Sunday, February 27, 2011

Happy 1st Birthday Rachel!

Our baby girl turned 1 at 9:43 this morning. I can't believe it- first year gone, just like that!
I can not tell you just how against my nature this is, but everyone has to have a cupcake on their first birthday, right?
Poor girl was trying to devour it, wrapper and all.
These cupcakes were made from a new recipe, and they truly were delicious.
We had the Wilkins' over for dinner tonight, so they were able to celebrate with us. On the menu: crockpot pot roast, oven roasted potatoes and carrots, farmer's market salad, and french baguette. Everything was exceptional, if I do say so myself (or it's Sunday and I was just extra hungry.)
Kirk set the self-timer on this one. Turned out pretty good for being taken from the back of the couch, don't you think?
Ashlee's cupcake hat was perfect for the occasion...
...though Rachel didn't seem to think so and couldn't rip it off her head fast enough.
The kids went out of their way to make sure Rachel had extra fun on her birthday. We all enjoyed watching her crack up. There's nothing like a good, hearty belly laugh from a baby.

video

Meyer Lemon Bread

Mmmm, this smelled so yummy cooling in my window this morning. This is my mom's recipe, and the lemons came from her tree. It's a very sweet bread, almost like a cake. You can lesson the impact by substituting a little whole wheat flour if you'd like (that's always how I justify my sugar intake.) : )

Meyer Lemon Bread

Cream: 1c. butter
2c. sugar

Add: 4 eggs
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
grated rind of 2 Meyer lemons

Stir in alternately: 2 1/2 c. flour
1 c. milk

Bake in 2 greased med. sized loaf pans 45 min. @ 350 degrees.

After removing from oven, prick all over with toothpick and pour over each half of the following mixture:

juice of 2 meyer lemons
1/2 c. sugar


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Turning 1

This little girl is turning 1 tomorrow!!!

She just recently started pulling to a stand, and on occasion she'll get brave enough to let go. Tonight she cruised the toy box for the first time. Both Ashlee and Kaitlyn took their first steps exactly two days before their first birthdays, so Rachel is right on schedule. I love predictability in my children.
Taking an afternoon break in our favorite chair. Drinks of choice: Yerba Mate and Enfamil.
She is finally figuring out that she can hold the bottle on her own.
That's the face of a content baby with a tummy full of milk!

Happy Birthday Eve Sweet Girl Rachel!

Our first year with you has been a joy.


Friday, February 25, 2011

My Miche Bag

I had so much fun at Tiffany's Miche Bag purse party last night.

I have to admit, when I first heard about them I shunned the thought. To be honest, I am so not a purse / accessories girl. However, I liked the idea of a girls' night out, so I went.

Let me just say, this purse is awesome! You start by purchasing a basic base purse in black or brown, then you can change the shell for a new look. I only bought one shell to go with my purse, but this could be the start of a good thing! The best part is that I got to go home with it that night.
These purses are very well-made and sturdy. I can tell that it will hold up well.

After browsing through all of the shells, my eyes fell on this one. It is made of very soft corduroy and I love the way it feels. I'm a casual kind of girl, so I thought it fit me well.
Every shell is named after a girl (ex: Alyssa, Stella, Olivia...) and guess what this one's name is? Ashlee! I didn't discover that until after I had chosen it, but that was kind of fun.
Can you guess who else wants a Miche bag??

Thanks for the fun night Tiffany.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Random Good Things In Our Day

I am so happy to have discovered these Teacher CDs that go along with Saxon Math. Saxon is well-accredited as the best math instruction for homeschoolers, but it does require some effort on the part of the parent. Each lesson starts with instruction on new concept(s) being taught, which makes it nice when I am teaching Ashlee, but there are days when I just don't have the time to sit down at that moment and instruct her. That is why these CDs are so nice- now, when it is time for Ashlee to do math, we put the corresponding CD into the computer, and if she has a question about a problem she can go to the computer and see it get worked through. These CDs are also a great self-correcting tool, because whereas before I was correcting each day's math lesson with her from the Teacher's Book, now she can simply go to the CDs and correct the lesson herself.

I tell you, these gems are so nice to find and make my day so much easier.
Rachel loves to play the piano and will crawl over to it and protest until someone places her on the bench.
Thankfully I have a couple of patient kids who are willing to do so.
She really goes to town.
See how she's mimicking Ashlee by turning the pages?
The kids help in so many other ways, too. I am discovering the many benefits of bottle-feeding. Thank goodness being a mother of five lets you relax your standards a little bit. =)
Jacob has a friend coming over today whom he hasn't played with in a long time, and this morning I found him writing this letter:

(I think his grammar and spelling are pretty good for having no help from me.)

Ashlee spent about 2 hours cleaning her room today, and when she was finished the girls couldn't wait to get in there and play.
Rachel just cruises around, looking for the action. Her new thing is to pull to a stand (no steps yet.)
Poor Noah was out playing in the field today (barefoot, of course, he's my kid,) and he came in to tell me he had stubbed his toe. We were both a little surprised to look down and find that it was pouring blood from a big gash.
I doctored him up and got him set up on the couch with some cartoons (don't really want blood dripping on my rug.)
And because the T.V. was turned on during school time (a usual no-no) Ashlee relocated to my bedroom to finish up her school work. Looks cozy, doesn't she? I wish I could've done my work like this as a kid.









Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Perspective

As I was driving around last night, I got to thinking about perspective. Sometimes it takes physically removing myself from a situation (like home) to really see things for how they are. I feel like I have much to be happy about right now: my pregnancy has been pretty awesome, I feel good about my eating habits, I have been keeping up with my house (for the most part,) our homeschool is running efficiently, and all the kids are at great ages. I have things I am looking forward to being that this is our last baby. Despite all of this, somewhere deep in the back of my mind I am holding onto this seed of fear that in just a few short months, all of this is going to change.

I know by now that life with a new baby poses its challenges. A new mother sacrifices sleep, hormones, normalcy, alone time, a clean house, time with a spouse and other children, freedom, mobility, time to exercise- all those things that, for now, are what are making me happy. Whenever a new baby is about to enter the scene, I find myself dwelling on the anticipation of these losses.

That is when it occurred to me- it is all about perspective. We know that in the scope of Eternity, this life is but a short moment. If we can take this concept and apply it to other challenges in our lives- be it a nauseating first trimester of pregnancy, an illness, financial struggles, a difficult child, the postpartum period- I think it would help us to feel at peace with the situation.

I tried to look at the big picture, and found that the one thing I do have going is that Anthony is due June 9th, which is shortly after our school year ends. This means I will have the whole summer to enjoy the postpartum period- no waking up early and struggling to nurse the baby, get myself ready, and get the kids going on their school work. I can let them wake up to a leisurely morning of cartoons and cereal instead while I take my time getting ready, and that will be okay. I anticipate long days of outside play and plenty of sunshine. By the time the new school year starts, and I have 3 children to homeschool (as Noah will be starting Kindergarten,) Anthony will be almost 3 months old and much more sustainable.

Okay, on to the exercise. This is a big one for me. Initially I had planned on training for my first half-marathon come Fall. Then I was hit with this ginormous reality check of this being my last baby, and thought why? Why would I waste that precious time, only to later regret it? So now I am going to wait. This will be the first time that I do not have another pregnancy to anticipate, so I think that will help me to sacrifice the time needed for my body to recover, and to just enjoy my baby. (Make no mistake, though, I have big plans to pursue running.)

As far as the clean house, I am working on that right now. As of recently, the kids have really been able to take on much more in the way of chores, from sorting laundry, to vacuuming, to cleaning their bedrooms and bathroom, to picking up toys, setting and clearing the table, and doing dishes. My plan is to have in place, well before Anthony arrives, a detailed chore flip-chart for the kids to refer to when they are asked to do a chore. This will eliminate the nagging, explaining, and need for do-overs. This has been in the works mentally for quite a while, and all that is left to do is put it attractively into hard-copy.

All that aside, I know that the blessed yet trying time with a new baby will be but a short moment. In fact, this phase of life with young children is all just a moment- and don't we want to enjoy it all? I've always thought it funny how when we look back on different times in life, we only seem to remember the good. All those unpleasant memories seem to sift to the bottom while the fond ones rise to the top. I don't think I will ever look back and remember "that day" when I wish I didn't have dirty dishes in the sink, or that my kids' beds were made. I think I will remember the times that I laid down with them at night, or sang them songs, or was present in the moment to witness a look on their face or laugh at something funny they said. It is so sad to me how often I don't really realize great things my kids have said or done until the end of the day when they are asleep, and then it's too late to be in that moment with them.

So this is my hope, and my aspiration, that I will not be run down by the mundane, the temporary, the trying moments to come, but that I will remember the way I feel right now, today, when I know that all will be okay. And maybe, when we're there, it would do us well to remind each other of that, too.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday Dinner with Grandma Nancy

Grandma Nancy joined us for Sunday dinner again, only this time she did the cooking. She called this morning and said she wanted to make beef stew, so I obliged, on the account that I would spend some extra time with Forrest and the kids in lieu of being in the kitchen. All I had to do was come home from church and start the bread machine.
This was a treat, because although she lives only 10 minutes away, we really don't see her that often.
I love the way she gets down on the floor and really plays with the kids. Jacob came up with the idea of Mathlink cube soccer, with all the players and goals constructed of Mathlink cubes.
The kids really loved all the special attention. As she was leaving, Noah called out the door, "Thanks for coming over, and for the heavenly stew!" Good food, made even better by good company.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

One More Thing...

I forgot to mention that it snowed today!

What's neat about this is that it also snowed the night Noah was born (a rare occurrence for Cameron Park in mid February.) To wake up to snow on the day of his party made it extra special- like an omen.

Noah's 5th Birthday Party

Friends, family, "Noah's Favorites" Bingo, strawberry Spiderman cake with blue frosting, fruit and veggie platters, O.J., balloons, and a pinata. This is what 5-year birthday parties are made of.


The novelty gift: an acoustic guitar from Uncle Jeff. You can tell by the smile on his face that he loves it.
This look says, "Another party, are you serious?"


And finally, that marks the end of the parties in this house until October (oh, and Anthony's birth in June.) Rachel and I have birthdays in the next two weeks, but mark my words- there will be NO PARTIES!!
(Excuse me, but halle-friggin'-lujah.)

Time for Mom to breathe.

Happy Birthday Buddy. We love you!

Bathtub Skate Park

This is Jacob's new favorite place to play with the Tech Decks he got for Christmas. Apparently the bathtub makes for a pretty good skate park.
And, this is what you can get away with when you're in a family with five children: playing PSP in the hall closet. I found him like this the other day when I went to go put away some towels.

Boppy

I always knew Boppy pillows were multi-purpose. The kitties love to nap on our beds, especially on a rainy day.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Katy Perry

I hope this doesn't offend any of your tastes of music, but Katy Perry's music is and always has been offensive to me. I mean, really, does she have to be on the air? The first time I heard her song "California Girls" I was like, "Really? Is this the way she wants to project us? Because sorry to disappoint, but I don't wear Daisy Dukes... or bikinis."

Since hearing that first song of hers, every one to follow has been an equal disappointment (mostly in terms of content.)

One of Ashlee's dance teachers has her warm up to the song "Teenage Dream." I'm sorry, but there's something disturbing about your 11-year-old daughter coming home singing, "Let's go all... the way tonight... no regrets..."

STOP! You don't know what you're singing about there, sweetheart.

Anyhow, my friend Brittany posted this on her blog last summer. I was talking to some of my friends about it the other night, and they hadn't seen it yet, so I thought I'd share. It is genuinely hilarious and had Forrest and I dying from laughter. I promise it will be the funniest two-and-a-half minutes of your day. To mimic Brittany, sorry if I just ruined this song for you (but not that sorry.)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Noah!

Tonight, Noah turns 5. At 10:37p.m. to be exact. His was my first homebirth, making the memories extra special. While I am particularly tired tonight and was only going to do the highlights, I feel compelled to keep with tradition and share the whole thing. This is his real birth story.

Birth Story III

This is, by far, going to be my favorite birth to recount. My due date was February 20th, 2006. I had a prenatal appointment with Marlene and Kaleem (our midwives) on Wednesday February 15th. The night before, we were out to dinner at Bucca di Bepos, and I started having contractions every five minutes. Forrest and I thought we were going to have a Valentine's Day baby, so after our date we came home and I started cleaning the house. To my dismay, the contractions pretty much ended when I went to bed. The next morning at my appointment, Marlene checked my cervix and said that the baby's head was way down low and she could feel his scalp, but my cervix was only about 1 cm. and 40% effaced.

On Friday February 17th, Forrest stayed home from work. We decided to paint the kids' dressers white, so that was our project for the day. Around mid-morning, I started drinking red raspberry leaf tea to stimulate my contractions. After the first cup, the contractions started coming fairly regularly. By the fourth cup (around mid afternoon,) I was pretty sure that something was going on, because the contractions kept coming. At about 3:30, Forrest and I went upstairs and I told him he'd better hurry up and finish the dressers! I helped him paint, and we were both excited to know that the birth of our baby was probably right around the corner. He finished the dressers and tidied up the room. At about 5:30 I went into the bathroom and noticed some bloody show. I called Kaleem and told her to be on alert, and she said tonight would probably be the night. Then I called my mom and told her to get rested because I was pretty sure my labor was starting. At this point, I thought maybe Noah would be born the next day, but not that night.

At around 7:30 p.m., my contractions were anywhere from four to seven minutes apart, increasing in intensity, and about forty to forty-five seconds long. I went upstairs and sat on my birth ball and called my dad and Candy. I set the phone down to breathe during contractions, and Candy told me, "Lisa, you can't deny this is it!" So I called the midwives back, told them my contractions had a pattern, and they told me they were going to come set up just to be on the safe side. I wanted a blessing, but didn't know who to call, so I left it up to Forrest. He called Kirk and Tyler. They arrived around 8:00 p. m., and I told Forrest to warn them before I came downstairs that I was in fairly active labor and in no mood for small talk. Kirk gave me the blessing, during which I had a couple more contractions, and in it he said that Heavenly Father knows what I am about to go through, and he prayed that I would have the power of Heaven with me and that everything would go smoothly. Afterward, I felt so relaxed and calm, and I knew that was what I needed. They left, and I decided to put on my Hypnobirthing C.D. while Forrest put the kids to bed. Marlene and Kaleem arrived around 8:30 p.m., and everyone began working quietly but fervently to set up. I was left alone to labor through my contractions, which required my attention but were not overly intense. I decided that I wanted to get up and walk around, so I called my dad and then Roxanne. Marlene and Kaleem were boiling some herbs on the stove and setting up the birth tub. As I talked on the phone I paced around the living room, pausing momentarily to lean on the counter or desk to breathe through the contractions.

Somewhere around 9:00 p.m. I started feeling like things were a little too hectic, and I needed to find a quiet place to relax and focus on my labor. Forrest and Marlene were upstairs, and Kaleem had gone to the store to get some Chux pads. I laid down on the couch and closed my eyes. I breathed through a couple more contractions, which were pretty intense now. When Forrest came downstairs, I told him I needed him by me and not to leave. I started getting vocal, and Marlene came and sat on the couch next to me. She listened to the baby's heartbeat, then suggested I head upstairs while I was still able. At this point I still believed I had hours to go, and that this was only the beginning of the intensity. I headed up the stairs, and about half way to the top, I noticed I felt different. I think it flashed through my mind that I might be nearing transition. As soon as I got to the bed, I had another very intense contraction, which was only about one minute after my last one. I tried to lay down, but the bed was not very comfortable. I asked Marlene to check me to see if I was making progress. She checked me between contractions and said, "Without a contraction, you're a good 7/8."

Forrest looked at me with a big smile on his face and said, "Transition!" I was shocked, disbelieving, and happy all at the same time. Marlene asked if I wanted to get into the tub now, and I said no, still believing I had hours to go. However, it only took a couple more of those strong contractions for me to say, okay, I'm willing to try anything to relieve some of this intensity. I climbed into the tub, and sunk down into the water with my shirt on. I remember leaning over the side with the next contraction. Kaleem returned from the store and removed my shirt and tied my hair back. Forrest climbed into the tub with me, and I laid back in his arms. I asked Marlene if I was 10 cm., and she said to listen to my body and push when I felt the need. I remember at this point a flash of, "What am I doing? I need to be in a hospital for this!"

I asked her to check me and she said, "You check!" I reached down and could feel Noah's head, with what felt like a small water balloon in front of it. With the next contraction, his head began to descend and I was able to break the bag of waters. As soon as I did, his head came down fast and was pushing against my hands. By this point, Kaleem had gotten Ashlee out of bed and she was kneeling next to the tub. I pushed with the next contraction, and his head came out so easily. I began laughing and said, "That was too easy!" It was amazing to feel his head with my own hands. Forrest and Ashlee also reached down and rubbed his head. I had one more contraction, and I pushed the rest of his body out and lifted him out of the water and onto my stomach. He started crying within a few seconds, and we were all so happy to finally have our precious Noah in our arms. Marlene and Kaleem helped me out onto the bed, where Forrest, Ashlee, Noah and I sat together (Jacob would meet him the next morning.) By 12:30 a.m., Ashlee was back in bed and the midwives were cleaning up, getting ready to go back home.

The days to follow were so sweet and amazing that I don't ever think I will have a more peaceful time in my family. There was definitely a special spirit that came into our home accompanying Noah's birth, and we all felt it. Forrest was very helpful and supportive, and I felt close to him throughout everything. There was nothing like having my own bed for a recovery bed, and I will definitely opt to birth the rest of our children at home.
When I think of Noah at five years old, here are some words that come to mind:

smiley
cuddly
goofy
cross-eyed
comfy
likes lounge clothes
orange (his favorite color)
trampoline bouncer
affectionate
tuna fish and crackers (favorite snack)
barefoot
lean
Lucy, Jonah, Kaitlyn (favorite playmates)

Happy Birthday Noah Bear!!
We love you!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

She's Fast


In a record 3 days, Ashlee has finished "The Hunger Games" and is on to "Catching Fire," which we just uploaded to her Kindle.

The glory of being a homeschooler is that she has the time for this.

A friend loaned my the book and we were supposed to read together, but, well, I have the feeling I am being left in the dust.

I think she's earned her Six Flags ticket twice over.

(*These books are safe, right?)


Draw * Write * Now *

A large part of my homeschooling is sorting through the 1,300 page Rainbow Resource catalog at the beginning of each semester to find new curriculum for the kids. Actually, I find this to be quite enjoyable and inspiring, though rather tedious at times. Being that we have an ST who is relatively stand-offish when it comes to recommending curriculum sources (that's okay, we love her for many other reasons,) I have to do most of the footwork on my own. So, when I take my chances and order new curriculum that fits the bill, I consider it a rare gem.

Enter Draw * Write * Now. Towards the end of last semester I came across these nifty books that have been great for Jacob. You can get the boxed set of 8 for $74 at RainbowResource.com.

Each book has a theme, and each lesson provides detailed step-by-step instructions for drawing a picture, followed by sentences related to the drawing. This is a great way to blend Art with Language Arts (I also encourage him to use his best handwriting.)

Jacob was very ambitious about these at first, and used to complete about 2 every day. We have found that 3 a week is a more realistic pace, so he completes them on M-W-F.

I like they way they throw in fun facts related to history, science, and social studies.
(This is one of my favorites- especially with baseball season approaching!)


And at the end of the year, we will have a binder full of his work to keep and look back on.