Michelle the Grump

I guess I woke up on the wrong side of the bed today.

Mini-rant: I can not stand the “botanical” scent that my shaving cream has, but I’m too cheap to throw it away.  I hope the world can forgive my hairiness.

I’m feeling really snarky about something, but I can’t complain about it.  One great thing about blogging and Facebook is that it keeps me from ranting about specific people.  You never know who might see it.  And if I have to hesitate to write something, the question then becomes: should I even be saying this at all?

It’s fine to complain about shaving cream.  It’s fine to complain about the nameless faceless person who could be anybody…like the lady at church with the rambunctious tot who gazed lovingly and approvingly at his every antic (fine at the playground, not at church).  It’s fine to complain about the anonymous “they” – like the government.  But to name names?  Neither wise, nor prudent, nor charitable.

So, for example, I can moan about how “The Army” made me move five days after giving birth (all other options either costing a lot of money or forcing separation from my husband and/or support system).  But even though I have some very specific gripes about very specific people and their culpability in that matter, I reserve that ranting for my husband.  And my sister.  And my mother.  And my friends.

OK.  So blogging and FB do not make me wiser or more prudent or more charitable.  I guess it just helps me see how far I have to go.

And for the record, I want to be clear that I do not blame my husband’s boss for making me move with a newborn.  I’m pretty sure he felt awful about the whole thing. 

And I’m not just saying that because I’m FB friends with his wife.  Honestly.

Déjà Vu

A few days ago, Bill handed me his notebook and showed me where he listed all the dates that he’ll be going out of town.  I put it on my desk, and just now entered all that information into my Google calendar.

A few days ago, Fritz handed me his notebook and showed me where he listed all the dates that his new Scout troop will be camping.  I put it on my desk, and just now entered all that information into my Google calendar.

You have now entered the Twilight Zone….

First week of school

We started school this week.


Once again, the harsh reality of juggling 5 students, a preschooler and a newborn has shattered that fantasy I conjure every summer of the loveliness of homeschooling.

I liken my children to a nest of baby birds all clamoring for food…only mine are clamoring for knowledge.  That’s the fantasy.  What I get is quite different.  One is clamoring for food.  Another one is clamoring for food, but when I try to give it to her, she cries and tells me it’s indigestible.  Another one sullenly says, “OK.  I’ll eat your food because it’s good for me, but I’m not happy about it.”  Two are hiding with their mouths clamped firmly shut.

And, of course, the baby really is clamoring for food.

Thank goodness, it’s Friday.


In other news, George remains the cutest thing on the planet.


Mary has been doubting the existence of God.  I have never had a child do this, not my 14 yo, certainly not one who is not even 5.  Her reasoning is that, apparently, she asked God for something, and He did not deliver it to her.  I asked her if I give her everything she wants.  At first, she said I did, but when I convinced her that I really do not give her everything for which she asks, I then pointed out that I am real.  That has silenced her for now. 

She’ll be fun when she’s a teen.


Peter is one of my baby birds who hides.  This kid has an interesting personality quirk.  When he was little, we got him a balance bike.  The kid was super fast on it.  He loved it.  We thought the transition to big kid bike would be easy, but no.  He absolutely refused to ride the big kid bike.  I had to force him to try it, day after day: “Just once, up and down the driveway, ok?  No?  Then no dessert for you tonight.”


Finally, finally, finally, I convinced him that he could do it…and then he was doing the one mile loop in our old neighborhood a minute later.

We’ve been facing the same problem with swimming.  He absolutely will not let go of his training wheels life jacket.  He does cannon balls into our pool, and does his best to keep up with his siblings and their pool games.  But ask him to take off the jacket for a lesson with Dad?  Suddenly, he thinks playing trains or cars in the playroom is a better idea.  Bill was going to work with him last weekend, but we had thunderstorms.  I’m not sure this weekend will be better.

The same scenario repeats with reading.  I am dragging him through his phonics books.  We’re making slow, painful progress.  If I could just get him to like it, I am sure that he’d be reading Tolstoy within a month.  For now, he’s enjoying sounding out the word “and” every.single.time he sees it.


I have more to write, but the baby is hungry.  Again. 

Conditional Love

“Here, Mommy,” says Katie, handing me my little bundle of joy.  “He’s spit up – twice – and now he has the hiccups.”

“Is he cranky?” I ask.  I was hoping to get some work done on the computer.

“No, but nobody wants to hold him any more.”

What?  Little George is finally persona non grata?

That’s ok, darling.  Mommy still loves you.

George: update and one month photos

I’ve written many many update posts about George and nursing…all of them in my head.  At this moment, I have both hands free, but generally I only have one, or none, and then there is the sharing of the computer situation.  I should never have permitted my children to ever learn that computers could be entertaining.

George is doing well.  Really well.  Better than I had expected. 

At about 2 weeks…still maintaining a fetal position.

At one point, a while ago, I was seemingly at the end of my rope.  I was physically and mentally exhausted.  The baby seemed hungry all the time, and I seemed to have no milk to give him.  That day, I just gave him whatever.  I was too tired to keep track.  He probably had about 15 oz that day, out of the 18 oz his weight at the time told me to expect (2.5 oz per pound of body weight). 

After that, I calmed down.  Many thanks to StephC who reminded me of KellyMom and told me they had a breastfeeding log.  It was there I re-read the article on weaning from supplements, which gave me the info I was trying, unsuccessfully, to get from the lactation consultant at the hospital.

We settled into 12 oz per day for three days, then went down to 11.  All was well.  I tried moving down to 9 oz, but I had to extend the time there, because it was too much, too soon.  We’re now down to 8 oz, given in 3 bottles throughout the day.  Tomorrow, I hope to go down to 7 oz.  Once I get to 6 oz, I think I can move faster, but I’m not in a hurry.

There are advantages to giving a baby an occasional bottle.  Now that Fritz has finished giving him his midday 2 oz supplement, my hands are no longer empty, and I’m pecking along with just one!

I never did get that one month appointment for him, but the sling scale tells me he’s over 8 lbs now.  He still has scrawny legs and arms because he’s gotten longer, too, but he’s definitely thickening up and the newborn shirts are looking rather trim on him.


Yesterday evening, while nursing him, he made some sort of grunting sound.  I looked down at him to see him looking up at me.  I’m certain he made the noise just to get my attention.  It’s amazing to me how clever they can be at just one month of age.


Now that his eyesight and head control have improved, he will watch me as someone takes him off my lap to theirs.  He’s pretty happy to go, but you can see him wondering why mommy is moving away.


The kids haven’t gotten tired of him, although he is yet another thing to fight over.  “My turn! – “No!  Mine!”  I find myself saying, “He’s not a toy!” several times a day.

The smile my husband was trying to catch.

Often, he blesses somebody with a huge smile.  This morning, he was smiling at the bookshelf.  I like to think he’s looking at his guardian angel when he does that.

How many more times will this man flash that light in my eyes?

I told myself to pay attention to how long babies stay curled up like they are still cramped in the womb.  It took George about 2-3 weeks to start stretching his legs out.  He can still scrunch them up well when he’s being held or carried in my ergo, but otherwise, he keeps them much straighter.  His arms and hands are still mostly clenched, especially his hands which we often pry apart just so we can have the joy of him holding our finger.  The kids liken him to a mummy because he crosses his arms over his chest when they feed him a bottle.

No more smiles.  Just annoyance.

All things considered, this has been a good month, despite all the stress.  Yes, there have been a few meltdowns, but nothing long-lasting or excessive.  It’s possible that my old age is making me a kinder, gentler, more patient mother.  Or, more likely, it has just been God’s grace and the plentiful, supportive prayers of the many people in my life, including my blog/Facebook friends.

Thank you.

Baptism Photos

When George was four days old, we had him baptized.  Since we moved the next day, it was extremely low-key.  My parents and my in-laws made the trek to attend, even though we could offer them very little hospitality.

Most of these pictures were taken by Fritz.  When you have a 14 yo boy as official photographer…well, perhaps some boys that age have a better eye for these things.  These photos were the best he took.  The rest were blurry…which is quite an accomplishment for my high-tech, no-fail camera.

George’s baptism was, of all my children’s baptisms, the nicest one.  Our church, although growing rapidly, is still pretty small (about 1000 families) compared to other parishes we’ve attended.  We’d been there a “long” time –  over two years is a long time for us!  The pastor knew the whole family, even the children’s names, knew the Godparents, who have been members of his congregation for much longer than we had been, and even had met both sets of grandparents before.  Peter and Mary were baptized in military chapels – a transient community – and my four older children were all baptized at our church in New Jersey where we lived for 6 or 7 years…but it was a huge parish, and our children were all very young when we moved away.  The priests and deacons who did the baptizing knew us, but didn’t know us, if you know what I mean.

Billy reads a passage from the Bible:

The Gospel reading:
 Washed clean:
 Love Jenny’s eyes:
 Parents and Godparents:
 The best photo taken.  Crisp, in focus, nicely centered, everybody looking at the camera…I wonder if perhaps my husband had taken over camera duties for this shot…

 Fritz did not take this picture, obviously.  He insisted on standing on the step so don’t think he really towers over us yet.  He is just a hair taller than I am now.  He likes to think he stands at 6 feet, but not yet.

Newborn Pics

I finally downloaded pictures.  I really really should be sleeping right now, but instead, I’m posting photos.  These were all taken on the day George was born.  The first, taken a few minutes after he was born, shows how squished his nose got.  That’s what happens when you face up and don’t have your chin tucked down like you’re supposed to.  The baby, not me.  All his fault.

 Here, he’s a few hours old.  I have taken a shower, and I didn’t do that until after I had a nap and stopped throwing up.

 Now comes the gauntlet at home.  Passed from one person to the next. 

 George checks Jenny out.  Hey, you’re not the one who was holding me a second ago…

I’m not quite sure what to make of this thing.

 But he is kinda cute.
 The man responsible for it all.

Maybe…maybe…I’ll post baptism pictures tomorrow.  Must go to bed!

Tricare: Oh, How My Head Hurts

For the last 2 1/2 years, I have been able to use a civilian pediatrician instead of a military one.  In some ways, they are the same: often, I had to wait for quite some time for my appointment, long past the scheduled time.  In some ways, they could be worse: they had the right to decline me as a patient if I didn’t give my children the vaccines they felt were necessary.  And in some ways they were better: they had an office open for sick children on weekends, which I went to more than once for ear infections.

In one way, they were superior: I could always make the necessary appointments for my children.

This, unfortunately, is not always the case with the military health care system.

Case in point: today’s frustration, which began two weeks ago.

We moved here.  I noticed George was tongue-tied.  Bill found out we could enroll into the local Tricare system online.  So he did.  They had options for PCMs.  A neighbor had recommended their civilian pediatrician, and this pediatrician was listed.  Bill selected them.  I called the pediatrician and was able to get my (starving) newborn in during their evening sick child hours that very day.  They also gave me the necessary referral to the lactation consultants at the local hospital and a list of ENTs (who got me in the day I called to clip his tongue).  I called the pediatrician the next day and scheduled his two week newborn appointment for the following week.  At that appointment, I scheduled a follow-up appointment for his one month mark because he was barely gaining the required weight.

Then we received notice in the mail from Tricare that we could not use this civilian provider because there was a local military clinic.

Bill called Tricare today and explained the situation with George and asked that an exception be made for just him until we get past this “crisis.”  Nope.  We must go to the military clinic.

So I called the clinic to make an appointment for this one month follow up to make sure that my starving baby is properly gaining weight.  His one month mark is next week – can you believe it?? me, neither! – and the man at the appointment line (very nice man, BTW, very sympathetic) knew the reason the child was being brought in was because of his weight, but the best he could offer me was August 21st.  4 weeks…6 weeks…if the baby isn’t thriving, do 2 more weeks really make a big difference?  Nah, I’m sure he’ll be fine…

So I suggested we make his 2 month appointment, since if we’re waiting until 6 weeks, we might as well just skip it and do the next one (and because this is my 7th kid and I have a scale and I know he’s not starving, even though I didn’t tell the appointment guy all this).  Oh, but they can only make appointments 4 weeks out, and his 2 month mark is 5 weeks out.  I need to call back next week to schedule that.

This clinic is also where I am supposed to go, so I asked if I could make my 6 week postpartum appointment.  He asked if I wanted to go to the OB/GYNs at MacDill (40 minutes away) or to my PCM.  I asked if my PCM was male or female.  Male.  I asked if there were any female doctors at the clinic.  No.  I asked if there was a nurse practitioner at the clinic.  No.  I said I preferred to go to the OB/GYNs then.  He said that was fine, but he would have to transfer me to them to make the appointment.  He transferred me.  I got voice mail.

No starving baby check up appointment made.
No 2 month well baby appointment made.
No postpartum appointment made.

Like I said, I never had difficulty making appointments with civilian providers. 

And the Tricare website?  Why do they list providers you can’t use?  Then when I went to the site to learn who our PCMs were, all it listed was a name.  No address, no phone number.  I had to call their unfriendly central number to get the number of the local appointment line.  I have yet to find anything useful about their website.

In all fairness, I will say the OB clinic called back within an hour and did get me an appointment within the appropriate date range.  I have no idea if the provider is male or female.  When I asked if I had a choice, the person on the phone said there were only two providers at that clinic.  So, I must use their providers, but they have so few that I’m stuck with whatever they have, regardless of personal preferences.

Oh, they did tell my husband that we could have more choices if we used Tricare Standard instead of Prime.  Naturally, there are disadvantages to using this system instead, most specifically: higher out-of-pocket costs.  It’s something I’ll have to think about.

This is the way government health care works.  Coming soon to everybody.  Hooray for us.