Happy to be called "Mommy"

Bobby Reuel is here!

On Saturday, June 29th, Bobby Reuel made a surprising appearance, and we are so happy he is here!
 He was born at home!  My birth story is below:

Saturday morning, I woke up and was planning to buy some groceries. I got the Annah and Ian ready, and left the older three children with James. As soon as I left out the door, I started thinking that my stomach hurt really bad, but I thought maybe the baby was just sitting on my bladder hard or something like that. A painful cramping would come on really strong, but then go away, so I tried to ignore it.

I felt exhausted but wasn't sure why.... So I called my mom and asked her if she would watch the babies while I shopped. As I was asking, I kept thinking "maybe I should just go tomorrow...I really don't feel like I can do this today."
Then would tell myself I was being silly.

I dropped Annah and Ian off with my mom, and then headed to Piggy Wiggly to buy groceries. But with every step I took in the store, I kept feeling intense cramping, and thinking, " I might be in labor right now", but I decided "tough it out" and get the shopping done.

There was a lady who started up a conversation with me while I was there, and I kept feeling the contractions so bad, but kept a smile on my face and pretended nothing was the matter. I am sure she never had any idea how much pain I was in.

After continuing to have more and more difficult contractions throughout the store, I was almost certain that I really was in labor. I called my mom and asked her if she could meet me at the store with the babies (instead of me driving to her house to get them) since she was planning to go there anyway that day.

While she was on the way, I picked up a bunch of sandwich items and freezer foods, so the kids would have something easy to make, "just in case" this was the real thing. I still was in doubt since my due date was not for at least five weeks yet. My mind was very conflicted and unsure.

I got all the groceries in the car and met my mom, put the kids in the car, and then texted James. I told him that i thought i was in labor and told him I was in a lot of pain (he never got the text because the kids were playing with his phone), and started off toward home. I thought maybe if I laid down I'd feel better. I didn't tell my mom that I thought I was in labor because "what if it was just a false alarm?".

The contractions were even worse by this point. I wondered if I could even make it all the way. Some of the contractions were so bad, they brought tears to my eyes.

I pulled in the driveway, saw James, and asked him to tell the kids to get the groceries out of the car for me, along with Annah and Ian, then, as quickly as I could, I walked to my bed and tried my best to figure out how to get comfortable. I ended up in a bowing position on the bed.
James came back there and asked me if I was really comfortable like that. I said, "No, I'm not comfortable at all! I think I'm labor!"
I don't think he believed me. Not because he didn't want to but because in the past, there have been false scares before!

He tried to make me feel better, but he figured, like i had in the store, that it might just be a false alarm.

I started writhing on the bed and crying during each contraction. He seemed so surprised that they were so painful, and asked if there was anything he could do, and tried to make me feel better.

He got up when he heard the kids doing something and I went into the bathroom and got in the shower. The warm water did help ease the pain a little, but the feelings were so strong that it wasn't able to be helped much. I think I stayed in the shower about 20 minutes and then realized our hot water would probably run out if I kept it on, and I wanted to have the hot water for when the baby came, so, crying a little as I turned the knob, I turned it off.

James went to his parents house to ask for some pain relief medicine for me, because we didn't have any here. Still, at this point, he didn't think I was actually in labor. Mostly because of my due date and all. So, because he thought we still had plenty of time, he chatted with them a little bit.

While in the shower, I decided to check for myself and I was able to feel what felt like a really, really stretched water balloon coming down...and I knew that was the baby's head.

I was hoping that James would get back soon, because I was so unsure of what to do! The pain was excruciating.

I had tried to be quiet this whole time because I didn't want to scare the kids, who were all in the living room....but at this point it was just too much. I started crying out. Bonnie came to the door and said, mom, are you okay?
Caleb also was asking, mommy?? Are you having the baby??
I told them I might be, and to please take the babies up to their grandparents house next door.

I think they were worried for me because I kept crying out, so they didn't take them up, they stayed in, ....but Bonnie ran next door and told James and his parents, "I think mommy is having the baby!!!"

(This was all about 5 minutes after James had left the house to get the pain meds.)

So James and his mother both rushed down the hill and his mother watched the kids for me in the livingroom and he came in to help me.
I was in so much pain I didn't know what to do, how to sit, how to think, how to breathe....I kept shifting around and the pain just got worse and worse and worse. I was crying and begging God to make the pain more bearable and for this to be over quickly.

James told me I was doing a good job, that it would be all right...and even at this point I think he did not realize how certain this was.

But he started asking me if I needed to go to the hospital and I said, "I don't think I would be able to make it there!"

I kept yelling in pain and eventually realized I could not have the baby in the tub, because there was just not enough room.

James helped me out and I fell to the ground begging the pain to stop, and pulled a towel under me and crouched over it.

James was consoling me, and then the moment when he finally realized this was it for real: my water broke.

It was the craziest thing because it broke so suddenly and with so much force that the entire towel under me was soaked as soon as we heard it. Sounded almost like a little explosion. I actually felt a little relief from the pressure that had been building up. We both stared in amazement, like, wow, the water just broke!

From the water breaking, I had like 10 seconds of relief, and then I felt this incredible urge to push and it happened without my help. Then another push. Then, the third push, I felt the head coming out and the intensity of it was so incredible that I just wasn't sure I was ready for it...but my body took over for me and did the work.
The head was out.

James was letting me know each step of the way that everything was good, and the baby was fine, even though he wasn't so sure himself!

The pain wasn't over because the shoulders weren't yet out. I was yelling, please, please shoulders! Just come out, oh please come out shoulders!!!", then all of a sudden, the baby came out altogether with one final push.

James was crying with happiness. I have never seen him so in joy after having a baby. He said "we have a baby! What a blessing! A little boy! Oh my goodness! He is a big boy!"

All of the pain was gone. I felt elated. I worried for a couple of minutes whether the baby was breathing okay, but then I realized he was breathing fine. I rubbed his back and held him close.

My mother in law came back and helped me get up and get to our bed, giving me things to wrap myself in.

James had hurriedly covered the bed with pads and a sheet, to protect it, so I got up there with the baby and relaxed.

I called the children into the room so they could see their baby brother. They looked in amazement and it was just a wonderful experience, letting them be a part of something they never usually got to be a part of before! They got to give him a kiss and rub his head and love on him a little.

About 5 minutes later, the urge to push again and knew it was the placenta, so I told them to go back to the livingroom for a while. Once it was delivered, we let it finish pulsating before cutting the cord. James, for the first time of any of our babies, cut the cord himself!

We got the digital scale and James weighed himself, then weighed himself with the baby. Bobby was 8 pounds!

I was able to take a quick shower, and felt amazing, like I could do anything. I didn't feel sore, and I didn't even tear. I couldn't believe how much better this experience was than any other birth experience I have ever had.

I wish I had had all of my babies at home now. It is wonderful!

Me one day before the baby was born- my tummy was HUGE:

And three days postpartum:

My older kids with Bobby:




And my husband, James, holding him:

The two younger children with him:

We are blessed!

^^ Noah, holding one of our ducklings.  ^^

For the longest time,  I have wanted milk goats.  I think I even blogged about this years ago.  I want to be able to have fresh milk to give all of the kids, especially the babies who drink so much milk all of the time. I just hate the thought that I do not know what is in our milk from the store.  Plus, I think raw milk is just better for you. 

We don't have enough room for any cows, but definitely can afford to take care of goats.

I kept searching Craigslist, but couldn't find any goats in milk.  And any of the ones I did find were really, really expensive.  

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine from my local MOPS group (Mothers of preschoolers), told me she had a friend who was selling two goats- one who was currently pregnant, and the other was in milk....for only $150.00 each.   One was a Toggenburg, and the other was a Saanen.  I was ecstatic and picked them up that very day! 

^^ pregnant^^

^^ In milk^^
I was able to get three to four quarts a day from the Toggenburg.  This is perfect for us!    And the milk is delicious- and in my opinion, tastes better than store bought milk. There have been about two times that the milk has had a slight "goaty" aftertaste- but REALLY mild.  The rest of the time, it just tastes like milk, and you can't taste a difference.   It's SO good.  The kids love it.  I love being able to give it to them.  And I love saving the money!  We were buying a gallon of milk every 1-2 days, and that adds up!!

Our Saanen goat had her baby about 5 days ago.  The baby is beautiful....so sweet.  Took to nursing right away and is very healthy.  This was the goat's "first freshening", and she did wonderfully.  The birth was very quick and easy. No problems at all.

Here is a video of right after she had the baby- Annah was very impressed!

Two days later, I noticed our Nubian goat that we have had for a few years....she looked like she was about to have a baby.  

Honestly, we had thought for the longest time that she was infertile- because it had been so long and she never had had a baby.   And since we never had a calculated breeding, but she lived with our billy goat, we had no way to know she was pregnant before that- because you really can't tell on a goat until they're about to have their baby.  Most of the time, anyway.   But I was leaving our driveway, looking out, and I noticed that our nubian had AWFULLY huge udders and was sort of hunching over. I thought, "She's going to have a baby!"....so we went and got her a collar so we could transfer her to the fence with the other moms.   By the time we got back home, she had HAD her surprise baby!  WOW.   Now, I had three nanny goats, instead of just one- and two bucklings!!    And the nannies will all be able to produce milk for us.

The Saanen goat, (I should mention, her name is "Valentine"), had uneven udders because the kid was only eating from one side every day- so we were able to get about a quart or two per day from her, just from the one side.  That was awesome.  But eventually, the kid started eating from both sides, and I stopped milking her for now.  I only had wanted to relieve her engorgement.

The nubian (her name is "Skittles" or "Sparkles", depending on which person you ask), was not nursing her baby at all for a while. The first morning when I came to check on the poor buckling, he was skin and bones, and laying down as if he were dead.  The mother seemed as if she wanted to do something with him, but when he would go up to her udder, she would kick him.  So I decided to bottle feed him. I started milking her to give the milk to him. I got about 2 quarts a day from her in this time. 

Bottle feeding him was NOT easy.  He did not know how to suck.  He would lay there, as if he were lifeless, and I would hold the bottle up to the side of his mouth and basically pour the warm milk into his mouth.  About a cup per feeding- four times a day.  For three days this continued.
I thought i was going to have to do this every day for the next two months.

You can see a video of one of my attempts to feed him here:

But on the fourth day, (by the time I was considering using a feeding tube/syringe) I walked up to the shed to see a wonderful sight- there was Skittles the Nubian, feeding her baby boy herself.    And he was really eating away too, very enthusiastically!  Now, instead of laying under the heat lamp all day and appearing limp and lifeless, he is a very healthy, energetic little buckling.  I am very thankful.

So we had gotten up to 6 quarts a day at one point, but now are back to about 3-4 per day, until the baby goats are weaned, which should be in a couple of months.  I really look forward to that time, because we could end up getting up to 3 gallons per day, if the other two will one day milk as good as our Toggenburg (Elizabeth).    Then we can venture into cheese and soap making.

We just bought two more baby doelings and they are just precious!  We bought  them for our billy goat, so he wont be lonely and can breed them once they are old enough.  Our Billy goat (Houdini):

These goats are weaned, but one of them (the littler one) likes to use a bottle as a treat.  Check out this video of her absolutely loving the bottle:

Our Mini Farm

Just some pictures of some of our animals this year!

We will also be getting honeybees in a couple of weeks- James is ready for them.

 We have two boxes set up, and are doing our research!   And I am so glad that one of my blog readers is a beekeeper- Warren, who runs "My Home among the Hills" blog, has a lot of great info on raising bees for honey.   I am sure we will have our share of stings and trial and error experiences, but I hope we will be successful! 

Home Grown Pork Chops and Bacon

Have you ever just felt so happy because you accomplished something new and now feel like you can do almost anything?  That's sort of how I felt after James and I grew our own pigs, then processed them ourselves.  

We bought the pigs in Early April of last year.  (They were about 20 pounds when we first purchased them.)  We let them graze on our acre of fenced in land, so they were almost completely grass fed (with the exceptions of the scraps we fed them).  We would have had all of this meat in the freezer by December, but we ended up getting sick for a while and we just couldn't get around to it. 

So a week ago, we finally decided to just go for it.  We bought all the supplies and got started.  We had a scale- each pig was about 140 pounds after they had been cleaned.  So before, they were probably 160-180 pounds each!    

Once we got started, I was a little intimidated.  After all, that is a LOT of work.   But you know what?  We figured it out and got it done!  I had watched about 20-30 different youtube videos, and read articles for several months before we finally got started- so I had an idea of what had to be done.

James took care of killing the pigs (very humanely)- thank goodness.  I think that would have been hard for me, but you never know.  Maybe I could do it one day.

The worst part (and most smelly) was getting the fur off the pig.  I admit, it's kind of yucky and I honestly thought, "There's edible meat in this?"...the smell was just gross. lol  You have to boil water and pour it on the body- this opens the pores, I guess, and releases the hair, which you can then scrape off with the edge of a blunt knife.  Since I was new to this, that part took me about 3 hours to finish with the first hog.  With the second, it only took about an hour to an hour and a half.   Once it was done, it made the rest of the process much easier.

The videos make cutting the sections of the ham look super easy....like cutting through butter, but it's not quite that easy. Especially cutting through certain bones with the meat saw manually.  But it happened!    I butchered most of the meat, but had to get James to help me saw through many of the harder sections.

Look at what we got done.

I had about 12 pounds of meat with which to make sausage. Someone was kind enough to let me use her manual meat grinder, and when Noah saw it, he begged me to let him grind the sausage.  I chopped it into 1 inch bits, and he ground it.   Five pounds all by himself!   
The next day, Bonnie ground seven pounds, just to beat his record.    We made all sorts of delicious sausage from it. 

See how he made a face in it? lol. He's a goof.

In this batch, we put maple syrup, cayenne, crushed red pepper, thyme, sage, nutmeg, and ginger into the sausage and mixed it up.   

Then we tried it, and were AMAZED.  It is the best sausage we have ever had. Seriously.  I never want store bought again. The flavors were rich and the meat was very tender.  

I cut these pork chops while James was at work, and I thought my shoulder was going to give out on me after it was over. It was so much work!   (The meat saw I had was too big for me to use correctly).    But let me tell you, after tasting the results, it was DEFINITELY worth it. 

I soaked some of them in italian dressing and let them soak for a while, and when James came home, we grilled many of them.  

I literally could not believe pork could taste like this.  It was spectacular.  The kids loved it too.  If only more pork chops could come out of a pig, because that was the best part, without a doubt.

Here are two hams salted and ready to be shelved.  The hams have to be cured for 6 weeks or so.

This is me salting the bacon, with salt, cayenne, and brown sugar.

After a week or so, this is what it looked like:


And this is what it looked like fried up.

I love being able to provide nutritious, home grown food for the family.  We are just new to this and learning but it feels wonderful knowing exactly what foods the pig ate, what kind of life it lived, what kind of things it was injected with, etc.     I can be sure that what they are eating is good for them.  This week we will be getting five new piglets.   

Ultrasound :)

For the first time today, my children actually got to witness an ultrasound of the new baby!! They have never gotten to experience that before, as in doctor's offices, children are not usually welcomed (at least, in my experience). I was offered an ultrasound by some very kind ladies at a local pregnancy center!   The children got to see the baby jumping inside my tummy, punching and kicking, and even rolling his or her little toes against the womb. They talked about it the whole way home, especially Caleb.

I love "meeting" my babies for the first time!

What we've been up to lately

Oh this last month and the last have been crazy...not just with sickness, but also with just having so much to do, so many places to go! 

All of the month of December, our family went through some sort of awful sick bug. I don't know what it was, but we had tests done and it wasn't the flu.    It caused everyone to go through a lot of lung congestion, sinus pain and pressure, ear infections, fevers and chills, and Ian even came down with a little bit of pneumonia (which didn't last long, due to the antibiotics he got before it got too bad).    And of course, as I posted in my previous blog post, Annah ended up with a seizure, which scared us pretty badly!  We weren't really sick all year (save for some minor one or two day colds) until December came around.

Fortunately, everyone is feeling 100 percent better now....and I'm just so thankful to be over that mess.   Whatever it is, it seems like it was EVERYWHERE.  My facebook page was continually flooded with different people from around America talking about their different experiences with the flu, strep throat, pneumonia, you name it.  2012 was a really bad year for sickness!

Anyway, after that was all over, I was able to begin some projects -  I  have had so many orders coming in , I wasn't sure if I would have time to finish them all...and I had to postpone some of them till later.

Here are just a few of the things I did in December- January (there is one big one I want to post about, but can't until after Feb 6!):

These I got done just in the nick of time before Christmas- it was a gift for a friend...all of her grandsons. : )

I will be doing four portraits of this man. 

This one was a commission I succeeded in getting done in time for Christmas!

Commissioned portrait of a cute little boy: 

Below are three pictures of a mural I am currently working on.  It's in a pool hall...Minnesota fats vs dogs playing pool.

When I walked away from this painting for a moment, Annah picked up the paintbrush and helped me. lol  My little budding artist!

Here is another angle of this one, when it was getting closer to being finished.   I still have work to do!

This is an ornament I painted in December:

A commissioned painting of a man with ducks.

A commissioned baby portrait:

In the pool hall, where I am painting the mural mentioned above, I was also commissioned to paint the words "6 Pockets" on 22 different lights, in calligraphic font -back and front- along with numbering them 1-22. 
It was time consuming but it was a great job to get.

I drew this for a friend of mine who unfortunately lost her husband to cancer a couple of weeks ago:

There are more, but hopefully this will explain why I barely ever post on my blog anymore! It's just so hard to find the time, with homeschooling and doing all of these projects too.

I hope that everyone has had a great January so far!   I can't believe it's almost February- the time just flies too fast!  I am already in my second trimester of pregnancy.   The next baby will be walking around with the other kids before I know it! 

Annah had a seizure

This morning, at about 8:00, I was in my bedroom, and Bonnie was holding Annah. She said, mom! Come quick,..Annah is doing something strange...she keeps jumping and won't stop!

I ran into the room and picked her up immediately....she was convulsing in a consistent and rhythymic fashion, and her eyes were rolled back in her head, and she was gasping every time she convulsed.

I yelled, she's having a seizure! And then I panicked, because I have never experienced this before....her seizure lasted about 2-3 minutes from the time I saw her doing it...I don't know how long it lasted total.
Later, I found out that Bonnie had seen her have a seizure two other times before that time- but she thought she was just shivering.  Then, she finally realized it was something different!  

I couldn't find my phone, and all of the kids were crying and too emotional to be able to help me find it (they were very worried about Annah) so I ran, crying, next door to my parents in law and got them to help me watch the kids while James and I took Annah to the ER.
Annah was unresponsive the whole time we were driving there. I would talk to her, and her eyes would stare right through me, and she would look back and forth as though she was not aware of what was going on around her. It scare me to death.

When we got to the ER, she had to have an IV, so they could test her for different things like RSV and the flu. I was so unhappy about her having to go through this, but then it was even worse because they tried five different places and were unsuccessful at getting to her vein except to collect just enough blood for the tests.
 She cried so pitifully every time they did this.  I could hardly bear it.

They were wanting to also try again so that she could be rehydrated but thank goodness they figured out she had enough hydration so we didnt have to go through that again. She had a breathing treatment, x-ray, antibiotic, steroid, and Motrin. They said her lungs are fine, she doesn't have the flu or RSV and they figure what caused the seizure was that she got a lot of congestion in her head and was not able to get enough oxygen and that is what caused the seizure. I think they are right, because mucus was coming out of her mouth when she was having the seizure. I have never been so scared as I was this morning. I am thankful that she seems to be doing well right now, and I have the prescription antibiotics and steroids to help keep her on the mend. Please pray that she does not have another seizure like that...if you have a moment!

Here is a picture of her in the hospital bed, asleep from exhaustion, after all of the IV attempts.

Surprise Vacation

James and I had planned a few months ago that we would go out of the country for a vacation of our own on our anniversary this year...but as we got closer to that date, we realized we didn't have anyone we could really ask to watch all five children...so we decided instead to take the kids with us to Gatlinburg.  We just didn't tell them!        We let them believe we were still on our way to our own separate vacation.... in fact, on the way there, we let them in on the fact that there would be someone watching them while we were gone- someone they knew, and who we could trust.   Little did they know, we were referring to ourselves.

When we got to our cabin, we knocked on the door to keep up the surprise.   Watch the video to see the kids reaction when we let them know that we were actually going to be staying in the cabin for the week- it was fun! 

We had a blast in Gatlinburg!  We went to Cades Cove, spent a day in Ober Gatlinburg and rode on the skylifts quite a few times, and walked through the streets of Gatlinburg.   The boys and I went to the 4D theater together and "rode" the roller coaster...they were shrieking with laughter and surprise the whole time (Bonnie was too scared to get on it, so she stayed with Daddy and the babies while we had fun).

Noah and Bonnie were both scared the first time we went on the sky lift,  but the second time around they were so comfortable with it...we ended up going 6 times...4 of those times riding down the Alpine slides, and then all the way to the top of the mountain twice.    The mountaintop view was INCREDIBLE.

Our cabin was amazing! We have never stayed anywhere so nice.   The upstairs had an arcade, a pool table, and a foosball table....all of the kiddos had so much fun there!    Downstairs there was a hotub, whirlpool, two fireplaces, a nice kitchen, laundry room, and the house was even decorated for Christmas with wreaths and a Christmas tree.  It was beautiful.  Worth every penny!!

By the way, I wanted to mention that for some reason, I am not receiving email notifications of comments anymore...so if you have responded to any of my posts with a question and I did not respond, it is because I never saw the comment! Sorry about that...I will try to figure out what the problem is so it can be resolved!  In the meantime, please feel free to email me anytime at mail(at)sketchesbybethany.net

Morning Sickness

The morning sickness has hit, and hit hard!   I have been continually nauseated every day for the past four days.. I know it's all worth it in the end, because babies are worth every bit of the sickness, it's not easy to deal with when there is so much to be done and I just feel too sick to do it!     Hopefully the four months will pass quickly and then I'll be feeling normal again.

This is actually the seventh time I've gone through morning sickness!   (I also had morning sickness with the first baby I had a miscarriage with).   So it seems like I should know everything about it, but there is not really any fool proof way for me to avoid the nausea.   I've been using ginger and trying to eat crackers before I get up in the morning. Those help temporarily but not for long.  

I also want to try the Karen Hurd morning sickness diet again...but really feel grossed out at the thought of eating the beans right now.  Unless maybe someone else cooks them.  I don't know. lol  

I am seriously considering getting some OTC nausea medicine and seeing how it works. I've never tried it before, because I didn't want to harm the baby...but I know so many women who have tried it and their babies turned out fine.    I might just try some and see if it helps, after researching the side effects, etc... because it would be so nice to get through the day without throwing up. 

I'm still so excited though, to be having another baby. No amount of sickness can take that away.  Children are always a miracle!  

Baby #6 is on the way!

The last week, I noticed I was pretty tired, but I mostly chalked that up to my sleep schedule which was different since James had been here for a week.   But then, as a very big lover of coffee, I started noticing that coffee was starting to taste not so good.  I wondered what was going on, because it's very odd for me to not enjoy a cup of coffee.   This has only happened when I am pregnant....so ....I thought it was a long shot, but I took a pregnancy test.  

When I got home, I took the test ,and lo and behold, two bold lines!!!!  **Squealing**

I was so excited I was trembling.  I called James immediately and told him.... then, I told the kids, and video taped their reaction.  Check it out (and please ignore our mess! I didn't feel like cleaning before telling them...I was too excited!!):