Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy 7th birthday Zari!

Halloween is a great time for a birthday.

We did our usual birthday celebrations: homemade cake, opening presents (wrapped in brown paper--who needs wrapping paper when you have paper shopping bags?), looking at Zari's memory book, and reading her birth story.

This year Zari said she wanted a fancy cake that she could decorate. I made a 4-layer pink ombre cake. I even dyed the pink frosting 3 different shades. I frosted the cake, then put Zari in charge of decorating it.

I love ombre!

We embarked on a new adventure last week and invited a family with 8 children to come live with us. They spent more than half a year driving around the United States, up and down both coasts and all over in between. With colder weather moving in, they were getting really cold living in a tent. Our kids are in heaven with all the playmates around. And my house has never been cleaner, thanks to all the industrious helpers I now have!

Happy Birthday Zari! You can read her birth story here or browse around the November 2006 archives to read more about her early days with us.
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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Ivy is 7 months old!

Remember how Ivy started commando crawling at 5 months and perfected crawling before she was 6 months? Now she's pulling herself up to standing on everything: walls, beds, couches, chairs, my legs, cabinet knobs...

Poor thing is still fairly unsteady on her legs, so she's had some good tumbles backwards. I've also caught her climbing up a step stool; she got stranded on the top and needed rescuing.

And she's starting climbing up stairs. Yet Ivy still isn't interested in sitting like a normal baby. No way!

Ivy is very sensitive to other people. If she's in my arms or Eric's, she smiles at everyone and makes noises to get their attention. But if I pass her on to someone...the world is ending! Go away scary stranger! (even when it's grandma).

Sleep is pretty much awful. With rare exceptions, Ivy wakes up every 2 hours at night starting at around 11 pm. That translates into me getting about 1 1/2 hours of sleep at a time, factoring in how long it takes to nurse her and put her back down. It's hard to sustain this week after week, month after month.

I've tried various things to see if I can help her sleep longer stretches, but they just fail. Patting her on the back or holding and rocking her? She gets furious. Letting her fuss and seeing if she'll settle herself back down? Nope. She'll cry for an hour or more and still be wide awake. I've resigned myself to just nursing her as soon as she wakes up. It's the least bad solution.

But you know what? I can live with the mind-numbing fatigue. I've lived through it three other times, and I've survived. Eventually babies start to sleep. It gets better. And there's so much about this stage that I love and will miss terribly when it's over.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What I'm up to right now

Pumping (to donate) as I type. Trying to hurry up so I can nurse Ivy, who just woke up...

Old Job

I'm teaching freshman composition again this semester. Between teaching, taking care of four children, and the demands of everyday life, my free time is close to nonexistent. The kids are all asleep by 7:30-8 pm, so I have a 2-hour window of time to "get stuff done." In the summers, this means reading books or checking emails. During the school year, this means grading papers and prepping for class.

Oh, and did I mention that Ivy wakes up every 2 hours at night? I'm also really tired. 

New Job

I took on a new job this summer: renovating on a historic property in town. It was originally a 2-family side-by-side home built in 1900. Several decades ago, each home was split into two apartments, making 4 total. I was hired to oversee all aspects of the renovations, since the property owner lives across the country.

I get to do fun stuff like choose finishes and paint colors or visit antique stores for light fixtures and doorknobs...and the less glamorous stuff like decide when to tear down a wall or when to keep the original flooring versus when it's not able to be salvaged.

We are keeping as many of the historic details and original finishes as possible. The kitchens and bathrooms all needed to be completely renovated, though. Don't you love the granite tile countertops and the mosaic tile backsplash?

This property is amazing--or rather, it will be when we're done. Here are some before and after pictures from the first two apartments, both on the ground floor.

Apartment #1 Before:

Apartment #1 After:

Apartment #2 Before:

Apartment #2 After:

Now that these two downstairs apartments are finished and rented, we're working on the upstairs apartments. One will be done by early November, the other by early December. 

Apples Everywhere

I have hundreds of pounds of organic apples that I picked from a friend's tree or that were given to me. I've been making applesauce. I have a new respect for home canning. It's so much work! So far I've put up 42 quarts and still have tons of apples left.

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Thursday, October 03, 2013

Canadian NICU puts parents in charge

At Mount Sinai Hospital in Ontario, Canada, the NICU has implemented a new program putting parents in charge of their baby's care. From an article at CTV News:

Parents have long been encouraged to spend time with their babies in the NICU, but they were typically more observers than participants, often feeling helpless and lost as they sat by their child's isolette watching every breath, trying to make sense of the monitors and startling at every bell or buzzer around them.

"With family integrated care, we have done something quite different," explains Dr. Shoo Lee, pediatrician-in-chief and director of the Maternal-Infant Care Research Centre.

"What we've done is to say that for all babies in the NICU, the parents should be the primary caregivers, not the nurses. And the nurses are really teachers to the parents."

The program was instituted following a 2011-2012 pilot project in which the parents of 40 newborns were asked to spend a minimum of eight hours a day in the NICU and tasked with the overall management of their child's care.

That included bathing and changing diapers, monitoring the infant's vital signs, and recording feedings and weight gain on their medical chart. Nurses were responsible for the medical side of care -- looking after feeding tubes, adjusting ventilation apparatus and administering medications.

The babies' progress was compared with those whose care was primarily provided by nurses, and Lee says "the results were phenomenal."

"There was a 25 per cent improvement in weight gain of the babies who were looked after by the parents," he says. "Breastfeeding rates doubled from 40-something per cent to over 80 per cent. Infection rates fell from 11 per cent in the nurse group to zero in the parent group. Treatment errors dropped by 25 per cent. Parental satisfaction went up, parental stress went down.

What a fantastic idea! I hope this becomes standard practice across more NICUs.

Read the rest of the article here
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