24 October 2013

I was recently asked...

Who I admired the most.  I wanted to put a lot of thought into it. I immediately thought of my Mom, because I do admire her a great deal.  I love her and I look up to her and I respect her so much.  My Mom is one of my best friends in the world, but after putting a lot of thought into it I chose my grandmother.  Not just one or the other though, both of them.

Both of them were strong, independent thinking, intelligent, God-fearing women who I respect and admire so much.  I don't even think writing this up would give enough credit to their lives.

When people ask me why I had so many kids I'm not even sure what theories they come up with.  I've had people ask if we're Catholic (no but we don't use BC either) or we're Mormon (no, but I have a lot of awesome Mormon friends), if we have a TV (seriously don't get this one really, there are other things to keep us occupied than a TV, like board games, and our kids), or some other rude question that's really none of their business.  But to be honest, my biggest motivator were my grandmothers'.  My Mom was only able to have me.  She had a partial hysterectomy shortly after I was born.  I was the youngest of 3 girls for my Dad but I didn't get the privilege of meeting my middle sister until we were both adults, and my oldest sister is old enough, honestly, to be my mother.  So while I did grow up with her, she didn't grow up with me.  I was, and act like, an only child.

But, even being an only child, I knew what it was like to be surrounded by family.  I have an awesome family.  So many aunts and uncles and cousins.  My father's mother had four children, 3 boys and a girl, and my mother's mother had six children, five girls and a boy, and both of those women were the glue that held our family together.

Both of those women, are who I admire the most.  For their commitment to their families, and especially for the love, strength and courage they showed me in how they lived their lives.

My Mom's Mom, my grandma, my grammy was someone who was quiet but strong all the same.  She was so soft spoken to me, and yet, I never wanted to be on a disapproving side of her stare.  She always made you feel welcome, and she spent time with you and had so much patience when explaining things to you.  She had faith, and even though she had difficulties and many surgeries that could have laid her up she kept going.  She was always there to help and her hugs.  Oh her hugs.  I miss those more than anything.  She raised six pretty awesome kids.  I love all my aunts and my uncle, and so happy to have had the cousins I have.  I feel blessed to be part of our family, and we manage to get along so well even though we all grew up across the country (countries even) and have different views on things, we still come together in love and friendship.

I can remember our Sunday dinners that we had so often.  It was a big deal to have dinners on Sunday, and then we'd watch football, or my cousins and I would play int he backyard or down by Tiger Park, and the house was full of warmth and love and laughter and I always thought, this is what I want my home to emulate.  This kind of love and activity.  When we went home things were just too quiet.

I felt that way also when we would travel up to North Carolina to visit my other set of grandparents (which was not often enough imo).  We'd also have Sunday dinners after church where we'd listen to my uncle sing.  We'd have true southern meals, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, greens, cole slaw, corn on the cob and we'd sit around the table and talk and laugh and catch up on things missed.  We'd watch football, the kids would play on the tire swing and if we were lucky on when we went up, I could watch the hot air balloons from the back yard.

Maw was such a wonderful, head strong woman who I used to love to follow around and just watch what she was doing.  I loved to watch her sew, crotchet, and paint.  Especially paint.  I cherish her paintings, and she used to tell me, Bob Ross was the most wonderful painter in the world, but I truly believe it was her.  She was so talented, and I always felt special when she'd lit me sit there and ask her questions about the paint, and what she was doing and she would explain it all out to me, with not even a hint of impatience in her voice.  I wish I could have watched her paint way more often then I got the chance.

These two women are the ones who inspired my want of a large family.  I want to be surrounded by my children the way they were, I want to have so much love and happiness and excitement and energy in my house like I remember having in theirs.  I want to be remembered like they are.  I want to be that strong role model that they were for me, because honestly, I could have no finer compliment than for someone to say that I remind them of either one of my grandmothers.

07 October 2013

Love Dare put on Hold

Just until Michael gets back from training.  I'm a little bummed, but we want to do this together. :)

In other news I have some thoughts rattling around that I want to get out, but it all belongs in a post of it's own and will probably wait until the kids are all in bed, or tomorrow maybe.

19 September 2013

Day 9

This day was super easy!  Give physical affections, hugs, holding hands, shoulder squeezes, kisses etc.

Yep, super easy.  I give my kids hugs all the time, kisses, everything.

17 September 2013

Day 8

Today we asked the kids what we can do to strengthen the relationship between them and us as parents.

James said that he'd like to do more exercises and things with us.  Jade said just doing stuff with us makes her happy.  Steven said he'd like to go to work with Daddy and Willow said she'd like to play more video games with us, like dancing and singing.

I think we're lucky because I feel like our children have a pretty good relationship with us already and I hope we can maintain that relationship as they grow older.

16 September 2013

Day 7

We've decided to do the Dares on only weekdays, leaving the weekends to concentrate on unpacking and spending family time.  This is what we think will work best for us.

So, on to Day 7.  For day 7 we were supposed to list out what stresses we have in our life and how they negatively affect the interactions we have with our children.

So when thinking about what stresses me out there are two things that I get completely stressed out about and makes me short-tempered, unfairly, to my children.  The first one is finances.  We're not bad off, we pay all our bills, but we do not have any savings, and while I really need to see a chiropractor, as of right now we cannot fit those visits into our budget.  It is something I stress about, when the car breaks down, or the kids start growing out of their clothes, or there's a bill that unexpectedly pops up somewhere.

The other one is the army.  Michael working long hours constantly or being called in on the weekends.  As a stay at home Mom, which I do love being, I still need those times where I am not the only parent here watching our kids.  I need a few minutes to myself after my husband comes home to just pee alone or think without a lot of loud voices calling "Mommy!"  And when Michael comes home late I don't get that and not only do I not get that but the kids end up staying up later than their bedtime so that Michael can spend time with them and I'm then robbed of my time with Michael where there are no kids between us vying for attention from one or the other of us and our adult alone time in the evenings.

Both of those things stress me out and make me short with the kids and it's unfair to them since neither of those things are caused by our children.

It's not something I've put a lot of thought into previously but it's something I will attempt to remember now, when I'm super stressed out.

14 September 2013

Day 6

Today we were supposed to spend in prayer to think of ways to be less selfish.  And also to find a way to dedicate our children to Christ.

My biggest issue is in that I am, because of medical reasons always tired, and that interferes with my ability to interact with my children sometimes, because the times I'm able to do things I always want to get other things done, cleaning, checking email, watching TV, etc.  Yesterday and today though I vowed to spend more time on school with the kids and I have.

We talked about values, and I've vowed to find us a home church for us to belong so that the kids can be with other kids their age while learning about God.

12 September 2013

Day 5

Today's dare was to find each of our children's love language and try and respond in that way.

James's love language is affirmation.  He seeks approval in things he does so today I made sure to praise all the good things he did, when he did well on his writing, when he did his math problems correctly, and when he was a good example for his younger siblings.

Jade's is when you do something she enjoys to do, like cook with her, or play a game.  Jade is often passive and allows James to run the show, so letting her pick something and do it with her makes her feel very loved, we gave her a choice tonight of something to do and so her and I had a pokemon battle.

Steven is super easy, hugs and kisses and cuddles make him the happiest and feel loved.

Willow needs attention.  She wants you to watch her, and talk to her and do things with her and wants things to be about her.  We let her sing and dance and put on a show for us.

Katara likes boobies and being talked to.....she's the easiest of all. :)

Day 4

I went to bed early last night so I wasn't able to get on and write about our dare.

So, yesterday our dare was to let our children know they are priceless.  So I told the kids that no matter what they do, or how angry I may seem, or how frustrated or even when it seems I'm not interested in them that I really am, and that sometimes I let life get in the way, but that aside from God, they and Daddy are the most important people in my life and that they are unique and amazing and gifts and that they are irreplaceable.

10 September 2013

Day 3

For the 3rd day our dare was to do a random act of kindness for our children.  The kids were pretty awesome today and Steven and Willow BOTH used the potty all day and stayed in underwear.  Willow even pooped in the potty!  She got a dress back and since everyone was so great Michael and I walked the kids to the shoppette and let them all pick out a piece of candy each.

Today was a pretty awesome day, and I continued to work on being patient and I'm really hoping tomorrow is just as awesome as today was!

09 September 2013

Day 2.

Today's challenge was to remember that "Love is Patient."  I did my best to remind myself of this throughout the day and I tried to calm myself when I could feel myself getting angry.  I tried to come up with different reactions than my normal one, which is to yell.  My kids don't deserve to be yelled at, and especially not all day, which I am embarrassed to admit has happened before.

Today went fairly well, I tried not to feel put out if my kids interrupted my speaking or needed help while I was in the middle of something else and I succeeded most of the time.  I'm going to try and keep up that mindset because I think our day went much smoother than usual when I could stop and remind myself they weren't purposely being annoying or disrespectful.  It made it easier also to remind them to wait before interrupting when I managed to be patient with them instead of being angry.

Definitely an improvement in our day.

Tomorrow I'm supposed to do some unexpected kindness.  I'm drawing blanks, any ideas?

08 September 2013

Steven's birth

This is something that it's taken me awhile to write up.  Mostly because I don't remember a lot of it.

From my memory:  I was 38 week 3 days and my husband was down, for Thanksgiving and Jade's birthday and we were hoping I'd go into labor soon. I'd had James at 39 weeks 4 days but Jade at 38 weeks 2 days and I was having pretty regular contractions.  We went out to the beach for the kids and Michael to walk along it.  I stayed in the car because my 9 month pregnant self was not at all interested in walking along the sand trying to keep balance, but I did roll the window down so I could breathe in the sea air.  However, the red tide was at our shores during that time and it irritated my esophagus.  I started coughing up blood because of it, and being pregnant that was pretty scary.  We went into Cape Canaveral Hospital's ER to get me checked out.  They said I could have a PE and they wanted to do testing, but given the risks to my child, I chose to wait and see.  The next day I was still coughing up blood and went back to the ER and chose to do the least dangerous test.  Dye with contrast CT scan.  They started me on heparin also and went to do the scan.  They had put the wrong size catheter in my arm though and ended up blowing my vein, and then my doctor told me that he didn't know what to do with my blown up arm (it was almost 3 times the size it was supposed to be from the dye) because the web page wouldn't load.  I, 9 months pregnant was going to beat the crap out of that doctor, and might have if my husband hadn't held me back.  We all then decided induction was our best option but I had to wait 12 hours until the heparin wore off.  I was sent up to ICU because L&D wouldn't take me with a possible PE.  I was treated badly there, and I felt incredibly out of control.  My midwife dropped me and told me I'd meet the OB when I could be induced.  I'd never met the OB before and I knew at that point that my wants to have a natural intervention free birth were over.

I'm still incredibly proud of making it through the labor with no pain meds.  I even threatened the nurse when she came in that I'd kick her if she tried.  I was tired and cranky.

I don't remember a lot of the birth so I will copy and paste my doula's account. We called her when we knew when we'd be inducing.

Birth Story of Steven Strickland
Crystal called me to tell me that her labor would be induced that afternoon after having spent the night before in the ER with suspected health issues. Pitocin would be started that afternoon so I agreed to make my way to the hospital within a couple of hours. When I arrived Michael was supporting Crystal with each contraction. The pitocin was indeed working because labor was well in the active stage when I arrived. Crystal was very uncomfortable, but working through each contraction beautifully. I know that having Michael at the birth was a great relief to Crystal. Michael was doing so well supporting her through each contraction. I sat at the foot of the bed making quiet suggestions as needed. I was just in awe at how well things were moving forward. Crystal was feeling quite a bit of low back pain and Michael was massaging her lower back and I was helping with focus and breathing. Crystal began to feel pushy within an hour of my arrival. At this time I believe there was a shift change or possibly a new nurse came in to cover for a dinner break. I'm not sure exactly, but the new nurse was rather overbearing and her way of handling did not help with maintaining a calm environment in the birthing room. Within minutes Crystal was setup for delivery. Dr. Raup arrived just before Crystal began pushing. Steven was making his entrance quickly. Crystal was lying on her back with her legs up as she pushed. Steven's head delivered rather quickly, but upon delivery of his head it was apparent that their was a tight nuchal cord. The doctor attempted to pull the cord over Steven's head so his shoulders could be delivered. The cord was too tight. Dr. Raup reached for the scissors and cut the umbilical cord on the perineum. Next, Dr Raup had Crystal push, but Steven's shoulder were not moving. The room became very tense and supra pubic pressure was applied and Crystal's legs were pulled all the way back to make room in the pelvis for Steven's shoulders. It was an extremely tense time as I knew that Steven was not receiving oxygen through his cord because it had already been cut. I knew that this was an emergency! I was standing on Crystal's right side pushing her leg as far back as I could and praying that Steven's shoulder would slip past the pubic bone so he could be born. Within seconds it did and Steven was born. I believe Steven went right to the warmer. Upon completion of the delivery of the placenta Dr. Raup had a conversation with Crystal about the need for a rectal repair due to damage done during her last delivery. Crystal received narcotic pain meds to enable Dr. Raup to make a full repair that would enable Crystal to have improvement with rectal tone. I found this repair extremely interesting and saw that the need had indeed been there and thought it was prudent for Dr. Raup to offer such repair at that time. I don't remember much about Steven once he was born other than his need to be moved to the nursery. I know this upset Crystal but I believe due to the shoulder dystocia Steven needed to be monitored more closely following delivery. When I left Crystal she was resting.

After the induction things seemed to go pretty well, although I found out later that they gave my son formula at birth, in case of shock.  I told them I had plenty of colostrum so they should have let me nurse him and they told me there was no way I would have, so I made them grab me a pump and I pumped almost 2 oz of colostrum out and said, "See!"  The nurse was pretty impressed and apologized.

Then the next day the doctor said that his bili was pretty high and he wanted to put Steven under the lights, and I did give permission for that, but no one had mentioned that they would be giving him an ounce of formula each time.  I never gave permission for that, and when I tried to argue with the nurses I was dismissed and my baby was kept from me because I insisted on nursing and they wouldn't bring him back until he'd taken the ounce of formula.  I tried to leave AMA and I was told our insurance wouldn't cover the birth if we did.  We tried calling Tricare to find out and they were surprisingly unhelpful and accused us of harming our child.

I about had a fit when my son came back at one point and would not latch correctly, after having been born with an absolutely PERFECT latch.  I tracked down the lactation consultant and threatened to cause a huge scene if they didn't let me go home RIGHT NOW.  She found the doctor, Steven's charts and I finally got to go home.  After a few days we finally got his latch back on track, but that experience is what solidified in my mind that I would NEVER trust another hospital with the birth of my children, ever again.

Also, after the birth we found out that I did not have a PE, so the entire induction was pointless and I was scared out of my mind for my life and my child's for no reason.  It also left me with pretty debilitating panic attacks any time I have pain in my chest, arms or legs.

The Love Dare for Parents Day 1

Today's dare was to make sure our kids heard us tell them we love them.

I told each of my kids I loved them and they all responded in kind.  This definitely was not a hard dare as I tell them often that I love them.  I always want to make sure my kids know they are loved and wanted, every day.

6 Months

Yesterday was Katara's half birthday!  She's getting big, almost 27" long, and a little over 13lbs.  

She can sit up unassisted now, and is starting to get up on hands and knees.  It'll be far too soon before she'll be mobile.  

She also had her first taste of food tonight.  We gave her a piece of bell pepper to gnaw on.  She loved it!

02 September 2013

Scary Times

In the Strickland house.  Early yesterday morning I landed myself in the ER with such horrible pain.  Turns out I was having a gallbladder attack.  It was horrible!

I've never been in so much pain in my life and I've given birth to five children.  I've been given the option to have surgery and remove my gallbladder, but I think I'm going to wait on that and make some eating habit changes.

Today I'm a little tender, like bruised in that area, but no pain like I had previously so far today so I'm thankful.

I'm terrified of surgery, especially since I've never had one, and so I'm hoping I can find a way to avoid one with this.

Wish me luck.

19 August 2013


We've made it safe and sound and have got our 5 bedroom house and are settling into the swing of things again!  Yay!

I'm trying to make like minded friends, I get to see my best friend almost every day and watch her amazing baby, and my husband is home.  I'm not sure I could be much happier at the moment.

My Mom is in the hospital though, continuing to have medical issues, and I'm having some of my own.  They found calcium deposits on my brain where they aren't supposed to, or more than they are supposed to be, and they aren't sure what is causing them.  It's causing some neurological issues though and it sucks.

But, like I said, I'm happy and I'm enjoying what I have right now, and that's a lot.  God has blessed me beyond belief and I thank Him completely for everything.  <3 p="">

18 April 2013

Back home, now time to move

Got home from FL yesterday.  Using today to hopefully catch up on some cleaning.  Really need to get out and go shopping, but it's going to wait until I can stand to be in a car again.  Tomorrow we'll see Donnis and Bernadette, which I know the kids and I are looking forward to.  They're going to miss their granny when we move!

Speaking of moving, Michael is finally going to be getting out of the field tomorrow.  Fingers crossed that he'll have paper orders and can start the clearing process.  I'd really like him to come home at the end of May for us to move.  Maybe get a jump on PCS season.

Plus I want to get our application in, in case they don't give us a house we want, we can start trying to get one we want before we get there.  I really really really want one of the new houses.  I think after 7 years we kind of deserve that right? LOL

Adjusting to live with a 6 week old this time around has been fairly easy.  I hope that getting back into the groove of things keeps getting easier as the weeks go on.  Just can't wait to get my husband home!

02 April 2013

I've had an interesting morning

I needed to go to Publix, so I left the older kids with my parents and Katara and I got in the van and went out.  While there, looking at some of the BOGO deals an older woman asked me if there was a baby in my sling.  Now, this may not seem like a big deal or anything, and I probably shouldn't be, but in general, when people ask me that I'm surprised.  I'm surprised because I've managed to surround myself mostly with other APers of varying degrees, so there is no surprise in other people, usually, when someone is wearing their baby.  We all know what's in the slings/wraps/carriers.  So when people ask me, I'm usually really surprised they don't know, at first.  Although, then she mentioned that it was a neat new way of carrying babies.  I wasn't really sure how to respond to that so I did the smile and nod thing. :)

After our trip to Publix I found another suicidal squirrel in the neighborhood leading into my parents neighborhood.  I've found many suicidal squirrels there, although I don't know, maybe this is the same squirrel as the last times I was down here.  The squirrel was sitting in the middle of the road, facing opposite my van.  S/he stayed there until the van was about 2 feet away from the van and I had come to a complete stop.  Then, and only then did the squirrel turn it's head around, saw my van and then finally FINALLY ran out of the road.  Suicidal squirrel.

Then after turning on to the next street I found a small turtle slowly crossing the road.  So I stopped and helped them get across the road quicker so that s/he didn't get ran over.

Pretty good morning so far. ;)

And changing the subject, I'm still waiting on paper orders.  I'm probably beating a dead horse worrying about them, but I did it with the leave form, so not sure why anyone would expect me to be different when it came to his orders.  Michael's in the field for awhile, and he expects to have them when he gets back, so I think I just need to be patient (yeah right) until then.  If he doesn't get them then I can go back to worrying.  I'd just really like to get this show on the road, and start figuring out moving, and apply for our house at Campbell and all that.  Hurry up and wait.

01 April 2013

Down in Fl

People said I was crazy for driving 7 hours with a newborn but Katara actually did really well.  I wasn't expecting too much trouble.  We drove up there when Jade was only 2 months old and she did well then too.  I just have easy going baby's.  They don't get neurotic until they are older. ;)

I'm looking forward to moving soon though.  Well, at least as long as Michael can be there to help cause I don't want to move five kids by myself.

Our visit so far has been pretty good, but I'm sick, so it could be better.  I'm hoping to feel better soon though, so that I can enjoy the rest of my visit and so that I can take the kids out and do things.

18 March 2013

Stationery Card
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08 March 2013

Katara's homebirth

I have a few minutes as my newborn is sleeping with her daddy, so I'm going to attempt to write this up as fast, but as clear as possible.

Obviously this will all be from my point of view, and some things may be missing from others perspectives but here is my birth story. :)

On March 5th, being 40 weeks and 6 days I went to my midwives house and she did a stretch and sweep on me, which is just a way of saying she did a much gentler and slower version of a membrane sweep.   She was able to get me open to a 5, but I kept going back to 3, but still some progress.  We went to Walmart after, walked around, and bought some groceries to make some eggplant parmesan.  We got home, ate dinner and started on the eggplant pamesan which ended up taking us till midnight to make.  I ate some of that and then we headed to bed.  I was having a few contractions, but nothing significant.

We woke up the next morning and I was still having some contractions, but I was feeling slightly defeated.  I ate more eggplant pamesan (which is very yummy btw) and then bounced on my birth ball, and walked around the house for a bit.  I drank lots of water, and eventually about 8:30am I decided to go lay down for a bit.  I got into a pattern of taking a couple of big gulps of water and then laying down.  About 30-45 min later I'd wake up and go to the restroom where I'd have a HUGE contraction, then start the pattern over again.  Drink some water, lay down, wake up, pee and have a huge contraction.  After 4-5 times of that I went back out to the living room to be with my family but I found that I was too wound up with the kids around so I went back in my room, and Michael joined me after putting something on the TV for the kids.  Once he got in there, around 1:30ish.  That's when things started picking up.  The contractions started coming about every 8-10 min.  It was about that point I messaged my doula and said that I'm praying this is it and she started heading over.  I then texted my midwife at the same time, but she hadn't responded so as soon as Laura said she was on her way I gave Christine a call.  She was coming over too.

By the time everyone started showing up my contractions were about 5 min apart and some of them were lasting a really LOOOONG time.  At this point I wasn't aware of time passing, I was just concentrating on breathing through the contractions.  It wasn't long before I was needing to vocalize during them and I knew this was finally it!  The tub was ready and I got in it and the position that felt best to me was squatting down, where I could support my stomach during the contraction and lean my head on the side of the tub.  My doula and my husband did some counter-pressure on my lower back where I was having a lot of pain, and eventually rubbing my feet because they were going numb.  Time passed, and I knew my contractions were lasting an awful long time, and because they were my midwife requested to check my progress, to make sure the contractions were actually doing something.  It hurt incredibly bad, but I managed to lean back for her to check and I was around 8-9 cent.

I'm not sure how much longer I labored past that, I was leaning on my husband at that point, still supporting my stomach, and then I had to move again, and I pretty much just turned in the tub to face another direction and I felt a huge urge to push.  I remember being slightly scared of the pain but mentally forced myself to give in to my body, so I moved up so I could push easier, and I felt my water break, and mentioned it, and then suddenly the urge to push was nearly 10 fold.  So I pushed.  I remember everyone telling me to slow down and I just couldn't, the instinct to push was just too strong.  I remember pushing and feeling her head start to come out, and I tried to cough, to slow it down, and instead pushed again and I could feel more of her head come out, and then finally another and I could tell her head was out completely.  I gave one last push and her body just slipped out.

Then it was like slow motion.  I saw her floating below me, coming up to the surface of the water and I reached down to her and grabbed her up to me and just exclaimed, "I caught her! I caught her!"  It was the most empowering, surreal moment!  I caught my baby!

Katara Lily was born on March 6, 2013 at 5:23 PM after only 3 hours and 48 minutes of labor and four pushes.  She was 20 3/4" and only 7lbs 8oz!  So much smaller than we expected as a 41 weeker!  She's so wonderful, and a true blessing to our family!

05 March 2013

This is a new experience for me

I've never gone this far past my due date, and while I still feel fine physically I'm starting to get a little discouraged emotionally.  Michael leaves soon, and I don't have a whole lot of help after he leaves and I'm afraid I won't be able to take care of all the kids, making them food, making sure they stay clean etc after he leaves.

I'll be 41 weeks tomorrow and normally, as I'm usually completely natural, I wouldn't consider any type of intervention but my midwife is going to do a stretch and sweep on me today and we're hoping that will put me into labor.  It'll at least help, as she thinks she can get me a couple more cent dilated than I already am.

So today *may* be baby day.


27 February 2013

40 weeks

I've made it to 40 weeks!    There's not much to talk about in this post.  This is the 2nd time, with four kids I've made it this far in a pregnancy, and I'm thankful that I'm still mostly comfortable even being this far along.  I could not say the same for my last one.  I was in a lot of pain with Willow.

So pretty much, at this point, I'm just waiting it out. I am getting a little anxious though to see what my little Katara looks like!