Church, Family, Medical, New Baby, Sickness

Autumn is Ending, Winter is Arriving

I’ve sat down to write a post so many times over the last few weeks, but I just couldn’t bring myself to open this page up. It could be too many things to write about, and when I feel overwhelmed, I tend to shut down. Or it could be that there’s always something else to be doing. Either way, a post is long overdue, so I thought I should bite the bullet (is that phrase still pertinent in Australia where bullets aren’t as prevalent?) and type a post up.

 

The biggest thing that has happened since last writing has been Mom and Dad T’s visit. They were here for 2 weeks and we had a busy but fun time with them. The kids still miss them and ask about them. We love when family visit us because we get to spend such concentrated time with them, but that makes it all the more difficult when they leave to go home–the hole of their absence is felt strongly, especially by the kids.

 

I can’t even list the things we did and saw with Mom and Dad, but I really think they have a good idea of where we live, the sights and sounds of the Illawarra region, as well as a taste of Sydney. The weather was absolutely perfect, such a change from when my parents were here. It was high 60’s, low 70’s every day, and almost every day had bright, sunny skies. We went to the beach a few times, went up the Escarpment to the cute towns, went over to the local hills for some scenic overviews, and, like I mentioned, Sydney. The Sydney trip was the most fun, exhausting trip John and I have taken yet. As much as we love traveling (and we’ve done a lot of it), this was the first trip we did with 4 kids, one being a 3-month-old, and it was something we probably won’t be doing for a long time. Although the kids did really well, just the sheer number of them and their young ages made for a tiring time for John and me. We were thankful for extra helping hands, and we were sad that Dad and Mom experienced many Sydney sights with a crying baby or cranky toddler, but it also gave them a taste of life for us here–never a dull moment, and never a quiet minute. I think they probably enjoyed the silence of their home when they opened the door in Dallas. 🙂

 

Since they left a couple weeks ago, we’ve been getting back into the swing of things and starting up our new normal. Now that M is almost 4 months, we’re starting to get a feel for what life is like with 4 kids and let me tell you, it’s harder than I thought it would be. For all three of our other kids, the transition wasn’t horrible. I did ok with adding a new child. This one though–wow. Threw me for a loop! She has been our hardest transition, but I think it also has to do with the fact that we’ve all been sick, nonstop, for about 6 months. Granted, that comes with the territory (4 kids, 5 and under, 1 in preschool), but it’s also been difficult to deal with a sick newborn/infant for the past month and a half. She STILL has a cough/congestion that’s been going on for forever, but today I just told John she seems to be coughing less. At first I thought her lingering cough was just because she’s a baby and sicknesses will affect her differently, but I think it’s also because this specific coughing bug itself is one that lasts for more than a month, even in adults. John had a cough that lasted more than a month, E had that same cough, and then they gave it to me, and apparently M. So I just finished up my coughing last week, and I’m hopeful she’s on the end of it, but I’m sure she’ll catch something else from her ever-sick siblings. Oh, the childhood years.

 

Other than that, we’re also getting into the swing of things at church. It. Is. Difficult. We have a creche at our church but only for the sermon, so all 4 kids are in with me until the Bible reading. At this stage with a baby who will NOT sleep or sit in her car seat without crying, I’m consistently having to carry her in the Ergo which doesn’t allow for a lot of freedom to take care of my other 3, especially Mo. Thankfully we have a very kind church family who are willing to step in when asked. Mo has spent many services sitting with our friends the Hodges because she’s comfortable with them and it frees me up to deal with my other three. We also always sit by their Australian grandma, Agnes, who watches E and J when I have to get up and deal with M. It’s a lovely way to help me out and include the church family in the raising of covenant children–at least that’s what I tell myself when I feel guilty for having other people watch my kids.

 

John and I are getting more and more involved in the life of the church and community as the months go on, especially now that I’m not pregnant and now that our kids are getting more involved in various groups in the area. E is in a ballet class nearby and I’ve been able to reach out to a couple of the women who have daughters in her class. One of the girls also goes to E’s preschool, so please pray that both E and I will have a witness and boldness to tell both the girls and their moms about our church (although E doesn’t lack boldness–she regularly tells us of those she’s talked to Jesus about, which is great!). We’ll helpfully be having a Christmas in July dinner at our church that will allow for us to invite people to a church event without the pressure of a church service, but I still need the boldness to invite them.

 

I’ve also been really convicted lately of how I lack boldness with those around me. I’m amazed at how Christianity isn’t a part of the conversation here. The weird thing is that Anglicanism is a pretty big thing, as well as Hillsong, so it’s not like there aren’t Christians in the area. The Anglican church where E attends preschool has a service attendance of more than 600 people, and they’re mostly all local, so I know that there are Christians around me. However, I almost never hear anything about Christ or Christianity when talking to people. That’s impacted into how I interact with people, I find. J is in a music class on Tues. mornings and this past Tues. they got to play the xylophone. One activity they were asked to do with their parent was try to play a familiar song, so I plunked out ‘Jesus Loves Me.’ I found myself feeling ashamed that I was playing it with the other kids/adults in the room. How sad is that! The amazing thing is that the teacher started singing at the end and said, “That’s Jesus Loves Me. I know that song.” So it’s not like she discouraged it. But it’s just something in me that recoils at any mention of Christianity. I can’t blame the Australian society though because in the end it comes down to not wanting to be ridiculed or have people think less of me. That makes no sense to me and I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s true–I don’t want to turn people off. I worry if I say something wrong or say it the wrong way, they’ll hate me and the door will be shut. I realize it’s all about the Spirit and His awakening of the person’s heart, but my sinful heart puts it all on me, thus making me too nervous and closing my mouth.

 

Anyway, that’s a summary of our life here in the last month. Please pray that doors will be opened to present the Gospel to those who have been placed in our lives, and that we’ll have the boldness to invite them to church. Pray also that we’ll be given a respite from sickness, or at least that M will get healthy soon, poor baby.

Family, Medical, Sickness, Uncategorized

In a Haze

We’re still in a haze of sickness here but I’m hoping the end is in sight. John came down with a virus while Mom and Dad were still here. He had a fever at night for a few days, a cough, and congestion. He still has a lingering cough and it’s been almost 3 weeks. E then came down with congestion and night fevers about a week ago. M got it on Saturday, probably from all of the kisses she gets from her sister. Then J and Mo got it Monday, so our house has been full of sick kids for the last week. The scariest sickie has been M. 2 months old is too young to have a cough/congestion because a.) they’re too young for almost all medicine, and b.) they’re too young to deal with the congestion. We’ve had the radio doctor come out on Sunday at 2 am (they have doctors that come to your home if it’s off hours–so nice!) and our normal doctor saw her on Monday. Both said her lungs are clear and there’s no fever, so we’ve been trying to get her through this horrible congestion and spare her from any scary hospital visits. We’ve had a lot of success with lessening her congestion by doing this: chopping up garlic and putting it in olive oil, then placing in on her feet and wrapping in saran wrap. I reapply every 12 hours or so. I’ve found for M that it’s a natural expectorant, so for the last couple days, she’s been vomiting up phlegm. It’s so hard to watch but it’s also the best thing for her. The phlegm has significantly lessened over the last 6 hours and her last feeding was the first one where I heard NO CONGESTION in her nose. Praise the Lord! We’ve also been giving her and the other kids lots of steam baths and putting their faces in the freezer right after. The older three have had epson salt baths with lavender EO in it, as well as hot water/honey drinks before bed. In addition to the garlic on her feet (J and Mo also had some of that at night), M has had suction and saline drops in her nose, and she even had a little bit of colostrum in a bottle a couple days ago. After 4 pretty intense days with her congestion and cough, I think I see her coming out of it. She’s also been really clingy and will only sleep if she’s being held by me, day or night. Needless to say, Mama needs a break. 🙂 So, that’s been our week.

 

Before this sickness wiped all the kids out, we were having a lot of fun around here. The kids were starting to play with M more now that she’s interacting with them, as we can see here with Mo and M “talking.” They’ll soon be roommates, too. When Mom and Dad Terrell visit, the older 3 kids will be in the same room. After they leave, we’re moving M out of our room/bassinet and putting her in the portacrib. We’re moving Mo into E’s bed and moving E into J’s room on the top bunk. Lots of fun changes happening as the kids get older.

 

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This picture comes via E stealing my camera. She did a great job capturing her sister!
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One of the few times she let John hold her without crying! John was pretty proud.

These little sickies can still smile for the camera. In fact, E has a pose here that she was pretty proud of.

 

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On Monday, we needed to get out of the house and go for a drive. We went up to the top of a local mountain (interestingly enough, it’s where the first koala was discovered) and admired the view. This is looking north, towards Sydney. You can’t see Sydney from this view, but the trees are all a part of the Royal National Park.

The weather is getting cooler over here, so autumn is on its way! And when we’re all better, we’ll be able to get outside and enjoy it more. Until then, we’re staying inside, enjoying homemade chicken noodle soup and trying to recover. 😀

Family, New Baby, Sickness

3 Weeks Old-Can We Be Healthy, Please?!

I’m updating during the kids’ nap/quiet time because I’ve been editing a book at night and have to get it done this week–I’m so much more productive with editing when I can sit down for a few quiet hours at night instead of having to get up throughout naps and quiet noisy kids down. We’ll see how long the blog post is until I have to put the laptop away and deal with crazy children again.

 

Our week has been rough, but that’s pretty much been the story of the last 3 weeks since M came on the scene. I feel like we’ve been given a good taste of what life will be like with 4 littles, and it started right from the get-go. From colds to stomach bugs to hand/foot/mouth disease, John and I are asking ourselves what else we can possibly get? And then there was the mysterious illness Mo had a month ago, but thankfully that seems to have passed. The kids had the stomach bug right when M was born, so they had to stay away from her when we came home from the hospital. Then they all got colds, including John, so again, M and I were quarantined. And then, this past Saturday, we discovered the older 3 had hand/foot/mouth disease. Sadly we didn’t realize until after the fever was gone (but isn’t that always the case with kids? They get random fevers and you never know why–until the fever’s gone and you realized THAT was when they were most contagious) and they had random rashes all over. We STILL didn’t know it was hand/foot/mouth until E started to complain about her mouth hurting. I thought it was a canker sore, but then more appeared Saturday, and then it dawned on me. Of COURSE! Hand/foot/mouth disease. And Mo had had a fever, and J has a rash (although his rash was minimal), so all the pieces fit. E didn’t have a lot of mouth sores so she only complained for a couple days and now it’s almost over, including her rash, which is clearing up. Mo basically didn’t complain about anything at all so her h/f/m was a minimal case, but J, although he barely had a rash, got a TON of sores in his mouth and he’s still complaining about eating 3 days after it began. His mouth was swollen and he was miserable, poor guy. But even then, it wasn’t a bad case for the 3 of them, and so far the adults and M have been spared. I say so far because the incubation period is 4-6 days, so we could still get it. John’s been dealing with a cold and cough for the last week or two as well, so it’s been pretty much M and me who are healthy. Again, we’ll see how long that lasts.

 

Throughout my 4 years of having little kids, I’ve become more and more convinced that older people whose kids have been grown for awhile have selective memory. This is across the board in America and Australia, so I’m assuming it’s this way in other cultures as well. When moms of little kids or kids who are still in school hear about other families’ sicknesses, they say first, “Oh no, let’s stay away from them so we don’t get it!” and then they say, “Oh, that poor family! I know how they feel because we’ve been there!” Especially sending kids to school in the early years, kids just get sick all. the. time. It’s a natural part of life. They build immunities, they get sick again, they build more immunities, they get sick again, rinse and repeat for 10 years. And then the kids get older and healthier because their bodies are better able to fight the diseases. And then parents forget what their lives were like when their kids were little. And then the comments to families with littles begin: “Why are your kids so sick? My kids never got that sick. What are you feeding them/not feeding them/doing to them/not doing to them?” Oh, the comments I’ve heard. I try to remember that these are comments coming from either those who have no kids and don’t understand, or from parents whose kids are old and aren’t dealing with these issues anymore.

 

It’s the same with comments about how my kids act in church. “My kids were never that disobedient in church. They always sat quietly and were never disruptive.” I’m sure, because most children are perfectly trained children from the get-go. Like I said, these are comments I’ve gotten everywhere I’ve gone, no matter the culture or country. I think many moms of little can sympathize with me, too. The guilt I feel when I get these comments…ugh. I’m learning to cope with them better. Is there truth in what they’re saying? If so, I’ll try to listen to it. But there’s also a little (or a lot) of forgetfulness about this stage of their lives. Babies and toddlers have a way of wiping moms’ memories so that, when looking back, you remember the good old days instead of the days where you didn’t go to church for weeks on end because the kids were sick. Or the days where kids missed school AGAIN because of hand/foot/mouth. That’s why I’m thankful for this blog. When I start to forget what these years are like, I can look back and remember my life currently, with all joys and all sorrows, the good and the bad.

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I wore M for the first time last week in the Ergo and she LOVED it! That’s how she’s going to be worn in church so it’s a good thing she enjoys it.

This is J pre-h/f/m discovery, but he was definitely contagious here. I didn’t get a picture of him kissing her, but he was giving her a lot of kisses. If M doesn’t get it, it shows the power of breastmilk and my antibodies, I tell you what! And here’s J and Mo being cute–dancing and sharing books.

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You think they’re related? M on the left, E on the right–same age, same hairline/crazy hair, same eyes, different hair color.
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This is how I edit when I have a baby who doesn’t want to be put down–she fits on my lap and I reach past her to get my work done.