Monday, August 31, 2009

And so it begins.....

Well, the beach trip is over, and now it's on to 'real life' :) And with that, comes a new and exciting challenge for me. Yep, next Monday, we officially start our 'homeschooling career'. Well, okay, in our eyes, we've technically been home-schooling since the day Cosette was born, but you know what I mean.

We've decided to use this curriculum for her. We liked the Classical, Christian approach My Father's World took to education. She will be learning all of her subjects through a Christian world-view. We also liked the fact that it included a really fun art appreciation/drawing program, as well as an introduction to orchestra instruments. The other thing we liked about this curriculum is that it didn't cost an arm and a leg to buy it! It was high-quality stuff, at a good price. We looked at a few other options, but, really, $1,000 for first grade material?? I don't think so! I bought two-semester's worth of college text-books for way less than that!

Also, lately, all on his own, Eli has been showing interest in letters. He'll say a word and go 'PPPP...pony'. What letter makes that sound, Mommy? So, I'm going to get out his alphabet block puzzle and start showing him the different letters and their names/sounds. That's how we started with Cosette, and she eventually transitioned very nicely into the 'Teach your child to read' book. I'm also going to be working to help Eli get his colors down good and strong, as well as identifying shapes and numbers.

I don't want to go crazy here or anything. I know that my kids are still very small. I also know from my own home-schooling career that it's a loooooooooooong 12 years, and you don't want to wear yourself out too soon. Phonics and colors will seem like a breeze when algebra and biology hit the table.

However, my kids are bright and inquisitive, and I want to take advantage of that and instill a great love for learning into them while they're still young.

I'll be spending this week getting books and projects and materials together. I'm excited and nervous. I just told Cosette today that she'd be starting first grade next week, which she hadn't realized, and she was super excited!!

Even with no 'school bus ride', we're still going to have to take a 'first day of school' picture next Monday :) Be watching for it.....


(By the way, some of you may be calculating Cosette's age and going "First Grade?? Shouldn't she be starting kindergarten??" That's the beauty of home-schooling! Cosette was always such a clever little thing, that we feel like we've spent the past couple of years covering all of the kindergarten stuff. She already knows her numbers, shapes, colors, letters, sounds, easy math, addition and subtraction....for goodness sake, she can read!! Why hold her back and make her 'do' kindergarten all over again? And this way, even if it takes us two years to do first grade----not a problem :)

Friday, August 28, 2009

High-lights

Sorry, I got all 'pictured out' and haven't posted any for a couple days. But, our vacation is winding down now, so I thought I'd share just a few of the high-lights of it with you (at least, high-lights for me :)

1. I taught Cosette how to play a simplified version of Dutch Blitz. She has the potential to be good at it :)

2. We took all the kids on a bike ride to a little bridge in this housing development to feed some turtles in a little pond. Eli enjoyed it so much, that just he and I returned the following morning by ourselves to feed them. A mini 'Mommy-son' excursion in the middle of vacation! :)

3. Cosette got to ride her bike for the first time when we went on a family bike ride. She did really well, and didn't complain any of being tired. We are wishing now that we had flatter roads around our house at home so that she could actually ride with us more.

4. We have been having awesome food this vacation. Each couple or family has taken a night to fix dinner, and so far, we've had haystacks, mango-avocado-chicken salad and salmon brushetta, to name a few. Joel's brother is in the kitchen right now cooking up some kind of heavenly-smelling sea-food concoction. Can't wait!

5. Noah finally got in the pool today. He's been hating it all week, but today we made him, and once he 'warmed up to it', so to speak, he had alot of fun!

6. All the kids (all eight of the 'big' kids), got in the pool together today, and swam around like fish for a looooong time!

7. We took the kids to see the light-house today, and when we asked them if they knew what it was called, Cosette responded: "The Eiffel Tower?" *smile*

Well, sucking the last little bit of fun out of this week.........my next post will be from my kitchen table at home :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A cousins kind of day

What could be better than a bunch of cousins to spend your vacation with? There are nine on this trip, and they're having a blast!



All five of the 'older' cousins, enjoying their ferry ride
Danielle, Eli, Cosette, Uriah and Tori
Danielle and Eli--These guys are only
three months apart in age.
Our annual 'family picture from the end of the boat' :)

Tori and Cosette, enjoying the waves


Tori, Cosette and Danielle



Someone dug this enormous hole in the
beach, and when our kids found it,
they were delighted to play in it!

Cute back-side view from the ferry






Monday, August 24, 2009

Lots of pictures and videos.....

...because I'm lovin' the high-speed connection!! (Trying not to get spoiled.....) But anyway, here are a few fun pictures and video clips :)

Cosette searching for pretty shells. She's all girl!!
Noah and Mommy, waiting on the wave
Noah decided he did NOT like it!

He 'asked' to be wrapped up, even though
he was hardly even wet!


I love this picture!



Fun with Uncle Jon




A big group game of 'Mad Gab'


Somebody help! I've lost half of my baby! ;)


Eli suddenly 'took' to the water today. He was
dunking his head, doing all kinds of flips, and
even trying to 'swim'--kind of :) Here are a few
clips of his note-worthy efforts :)

video

video

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Pool Pictures

Cosette---my water bug---loves the pool!


We thought that Noah would love the pool too, since he
loves his bath time, but as soon as he felt the water
(even though it was fairly warm), he backed right out
of there as fast as he could! This is him staying as far
away as he could!

And Eli mostly just liked playing by the side :)


Thinking about it......almost ready......
And she's out of here!! :)









Friday, August 21, 2009

Happy, Happy!

I'm looking forward to:

1. Hearing and smelling the ocean
2. Watching Eli experience the ocean for the first time (that he can remember!)
3. Lazy mornings with no alarm clock going off and no reason to get out of bed (except for my children, whom I plan on sending BACK to bed until Mommy's ready to get up :)
4. Time spent with Joel's family---his parents, siblings, their spouses, and nieces and nephews. Gonna be a happy house-full!!
5. Awesome food
6. The ride down with my family ( I know, sounds crazy, nine hours in the car with toddlers---I actually like having my kids and husband whom I love so much squished into one place where we can talk and laugh (and hopefully not drive each other crazy)
7. Playing with the kids in the pool
8. And finally, high-speed connection! (Yes, I'll probably get spoiled with wifi, so be looking for some pictures while I'm there!!)


We have been anxiously anticipating this time together since before Christmas. Departure time: Nine hours :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Noah kisses

My Noah-boy steals my heart time and again, every single day. I just can't get over his big, dark brown eyes, his curly head of hair, his sweet grin, the way he scrunches up his nose and points to the counter when he wants a snack, how he snuggles up close to me as soon as I start singing the 'sleepy song', and how he runs to the bathroom as soon as he hears the word 'bath'.

But today, oh, today just tops it all. He learned how to give kisses. And it is the most adorable thing you've ever seen.

He opens his mouth part way, makes a dive for your cheek, and then leaves you covered in saliva. (Now come on, doesn't that sound sweet?! ;)

Tonight, Cosette came in to tell him goodnight, and he voluntarily reached toward her to give her a kiss. When I asked for one (because I'm a jealous Mommy!), he grinned at me, and gave another one to Cosette. And another. She was delighted!! I again asked for a kiss, and this time he actually chuckled and gave another one to Cosette! It's like he thought it was a game or something! He looked at me and grinned, and so then I smothered him in kisses. Cosette and I were both having a good time. She adores her baby brother. For him to want to give her multiple kisses in a row just made her night!

Is there anything---anything---sweeter than a baby kiss???

Small Steps forward

I'm going to share with you our families 'triumphs', even though they are 'small'.
  • Eli said "Look Mom, I wrote my name!" And so he had. I'd shown him how to do it before, but I didn't know that he actually knew how. It was written like this--- I L E ----but still, I was impressed with him :)

  • Cosette sat looking at my rotating fan this morning. "Mom, that's really dirty, can I clean it for you?" I was a bit surprised, but said sure. She asked me for a bucket of hot soapy water and a cloth, and then wanted me to take the front off the fan for her. Once I had done those things, she cleaned that fan until it was sparkling! Sweet girl! She's gonna make a good Mama some day :)

  • I said to Noah "Noah, can you go get your shoes for mommy?" And in five seconds, he was back, carrying not just ANY pair of shoes, but his pair of favorite sandals. It's neat to see the 'light-bulb' go off in toddler's heads, when they suddenly begin to understand simple directions and commands.

Like I said, small things, but those are the ones that count! When it's your three year old writing his name backwards, you just can't help but swell up with pride ;)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sometimes, it pays to break the rules....

One big brown cricket, caught on the kitchen floor at 10:15 p.m. One delighted mommy, excited at this happy event. One little boy, awakened out of a deep slumber, three hours past his bed-time, to see Mommy's prize. One late-night lesson on insect anatomy, eating habits, etc. One priceless moment even HallMark couldn't beat!!


(Note to my 'bug loving friends'--We did set the cricket free outside after
watching it for a few minutes :)

Righteous Anger ( I think)

I tend to take offense too easily. My husband and mother will tell you that. I know, that's awful. It's one of my greatest short-comings, and I'm working on it. Slowly, slowly working on it, but at least I'm aware of my fault!

However, I have had occasion recently to be 'righteously offended', at least I think so :) You can read my post and tell me what you think :)

I am reading a book called "Not becoming my mother'', by Ruth Reichl, who is the editor in chief of Gourmet. Check out this paragraph from page 9 in her book. In it, she is speaking of women of her mother's generation (mid 1900's), who had no careers:




" I have never known so many unhappy people. They were smart, they were educated and they were bored. Some of them did charitable work, but it wasn't fulfilling. Their misery was an ugly thing, and it was hard on their families. It was a terrible waste of talent and energy, and watching them I knew that I was never going to be like them."

Two Points:

POINT NUMBER ONE:
1. I don't know the exact ladies she was talking of---maybe they were miserable and unhappy people. If so, it's to their own shame. She pretty much goes on to group ALL married house-wives with no careers into this category of 'miserable, unhappy people'. That is SO. WRONG.


When I look at my three beautiful, smart, wonderful children, I just know that no career could replace them. No amount of 'personal fulfillment' could replace the time that I get to spend with them each and every day. I have a four year music degree, with top honors. I had the 'music career', and spent hours upon hours teaching piano lessons in an 8x8 cubicle. Was it a bad job? Of course not. I enjoyed it. Did it bring me personal fulfillment to use my training to help others and see positive 'musical' results in students, as well as keep up my own skills? Yep. But would I give up raising my children to go back? Absolutely not.


Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that no women should have careers, or that you're not 'living life to the fullest' if you decide on a different mission in life than to be a wife and mother, or if life simply doesn't throw you that option. Some women are called to be single and minister to others in one way or another. Some women choose to have a career. There are also times when careers are right for a 'season', such as the time I spent teaching. My sister just got her CNA certification, and we are THRILLED for her. Right now, this was the perfect thing for her!! All I'm saying is, please, don't knock those of us who are working hard right now at the job of being wife and mother!


SECOND THOUGHT


Consider this second idea, also from page nine of the book:


"....but by the tme Mom married so many labor-saving devices had been introduced that cooking and cleaning just didn't take that long."


HAHAHAHA!!!!!

*Ahem*, moving right along......

Hhmmm....interesting idea. However, it's faulty. Yes, things like dishwashers and vacuums DO make women's lives much easier today than 100 years ago. However, there is much, much more to 'keeping a house' and raising children than cleaning. Consider my day so far:

I got up at 6:30, fixed Joel's lunch, cleaned up the kitchen, had my devotions, started a load of laundry, jogged a mile, fixed the kids homemade blueberry oatmeal for breakfast, cleaned up breakfast and kitchen (all over again), got kids dressed and ready for the day, did their devotions, cleaned two bedrooms, scrubbed the bathroom, laid baby down for nap, took shower, got kids out to storytime, storytime was cancelled, so went to park for 1/2 hour instead, stopped at store for milk and salsa, (not milk and eggs ;) came home, fed kids lunch, cleaned up lunch, started second load of laundry, sent kids outside to play, took care of the budget and bills, set timer for kids to do quick 'toy pickup', gave kids afternoon snack, read three books to them, laid them ALL down for a nap, picked up rest of toys, swept the crumbs off of kitchen floor, cleaned out and wiped down the refrigerator..........and now I'm blogging :) And it's only 3:00. We haven't even started to talk about dinner or putting away all of that laundry yet, or preparing for my young mom's Bible study tomorrow which meets at my house, or starting to get things together for the beach vacation this weekend.

And, I only have three children. Talk to my wonderful pastor's wife who has twelve children, or our friend Dawn who has nine, and the above list will look pitifully small.

So, please don't even TRY to tell me that moms don't have enough to do. I will probably just laugh and refer you to the list above!

Being a stay-at-home mom is the most rewarding thing I have ever done. Yes, it's hard. Yes, sometimes I wish I had a fancy career to go to and a reason to dress up in the mornings. But, that feeling only lasts for a moment. The minute I feel a set of little arms around my neck in the morning, I know it's worth while. The moment I look into the loving eyes of my husband, I'm re-assured that I've made the right choice. They are what keep me going. They are what keep me loving what I do. They---AND the grace of God. And my prayer is that I will never find myself to be one of those 'miserable, unhappy' women talked about in this book. May I always have the peace of the Holy Spirit, no matter my circumstances. May my husband always find joy and delight in spending time with me. May my children remember a Mommy who loved them and would do anything for them. THAT is the mom I want to be.


......The heart of her husband trusts her
.....She entends her hand to the poor,
.......Strength and dignity are her clothing
.....Her children rise up and bless her
.....And she smiles at the future
-----See proverbs 31

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Eli 'sayings'

I casually asked Eli what kind of pizza he had at his cousin's birthday party. He thought a minute and replied "Macaroni" I was a bit confused and said "You had macaroni? I thought you were having pizza" He said: "We did, mommy!" "Okay, then, what kind of pizza did you have?" Again, he replied "Macaroni". Suddenly, a light went off in my head, and I said "Do you mean Pepperoni?" He smiled and said "Yep, that's it, Pepperoni!" :)
******************************************************************


I was trying to cook dinner, and Eli had been hanging around in the kitchen, causing me to stumble over him numerous times. He had been arguing with his sister, and I was getting tired of it. He came over to the counter, where I was stirring food, and started in on his rather high-pitched whiny sounding voice. I sighed: "Eli, if you need Mommy's help, please use a big-boy voice and STOP whining!" He looked suddenly offended and said "I wasn't whining, I was singing!"
*******************************************************************

I reached to put a box of school supplies up on our shelf. Eli suddenly exclaimed "Stop Mom! My pet worm is in there!"

******************************************************************
Eli: "You know what, Mommy? When I grow up, this shirt won't fit me!"
Me: "Oh? Why not?"
Eli: " 'Cause I'm gonna be a big man!"
************************************************************************

Menu Plan----Saturday???



Yeah, I know, I'm supposed to have these up on Monday---oh well. Consider me either really, really late, or really, really early :) So, I'll start my list with today, Saturday, instead of Monday. By the way, you can always go here for more menu ideas!
Oh, and some of you may remember me mentioning our purchase of a coffee grinder to grind flax seed. We just got a cheap one from WalMart, and it's been working great. We've been grinding up some flaxseed several days a week and adding it to salads, oatmeal, that type of thing. You hardly even know it's there :) (And the grinder makes GREAT coffee as well ;)
Sat: Steak Salad, Buttermilk biscuits, Vanilla Icecream with peaches
Sunday: Dinner at church :)
Monday: Veggie Scrambles with Pesto, Turkey sausage, Toast, Blueberry smoothies
Tuesday: Cheesy Zucchini Bake, Crescent Rolls
Wednesday: Chicken Fajita Pizza, salad
Thursday: Steaks on the grill, or cheese and steak subs, I haven't decided yet, and a frozen
veggie with feta cheese
Friday: Salmon salad in homemade pita bread, baked yams and fruit
Satuday: LEAVE FOR THE BEACH!!! :) :) :)
Oh, and here is another dinner we had this past week, which was really, really good. It was cilantro-lime Chicken wraps, and well-worth the little extra effort to make them.

Friday, August 14, 2009

How much can a one year old eat??

I'm not kidding you when I say that my littlest man can eat like a horse. All my kids have good appetites, but this little guy never ceases to amaze us!! You sit down to dinner and feed him what you would THINK would be plenty of food for a one year old, and as soon as he finishes that, he sticks out his little hand and says "Enh, Enh", meaning, "More, please!" He must be putting all that food/energy into growing taller, because, while he's not 'thin', he's certainly not chubby, either! He simply looks like a healthy one year old! (Check out his one year photos in a previous post for proof!) Joel and I have talked, and decided that as long as he's chowing down on healthy stuff, we'll let him 'call the shots'. He spent a few hours with my parents tonight, and this is what he ate for dinner (reported to me by my sister, who was feeding him at the time, and was utterly amazed):

One entire jar of 'stage three' baby food ( lasagna, I think), four piles of green beans (yes, four), 1 1/2 pieces of bread, a few chunks of potato, an entire slice of watermelon, and half of a cupcake. Plus, probably a good bit of milk.


And, lest you think he was starved because I didn't feed him all day, this is what he had for lunch:


A big pile of brown rice and black beans, a good serving of chicken, a pile of fruit, and a graham cracker.


The only thing I can think to say is: "Like mother, like son!"
Has anyone else had experiences like this with your growing boys?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Oh my goodness!

So, I was peacefully making dinner tonight, and the kids were playing on the swing-set out back. I can see them from the kitchen window and door, and was periodically checking on them. However, I was still surprised when I heard a knock on the back door and saw this:


(Double click on the picture to get a close up view of just how dirty they really were!!)

They had found some dirt, and the garden hose, and, well......they were covered! Silly little munchkins! It was half an inch thick on Cosette's arms, up to her elbows, and her feet and legs weren't much better. You can't tell in the picture, but it was caked in Eli's hair and eyebrows. My first instinct was to scold "You just had a bath!" But then, I caught myself, and realized the funniness of the situation, and just LAUGHED!! They looked at me in bewilderment. All Cosette could say was "Mom, it ITCHES!!" I had them run out into the yard, and I literally sprayed them with the hose. Then, when the caked mud was gone, I had to bring them into the tub and scrub them down! Poor Noah was confined to his crib during this whole episode. When Joel got home, he walked in to find a kitchen with dinner on 'hold', and two very messy kids soaking in the tub. He said "I'm glad you guys had fun, but, um....let's not do this again, okay? Look at all the work you made for Mommy." Cosette lowered her eyes in apology and said "Yes, Mommy is scrubbing us clean. She's so good to us. She does everything for us!" In that moment, it was all worth while. The dirt and the delayed dinner will soon be forgotten, but I'll remember those words into all eternity..:)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents-"---Emilie Buchwald

Do you remember several months ago when I mentioned that we were going to start using this book for Cosette?


I felt uneasy recommending it at the time, since I had only just heard of it. However, it came highly recommended from many sources that I researched, and I just had to give it a try. I am so glad I did!!!

Now, grant it, Cosette was really ready and itching to read---but, I think that is the type of child that this book will work best with!

We are on lesson 92, only eight more lessons to go. And, she is reading phrases like this all by herself:
" to the best of my ability"
" take care of the church of God"
"Add the eggs to the mixing bowl"

This is not normal beginning reader 'Dick and Jane' type of stuff here, folks! The book REALLY teaches them how to read! My daughter is only four, and she is reading at a beginning third grade level! I now feel comfortable HIGHLY recommending this book! I know it won't work for everybody, but honestly, almost all of the reviews/personal reports I've heard on it so far have been positive. The book uses a strong phonics approach, while giving your child the foundations necessary to understand how to put sounds and words together.

I would suggest that you wait until your child is really ready to read. Please, don't try it with a three year old who can't sit still for more than ten minutes--that would be a mistake! For instance, we started this book with Cosette when she turned four, and she was really ready. However, I doubt that Eli will be ready by his 4th birthday, and I don't want to push him. Unless he matures faster than I'm anticipating, we may wait another two-three years before we try it with him. But, I think if you can catch your child at the right time, this book has great potential!!Wait until your child is mature enough to sit still, has shown an interest in reading, letters, and books, and then go for it!

Cosette is so excited to know how to read. She is wanting to read everything now---from road signs, to the overhead in church, to books, to mail, to...well, everything!

I thought you might get a kick out of the story she wrote for me the other day. I am going to leave out her spelling errors so you can understand it better. But, let me just say, that she wrote this all by herself, without any help, and most of the words were spelled correctly. The ones that were not were due to 'phonetic errors', such as 'yor' instead of 'your'. Here it is:

"Cosette sat her tu-tu on her plate and her mom and her dad said "Do not sit your tu-tu on your plate". Cosette giggled and giggled. Her mom said "Stop giggling about your tu-tu."


So, go on over to Amazon and order yourself a copy of this book!! I would venture to say that it's one of the best phonics programs out there.....

Sunday, August 09, 2009

What's your favorite ice-cream flavor?

Cotton-Candy flavor, perhaps? It was certainly Eli's pick on this warm afternoon :)




Saturday, August 08, 2009

That's just who I am....


Those of you who know me in 'real life' know that I am not, shall we say, 'incredibly graceful'. Okay, let's admit it, I'm a klutz. While my sister is this incredibly flexible, graceful dancer, I, on the other hand, trip over my own two feet. I am not exaggerating. I do silly things to embarrass myself all the time. I remember one time in college when a fellow music major (a guy, none the less), had to walk up to me and inform me that I was wearing my jacket inside out.
Other silly things I've done?

1. In front of the entire music department at college, I tripped down the steps of the chapel, nearly falling on my face.
2. I once spilled an entire strawberry pie upside down on the kitchen floor. Certain friends will not let me forget this.
3. I sat down, yes, sat down, on top of the edge of a trash can and seriously injured ( I still think possibly broke) my, um....yep, you guessed it. I couldn't sit down properly for months, couldn't jog--it was terrible. Please, don't ask me how I did this. I still don't know to this day. And it took alot of bravery just now to admit that to you all.....
4. I ran the front end of my car into my parents closed garage door.

So you see, I'm not exaggerating when I say that there seems to be a 'let's embarass this person' cloud hanging over my head!!

So, you want my latest story of shame?? Here goes...

A very good friend of mine is studying for her Master's in math at a University not quite an hour from my home. I hadn't seen her for a long time, so I decided a visit was in order. My wonderful husband agreed to watch the kids for the afternoon and through their bed-time. I drove up and met my friend for an early dinner, and then went back to her apartment to talk and visit. Well, we had alot of catching up to do, so three hours passed very quickly. I looked down at my watch and realized that I really had to be going now. We both walked outside of her apartment, and I had my leftover food from the restaurant in one hand, and my keys in the other. I walked over to give her a hug and say goodbye. But, as I was walking, I was talking and gesturing with my hands at the same time. Suddenly, we both watched in horror as my keys flew out of my hand and right down----the storm drain!! I kid you not. We both stood there in stunned silence for a minute, and then burst out laughing. I don't think, though, that she was all that surprised, because she's known me since elementary school. This is just the kind of thing that happens to me."Um, I think we need a broom....." Long story short, we both knelt by that storm drain for a good ten minutes or so, fishing at the keys with brooms and sticks. We both thought how lucky it was that there was no water in the storm drain!! The only thing I could think was "Wait, my husband is the one with Italian blood, always talking with his hands-----why did this happen to me??" Why? Because I am a Klutz!!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

What a difference a year makes!

Here is one of my earliest photos of Noah, taken not long after birth....




And here are some of my most recent photos of Noah---his 'one year' photo shoot. What a difference a year makes!! Isn't he a handsome little man?









A look into our life...er.....shopping cart :)

I think alot about people can probably be determined by taking a glance through their check books----and the same is true of their WalMart shopping carts :)
Our family keeps a dry erase board on our kitchen wall, and on it, we keep a running list of items needed from the grocery store and WalMart (since I don't do my grocery shopping at WalMart anymore). Then, every couple of weeks, we make the 20 minute drive to our nearest WalMart and pick up those things.
Today was one of those days. My mom volunteered to go with me, and it was nice to have her company, as well as her help. (Since she had to stop shopping several times to take my children 'potty' :)
I thought you might get a kick out of looking at the contents of my shopping cart today. As I surveyed it all, I thought "Yep, you can tell we're a family of small children!!" Plus, I had fun laying all my 'loot' out to look at :)


In my cart today......


1. A new laundry basket, because my poor old abused one was literally falling apart
2. New sandals for Eli---his 'new' pair from his birthday in May were separating---the top no longer attached to the bottom!
3. A new shower curtain.
4. New hair barrettes and scrunchies for Cosette---because she leaves them everywhere!!
5. A jumbo size box of 480 wipes (Yes, we buy them in bulk!)
6. A miniature coffee grinder (mostly to be used to grind up my organic flax seed), but also....
7. Whole coffee beans. We used our new grinder to make some freshly ground coffee tonight, and I loved it! My husband still can't believe that not only am I now drinking coffee, but I like it strong!
8. Sidewalk chalk for the kids. Their last bucket got completely used up last time they, uh, 'painted' my back deck :)
9. A box of 40 scented Glad trash bags. The diapers that go into our trash bags require us to buy 'scented' :)
10. Our staple brown rice that they don't sell at our favorite grocery store
11. A bunch of canned baby food to serve Noah when we have something a little too 'grown up' for dinner.
12. Two new shirts for Cosette, because, hey, they were on sale, and I just can't resist a sale!
13. Three new photo frames to match the ones on our picture wall, and because I just printed out Noah's one-year photos :)
14. And finally, a big box of SOS pads, to clean my stove burners, which are crying for mercy!!

Not pictured are a box of whole wheat English muffins and a new watch for me!! I had accidentally 'drowned' my old watch when I gave the kids a bath, not realizing that it wasn't water proof. Now I won't have to stop complete strangers when I'm out to ask what time it is :)

And that, folks, is what I spent my afternoon buying :) Not quite as fun as going shopping for new clothes....but the coffee grinder was kind of a fun thing, and I can't wait to see the new art work that the kids will put on my back porch tomorrow :)

Now, do you agree with me that looking into a shopping cart is like taking a peek into someone's life??

Monday, August 03, 2009

Just in case your day wasn't interesting enough...

I was cleaning up dinner, and Eli was outside on the back porch playing. Presently, I heard him calling my name. "Mama!Mama!" He sounded upset. I went to see what was wrong, and he held up his hands. They were covered with a reddish substance. "The caterpillar pooped on me!" he declared. I choked back a laugh and said "What?", sure that I had heard him wrong. "The caterpillar pooped on me, mama!"

I looked down on the porch, and there was an empty caterpillar cacoon and a very...well...shall we say 'mangled' caterpillar.

"Oh Eli, the caterpillar didn't poop on you. You...um....well.....killed it."
"WHAT??"

"Well, Eli, you can't open up a caterpillar's cacoon like that. You killed the caterpillar."

" You mean it's DEAD?''

"I'm afraid so, Bud."

"But I didn't mean to! I just wanted to see what was inside! Oh, poooooor caterpillaaaaarrr!!!!!" (At this point, he has broken down into sobs, big tears running down his cheeks.)

I was quite bewildered and surprised by the whole thing, but I gave him a hug and tried to reassure him.

"It's okay, Eli. It was an accident. Next time, you will know to be more careful with the caterpillar so it can turn into a butterfly."

Eli: "Oh, now it won't turn into a butterflllllyyyyyyy!!!!"

He then plops himself down on the porch, flat on his stomach beside the deceased caterpillar, and continues to sob.

"I'm so sorrrrrryyyyyy, Caterpillar!!!! I didn't meeeaaannnn to k-k-k-kill you!! Now you won't be a butterfllllyyy!!!! I'm so sooorrrryyyy!!!!!"


Honestly, I've never seen a little boy with such a tender heart! He even had ME feeling sad! And, it was one of those situations where I, as his Mama, didn't know WHAT to do. I gave him a hug, and told him it was alright. But, eventually, he just had to finish crying and move on to something else.

"Lord, grant me the wisdom to know how to raise these children, and what in the world to do in the case of a squashed caterpillar!!!"

'Shout'

I just pulled Eli's blue striped shirt out of the clean laundry basket. I smiled. "Red Fruit Punch---BE GONE!!" And then, I sighed. Because suddenly, I missed my Grandma. And, everytime I successfully clean out a nasty stain from my children's clothes, I will probably miss her. Here is why:

On one of her last visits to my house, I was un-successfully trying to remove pen markings from our white couch cushions. My children had, several months before, written all over it with pen, and I was just now getting around to trying to clean it up. I sighed as I looked at the dirty couch cushions. Grandma frowned a minute and said "Try some 'Shout'. I use it alot! It'll bring stains out of anything!"

Now, I am not one to use 'commercial' cleaning products---we spend extra money on organic, 'safe' cleaners. But, I was having such problems with this couch cushion that I was willing to try anything. And, if Grandma said it worked, it probably did.

I have since become hooked. It has brought Red Fruit Punch out of Eli's good blue shirt Twice now this summer. Just last week, it brought deep blueberry stains out of Cosette's good green shorts.

And, each time I pull those clean clothes out of the laundry basket, a wave of sadness rolls over me. This was my Grandma's last piece of 'house-keeping advice' that she was able to give me, and it works so well!! Each time I fold those saved articles of clothing, I feel the tears welling up in my eyes, because it is a last little piece of my Grandma 'with me'.

I miss her. Alot. I always will. But she would be So Proud of our sparkling clean clothes :)

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Bittersweet

My baby is no longer nursing. This is our third day now with none at all, so I think that qualifies us as 'done'. I am happy. I am sad. Make sense?
In my mind, I know that he no longer needs me for nourishment. In my mind, I know that I wanted to end before he started getting too dependent on nursing. In my mind, I know that it was the right time.
But in my heart, I ache. I will miss those daily times of snuggling up together, and feeling his little hands twist around my hair as he cuddled up and got a content look on his face. I laid him down last night, and he wrapped his hand around my shirt like he always does when he's ready to nurse. Except, I simply kissed him goodnight and laid him down. And my heart wanted to cry along with my eyes. He is doing just fine with it. And I will too.....in time.
Cosette and Eli were never really cuddlers. Well, Eli was more than Cosette, but never to the extent that Noah has been. And, I think that is why this has been so much harder this time than with the other two. I assumed it would just be weaning as usual, and was surprised when I felt myself 'grieving' over the whole process.
Yes, my baby is weaned. He's a 'big boy now'. He drinks cows milk from a cup. He walks around like he's done it all his life. He has eight teeth, with four more almost here. He's beginning to communicate through sounds and 'grunts' that almost seem to mean something. He points with his little fingers, and is actually showing that he understands different words and phrases.
Yes, it was definitely time to be done. This mama knows it. I will just have to work to convince my heart.....

Encouraging Healthy Habits

If you know me well, you know that I'm interested in general family nutrition, serving good food on a modest budget, healthy life-style choices, etc. I want to be wise with my family in making healthy choices that are good for them and yet reasonable. I don't want to get so consumed in my eating and exercise habits that it's all-consuming, but I DO want to be always thinking about what is good for my family and our health. Since the day Cosette was born, Joel and I have wanted to encourage healthy eating and general life-style choices in her and the boys. We were talking about this the other day, and I think we've concluded that, for the most part, we've succeeded in doing that. There are some things, however, that we could work on.

Here are areas where we feel that we've succeeded:

My kids have good appetites, and are not picky eaters. Here is a list of what they won't eat:

Eli-- Tomatoes and raw onion
Cosette--Really spicy food and raw broccoli
Noah---Um...he'll eat anything you sit in front of him, literally!!

So hey, considering that everybody has their own personal 'taste preferences', I think they do pretty well!

Several people have asked me how I've accomplished this, and I think that it's simply been expecting them to eat whatever everybody else is eating, and not catering to their childish 'whims and wishes'. They've known from day one that eating their veggies is a requirement, not an option, so we never hear any complaints or questionings about it. Also, we rarely consider any food to be too 'grown up' for them. If Joel and I are eating grilled Salmon, then so do they. They are not provided with 'options' in food areas. (Note: Please don't think I'm a monster here!If we are having something that they absolutely don't like, I will make exceptions. For example, we had fresh tomato sandwiches the other day. But, since I know that Eli sincerely does not like tomatoes, he had a cheese sandwich instead.)

As Eli was eating a bowl of bran flakes with frozen blueberries the other morning, I asked him if he knew why Mommy served that to him for breakfast. He replied 'Yep, 'cause it's healfy for me!'

The older kids can also tell you WHY we eat certain foods. We often talk about how Mommy cooked this chicken because it has good protein in it for you---or how mommy only used whole grains in the bread because whole grain has much more fiber---or how they need to eat all their veggies because they are full of vitamins. Cosette will often say "Mommy, why is this food good for me?"

Now, there are some things that we could do better on in our house:

For example, Joel and I BOTH have quite a sweet tooth, and it's not uncommon to find some kind of baked goodie on our counter, or ice-cream in our freezer. In fact, this is probably our biggest area of temptation! We dutifully skip the soda, the chips, the processed foods.....but when we pass those oreos on the store shelf.......oh my, we often give in to temptation!!

So, anyway, here are a few things that we're trying to do this summer to increase our 'healthy lifestyle' :)

1. Avoid those really extravagant, over-the-top desserts that we LOVE. For example, if I get a craving for something sweet, I've been trying to be a little more conservative. So, maybe instead of making those caramel-chocolate chip-fudge brownies that I so want, I'll have a strawberry sorbet or make some whole wheat oatmeal cookies instead. This may be something I have to fight my entire life!!

2. Exercise more. I, at least, needed to do more of this! It took me a while getting off of the last pregnancy/new baby phase with Noah. But, I've been doing better the past couple of months, and can feel the positive effects of it. The kids get plenty of exercise playing outside on their swing set and riding their bikes and taking walks as a family.

3. We want to add more flaxseed into our diet. I got some organic whole flaxseed the other day, and I want to get a little coffee grinder to grind the seeds up. Then, we like to sprinkle it on salads, in breads, on cereal, in soup, whatever. It's supposed to be really good for you when eaten in moderation.

4. I found alot of fresh fruit on sale at our favorite grocery store, and we bought a whole bunch to freeze and make smoothies with. Our favorite recipes right now are here:

Peach Smoothie---In blender, mix about one cup of frozen peaches, no sugar added, a teaspoon of lemon juice, several chunks of frozen banana, a couple tablespoons of low-fat vanilla yogurt, and enough water to make a drinking consistency.

Blueberry smoothie---In blender, mix equal amounts of frozen strawberries and blueberries, several chunks of frozen banana, a few tablespoons of low-fat vanilla yogurt, and enough water or orange juice to make a drinking consistency.

Our kids love these!! They slurp them down really quickly, and there's not a single thing in there that's bad for them! I've heard of other people adding fresh spinach and greens to their smoothies to boost the nutritional content even more, but I've not been brave enough to try that yet. Maybe one of these days I'll sneak some in there without anybody knowing it....:)


So, that's where WE are 'nutritionally talking' :) What is YOUR family doing this summer to stay healthy? I'd love to hear some new ideas and inspirations in my comments :)

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