liked the Mongolian family the best of all four featured families.

After that, I went to a paint-your-own-pottery studio. At first, I could not decide what to make or how to paint it, but once I got started, it was hard to stop. I spent over three hours decorating a big huge cookie jar. It won't be glazed and ready until Thursday afternoon, and I can't wait to see how it turned out. As it so happened, the studio has a special promotion on Mondays that if you spend $50, they give you $15 off. My studio fee and the cookie jar came out to be $43, so I bought an ice cream bowl for $8 to paint another day to put me over the limit and bring my total down to $36. Then the lady gave me a coupon for a free studio fee, so now I can come back and paint the ice-cream bowl for totally free another day! I think $36 for both items and hours and hours of relaxing creativity is a great deal!

On the way home, I stopped for some groceries at Whole Foods. I was kind of famished at this point and wound up buying too much yummy stuff, amongst which were the tastiest rotisserie chicken and absolutely delicious red grapes, better than any I have had in many years. I am still suffering from horrible morning sickness, so finding foods that sit well with me is really hard right now. These totally hit the spot.

By the time I got home, it was almost 7. I watched the kids ride their bikes on our street while I was sitting in the front yard reading and munching. When they went to bed, my husband went go-kart racing with a few other guys from our church, so the house is totally quiet now. I only have to do a quick clean-up, and then hopefully I can squeeze in a bath and some reading time before going to bed.

Days like this are a very, very rare treat. I SO enjoyed it, and really needed it. Now I feel ready for the rest of the week. Hope you're off to a good start this week, too!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Caesar Salad Dressing

This is the recipe for my favorite homemade creamy Caesar salad dressing. This recipe makes a lot, so you may want to only make half or even quarter of it, as it tastes best fresh.

1 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp milk or half and half

Mix all ingredients together until well blended.

For younger kids, you can "turn down the heat" by using less garlic. Personally, we prefer more of it.

Inquiring Minds

Yesterday, after dropping my husband off at the airport, I decided to stop at Trader Joe's on the way home. I was not feeling well at all, but needed some food and the kids were already packed up and had their shoes on, something I did not want to have to do again later. It was an interesting experience.

The kids were being good and mellow at the store, they knew my morning sickness was particularly bad. Still, I ended up getting sick, and wondering if people who heard me through the bathroom door would think I was either hung over from the night before or had some terrible illness that I was passing around the store.

Anyhow, I finally made it to the register. Most of the people who work there recognize our family. They always ask where the kids are when I go shopping without them. I have seen the young guy who checked us out yesterday many times. As he was ringing up our stuff, he asked: "I hope you have some backup at home?", and I really didn't understand what he meant, so I asked him. He glanced to see if I had a ring on my left hand, and then said that he meant a husband to help me with all these kids. I said I did, and added "I'm expecting our sixth, I better have a husband at home." I added that I had grown up in a single/remarried home, and that I would never ever do that to my kids.

Then he went on and started asking "Are you ...?" and I said "No, we are not Mormon". I get asked that a lot because there's a huge Mormon community in this area. Plus, we're white, and all our kids are blond, so it fits the preferred racial profile for Mormons who not very long ago thought that people had darker skin to the degree of their sinfulness. Then he said "Well, what are you, because clearly you must have some religious conviction about having children." I told him we were Christians, Baptists. He added "Yeah, because Christians think it is a command of God to procreate."

At this point, I corrected him. I always take slight offense when people act like I only have kids because I "have to". Do the Bill Gates and Donald Trumps of this world make money because they "have to"? No. They do it because they like money. We like children more than any earthly riches, and the more we have, the more blessed we are. So I told him that no, it was NOT a command of God to procreate. I said that the Bible teaches that children are God's reward and blessing, but that the number of children was to be left in God's hand. I added that some people are infertile, and they certainly were under no command to force pregnancy at all cost to fulfill some commandment of procreation. I think he understood what I meant, and I think he really was just curious and not antagonistic.

It always amazes me that those of us with "large" families (and I honestly don't consider five kids a large family, I feel like we are just getting started) have to explain why we do not artificially alter our bodies chemically, surgically, or otherwise to perform different from how God designed it. I am not doing anything - how can that be wrong? This philosophy is especially obvious in the expression "we are trying" or "are you trying?" referring to people who are trying to get pregnant. I am never "trying". People on birth control are the ones trying not to get pregnant, while I am just being me - a woman.

If other people practice birth control methods that do not take the life of their unborn (which is what hormonal methods, implants, IUDs, etc. do), I disagree with their opinion in my mind, but I would never personally confront them about that. It's their loss, not mine. They are the ones missing out on the blessings that God may have had in store for them, which is punishment enough.

Yet, our society thinks there is nothing wrong with a man questioning a woman that he doesn't even know publicly and in front of her children about her reasons as to why she is not popping a bunch of artificial hormones. I mean, he's not the one who has to feed and care for all these kids. In fact, I am helping keep that store in business, with as much food as we go through on a daily basis. And again, I don't even think he was trying to be smart with me.

Well, they have their treasures, and I have mine. :)

Monday, May 10, 2010

No News

Not much of anything worth reporting has been going on around here. I am currently in my ninth week of pregnancy and still getting sicker every single day. Imagine getting food poisoning from a bad burger. That is what I feel like 24 hours a day, every day for weeks now. Only, I have to keep eating, which makes me throw up. If I don't eat, I get even sicker. So now imagine having to go back to that junky burger joint every day, for every meal, and it keeps making you sicker, and you'll get an idea of what I feel like.

My laptop was my lifeline to sanity for a while, but last week, out of nowhere, it decided to not turn on any more. Never mind the fact that it is less than two months old (it was a birthday present). Have I ever mentioned how much I hate Fry's Electronics? I have literally NEVER bought anything there that I have not had to return. My husband likes the store, and he was the one buying the present, but I would not even buy a candy bar in that store. I mean, how can an "electronics" store take themselves serious when they also sell pedicure kits for dogs and all kinds of other crazy junk?

In these almost two weeks, I have not managed to take my laptop back for a repair/replacement (it's under warranty). I have just been too sick, and my husband too busy. The weather outside is heating up, every day has been close to 100 degrees, and I am already sick and dehydrated even without stepping outside. I only go to the store if I absolutely must, and usually throw up at some point while shopping, which is anything but easy with five kids in tow. Given that the return lines at Fry's take FOREVER, I just have not been able to go in. So my blogging is going to continue to be sporadic until I get the issue with my laptop resolved. I am just too sick to sit up at the home computer most days.

I cannot wait for this phase to be over, but I know it is going to be several more weeks. :(

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Tooth Frog

Isaac is now missing three of his four front teeth.

Yes, we have a Tooth Frog. Not a Tooth Fairy, our boys would never consider that manly enough - to have a fairy hide money for them under their pillows in exchange for lost teeth. The idea of a squishy frog in bed is much more appealing to them. Besides all which, I try to stay away from all the fairytales and mythical and such. So, the Tooth Frog it is. Not sure what we'll do for the girls, I imagine if they are anything like me, the thought of a frog climbing into their bed while they are asleep would creep them out.

Well, the Tooth Frog - me - has been plenty busy these days. Isaac lost two teeth last week, and one the week before that. Solomon lost one just yesterday. I had almost no cash in the house when Isaac lost his teeth last week, so I just hid some change under his pillow - in exchange for TWO teeth. He was trying not to show it, but I could tell he was disappointed. I mean, when you are 7, there are very limited options for making money. I think to our kids, having their teeth pulled (by me, with a string - but I refuse to do it unless the tooth is hanging by a thread) is their version of donating plasma just to get the money. Sad, huh?

So when the Tooth Frog - me - came around for Solomon last night, I felt bad for poor little Isaac. I made a little pack with a couple of bucks for Isaac, along with a note of regret that the Tooth Frog had been short on cash the previous week. I made another little pack for Solomon, with a note reminding him to brush those pearly whites.

Then, I turned out the lights for the night and started down the hall in the dark. Suddenly, my foot brushed up against something cold, wet, and squishy. Since I had just finished writing notes as my alter ego, Tooth Frog, I immediately thought it was a frog and was grossed out. Totally unreasonable, as it is much too dry for frogs to live on our property, but it was late and I was tired. Plus, I had just swept the hall not 10 minutes earlier, so I KNEW there could have been nothing left on the floor from the kids.

At least I didn't shriek. I used my cell phone as a flash light and discovered that the "frog" was a piece of banana, probably from Becky. My guess is that it was stuck in the broom, and that I left it there when I swept the floor. It was funny, and the kids got a good laugh when I told them about it this morning.

Ah, when I remember the agony that our kids went through to have those little teeth! And just like that, with one little tug, they are forever gone. I LOVED those teeth, seriously. I remember when Solomon, our firstborn, finally had his first tooth pop through after months and months of chewing, drooling, and fussing. We were at a zoo in the Bay Area, where my husband was working and I was trying to kill some time while we were waiting for him. Solomon was running a low fever and sleeping most of the day. When he finally woke up, the fever was gone and the tooth was out. I will never forget that. I will also never forget how he used those sharp little teeth to almost bite off Isaac's right index finger when Isaac was just two days old, and Solomon was not quite 16 months. He didn't even mean any harm, I think he was just seriously intrigued by how this new little person acted, functioned, and (apparently) tasted. It was the first time Isaac really cried, and it sent me flying into the room to check on him. Well, no more of that... :(

Do you do anything when your child(ren) lose(s) a tooth? How much money do you leave, if any?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Blessing of Daughters

I can honestly say that I love each and every single one of our children equally, and that this love for them is unique, just as their personalities are. There definitely is not one child that stands out as my favorite - they are all my favorites!

Yet, there is such a special blessing in having a daughter, and much more in having two. Little girls are such a joy to me as a mother. I connect with my sweeties in ways that the boys just cannot relate, and they probably feel the same way about their Dad.

I think if I only had sons and no daughters I would have missed out on one of the sweetest blessings that life has to offer. It's hard to explain, but there is a bond between me and my daughters that is just between "girls only".

Today was our church's annual Mother-Daughter Tea party. It's hard to believe I now have two sweet little angels to take along, one more pretty than the other. Becky still has more of a cute baby look, with her doll face and porcelain skin, whereas with Miriam I am starting to see what she will look like as an adult. I literally never once look at her without being taken aback by how beautiful she is. But more than that, they are beautiful on the inside.

I love my daughters. I hope God in His grace will bless me with many more.

Outside the tea house



Miriam was fascinated by the sugar cubes, something she had never seen before.

She loved using the little silver tongs...

... and drank cup after cup of tea, just so she could keep putting the sugar cubes in her cup with the tongs. She also offered to put sugar in the cups of everyone else at our table.

Becky was so cute, just like a little lady.

Miriam in thought.

Me and the girls.

Becky loved the Devonshire cream.

Can you see her tongue?!?

Miriam was a little more sophisticated.

Group photo