Friday, December 18, 2009

A Scary Event

Wednesday evening seemed to be an evening like many others. The kids and I had run errands that afternoon before we went to their choir practice at our church (it's a homeschool choir, ages 4-6). Dan met us there after work so I could go to confession before the early evening Mass. When we got home we heated up and ate leftovers. After dinner, the kids all got cleaned off and then I went back to our bedroom for something before I finished cleaning up the kitchen. The kids were all excited because Dan had told them he had a surprise for them, and they all went down to the basement to wait.

Without warning, I suddenly felt an excruciating pain in my abdomen and I could barely make it over to our bed. I lay there, thinking this is a weird spasm, but then it did not go away! It felt like the worst part of the worst contraction I have ever had, except continuous. My belly was as hard as a rock, I couldn't move, and could hardly talk or even breathe. I was sweating like crazy. The minutes slowly ticked by without any relief and finally I told Dan he'd better call 911. I was terrified that something awful was happening, like a placental abruption (where it tears away from the uterine wall) or a uterine rupture.

Then, everything went into kind of a slow motion. All the local first responders showed up and then the ambulance and it seemed to take forever to get into the ambulance. It was the longest, bumpiest ride ever (30 min.)! The pain started to ease a little on the way and my belly got softer, but every time we hit a bump, ouch! I did not feel the baby move the whole way there and I was praying like mad. I knew if something catastrophic had happened in my uterus, it would be too late for the baby by the time we got there. Dan, who rode in the front of the ambulance, said all he could do was say one Hail Mary after another because he was worried that something would happen to both of us since I had just gone to confession!

Finally we got to the hospital and up to the OB floor. By this point I was able to walk the few steps from the stretcher to the bed. Then, the nurse hooked me up to the monitor. And oh, what a glorious sound! We heard the baby's heartbeat and it was strong and steady and normal! You cannot imagine how relieved and thankful we were. Then the baby proceeded to put on a show of wonderful, non-stop movement.

Then, it was a thousand questions, and this test and that test, and a sono and much monitoring. I was having contractions every 7-10 minutes, but the pain kept getting better. And every test came back normal! Even the sonogram did not show anything amiss. Eventually I was able to go home. Dan's brother picked us up and drove us home. Meanwhile his wife had taken wonderful care of the kids, put them to bed, and cleaned up the kitchen better than I would have! Were the kids freaked out? Not really, because they had no idea what was going on. Catherine told me later that they thought all those people were bringing in their surprise (the surprise was actually a Charlie Brown movie).

So what happened? The doctors couldn't say and I have no idea, but what I do know is that it was a scary event. It was the first time either of us had ever called 911. I was tired yesterday and my uterus was a little sore, but nothing further happened. I took it easy and enjoyed every movement the baby made. And I hope that never happens again!

Thank you, God!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Does It Count?

So, does it count as homeschooling when your kids watch cartoons in Spanish on Saturday morning?

Okay, so what if I tell you that we don't have cable and some of the basic channels we can't get, so the only channel showing cartoons is the Spanish channel? They don't seem to mind, though, because they love to watch Dora and Diego, no matter what the language.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Daddy Has A Tractor!

Dan has wanted a tractor since we moved here, but we couldn't justify buying one. Until his brother-in-law out in Hays told him he was selling one of his and offered Dan the first chance at it. As you can see it is a small tractor, a 1957 International. It is in good shape and runs well. Evidently machinery was better made back then.

The tricky part was figuring out how to get the tractor here. After all, you can't just drive a tractor from Hays to east of Wichita! After a few choices were discarded, we finally just hired a towing company to haul it here on a flatbed truck. The crazy part was that they didn't deliver it until 1:00 in the morning! So, needless to say, Dan is the only one who saw it arrive.

However, the next day, there was much excitement in the Brungardt household. Each child got a ride with Daddy around the place, while Mommy anxiously watched from the deck to make sure no one else ran out there.

Joseph was in boy heaven in this picture. He has been obsessed for quite a while with tractors and trucks. Anytime he has been outside lately and the shed is open, guess where he goes? Don't worry, all keys stay in the house or with Daddy.

Dominic is right there with Joseph. Since he can run faster than Joseph, he'll get there first, unless he gets distracted by something else. Joseph, though, has a one-track tractor mind!

Dan has already put the tractor to use tilling the large garden and expanding it. And he has starting tilling back in the big pasture along the fence by the road, where we hope to plant some trees for a wind/dust break and for more privacy.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mice Capades!

Yes, we have been having some "adventures" with mice. Yes, that is plural. As in 5 dead and counting. Where did we catch them, you ask? Well, let me tell you the story.

A couple weeks ago, when we had a large delivery come very late at night(more on that at another time), Dan saw a mouse in the garage scurry along the wall and disappear into a crack. I don't know why, but I didn't think much about it. Then, about a week ago, one morning I was making Dan's lunch and the kids were around the island standing on chairs, when I thought I saw a small shadow darting next to the dishwasher. I kept watching the rest of the day, but nothing. Maybe it was my imagination.

On Saturday night, Dan set a mousetrap out in the garage and went out to the big shed to work on a project after the kids went to bed. Well, you know how a pregnant woman needs to eat a little more often. I went to the pantry at 9:30(yeah, that time is forever burned into my brain) to find a snack, and when I opened the door I saw a giant gray mouse jump out of sight in the corner. Okay, it was the typical little house mouse, except that I have never had to deal with a mouse in the house before and it was really creepy. And Dan was out in the shed! So I figured out how to set a mousetrap and put it in there and shut the door. Needless to say, that was quite the appetite suppressant! Then I sat in the living room and listened for any sounds. After a long while, I thought, oh, I'll do a little research about mice. So I got on the internet and read: they can jump, they are excellent climbers, they can have babies every 3 weeks, they can squeeze through 6mm openings, etc. Ick! Don't read that stuff right before you go to bed or you won't be able to sleep. Especially when you occasionally heard little mice feet pitter-patting somewhere in your kitchen, while you were reading about them.

Sunday morning we found a dead mouse in the garage and another one in the pantry! Thankfully, Dan took care of those. The kids were fascinated. Dan demonstrated with an empty mousetrap so they would stay away from them. When he set one off with a pen, the trap broke the pen, so they were suitably impressed.

Sunday night two traps set. Monday morning, one dead mouse in the garage, none in the pantry. I thought, great, they are out of the pantry, I can clean it out. Monday afternoon, I was resting on the couch after putting the 3 little ones to bed, and then it started. Pitter-patter! Scurry, scurry. I could hear the sounds through the wall right where the pantry was. Well, that was it for the cleaning. I hate to admit it, but I am a wimp when it comes to little critters, especially when they are in the house. I would not have made a good pioneer woman.

So, I asked Dan to help me with the pantry. He suggested we could just wait until they were all dead, then clean it out. And I said what if there is a nest of babies in there? So we cleaned out the whole bottom section of the pantry (which is really a closet with a bi-fold door). Meaning, Dan took everything out and I wiped anything not chewed on with a clorox wipe. Thank goodness for husbands who will do the worst part of the job. Well, as he got closer and closer to the suspicious corner, he got more cautious and we started to see evidence of the mice. Quite a few things got tossed. A big bag of beans chewed open, half a large sack of rice, two bags of M&Ms, some bags of chocolate chips, and more. Sigh. Who knew mice liked chocolate. Then, Dan jumped and there was a mouse scurrying out of sight down into some crevice. Oh, creepy! Boy, was I glad I was a few feet behind him. All temptation was removed and put away into unchewable containers and all mousetraps remained untouched in the pantry.

Tuesday morning there was another dead mouse in the garage. I hoped that was the last one. But, wait, there is more. Yesterday evening I had just put a tray of leftover homemade pizza into the oven to reheat. I went to the computer to check something and shortly I heard the little pitter-patter. I turned my head in time to see a little gray mouse scurry along my kitchen floor and disappear under the stove. I gasped and jumped back(even though I was about 6 feet away). Great, my dinner is in the oven. And to top it off I needed to get a cookie sheet out of the drawer underneath. No, I didn't ask Dan to do it. I managed to finish getting things ready for dinner, though I did bang the oven door a lot to try to keep it away.

I think there was another dead mouse in the garage this morning, but I'll have to ask Dan for sure. If so that makes 5! Nobody will want to come visit us now. Next on the list of things to get is a cat.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Not To Make You Jealous...

...but I have been inhaling the scent of slowly simmering apple butter all day long (making it in the crockpot), and I am about to go eat a piece of toast with fresh apple butter on it. Mmmm!

Recap of Catherine's Birthday

Catherine had a lovely birthday last Friday, starting with an after-breakfast tea party, using her new, real tea set! We've all had lots of tea ever since.

Catherine shows off her new Spelling/Phonics Wipe-Off book. They have all "played" with this one. Hey, maybe Joseph will just teach himself to read!

During naptime, Catherine watched Mommy decorate her birthday cake. It's a flower (no, not a fried egg!) and she picked out the colors.

And what do you have for your birthday dinner the day after Thanksgiving? You guessed it: a turkey dinner! Followed by the birthday cake and song, complete with sparkler candles, which is why she is leaning away from the cake.

And finally, the gift that outdid the others: A Crafty Kit! She has been doing creative, crafty things with it non-stop.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Happy Belated Thanksgiving!

I'm not sure why but for some reason I can't write at the top of the first picture anymore. So I guess I'll switch to talking about the picture under the picture now. I suppose I could figure it out, but that might take up too many brain cells, and I don't have any spare ones right now. :) Anyway, in the above picture, we are having a mid-morning wine and cheese party on Thanksgiving Day. Well, the kids are drinking sparkling grape juice, which they called "kid wine."

This year we tried cooking the turkey using the high heat method. We had an 18 pounder and cooked it at 450 degrees for about 3 hours or so. It was delicious, by the way. Well, the only problem was, we didn't want to cook the stuffing at that high of temperature, so we cooked the bird first, then the stuffing, which worked out okay. I put the kids to work ripping up 2 loaves of bread, which they thought was pretty neat. Of course, the side benefit was it kept them out of trouble for a while!

Eventually Joseph figured out that hey, he could eat the bread, so from there on out, it was one for Joseph, one for the bowl.

And what was Daddy doing? Why, peeling lots and lots of potatoes! In fact, we just ate the last of them at lunch today.

We are ready to eat!

One final funny story: At breakfast Thanksgiving morning, we were talking about what we were thankful for and taking turns saying things. Family, friends, a nice, warm house, etc. Then Dan asked Joseph what he was thankful for and he piped up in a little sing-song voice, "I'm a dirty rascal!" What? Where did that come from? We eventually figured out it was from some Bob the Builder tape, but why did he think of it at that moment, when he had never said that before? Oh, the workings of a 2 year old's mind!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Birthday, Catherine!

Our big girl turned six today!

She is a very creative girl, designing and making the mask above all by herself, down to the earrings hanging from the ears!

She loves to help in the kitchen. Here she is ready to sample a caramel apple:

And she has been persistent with her new bike, at least when the weather cooperates. She can now get started by herself and off she rides, pell-mell across the yard, narrowly avoiding trees, until she crashes somewhere in the grass.
Happy Birthday, Catherine! We love you!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Babysitting Some "Kids"

A couple of weeks ago, one of our neighbors stopped by and took a box out of her car. She then proceeded to take out three baby goats for our kids to see. Along with bottles of milk to feed them.

Needless to say, they were thrilled and fascinated. The goats were only 3 days old, and still had their umbilical cords attached and hanging down, as seen in the picture below.

Anne and Joseph make the acquaintance of Bella, Wilson, and Bucky:

Our neighbor said she had to go to a meeting and asked if we wanted to watch the goats for a couple of hours. We said sure!

Bucky comes over to nuzzle Joseph.

Joseph likes it!

The kids all wanted to hold a baby goat, but Catherine was the only one who could hold on long enough for me to take a picture:

When it was dinnertime (for us), we just loaded them back up in the box and took them into the kitchen by the table, where they promptly fell asleep. Such cute little things. Of course, as soon as their owner came by to collect them, our children started asking for a baby goat. Hmm. I don't think we're ready for that yet.

I Remembered

I remembered one of my least favorite things about winter this morning when I spent a good 20 minutes helping the kids get their coats, hats and mittens on to go outside for 30 minutes.

Theology From A Two Year Old

The other day, Joseph said:

"Mommy, people who don't love Jesus have to go to the scary place!"

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

An Early Birthday Present

One day, a couple of weeks ago, when the weather was really nice, Daddy came home with a surprise for Catherine in the trunk of his car:
Oh my, look at that. It's a new bicycle!

Catherine is thrilled and immediately tries it out(and Joseph is back there looking to see if there's anything else in the trunk of Daddy's car).

Catherine happily rode around while the other kids watched (yes, there behind her is SuperDom).

She shows everyone the cool pack that attaches to the front handlebars, which came with a water bottle. You can't help but get thirsty when you ride your bike.

Then one day soon after, it was time to get ready for the big transformation: No training wheels!

Ready, Set, Go!!

There were many rides that ended like this:

She is still smiling, though, and so very proud of herself!
For the record, she has ridden all the way from the hill near the pond over to the big shed without falling. With this latest cold spell, the learning has been put on hold, but we hope to resume soon.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Guess She Did Feed The Poor

Last night at dinner, Catherine excitedly said, "Guess what, Daddy? Tomorrow is the feast day of one of my patron saints!"

Daddy: "St. Catherine?"

Catherine: "No! St. Elizabeth!"

And then Anne pipes in: "Yeah, Daddy, St. Elizabeth of Hungry!"

So, Happy Feast of St. Elizabeth (of Hungry) to you!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Kid Magnet

When Daddy rips out the garden remains and then tills the whole thing, what does that make? You got it, a playground for the kids! Could you? Would you? Let your kids, I mean?
"Rototilling" the dirt, just like Daddy:
Catherine is carrying a big clump of dirt in her hands:

"Look at all that good dirt!" Yeah, on the pants, too. Ooh, lots of laundry coming.

Oh, this was the prime playground for quite a few days around here.

I know, Anne has light pink pants on, not the best color for dirt-playing.

But, hey, this is the view from the kitchen window, and they are fenced in. Bonus!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Some Serious Onion Breath

I just got done putting dinner in the oven (Cheeseburger Pie) and Joseph is hanging out in the kitchen, snacking on raw onions.

"More yun-yuns, Mommy!"

Anyone want to come over for toddler kisses later?

Friday, November 6, 2009

From Flu Shots To Famous Kids

I know every family has to make its own decisions about whether or not to vaccinate their children, but as a doctor who has seen some terrible cases of some of these diseases (measles, chicken pox, etc.) and knows about the devastating effects of others, I have long been a proponent of the usual childhood vaccinations. Like most parents, though, when a new vaccine comes out, I too hesitate, and do my research before we give it to our children.

Which brings me to the H1N1 vaccine. Look on the internet and you can find websites shouting that all vaccines are poisons, and you can find others that proclaim that it should be mandatory that all health care workers get the H1N1 vaccine. I have been in a quandary with this one, especially since I am pregnant, and it has been reported that pregnant women make up 6% of H1N1 deaths, even though they only make up 1% of the population.

So, I did a lot of research, throwing out the wacky websites on both sides of the vaccine argument. On the one hand it was new, meaning that side effects might not truly be known for a while. On the other hand, it was supposedly being made in the same manner as the seasonal flu vaccine. Then I read that potentially the government could, in time of emergency, allow the drug manufacturers to bypass the FDA and add adjuvants to the vaccine, even though some were not yet approved in the USA. Adjuvants are substances that stimulate your immune system and the reason they would add them is so that they could use less vaccine in each dose and thus be able to make more vaccines. One mentioned was potentially linked to the Gulf War Syndrome and another one possibly to infertility in rats. We decided that if any of those were in the vaccine, we would not get it.

Just last week, they opened up an H1N1 vaccine clinic to the public and pregnant women and health care workers were the only ones allowed to get it. So I contacted the health department and demanded to know what was in the vaccine. I talked with a very helpful person who looked it up for me, even though he had never heard of "adjuvants" before. He was able to find out that the vaccine in Kansas did not contain any of those substances and that it in fact did not contain anything different than the seasonal flu vaccine other than the inactivated H1N1 virus itself. I was reassured by that and decided to get it, but before I could get there, they ran out of the injection form of the vaccine.

It seems to be a day-to-day thing at this clinic as to when they'll be open, what form of the vaccine they'll have, and who can get it. Wednesday evening I found out that they would have both forms of the vaccine available the next day and that children up to age 4 would be included. So yesterday afternoon we arrived at 1:45 pm and it took us 5 minutes just to walk to the end of the line, which was way outside the building. Another 35 minutes and we made it to the door. Looking inside at the line snaking its way back and forth across a warehouse size room was enough to make me lose heart, but we stuck with it and kept waiting. The kids (I had Dominic, Anne, and Joseph with me) were exceptionally good somehow. I think they were entertained seeing all the people, especially all the other little kids and babies. Finally we made it to a doorway where a woman stood and quizzed everyone, checking to make sure we all fit the criteria to receive the vaccine. We were directed to a table where a woman gave me a clipboard with 4 long forms to fill out, one for each of us. I groaned inwardly, but we sat in some nearby chairs and I filled them out as fast as I could. That being done, we went to another line where a worker checked to make sure I filled them out correctly (I didn't, so I had to fix them, oops!), then to another table where a woman looked over the form and highlighted the important parts that would tell the vaccine givers at a glance what form to give. Then we got in another line and finally it was our turn!

Now, after our experience with the seasonal flu mist and the kids having meltdowns, I didn't even mention what we were waiting in line for. First, I got a shot and Dominic was fascinated by the fact that he saw some blood. Next, Joseph sat on my lap and the PA giving the shot said oh, the kids usually don't like this, even though it doesn't hurt. He gave it to Joseph and Joseph just laughed. The man was impressed, and I thought, yeah, that was probably the easy one. Anne, who screamed bloody murder last time, then hopped up on my lap and smiled the whole time while she got it. Well, well got off easy there. But, I knew that Dominic would have to have a shot, since he has asthma, so I was prepared for some crying. Well, what do you know? He didn't make a peep! Wow, getting the vaccine was the easiest part of the whole thing. By the time we made our way out of the building, it had been 1.5 hours.

Okay, if you've read this far, you might be wondering what this has to do with famous kids. Well, I will tell you. As we escaped into the fresh air and bright sunshine, there was a cameraman waiting for us. I had just seen him inside, so he must have targeted us there. He asked if he could ask a few questions and I consented. Then by the time we got home and collapsed and recovered (well, me, anyway, the kids didn't slow down a bit!), I had forgotten about it. Just as we were finishing a Halloween candy fest after dinner, the phone rang and it was one of Dan's sisters: "I just saw your kids on the news!" We stayed up for the 10:00 news and sure enough, there were the kids and little Anne calmly answering questions like she does it all the time. So cute!

The vaccine did not seem to affect the kids whatsoever. I got a bit of fever, body aches and a headache, but that is gone now. Just tired today, so we are taking it easy and enjoying the beautiful weather!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Of Candy and Wolves

The kids have been looking forward to Halloween for weeks now, and after all, who can blame them? They get to dress up in costumes and be taken by their parents to strange houses where the people inside give them candy! Here are the four munchkins: Doggie, Clown, Princess, and Parrot. Several costume reruns, but hey, they're still cute!
We loaded up in the mini-van and headed to a nearby town to hit one of the neighborhoods. If you can't tell, I went as a pumpkin (the belly, that is).

Hey, only one out of four is blurry. Not bad considering the level of excitement and the fact that we were just about to trick-or-treat at the first house.

What about the wolves, you are asking? Unfortunately, as I was walking up to the second house with the kids, a wolf jumped out right as we got to the stairs and started howling at the kids. Talk about some trauma inducement in a 2 year old (and a 4 year old who will remain nameless, the other 2 were frozen). The dad of the wolf was nearby and the guilt was just dripping off him as he ran over and ripped the wolf's head off to reveal a mere boy. Then he (the dad) seemed to want to do more to lessen his guilt, as Joseph was still crying, so he started throwing handfuls of candy into the children's sacks. Not a very good way to start the evening. It took poor Joseph a while to even want to go near another house. But, this story had a happy ending with lots of candy and happy kids, and Joseph seemed to have forgotten about the scary part.
Although, if you ask him now how trick-or-treating was, he'll say, "Woof scared me!!"

Monday, November 2, 2009

Time To Carve Some Pumpkins!

Here is the before shot of the kids with the 9 remaining pumpkins from our garden:
It was a little chilly last Sunday, but we were able to do this at the "arts & crafts" table in the garage. Here Dan is showing the kids how to draw the face on the pumpkin before carving.

Dan did all the carving (oh, yeah!):

Catherine carried the first one back to the porch:

You know the slimy part, where you have to get out the seeds and stringy stuff? Dominic thought it was pretty icky, but he did a little bit. As you can see from Catherine's face, she wanted no part of it.

Anne, however, dug right in, and she scooped out a lot of the junk.

Lest you think I did nothing but take pictures, here's proof. Catherine ended up helping as well.
The twins are showing off three of the finished jack-o-lanterns. Dan carved 4 and that was about the max for everyone.

Here they are, all lit up and ready to scare someone or something (maybe some skunks, or the neighbor's cat).