Friday, January 29, 2010

Girls' Room

Well, it's been almost 3 months since we moved in, and I still have not been completely satisfied with the bedrooms. It was difficult to go from new house to older house, and that fact combined with smaller bedrooms and less closet space has made organizing the kids' rooms near impossible for me. So, today was the day I decided I was going to live with it no more. I told Ashlee of the impending change last night, and she said, "Mom, can we just, like, dedicate tomorrow as a cleaning day and not do any school work?" Well, good idea honey, and it almost worked, but not quite. They did at least do their basics. Teacher, on the other hand, was occupied doing this:I purchased the yellow sheer fabric on sale at Hancock's and finally sewed some cafe curtains out of it. I really love the yellow, but needed something to tie it in, so yesterday I cruised Michael's and picked out a few (cheap) yellow decorations.
I love the rose garland framing the mirror.
Eventually we will have to get bunk beds for Ashlee and Kaitlyn, and Rachel will move into the crib. But for now, this look works and I am liking it. The room looks and feels so much more organized, and I think Ashlee is motivated to keep it that way. I especially love the sunny feel of the yellow and pink together.

Are these my nesting instincts kicking in early? I don't know, but whatever it is I am grateful to finally have gotten the energy to get it done.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day

Whenever I am about to have a new baby, I like to choose one or two new items to buy that make me feel pampered. It may be something as simple as a candle to burn after the birth, or a c.d. to listen to during those long hours spent in bed nursing baby, or even something as small as a new lip gloss or water bottle to keep by the bedside. It's kind of like a "Birth" day present to myself. It helps to make the birth and postpartum period more memorable. Anyhow, today I went out shopping for pampering parapernalia, and I came across this great new line of products from Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day (one of my favorite brands in cleaning products.) If you haven't used Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day before, I can tell you they are fantastic products. They contain natural surfectants and essential oils and smell wonderful. I especially love their all-purpose cleaners, which can be diluted and used for mopping floors, wiping down counters, just about anything. Anyhow, I was thrilled to discover their new scent, Baby Blossom. I picked up a bottle of Baby Blossom hand lotion for $3.49 at Babies R Us as a pampering gift to myself. Then I went over to Marshall's and discovered the Baby Blossom dryer sheets for $2.99 (package of 80,) which are all-natural and safe to use on baby's laundry. I also noticed that they carry laundry detergent, diaper cream, room and linen spray, surface wipes, and stain remover in the same scent, all of which would be great to have on hand with a new baby. Anyhow, just wanted to pass along what I thought was a neat find.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Hypnobirthing Birth

I came across this on YouTube the other night and was inspired. This woman is so calm and in control of her birth, which is apparently a result of her training through Hypnobirthing. I first came across the technique of Hypnobirthing while I was pregnant with Jacob up in Washington (we attended a relatively progressive Family Maternity Center where they actually offered Hypnobirthing classes in lieu of or in addition to the traditional childbirth preparation or Lamaze classes.) However, it wasn't until my pregnancy with Noah that I actually bought and read through the book and started practicing with the C.D. I can attest to the calming effect of relaxation and self-hypnosis in preparation of childbirth. The Hypnobirthing C.D. carried me right up to transition during my labor. Anyhow, I hope this may inspire some of you to further investigate this wonderful book and revolutionary, yet instinctively natural, approach to childbirth.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Homeschool Matinee

After school work is completed (usually by 2:00,) the kids curl up with a big bowl of popcorn and a movie. This gives us all a much needed and well-deserved break, and I definitely appreciate the hour and a half to do whatever I want. This routine has proved effective in helping me to keep my sanity while homeschooling.Ashlee needs an average of 4 1/2 hours a day to complete her subjects, while Jacob needs only about 1-2. Some of the work time is instructional (such as math, writing, and science) while some is independent (such as grammar, handwriting, and phonics,) so the balance comes in knowing when to do what. I have to orchestrate my mornings so that I am getting ready, making beds, cooking breakfast, etc. while they do their independent work, and then be sure that I am available when they need me for their guided subjects. Thankfully Noah and Kaitlyn were born into our homeschooling family and are therefore relatively adapted to the schedule (and Mom's divided attention.) I have to say they do a good job for the most part of entertaining themselves during this time. When Rachel comes, I figure she'll spend a lot of time nursing at the dining room table, just like the other two did when they were babies (or she'll be in the wrap- can't say enough about the benefits of baby-wearing!) I will also have some preparation in place as far as lesson plans and work packets. The idea is to get them into a good enough routine now so that they will be able to continue on it while I am recovering from having the baby. This is part of the reason why we start the school year with a rigorous schedule. It definitely gets easier with each passing year.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Anticipation... 34 1/2 weeks

I'll be 35 weeks on Monday, but if this baby follows the pattern of my last two babies and is born three days early, I'll be having her in just five weeks from today. SOOOOOO EXCITED!


Kaitlyn's latest thing is to put herself on time-out. This morning she hit Noah, and by the time I came down the stairs to reprimand her, she was already climbing into the chair saying, "Time ooouuuuut." You can see by the scowl on her face that she knew she had done something naughty.

Our Homeschool

Well I think it is safe to say after three weeks that I feel we are off to a great start. Brace yourself for this: homeschooling two kids has been easier than homeschooling one. Yes, easier. We truly function like a mini classroom, and I love it. One of the benefits to homeschooling is the diversity of ages between siblings. I've always thought it superficial that in public school, kids are grouped according to age and no other factor. It's natural, and healthier, for kids to interact with children of a variety of ages, which is what you get in a homeschool setting. I love that Noah and Kaitlyn sit down at the table when it's school time and do their own activities like coloring or play dough. Homeschooling will be an inherent transition for them when the time comes.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Made Me Laugh

This is the scene that played out today:

Jacob asks me if he can play a game of chess with Noah. I look around the living room and notice all the toys that have already been taken out and are not being played with.

Me: "Jacob, why don't you go around and pick up everything that is not being played with, then I'll let you take down the chess set."

Jacob: (summons Noah and Kaitlyn over to him.) "Kaitlyn, go play with the race track baby. Noah, you go play with the train tracks. I'll play with the marble run."

* * *

"Okay Mom, everything's being played with, so can I take out the chess set now?"

Hmmmm, looks like he's won this one.

Chocolate Mascarpone Brownies with Cream Cheese and Berry Swirl

... or should I just say, a gooey batch of heaven?Our mid-afternoon treat on a dark, stormy day. Sure to cure even the drollest of winter blues. I pieced together two scrumptious brownie recipes and came up with this magnificent concoction.

Chocolate Mascarpone Brownies with Cream Cheese and Berry Swirl
*mascarpone is a sweet Italian cream cheese and can be purchased in the specialty cheese section of most grocery stores, including Trader Joe's.

for the brownies:
1 c. butter
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. cocoa
1/2 c. mascarpone cheese
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. flour
dash salt

Melt butter and pour over chocolate. Stir to combine. Add remaining ingredients, folding in mascarpone cheese last. Spread evenly into an 8x8 greased pan.

for the swirl:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 c. sugar
1 egg
splash vanilla or almond extract

1/4-1/2 c. berry preserves (I used the Knudsen's cherry berry preserves from Costco)

Beat first 4 ingredients until smooth. Drop by mounds onto brownie batter. Repeat with berry preserves. Use a knife to swirl. Bake at 325 for 50-60 minutes or until center is nearly set. Cool completely.

Sometimes You're the Windshield, Sometimes You're the Bug

I remember singing these words to a song back in 5th grade. While I enjoyed them then, I never quite understood their meaning until now.

Fastforward eighteen years and 4 1/2 kids later.

More specifically, let's focus on today. Do you ever have the feeling of being defeated in every one of your endeavors? It seems like there is never enough energy in the day. Maybe it's just the pregnancy, or my kids, or the homeschooling, or the housework that leaves me feeling like I am shoveling snow in the middle of a storm... could be a number of things. All I know is that every day I set out to accomplish x, y, and z, but my energy runs out before the day does. I then have two options: plunge through the lull, despite my body's every facet telling me not to, or listen to my body's signals to rest and slow down. The former usually results in feelings of resentment towards the task at hand, followed by residual grumpiness, while the latter leaves me with missions UNaccomplished and the inevitable feeling of defeat.

I am NOT trying to be negative. This is not murmuring. I just know that there are many a mothers in my situation who feel the same way, and my question is, what's up?

It hasn't always been this way. I've had high times in my life where I feel like I am able to accomplish everything with energy to spare. What's changed? I am trapped between the paradox of heeding my body's call for rest and fulfilling all that is required of me as a wife, mother, teacher, homemaker.

I know that perspective plays a major role in the way I feel. I once heard that almost all of our problems in life can be compared to a pebble: when held directly in front of the eye, a pebble can seem enormous and overwhelming, entirely obstructing our view of the path before us. However, when that pebble is taken and tossed behind us, it can be seen for the miniscule piece of rock that it is.

This too shall pass.

Deep down, I feel that my lack of energy is due to the pregnancy and it will return one day. On a spiritual level, I also feel that I am meant to slow down at this time in life in preparation for the new baby and becoming a mother again. Sometimes (most times) we don't realize the purpose for our trials until we are able to look at them in hindsight. All I know is that it is difficult to adjust to not being able to have it all: exercise, a clean house, happy, healthy, and well-educated kids, and energy to spare. In the mean time, I am learning to be happy with the little things. I may not be able to buzz through and clean the whole house in one fail swoop, but I can be really happy with a clean kitchen, or a clean bedroom (which I dedicate as my sanctuary,) or on some days even just a batch of fresh-baked cookies. I am learning to choose quality over quantity, and as much as I hate to admit it, that does contribute to a feeling of peace. After all, to recite the oft-quoted phrase: "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."

That's all for now. I hope I didn't bring anyone down too much. As for me, I'm off to go choose my battle...

Opening Back Up

After a a nagging feeling that won't leave me, I have decided to re-publicize my blog. I feel that in going private I have inadvertently shut out too many of my anonymous readers, or those whom I know read but whose e-mail I do not have to send an invitation to. I know that I, for one, enjoy reading others' blogs, especially those with whom I share common interests, and find it irritating when you go to click on a profile and are denied access. SO, I figure this blogging business is all or nothing, either you're out there or you're not. Hopefully this decision will be beneficial to all.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Yet Another Great Cookie Recipe

So I came across another great chocolate chip cookie recipe and felt inspired to share. I like these because they are made with ground oats and pecans, which gives them a sturdy texture.World's NEXT Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 c. butter, softened
1 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c. oatmeal, measured out and blended until fine
2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. soda
2 tsp. powder
2 c. chocolate chips
4 oz. Hershey's bar, grated
1 c. dry toasted pecan pieces (Trader Joe's)

Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs, vanilla, salt, soda, and powder. Stir in flour, ground oats, chocolate chips, grated chocolate, and nuts. Bake at 375 for 10-12 mins.

The verdict: the kids loved these, and so did I (though I limited myself to one, as per my new diet.) This recipe will definitely be stashed in the binder alongside my other World's Best Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. Too much of a good thing? Nah.

DEFINITELY head-down

It was reassuring to discover as per my 34 week prenatal appointment yesterday that, coinciding with my instincts, Rachel is in deed head down. I felt so myself. In preparation for the birth, I have begun listening to my Hypnobirthing c.d. and practicing deep relaxation. Despite the fact that I have done this so many times before, I never fail to experience a little bit of performance anxiety prior to labor- in fact, I think that is what gets me through it. Labor is something you definitely don't want to be caught off guard by. The way that I see it is like this- you can fool me once, but you can't fool me twice. I know all too well what's in store for me, and I don't know whether that is a help or a hindrance. It's kind of like taking your kids in to the doctors for their shots- the first time around you can convince them that it's not going to hurt that bad, and it usually doesn't. But by the second or third round of immunizations, they will usually cry and cling to you because they know what is coming. Your attempts to convince them otherwise are to no avail. I am very familiar with the sensations of transition and a crowning baby. It's not something that gets easier over time, or that you ever grow accustomed to. That's not to say that a natural labor is not worth every ounce of effort that goes into it, but it is definitely a test each and every time. Nothing in life surpasses the power of labor, or the rewards thereof.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Clone of a Cinnabon

I made these tonight as a special treat to have tomorrow morning before church. Sure beats the usual bowl of cereal. I came across this recipe a couple of years ago while in search for a good homemade cinnamon roll, and this is it. These are the best I've had.I've made them for many-a-social gatherings, and they are always the first to go. I highly recommend them when you are in the mood for some ooey-gooey goodness.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wood Projects

Okay, so this post has been a long time in the making. Let me preface it by saying that when it comes to woodworking, Forrest has some taaaaaalent. Here is a random sampler of some of the projects he has come up with over the course of the past several months:

We were in need of a piece of wall art for our dining room, and after searching retail stores high and low with no avail, decided to make our own. So, Forrest went searching through our backyard instead, found just the right branch of manzanita, and turned it into this eccentric candle holder.
Here is a cutting board and banana holder made for yours truly.

Our homeschool bookshelf that he put together on a whim.

This is my favorite bookshelf, which is why we use it for our books. I love the glossy sheen.

This is also one of my favorite pieces of furniture- the kids' toy chest. He has all of their hand prints stamped on the top of it, giving it a personal touch. He built this while I was pregnant with Kaitlyn and it holds special memories for me.
This was one of his first pieces of furniture, built from scratch, and is a nice compliment to our living room.
This sign was just made this Christmas. He did the letters and scrolls by hand, and stayed up late painting it.
I think this is such a nice variation on the traditional "family" signs you see. Won't find another one like this around! It almost reminds me of an old 50's style diner sign.
After moving into our new house and having no closet space, there was no place to put the boys' shoes. This was his solution. I love the organized feel it gives to the room.
And this is his latest and perhaps most impressive creation; a hand-made chess set. He informed me this set is not for the kids to play on! He hand-carved, sanded, and finished each and every piece, stained the board, and crafted the trim... in two day's time.

Forrest was definitely pre-destined to work with wood. He has a natural talent and it is what he loves to do. Our dream is to one day own a home and fill it with homemade furniture, from our bed down to our kitchen table. One day...


This girl has an obsession with toothbrushes and toothpaste. I often find her walking around the house, toothbrush in hand (and I might add she is indiscriminate as to who's she grabs,) merrily brushing away. If she's lucky to get a hold of a tube of toothpaste, that's a whole other story. Should I be worried about fluoride poisoning?? I am trying to turn her on to using water instead. Either way, she's cute as heck and I couldn't resist recording her tonight.

A Joint Birthday Party

Last night we took the kids and some friends to Bounce Palace for a belated Birthday celebration. Ashlee and Kaitlyn were very excited that Lucy could come at the last minute.Love the sweetness in this picture. Her hair is getting so long and flowing.
And of course, the cheeser grin.
Time for presents. He loved them ALL. This portion of the party lasted all of 3 minutes; I was amazed at how quickly those boys whizzed through the presents so that they could get back to bouncing.
All the buds (minus Tyler- couldn't track him down for this picture.)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Just Like Mama

We had dinner with the Mattesons the other night, and it cracked me up to see Kaitlyn and Penny go to town when Katie brought out the play kitchen utensils and playdough. It amazed me how they knew exactly what to do- they were like little mamas!Hammin' it up for a posed picture.
Thanks for sending these my way, Katie. They'll go in the scrapbook for sure.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Happy 6th Birthday Jacob and Happy BIRTH Day to Me

Six years ago, at 5:16 p.m. on this day, in a cozy little hospital nestled in the drizzly suburbs of Kirkland, Washington, after 15 hours of labor, this little guy came into the world:Tonight we celebrated Jacob's 6th Birthday. His favorite gift? The two Bakugans from Mom and Dad.
The dinner: spinach and cheese stuffed chicken breasts, oven roasted potatoes with bell pepper, dill, and fresh rosemary, homemade herb dinner rolls, and a tossed spinach salad (compliments of Grandma Nancy.)
Followed by the traditional homemade cake with flames (this was his request from last year as well- but don't look too closely, I think I took all of 5 minutes to decorate this cake.)
Happy Birthday Jacob! You have blessed our family tremendously and it's been fun reliving the day we brought you into the world.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Our Baby is 2!

Homemade cupcakes and a couple of candles to blow out- just what makes the Birthday girl feel special.

And a really cool pack of wooden animal puzzles from Grandma Cathe. Thank you Grandma, they will be enjoyed by all!

Happy Birthday Princess. I can't believe it's already been 2 years and you're about to be the big sister. You've brought so much happiness into our family and we've loved watching you grow. We love you Kaitlyn.

"It's No Fun Being Sick" (in the words of Noah.)

We had a fun night 2 nights ago when Noah came down with a bad ear ache. It started around 9:00, about an hour after we had put him to bed. He awoke crying, so I told him he could go lay down in our bed until he fell asleep. He cried for me to lay down with him, so I did, hoping that he would just fall asleep. Well let's just say, THAT didn't happen. He woke up about every 10-15 minutes throughout the night complaining that his ear hurt, followed by intermittent crying and whimpering. Poor guy. He didn't actually settle into a good sleep until about 5:00 a.m., which means neither did I. The only difference is that whereas he got to sleep in, I got to wake up at 7:00 and start homeschooling. I was able to take him in for a doctor's appointment at 11:30, where they confirmed that he did in fact have an ear infection. They prescribed him some pain drops and we were on our way. Well, prior to the appointment, I had called my midwives, who suggested placing a clove of garlic in the ear, as garlic is a natural antibiotic and is supposed to fight off the infection. I decided to give this a try last night, and cautioned the kids to play gently around Noah so as not to dislodge the garlic or, worse yet, push it into his ear canal. The kids were busily building marble runs in the living room (safe enough, I thought) while I went down in the garage to start a load of laundry. A few minutes later, Noah came down the stairs and stated, "Jacob kind of pushed me and my garlic is gone, but it's okay, it's in my ear. I can still feel it." Upon further inspection, I realized I could not even see the garlic, which meant that it had either fallen out or was so far in his ear that I would not be able to retrieve it (in which case I had already decided I would take him to the midwives opposed to the emergency room.) As it turns out, the boys had been playing around on our bed, and Forrest discovered the clove of garlic under our mattress pad, just in time to stop me from going prodding with the tweezers. Thank goodness. He slept well last night and has been asleep on the couch for most of the morning, waking only long enough to have some hot tea. At times like this I am so thankful to be homeschooling. I couldn't imagine the added stress of having to cart my kids back and forth to school. Staying home has worked out very well for us this week.

Monday, January 4, 2010

32 Weeks

Today I had my last monthly prenatal visit. Now they will be spaced 2 weeks apart for the 34 and 36 week check-ups, then every week for 4 weeks until the delivery (although I never usually make that 40 week appointment, the midwives end up coming to me!) Today's visit was a little different- upon palpating my tummy, one of the midwives seemed to think that little Rachel might be sideways or breech. We felt feet on one side of my abdomen and what felt like a head on the other. Whereas you can feel the definite hardness of a bum or back at the top of the uterus on a head-down baby, all we could feel at the top of mine was void space, indicative of a breech or transverse baby. This was a little bit concerning, as by now they like to see baby in a good, head-down position. So she had her partner feel, and she wasn't too sure either. We spent about 30 minutes gently "coaxing" Rachel into a downward facing position, then they had me do some pelvic tilts. After all of this they pulled out the doppler to listen to the heartbeat, which they were able to find down low, meaning that she probably was not breech after all (at least not anymore.) I have to say that today's appointment has me a little concerned. I just finished reading the story of a woman who had a surprise breech delivery at home, and I don't want to be one of those. I've never had an issue with the positioning of any of my babies, so I guess it's something I've always taken for granted. I promised the midwives I'd do my pelvic tilts over the next two weeks and be aware of her position (i.e. where do I feel the hiccups- down low is a good sign,) and if there is any question at the next visit I'll probably be heading back in for another ultrasound. In the mean time, please send head-down baby vibes my way!

Big 'Ol Pot of GOODNESS!

This was my lunch today:

I had a big bunch of organic kale from my produce box that needed to be used up, so I took the advice of Suzanne (the farm owner) and made a big pot of soup. My GOODNESS was it yummy! And the best part was the way my house smelled while it was simmering on the stove. Even Ashlee walked in the kitchen, took a big whiff, and said, "It smells soooo good in here."

There was no recipe, really, I just threw in what sounded good and healthy and needed to be used up. I started with about 6 cups of organic chicken broth, 1 can of stewed tomatoes, and the bunch of kale. Then I chopped up 3 potatoes, 3 carrots, and about 8 cloves of garlic. I remembered that I had half of a meatloaf sitting in the fridge, so I cubed it and threw it in the pot as well. I seasoned the soup with salt, lots of fresh ground black pepper, and a good dash of cayenne pepper. If you had some fresh herbs to add, I'm sure that would be good as well. I then let it simmer for about an hour, and the result was delish. Forrest would second that.

Who says you can't make something out of nothing! I think soup cooking is a lost art.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Another Great Book

To anyone who is a current or prospective homeschooler, this book is a great place to start. I received a signed copy at the start of my second year of homeschooling, and it revolutionized my approach to homeschooling. While there are many styles of homeschooling out there, this book adheres to the classical approach, which asserts that while creativity is important, it should not take place of a solid foundation of factual knowledge from which children can later branch out. This is something I intuitively knew, yet with the public school curriculum I was given my first year of homeschooling, was never able to incorporate into my homeschool. I really like the way the author defines the "grammar stage" and the importance of filling a child's mind with factual knowledge during this time. Forget the fluff, children need to be given facts. They can develop their own style of creativity from there. I never was big on schools who seemed to want to give children all sorts of room for "creativity" and "expression"... yet never really seemed to be teaching them anything. As Bauer states, a child who never made it through his or her science book will not really suffer long-term. However, a child who was never taught the basics in reading or math will always struggle. That is why I like classical education- it emphasizes the importance of pure, basic knowledge. Anyhow, if you find yourself even remotely toying with the idea of homeschooling, you need to read this book. The decision, I believe, will come easily after that.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Still Got What it Takes

Well, I was at a social gathering last night minding my own business when a friend talked me into this. (Okay, she didn't exactly twist my arm.)

Little did she know she was about to awaken "the passion" in me.

But won't I be two months post-partum, you ask?

Yes, which is why I'm doing the walking course.

And besides, I'll have you know that as of this week, I have taken up jogging again. Okay, it's more of a shuffle, but it's something. What did you expect from someone who's almost eight months pregnant?

And do you know what? I feel great. I have more energy than I've had in my whole pregnancy, and I'm more motivated to do things around the house. Exercise is crucial for physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Let me reiterate, exercise makes you feel great. What you accomplish physically carries over into every other aspect of your life.

Thank you "friend" for giving me a goal to work towards and a little something to look forward to after the baby is born.

World's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know chocolate chip cookie recipes are a dime a dozen, but I had these at a New Year's Eve get-together last night, and they are GOOD. I think the secret lies in dropping 1/4 c. of dough onto the baking sheet for each cookie and baking them at a low temperature. I'm going to try my hand at them today.

World's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies