Last winter, I bought Amanda and Ana satin-lined hats from Curly Zebra. They are the only hats I allow my curly girls to wear to protect their hair from friction and breakage. Even though the girls have satin and silk pillow cases, they have discovered their hair stays nicer in bed if they also wear their hats. Tali wanted to copy Amanda and Ana so she was wearing her fleece hat to bed and waking up with horribly matted curls.
So I order her a hat too. Unfortunately, I ordered wrong because I couldn't remember what size hat we had ordered last year. But when Tali saw it, she was so in love and squeezed her big head into the tiny cap and wore it non-stop for several days. It didn't work well at night because it kept popping off and I was woken several times to help her find her hat.
When I got notice about another free shipping event from Curly Zebra, I ordered another hat for Tali and communicated with the owner to help me get the right size. I know from last year she would have been willing to take the small one back and make me a new one, but I have a friend who adopted a little girl a couple of months ago so I knew she would use it. That's why I just let Tali wear it and spared myself the drama of separating her from her new hat. ;)
I was pretty excited when the package arrived but was a little concerned when I opened it and saw colors that I hadn't ordered. At first, I was worried that we got the wrong order. Then I found Tali's hat and thought, "Oh no, she shipped me somebody else's hats too!" And then I read the note. The hat's that Tali and Ana are wearing are "seconds" or hats with imperfections that she gave to me as a "Thank you!" What a treat! The girls love them and have been wearing them constantly. Thankfully, we had a third pill box hat for Amanda. I had ordered one with Amanda and Ana's hats last year.
We prefer the chullo hats with tassels that can be tied under their chins for playing outside but these hats will be super cute for church when we are just in and out of the car. And isn't that just the cutest picture of my three adorable little girls?! They are just too cute. Especially when they are loving each other so nicely instead of fighting. :)
My cousin said there were other bloggers getting the message about reaching the photo capacity so it might just be a bug or something. It let me upload this one. We'll call it Julia's ten month photo even though she's nearly 11 months. Ooops!
Somebody asked me if she was taking steps yet. Ha! No she can't even get her fat belly off the ground. She is doing some army crawling but really finds rolling to be much more efficient.
Julia chatters and screeches. She seems to mimic sounds for daddy, mama, sisters and that, as in "What's that?" She hears that often while reading.
Julia eats avocados, peaches, pears, bananas, squash, broccoli, green beans, red beans, peas, carrots, yams, applesauce and potatoes. She will feed herself many different things but will only let me feed her things mixed with applesauce, heavy on the applesauce. She still gets most of her nutrition through nursing and she will drink my milk from a sippy cup.
She has about six teeth now. She sleeps pretty well when she's not fighting a cold like all of us right now. She tends to wake up once the little girls are asleep and play with Mike and I for a bit. Sometimes she has been too busy to get a good nursing during the day and seems to be trying to make up for it.
I sure love my little bug and the baby, squishy snuggliness never gets old. :)
Here are some videos from Amanda and Tali's dance class. Amanda has been in the class since September and Tali just joined. It fun and very laid-back and taught by a homeschooling mom during the day so it's mostly homeschooling families.
Blogger informed me that I've used up all my picture storage so I have to make a decision about what to do about that.
This recipe is definitely too heavy. I diluted it with more conditioner and distilled water (maybe a cup more). It also seems to leave my hair looking a bit dull and more residue and oils on Amanda's hair. It's super conditioning though and leaves my hair really soft. I knew it would be a work in progress.
I have to thank Jarmelia at http://wahmtown.blogspot.com/ and Teri at http://www.tightlycurly.com/welcome/ for leading the way and getting me in the information and inspiration for making my own conditioner. I HATE scented conditioners and shampoos. There is always way too much scent and it gets me nauseous, headaches and itchy skin. There are very few brands of hair products I will buy because of the scents. And this extends to what I put on my girls since there are always up in my face. ;)
Jarmelia introduced me to Essential Wholesale and so I've been experimenting with their products. Their moisturizing conditioner has been my staple product for combing, detangling, setting, co-washing, and conditioning. But it really wasn't as slippery as I liked. I really like Aussie Moist Conditioner because it has the best slip but I only use it when I have time to detangle Amanda's hair and then wash it to get out all the conditioner. Usually I don't have that much time. I usually wash her hair in it's style, saturate it with the unscented conditioner and then get back to detangle later or another day.
I also like Organix Coconut Milk conditioner and think it has good slip but it't expensive for the amount I need to detangle Amanda's hair. So, I looked carefully at the ingredients of both those conditioners and Kinky Curly's Knot Today detangler, which several of my friends really like.
If you look at the first three ingredients of the Aussie you see "water, stearyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol." And then the first ingredients of the Essential Wholesale conditioner is two distillates (water) and Cetearyl Alcohol which is what you call "stearyl alcohol and cetyl alcohol" mixed together. The first ingredients of Knot Today are herbal extracts (water), cetyl alcohol and then the BTMS. Fascinating! So that how I arrived at trying this first recipe. 1 cup of the moisturizing conditioner from Essential Wholesale in a glass measuring cup in a pot of water. 2 Tbsp of BTMS (behentrimonium methosulfate) 1 Tbsp Jojoba Oil 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil 2 tsp , Glyceryl Stearate These ingredients were in a glass jar also in the pot of water. Set up like a double boiler. At this point, I realize that this was a pretty heavy percentage for these ingredients and thought, "Oh well."
Once the emulsifiers melted in the oil and the conditioner reached about 170 degree F, I mixed them together with a hand blender and put them in the refrigerator to cool. Then I added 1 tsp of the dimethicone and blended some more.
While I was waiting I mixed about 2 mL of the dimethicone with the conditioner, water and oil mixture I had been using to moisturize Ana's twists. Just that little bit seems to add more slip to combing out the first sections of Amanda's hair.
I was pretty happy with the improvement in slipperiness and ability to comb out the tangles although it seemed to be drying and getting sticky quickly so I had to keep adding more water to her hair. We'll see how the style holds up and hopefully I can find of few more moms willing to try the conditioner as a detangler. I did decide to keep it in the fridge because I wasn't sure if I altered the ratio of preservatives enough to allow bacteria or mold growth.
So that's the start of experiment #1. I'll keep you posted.
We tried yarn braids this summer and it was a bit of a failure. I made them too long so they bothered her and it was taking too long. Plus they looked wonky and were hot. I recently heard about yarn twists and tried those instead. I only made them a little longer than her hair and only used one strand of yarn instead of the two I used this summer. I used them to add some thickness to her twists on not really length. They've been great! They went in faster than the normal mini twists because I could use larger sections of hair and they have stayed in much better.
I took a small section of hair, folded the piece of yarn in half and put the section of hair in the fold. Then I braided it a little to secure the base and then twisted the hair with one strand of the yarn and then rope twisted both sides to the end. I tied a knot and then singed the ends of the yarn to keep them from unraveling. It was better if I could press the base and pull it tight to twist it without pulling against the base. I sprayed them with an oil, conditioner and water mixture and her hair was wet with conditioner.
I spray them with the oil, water, conditioner mixture every day or so and have put some coconut or shea butter in to seal in the water. I have washed them just like regular hair about once a week. They lay very nicely and she really likes them. She definitely had a little extra spunk in the first few days because she thought they were so fun and exciting. I'm dying to take them out to see how her hair looks or how easily they are removed but they are staying looking so nice, I'm just going to wait to see whole long they will last.
Picnic in the pine needles. I've been motivating the girls to play nicely without getting into fights or asking me to do stuff (Put on roller blades, push them on the swings, help them on their bikes, etc.) by promising them vitamin treats. Between the chewable multi-vitamin, chewable calcium, chewable DHA, and chewable probiotic they had a significant handful of candy they would be getting every day. So, I've been using it to my advantage. I got this pile of needle raked, hauled it to the back of the garage and then decided it was a nice spot for a picnic. Yes, there was some sticky sap. No, I don't care.
For Tyler's grad party, Mike wanted to mow the word "Navy" into the grass. We just didn't have time to get it done. So here's our tribute to our Navy boy on Veteran's Day. :)
I really love ice skating. Can you tell? I wasn't sure how things would go with all the little girls but I knew some how we would get out skating. The first day we went was during MEA weekend. There were a lot of other kids at the rink and we only had one pair of skates for Ana and Tali. I took Ana out first while Tali stayed with a babysitter. Ana cried the whole time she was on the ice. So after a while we traded skates and kids. I sat out with Julia and Ana while the babysitter took Tali and Amanda skating. Mike's brother was out on the ice too.
I was pretty discouraged with Ana's behavior but Mike's brother sent us home with some double-bladed skates to try. The next time there was nobody there but us and Ana was much happier. This time my mom and sister-in-law came. And now we've been going every week. Sometimes twice a week. We bought a season pass for me, my mom and four kids. It was $90 for all of use to skate as much as we want until March. Nice!
Do you see Julia in her blue snowsuit at the edge of the rink? Usually my sister-in-law can come to watch her. She isn't as content to just sit in the stroller and watch like Tali was. But she's happy sitting on Auntie's lap. After a while Ana and Tali also go out and sit with Auntie. She taught them pat-a-cake last week. Yeah. I forgot to teach them that. ;)
Amanda was really practicing her dancing arms and looking pretty. She started skating lessons four weeks ago. She just got moved up to Basic 2. I was a little bummed about the change because it changed her lesson times and now she can't skate with her friend. But she can certainly keep up with the other girls. Her skating skills are improving all the time. Her social skills? Not so much. After she got off the ice on Sunday, she said, "Molly pushed me!" Ha! I was watching the interaction between her and the other little girl. I could imagine what Amanda was saying. I saw Amanda go to push the other girl and she fell down instead. She was really mean and competitive last week with her cousin too. She concluded with, "I don't like boys because they don't do what I tell them to." We had a little talk and she was much nicer to him today. Actually we've had a few talks, but who's counting.
I actually didn't expect either of the middle girls to learn to skate this year. But mom just kept working with them. Ana loved the double-bladed skates but we were able to get her on single-blades by decorating everyone's skates with colored ribbons. She still wants a lot of help but she will do more and more by herself.
Tali figured out it was great fun to lay on the seat of a chair and push it backwards. That kept her entertained for a long time on several trips. Now she's mastered walking with the trainer too.
Tristen's been skating since he was two and half. He used to come with my mom when we would meet for skating when Amanda was three and a half and the babies would ride in the double stroller. He can skate without the chair but he was giving his elephant a ride. :)
I love going to the rink because it feels like rigorous outdoor exercise without weather being and issue. I always know what temp it will be in the rink and so I know how to dress the girls. Of course, it did seem a little silly to be skating today when it was over 50 degrees outside. :)
This fall, I decided to follow the suggestion on Little Green House of Learning to help the girls memorize a hymn and then add it to our family hymn book. We started with My Father's World and memorized the first two verses with sign language. We actually did a lot of school type stuff, writing words, drawing pictures about the song. Some how we got off track but the song was memorized. The next song I picked was You Are Mine by David Haas. I heard it one Saturday at Mass with my family. I actually barely heard the song because I was dealing with an tantrum or something but the last line caught my ear, "I love you and you are mine."
That's such a great message and I want my girls to know that. So, I found the song on You Tube and wrote the lyrics to post in the kitchen. We listen to the video often too. The other day Amanda stood up and sang the entire song while reading it off the paper. It's kind of long so we haven't gotten it memorized yet. I was so impressed and told her that now she could read songs right out of the hymnal. And she replied, "And the Bible. I could read the Bible. Mother, may I read the Bible?" (She really talks like that. We've read a lot of Dick and Jane readers.)
So I found her a Bible that she could read. I found her a Psalm to read first. It was Psalm 113. Then I took her to Job to read about the animals that God questions Job about. Then we read about Mary Magdalene at the tomb. By this time, the middle girls had finished their breakfasts and wanted Bibles too. So for the last several days, the girls have been lugging their Bibles all over the house. Amanda is very proud of herself and is constantly saying, "Now I can read to God!" I'm so proud of her! It's so wonderful to see her faith grow.
Clearly, whoever thought Daylight Savings was a good idea didn't have little kids. This summer, I'd been wondering what had happened to my kids that used go to bed at 6 pm. It didn't occur to me that they were still going to bed at the same time, the clock just didn't say so. However since, Mike's work opens according the clock, we miss out on an extra hour with him in the evenings because the girls are so tired. Not cool!
Real Life: We don't make beds. Now you know. Some day we will. Today is not that day.
Julia is usually in bed before lunch. Shortly after lunch, I announce, "We will be getting ready for bed in 5...4...3..2..1!" Ana and Amanda race up the stairs squealing. Tali fell for it the first couple of days. Now she runs the other direction saying, "I don't want to go to bed." It's okay. I can handle corralling one kid up the stairs. At least the other two are already [fighting] in the bathroom. I need to say, "We will get ready to line up at the bottom of the stairs..." to prevent the fights from the girls who get out of sight.
I close all the doors so no one escapes and each girl takes a turn (or two) going potty. Amanda brushes her teeth with toothpaste and I brush each girl's teeth with a dry brush. Then I give them their brushes and tell them to hold them at their belly and stand with their butts pressed against each wall. Then I load my brush with paste and count down again. We all brush together until I'm done then I count down again to take away the brushes.
Everybody has drinks of water and then we go to my room to put on naptime diapers for the middle girls. I often send Amanda out hunting for Tali's bunny and Ana's blanket. We say prayers during this time. If their mouths and brains are engaged their bodies are less likely to be. We've also started putting on hair silkies this week and promising a vitamin treat if they keep them on. We have about four different chewable supplements. I use them as motivation throughout the day.
Then I have them line up at the door and wait. I remind them to tip-toe quietly into the bedroom since Julia's sleeping. They do the best they can. Ana sleeps in the white toddler bed. Tali sleeps in the wood toddler bed and Amanda lays down against the wall on the double bed. I lay down with my head closest to Tali's bed. Amanda used to sleep in the single bed but she's been needing a little more mom-time and she's better about lying still. Julia is in the closet in their room which is off to the right in the picture.
I cover the girls up, bless them, and then lay down. I'm close to Tali so I can remind her to lay still and go to bed. She's pretty good at naptime. The middle girls fall asleep super fast during naptime. Less than 10 minutes. If Julia is awake, I lay on the bed and nurse her before laying her down in bed. She goes to sleep quietly because she sucks her thumb.
Once they fall asleep, Amanda and I get up. If I fall asleep, either Amanda or Julia will wake me up. The girls sleep for an hour or two. It varies.
Bedtime is almost the same. Except sometimes, Mike will be laying on the double bed with Julia while I get the rest of them ready. At bedtime, I should, and have, flossed and brushed the girls' teeth while sitting on the floor of our room before putting on their diapers. The girls usually stay dry during nap time. Then we would go into the bathroom for our group brushing and drinks.
The girls take significantly longer to fall asleep at bedtime and there's usually at least one more trip to the potty. Tali is the most trouble at bedtime. On occasion she has slithered off her bed and sneaked out the door before I have noticed. She often makes one more attempt, "I have to go potty/drink/wrap me up/ whine, whine, whimper..." and then she falls asleep. If Mike puts the girls to bed, so I can get something done, they won't go to sleep before I get up there and they will ask to go potty, the minute I get into the room.
I'm not super thrilled about our bedtime routine. I would like to just put them to bed and be done. I have accepted that this is what needs to be done at this point in our lives. What significantly more bothersome is that I am woken up 3-5 times a night by somebody needing something. Some nights it's more. Despite all the midnight potty trips, the diapers don't stay dry over night. If I wasn't so sleep deprived perhaps I could think of a strategy to get them to sleep better.
The other big news in our house is that Tony passed his behind-the-wheel driving test. He is now licensed driver! Yeah! and Yikes! He's been attending the local community college as a Post Secondary student and has had to bike there every day. I was worried as the weather was getting colder and snowier. He's a tough kid and it's not that far but driving is nice. ;)
We had really be slacking about getting him out driving so he hadn't had much practice. We had been taking turns taking him out in the evenings but it was tough to find time to go without the girls. So we asked for some help. It was nice to be close to friends and family who were willing to take him out for an hour or so. He got to go out with my brother who is a mechanic, his god-mother who is a teacher, and finally my sister's husband who is a sheriff's deputy.
It was really nice to spend some time with him and I didn't think of that as a way to connect with him sooner. They grow up too fast.
Of course, now there are a whole new set of worries ahead of us. Oh please, let him be a better driver than Tyler. ;) Tyler installed some pretty heavy duty speakers into the Jeep last year so we can hear him coming down the block. It's always a relief to hear him booming and rumbling into the driveway because it means he's made it home safely from another adventure. The neighbors are probably not so thrilled with the noise however.
A magazine that arrived yesterday also included a small Gospel tract. Amanda is just starting to read and was begging me to read it to her. It had simple cartoon pictures that brought up lots of questions. The first part went through what happens if we try to get to heaven on our own and face the judgement. As the story progressed and the man's sin was pointed out and his name was not found in the Book of Life, she was getting a little teary. When his judgment was read and he was told to depart, she started sobbing.
Now, in general, Amanda is pretty emotional, she also started sobbing when a cartoon penguin lost his little brother, but still. She grasped that sin separates us from God and that's really sad. And she grasped that she has sinned. It was hard to get her to calm down to listen to the second half of the story, The Good News, but I think I've reassured her enough.
Trying to explain things to Amanda made me visualize and verbalize the Good News in a way I never had. If we try to get to heaven on our own, we face the judgement. We have to be perfect. And we've all failed. Amanda knows she's failed. But if we ask Jesus to bring us home; if we ask Jesus to take our hand and bring us to heaven, we have a free pass. It's like trying to get into a fancy dinner and the bouncer looks at his list and you're not on it. But if you walk in with Jesus, it's all good.
As I'm writing this I'm thinking of all the hymns, songs, and sermons that fit this illustration. I've grasped this through grown up eyes, but looking at it through a child's eyes gives me new perspective.
Now, I've been a Christian for years, and I get the sacrificial atonement and Jesus dying for our sins and all of that. But that is a complicated topic for a five year old. We talk a lot about it about it but it's confusing to her. But she understands that she can't go places by herself; she needs some one to take her. So understanding that she needs Jesus to take her to heaven makes sense. Kids are so great! They make us really think about what we believe.
Sometimes it feels like my kids aren't welcome in church because they are "disruptive," but Jesus doesn't feel that way about them. In fact, he set them before us as our role models.
The girls and I have started going to the Catholic Church on Saturday nights with my family. It's often quite an event with my mom, grandma, sister, brother, their spouses and kids and my aunt. We take up at least one whole row and try to spread the kids out among the adults but usually we are outnumbered. It's a little chaotic but one of the first nights we were there, this was the reading. (I don't remember exactly where the passage ended, but thought it was interesting that Jesus talked about the little kids for so long.)
New International Version (NIV)
The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven
18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
Causing to Stumble
6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.7 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!8 If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble,cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.9 And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
The Parable of the Wandering Sheep
10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. [a]
12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.
The next time, we heard this passage:
New International Version (NIV)
The Little Children and Jesus
13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them.14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.
Or maybe it was this passage:
New International Version (NIV)
The Little Children and Jesus
13 Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.
14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.
I need to record this day for her and remind her of it often. Halloween: what a perfect day to have her eyes opened.
The "five minute warning" really has not been helpful at our house for managing transitions. Maybe for Amanda but Ana and Tali are just too little to grasp time. Ana begins whining and crying about ending the activity when I give the five minute warning and Tali has forgotten about the warning by the time I finally end the activity and she melts down.
However, I have discovered that counting down from five seems to provide enough time and distraction to move from one activity to the next. I might say something like, "I'm going to ask you to help clean up the toys in 5----4------3-------2------1!" Then we race around clean up as fast as we can.
Or "I'm going to tell you to go up and get ready for bed in 5----4------3-------2------1!" And we race up the stairs to the bathroom.
Or "I'm going to tell you to line up to go in the house in 5----4------3-------2------1!" As a side note, we've started using a lot of class room procedures like lining up near the teacher and moving from one place to another all together. If I send them up to the bathroom, into the house, or over to the door to get ready by themselves there is always trouble. If I lead them, life is much better. Amanda thinks it's pretty fun when I'm being the "teacher."
We also use the count down for fun things, too, like starting out on a bike ride or all brushing our teeth together. Yes, tooth brushing is fun. I don't usually let the toddlers have their own tooth brush but I've discovered that if we all do it together as an event, they will copy me and brush instead of just biting on the bristles. Plus I can get my teeth brushed without them wandering off and getting into trouble because I can't direct them.
I am also going to start working on making visual schedules and using other techniques I found on the TACSEI website. Hopefully this will make life a little less chaotic around here.
We are a Christian couple joyfully answering God's call on our life to welcome children into our home. We have two boys, Tyler and Tony, and adopted our first daughter, Amanda, in August of 2007 and a second daughter, Christiana, in July of 2009. Talitha joined our family in February 2010 after a surprise pregnancy. Julia was an even bigger surprise in January 2012.