Wednesday, December 19, 2012

little things

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My mom talks about her grateful book.  She writes down things that she is grateful for, and it helps her remember all the things in life that are blessings to her.

Here are a few things I am grateful for, and that make me happy:

5 days ago, she made noises that were kind of horse-like while playing with horses.
2 days ago, Adelle made a "Whoo-Whoo!" noise when reading "The Little Engine That Could."
Yesterday, she starts intentional blinks in an effort to wink at Jude.
I don't know what she'll do today, but it will probably be awesome.

He plays like I remember my brothers did - lots of sound effects, running around flying his lego planes.
He comes up with Wild Stories, and often inserts the word "bottom" or "poop."
He is a superhero. Depending on the minute, he could be Spiderman or Captain America. Or a Train Superhero.

My lovely girl is an author and artist. She has been making books and illustrating them.  We got her a sketch book to start recording her ideas for keeping. Some of her stories are big enough that we transcribe them for her.
She loves purses and small boxes for keeping things. Very much like her Nana.
At the same time, she loves superheros and transformers.  She settled for a Transformers toothbrush when I said no to the battery-powered light saber toothbrush.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


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This "Mom of 3" thing is totally kicking my butt.

I'll be honest.  IF we have more children, I need for it to be a while. I love babies, and being pregnant, but at this point that would feel like more of a burden.  I can't keep up with anything. Which is why my blogging has totally fallen by the wayside.  I'll admit it: I'm struggling.

I feel a little defective in the face of the "more than three" families I know, including my own family of origin. I feel like I should be able to handle this.  I mean, I was the over-achiever in high school and college.  I managed to keep on top of things then.  Why is it that I feel like I'm walking through a dense fog of chaos, avoiding my own children, while simultaneously accomplishing nothing except staring at a screen?  I wonder how women managed back in the day when we didn't have oodles of convenience products and appliances, and yet managed to find time to volunteer or create things.

In truth, it's not that I'm lying around the house in complete and utter inaction.  I feed my children, and we go shopping (spending money, now THAT is something I can do!) I do laundry when we run out of clean clothes. Some times we participate in group activities with other people in our homeschool group. I usually shower at some point in the day, but no guarantees that my hair will be brushed. We've been enjoying doing family activities like movie marathons and playing with our ever-expanding LEGO city (it will overwhelm the basement before long, I think).  I excel at enjoyable one-time distractions, like geocaching, thrift-store shopping, and trying to get involved in volunteer projects (and even going on a literal wild goose chase trying to track down a rare bird for Jude that I, the non-birder actually saw while he was working).

But as to my house and things that are not distractions? I can't seem to maintain any efforts to do something consistently, and certainly trying to change more than one thing at a time is simply going to lead to failure sooner.

So, for the past month we've been pretty much not-schooling.  Not even Un-schooling, because that would require some effort on the part of the parent(s) to find resources for the things a child wants to explore.  Hello PBSKids! Lots of movies. And me, trying to figure out what in the world I'm wasting my time on while my kids seems to be self entertaining.

Honestly, the list of ways I feel like I'm failing at parenting and in my life feels endless.

I've been talking with Jude on and off about this.  We're working at figuring out how to help me feel like I have a grip on things, but ultimately it takes me to be the one doing something different.  The past few days have been somewhat better. I'm not yelling at my kids as often.  I've started (and completed) a few projects that have been sitting around.  I've even done some token exercising, which is better than the NO exercising I've been doing. I hope that I will be able to maintain at least one of the improvements, and hope that one thing will lead to improvement in another, and another.  I have a long hill to climb (if only that counted as exercise!)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Happy Birthday, Adelle! {1 year}

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Brand New
One year ago, Adelle Jane entered our lives!  If you're into birth stories, here's hers: Introducing Adelle Jane


What you should know about Adelle at 1 year old:

Adelle is about 20 pounds and 29 inches.

Adelle has been walking for a number of months. During the past month, she has completely mastered the stairs - up and down, with speed.  You usually hear her coming up the steps because she likes to throw her hands on to each step with a loud "Thwump!"

Adelle has been making some effort at words in the past 2 weeks. The sounds we've been hearing (but I haven't for sure declared) are (in order of appearance)
"Da-ya" - Daddy (when waving hi to him),
"Ha" - hat, 
"Mumumumum" - Mama (only when she is upset and wants my attention)

She's an avid dancer. She has a very serious face when she dances.
She likes to wave bye, hi, and night-night.

We have a large yellow tonka truck, and Adelle likes to climb in the back of it.  She then waits for someone to push her around the room.

Adelle enjoys reading - she find books, and brings them to us to read to her.  She also finds books, opens the up and starts reading aloud to her self. Loudly.  Very Loudly.

She loves baths. She splashes and pours. She blows bubbles.  She is surprised when she slips and gets some water in her windpipe, but she recovers.  She tries to get in the bath with her sibs, but when she fails she just splashes their water from the side of the tub.

Finally, she has all four front teeth. Now she can really tear things up. I think she'll discover that eating solids can be pretty fun.  If I'd let her make a mess with it. :)

Thanksgiving: Last Year vs This Year

The past year, in pictures:



Hmmm... This headband is too small. It restricts my plotting to take over the world.

After walking the 5K with Mama.

Stealing Dad's pizza

Enjoying the beach at Lake Michigan

Loving the swing at the playground
"Rock Climbing" at the Shedd
Her own apple. Don't take it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

midwives in Illinois

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We moved to Illinois just after the birth of our third child. In Missouri, we FINALLY had non-felon midwives!  yay! And then we move where, like Missouri of the past, non-nurse-midwives are not legally able to attend homebirths. Boo.

Well, since I've changed states,  and I support midwifery licensure, I need something to keep me busy, right?

So, once again I am delving into supporting licensing of Certified Professional Midwives. In Illinois, the consumer group (Illinois Families For Midwives) has waned, and a new group is coming together to provide the grassroots support that is needed to ensure that women can find legal homebirth providers. 

I don't know if we'll have more kids. I don't know that if I have other kids, all of them will be born at home.  But I certainly would like the freedom to easily and openly seek out and interview a variety of skilled providers, and decide who I think would provide the kind of maternity care I desire.

I guess that's me telling you that I'll be posting about this stuff on and off.

So, uh, fair warning.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

our homeschool studio - classrrom - playroom

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We've been working at getting our space for homeschooling together and this is (mostly) what it looks like. 
In this corner, we have our reading area, our "prayer tree" and calendar.  And a playyard that Adelle sometimes uses. We're trying to help her learn it's a happy place, not a torture box especially for babies.


The low shelves are primarily toys and learning tools for the kids. We have a place to display their artwork up above.


The tall shelves have most of the books, crafting and learning supplies.  You can also see part of the dining room, which looks MUCH better now! 

I still have more that I would like to see added to our space:
An bookshelf to display kids books cover-side out, near the reading corner.l
Some framed art up above the shelves, where the walls are tallest.
A cool lamp for the reading corner.
Additional shelves for the low bookcases so I can make better use of space for putting out puzzles and manipulatives for the kids.
I need to figure out some space for putting up our maps.
A pocket chart for weather and other calendar activities - near the calendar, but I'll need to put it high enough that Adelle won't tear it apart.

The computer for the kids is between the kitchen and family room, so it's not in this picture.  It's a pretty boring space, and kind of cluttered right now.  We'll address taking photos of that space some time when it is clean, and the rest of the house is a disaster.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

not a giveaway blog

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I guess I'm glad I didn't get in to hosting giveaways on my blog.

I just spent 15 minutes going through my feed reader and unsubscribed from a bunch of blogs that at one point used to host giveaways, but have had nothing new to post in months. Some of them have new posts, but they're totally uninteresting to me.

That could have been my blog, if I had gone that direction.

Companies only give you stuff so many times.  Eventually you run out of companies to approach if you are doing giveaways for a very specific audience (like cloth diapers).  I may not have a whole bunch of followers, and we might be lucky if I update my blog every month, but I do update.  I've been around for 6 years.  I guess I'm not a young'n in blog land. I'm just not well know, and that's probably just as well.

I'm not opposed to doing a give away once in a while for my small collection of loyal readers.  But don't expect me jump on the giveaways bandwagon.  There's more to blogging than that.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

adelle reads

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Since we homeschool, we like to claim learning can happen anywhere.  So. Here is Adelle reading by osmosis at a wedding.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

cute Adelle

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So, the girl is walking now. She decided that it would be okay for her to walk before her 9 months birthday. So, she's been walking for weeks, and has been consistently gaining speed. Not running yet, but nearly so.  Must keep up with so siblings, you know.

I've been meaning to record for myself and the internet a cute Adelle move. She's been doing it for several months, and it could disappear at any time. It actually started as a "bump bump": When lying on her back, she would lift her bottom from the floor, and then drop it back down. Bump, bump, you know?  Wiggly girl.

Verbal description: Kicking her legs straight down from her hips. She pulls up her knees, and kicks down, as if she were jumping. She does this when she is lying down. She does this when she is being held. She does this probably when standing, but it looks like jumping.  Or squatting several times in a row.

When used: in frustration or anger. If we're holding her, and she want down she kicks. If she's lying down, and she's impatiently waiting for her diaper change. If we laid her down because she's super sleepy, but she doesn't want to go to sleep.  Any of those times, she brings out this move. If she simply doesn't like what we're doing, or how long it's taking, the legs start moving.

She's very smiley now - she laughs at many things. She claps. She "yells" at me when I'm not paying enough attention to her. 

She dances, too, but I can never get it on camera. Every time I get the camera out, she hurries over so she can get it.

She's trying out some sounds - she says "uh-oh,"  but she doesn't use it for uh-oh moments.  Just any time, whenever she likes. I think she likes that when she says it, we parrot it back to her. Still waiting on the "first word."

Adelle is 10 months old. At her last measure, she was 18.5 pounds, and 28.5 inches.  If she follows the pattern of my other kids, she'll stay at about 18 or 19 pounds for the next year, and very slowly add on some weight. She still nursing quite regularly, but she does enjoy snacking on solids.  She likes to have her own, and she'll steal food from other people's plates.  Watch out, is all I'm saying.

 Her name is apparently on the list of fastest-rising baby girl names. FAN-tastic. That means we'll encounter a bunch of little Adel(l)es running around the playground over the next several years.  I haven't yet encountered another baby Adel(l)e though. I suppose rising in the ranks quickly doesn't mean a lot - I think the last time I looked, it was ranked about 627, so even jumping up to 200 wouldn't put it in the same league as Elizabeth (hello top 20!)

Eventually, I'll need to figure out my photos and this new mac.  I haven't uploaded any photos in months - they're all sitting on the camera card, waiting for me to get my act together. I think I'm almost there.

So, until then, imagine a sweet brown-haired, blue-eyed baby, toddling around, and looking remarkably cute (and clever).

I want fluff

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I'm considering getting some new cloth diapers.

My trusty BumGenius one-size diapers have done well for more than 3 years (and have been worn on 3 kids). The velcro is shot (although I replaced some of the velcro with snaps) and then I find some are beginning to leak regularly.

So, I want some new fluff. Maybe if I have new fluff, I'll keep cloth on the baby more regularly!

I really do like my bumgenius diapers.  I've tried fuzzibunz and a tiny tush elite, and they both do fine. I guess I'm feeling a little like I want to try something new.  I've been a bumGenius mama pretty much my whole diapering time, and I've never explored much of the other options.

I don't strongly prefer snaps or velcro.  I've done both, and they both have their benefits. I guess I like a mix of both. And I'm all out of velcro/aplix whatever diapers, so I'm probably mostly shopping for that.

I would LOVE to find a night time diaper for my girl, as I'd given up on nighttime cloth diapering a long time ago (mostly the stink and the ammonia burn on baby's bottom did me in. Maybe new water, new diapers, and new washer will make a difference).

Some of the diapers I've been eyeballing:



Raspberry Sorbet - AppleCheeks Diaper Cover 

I've always done pocket diapers - I've read the all-in-one diapers can take a very long time to dry, so I've stayed away from them.  But, in my question to explore some of the diapering options out there, I'm considering those, too, although I don't have any that have really grabbed my attention.

Suggestions on "must-try" pocket or all-in-on diapers?

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

around here

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It seems like lots has been going on around here.

I still have a quilt waiting to be done. The recipient is in college now, so maybe by the next birthday it'll be done?  Or maybe by the time he has his own grandkids?  Somewhere between now and then I'll finish that quilt.

I've been preparing a whole boat load of stuff for consignment. I made a questionable choice a while back to purchase a large lot of clothes (which were in the size range of my two girls) with the intent to resell that which we don't need. I've been doing pretty well on it so far, but I have a BUNCH of clothes that I need to sell off to make sure that I didn't blow way too much money on kids clothes. So, I stain-treat, I wash, I consign. Note to self: Don't do this again (once I get through all the stuff I have). Even if I recover all the money I spent (making the clothes I kept free!) it's more work than probably worth. Although I did score a bunch of cute clothes at a great price....

I've been "preparing" for our homeschool year. Yesterday was our first "official" day of kindergarten for E, and preschool for N. Since my soon-to-be homeschool classroom/studio is not yet prepared, it felt mostly like a normal day.  We spent maybe an hour reading, playing some math games, working on fine motor skills, and other stuff that sounds "educational." Most of it is stuff we do anyway, just with a little more purpose now. As the year progresses, we will be adding in a few things to round out the day and week. By "preparing" I also mean that in spite of my best intents, I have yet to plan out what I'm doing any day this week, beyond homeschool group activities.  So, week one, we're just easing in to a routine.

That homeschool room/studio I referred to... Our front room will no longer be the catch-all of kids toys and unpacked boxes. We've decided it would be better to keep our school materials there, organized, rather than spread through the dining room, living room and the upstairs office and guestroom. I'm on a quest to find whatever it is I have in my minds eye, and I'm not really seeing it for the price I'm willing to pay. The search continues.

This is the space I have to work with (The orange room. Red room is full of dining table, a large painting and shelves).  This is also the view upon stepping through the front door (and looking to the left). The wall is about 18 feet long. We're imagining a wall full of shelves about 30 - 48 inches tall - the right height for kids to access pretty much everything, plus one tall unit on the end for things that aren't for kid access. I'm also imagining a reading nook on the left end of the shelves. We have a 5x7 map rug that would go on the left. I have a coffee table that makes a good kids' table for now, plus another low table.

I'm looking forward to developing this into a well-arranged space!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

babywearing - 5 years, 3 kids, 3 carriers

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I've been convinced that baby wearing is an excellent choice for many families since before Elizabeth was born. Practice in our house has proven this to be true, but what I thought I'd be doing and using 5 years later is not quite what I'd anticipated.  I'm offering a bit of my experience for those of you thinking about adding baby wearing as a tool in your parenting toolbox.

I have three types of carriers:

Stretchy Wrap - Mine is a Moby, my first carrier, and the one I used more frequently with Elizabeth.
Asian Style carrier/ Mei Tei - Babyhawk brand - I got this somewhere around the time Nathanael was born. I really don't remember if it was before or 5 months after. I used this more than the Moby, once I had it, and he was a bigger baby.
Ring Sling  - a beautiful yard sale find, apparently homemade - I found this when N was about 18 months. It is my most frequently used carrier with Adelle.

Here's how I use my carriers:

Rarely in the house. I'm just not someone who wants my baby strapped to my body all the time in the house.  Most of the time, the baby is sleeping, or playing on the floor, or simply being held in arms.  I wore E much more when she was a newborn around the house, but she didn't mind playing on the floor or in a swing while I did housework. None of my kids fuss much, and haven't been colicky babies, so I haven't needed to use a carrier to help me out in that way.

As Adelle has gotten older, I find I use the BabyHawk in a back carry, so she can get a nap, and I can get something done around the house.

Mostly out and about.  I can hardly imagine shopping for groceries or running errands without some kind of baby carrier. The few times I've hauled the baby seat in to the store it's been a pain, but I will do this when I have just one or two things to get/do in a particular store, and the baby is sleeping. It's so much easier to have the baby in a carrier than trying to figure out how to put my groceries in a cart around the baby, while corralling the other two kids!

During camping/retreats/large gatherings.  I directed youth camps and attended family camps when E and N were infants/toddlers. My baby carriers were indispensable.  I kept baby on me most of the time, especially since these events mean lots of outdoor walking to and from cabins, bathhouse, classrooms, and the lodge/eating area.  I've attended conferences and baby wearing has enabled me to keep baby happy while allowing me to participate.  Although, you'd still often find me at the back or edge, swaying or bouncing baby to sleep.

My thoughts on the carriers I have:

Moby - I love it for the newborn stage.  I secures the baby's head, and keeps baby nice and snug against me.  I used a Moby with E until she was more than a year old. I love that it's stretchy, but that's also the ting I don't like when baby gets heavier.  I love that it's easy to get the baby in and out of the wrap, which is especially useful when getting in and out of the car for errands.

Babyhawk- I got it because I was curious, and I found it on sale for $35.  I like it especially for back carries, once a baby is a little older - starting about 6-7 months.  It's okay for the newborn stage in a front carry), but there's an awkward stage where baby doesn't want feet tucked in froggie style, but baby isn't quite big enough to straddle the carrier and have legs out.  It's a good carrier, and I expect I will be using it more in the future.  Of my three carriers, this one is the most challenging to put baby in and out frequently (as one might do while running errands), but all things considered, it's still pretty easy to use.

Noname Ring Sling - I've been surprised at how much I've used my ring sling.  The thing that draws me back to it again and again is how easy it is to take on and off. Very easy to get baby in and out. It's harder for me to get the snug fit I want, I think because the rings are a little small for the amount of material. I do end up using my hands to support the baby more often than I do when I'm using the moby or the babyhawk, but it's generally not a problem. I've not tried a back carry with this sling, and the hip carry is not comfortable for me, but as a general go to carrier, I like this one a lot.

Breastfeeding while baby wearing has never been something with which I've been comfortable. The babies never seemed to like nursing in the moby, and I felt like the babyhawk left me too exposed, while the ring sling didn't feel secure enough to walk and nurse.  Perhaps there are more skilled mamas than I out there, but for me breastfeeding is something I have to do with the carrier off my body.

I would love to try out an Ergo or similar carrier.  I've heard great things about them, and maybe, just maybe, Jude would be more willing to carry the baby (if I got a non-girly one, unlike my babyhawk and ring sling.)

What are your favorite carriers? Why do you like them?  Have you tried any that haven't worked for you?

Thursday, August 09, 2012

1/3 of August

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Here it is, the first third of August done.

I've kind of disappeared from the face of my blog, but it's not because I don't love you.  No, it's because I've been more wrapped up in things around going on outside the interwebs. This is good, because it's given me time to work on other stuff.

We're "officially" starting homeschooling this year, since Elizabeth is age-eligible for kindergarten.  I've been working on what our curriculum will be.  In a lot of ways, I'm still not settled on the exact path we shall take.  I'm draw to an out-of-the-box curriculum, since it is all planned out. I have a bunch (read: a 3 foot stack) of lesson, theme, activity, and workbooks for k-1, that I've picked up over the last few years. So it's not that I don't have the materials for the year.  I just lack a cohesive plan for proceeding through the materials.

I have been reassured that I need to relax a little for kindergarten, and stick with the basics. Explore with them. Read with them. Play with them.  I'm confident that this year will be a great year for us.  Elizabeth is a quick and enthusiastic learner.  My job? To encourage that, and not dampen it.

At the 1/3 of August mark, it's time for me to be putting round 2 of my container garden in to play.
What, you say?  I didn't post about my garden to start with?  Well.  Here's the short of it:

May - Garden shop. Tomatoes, Peppers, Cucumbers, Sugar snap peas, Cilantro, Dill, Mint, Carrot seeds. Already had 2 pots of strawberries and chives. Tomatoes and carrot seeds in a 3.5'x3.5' square. Rest in pots.
June - Seeds died, tomatoes thrived. Cilantro died.
July - Cucumbers did well till we left on vacation, then 1 plant died, the other is hanging on. Peppers had blossom end rot, but I got some calcium and watered more evenly, and they appear to be doing better. Everything else is fine. Peas are done and pulled out.

So now that we're caught up to August, I'm planning to take some of my now-empty pots, and plant lettuce and spinach. I'd read that I might get some carrots to grow even at this point, so I'll probably give that shot in one of my deep pots.

1/3 of August.

That means we've been living in the Chicago area for almost 6 months. That means I'm really hoping that we don't have to move again in 6 months when our lease is up.  It also means that if we did have to move in 6 months, I'm totally not prepared to do that again. Too Much Stuff.

Last 2/3rds of August.  Plus September.

We still have some summer left in us.  I made a summer bucket list for the family back in June.  What?  Another thing I didn't get around to posting on the ol' blog? Oh well.

Train Store
Beach at the lakefront
Bike ride
Make ice cream
Complete summer reading program
Go to an art festival
Go to a concert in the park
Go to a movie

Train ride
Make our own bubble mix
Go to Toys R Us (totally E's idea)
Starved Rock State Park

Good thing we have plenty of summer left!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

things to remember {June 2012}

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I've a couple of stories about my kids to tell.  Not so much because I think they're the best thing ever, but because I want to remember these moments.  It's easy for me to get wrapped up in the business of running the house and forget to experience my kids, and enjoy them for who they are.


He loves trains. LOVES them.  In addition to his wooden train tracks, he now has some old collectible train catalogs that we picked up at a local train store when we were out adventuring with Nana and Papa.  They are his magazines.  He flips through them daily.  He also lets us know that he wants a train signal. With an X. And lights. And an arm.  Anyone have a spare they could loan us for a while?

He's so serious sometimes, and so sweet.  My precious boy.  His smile lights up the room.

He is playing at being "Sporticus" a character from a show on TV.  He runs around the room, jumps, kicks and does all kinds of "tricks" on his way to rescue people. Relatedly, you better watch out, because he might use his Karate on you.

If he doesn't understand something you say, he asks, "What you said?"

Instead of "I am,"  it's "I man." 

We have an impala, the car that EVERYONE has. When Nathanael sees a car like ours, he says, "That car's a shape! A shape as ours!"

So many questions and statements end with an incredible increase in volume and pitch. His whole face gets big, eyes wide open, as if he can hardly believe whatever is is he just said. "We're going OUTSIDE?? To play in the GRASS??"


So smart, so observant. She has so much to tell, that sometimes it's hard for her to listen.  She is very sensitive to tense or scary moments on TV.  She runs from the room, and waits around the corner until it's done.  We need to be very careful what she sees and hears, because things will stick with her forever. They don't just pass through without effect.

She has a keen sense of understanding how things work, and she can often explain them better than some adults. Other times, she totally makes it up, but it sounds logical or convincing. Don't argue with her, because she has some sound reasoning skills.  "Because I said so" has become a parental line of defense.

She fake laughs, and it's so funny to hear her do it. She really gets Adelle laughing when she fake-laughs, which quickly turns to a real laugh, and they just feed off each other.

Her dolls are her constant companions.  Mermaids. Princesses.  All things make-believe and magical are the things she loves. That, and her tea sets.  She has more than one.  She would get more if we let her.

Her favorite color is red, but pink will do, too.

She's quite an artist.  She draws lots of pictures, and she even wrote me a book called "My Mom." (It's mostly about her, but it starts with a picture of me.)

She will proudly tell you that she knows how to make toast, crack an egg, and pour milk.  She impressed herself by being able to count to 100.

Her eyes are very expressive.  It so interesting to see how her eyes, and the way she uses them, have remained the same, while the face has changed around them.


Her smiles have been blossoming all over the house.

She leans towards whomever she wants to pick her up.  She has the one-eyed blink when she's tired. She has a dimple that comes out of hiding every once in a while.

She loves to hear the sound of her own voice. Except when she wakes up from a nap.  She's usually very quiet then, and trying to get into some kind of (fun) trouble.  But, if you're there when she wakes up, first thing she does is bless you with a giant smile, while she waits to be unwrapped from her swaddle. Then she stretches very big, smiles more, and waits for you to pick her up.

She loves to chase (and eat) paper. She doesn't seem to have a favorite toy, but she prefers to go after whatever her siblings have.  We should just ditch the baby toys, since they are clearly of little interest to her.

She likes go for a "walk" with mom or dad, holding on to fingers.  If we disengage and help her sit down, she turns around and climbs up our legs looking for hands to hold so she can keep walking.

Family moments:

In the car, everyone singing along to the best of their misheard-lyrics ability, to radio songs.

At the restaurant on the beach at the lake, playing in the sand. Adelle kicking her feet in the water, stomping on the sand. Nathanael helping build a canal in the sand, and floating boats down the canal. Elizabeth making friends with people of every age.

Visiting an antique car show, and going on a tractor/hayride (though it was simply driving through a suburban neighborhood, it was still tractor related!)

Taking in an outdoor concert of the Gin Blossoms, narrowly avoiding being drenched by a big storm on our way out of the festival grounds
Going to the movie theater at 10 am to catch a kid flick (Puss in Boots). Our first theater show as a family of 5.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

getting rid of baby stuff

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I feel like getting rid of baby stuff.  I know that probably sounds a little odd, especially since I'm entirely anticipating that we will eventually have at least one more kid. (So the whole getting rid of baby stuff guarantees a baby may not apply, since I'm not declaring myself "done" and am not worried about whether or not we have another baby.)

I want to get rid of most of the baby clothes.  I want to get rid of the Tummy Tub (which I thought I would like, but really, didn't work for me).  And the Boppy.  And the MyBrest Friend pillow.  A few of my baby carriers. Newborn cloth diapers, and diapers I don't use that much. Infant toys that seem to be of little interest to Adelle. Baby stuff. I'm sure there's more floating around.

Things I'm not considering rehomeing: maternity clothes, and anything that I have reason to use in the near future for Adelle. And something else I thought of, but I can't remember what it was.

The silly thing is, I might end up buying some of that stuff again, but really? Most of the things I'm thinking of (some not even listed) are not things that were absolutely necessary. Very nice, nice enough to buy again if I thought that it would be beneficial (like the my brest friend pillow - super great, but I only used it for maybe 3 months. I don't think it even came out of the box after we moved.)

What say you? Ditch the baby stuff?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

if I were a boy

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When my parents were visiting a few weeks ago, my mom experienced first hand something I have known for some time.

I look like my brother.  So much so, that she said that when she caught a glimpse of me in the house from outside, she could have mistaken me for my little bro. See?  Even my mom agrees.

As for the evidence, please refer back to the original post I wrote nearly 5 years ago.  You'll understand.

But wait.  I look like my mom, too, also so much so that people sometimes mistake us for each other, including by voice. So if I look like my brother, and I look like my mom, and my brother looks like my dad, does that mean my mom and my dad look alike?

Horribly confusing.

But I have heard that does happen when people grow old together.

Not that they're old. Because they're not.  But they have managed to be married for more than 40 years, so they've spent two-thirds of their lives together. Therefore they are growing oldER together. Not old.

I should stop now.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I dread shopping... with kids

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Shortly after moving to my new home state, I called my mom and mom-in-law, and asked them how they survived shopping with several young children.  You see, I was in a desperate place.  I was having mommy meltdown, in addition to kid meltdown.

Here are thing things I gleaned from those conversations when shopping with young children:

Shopping is no longer fun. Don't shop for fun. Shop to get the job done.
Don't browse the aisles.
Make a list, and stick to it.
Go to as few stores as possible.
Go quickly and carry lots of snacks.
My favorite: don't shop with kids.

My poor kids still endure long shopping trips.  Just this week, all 4 of us made a LONG afternoon of it, hitting Goodwill, Sonic, Home (forgot my lists and coupons), Walmart, Kohl's, Target, Dominicks, Carters, and Meijer.  We were gone for about 6 hours.

Yes, that is a prefect storm for crazy making. But, we did well, all things considered.  My tools? Snacks, bribery (Toys!) and a promise of a treat when we got home.  We're constantly working on shopping manners, so most of the time, the kids are very well behaved.  It helps when we get compliments from shoppers and store employees.  It lets me know I'm not a complete failure as a parent!

A long day is not my typical shopping trip. Usually we'll just hit one, maybe two stores, and one other errand (the library, bank, whatever).  I usually try to leave most, if not all of the kids with Jude. 

However, there are some trips that are a special trip for just me and one kid.  I took Nathanael out, leaving the girls with Daddy, and it was actually an enjoyable time talking with him, and being able to pay attention to what he saw, and to answer his questions without interruptions, and without an older sibling constantly getting in his space (or vice versa). Elizabeth thinks shopping is boring, and doesn't want to go with me anymore (I guess Nathanael hasn't let her in on the secret that if you shop with just you and mom, you get a treat).

Once I realized that it was indeed an arduous task, and not just me being whiney, I was able to let go of the idea of liking shopping. I got comfortable with leaving some (or all!) of the kids with their dad. I used to feel guilty about that.  I don't anymore.  Totally easy to get over that and enjoy being able to shop with some speed (and being able to do a bit of browsing).

I guess that's just one more in a long list of expected changes as a result of parenthood. Shopping sucks.  Except when it doesn't.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

wednesday randomness

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sleeping baby
Sometimes I have so many ideas swirling around about what to post, I never actually get around to posting the ideas.  Trust me, I'm a FANTASTIC blogger in my mind!

In an effort to clear out the cobwebs, I offer a list of things I've thought about blogging about, but never got to it because I a) never took the photos to finish it b) finally took the photos but it's totally the wrong season to publish the post or c) never really fully fleshed out my thoughts past the initial idea d) decided it wasn't worth it.

air conditioning, as in central air. It's awesome!
grape jelly, in photographs
my container garden from this year
refinishing my cheap-o table. in blue.
my messy office. again.
my whirpool tub, which I have personally used 1 time since moving here.
parenting 3 kids
why I don't talk about God much anymore
how I love buying kid clothes
how I hate buying me clothes
going from 4 checkbooks to 1
feeling fat, and lazy
walking a 5k in a few days, for which I am totally unprepared
dairy-making, both being a milkbar and making cheese and yogurt. (got the ice cream covered)
wanting to take a vacation to somewhere beachy.
working on a family summer bucketlist. because it's what the cool kids do.
trying to balance the uselessness and wastefulness of so many kids crafts, with the importance of creative hands-on activities
wondering if the gov't really is tongue in cheek about the zombie apocalypse.
nursing bras
This Old Mac

Saturday, June 09, 2012

loving my thrift stores

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I have mentioned that I'm loving being so close to thrift stores. I've been shopping through them regularly, and I've been shopping garage sales ocassionally, too.

Here are some things I've found:

Two coffee tables.  Both would need work to get them presentable and proper in a well decorated house, but since we've already established my house is NOT well decorated, I'm not going to care about that.

The first is a lovely oval table - hard wood, cherry finish, with drop leaf sides. Since the top is already banged up, we're using it as a kids' work table. It's perfect, because it gives them plenty of space to work, and it's the right height for them to sit at with kid chairs. (Some day, I want to reupholster those chairs, since the kids are already beating through the vinyl.  Something colorful, don't you think?)

The second is a hard wood craftsman/mission style table, probably from some mass market seller.  Our dining table is pretty similar.  The screws have been stripped out where the legs join the top, and the bottom shelf needs some cosmetic work, but it will become a nice table for our family room.

I found a bunch of paper lanterns. I've been wanting to get some, but when they cost a dollar or two each, and I'm not totally sure of the colors and sizes I want, I just kept putting it off.  Good thing! I found a box of a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors for just $5. Score! I've already hung some up in the kid's room.  Now I need to acquire the light fixtures to go in them, and I'll have some fun lighting for their room.

One of my favorite finds recently was a Bissel little green machine.  Typically, those retail for around $80.  I picked mine up for $10.  It works great!

When thrifting/garage saling, I keep a list on hand of the things I'm looking for.  Sometimes I note the top price I'd pay, or the expected retail price so I can judge if I think something is a good deal.  Having a list also helps to keep me from buying too much off-list stuff, or in the case of kids clothes, buying more of what I already have.

Friday, June 08, 2012

why buy it?

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I've been on a bit of a DIY food kick.  Why buy some of this stuff, when you can make it yourself, without a lot of time investment? There are so many easy-to-find recipes on Pinterest, it seems a shame not to try them out.

Chocolate Syrup - Easy. No HFCS. Dairy free. Tastes yummy!

French bread - Good, but I need to work on my technique. And making it whole grain?

Hamburger buns - I tried a few recipes, and I have liked this one the best.  I like to use coconut oil, and it give it a slightly sweet flavor.

Ranch seasoning - I like the lack of preservatives, colorings, and HFCS.  I think it's really good.  It tastes fresher and less processed than store bought ranch.

Have any others to suggest to me?

And, a shout out to the blog Try it or Buy it.  I've really enjoyed seeing what she picks and her analysis of the worth of buying it vs. DIY.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

vanilla extract, the third

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I'm in the process of extracting my third bottle of homemade vanilla extract.

Soon This....
Will be This.

After my last post about putting the remainder of the vodka into the bottle for extract, I found that I had (apparently) exhausted the usefulness of my beans (and answered my own question!).  This tells me that I could get between 1 and 1.2 liters of extract out of the beans I had in the bottle.  My conclusion is that while I CAN get more than one batch of extract out of the beans, I can't get a full two bottles of extract (1.5 L) from the same beans.

The indicators to me that the beans were exhausted was that the after adding the last of the vodka (about 300 mL of it) the extract never improved in flavor, and had a consistently weak color, flavor and scent. I bought some new beans (this time as part of a group buy from Amadeus Beans).  I'm using the same bottles from the first batch (love the stopper tops).  I have a new vodka brand, too - Prairie Vodka, since the one I bought before isn't available here.  When I compared the new batch to the old one, at just a few weeks of extracting, I saw that the new bottle was darker in color, and had a stronger flavor than the old, which had been sitting, undiluted for several months, and should have improved.

I emptied little remaining vanilla/vodka from the old bottle, and pulled out the exhausted beans.  I'm reserving the liquid to add to a new bottle of extract, and I used the beans to try making some vanilla sugar (beans plus white sugar, let it sit for a while), which seems to have worked. I then finally ditched the old beans.

I've decided to start a second bottle of extract, considering the speed with which I have gone through my my initial batch of vanilla.  (And, considering my new ice cream maker, probably a wise idea.)  Since the vodka cost twice what I paid before, this vanilla will be a little closer to the price of store bought, but even so, well worth the effort. And, it'll be 100% organic!

If you want to read more about my adventures with vanilla, you can look here:

Homemade Vanilla Extract
Homemade Vanilla Extract - 2 months later
Vanilla Gone

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

ice cream maker

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I am the happy owner of a Kitchenaid Ice Cream Maker Attachment.

I bought it a couple weeks ago on a shopping spree using rewards points and a discount coupon. I bought a bunch of other stuff, too (practical things like new silverware with enough pieces to actually have matching place settings! and replacement kitchen tools for lost or broken items).  The ice cream maker is my current favorite, though.

Does this hurt my efforts at getting fit? Maybe.  Since I have an ice cream maker, and it makes ice cream that is as good or better than store bought, why should I buy ice cream? And, since I am required (by the nature of the tool) to let the bowl freeze for a day prior to use, in addition to thinking ahead enough to prepare the ice cream batter/mix and chill it over night, there is an automatic potential to force a delay in consumption. And knowing myself, I won't consistently make ice cream such that I always have some on hand (too much planning).

I made the french vanilla recipe included in the instruction book.  Excellent. Smooth and creamy. I could actually taste the cream, and not just sugar, like in other ice creams! I also finally understood that French Vanilla Ice Cream is read as 'French' 'Vanilla Ice Cream', not the 'French Vanilla' 'Ice Cream' I had always read it to be.   It's all about preparation of the ice cream batter. I guess it's done the 'French' way.

I then made a Southern Living recipe that require no cooking.  It was easy to mix up, and the flavor was good (not as good as the first recipe), but it had more ice crystals in it, so a little less creamy and smooth than the first recipe. 

Since I had left over batter from batch two, I froze the bowl again, and made mint chocolate chip.  Super easy - once the batter was mostly frozen, I added a few drops of mint flavor and the chocolate chips. Wonderful!

I'll be experimenting over the summer with different flavors.  I'm so excited to have this - I've always wanted my own ice cream maker!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Adelle: 6 months

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The half-year mark has arrived!  Baby Cakes has managed to survive her siblings and her parents, a pretty remarkable feet.

Adelle's stats:

26" long, 16 pounds.

Her foot has a little room to grow in the 0-6 months pediped shoes.  She's mostly moved into 6-9 month clothes. I love shopping for clothes for her, too. So many cute things to spit up on!

Major achievements in the past month:

Preparing for take-off!

Baby has landed!

Sitting! In the days leading up to her 6 month birthday, Adelle has been putting herself into a seated position.  Usually she goes from sitting to hands and knees frequently, so she's often in a different place/position than just a minute earlier.

Screeching - Adelle enjoys exercising her voice. A Lot. If you didn't know she was okay, you might think she's injured.

Babbling - "Mamama omommom ba!"

I think Adelle may talk more than the other two kids did - they were both pretty quiet in the "babble" stage. They are making up for that now.  Perhaps A has to talk more now to keep up with her sibs?

Table food - She gets little tastes of pretty much anything.  She also enjoys chasing Cherrios and bananas. She has quick hands, so watch out! I have a different approach to feeding A, compared to the previous two kids.  At the time I was first feeding E and N, pediatric thought was that it was better to slowly introduce foods, starting with the least allergenic foods, for the purpose of (hopefully) reducing the chance of food allergies.  Now, it appears that "they" think it doesn't make a difference, and to consider delaying specific food categories only if it is a known food sensitivity in the family (so, we don't do too much with milk products). So, I'm not being lazy 3 kids later, I'm being informed of current information! Right?

Other things:
Yummm.... toes!


Gymnastic nursing is starting to enter her repertoire as well. She is easily distracted while nursing, often leading to short nursing sessions or both of us getting covered in breastmilk. It can also lead to some unfortunate exposure, but really, if you've got a problem with my breast and my nursing, you need to get over it. I'm just sayin'. I'm protected by state law. And if I were to manage nursing A longer than 20 months, and it offends your delicate sensibilities to think of a kid old enough to ask for "nee-nees" breastfeeding, then go hide. Your problem, not mine. Enough of my militant breastfeeding. Back to cute babies!

Poised for a launch out the door.

She is still improving her army crawl. She's pretty fast.  Part of this may sometimes involve a kind of frog hop - while up on hands and knees, she digs her toes in, straightens her legs to a downward facing dog position, and then quickly springs both legs forward under her middle.

Stretch! Post-nap exercise. Love the chubby legs!
Adelle's naps are (unfortunately) random. When she does nap, they tend to be shorter naps - 30 -45 minutes. Sometimes she has several of these naps in a day, sometimes she manages a long nap or two. Other times it seems like very little napping occurs.  I think the girl needs more naps, though. No baby should have shadows under her eyes.


We are finally starting to catch more smiles on camera. Adelle started off life as a serene little baby, and she has continued to be low-key.  She loves, loves, loves her sibilings. Except when they get in her way, but that might annoy me more than it annoys her.

Now that Adelle is older, we she looks less like Elizabeth did as a baby. Similar, sure, but Adelle's hair and eyes are different.  She still looks enough like her older sister, though, that others remark on it!

 Now that she's 6 months, I'm going to stop my monthly update.  It's not like I was being very timely.  It's already 2 weeks past her birthday! Oh, I'll still update, don't worry.  I'm just going to give up trying to make sure I do it once a month. You'll know when things happen.

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