Tuesday, December 16, 2008

DIY baby announcements

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Last time around (as in, when Elizabeth was born,) I created my own baby announcements. I saw lots of cute announcements at places like tinyprints.com. I liked the style, but honestly, I wasn't willing to pay the price per announcement. So, I did a lot of looking around and experimenting to see if I could do something similar, but a little less expensively. I wanted a professional look, without the price.

This was my solution: I have some skill with Adobe Illustrator, and some experience with designing things. I'll make my own announcements from my desktop printer!

My next challenge - what to print on?

I didn't want to go with a smaller announcement, like a quarter-sheet of regular paper. I didn't feel like there was sufficient space for a good sized photo, and lettering that people could read without a microscope. My printer is picky about paper size and borders, so that cut even more into the space available for the actual design.

I fiddled with printing on 4x6 photo paper, but I had trouble finding envelopes that would properly fit the size, without leftover space in the envelope. I wanted something with some thickness and weight to the card. I wanted something fun, like colorful envelopes.

Finally, I found a place that sold what I was looking for: mountaincow.com All kinds of colors, sizes, and accessories. And, it seemed reasonably priced: $.40 per announcement (card and envelope) plus shipping. The ink for my printer would be less than $40, even printing 75 announcements. I spent about a dollar per announcement (not including postage), and I got some nice extras that you have to pay for on online announcement sites(such as $.50 per announcement to get your return address printed on the envelope).

My one disappointment was that I couldn't trick my printer into printing borderless on my A6 size card (4.5x6.25). I really wanted a borderless card, but I dealt with having a white margin all around my design.

In the end, I got the style of announcement I wanted - a simple, modern design, a colored envelope, a photo on the announcement of the newborn, printed return address, and no waiting for a printing company to take the baby's info, print, and ship to me.

I was able to get all the envelopes addressed and stamped before Elizabeth was born. All that was left for me to do was insert the photo I took, enter in the correct information, and pop the cardstock into the printer. I think I had the announcements out within 2 weeks of Elizabeth's birth.

I intend to do something similar this time around, although I may go with a different card size. And, I wish that I could get a cool new printer that would let me do borderless printing (something like the Epson R1900 would be so fun!) Unfortunately, I think that is not in my future.

Monday, December 15, 2008

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I encountered this:



I giggled when I saw it. That's not typical for me. Usually, I'll just snort a little when I see something funny online. But this tickled my brain.

I saw this and thought immediately of my brother-in-law. You know who you are. And probably so do some others. Actually, I think I've read something remarkably similar to this on your Facebook...


See This Place for more inspirational Star Trek posters.

(insert that song title about cold here)

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It's been mighty cold.

Elizabeth was slip-sliding around the driveway, and although she didn't care for the first time she fell down, she thought it was pretty fun to hold my hand and slide.

We've been staying snug inside. We're supposed to get a coupld of inches of snow tomorrow, so perhaps this week we'll go sledding. I don't think Elizabeth has been sledding before, so it would certainly be a first! Maybe I'll send her out with a couple of the older kids I know from church, or my neighbor, and treat them all to homemade hot chocolate and popcorn when they come in to warm up.

For my part, I'm wondering how in the world I fit into the winter coat I have when I was 39 weeks with E. I feel like I'm pretty close to maxing out my fit, and I still have many weeks yet to go. Maybe I didn't zip the coat much in the last few weeks last time. Whatever the situation, I surely feel like I'm bigger, sooner!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

photo update

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Another four weeks have flown by. I'm nearing the end of the second trimester at the time this photo was taken.

Things have been well for me. Generally I feel good, although I've been less and less motivated to get things done. A surge is in the making, though. Not much time left for more things than I have time for!

I've been doing lots of reading about homebirth and pregnancy. I'm thankful that I have family with large collections of books from which I can borrow. I have about 20 different books sitting around my house.

I personally own the following titles:

Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin
The Pregnancy Book by Dr. Sears
The Birth Book by Dr. Sears
Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn by Penny Simkin

I always go back to Spiritual Midwifery as a general reference. The more books I read, the more I find my self skimming through, because (for obvious reasons!) much of the information is the same. Even considering that, there are several books that I would like to add to my personal collection. Good thing I can borrow them for now!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

first hair cut

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Elizabeth had her first hair cut yesterday. She had just woken from her nap, so she was quiet and subdued. Which is good, because she just sat on the chair and watched in the mirror as her hair was cut.

I was pretty hesitant to get her hair cut. For a while, I could keep her hair out of her eyes with hair bows and elastics. Then, she started pulling those out just minutes after I would put them in her hair. And then, she would constantly push the hair out of her eyes. So, here are the photos...


Before the Cut






The final result


With her hair cut she looks so much more like a big girl!

Monday, December 01, 2008

car seats for kids

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I've been spending a lot of time over the past few weeks looking at infant and toddler car seats.
I've sought recommendations, looked at safety ratings, and lurked in car seat forums.

Infant Seats

We had borrowed an infant seat from a friend for Elizabeth, but that seat is expired (and disposed of) and we now know more about the features that matter to us. So, it's time to acquire a seat for baby #2.

I've had 3 Infant seats in particular recommended as great seats - the Graco Snugride, the Graco Infant SafeSeat (Step 1), and the Chicco Keyfit 30. These three offer an range of prices to suit your finances or your feature preferences. Things that mattered to me when choosing a seat - safety and ease of use. Now, I understand that all car seats on the market are supposed to pass national safety standards, so I can be reasonably assured that any seat I purchase will offer my child protection in the event of a crash. So considering that, I had to go with the ease of use. I knew that I wanted a higher weight seat, so I could keep my baby rear facing longer in a secure infant seat. I knew I wanted front adjust. And I knew it had to be absolutely easy to install, as it will be moved on a regular basis, and by some individuals who might not be as particular as I am about having a tight fit for my infant seat. The Snugride only goes to 22 pounds, while both the Safeseat and the Keyfit o to 30 pounds, and unless you're very careful you might not get some of the good features, like a front adjust harness tightener. So, that was out.

Jude and I went to check out the Safeseat and the Keyfit in person at a Babies R Us. Although the Safeseat comes in more patterns than the Keyfit, The Keyfit definitely won out. The price difference isn't so great that it makes it worth getting the less expensive Safeseat. The Keyfit had a bubble leveler, spring button recline adjustment, was narrower and shorter from front to back, and was a lighter weight seat (Although why this really matters stumps me - I wear my babies instead of carting them around in an infant carrier. Exception - maybe in a restaurant.) There were other things, but really, I just liked how the Keyfit works better than the Safeseat. Unfortunately, I'm not a huge fan of any of the patterns currently out, or of the anticipated patterns coming out in 2009. I'll probably go with the Cubes pattern, as the most neutral.

Toddler Seats

We'll be taking a trip with 24 hours worth of driving one way. We currently have a Cosco Scenera, but that seat has no comfort padding to speak of, and we're hoping that a more padded seat will help Elizabeth stay happier for longer in the car. This choice however is far more challenging for me.

With an infant seat, you expect that you'll have to get additional seats for a child as they grow. When you get out of the infant seats, you'll find some seats the advertise that it'll be the last seat your child will need. You could buy seats that you think will last you all the way through seat/booster years, or get seats that are somewhat more specialized, and perhaps buy 2-3 different seats after the infant seat. Now there are all kinds of options in the toddler and older sized seats. I don't need a convertible seat for Elizabeth, as she is no longer rear facing. So, I could get one of those 3 in 1 seats that have a higher weight limit, but are forward facing only. Honestly, there are so many variations on what we could do that I am undecided.

And, although Elizabeth is currently forward facing, I've been reading more and more research that suggests that it would be far safer for her, in the event of an accident, to be rear facing for as long as possible. Convertible seats would allow me that safety feature, but a forward facing only seat would eliminate the possibility ot turning Elizabeth back to rear facing.

Seats that have been recommended to me: the Britax Marathon, and the Graco Nautilus. Further investigation has led me to add the Britax Boulevard to the list, as it is essentially similar to the Marathon (same frame, even) but with a couple more features that look worthwhile. I'm inclined to go for a Britax seat - even though I can't use it as a booster, I anticipate that I could pass this seat on to another child before it expires. I could use it to keep a child rear facing up to 35 pounds. It looks like it has more padding, so for the sake of a long car ride, maybe a better option. However, the frugal part of me definitely likes the Much-Less-Expensive forward-facing only Nautilus (it's a 3 in 1 seat - harnessed, then high back booster, then no back booster), and that I should reasonably be able to use the seat until E hits the state law of having a child in a harnessed seat until age 4 and 40 pounds, and in a booster until age 8 or 80 pounds, or 4'9" tall.

I think the Nautilus patterns are not so hot. And, I'm not fond of the lack of variety in the Boulevard covers. The Marathon definitely has the best best selection of covers. Jude likes the extra padding in the Boulevard, and the fact that the harness height can be adjusted without removing the seat from install. Unfortunately, the price on the Boulevard is twice that of the Nautilus. Yeowch.

I only have a couple of weeks to decide, and no more opportunities to see these seats in person again before making a decision. Oh, Choices!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

4 weeks later

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Here's the updated picture of me.



Hair is cut (but wet, because my hair dryer is broken). I'm finally back in my contact lenses, after loosing one down the drain a few months ago. The challenging thing about self portraits is getting the focus right. I obviously don't have it down, so close enough. Elizabeth gets tired of me tinkering to get the right distance.

I can tell that in the past 4 weeks or so, I have definitely grown! Just look at the last picture.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

pregnancy weight

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I'm mentally struggling with my weight gain this pregnancy. I didn't gain any weight my first trimester, but in the past 6-7 weeks I've gained about 9 pounds. Really, that's not a whole horrible much. But seeing the scale jump 2 pounds at a time for several week in a row is an unpleasant experience for me. I'm still on track for being within a what is typically considered a healthy range of weight gain for my height and previous weight, but I'll admit that I've really been hoping to be on the lower side of healthy weight gain, rather than the upper side. I know that more weight just means more work after the baby is born.

Now, lest you think I'm going to do something dumb or unhealthy for myself or baby, be reassured. I'm not limiting my food intake. I eat when I'm hungry. I try to eat good things most of the time. I know I'm eating for two, but the second person only needs about 300 extra calories a day, above my needs.

I will admit that there has been a week in the past several where I had some form of ice cream (and not a small amount) 5 days in a row, and I ate junky fast food 2 times that same week. So, considering that kind of behavior, I should not be surprised when I have greater weight gain. Junk in = junk on. Those eating habits, however, are far from typical.

So, instead I resolve each day to eat a healthy, balanced diet and to exercise. I succeed most days.

I guess it's just hard for me to see weight come back on, knowing all the work I had to do just to get to my pre-pregnancy weight. And, that this is weight I need to gain for a healthy me and baby.

Friday, November 07, 2008

potty learning

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We're working with Elizabeth on potty learning.

We have a little potty that is her size, and we have a book about using the potty that we read a few times a week.

Our only efforts at getting her to use the potty consist of asking her if she has to pee when we change her diaper before bed, and if I remember it, to ask her at wake up, and before and after naps. Once she told me "Pee!" and she proceeded to pee on the potty.

She's pretty consistent about being able to use the potty before bedtime. It's funny to see her concentrate to go pee, and when she does pee, she gets a big smile on her face. We don't need candy to get her to pee. Apparently, she is enthused about getting toilet paper when she uses the potty. So, she'll pee, and then say "Paper?"

Hopefully, it will be pretty smooth sailing from here out! (I could only wish...)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

3 car family - still worth it with lower gas prices?

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For now, we are indeed a 3 car family.

This past week, we purchased a lovely 2006 Chevy Impala with 35,000 miles, in great condition. It was a fantastic deal. Something you don't often find. So we went with it.

I wrote about the potential benefit to being a 3 car family a few months ago, but those numbers were based on an assumption that gasoline would stay around $4.00 a gallon. Gasoline at my local gas station has been dropping several cents every few days, and now rests at $2.05. So it has me wondering, will there be any benefit to maintaining my 1996 Saturn as a third car?

We were pleasantly surprised to find that having 2 cars covered by the same insurance company would give us a discount (Jude's truck is covered by a business policy through another company). Turns out that having both the Impala and the Saturn with a multi-car discount essentially eliminates the cost of insuring the Saturn. Impala only = $436/6 mo; Impala and Saturn = $437/6 mo. So, In terms of insurance, we not really paying anything greater to keep a third car.

So, the cost to keep the Saturn per year, based on my previous post's estimates, should be about $210.00

Readjusting our fuel cost estimates based on $2.05/gallon, we get the following:

If Jude drove the Impala instead of the truck for 1000 miles, and the Impala gets about 25 mpg versus the truck's 13 mpg, then there would be a 12 mpg advantage, or saving 83 gallons of gas. That's $170.00.

If I drove the Saturn every week instead of the Impala (40 miles/week, for 46 weeks per year (vacation, you know?)) that's 1,840 miles in a year. The Saturn gets about 36 mpg . That would be an 11 mpg difference - 167 gallons saved, or $342.

A total fuel savings of $512.

Total cost savings - $302!


Interestingly, even if there were no unexpected insurance savings, we would still save a little money having 3 cars, based on the above scenario. It would only be about $60 at current prices, but even then, would probably have been worth it!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

language skills

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I continue to be amazed at seeing language development first hand.

Monday, Elizabeth would say "Buh" for book. Tuesday, she says "Book."
There have been other words in recent days, but she is adding final consonant sounds to her words.

She has been working at two word phases, although at this point, she is repeating phrases. We read a book wherein a character says "I'm waiting" a whole lot. Elizabeth say "I a-ying" when those words come up in the story. We say "I'm Mama," or "I'm Daddy," and she repeats it back to us.

And, I believe just yesterday, she has created her own phrase. She asked for something, (one word) and said please! I only heard it once, so I'm waiting to see if this is indeed what she did. She's not said please before, so I'm guessing that is the word she said.

Who knew that I would find this to be one of the exciting parts of this age?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

babies ain't dumb, or my kid wants to vote

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Jude and I were discussing today's election this past weekend. We had mentioned the names of the two major party presidential candidates several times. Jude was looking at something in the news paper and said "Obama" in the midst of a sentence. Elizabeth pipes up and says "Ahma!" We said, "can you say McCain?" "Cain!" and so it went. When ever we mentioned the name Obama, she would pipe up, eventually perfecting her pronunciation to "Bama!" and saying "Cain!" at the appropriate times.

I was watching the local evening news with Elizabeth tonight, and the news anchors were talking about tonight's election coverage. I don't believe they mentioned either candidate by name, nor did they show pictures of the candidates. They just used the word 'election' repeatedly. Elizabeth says "Bama! Cain!"

Clearly she is quite aware of the conversations going on around her. She knows 'election,' 'Obama,' and 'McCain' are all words that go together!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

election dreams

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I had a strange dream about voting.

I'm at a grocery store to vote. I pick up my fill-in-the-bubble ballot and booklet (like a test booklet?), and head over to the tables and chairs in the produce section. I'm there with Jude, friend of ours, and Elizabeth. The test/voting is crazy. There are all kinds of propositions, but instead of a simple yes, no, there's some kind of crazy multiple choice. I'm trying to coral Elizabeth while trying to understand what the questions are really asking, because they don't in any way seem to match up with what I'd read previously about the propositions. Jude and our Friend get done, and leave, while I'm still trying to keep Elizabeth's hands out of the fruit bins. I'm there for several hours...

It's like the worst combination of ACT/SAT tests, voting, and shopping with a toddler.

I'm glad I'll be going in to vote early with Jude, instead of taking my vote/test while corralling E by myself at the voting place!

Now I just need to decide who I'm voting for...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

goodnight moon

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Goodnight Moon is one of the books in our library for Elizabeth (ours is the board book edition). As you might imagine, I've read the book a few times. I haven't had to read the words in a long time. That gives me the chance to look at the pictures. I've noticed things in my old age that I never noticed before.

Grab a copy and look for yourself:

Every time you see the clocks in the room, they're advanced 10 minutes from the previous color page. (Bunny's bedtime is 7, but it takes an hour to fall asleep. Sounds like my child!)

The mouse is brave, running to a different spot every time, especially with those kittens in the room. They must not be good mousers. Look for him on the shelf, in the window, by the fire, ready to eat the bowl of mush, on the drying rack, and scurrying across the floor.

There is a copy of the book "Goodnight Moon" on bunny's bedside table. Somehow that seems paradoxical. I imagine there is a better word that describes what I'm trying to express there, but it escapes me.

In the picture of the three bears sitting on chairs, there is a picture of the cow jumping over the moon, which is another picture hanging in bunny's room. So really, the cow picture is in bunny's room twice.

There is a picture from the book "The Runaway Bunny" hanging over the bookshelf.

And thinking of bookshelves... There is a copy of the book "The Runaway Bunny" on the bookshelf. This book was written and illustrated by the people who did "Goodnight Moon."

The room gets progressively dimmer.

The telephone has a cord that plugs into something, but the lamp does not.

I wish my toy house had electric lights.


At least the illustrator gave the adults something to do!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

keep the home fires burning

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Fall is most certainly here.

My primary indicator? Not the leaves, oh no, but filling the furnace. We have a wood burning outdoor furnace by Central Boiler. It is a fantastic piece of equipment that we've had installed since about December of 2005. So, this is our fourth season running it.

First fire after the installation in 2005

Like any wood burner, you have to fill it with wood once or twice a day. We're blessed with a huge acreage to cut wood on, and Jude works with 2 neighbors who all cut wood from the same property. This year, we're playing a little bit of catch up. Our wood shed hasn't been filled, and there are lots of trees out in the woods that are just waiting to be cut, split and hauled. You might imagine that our weekends are full of Jude being out trying to make a dent, but always having other things come up that prevent getting a good, solid day in. Our furnace burns a lot of wood, due to the nature of our home (Large, uninsulated, clay-tile house. With lots of air leaks. And radiant heat.)

Winter a few years ago.

So, meanwhile, I toss wood in the furnace during the week. I just dress Elizabeth for the outdoors, and she follows me on my route to and from the woodshed with the wheel barrow. She helps by tossing small pieces of bark and sticks into the wheel barrow, and handing me the pieces she can pick up as I load them into the furnace. Good for exercise! It's not too bad, really - it takes maybe 10 minutes a day. I think that 10 minutes (and exercise) is well worth not paying thousands of dollars a year in natural gas for our old indoor furnace.

Friday, October 17, 2008

belly shot

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For the curious...

I'm somewhere in the second trimester in this photo, but not yet to the halfway mark. Wouldn't want to give away the 40 week guesstimate, and have people impatiently wondering what's happening. I was 40 + 6 with E, so I'm not really attached to numbers! Who knows, though... I may tell later, simply so I can have a fun guess the baby game (there are several free online services that offer guessing games.)

My posture is horrible. If I stand up straight, I look a lot less pregnant!



E wanted to pose, too.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wednesday in review

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Here I am, about 18 weeks. Nothing really exciting going on here. I've been motivated to get more done around the house. I'm definitely bigger, and gaining weight, finally - I was kind of concerned about the lack of gain. Oddly enough, now that I am gaining, I'm distressed at how the numbers are increasing from week to week. Why couldn't it be more gradual?!? I would say that I'm not showing so much that you'd know that I'm pregnant. I mostly just look like I've gained some tummy flab. My back hurts when I stand too long, but that's because my shoes are worn out, and I need to go buy some new shoes.

This morning, we went to our second story time at our local library, but that didn't really work out for us. I knew it was going to be a puppet show. I did not know that it would be a Halloween themed show, nor did I consider that the first and second graders invited from the local schools would be encouraged to screech and yell at various points. Elizabeth is not fond of people making aggressive yelling or screaming. She starts crying. So, when the puppet guy jumped out from behind his booth right after the room lights were dimmed, she screamed and cried. Ironically, the puppeteer had said just before that something about the making small children cry. (He was joking. Elizabeth was not.) So, upon realizing how frightened E was to even be in the room, and considering the Halloween theme, we decided to opt out of story time today.

We spent some time in the library instead. I checked out "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth." I've read it before, but it's a worthwhile read, especially considering that there is childbirth in my near future. I also spent some time flipping through Consumer Reports magazines looking for current reviews of refrigerator, freezers, and child safety seats. Unfortunately, I could only find reviews in the last year for refrigerators. Oh well.

Elizabeth has a long memory, though - when we went into the story time room before leaving the library to get the bags that we had left behind in our haste to exit the room, she started crying again when she saw the puppet man.

Today, I canned 20 quarts of grape juice. It took me about 3.5 hours. Elizabeth was not amused that I was not paying attention to her. She kept approaching me (while I kept saying "HOT!" to keep her away from the stove) and raising her arms and wiggling her fingers in a 'give it to me' gesture, while saying "ME!" As in, pick me up. Poor E.

So, now she is in bed, and I am blogging about my day, while avoiding the last debate. I was unimpressed by the first 3 debates, and I suppose I'll turn on the TV so I can snort at the dumb things both candidates say. I'm definitely in the Undecided category.

Friday, October 10, 2008

productivity

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I've been on a self-imposed computer fast. Well. Kind of a fast. Mostly just during the day, when Elizabeth is awake. (She is sleeping for now.) One of the down sides to this is that I have been spending much less time putting up thought provoking posts for my readers.

So, I've been occupying my time with more productive pursuits than surfing the internet and reading my forums and facebook. For instance:

Exercising - I'm exercising for two, so I need to make sure that I'm getting in some quality time. I walk on my treadmill for 30+ minutes 4-5 days a week, and also do some stretching and strength training. It sounds more impressive than it really is.

Cleaning - you can actually see the floors and other horizontal surfaces in some of the rooms of my house. Trust me, this is an improvement, and it's one that makes my husband feel like he can relax when he gets home after a long week away, instead of picking up messes on a Friday night. I feel a lot better with a clean(er) house, too.

Reading - as in reading books. Those hardbound things you find at the library.

Playing with Elizabeth - I knew I wasn't spending enough time with her, and that I was irritated that she was always pulling on my arms or trying to climb into my lap when I was at the computer. Spending time away from my computer has really revealed how much more of my personal play time she needs. Some days still aren't as interactive as they should be.

Domestic activities - This week, I made grape juice (from Concord grapes) and canned it. 21 pounds of grapes really didn't give me as much juice as I thought - I have about 5.5 quarts of juice. I think I'll have to get some more grapes next week! I've been catching up on laundry, and working at solving some cloth diaper stink issues (which might warrant and entire post of it's own). And today, I've been baking bread. It's been a long time since I've baked bread, and it smells good and tastes even better. Probably because Elizabeth helped with the bread.

All in all, leaving my computer off (for the most part) during the day has been an improvement in my life. I've often thought I would get more done if I didn't have a computer to tempt me. So, instead I finally exercised the will power to turn off the computer. Since it takes a minute for the computer to start up and log in, I'm deterred from using the computer to fill time when I'm bored or looking to avoid real work.

I highly recommend a less wired life!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

pretend play

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Elizabeth has been treating her Bear like a person recently. A few days ago, I saw her sitting in the living room on the floor, with Bear facing her. She was flapping Bear's arms up and down, and then she leaned down to give bear a kiss and a hug.

A day or so later, Elizabeth was eating lunch at the table. She saw Bear on the floor and asked for Bear. Once Bear was sitting next to her, she offered her cup of juice.

And tonight, we brushed Bear's teeth before bed, and tucked Bear into bed.

Pretty soon, I'll have imaginary playmates running around the house, too. I wonder if my imaginary friend George will make an appearance...

Friday, October 03, 2008

shake it, baby

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Elizabeth has a new favorite song, replacing YMCA as the most popular tune in our home.

It's Metro Station's "Shake It." The contents of the verses really aren't appropriate for children. At all. However, she really loves the beat, and when the chorus comes on, she says,"shays, shays, shays," in beat with the song, and wiggles around. (We kind of prompted some of this, as initially, we would dance around for her entertainment, as she would giggle whenever we did this.) She knows the song sufficiently well, that when the first few measures are played she knows what song it is, even though the first part sounds nothing like the chorus that she loves.

Randomly during the day, she'll say "shays, shays?" in inquiry as to if we can listen to the song. And, if we turn on the radio, she parks right in front of it and requests the song then, too.

I suppose you couldn't say this is the first song to which she will sing along. She used to sometimes say,"Eye!" when we played the YMCA chorus. But, she sure seems to know this song better!

Monday, September 29, 2008

time to out myself

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As in, the big outtie that comes with a pregnancy.

As you might imagine, I've been somewhat inwardly focused on this journey into parenting more than one child.

My days have been consumed with pondering how I want to expand my cloth diapering stash to accommodate 2 in diapers, whether or not to upgrade to a large vehicle for our family, and scoping out the infant car seats on the market today. And, of course, lots of other things, like the actual birth process, and everything that I'll be experiencing in the upcoming months, and being a good mom to Elizabeth.

So, look for baby #2 in the spring!

Friday, September 19, 2008

becoming a big girl

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Eating a pickle at RenFest


Elizabeth has now been in her big girl bed for almost 3 weeks. Yay! Elizabeth has been sharing the bed with us since she was a newborn, and we were starting to feel crunched in our queen sized bed. When we went to visit my parents a few weeks ago, we were facing a double bed that we knew from previous experience was too small to give any of us a good night's sleep. I decided it was time for an experiment.

My parents have a crib and mattress at their house for when they happen to have babies staying at their house. I took the mattress, put it on the floor beside my bed, and when Elizabeth fell asleep in our bed, I moved her to the mattress on the floor. To my surprise, she slept until almost 6 AM. And, to our delight, all of us slept much better. We hadn't realized how our movement during sleep would wake her, which would then wake us. She fussed a few times in her sleep early in the night, but I just reached over the edge of the bed and patted her back until she was quiet. By the end of our week there, she was sleeping all though the night with just an occasional fuss.

On our way home, we picked up a toddler bed, and set it up in our room right next to our bed. She got to pick out her sheets (she chose pink. go figure.), and she was and continues to be pretty enthusiastic about her big girl bed. Sometimes she still wakes up at night. Sometimes I wake up to find her snuggled right next to me in my bed. Still, though, I think we've made substantial progress.

This has been simultaneous with some other big changes in her life - we've been working at night weaning, and reducing day time nursing. She now only nurses once or twice in a day, compared to 3-4 times a day and 1-2 times at night just 3 months ago. And, she seems enthusiastic about her little potty, although we're not pushing her to do that. If she says something about the potty, she can sit on it, but we're not running her off to the potty every 20 minutes. Only one or two big changes at a time!

Friday, September 12, 2008

in which I wake up covered in baby poop

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Just a few minutes ago, I woke up, quite unpleasantly, with baby poop smeared on my legs, and the bottom that produced said product sitting on my lap. You can imagine I was not amused. I'm still not amused, but give me 15 minutes, and it will be somewhat more funny.

I had fallen asleep in the recliner rocker in the living room. Elizabeth was "playing" in the room (mostly bringing me her books). I don't know how long I was asleep, but the wet feeling of baby sitting in my lap woke me. I suspected it was merely a leaky diaper. Oh no. Further surprises in store for me! My second indicator that something less pleasant was about to be exposed was when I started to put my hand out to her (as she was attempting to crawl into my lap) and discovered a naked child. My eyes popped open, and saw Elizabeth, sitting on my legs and some other unpleasant things on her and myself. Immediately I stood up and carried her into the bathroom to clean us up.

I returned to the living room to see what further damage there might be. Thankfully, I haven't yet found anything that suggests she was trying to put the contents of the diaper anywhere. It was only that she wanted the diaper off. And, when she took it off, she put the diaper on the table right next to the chair where I was sleeping. I guess it's a good thing I didn't put my hand down there in my sleep. I think I need another 15 minutes.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

in which she says, "no!"

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Elizabeth has also added "No!" to her spoken vocabulary. I noticed it just a few days before going to visit my parents. She came up to me, and started slapping my leg, saying, "No, No, No." over and over again. For a moment, I thought she might be saying, "nurse," which effectively comes out as "nuh" or "nuur" when she's trying real hard to pronounce it. However, when she concluded with "No!" and pointed her finger at me while raising her eyebrows and giving "the look," I was quite clear what she was saying. I couldn't stop laughing. Jude knew that look came from him.

Over the next week, she practiced her "no!" with finger pointing on just about every person, the dog, the bird, and sometimes objects. She even taught her cousin Jacob to add the finger pointing to his previously established "no."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

phrases

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Elizabeth is adding phrases to her repertoire. We were at my parent's house last week, and she was very enthusiastic about their bird, Birdie. So, every morning when we got up, she would say "buh?" and make the sign for bird. So, out we went to see the bird. I greeted the bird saying, "Hi, Birdie!" and by midweek, she was saying, "Hi, buh!" I thought it was mighty cute.

This morning convinced me that the concept of combining words into a phrase was solid. Jude was out at the truck, getting ready to leave for work. I opened the window shade so Elizabeth could watch him as he worked, and she immediately started saying, "Hi, Da!" over and over.

Smart girl.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

cold weather, nice warm furnace

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For this first time since I've lived in this house we turned the heat on the the second week of September. In years past, we've been able to hold out until the last week of September, or more usually, the first or second week of October. We typically don't feel a need to start up the furnace until the day time temps are lower than 70 degrees, and night time temps are in the 40's and 50's. Our house is not well insulated, so as it cools off overnight, it's hard for the house to recover and warm up to the daytime temps. That's what we were experiencing, and based on the forecast, it's what we're looking at for the next week.

Turning on our furnace is not so easy as flipping a switch. We have an outdoor wood furnace that heats our house, so to get the house warm, we have to cut a bunch of fire wood, clean out the furnace, and then start a fire big enough to heat 300 gallons of water. As you might imagine, this is not something we take lightly. We don't have much wood cut, because we usually have another 3 weeks before we have to make sure we have a good starting stash. Then we cut wood through the fall, and into the early winter.

Does having the furnace on mean that we won't open the windows? Nope. If it gets nice, we just turn down the thermostat, keep the fire going outside, and open the house to catch a breeze. This is just so unexpected. Weird weather.

Friday, August 29, 2008

blogging mystery

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For the past several months, I've been getting lot of hits to my post about my orange motorola rockr.

My stat counter tells me these things. And when I click the link that brings a person to my blog, all it brings up is the results of the Google image search, showing that the image someone clicked on comes from that particular post on my blog.

Someone out there has somehow used that image from my blog (which is alright by me) I just want to know where it is that people keep clicking through to my blog. Perhaps I'm just being too internet-unsavy.

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

the end of summer

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It's here. Kids are back at school, the weather is cool, and it even smells like fall.

I look forward to fall, but I'm definitely sad to see the summer go. I had hoped to get out and go camping at some point this summer, but that just didn't happen. We'll try to get in a fall camping weekend, but already, the weekends are filling up fast!

I think this fall, I'll give another go at canning some grape juice, apple butter, and maybe some other things. The peaches and tomatoes are coming on next door, so we'll be having some canning parties there.

I'm all fired up to make some pumpkin muffins. Also a fine reminder of fall.

And, I'm feeling a desire to get out to a fair, like the Kansas City Renaissance Festival, which starts this weekend. I used to attend every year with my family, and in high school, I even worked a few years out there with some friends. Jude is not so much into renfest-like activities, so I guess I'll just have to try to go with my like minded family members. Jude will just have to endure!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

speaking of photos

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I decided to finally pull photos off my cell phone. These images aren't the best, but they capture some interesting moments...


Pushing the cart at Wal-Mart



On the merry-go-round



Elizabeth tried drinking her yogurt out of the bowl. She ended up with most of it on her face and shirt.



After an exhausting afternoon swimming, Elizabeth crashes out on the towel.



Notice the cup is almost as big as she is...



As soon as she puts on her sunglasses (not always in the right direction, as seen here) she assumes the "attitude" - it clearly says "I'm too cool for you, Mom and Dad."



Caught this on a recent drive home from Chicago. Nice double digging!



She loves the camera. She's been saying, "mah-muh?" when ever she sees a camera she wants to use.

does the cuteness wear off?

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I realized this morning that I hardly ever take pictures of Elizabeth anymore. Up to 6 or 7 months, I took photos nearly every day, and now, I feel like I'm missing her doing things.

I suspect it all has more to do with the rate of change. It's not that she's less cute, it just that new things don't happen as often - there are fewer firsts, and so many of them now are more verbal than visual.

Still, though, I'd like to get back into the habit of more photos. Perhaps I just need to chain my camera to my hand.

Of course, the down side to taking lots more photos is that I would have to make the time to edit them to share with everyone. Oh, sacrifices...

Monday, August 18, 2008

crawling back from the back 40

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And this is why I wouldn't make a good professional blogger: I am obviously lacking in consistency.

So, in recent events:

Jude and I were at Grad Camp last week (for college age people) and it was a pretty good time. I know we're not college age, but we were on staff, so that was our excuse to be there. :) I'm looking forward to next year's camp!

Elizabeth is being clever - She can kick a moving ball (usually she is chasing it, as opposed to me rolling it to her).

She is also using two syllables for some words - cracker (ca-ca), baby (duh), Banana (Nana!), a bite (a-by), and an all purpose word, a-ba-ba-ba, usually said as a question. The could mean: yogurt, breakfast bar, Manna-bear, or something else entirely.

Unfortunately, we're at the end of summer. Not many weekends left to try to get some real camping in (like, in a tent, cooking over a fire). I hope we can get out at least once!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

buckets of guts

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On my shopping trip today, I stopped by the farm where I pick up fresh produce and eggs. I happened to arrive just as they were finishing up their chickens. Butchering the chickens. yuck.

So, I got to see 3 chicken carcasses, several food containers full of whole birds that were chilling, and a bucket full of guts, feet, and heads. I was kind of expecting that I might at least want to wretch, as I was forewarned when I called that they were working on butchering chickens. I guess I managed to be coolly aloof.

They explained their whole system. I saw where they bleed out the chickens, then scald them, then put them in a defeathering device. After that, it's all hands on (and feet/heads off!).

I can plainly see, however, that although I like to think of my self as someone who could handle it if the world suddenly screeched to a halt and we had to live like pioneers, I am wee bit squeemish to do that at the drop of a hat. I now totally respect my sister-in-law who hunts and dresses her own animals. That is way cool. If we have to live like pioneers, I'm moving next door to her.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

this hot weather

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is killing me. Or Rather, it was killing me. We finally put the A/C units in the windows, so at least the main floor of the house is temperature controlled.

I kind of have a love/hate relationship with air conditioning. I spent the first 18 years of my life growing up in an air conditioned home. I went to school, where my dorm room was not air conditioned, and I survived just fine. I got married and moved here, where there is no central air. Even though I've spent most of my life with temperature control, somehow I feel like a weakling when we turn on the A/C.

The survivalist part of me wonders just how I'd cope if I didn't have A/C. Then the other part of me says that I use technology for my heat and my internet. Why not for cooling in the summer? Some people claim that growing up with A/C makes you less tolerant of hot weather when you're older. I don't know that I buy that. But, I totally believe that going from A/C to the great outdoors can make it trying to be outside for a while.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

early mornings

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I'm sitting here this morning, waiting for one of Jude's co-workers to come by and pick up some supplies. Morning is apparently not my most energetic time of day.

I do appreciate mornings, however. There is a certain stillness about the world, the air is cool, and the light is wonderful. Even though I don't like to be up really early, if I happen to be up and catch a sunrise, I just sit back and enjoy the experience.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

took us long enough

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Finally. Elizabeth has received her blessing. Only took 17 months!

You might wonder what took us so long, though. A lot of it was scheduling - when all the grandparents could be there, when the people who were blessing Elizabeth could be there. But, it's done now. Yay!

Elizabeth's first sacrament. The blessing of children is one of the 8 sacraments offered by the priesthood in my denomination. Most often, it's done within the first 6 months of a baby's life, although it can be done for children up through age 7. There are some people who think that children who have been blessed actually manage through their childhood better than children who have not been blessed. I guess I haven't paid attention enough to really notice in other children. I hope, though, that we'l see the blessing poured out in her life, and by association, in ours.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

mommy guilt

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I've been experiencing some mommy guilt recently. I have baby journals/albums/memory books that I have neglected. I was doing pretty good the first year of Elizabeth's life - I would make an effort to record funny memories as they happened, and to make a monthly record of the changes in Elizabeth. The past 6 months have been... not so much!

I can only imagine that at such point that there are other children, it will be even worse. By the time the last kid comes along s/he will be lucky to have the birthdate written down on a scrap of paper. Poor kids.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

back on track (or tread)

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I just completed my first workout since some time in early June. I still have it in me to exercise. Yay! I walked for 35+ minutes on the treadmill. I hope to get in some strength training later today. Strength training is my weakest fitness area (pun intended). I realize, though, that it really is integral to maintaining a fit, healthy body. Not that I'm a shining star of fitness or anything like that. I'm just on my way there.

Ahhh.... sweat feels good....

Monday, July 14, 2008

smart babies

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I love how smart babies are. I didn't know I would get such a big kick out of seeing Elizabeth figure out new things, especially when she's only seen me doing something once or twice. Right now, she's holding my iPod and plugging the stereo cable into the top, which she's seen happen once or twice at camp a few days ago. Or the car wash example I gave last week.






She is writing/drawing with her left hand and holding the crayons like adults do, tucking it between her index and middle fingers, resting it in the crook of her thumb.

I also enjoy hearing her try new words. Her vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds. Most of the words, she tries just a few times, and then we don't hear it again unless prompted. Recent Additions: Ear, neck, nose, knee, clothes, bike, Mom (YAY!), nana (banana) and a few others I can't recall off hand.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

returned...

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From the depths of camp...

It was a good week. It was nice to have our last year directing camp turn out to be so... peaceful! For those interested in details: 27 campers, a car wash to raise money for a food pantry ($385 and 7 milk crates of food), swimming, a movie on a giant screen, mud volley ball, dance/karaoke, and a "talent" show. good times!

I especially want to relate to you a story from Friday night, the last night of camp. We had wrapped up our evening services, and had actually made it to bed for lights out about midnight (that is shocking enough by it self - so early!) We were doing some finally clean up around the grounds, as it looked like it was going to rain. I'm putting Elizabeth to bed, and suddenly, I hear repeated knocking on my door. I answer it, and I find one of the counselors at my door, telling me that some of the girls are missing. Not Cool. Apparently, in their exit from their cabin, the girls neglected to shut the door firmly, and it banged open awaking the girls in the adjoining cabin. Those girls freaked out, as the saw flashlights, and heard voices. They were sure someone was going to attack them.

Based on the missing girls, we knew the guys who would also likely be missing. We look that way, and sure enough, there are curtains hanging out the window the guys had used for their escape. We knew the likeliest place for escaped campers was out in the field, so off Jude went.

He found the campers within 10 minutes of them escaping. They didn't know they'd been found for another 2 hours. He decided that since it didn't sound like they were up to anything inappropriate, that he'd just hang out to supervise them and see how long it took them to realize he was there. At one point, he crawled up to where they were and laid down in the grass nearby. It took them about 1.5 hours to notice. As the story goes, one of the girls sat up because of a bug, and gasped. "What's That?!? There's someone there!" one of the guys sat up and said, "Who's there? (Pause) It's JUDE!" to which Jude replied "Yup."

Jude herded them back towards the cabins, and we all had a good chuckle over it. It makes for a funny concluding memory of camp, for all involved. And the campers were grateful that we didn't call their parents at 2 in the morning.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

at camp

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I didn't think I would be posting while at camp, but here I am. This is the second year Elizabeth has been to camp with us, and this year, she is much more particular about when and where she goes to bed. Bedtime is about 8 pm (really, she wouldn't mind going to sleep about an hour before then) and she will only go to sleep in the quiet of our cabin. So, with not much to do, I have my trusty laptop with wi-fi, and I can surf and post while hanging out with the sleeping baby.

The rest of the campers are off watching a movie on a very big screen. Something like 6 queen sheets sewn together. Although, due to the rain tonight, they're actually watching a movie on the screen folded in half, draped over some support rods in the lodge. It's still big. something like 20 feet wide, and 14 feet tall. Not bad for a big screen movie.

Yesterday, we did a car wash to raise money for the local food pantry. I was quite impressed - in 3 hours, we gathered $385 and about 8 milk crates full of food. Awesome! The campers were pretty good at keeping on task. Much to the chagrin of the camp nurse, I was the only person who managed to get a significant sunburn - my face, neck, forearms and legs are noticeably red, even today. I have a nice flip-flop tan now. Probably the cutest thing of the day was Elizabeth (of course).

She's an excellent mimic, and picks things up quite quickly. She saw all the campers washing cars with cloths for a bucket. She came over to check out the buckets, and played in the soap for a while. When I next looked at her, she was beside one of the girls, cloth in hand washing the fender of a car. Dip cloth in bucket, repeat. We have some pictures, but those are currently being held captive by our photographer. I'll have to post some at another time.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

3 cars, 2 drivers: is an extra car worth it?

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Jude and I have been discussing getting a newer, larger car for our family. Currently, we have a 1998 Chevy Truck (Jude's work vehicle - 371,000 miles) and my 1996 Saturn SL (226,000 miles) . We've been doing some research about the model in which we would be interested, the insurance costs, the difference in fuel economy.

Jude raised the question - would it be worth keeping the Saturn as an extra car, instead of simply replacing it with a large sedan? I've already discussed to some degree the reasons we are considering a new car.

The savings would be fuel-related, and here are the places we think there might be a benefit.

Going different directions - there are several times during the course the year when Jude and I both need vehicles at the same time, aside from Jude's work. If Jude could take a car instead of his truck, he could save about 12 mpg in fuel economy, compared to driving the truck. Based simply on recollection, there about 5 trips of 200 miles each in a year (or about 1000 miles)

Running Errands - During my weekly shopping trips, I don't need a bigger vehicle. I can fit what I need in the Saturn - about 40 miles each week.

Taxes - We would be able to deduct most of the insurance expense of Jude truck, because there would be much less personal use of the vehicle.

Additional notes - having a third car would not completely replace the personal use of the truck. There are times when a truck it the thing to use - hauling trailers, helping people move, construction projects - those are regular parts of our lives, and we would end up using the truck, anyway for those events.

The Cost Break Down

To keep the Saturn, we would pay about $240 a year for liability insurance. Property tax is about $60. Add on about $150 of maintenance costs (this is over shooting a little - it includes oil changes, air filters, and maybe something else?) Cost to keep the Saturn (barring any major repairs) - $450

If fuel prices stay where they are or go even higher that's where we'll see the savings. Let's pretend that gas will stay at $4.00 a gallon for the next year.

If Jude drove the large sedan instead of the truck for 1000 miles, and the sedan gets about 25 mpg versus the truck's 13 mpg, then there would be a 12 mpg advantage, or saving 83 gallons of gas. That's $332.00.

If I drove the Saturn every week instead of the sedan (40 miles/week, for 46 weeks per year (vacation, you know?)) that's 1,840 miles in a year. The Saturn gets about 36 mpg . That would be an 11 mpg difference - 167 gallons saved, or $668.

A total fuel savings of $1000.

Total cost savings - $550!

I think for our family, it would be worth keeping the Saturn as a third car (until the repairs become too costly) It appears that it would be cheaper to have 3 cars, instead of just getting a larger sedan to replace the Saturn. Way to go, plasti-car!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Indepence Day!

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The 4th of July. Red, white and blue. Today, I'm wearing blue, E is in white, and Jude is in red. Between the 3 of us, we look rather patriotic.

Today we won't be doing much other than joining our neighbors for some grilling out, and perhaps a few sparklers and black cats in the back yard. Living in Missouri, we'll have all the sights and sounds of fireworks we could want. There are probably 15 fireworks businesses within 5 miles of here, and a few of them put on really big displays. We're up on a hill, so we'll be able to see some of the fireworks displays put on by some of the larger nearby towns. It makes for a pretty good view.

I'm sad that I'm here, though, and not with the rest of the family in KC. For the first time in several years, all of my siblings, nieces and nephews will actually be together. Except for me and Elizabeth. We're getting ready for camp, so, no gathering with the family. Alas, we'll have to wait for another time.

Aside from that...

Yay! Happy Independence Day!!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

check your posture

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Posture is something I've been thinking about recently. I have poor posture. I spend hours at the computer, and often, I rest my chin on my hand while slumped over the keyboard.

I came across a post about poor posture, and it's something I totally identify with, especially the final comment.

I can see the effects when I look in the mirror - my breasts slump over to rest upon my flubby abdomen, and I loose several inches of height. I look like what we classically think of as an old woman. (look at the image at the bottom. 55+?!? more like 20 something at a computer...)

I dread the impact seeing my poor posture will have on Elizabeth. Time to go work on my abs, and sit on my exercise ball for computer work!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

the final stretch

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This is it. The week before my last senior high camp (for a while, as director, at least). Jude's home this week as we finalize activities, schedules, go shopping for our supplies, and whatever other errands pop up.

I'm both excited to know what is in store for this camp, and relieved that the camping season is nearly over. I love being at summer camps, and helping out where I can. I'm also finding that as my family grows, my priorities have shifted, and my responsibilities to my family have increased.

I'm sure camp will be great this year. I hope it is. I'd rather go out with a fantastic year than one that is awful.

Monday, June 30, 2008

mislaid gifts

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A couple of years ago, my cousin got me this cool Eeyore Bubble Machine. At the time I first saw it, it was the middle of summer - my cousin was too excited to make me actually wait until Christmas, so I got to open it early. She then took it back, and held on to it for when Christmas really rolled around. Fast forward a couple of years - I again found a gift waiting for me in the middle of the summer. Lo, and Behold, it was Eeyore!

Elizabeth loves the eeyore bubbles. She has a new word - "Bub bubb!" - which she says every time she sees the machine. She screeches and giggles happily when we turn it on for her.

Friday, June 27, 2008

yum... raspberries!

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A few days ago, we were up surveying the garden (my lettuce is doing quite well! yum!). Our neighbor pointed out that the black raspberries are starting to ripen, so we pick a couple of handfuls. Elizabeth had never tried raspberries, so I offered one. At first, she plainly refused. Once she saw that Jude and I were eating them, she became much more interested. She tried one, and then she kept coming back for more.

So, a day later Elizabeth and I went up to the garden to pick some more berries. She knew right away what they were, and reached out her hand in her new "more"gesture (which is kind of like a "come here" or "give that to me" gesture) So, I'd pick a few, give her a few, pick a few, give her a few...

Eventually the mosquitos chased us away, but we made off with half a pint or so of fresh raspberries.

As soon as we got home, I sat her at the table with a bowl full of more berries for her. This was the result of that action:





Thursday, June 26, 2008

minor setbacks

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My week at camp was a minor setback, in terms of weight loss. Not only was there a lot of heavy food at meals, but there was also access to the "canteen" where I could buy cheap single servings of treats like ice cream sandwiches and dreamsicles.

The amount of walking I did crossing the campgrounds on a daily basis doesn't compensate for the increased intake of calories, nor does the sandbagging. I fully understood what I was doing when I ate all those treats (we're talking 4-5 treats per day - way more than my maybe one treat per week at home.)

So, it comes as no surprise that I am now up 5 pounds from my recent low (that was about 3 weeks ago - I was already on an upward trend - not so good.) It's also no surprise that I find myself craving junk food and sugary snacks. Last night I gave in and walked to the convenience station (thankfully it's about 2 miles round trip) and bought some potato chips and a soda. And I know all the bad stuff that's in such items!

The only thing to do now is to put myself back on a normal routine - eat wholesome, healthy foods, and most importantly, get back on the exercise band wagon. As I type this, I am loathe to exercise. I'm still tired from last week, and it's humid. Excuses, excuses...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

victory for missouri midwives

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Tuesday handed a big victory to Missouri Midwives. The Missouri Supreme Court handed down an opinion that essentially said that the physicians associations bringing suit against the State of Missouri had no standing to do so. Here is the Opinion Summary.

Here are several links that really cover the issue better than I can:

http://primebuzz.kcstar.com/?q=node/12577


http://www.columbiamissourian.com/stories/2008/06/24/mo-supreme-court-upholds-midwifery-law/

http://www.missourimidwivesassociation.org/courtcase.html


The midwives aren't necessarily out of the woods yet. The plantiffs have 10 days to file for a rehearing. If no rehearing is granted, then CPM's will be free to practice in the state of Missouri! (At least, until the legislature is back in session, and the yrush to A)repeal the law or B)regulate the midwives. I'm betting that we'll see some regulation laws enacted at the end of summer 2009.) But for now...

Yay for midwives and homebirth families in Missouri!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

daddy's little girl

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Elizabeth totally has Jude wrapped around her little finger.

We were at Wal-mart before camp shopping for some last minute supplies. While I was doing the serious shopping, Jude wandered into the toy section and picked up a remote controlled helicopter for himself. I found them there near the helicopters, and Jude walked me over to a different aisle. He then went on to tell me how Elizabeth had earlier made a bee-line for this:



and that we couldn't get him a toy, and not her a toy, and besides, she really seems to like it, and she's big enough to ride it. It will give her something to do at camp.

So we bought it.

And she learned a new word because of it: PUSH!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

sandbagging

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I've returned from a week at camp. In the midst of near-record flood levels, my family crossed the Mississippi River. On our trip home, we crossed the same bridge I crossed to come home in '93 - it was oddly similar.

Our first night there, we spent the evening sandbagging at a historic landmark called the Nauvoo House. On and off throughout the week, people from camp were helping out sandbagging, walking the levee, and making midnight calls for help when a boil in the levee appeared, and the seepage through the softened earth grew too much for the pumps to keep pace.





On the night the boil popped up, Jude had already gone to the levee to help out - the river hadn't yet crested, and there was much concern about the direction of the next few days. Around 11 pm, a call came out for sandbaggers - they needed them now. My cousin, who was at the same camp with her son came over to my cabin. Did I want to go? I had just put Elizabeth to bed (poor kid - long week), and I knew she was pretty much out for the night. We loaded the 2 kids into the car (her son was there, too) and headed on down. For the next hour, we made sandbags while our children slept peacefully in the car just 10 yards away.



So far, the levee has held, and as the river level has dropped, the care takers of the Nauvoo House have relaxed a little.

The wildlife around the river are taking it in stride - the frog and the turtle were both enjoying the sandbags.





All these photos were taken the at the end of camp, after all the work during the week - we were all too busy to take pictures while we were sandbagging.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

rising waters

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I've lived the majority of my life within a few miles of the Mississippi River. Now with all this rain, I'll get to see nature exerting its power over humans, we, who would like to think that we control nature.

During the flood of '93, I lived in Missouri, but I was spending a couple of weeks in Illinois - one at a church camp, and then spending another week with a friend. The first week at camp was merely wet and rainy, with lots of places that I wasn't familiar with flooding.

I remember being in Quincy, Illinois, after camp at a KFC, and hearing over the radio playing in the store that the levy at West Quincy had broken. I remember stepping outside with my friend and her family, and seeing the billowing smoke from a gas station across the river that caught fire in the rushing waters as a barge swept across the flood plain and hit the gas station. You can still see a barge that was stranded more than a mile from the river front in West Quincy, Missouri.

I remember riding a trolley across the dam at Keokuk to pick up the friend's Dad from work - they lived on one side of the river, he worked on the other - and that was the only way to get across the river for a long ways. I remember at the end of the week driving across the bridge at Keokuk - the only passable road between the two halves of our country in a several hundred mile stretch, looking out the car window and seeing flood waters held back at eye level.

My neighbor, who lived here during the Flood of '93, has been telling me stories of their experiences of living for weeks out of work, and the struggles that their friends and neighbors experienced as they were flooded out of their homes for weeks. Thankfully, we live on a bluff and are not at risk of being flooded out (if were were to be flooded, there better be an ark around somewhere). But to see the communities around us evacuating with the memories of '93 refreshed in their minds makes this year's flooding so much more personal.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

well done, good and faithful plasti-car

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I am without a vehicle this week.

My 1996 Saturn SL (with power nothing) finally had a major problem - the manual transmission has essentially quit on me. After 225,000 miles. Not too bad for being original equipment.

It has been kind of crunchy in the shifter for a long while - 1st and 3rd gears were problematic, and reverse sometimes would kick out of gear. But, this past Friday, it proved to be exceptionally bad - strong-arming the shifter at all gears became the modus operandi. We were in the car for about 9 hours that day, and wound up in Iowa for the wedding of a family member. Jude was concerned that the clutch might actually completely fail before we got home (thankfully, it didn't.) Once the car was home, we decided there was no point in causing further injury to shoulders or running the risk of my being stranded with a baby in hot weather.

So, we shall get the plasti-car repaired - even though it will probably cost around $700 to fix it. It still gets 36-37 mpg on short trips, and we've gotten 42 mpg in the last 2 years on very long car trips. Funny thing is, we may end up getting a new (to us) car anyway, since we don't like to take the Saturn on long trips - it's not comfortable for tall people, and although no one except Elizabeth might think of me as tall, Jude certainly has to do some body-folding to get into the vehicle (to say nothing of our longer-limbed friends and family). And, there's a reasonable chance that our family will grow at some point in the future. We could certainly make it work - 2 car seats can fit in the back, and we could travel much more lightly, but since we don't have a NEED to make it work, the days of the Saturn in our family may be numbered. (I remember my parents packing 4 kids into a car not much bigger than the Saturn for long car trips - how did they do it?!?)

I love my plasti-car, and I love the fuel economy I get with it - it would certainly be hard to give it up, but if the right reasons present themselves, I'd certainly consider it.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

swim diaper bargains, or corporate mark-ups

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Summer is here, and it's time for a baby swimsuit. Last summer, we had her in this cute matching suit and hat set from iplay baby wear.



Although I wasn't keen on the price ($20 for teh suit, $10 for the hat), I hadn't found any other reusable swim diapers that satisfied me. Reusable swim diapers fit right in with my cloth diapering attitude - why use anything else? And, honestly, I thought it was a pretty cute set.

I've undergone a little bit of a transformation when it comes to children's clothing - I much prefer to buy good condition used clothing from yard sales and consignment shops. Generally, the consignment shops are more expensive than the garage sales, but consignment shops are more likely to have what you need in the size you need it, without spending many days driving around and not finding what you are looking for. And, if you're a brand name kind of person (which, apparently I am) you can find lots of brand name clothes at great prices.

So, in my quest this year, I headed straight to a consignment shop. I didn't have time to poke about the yard sales, and I knew just what I was looking for.

I found the following items on my shopping trip:

A pink pair of baby crocs (yes, I know about the hazard of letting children wear these toe biters. I'm in rural Missouri. We don't have escalators. We hardly have curbs.) - retail price $25.00 - my price - $5.00, and in like new condition.

A pair of water shoes for Elizabeth - $3.00

Best of All - a Play Baby bikini swimsuit New with Tags - retail $10.99, my price - $5.00



I was somewhat disappointed, however, that it wasn't an iPlay swimsuit. It's remarkably similar, but alas, not the same brand. There was something about the suit that caught my attention - there wasn't too much identifying information on the tags, and I became curious about who manufactured it. All I could find on the tag was an 800 number, so I Googled it. Lo, and Behold! Play Baby is manufactured by I Play. No wonder the suit looked so familiar! I called the number, and they tell me that there is no difference in quality - the Play Baby brand is made for mass market distributors, while the I Play brand is made for specialty shops. Different patterns are used in the different brand lines.

So, in the end, I got the suit that I wanted, and saved $15 in the process.

Way to save some dollars, and still dress my girl in cute clothes!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Elizabeth's words

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(Helping Jude wash the dishes.)

Here is a somewhat comprehensive listing of Elizabeth's words and phrases:

Jacob
brush
hot (Ha!)
ball
bird
book
foot
shoe
phone (po)
dog
Woo, woof
cat
meow
Da
What's this? (ahtz ees?)
drink
cup
juice
Dennis
apple
nipple
cheese (CHEEEEEZZZZE!)
beep, beep (while holding her nose)
belly button (beybuh)
baby
thank you
candle
here you go
kids
whoooo.. whoooo.... (wind blowing)
Mooo!

There you go - about 30 words (and some more that I'm forgetting.)



(Elizabeth likes to wear my shoes.)

Monday, June 02, 2008

ewwww.... cockroaches!

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I've been working on preparing for my Food Service Sanitation Manager Certification (FSSMC) Exam. (say what?) Yes, the FSSMC. So I can be a cook at summer camps. Never saw that one coming... But it's something that I feel is important to do. In the state of Illinois, we are required to have someone with current a FSSMC in the kitchen during our summer camps, and unfortunately, there are few volunteers willing to put in the money and effort to have the appropriate certificate.

So, on to the cockroach part of the title:
As part of my studies, I have been learning about different kinds of pests found in food service establishments. Cockroaches are a notorious pest. I dutifully studied the images of the different varieties of cockroaches, learned about the habitats and methods of pest control.

I was definitely icked out when I realized the the creatures my husband had been calling "waterbugs" were indeed a variety of cockroach. And, Unfortunately, I have seen some in my house. Gross! But, even though I laboriously learned about pests, I couldn't quite identify my pest.

I'm not inclined to be rash and uniformed. I caught one, and it's been living in a glass jar for a few days. I've been searching to figure what exactly I have in my jar. Finally, I think I've found the right one - the Pennsylvania Wood Cockroach. Here's the pdf file that really clinched it for me. The markings are right, the behaviors seem to fit. I guess I'll just have to wait around for a few weeks (thankfully, I'll be out of the house a lot this summer) to see if they do, indeed, go away on their own.

Gross. Cockroaches.

summer's a comin'

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Every year as the school year ends and summer begins, I find the days past quickly. I'm gearing up for summer camps. What this means for you, my readers, is that I will probably end up posting much less regularly than my target of 5 days a week. I'm not one of the fortunate people who can muster up a slew of posts to automatically publish in my absence.

So, fair warning - I'll do my best, but I'll be away from my computer for about 5 weeks out of this summer. And the weeks in between will be spotty.

Friday, May 30, 2008

link day

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Today I'm putting up some links to some sites that are interesting and informative for those of us into reducing the chemical load on our systems. Sometimes people are inclined to think that to do so is nearly impossible - these sites show you how normal people can manage it.

BrandAid - This is a site with a growing archive of everyday brands that contain the least amount of bad-for-you extras.

SkinDeep: Cosmetics Safety Database
An extremely enlightening resource! I've been poring over ingredient labels in personal care products for years, but this easy to use database covers it all, and takes out a lot of work - all I need to do is look at the product type (like diaper cream) and I'll get a listing of best to worst brands based on the chemical load of the ingredients.

Environmental Working Group - This site connects you to a variety of information related to humans and the environment, with special emphasis on chemical burden. This is the parent of the skin deep site listed above, but I felt they both deserved particular mention. Here you can delve deep into the issue. (I subscribe to the Enviroblog, and I love it!)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I love/hate my gadgets

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I sometimes think I could live without my TV. I've cut out a lot of TV viewing in the last few years, to the point that it's hardly ever on during the week. Sometimes I'll watch a movie. Seriously, I think I have about 3 hours of total TV viewing a week now. I think some day we might just get rid of the thing all together. Trent over at The Simple Dollar offers a compelling argument for ditching TV - and, I could sell the thing and buy some nice living room furniture to fill the space left by our 56" HDTV. (Yeah. That's big. But not as big as my brother's 61" TV.)



My computer on the other hand... I can hardly imagine using my computer less. I love that I have such easy access to information, that I am involved in various online communities, that I have people I can rely on just a click of the mouse away. I hate that I spend so much time here. I sometimes ignore my daughter when she's practically begging for attention (because finishing reading some posts on a forum is more important?) I sit here reading interesting, but pointless things sometimes, just because I am unwilling to put effort towards more worthwhile things, like maintaining a pleasant home for my family, or taking time to study scripture.

I love my cool phone, because it's techno-geeky. I hate that I feel like I'm missing my hand if I forget it at home. I love being able to communicate at whim with almost anyone, any time. I hate that we expect people to be at our beck and call. I love that with cell phones, I could reach my kids at any time. I hate that it makes it harder to let your child grow up when they can always be reached. I hate that my child will feel like a social outcast if I don't get her one when she's 10!

It's definitely a love/hate relationship between me and my gadgets. Maybe an EMP bomb wouldn't be so bad...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

house painting

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For the past 2 weeks, I've had guests in my home. My father-in-law and brother-in-law have been staying here helping paint my house. Needless to say, my daily schedule has been upturned somewhat with hosting others and running errands for the job.

Now, the big question is, what color to paint the house? Right now, the house is mostly yellow. I have grown to appreciate the yellow-ness of my house, and really, my preference for it fits right in with me and orange. I know what yellow looks like. It makes the house stand out. Everyone in town knows where the yellow house on the hill is. (So does everyone approaching town from about 3 miles out - you can't miss our house unless it is dark).

There has been some discussion about changing the color, but I just don't know what we would change it to. Jude likes blue, and shades of blue. I'm willing to consider it. But, I'm just not sure... Will it loose the personality is has? Would it be nice to have a less obtrusive home? To not stand out like a big yellow school bus on a blacktop road?

Negotiations are on going. We probably won't decide until the last minute.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

my war with poison ivy

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I was out surveying my neighbor's kingdom on my trusty steed today.


As I cruised the trails, I found myself trying to minimize any possible contact with any greenery around me. Most of it was poison ivy or poison oak. Yuk.

You see, I'm fighting a war. Poison Ivy is the enemy.

My husband might say I'm paranoid. I say I have reason to be. Early in our marriage, I had an unfortunate run-in with a bunch of poison ivy roots in my flower garden. Being pretty ignorant of poison ivy in general, and not aware that the roots (even at the end of winter, before they've sprouted anything green to know what is what) are just as noxious as the weeds. I vigorously pulled up dead matter and roots with my bare hands. Lo, and Behold, I ended up with poison ivy completely covering my hands and forearms (and various other secondary contact areas, including my husband). My fingers swelled such that I couldn't bend them. Jude had to wash my hair for me, because they hurt and I couldn't use them, anyway. It took 3 weeks to get back to functional, and several more for the sores to go away. Needless to say, I have been wary of it since then.

There is LOTS of poison ivy in the land around my house. It grows like trees. In some fields, almost all the leafy greenery you see is poison ivy.

This is the extent of my paranoia:

I don't touch the neighbor dogs or cats. I could get it from their fur!

I (the anti-chemical gal) purchased some Roundup for poison ivy. Yes, an herbicide. And I sprayed it generously all around the huge patch growing right against the house and our outbuildings. I have been considering spreading the love to other areas that infringe upon my personal comfort zone - like the stuff growing along the edge of my yard and around my trees.

I have seriously contemplated purchasing goats for the sole purpose of eating the poison ivy. Unfortunately, the nature of goats is to eat everything else, too. And I'd have to get a whole herd for the quantity of ivy around here.

Clothing that might have come in contact with poison ivy, or touched something that might have touched poison ivy, is treated like harzzardous material.

Sometimes, I feel like I need to wear the white hazmat suit just to step into the woods.
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