Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sister Sweetness

Oh sure, there is lots of fighting and screaming and hitting and punching that goes on around here but why would I want to remember that stuff? So, of course, I only pull out the camera when they are being so sweet to each other and all is in harmony...at least for the moment.


My neighbor drove by one morning and then called me after she saw the little girls in the window. She said that they were so cute and that I had to snap a picture. I confessed that they were just in their mismatched p.j.'s and would be too embarrassed to post such a photo. But who I am I kidding. During the winter, they are usually dressed like this. If we leave the house, they are covered in warm clothes anyways.



I do dress them up for church. I tend to go with stretchy cotton knit clothing so I thought I would expand their wardrobe with these corduroy dresses that I found at the thrift stores. They are very cute on the hanger. Actually trying to put them on the girls was a bit of a challenge. Stretchy knit is good.


Amanda plays the part of the firstborn* very well. She is the leader and the director of activities. And sometimes the little girls are both happy and willing participants. Like on this night, when she suggested they read a story before bed. She has enough of the story memorized to actually do a pretty good job of holding their attention. So sweet!



Of course, Mom with the camera was a bit distracting. ;)


*Yes, I know Amanda isn't technically the first born, but for all practical purposes, she is my second first born.

On an unrelated note, Amanda can often be heard addressing me as "Mother." Apparently, we read a lot of stories where "Mother" is more common than "Mama" or "Mommy" or "Mom." It always makes me smile.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!


From Mike, Katie, Tyler, Tony, Amanda, Christiana, Talitha and Baby #6!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas from the IRS

I knew we had gotten off too easy. Sure, our tax refund was a bit delayed and we wondered if it would ever arrive, but we did receive our full adoption tax refund last April. A wonderful blessing that we used to promptly payoff the amount we had refinanced for Christiana's adoption. I felt a little guilty because there were/are adoptive families in greater need whose refund was greatly delayed and some have yet to see the money. There were many horror stories of families being billed and fined and charged ridiculous amounts in error. I could hardly believe we had escaped unscathed.

Well, we didn't. Today in the mail among the lovely Christmas greeting cards was the dread IRS letter requesting more information because they were examining our return. Merry Christmas to us. And we need to get them all the information within 30 days of the date of the letter.

So, on a night when many parents are wrapping presents or baking cookies, I'm digging through the last five years of taxes and adoption paperwork trying to find proof that may be acceptable to the IRS that we did, in fact, spend as much money on adoptions as we claimed to.

Thankfully, Mike is off for the next three days so I can get it all put together to be mailed right away before everything gets lost in new baby oblivion. :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

36 Weeks


No snow and 45 degrees F. I am not complaining!

Christmas Program

We've been attending a new church for the last couple of months. It's the one that's closer to home and has lots of kids. On Sunday, Amanda and Christiana participated in the Christmas program. We've been singing the songs at home and Amanda and Ana know all of them but wouldn't sing when we were at church. Finally, a week ago, at our first practice on the stage, the music leader had the little girl who was leading "Away in the Manger" sing the first verse all by herself. She's about two years older than Amanda and Amanda was so impressed to hear her sing all by herself that she finally started singing with the other kids.

Of course, she still wouldn't go up on stage without me and Ana wouldn't leave my side so I planned to sit up there next to the younger kids. Amanda sang and had a good time. Ana never sang while she was up there and some last minute changes left her without a chair and a sign to hold so that was upsetting for her but she recovered pretty well.

After the program, I tried to get a few pictures for the girls in their costumes. Seriously, these were the best ones. They were pretty excited and squirrelly.



Sunday, December 18, 2011

Not Just One More...

The third trimester has been rough. Winter has set in. I'm in a lot of pain. Everything takes a long time. We can't spend hours outside. Getting out for activities and buckling everybody in the car is a real challenge. When we do get some where to do something fun, I end up with three little girls clinging to me trying to climb on my ever-shrinking lap.

I hit a wall last Tuesday, as I was pulling out of the driveway, (finally), on my way to do homeschool project day with my friend Amber. I am so ready to be done being pregnant, but I am not at all ready to be caring for a newborn. Do you know how much time they take? Whew! And I think it takes a long time to get out the door now.

And then...

And then on Thursday morning, after my O.B. appointment, I was able to go over to the hospital and hold little tiny baby Josiah who was only a couple of hours old. Ahhhhh.... So sweet! And then it hit me.

There's a baby in there. A sweet, special, magical little person to fall in love with. A new little face and personality that will bring unknown joy and surprises to our family. It's not just one more mouth to feed, one more butt to wipe, one more body to bath and dress, one more carseat to buckle; it's a baby!

Yep, I think I'm ready to make the transition from cranky pregnant lady to blissfully sleep-deprived new mama. :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

How to Talk to Little Girls

A friend of mine posted this article on Facebook and I had to share it.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-bloom/how-to-talk-to-little-gir_b_882510.html

It's about resisiting the urge to start a conversation with a girl by talking about her looks. I remember when Amanda was only a few months old, it made me uncomfortable how many comments were about her hair. Now granted, she was the first baby I had that actually had any hair and I've since come to realize how I frequently comment about little babies hair, too. However, at the time it made think that perhaps there was some real value in the Biblical practice of having women cover their heads.

My concern had more to do with Amanda's adoption and how having people mention her hair (or skin) upon the first meeting would be a constant reminder to her that she was different from us and didn't "fit in."

Now with three little girls, I notice how some one will compliment Amanda's hair but not Christiana's. That won't go unnoticed for long.

I guess it's a good thing nine months out of the year require hats around here. And come to think of it, I'm pretty diligent about having them wear sun hats in the summer because I hate sunscreen, so we should be good for a few years anyways. ;)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Remembering Aurora Marie

It's been a year since my friend Nicole gave birth to her stillborn daughter Aurora. I know it's been a tough year for them and they are looking forward to the new year with hope and trepidation. Hope that they will welcome a new baby in July and trepidation as they remember how much loss hurts. Hugs, Nicole! I wish I could have been there with you tonight.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

If...Then...

If you have toddlers helping you unload the silverware...


Then your silverware drawer will look like this:


BUT...your toddlers would have been thoroughly occupied for at least five minutes. That's just enough time to unload the rest of the dishwasher in peace. :)

34 Weeks

So close yet so far. Six weeks to go. Give or take. You know how babies are.

I have to laugh when people say, "Wow! This pregnancy has gone by so fast!" Ha! I'm glad it's gone by so quickly for YOU! :)

I've been feeling pretty good considering. Oats have been giving me heartburn which makes me very sad but not eating apple crisp and granola by the pan should keep the weight gain at bay. I've already gained 40 lbs. I think that's plenty. I know the baby needs to put on weight in the next few weeks but there is plenty of extra in my thighs and butt.

I've been doing more exercising the evening inside since it's getting more difficult to move outside. I just do about 20 minutes of random exercises that I remember from P90X. There are plenty of things I can do to move and stretch and strengthen.

Mike and Amanda are enjoying "playing" with the baby. The little baby's movements are so visible and frequent. They have a good time poking and rubbing the baby and feeling the baby kick back. Mike asked if he had ever played with the baby before. I said probably not because I was so sick. It's only mildly annoying when he does it now instead of nausea inducing.

I know ten people (in real life) who are expecting babies between December 15th and January 15th. That seems like a big number. It must have been an extra special Lenten season. :)

Being pregnant over Christmas certainly brings new awareness to Mary's uncomfortable situation of having to travel by donkey to Bethlehem. I'm not planning to travel for 1 1/2 hr back home because it's uncomfortable. (What a whiner I am!)

We have talked about names a little bit. For some reason, we find it more fun to wait until the delivery room or afterwards to decide. So far, Monterey Jack and Colby were a couple of the top choices for boys. Ha! Can you tell when we were doing when we thought of those ones? I mentioned a few of my favorite girls names last night and Mike said, "No, we need to stick with the three syllable names." As the filler-outer of forms and paperwork, I'm putting an end to that rule!

Sometimes I ponder with amazement that fact that I am actually pregnant...again...after waiting and hoping and praying for so long. I try to put myself back in that place and remember what it was like to envy pregnant women. I'm anxious to be holding this little
baby in my arms but know I should be savoring this time right now.

Sometimes I do. Sometimes I'm thankful for every day of growth the little girls have before they are faced with another little person wanting my time and attention. Sometimes, I think they would just really like more room on my lap. :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Begotten...

Apparently it's National Adoption Month. I'm not sure what that means but I've been meaning to write this post for a while anyways. So why not for the last day of National Adoption Month. :)

This summer Amanda attended Vacation Bible School at the church near our home. She's been begging about going to school since watching Tyler get on the bus when she was three. She was very excited to go to "church school" until a day or two before it started. Then she asked, "Mom, will you come too?" She decided she didn't want to go if I wasn't going too. Love her! Mike went with and stayed with her the first day. On the second day, Tyler took her and stayed most of the time. On the third day, Tyler took her for a little bit and then I went to pick her up. She loved it and was really particpating and singing and dancing by the third day.



One of the days she brought home a little cross that she had made. It had the verse, John 3:16 on it. Some time after VBS, I sat down to read the verse and explain to her what it meant. "For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten Son..."

Begotten...

How do you explain "begotten" to a four year old? The only thing I could think of was comparing it to it's opposite which is "adoption." All of a sudden, John 3:16 took on a whole new meaning for me. Jesus was God's only begotten son but God has many sons and daughters. All the rest of his children were, are, have been, and will be adopted.

I love that idea and image and that our family reflects God's family; one filled with adopted and begotten children.

The infertility that brought us down the adoption road seemed like such a huge loss at the time but we have gained so much through the process of adoption. Our hearts, minds and understanding have been stretched so much more than if we hadn't felt that loss.

I also love that I have a new way of describing our family. So, the next time I have a conversation like this, I'll know what to say, "Amanda and Christiana were adopted and Talitha was begotten." :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Have You Seen This Bunny?

I don't know how it happened. I have always prided myself on not having children who were attached to a certain lovey. I silently mocked parents who desperately searched for a lost animal or blanket before bed fearing the drama that would be unleashed if it were not found.

And then Tali came along. And for reason, at some point in time, she decided that she had to sleep with this little bunny. It was a gift to Amanda from Mike's brother. But Tali claimed it. She loves to finger and now chew on the little ribbon around the bunny's neck. It often stinks because of this and is very dirty around the bunny's neck. However, getting the bunny out of her grasp and washing it quickly before the next bedtime is very tricky.

Finally, I decided to hunt for a back-up. What I found were people selling these little bunnies for $25-$60. And they were used! Seriously? It was a bunny! Like a hundred other stuffed animals that have overtaken my house. I would have gotten rid of it in a heartbeat and almost did since it was white and not labeled as washable. (So far, it's held up to many washings.)

So, my hunt continues. If you've seen a little bunny like this, please let me know. It doesn't rattle or play music. It's just a soft bunny with little hearts and a silky ribbon around it's neck. While I would never put a price tag on my daughter's happiness, $10-15 seems much more reasonable to me. :)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Crossing the Ocean

It's easy to get into a rut and celebrate holidays a certain way just because everyone else does and that what our family has always done. Recently on Thanksgiving, we have chosen to stay home instead of travel for the traditional turkey dinner (an football game) with relatives. It always feels a little odd if we don't do something special but I just wasn't sure how or why we should celebrate Thanksgiving. The conclusion I came to was that we celebrate Thanksgiving to remember how the Pilgrims celebrated Thanksgiving. They had a feast dedicated to God thanking him for providing for them and protecting them during their first treacherous year in America. The foods we choose to eat, in theory, replicate the foods they would have eaten. That made sense to me. I could explain that to the little girls. And I could make the simple wholesome foods the Pilgrims would have made.

As I was thinking about explaining to Amanda why we celebrate Thanksgiving and how the Indians helped the Pilgrims during those first hard years, it made me think of the many parents who have made the treacherous journey across the ocean to America in order to provide safety and opportunities for their kids. That made me think of Amanda's birth family.

Her birthmom's parents made the trip by boat from Vietnam in the late '70's. I hope someday we will hear more of their story. I thought Thanksgiving would be a good day to give them a call. Amanda has been talking about her birthmom and asking to go visit her lately. She will say things like, "I want to go see my mom." She seems to be exploring the concept of moms and what defines a mom. We were having a baby sitter come one night and she was a little upset about me leaving until she asked, "Is she the mom?" I told her she was a mom and she would take care of her like the mom while we were gone. She immediately perked up and when the babysitter arrived she asked, "Are you the mom?"

When I suggested that we would call her birthmom, Amanda was very excited and asked if we could go to her house. I told her we couldn't go today because it took three days to drive to Texas. We waited until after the little girls were in bed for naps to call. They weren't home so we had to leave a message. Amanda was pretty upset and didn't seem to understand the concept of voicemail.

They family called back right about 5:30 pm. You know, the craziest time of the day. Amanda was so excited and got right on the phone. She invited her birthmom to come to our house since "It's not too far away." Amanda also mentioned being in her tummy and chattered about a few other things. Then all of a sudden she just says, "Bye!" and hands me the phone. I tried to talk to her birthmom a little bit but Amanda began running around and inviting Christiana into the excitement. Tali started crying because she was hungry. So, I had to cut the phone call short.

We did connect through email afterwards and I thanked them for calling and they thanked us for contacting them too. They are still very respectful and formal but always so appreciative. I'm not sure how much of relationship they would like to have but I hope we are able to get to know them better and have a chance to visit when Amanda is older. I know it will help her process through her adoption story. I'm sad that we don't have that contact with Christiana's birthmom. We'll keep praying. Maybe someday that will be a possibility.

I ended the day feeling very thankful for the many families who crossed the dangerous ocean to arrive in America. Some came by choice, others by force, but each contributed to the beauty this now is our family. Our family now represents immigrants from Germany, Ireland, Poland, Vietnam and Africa. Each of those countries represent a perilous journey by boat and a struggle to begin in a new country. I'm thankful for God's protection and guidance over all of our ancestors and His guidance that brought us all together today.

A Very Happy Thanksgiving

We had a very happy Thanksgiving. It began on Wednesday morning with Mike's first day of true vacation in what seems like years. No work and no school and no church stuff. Just focusing on the family. The best part is that he is off for a whole week. When he told me this vacation was been coming up, I couldn't even begin to fathom what that meant because it's been so long since we've had him all to ourselves.

The main reason he has this vacation time is because he has decided to take the management job in our hometown full time. He has been par time managing there since April which meant working there two days a week and three to four days managing the store here. He really wanted to take the job and felt like it would provide better opportunities for our families. However, there was just no way Tyler was willing to move either before or during his senior year which meant in order to take the job, Mike would have to commute. It's 1 1/2 hour trip one way. So he told them he couldn't take the job.


Well, as it turned out, the main candidate for the job was Mike's top salesman and he would be commuting until his kids graduated too. What it came down to was that Mike was not able to take a job he wanted and loved because I wasn't willing to deal with the commute. Sigh. So we talked about it and he explained that staying here would not mean less stress and more family time. His company wanted him to combine and manage two lumber yards (the other one is only 1/2 hour away) plus he would have to take over all of the sales of his top salesman plus they eventually wanted to work him into district managing which means even more travel and less family time.

So, he is taking the job and he begins officially November 25th(although he's on vacation until December 1). We won't be moving until June or so. He'll be helping with the transition and training of the new manager so he will still be working in town a couple of days a week for now. We have just had a very intense stretch with hunting and inventory so having Mike at home on Wednesday was such a rare treat especially since the big boys were still in school.

We got several reorganizing and fix-it projects done and ended the day with a "burn-fire." Complete with hot dogs and "marshy-ellows." ;) It was the two little girls' first bonfire and all three girls were so excited and cute and messy. We should have skipped the roasted marshmallows for the little girls and just given them cold ones from the bag. After putting the girls to bed, I went back out and sat with Mike by the fire. Nice. Ahhhh...

I wanted to do something special for Thanksgiving but we weren't sure what. We thought about just popping it at our neighbor's and joining them. Really any neighbor that looked like they had extra cars in the driveway was fair game. ;) We've never really had any set Thanksgiving traditions since the little girls have come home and it's just too much to travel. Mike doesn't really like turkey so I'm not so inclined to cook it. However, when I was picking up chickens on Tuesday, the butcher also had fresh turkeys so I bought a small one. I had polled the boys about their Thanksgiving favorite foods and they liked turkey. They also requested lots of desserts. I wasn't sure how I was going to pull that one off but Mike picked up a couple of desserts on Wednesday. The other foods were pretty easy: green beans, squash from my garden, corn, mashed potatoes.

The turkey went into the oven first thing in the morning and then we went downstairs to do some more organizing and clean up. I looked through many of our books and it made me excited and nostalgic for homeschooling. Then we headed back upstairs to finish preparing the meal. Mike helped with peeling the potatoes and setting the table with the little girls. Amanda was so excited to have everyone working together to prepare the meal. I had planned to have the big boys help with the meal, too, but they were still in bed and it's so crazy with the little girls. It wasn't until we were just about ready to eat that Mike was able to go down and get them out of bed.

Prior to the baby snowball, we used to sit down and eat meals together almost every night and most lunchtimes too. For the last couple of years, that has been very rare. Just the fact that our whole family was sitting down together to share a meal made the day really special. Christiana was just beside herself. She's pretty distractable at the table anyways but she was so excited to have the boys at the table, she could hardly eat.

It was such a good day and ended with a phone call from Amanda's birth family but I'll write more about that in another post. I went to bed very happy and thankful, that's for sure!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I wrote a letter...

Christiana's hair is finally getting long enough to do some styling. After a post about protective styling and fairy knots on Jarmelia's website, I knew some kind of protective styling would help prevent the tangles and breakage in Christiana's hair. I used my homemade Shea Aloe and took random little sections of Ana's hair and twisted them together. I didn't need anything to secure the ends and I didn't need to twist each strand first. I love that! Most of the little twists will stay for over a week. I just add moisture and coconut oil every day or so and occasionally freshen the twists that come out. We also moved Ana out of the pack-n-play and into Tali's crib and that has helped protect her hair and keep the style looking nice longer. I'm pretty sure she was rubbing her head against the mesh siding.


By the way, I love Jarmelia's website. She has great tips and has really blessed me by sharing her trade secrets. :) She is the one who directed me to Essential Wholesale where I can buy unscented products for super cheap. She did a post about how some of the specialty online hair products are all using the same cheap bases. Some friends had given me a box of hair supplies for Amanda when she first came home but they were so heavily scented I rarely used them. It's awesome to find same products unscented.

I also ordered silk lined hats from Curly Zebra for Amanda and Ana. I first learned about the hats last year on Happy Girl Hair but I thought the were too expensive. Instead I ordered cheap Lycra swim caps to wear under their regular hats. This year I decided my sanity was worth the price and having one less thing to fuss with was important. :) Curly Zebra was great and custom made a hat for Christiana when the first one I ordered covered her eyes. Upon request, they also made Ana's hat without the very large, scratchy label on the inside. Amanda complained about it as soon as she put on the hat and I had to take it out with a seam ripper.




However, these adorable little hats led to a discouraging conversation with a sales clerk in a local thrift shop. It began with a pleasant comment about Amanda and Ana's hats. When I showed her that they were satin-lined, she seemed to understand why that was important for my little girls. It turns out she has a friend with little kids that have kinky and curly hair. This is rare in our area. I'm even a little concerned about leaving Ana's hair in twists when we go out because I'm not sure people understand why keeping it in twists is important. However, I became very distressed as the woman began to describe how her friend "hated" her child's "nappy" hair and how the boy got the "really nice" curls and how their hair was just "awful" and she spent "hours brushing" it.



I tried to keep things positive by cutting her off and saying that I loved my little girls curls and thought they were just beautiful and it was so fun that Ana's hair stayed in neat coils and that maybe she just didn't know how to care for it and that we enjoyed our precious hair time. The woman seemed to need to have the last word and it was something along the lines of, "Oh, no, their hair was just awful." It makes my heart hurt just thinking about it now.



After the fact, my first response should have been something like, "I sure hope she didn't saying anything so negative in front of her children because that could really impact their self-esteem and self-image. I sure hope nobody says those kinds of hurtful things to my girls." Hopefully a comment like that would derail the conversation and prevent further negative comments.



I did find an email for the shop online and sent the owner a note. I may have been talking to the owner but I didn't assume that. I encouraged her to watch Chris Rock's documentary called Good Hair* and directed her to Happy Girl Hair's blog. Hopefully, she does some investigating and welcomes a new perspective.



*Good Hair is very eye-opening and informative, however, it also contains some very racy parts. I do not recommend watching it with your husband or teen boys. Yeah, that was awkward. Trust me!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Flag Fun

When I was a little girl, my grandparents house was directly across the school from the middle school. (My mom and grandmother still live there but the school is gone now.) The high school marching band used to meet there during the summer and then march in the surrounding neighborhoods practicing. My cousins and I used to follow them along as they marched. When they stopped and rested, we stopped and rested. I wonder what those high schoolers thought of their grade school groupies. :)


Back at my grandparents house, there was a bucket behind the door in garage filled with old broom sticks with old sheets attached to them. We spent many hours copying the moves of the colorguard, twirling and tossing our flags into the air. Great summer outdoor fun!


Something insipred me to share the flag fun with my little girls last week. Maybe it was the silkies strewn all over the house.


The girls are still a little small and it was really windy. Oh, but what fun!

Some day we may upgrade to nicer poles but on this day I just used some branches from a fallen maple and tied the silkies to the branches. I made one for me too. :)

Sweet Potato Skins

Last month we got about 10 lbs of sweet potatoes (or yams). I peeled chopped and baked most of them and froze them for quick meals. The little girls like them mixed with chopped chicken which I also bake in batches and have frozen. Since these were organic yams, I hated to waste the peels so we experimented with making potato skins. We piled all the skins on the bar pan, drizzled them with light olive oil, sprinkled them with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, and then stirred them to coat them. Then Amanda help me spead them into a single layer on the baking stones.







The oven had been preheated to 350 F and I baked them for about 15 minutes with the convection fan going. We kept checking them to make sure they weren't getting too burnt.




After they cooled, I just pushed the helping chairs up to the counter and let the girls dig in.





Yummy, fun and surprisingly filling.




I was cooking yogurt in the big pot on the stove too. The little girls have been requesting oats and yogurt (with honey) almost every morning. I prefer to get farm fresh milk to make my yogurt but I just haven't been able to go get any so I just made the last couple of batches from store milk. It so much cheaper than buying yogurt.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

A New Park

These pictures are from several weeks ago and they are all out of order. We've been trying to squeeze in as much outdoor fun as we can before it gets too cold and I've been slow about processing the pictures.



This was a new park we visited with Mike a while age and the girls and I went back to take some pictures. Here's Amanda and Ana being silly. Ana started out by intentionally not looking at the camera and then turning quickly to smile and laugh. Amanda joined her in the goofiness.





The little girls enjoyed running up and down this little ramp. Such little things give them so much pleasure.












This park is right on the lake and so many of the trees were still very green and lush even though the ones at our house had lost all of their leaves. The pine trees looked especially lovely and soft. We don't have many pines near our house and these ones with the pinecone-laden branches were mesmerizing.








The park has fun climbing tree that Amanda bravely ventured up. Doesn't she look like a lizard sunning herself?










Here is the main reason we ventured to this park in the first place. During art class last year, Tyler designed and painted this tourist photo board. (I have know idea what they are called.) It was a big project and he had help with the painting but it was his design. He was proud of his work and we are proud of him too. Although he said he didn't sign it because "it wasn't really his style of art work." That would be Paul Bunyan, his wife and kid and Babe the Blue Ox. Paul Bunyan is a legendary lumberjack.




Ana wasn't quite tall enough.





This park was wonderfully designed for the age of our kids. It was accessible enough for little toddlers and without any slides of heart-stopping height or dangerous places out of view. It was nice to sit and relax while they went up and down the slides all by themselves. Tali even dove headfirst down the slides a couple of times but they were slow enough that she didn't do a face-plant at the end.










They really played well for a long time on this day. They day we had gone with Mike, it had been swarming with kids and the little girls just stayed close by us. I always enjoy watching my little girls be strong and adventurous.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

More fun with Acorns

The sand box on the deck proved to be a bad idea. There was always sand in the house and I had to moniter them very closerly to make sure sand wasn't getting in the hair, mouths and eyes. Plus the pool would fill with water and then there would be a wet muddy mess.



We cleaned that all up and brought the kitchen up from the back yard. Then I put the leftover acorns in little containers in the kitchen for the girls to play with. These acorns were from red oaks and didn't peel as easily as the ones from a white oak tree. After painstakingly cracking about 2 cups worth to cook up, I put the rest outside. They are a fun sensory toy and not very messy.




We also added some leaves and sticks and other things from the woods the we collected on our walks. Amanda found some little white worms that came from inside some of the acorns. She was so fond of them and checked on them often. With the rest of the leaves, Amanda wanted to do craft projects and decided to paint them.


This is the craft project we had planned to do with the first batch of acorns we collected. Amanda painted the little hats. Then using a hot glue gun we glued the acorns back into the caps. Next we used a black paint pen to draw little faces. I drew some and Amanda drew some.

I still have a nice collection of double and triple acorn hats that we can paint and attach a ribbon to make them into Christmas ornaments. That might get done this year...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Mullet

Tali has the typical baby mullet growing and most of the time it looks like this:




I have often considered just cutting it all off and starting fresh but with a little conditioner, water and a whole lot of screaming this is the result:


And those little curls are just irresistible! And she seriously throws the biggest fit about having her hair done. When she sees me with the comb, she runs and starts crying even though it takes only about 10 seconds to comb it out. What a goof!

Week 30

I'm about 30 weeks now. I'm definitely feeling third-trimesterish. I feel lots of big kicks and movements that seem to rock my whole body. Sometimes in the middle of the night, I ponder why I would ever expect to get much sleep when the baby's on the outside because he/she sure is active during the night on the inside.

The second part of the second trimester was really great. I was able to quit drinking the coffee which seemed to contribute to the rapid weight gain. I was a little worried when by five months I had already gained 30 lbs. Thankfully I only gained 4 lbs in the last month as opposed to the 10 lb added at each visit prior. I was feeling really good and able to really get out and be active with the girls.

Things have slowed down since bundle-up weather has hit and my ability to bend over is greatly reduced. We go out about once a day instead of twice. In the mornings, I spend some time laying on the mattress in Amanda's room while the girls climb all over me and play on the floor. They really like that time and when Amanda saw me grabbing my pillows today she said, "Yeah!!! Snuggle up time!"

We traveled up north to visit our families last Sunday and I got a box full of baby clothes that I had loaned to my cousin plus some boy clothes that she had. They got all washed and sorted and I feel prepared for either a boy or a girl. I plan to keep it very simple, just footed sleepers that button down both legs, socks and onsies. With Tali I had a stash of cute outfits for church or if we went out but I'd have to change her back into a sleeper when we got home because most of the cute outfits didn't fit over her cloth diaper. (We used disposables when we go out.)

This baby is just going to live in sleepers. I don't have to worry about the baby's socks or shoes falling off and they are usually just in a wrap or sling when we're out anyways. We'll save the cute stuff for once the baby is walking.

I got a fresh hair cut today. The last time I went out for a hair cut was when I was pregnant two years ago. The lady who comes to help us once a week is a hair dresser and she tried to cut my hair once at home while Mike watched the girls but it didn't go very well. So she watched the girls so I could go out today. I hate leaving the girls because at least one of them is crying and being dramatic but coming home sure is fun!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Can you believe it?

Can you believe this little chunky muffin...


Grew into this?

Oh yeah, we waited until the last minute to get in our year book submissions. Thanks for getting them done so fast, Nicole!


The first picture was Tyler at three months. He was nearly 20 lbs at that point. That's what happens when just one baby gets all my milk. I certainly had plenty to share back then too.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Singing Sweetness

While there is lots of crying, lots of yelling and lots of whining at our house, there's probably even more singing. And that makes it all worthwile.



video


In case you couldn't quite understand the words, she singing:


"God loves me, God loves me, in my Bible book it says that God loves me."


We have a Toddler Tunes VHS tape that the girls watch while I'm doing Ana's hair or when I just need a sanity break. I don't like to turn it on often because they have such a hard time when it needs to be turned off. Some of their other favorites are "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," "Deep and Wide," and "Ba, Ba, Black Sheep." They ask to sing them often throughout the day and if I start one song to distract them, (Or I just start singing because it's stuck in my head,) they start requesting other songs. Sometimes I feel like their personal listening device. "Sing the sheep song, Mom. No, the other sheep song. No, the OTHER sheep song."


We also sit down with our hymnal from church and find different songs to sing. They love the lively songs and they dance around and shake their shaker eggs. (Plastic eggs on a stick filled with beads that Mike bought at the music store.)


Such a lovely little chorus of voices!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Baby Talk

The other day, Amanda laid down on my belly to talk to the baby. I had just eaten so my tummy gurgled a little.

Amanda said, "Oh! I heard the baby!"

She sure makes me laugh.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Happy Birthday Tony!

Tony turns fifteen today! He will start driver's training in a couple of weeks. Initially he was pretty bummed about Tyler leaving for the military because Tyler gives him rides and stuff. That was until I reminded him that in one year HE will be driving and giving himself rides. And since Tyler won't be needing a vehicle, he will get the Jeep. Yeah, he's pretty happy about that.

My mom, grandma and Tristen came to celebrate yesterday. She brought a patriotic cake in honor of Columbus Day. Everybody loves singing "Happy Birthday."



The little girls enjoyed their cake.


I'm not sure if this was considered a birthday purchase or not but Mike and Tyler bought this new bow together and they've been sharing it.


They are working on their accuracy so they can go out hunting...if they don't lose all the arrows first.

Monday, October 10, 2011

More Provisions from Nature

The eating adventure continues...

We went for a walk to gather more acorns (to play with, not to eat.) We ended up coming with a grouse.



The trails in our neighborhood snake through woods and occasionally behind people's houses. As we were nearing one of our neighbor's houses, my mom said, "Look there goes a grouse!"

BAM!

Not "BAM!" like a gun shot because the only guns we had were squirt guns.

But "BAM!" like it crashed into the window of our neighbor's house. My mom, Amanda and Tristen ran ahead to check on the bird. It had broken neck and was dead. There was no sense in letting it go to waste so we brought it home. We called another neighbor to help us come clean it since Mike was working out of town today.

Ana wouldn't go anywhere near the bird but Tali was quite enthralled with it. It's now simmering in our crockpot. :)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Owl Hat for Snekcip

Hi Snekcip,

I just saw these owl hats and other super cute animal hats at Children's Place. There's free shipping until Monday and Code D2F2011 should get you an additional 20 %.

http://www.childrensplace.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_10001_10001_-1_784200_283939_25851%7C25911_baby%20girl%7Caccessories_babygirl

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Priceless

So, as requested, I took pictures of our chocolate-covered grasshopper project yesterday but out of love and consideration for my squeamish readers who do not want to see dead, roasted or chocolate-covered grasshoppers, I back dated the post so you have to click to go see them.

http://mikeandkatie1.blogspot.com/2010/10/chocolate-covered-grasshoppers-sorry.html

However, I don't want any one to miss reading Amanda's priceless reaction after she popped the first roasted and lightly salted grasshopper into her mouth,

"Mmmmm! Tastes like chicken!"

She couldn't figure out why I was laughing so hard. It still makes me laugh when I think about it. She ended up eating most of them plain and left only three to be covered in chocolate. Love that little girl!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ethnic Foods-Updated with a link to pictures.

Click here to see pictures of our grasshopper project.


A few weeks ago, we gathered a bucketful of acorns at our neighbor's house to do a little craft project. The nuts sat in the bucket for quite some time before I attempted the project. By that time, some of the acorns had dried and cracked at the bottom so Amanda was able to peel them open. She was so tempted to take a bite of one and I thought they were poisionous. I finally did a search and it turns they are not poisionous if they are properly prepared.

Acorns

We boiled ours and changed the water several times over the course of two days. They smelled lovely but the water was never very clear. Meanwhile our neighbor just boiled hers for the morning and then roasted them. Amanda tried them and said, "Mmmm. Good!" The little girls spit them out right away. I didn't try them because I'm allergic to other nuts so I didn't want to risk it. Our neighbor thought they were too dry and not very tasty. At home, I just drained of the rest of the liquid and frozen the few acorns that I had cooked up. Amanda will eat them if I give her a few. Silly girl! I can't imagine they taste very good but I'm happy to encourage her adventurous spirit.

And then...

She asked if we could eat bugs! Oh, great. But... not wanting to spoil her fun and considering that I could teach her some valuable survival lessons, we looked up what kinds of bugs could be eaten in Minnesota.

Crickets

Crickets and grasshoppers seem to be the most likely candidates. I had to laugh at the recipe though. It recommended rinsing and patting the crickets dry while they were still alive. Hmmm. I'm not quite sure how that would work. We opted to freeze ours first to kill them. So, as we speak there are 5-10 grasshoppers sitting in our freezer. Tomorrow they will be rinsed, de-legged and be-headed, roasted and then eaten with a little salt or dipped in chocolate. Not by me, of couse, since I'm pregnant and really shouldn't be trying strange foods. ;) I think I'll try chocolate covered potato chips as long as I have the chocolate melted.

Multi-cultural education? Check! The Native Americans used acorns as food and bugs are often eaten in Asian countries.

I didn't get pictures of the acorn processing. Would you like to see pictures of the grass hoppers? ;)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sabotage

No wonder Tyler's had so much car trouble...










The squirrels have been sabotaging his vehicle. This little guys was under there working for a long time this morning. :)