Thursday, August 26, 2010

Painting with Glue

One of the Fly Lady's tips sounds something like this, "When you tackle an area you want to clean, only take out what you can put away in 15 minutes." Or something like that. It's a great strategy because 15 minutes is really about the longest my little ones can tolerate not having my undivided attention. So, I was tackling my bottom drawer and came across this "stuff" that I was saving for a "project." It was green tissue paper and plastic from a bunch of tulips Mike gave me and some purple tissue paper. I gave it to Amanda to play with since I planned to just throw it out anyways. She joyfully began ripping it into little pieces. When I finished the drawer, I decided we would do a project "right now!"

I poured the rest of a mostly empty bottle of glue into a little mug and thinned it with water. I spread out the piece of plastic and placed the mug in the middle. Then I gave Amanda paint brushes and let her start painting. Meanwhile I continued to tear the tissue paper and stick it onto the glue.

I don't know why I never thought of painting with glue before. It's brilliant! All the fun of painting with no worries of wrecked clothing. When we finished covering all the empty spots with paper, we brushed a thin coat of paint over the top to smooth all the edges.

Then I taped the creation in our living room window and we've been enjoying the beauty ever since. It's particularly stunning in the morning sun.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Green and Orange

Stir fry is such a beautiful dinner!!!

My mom used to make stir fry with those little packets of seasoning from the grocery store that were labeled, "Stir Fry." When I cleaned up my diet and no longer used packaged foods, I had no idea that all you needed to season stir fry was ground ginger and sea salt.

5/7 ths of the family likes stir fry. Tyler doesn't like the ginger and Tali doesn't seem to like the broccoli.

There's not much to my recipe but I know someone* will ask so I better post it.

I chop up all the veggies, whatever I have on hand, into similar sized strips and having them waiting in the colander, (e.i. Amanda's giant snack bowl.) Then I start the rice on the stove top. Finally, I cut the meat into strips, either chicken breast or beef, enough to cover the bottom of the pan and fry easily. Then I heat olive oil in the pan, add the meat and about a tablespoon of ground ginger and 1/2 tsp sea salt. I fry up the meat on high until it's browned than add the vegetables, as many as I can fit in the pan. Then I add about a half to a cup of water and a bit more ginger and sea salt on top of the vegetables and mix them together and cook until they are the desired tenderness.

Mike prefers his veggies a bit soft so everything gets cooked a bit longer. I often take out a portion and then let his cook longer. The rice is usually done about the same time as the veggies finish cooking. I know it's not "true" stir fry but my family likes it this way.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

My New Favorite Beach

Guess what we found?

Only 1/2 mile down the road from our previously favorite beach...

With no playground to avoid the Amanda-hanging-rings incidents*...

With great shade in the late afternoons so that everyone can play in the sand and water as long as they want without having to use sunscreen.

With shaded parking just steps from the beach, hard packed sand that allows a stroller, a very narrow strip of beach before you reach the shore, benches and a restroom...

It's just about perfect!!!
Most of the lakes near our house are very sandy and shallow for a long way out. It's great for little kids. This beach has a lot of shallow area and then a sharp drop-off that the older kids can enjoy, too. The drop off is marked with buoys and ropes. It's definitely my new favorite beach!
*Mike introduced Amanda to the hanging rings. I hadn't been willing to lift her up to use them no matter how much she begged. One day at the other beach, she convinced another dad to help her on the rings and then she wouldn't leave him alone. "My turn! My turn!" Another time she climbed up the ladder to the rings and had to be rescued by another mom. "Help me! Help me!" The last straw came when she tried to reach out and swing from the rings herself. From where I was sitting with Christiana and Talitha, I couldn't see what she was doing. I could just hear a dad saying, "I don't think that little girl should be going there. No, don't follow her. I don't think she should go there. In fact, I think I should come over there." Meanwhile, Amanda runs back into my view and says, "I did it myself! The rings! I did it myself!" Yep, I think it's time to leave now.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Six Months

Updated: At Tali's six month check on the 26th, She weighed 16 lbs. 15 oz. and was 26 3/4 in. long.

Talitha is 1/2 of a year old. That's amazing to me. I still look at her and can hardly believe she exists because I had completely given up on ever being able to get pregnant. Yet, she's here and she's real and everyday more of her personality begins to show and I get a glimpse of just how busy life is going to get.

She can wiggle and roll all over the living room but she prefers to be upright in her walker. She really enjoys her toys and it's so funny to hear her laugh and squeal at little stuffed animals. She seems very interested in watching us eat but I'm not ready to start her on solid food yet. She still spits up quite a bit so that's another reason to wait. Breast milk spit is bad enough but breast milk and squash? Ewww!

She nurses about five or six times a day and still wakes up in the middle of the night. It harder to allow her to learn to go back to sleep without nursing because she's in our closet and she's very loud. I don't nurse her to sleep, but if she wakes she'll nurse a full feeding and then I can put her back to bed. I don't mind it except I'm afraid she'll have lasting sleep issues.

Tali loves her sisters and really enjoys their attention and they give her lots of it, that's for sure. When they climb up on my lap while I'm nursing her, she will reach and grab for them while she's still nursing. I'm not looking forward to the day when she decides that she more interested in playing with them than nursing.

She naps about an hour after every feeding except when we go out after the afternoon nap time. She rolls around so much in her crib that I either have to put two sleepers on her or put her in one of those sleeping pouches. We have one without sleeves that seems to keep her cozy but not too hot. She seems to like to have blanket or burp cloth to chew on and it's always soaked when she wakes up.

At six months, I am finally to the point where nursing is easy and enjoyable. It's no longer painful and I haven't had any plugged ducts for close to two months. I had seriously begun to wonder why I had remembered nursing to be so enjoyable. Those first few months were rough but this is nice.

Monday, August 16, 2010

This Just Makes Me Smile

My biggest boy in baseball pants and a beanie playing a baby guitar.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Christiana at One Year...

Christiana at one year old pulls herself to stand and walks with help. I occasionally try to get her to balance on her own and I've seen her do it once by herself. She can climb stairs and climb onto Amanda's little bed. She does have a little trouble with the dismount.

She says, "Mmmm, mmmm, mmmmm," the whole time I am feeding her. I still spoon feed her while she is sitting on my lap and then give her a bottle of about 4 oz of expressed breast milk. She has also learned to beg when we are eating and she is not.

She is a very tough, active little girl. She knows what she wants and goes for it. She reacts very loudly and physically if Amanda takes her toys but she laughs and plays along even when Amanda's being a bit rough. Thankfully, she has quit biting. She used to bite everything that got near her mouth. She would bite my hands when I was helping her walk, my back when she was in the wrap, and my legs when she was sitting below me on the floor. She would bite Amanda whenever she got too close and she would try bite Tali's hands when Tali was in the walker.

Christiana is doing so much better in the evening hours which makes preparing meals so much easier. She is still pretty stranger-shy but on occasion lets other people hold her. She says versions of "hi, mama, dada, all done, amen and achoo." She also kisses and says, "Shhhh."

When it's time for bed, she gets a little wild and starts thrashing, squirming, grabbing and pinching. No sweet before-bed snuggles for her. She has become very attached to the knitted blanket that she sleeps with. She is very happy to covered up with it at bedtime and often tries to bring it out of her bed when she wakes.
Christiana often crawls over when I am nursing Tali and wants to climb up in the chair with us. If I'm in the rocker, I can flip her up with the footrest. She thinks that's really funny and then snuggles next to Tali. She likes to lean her head toward you so you can kiss it or snuggle although sometimes it comes across as more of a head butt. She loves to be wrapped up and carried and often tries to wrap herself up in the wrap while I'm trying to wrap up Tali. I used to worry about her getting lost in the shuffle but she really seems to be getting better and letting us know she needs a bit more attention.

Fly Baby

After Tyler's birthday, Mike kept saying, "You did so good yesterday!" He couldn't really put it into words but he was impressed by the order and ability for us to be hospitable for two groups of people on Tyler's birthday. Honestly, I was surprised, too, by how everything came together and part of it was seeing the Fly Lady's principles at work.

Davene has inspired me again. Mike has often mentioned a couple of families that he really likes and would like to have over for dinner. I've responded by saying that they were more than welcome as long as they didn't mind the mess and brought their own food. But after reading Davene's post about hospitality and the one about her boys and routines, I finally checked out the Fly Lady website.

I was a little skeptical about being able to incorporate some of her suggestions but decided to apply some of her ideas. Most of my housekeeping training happened while helping my grandma clean their rental lake cabins on Saturday mornings. We cleaned everything, top to bottom, in four hours. I never really learned how to maintain things daily and deal with all the stuff. Granted I have been able to keep up with things better at other times in my life but things have gotten a bit out of control over the last year.

I started by shining my sink. It was actually my bathroom sink but that seemed less insurmountable than getting the kitchen sink under control. I also began the swish and swipe routine of cleaning the bathroom every day. It's pretty easy to do with the girls helping since I'm just using wet wash cloths to wipe everything down. Amanda loves using the toilet brush. Since we are doing it daily it never gets gross. After a few days of enjoying a clean bathroom, I felt energized to add more to the routine.

We reassigned the boys' chores to reflect the Fly Lady principles too. Tony is supposed to sweep the kitchen, wipe down the appliances and wipe out the inside of the microwave in addition to cleaning his room. Every other day he is supposed to mop the kitchen and vacuum downstairs. Tyler does the swish and swipe of their bathroom, sweeps the laundry room, and sweeps the entry everyday. He sweeps the porch and sidewalk every other day. The great thing about doing or expecting these chores to be done more frequently is that if they if they miss a day or it looks dirty, I can require them to do it right then and there instead of getting the "I cleaned that on Saturday" response.

It's amazing how much better I feel with the basic chores done. I feel more motivated to tackle other organizational and purging projects. I like the Fly Lady's advice to only tackle as much as you can complete in 15 minutes and move stuff to the rooms they belong to organize later. I'm so thrilled to have little areas of my house get organized. It's great to have clear space that isn't cluttered. Which leads me to this photo:

It's a great photo of Mike and a couple of his girls except for the cluttered counters in the background. I can't tell you how often, I want to take a picture but don't because of the clutter in the background. That counter is particularly troublesome. But I have hope and a plan to get it under control!

What's the story?

Feel free to write your own story to go with these pictures. I'm going to bed.

The real story:

This is Mike's uncle, Danny. He and his wife Barb rode over on Tyler's birthday for a visit. My mom had come up for a visit and to bring Tyler a cake. By some random chain of events, my house was clean, I had a ham in the oven and the little girls were napping. So, when Danny and Barb came around 11:30 am, I was completely prepared to serve and enjoy a nice meal. It's been a long time since that happened. Even sitting down together as a family has been quite rare since I got pregnant with Talitha.

Mike mentioned later that this was the first time part of my extended family and part of his extended family has ever sat down together for a meal. It was great to get to know them better and it made the day more festive for Tyler. They really enjoyed spending time with our kids and it reminded me how families are truly build by convenants and not blood.

You see, Danny and Barb are not related to Mike biologically. Mike's dad married his mom and than adopted Mike when he was young. Mike was accepted as family and in turn we, as his wife children and now adopted children, are all accepted as part of the family. In reference to adoptiong, people wonder, "How will I love a child that I am not biologically related to?" The answer is simple. The same way you love others who join your family through a convenant, including a spouse, you accept them as family and love them no matter what.

As for the motorcycle, well it's just cool! I wish I had a picture of Danny and Barb all decked out in their road gear. This was the first time Amanda has seen or heard a motorcycle up close. She was out with my mom practicing riding her bike when they arrived so it was fun to hear her exclaimations when she came back in the yard and saw the motor bike. She didn't go for a ride on the big bike but Danny turned it on for her while she was sitting on it. Hence, the worried look in the first picture.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


This is my friend Ashanka. She lives in Florida but her mother lives here in Minnesota and she comes to visit with her daughters several times a year. We first met several years ago while the boys and I were helping her mother with her ponies. We didn't get a chance to visit much the first time we met, but when her mother asked her about a good way to thank me for my help, she suggested a subscription to Mothering magazine.

What she didn't know was that we were in the depths of our journey through infertility so when the first issue showed up with a picture of a very beautiful and very pregnant women on the cover, I burst into tears. I couldn't even open that first issue. I came home a buried it in my closet. I hoped that someday I would get something of value from that subscription.

Fast forward a year, I'm helping her mother Sue with the ponies. We had decided to pursue adoption. I was a little nervous about telling Sue because it would mean I wouldn't be able to come help her on the farm. However, when I did, she told me that two of her three kids were adopted and that they were adopted through Lutheran Social Services, the same agency we were considering. I had no idea! Ashanka was 7 months old when they brought her home.

It was such an encouragement to me. To see the the love and connection Ann and Sue shared and to see the connection between Sue and her granddaughters. It helped me see that adoption works. Ashanka and I had so many great talks while working in the barn together before Amanda came home with us. Ashanka's adoption was closed so they know very little about her birth mom. She is very much at peace with this and with her adoption but her daughters have actually spent more time wondering and asking about her birth mom. They wonder what color her eyes were and what she liked to do, etc. I had never thought of that side of adoption.

Ashanka was here visiting during the week we learned about Amanda. We came to a dinner party at the farm but only shared our potential baby news with her because we just didn't know how it would turn out. Ashanka is a doula and she encouraged me to begin pumping again so I would be conditioned and ready to nurse Amanda. I took her advice.

Since Amanda came home, I have gone out to visit Ted, Sue and the ponies but haven't had much time to help. We did get out for some rides when Elisa and her kids were visiting once and I always tried to get out to visit when Ashanka would come up to visit from Florida.

We missed each other last summer because while she was here in Minnesota, we were in Florida meeting Christiana. So, when the girls and I went to visit the farm last month, it was the first time Ashanka met Christiana and Talitha. It was so great to connect again. It was fun to see how much her daughters had grown and fun to see Amanda interact with the ponies.

Here's Ashanka's daughter, Christina, teaching Amanda how to feed Molly grass without getting her fingers nibbled. Molly is an old favorite pony who gets to just roam around the barnyard like a big pet. She was the first pony Amanda saw when we pulled into the farm. She started shouting, "Momie! Momie!" Now Amanda can say "Tony" and she can say "puppy" but she always says "pony" as "momie."

By the way, I did find something of value in that Mothering subscription- baby wearing, cloth diapering, elimination communication, adoptive nursing, natural health care and food ideas. In hindsight, the timing was perfect. I was getting the magazine back when I had time to actually read magazines. :)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Happy Third Birthday Amanda Bear!


*In the intrest of full disclosue, I got this middle-of-the-road photo idea from Mckmama. The photos of her daughter on the country road reminded me of roller blading on country roads in the early morning when we lived in North Dakota.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

How Tyler Spent His Day...

...Being Mike's caddy while he golfed with Joe Ozaki.

Mike manages a lumber yard and had an opportunity to golf in a Pro-Am event with one of his contractors today. He was told he needed a caddy so he schooled Tyler in proper caddy ettique and attire. They had a 7 am tee time at the TPC course in the Cities so they headed down last night and stayed in a hotel. Tyler lucked out and they drove carts so he didn't have to lug Mike's clubs around for 18 holes. All in all, it was a pretty memorable day for my men. Of course, Tyler's most notable experience was the open coolers of free pop everywhere and grabbing a pocket full of Snickers bars. Such a boy!

Making Connections

It's so much fun listening to a child learning to communicate! Here are some of the cute little tidbits from Amanda's journey of language development.

Keys sound like "kiss" so she kisses the keys.

When she wants cashews, she'll say cashews and make the sign for "shoes."

For soccer ball, she signs "socks" and "ball."

For pear, she signs "bear."

For Tony's friend Jack, she signs "jacket."

Do you need a band-aid? No, I'm dood. (good)

Little Miss Muffet eats "turds and whey."

Ponies are momies.

Granola is "lola."

Of course the common mistake of "l" for "y." "Lello, lou, logurt, Marilella." In the recorder video she says, "No, luse lours." (Use yours.)

Look 'at me did!

"If you're happy in your nose, say, "Amen!"

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

There are TWO of them!

My dad and his wife, Connie, sent us these recorders for Christmas when the boys were little. As you can see the girls love them, too.

I had wanted to get a nice video of them playing nicely together but had to keep stopping the camera because of the little incidents and near brawls. I was frustrated because I couldn't capture them sweetly playing together. When I went to review the clips later I couldn't stop laughing because they were just so funny and it's so typical of what our day is like. They are always one push, pull or grab away from tears but there is so much laugher and giggles, too.

Tony showed me how to put all the clips together into one video. He is so tech savvy.

When I used to baby sit other people's children, I used to get overwhelmed by all the noise. I was a little concerned about whether I was really cut out for many small children even though that's what I really wanted. You know, when they are your own, it's completely different. I am perfectly capable of tuning them out when necessary and enjoying the joyful noise the rest of the time. Mike and I do need to learn more sign lanuguage though, because it's usually so loud that we can't hear each other.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Super Sixteen

After 16 years, we decided it was finally time to let Tyler have a party where HE invited HIS friends. We're not great entertainers so usually it's just family or going out to eat with Dad. He had a great time planning, shopping and inviting people to come. (Yes, I have two sons with short hair again! Tony is on the far left. He still loves to make goofy faces for the camera.)

Yes, that's an Iron Man ice cream cake. He and his friends picked it.

They had been planning a bonfire but since it was 80 degrees and super humid, they opted for going to a movie instead.

...After a picnic at home first.

...And opening presents. Well, present. One of his friends brought this beverage wrapped in a paper towel for him.
We love you, Son! Happy Birthday!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Milk Run

Can you guess who this little cutie is?

It's my milk baby! Isn't she the sweetest, chubbiest little thing ever? Her parents adopted a little girl named Jada through LSS just a month before we adopted Amanda. We connected about a year later through the blog world. This little girl, Jenay, came home with them about a month after Tali was born. She didn't gain any weight for the first three weeks and they were really worried about her. As you can see, my milk has worked it's magic and she's quite plump and healthy. You'd think after holding babies all day long, I get enough but I loved holding Jenay, stroking her soft fuzzy hair and having her fall asleep in my lap.

After my first milk baby started doing better and didn't need any more milk, I was going to post on Milk Share but thought I would ask Jodi if she was interested first. Not everyone is comfortable with milk sharing. She was thrilled! They live about three hours away from us so I figured we would have to do some driving to connect with them. By we, I mean, Mike and the boys, because he's always been such a good sport about doing milk runs. However, our neighbors who watched the kids while I was in the hospital, were making a trip through the Cities and were happy to drop off a cooler full of milk. The next month, our airport friends were in our area visiting and were also happy to bring a couple of coolers of milk back to the Cities, too.

I was so thankful for these friends who could help me get the milk to Baby Jenay without either one of us having to travel with our many small children but I was even more delighted that Craig and Jodi decided the venture out and come see us last weekend. It was so fun to finally meet them in person. They are such a great couple and have such big hearts for their kids.

Here's Jada and Amanda enjoying a picnic in the kitchen.

Jada and Jenay also have an older brother, Jakob. He and Amanda had a good time hiding under blankets in the living room while we visited. Why anyone would want to put a blanket over their head when it's eighty degrees is a mystery but it kept them quiet and entertained so it's all good.
Thanks for visiting, Craig, Jodi and family!