Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

This is gonna be long. Sorry.

When I logged in, I realized that my last post was my 300th post. What a fun milestone! I love blogging. It's like a journal where I can share the bests (and sometimes worsts) in life with the world. I especially love connecting with friends and family who are far away (as well as making new friends).

We had a blessed Christmas, and we hope you did too. This year for advent our family read the book "Jotham's Journey." It is an excellent story, and I highly recommend it. You can read more about it here. We borrowed it from the church library, then bought our own copy at amazon.com for a mere $8.79. There are two other books in the trilogy, but they are very hard to get right now (and quite expensive). Hopefully they will be reprinted soon.

The Sunday before Christmas was a special program day at church. I am in the choir, and we had worked hard on some special songs to sing for the service. One of the songs was a new favorite of mine, "Night of Silence." Kind of a lullaby feel to it. :) Yeah, I'm a girl. Between the two services was our Sunday School program, where each of the kids sang with their classes. Micah was being "such a boy" and refused to sing with his class. :P

We enjoyed snow storm after snow storm for the entire month of December, each time followed by unreasonably low temperatures which ensured the snow stayed for the holiday. By the time Christmas Eve arrived, we looked like we were in a winter wonderland for sure.

On Christmas Eve we went to the service at church. It was beautiful, and fun. When we came home we opened presents that were a gift from a very generous family at church. We were humbled by their care and concern for our family and they way they blessed our children!

We went to bed with strict instructions for the kids to wake us up Christmas morning. Imagine my surprise when I heard Micah's voice at a bright and cheery 4:17 am. "Mom, Malachi has a poopy diaper, and Eden woke everyone up already." Um....NO. It's not happening kiddos. So Mitch did diaper duty and put everyone back to bed. We got up again at a more humane hour of 7:00 am. :) We all took turns holding baby Jesus (a doll that shows up every Christmas morning) and hearing the Christmas story together. After opening the rest of our presents, we spent the very little time left cleaning and baking for Christmas dinner. A little after 11 am family started arriving. It was my joy and honor to host Christmas dinner. On a normal basis I couldn't care less about cooking. It's not my favorite. But hosting is a whole different story. I made a turkey and a ham. Everyone brought dishes to share. We enjoyed games and stuff late into the evening.

We barely had time to breathe before having some old SCCS friends over on Friday evening. I went shopping earlier Friday hoping for some good deals. Let me tell ya--if you didn't go out--I was disappointed. No steep discounts (according to my standards) to be found. But then, maybe I didn't look hard enough! I did buy some yarn for the baby's blanket finally and bought a crochet book with baby bootie patterns. I then proceed to stay up until 4 am (yes, that is not a typo!) crocheting. I made two pair of booties and got started on the blanket.

Oh, that reminds me! In the past week I have also crocheted a blanket, which I gave to my inlaws for Christmas. It was beautiful. I definitely broke my own record for completion time and size.

Mitch's sister Hope and her "daughter" arrived on Friday to stay with us for a little while. We still have to work out the details. But for now Eden has a new best friend. Hope has full guardianship. Selena is sweet as honey and almost exactly one year older than Eden. She also has type 1 diabetes. So I'm learning a LOT about that. It's a lot to learn. More to come later...for now we're just loving her...and maybe, just a little, getting some experience with what it means to foster care or adopt.

On Saturday good friends from the cities stopped in to spend the night. We had another late night of playing games, chatting, and, of course, crocheting! Two more pair of booties made. We were naughty Christians and skipped church the next morning to be with our friends. We don't take this lightly...the number of times we have done it are few and far between. But it was good fellowship all around in spite of our heathen ways! :)

Monday and Tuesday went by in a blur. I'm hanging on every moment waiting for my friend Kristin to go into labor. I can't wait, and hope I am blessed to attend the birth! I got tired of waiting and called her up yesterday and asked if I could come over to hang out "just because." Of course she said yes. So I plodded along (in the aftermath of yet ANOTHER snow storm adding to the piles) and we got another pair of booties made. 5 pair and not a single picture yet. At least I'm getting my money's worth out of that little book!

Tonight is our big New Year's Eve party. I've been looking forward to this almost more than Christmas. It will be with all our best friends, many of them from the same church. Our house will be teeming with more people and children than I can count. I have a lot of stuff left to get done!! And I'm sitting here blogging!! Hand slap.

In all this, I am feeling great. The baby is getting stronger and stronger. My placenta is in front this time, probably the first time ever, and I don't feel as many movements. But it's getting better. I've finally calmed down some about the time passing so slowly. LOL. Now it will speed up, I just know it.

Gotta run...more later...and a picture slideshow too!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Shopping for PINK!!

I braved the winter storm today to go shopping for some future "banned hazardous substances" for my little girl. I was not disappointed.

First, I had to shovel the driveway. Micah refused to do it. He claimed that the big shovel was too heavy for him and he was "not strong enough." I'm going to remember that next time Papa (Mitch's dad) says he needs help at his house or wants Micah to go snowmobiling. Well, I have 4-wheel drive in the truck, so I didn't *have* to shovel the driveway, but it seemed like a good idea since the kids were driving me NUTS. It was so much more peaceful and quiet outside. :)

We went to a second-hand kids store because I heard an ad on the radio about some good sale they were having today (completely unrelated to the CPSIA). At first when I went in the store I WAS disappointed. There were no sale signs hardly anywhere to be seen. Finally I spotted a small one that said "25% off blue stars." Hmmm...since their prices are already too high (one thing that keeps them from being my *favorite* second-hand store), I was not optimistic. They are a consignment shop, are very choosy, and pay moms very "poorly" for their used items...thus, the clothes are usually nice (but I have seen some that made me go "huh?") but other things just tick me off. Anways...I was chatting on the phone to Mitch when I turned and saw an even *tinier* sign that denoted the special sale for the day. I saw that if I shopped for a mere 20 minutes the prices would be 70% off the blue stars. Eden and I hit the racks, while the rest of the kids destroyed the toy section (to be cleaned up later before we left). I shopped for an hour until Malachi decided to undress and I quickly made plans to exit, knowing the limit had been reached!

The results...33 items (not counting separate pieces) for $35 something. Here are all the girl things I bought (I also bought some pants for Micah and for Alex).


OH the PINK! The ruffles and embroidery and lace!!!



I hope I'm not making too big of a deal out of this whole girl thing. I wanted to blog about that too. I do feel a little guilty for making it seem like maybe something it's not. I LOVE my boys very much. If this baby had been another boy, I would have loved him too. Malachi, as difficult as he is, melts my heart just as good as a stinky ole girl would. ;)

Really and truly, besides having a sister for Eden and that whole sister/bonding thing, it is merely a WARDROBE issue for me.

As you can see. Ahem.

I hope I find more sales in the future. Not that I'm even sure of what I *need*. Today I just bought what was cute and on sale. :) It was so fun. For Eden too. Hey--even Caleb got involved. He picked out a onesie (in the first picture, on the top of the pile of onesies--it is white with pink trim) that he could buy with his own money for his baby sister. It was just so sweet!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What are you going to name her?

It's so exciting to be expecting a girl...now everyone's favorite question to ask us is "What are you going to name her?"

The answer is we *probably* won't be able to decide on a name until she is born. The reality is that Mitch doesn't usually want to talk about names until the baby is here. I'm slowly getting used to it.

Last night a group of "kids" came up to Mitch at church and began chattering about the prospect of finally a girl. One girl (the same age as Micah) blurted out, "So, are you guys DONE now?" LOL It was pretty funny. Her mom, standing nearby, was obviously embarrassed. Mitch said, "It's ok. that's what everyone *thinks* and doesn't ask." :) Then when they asked what we are going to name her, Mitch says, "We're trying to decide between Steve and Gary. Steve after Stephanie and Gary after one of her ex-boyfriends." Ha!

After he told me that, he said I should put up a poll on my blog. I don't think I will, though I did suggest (again) that he get his own blog.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Moment We've Been Waiting For...

And the winner is...

My "Early" Christmas Present...

Micah is wrong...

Drumroll please...

For the first time in 10 years we can say...

It's A Girl!!!

I couldn't decide on a title. :)

We had the best ultrasound tech ever! Even when the printer stopped working she spent a good 5-10 minutes to get it working again so we could have good pictures (and a lot of them!) to take home. She carefully explained every measurement she took and why she took it. She said she has been doing this for 17 years. She works some here and in another office, plus she works down in the cities for a perinatologist (a specialist for unborn babies who are at high risk). She knows her stuff!!!

At first in the ultrasound the baby was all curled up into a tight ball. It was hilarious (if not a bit uncomfortable). We had a hard time seeing anything at all. :) Even her head--she kept putting her arms and hands up by her face. She was moving around quite a bit though and soon we were getting the shots we need.

Wow, it seems so weird to be able to say "she" and "her."

Caleb was really anxious to hear the gender. As if we all weren't. I think he expected to hear it first thing. I don't know if he really understood what he was seeing on the screen, but we tried to explain it to him nonetheless. He can be a little "blonde" sometimes. ;) He asked the funniest questions until finally I told him to go sit down and read his book.

Finally the tech says, "So what do you have at home, two boys and one girl?" I said, "FIVE boys and one girl." She said quietly, "Well, this one is a girl." I gasped. My heart lept. I said, "Are you sure?" She said, "I'm sure." And she went over that spot again and again and printed me out a "toilet shot"...which is a picture as if looking up at the baby sitting on a toilet. I immediately started crying. :) I said, "Oh, I'm going to cry. I was worried I would cry if it's a boy, and now I'm crying cause it's a girl!" It was so funny. I kept crying. Tears of joy of course. It still makes me want to cry. I just can't believe it really is finally a girl. Oh, and everything on the baby looked perfect...head, nuchal fold, spinal cord, fluid, cerebellum, abdomen, heart, valves, arteries, liver, kidneys, bladder, feet, cord (all 3 vessels there), fingers, and so on. She was SO thorough and careful to explain everything. Even my placenta is faaaaaaaar away from my cervix--it is anterior (on the front), which means it acts sort of as a "shock absorber" and that's why I didn't feel movement with her as soon as I did with the last two. We are so blessed!

I know there are lots of people waiting to hear the gender, so I'll quit babbling for now. Here are the pictures!

Long legs and a fairly obvious girl shot...also the placenta is right above the knee (looks like a cloud)

This is a "toilet" shot...looking up at the baby's girl parts. See the "hamburger" or 3 lines?

Face/skull shot

Face/skull again and a hand up on top of the head. Such a dramatist.

Footprint

Pointing at us

Spine (c-spine)
Thank you, Lord!

If this baby is a boy...

Hehe, you get a 2 for 1 deal today!! I was thinking in the shower this morning. So excited...only 9 hours to go. Anyways, I was thinking in the shower today of ways to encourage myself and get myself in a good mood. That way I can take the news, boy or girl, and be happy with it.

If this baby is a boy...

I love the names Silas and Manasseh
I have some blue yarn that I *love* to make a couple hats for him
I make cute boys
He will be able to put up with Malachi beating up on him
I have lots of "banned hazardous substances" (ie: lots of boy clothes) to pass on

If this baby is a girl...

We have a pretty major name dilemma, but a few names that we love: Hannah (my brother is planning to use this one in February, hence the dilemma), Shoshana, Tirza, and my favorite, Genesis
I have some pink yarn, and have my eyes on some more
I have two newborn outfits with hats already made
I'll be over-the-moon excited to have my first girl in 10 years
Eden will be over-the-moon excited to have a sister
So will Caleb, Zeke, and Josh, who are all rooting for a girl
I gave up my girl clothes a long time ago and only saved a few special things...now I'm beginning to doubt my ability to buy second-hand.

I can't wait!!!

Clarification

I feel I should clarify a couple things about CPSIA (HR4040). I am not a lawyer. I do have a lawyer cousin, and I wish she had time to do a little charity work for me, but she's newly married and I'll *bet* she doesn't have time. ;) She reads my blog though, so I had to say that. LOL.

I wish I understood all the law parts of this law. Unfortunately I have to muddle through it like everyone else, plus I also have the benefit of reading from other people their thoughts. Of course, I don't know for sure anyone else's credentials. I have cited the forum Fashion-Incubator many times. The forum moderator over there, Kathleen F, is also the author of the National Bankruptcy Day blog. She met personally with the head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, so I feel like she does have some credentials behind her. When I go read, like another small WAHM I know, I sure do feel like "a little fish in a BIG pond."

Textiles have been specifically excluded in part of the law. Under section 104 they are NOT considered durable goods. Section 104 applies to durable goods. Durable goods has been defined by the CPSC as having rigid parts. Ie: high chairs, strollers, cribs. Also they are considered to last a long time. Apparel and slings do not. However, section 104 applies ONLY to the testing for phthalates. Another important piece of information is that the phthalates law is not retroactive. Meaning it applies to new products going forward.

Section 101 is regarding lead testing. It *absolutely* applies to textiles and apparel as it stands right now. Not only that, but it is retroactive. Meaning, it applies to ANY children's products, not just newly manufactured ones. It applies to the dress you wore as a baby and was handed down. In my understanding (and I admit it is limited), this doesn't mean it is illegal for you to own these products and have them in your house, but rather when you are done with them YOU MAY NOT SELL THEM. They are garbage. In order to sell them, you must have a certificate showing that the products you wish to sell are in compliance with the lead limits laws. Thanks to Courtney for posting this link for me:
http://www.cpsc.gov/library/foia/advisory/320.pdf

"However, Congress stated that children's products that did not meet the new lead limits would be treated as "a banned hazardous substance" under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act as of February 10, 2009, and made it unlawful "to sell, offer for sale, manufacture for sale, distribute in commerce, or import into the United States" any banned hazardous substance."

Anyone breaking this law, even someone selling in the private sector such as a garage sale, can be indicted (is that the right word?) for breaking the law. As absurd as that seems, it *could* happen. Of course, I'm sure there will not be cops patrolling neighborhoods and shutting people down. The thought, the technical part of the law, is what scares me. Probably if you were a lawyer you would not dream of violating the law, because you would understand what I'm saying.

To reiterate: The lead limits DO apply to apparel. A representative on the phone (sorry, I know, no written proof) from CPS confirmed that they consider cloth diapers to be apparel. Even if they don't this law still impacts me, since I depend on the second-hand stores and garage sales to buy clothing and other items for my children.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

FYI

Just another FYI (are you sick of me yet?). Used clothing and toys will also be banned "hazardous material" as of February 10th. (At least, according to the information here.) It will no longer be legal to sell USED children's products as of that date, either. Goodbye Goodwill, Savers, Once Upon a Child, GARAGE SALES, etc. Right now those stores are focusing on the toys, but the reality is that clothing is also affected.

Are you taking this seriously? The "big companies" are not the watchdogs that can change this law. It's us consumers that make up the grassroots. :(

My friend Denise recieved an email response from one of her senators in Ohio, Sherrod Brown. I found the letter belittling and infuriating. The defense of the law under the pretense of caring for children. Here is an excerpt:

"The negative health effects of both these substances have been
extensively documented and studied. Research has found phthalates
exposure linked to decreased fertility capacity in men, premature
birth in women, and asthma symptoms in children. In 2005, a
University of Rochester School of Medicine study found that pregnant
women with high levels of phthalates in their urine were more likely
to give birth to boys with birth defects in their reproductive
systems.

Ingestion and inhalation of lead has long been known to cause damage
to the nervous system, with young children especially vulnerable.
Lead poisoning can cause blood and brain disorders, as well as
gastrointestinal, reproductive, and kidney problems. Although the
number of children with elevated blood lead levels has decreased over
the past several decades, the treatment of lead poisoning accounts
for the vast majority of the $43.4 billion spent on pediatric
environmental disease."

Grrrrrrr.......

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

More on CPSIA

Thank you, everyone, for your support and encouragement. I appreciate it so much.

I was directed to some helpful resources today. Courtney posted a great link on her blog:
http://nationalbankruptcyday.com/

This linked me to a forum with answers to many questions I have immediately:
http://fashion-incubator.com/phpbb/viewforum.php?f=32&sid=c634f21d1edb4041a405f8cd79aae63e

Finally, Mitch and I just finished watching these videos. If you don't have time to watch, there is a VERY important point about bankruptcy mentioned in the 3rd video, beginning at about 3 min. He noted something I have only begun to thought about: when I take inventory of my fabrics on December 31, I really need to take into account what is actually "salable." So I have to talk to my accountant (a family friend) about this. Unfortunately, my accountant had not heard about the laws until Mitch talked to him tonight. I'm sure this is what MANY people are going to experience as they go to their accountants for help.

Rick Woldenburg speaking before a CPSC panel on 11-6-08. Rick Woldenburg is a manager for the company Learning Resources, and I'm sure if you visit their website you'll recognize their logo. They are a huge supplier of school science kits.







In completely different news, I head to the doctor tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon for my 20-week appointment, and Friday afternoon we all go for the ultrasound. I'm very excited!!

Down but not Out

I've had lots of questions, so I'll try to answer them a little. I'm confused, too, so hang in there. :)

First off, in MN our congressmen are not on the subcommittee. But we can contact our congressman to ask how this affects us (small-business owners). Mitch suggested calling and asking rather than just sounding off (which is what *I* would do, LOL). Do they realize how this affects small manufacturers? If an amendment is presented to Congress, then our congressmen and women would know our thoughts and would (hopefully) vote accordingly. I didn't study hard enough in government class, obviously.

Secondly, this is ALREADY a law. Now we just have to lobby to have it amended or overturned. But otherwise it's already a done deal. How did they pass this one under our noses like that??

Next, this is for my dad: Hi Dad! Congressman Rick Boucher is on the subcommittee. The hearing scheduled for today was canceled, but hopefully it will be rescheduled soon. I know you know him. Even *I* know him. :) [A side note: I met him when I was in high school.] The most important request we have regarding the CPSIA is that small manufacturers (making less than $1 million/year) be excluded from the act in some way. At the very least, if the manufacturers are operating within the United States and using components that have already been tested, they should be excluded.

Another part I did not mention are the new flammability requirements. I haven't even STARTED to read these. I do know that under the requirements some fabrics are excluded. But if I wanted to put something like sherpa or cotton velour on the outside of a diaper it MUST be tested. These types of diapers are wildly popular. *Cry* Again, I think that there must be some exclusions made for small manufacturers. Or it would be cool if I could say on my site somewhere, "Not intended for use without a protective cover." This would be helpful because polyester fabrics, smooth fabrics (like cotton wovens), wool fabrics, and acrylics are excluded from the flammability tests (I think).

Not out, yet. But I don't know where it leaves me. While talking with Mitch yesterday we discussed the whole scope of industries this impacts. I mentioned the Build-A-Bear Workshop. How can a company like that survive? The end product obviously can't be tested. So is the workshop only selling "components" then a service to help you put the bear together? In that case, as a custom diaper manufacturer, can't I sell the components (fabric, snaps, thread, etc) that have passed testing regulations, then as a service sew them together? Especially since 90% of my customers go through this whole selection process anyways. Someone did say to me yesterday that if a customer sends me their own fabric then the end product would not fall under the requirement (obviously) since I am selling my service, not a product. In that case, then, would the customer have to send me ALL fabric parts of the diaper, snaps, and thread? Even so, it is a possibility and something I've been mulling over.

It still doesn't help me solve the problems of fabric inventory I have here. I'm hoping that most of the fabrics that I have lots of (yards and yards of each color of cotton velour, for example) have certificates that I can obtain from the manufacturer. According to the Federal Trade Association (FTA) rules for listing fabric content on a label, if you have a garment made from a remnant, or purchase a remnant fabric from a store, it does not have to have the content labeled exactly. You would say something like "cotton/poly blend". Diapers are specifically excluded from any labeling at all. Could some similar exclusion be made for the remnants in my inventory that were bought domestically IN a fabric store?

How does the CPS hope to even regulate this? I can get manufacturer certificates for fabrics I buy through coops (most of these fabrics have been imported). But how do I get certificates for fabrics I buy at Joann's? What about on ebay/etsy? Do they reasonably hope to regulate this traffic, or are they saying, "If you make a product for sale, you can not buy from unknown sources (ebay, garage sales, etc)." Again, someone just WASN'T thinking.

Mitch told me I should just sell all my diapers as "used." I'm pretty sure that's not legal, but again how are they going to regulate it? This is all so frustrating!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Certain Death for Pampered Cheeks and many other small businesses

I have put off blogging about this. I'm so frustrated and concerned and confused that mostly I don't know where to begin. I'm sure I won't speak clearly or concisely enough about this subject to help you understand the seriousness of it or motivate you to contact your congressman, but I will try.

On August 14, 2008 Congress passed a law called the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). This new law covers any product intended for use by children under 12 years old. The purpose of the act is to prevent lead and phthalates in children's products. Read more here.

Sounds good. I mean, we sure went through a lot of stress over all the toy recalls. It was scary to think that (mainly china-made) toys were full of lead that could cause brain damage and learning delays in our children. Finding and weeding out these toys were a hassle. Stores suffered as they had to reduce their inventory.

Here is why the new law is bad. It went into effect in November. There was little or no warning. I didn't know about the law until after the fact. I have until February 10th to comply with the law. What does it mean to comply with the law? Certainly I would NOT sell diapers that I thought contained lead!!

The law requires that each product be tested by an independent third party lab. Every different style of diaper would need to be tested. Every different fabric combination that I want to sell. I make hundreds of diapers, and every one is different!! This is impossible. The tests will run at a minimum of $400 each, up to thousands of dollars. I can't afford to test even just ONE style of diaper and then reasonably expect to sell that diaper with no other choices available to customers. It goes against how I have built my business. But even $400 to test one diaper is not financially feasable...I just don't make that much money. If I did test one diaper, and could reasonably expect to sell enough to cover my costs, I WOULD certainly have to pass the costs on to the customer.

Every other diaper maker is going to do the same.
Every other toy/children's product/apparel/book/etc maker is going to do the same.
The law applies to everyone.
It applies to grandpa who makes little wooden toys to sell at craft fairs.
It applies to the small business owner who sells locally.
It applies to the small business owner who sells on the internet.
It applies to etsy, ebay, hyena cart, etc.
It applies to discovery toys, usborne books, pampered chef, tupperware, etc.
It applies to fisher price, mattel, and other big companies too.
It applies to everyone who sells any product for use by children under 12 years old.

Here is another frustrating fact: all the fabrics that I buy either made in the U.S. or imported have ALREADY UNDERGONE these lead tests. Unfortunately, I STILL have to test my finished product. It is SO UNFAIR. It is so much socialism/communist CRAP that I can't stand it. I have yards and yards and yards of fabric in my sewing room. I cannot sew and sell all the diapers before February 10th.

The fine is $100,000 and jail time for EACH violation of the new law.

How many stores have rows and rows of inventory that have not been tested AND properly labeled? Boxes of inventory stuffed into warehouses?

What will happen to our economy when all the small business infrastructure begins to collapse and prices raise? What will happen when stores clearance out their children's products the week before Feb. 10th? How many toys, etc, will go into landfills?

What were our lawmakers thinking? Or were they?

Here's what you can do (copy and paste from a group I am on).

There is a subcommittee hearing on
this on Wednesday, Dec. 10. If you are from the states of IL, NC, GA, IN,
MA, VA, NY, CO, TX, AR, OR, LA, MI, FL, TX, KY, MS, CA, PA, NE, or TN, you
have representatives from your state on the subcommittee, and these will be
the people who will be able to make a difference. You can see the committee
members here:
http://energycommer ce.house. gov/index. php?option= com_frontpage& Itemid=81(click
on members tab). I truly believe that we can make a difference if we
let our reps know this is important to our businesses. Thanks for reading-
Shannon

Dear Friends of Earnest Efforts -

We are writing to inform you of action taken by Congress to pass the
HR4040 or the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) created by the
CPSA (Consumer Product Safety Commission). We are pleased that Congress
passed a bill to protect our children from toys containing lead
and phthalates and addressing other safety issues, however, parts of this
bill will directly effect all small handmade toy makers and store owners in
a way that could put many of us, who make child safety and the environment
our top priority, out of business.

The CPSIA rules now require that all toys be tested, including natural
handmade toys, and at a cost of $4000.00 per toy. This cost would put us
out of business. We would also be required to label each toy with a
permanent batch label. This is another cost that could force us out of
business.

We are asking everyone to act quickly by contacting the CPSC and your
congress person or senator. Tell them that you are concerned that the CPSIA
will have a detrimental effect on small business owners and ask that they
provide third party testing at no charge for small toy makers and remove
requirements for batch labeling.

Dan Marshall from Peapods Natural Toys in St. Paul has created a website
where we can go to read the rules of the CPSIA, a proposal to improve the
CPSIA and a sample letter you can send to your congress person or senator.
The website is www.handmadetoyalli ance.org. This act goes into effect on 12
February 2009, so we ask you to please act quickly to protect our handmade
toys. The following are the regulations that directly effect handmade toy
makers and threaten to put us out of business.

* Third party testing charges of $4000.00 per toy.
* Batch labeling each individual toy on the toy itself.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and we sincerely
appreciate your help.

Please, please, please pass the word. It means so much to me, my family, and to your own.

If this law stands, I will have no choice but to discontinue sewing diapers for sell. I won't even have a decent market to sell off all my fabric inventory. :'( This was so unexpected.

The good news is I've already started digitizing my patterns for sale. So I guess you'll have to learn how to sew your own!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Half Baked!!

20 weeks today. Showing a little growth since Thanksgiving. (Thanks to the cheesecake).


And just for giggles I put on the same shirt I had on for my 20-week pg pic with Malachi. My tummy definitely looks different!! Only a couple days left to vote. I can't WAIT for my ultrasound on Friday! :)


Um...why does my tummy look so different/smaller in the bottom picture (peachy-colored shirt) than it does up above in the 20-week pic?? They were both taken the same day--one right after the other. Ok, well, I did have to *run* downstairs to find the peachy colored shirt in between photos. LOL. Any thoughts???

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Finished!


Yay--I just finished Malachi's blanket. 2 years later. But I met my "new" deadline--I got it done before my ultrasound on Friday. Now sometime after my u/s, I will start a blanket for the new baby. :) I know MJ is going to love his blanket. He would try to pull it off my lap anytime he could while I was working on it. It was a pain in the butt to do because I had to switch colors at the end of EVERY row (and I couldn't just leave the thread attached and work it in...it had to be finished off at every row). So Malachi was often tempted to steal the blanket when I was between rows because then it was no longer attached to anything. Not that he cared a whole lot--he was also happy to pull out my work to get to the end of the row. That is all no more--it's finished now! I'll wrap it up and give it to him for Christmas. :)

Busy Times

We had a busy weekend! Mitch worked this weekend. I was doing our monthly calendar and just about freaked when I realized that Christmas is less than 3 weeks away. This comes on the heels of having a bad dream that we "forgot" to decorate for Christmas. It was all the motivation I needed: the burst of energy drove me to grab Micah and head for the decorations hidden in the garage attic. We drug out the heavy tree, decorations box, and other assorted boxes all by ourselves. I knew I probably did too much, so once we wrestled the heavy stuff inside I parked myself on the couch and had the kids do the rest. They moved furniture, vacuumed, and even carried the heavy tree up the stairs by themselves! Ok, well I did a *little* furniture moving. But they were a huge help. I'm relieved to have the tree up and it actually looking like Christmas around here, but I do have a little anxiety about all the things we would like to get done this season (don't we all?). There's not enough time to do it "all." Here are some pics I snapped of the tree:






We got a pretty good blanket of snow today (about 1 inch). It looks nice outside. The roads are icy, though. It's very cold outside (barely got up to 12 degrees today), and it doesn't look much warmer for the next 10 days. Looks like the snow is here to stay! The Farmer's Almanac said this would be a bitterly cold winter. So much for global warming.

Well, my kids are not cooperating with the "clean up and get ready for bed" instructions I just gave them, so I need to go deal with the chaos. More later! (Yeah, in my head...LOL) Our paper star on top has a special story, but I'll have to save it for a different time.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Never Done That Before!!

I had an interesting day today. Something happened that has never happened before. It's like Mitch & I have this little competition going over who can burn the pans in the kitchen or something. I told him that even though he's very competitive, he doesn't *really* have to try to top this one. :)

We had hard boiled eggs on the menu for snack today. So I got those eggs out and put them on the stove to boil. I was really looking forward to them (egg craving I guess). To make the eggs, I put the eggs in cold water, bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to just simmering, cover with a lid, and simmer for 15-20 min. So I did just that--I put them in the pan to boil. In the meantime, I was going to feed the baby a bottle. So I got her bottle ready, and walked away. I decided to look through addresses to figure out what to do for Christmas cards. I got engrossed in that. 20 minutes later I began to emerge from the computer room, happy baby in tow, and I heard a "pop". Caleb was sitting at the table working. He shouted, "Mom, I just heard a pop, and I smell smoke!" (Catches on fast, doesn't he?). I walk into the kitchen just in time to see an egg explode (with resounding "pop") all over the kitchen. I quickly grabbed the pan and moved it away from the stove, then moved the baby to safety. LOL. Then I went back to the still exploding eggs and put the pan in the sink and poured cold water over it. My error was I had not stayed to watch and turn the heat down. All the water had boiled out of the pan, and the eggs were still sitting there heating up, which caused them to scorch and explode. Wow, did it stink. It was such a mess. But I've never done that before!! Thankfully (this time) our pan cleaned up reasonably well. It didn't melt the bottom of the pan like the time when I boiled all the water out of the carrots. That was pretty cool-looking.

I thought about taking a picture to show you, then figured it wasn't really all that blog-worthy. I took this one instead:



This is a candle that Mitch bought me for my birthday from The Yankee Candle Company. I love that store. :) This particular flavor is red apple wreath, and it reminds me of an air freshener that my grandmother Phyllis Cunningham always used each morning.

It sure helped clear the air after my egg incident.

Speaking of my birthday, I definitely had a wonderful one. Thank you to all the well wishers who sent me emails, posts on facebook, cards, or calls! We had an active group of people over for the day on Saturday to play games. There were a lot of kids running around (yes, more than normal), and the adults crowded around the table for a variety of games. We set out a buffet of snack foods, which helped get rid of *some* of the Thanksgiving leftovers, thankfully! We played until around 5:30ish pm. Then Mitch's sister Holly came over to watch our kids while we went out--YES--to Mexican Village.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Durango. The waitress told me to order something else the next time that has the fundido sauce on it too, but I can't think of what it was (and have no idea how long until the "next time" it will be anyways). I can always ask...I'll never forget the fundido sauce! Go figure--it has cream cheese in it. Boy, do I have a cream cheese fettish! Mitch made a mysterious bathroom trip and while he was gone ordered me a surprise virgin pina colada...my favorite!!! It was delicious and as I sipped I wish I could make the moment last forever. :) I've never had one with alcohol, even not pg, by the way...and pretty sure I'm not missing anything! The fried ice cream was perfect (after I made Mitch eat off the whipped topping...gotta try to remember to order it without) as well. Afterwards we went to the mall to check on a couple Christmas gifts (xbox controllers for the kids' xbox). And that's where we bought my new candle (and a couple others). It's a gift our whole family can enjoy.

Especially if I keep cooking.

Ha!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Recipes by Request

I'm so glad you asked!!

The cheesecake recipe is a combination of a couple recipes I found online. I liked some of both, so I combined the two. One is from kraftfoods.com and the other from verybestbaking.com.

Turtle Cheesecake
Ingredients:
2 cups oreo chocolate cookie crumbs
6 tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
1 bag (14 oz) kraft caramels
1/2 cup milk
1 cup pecan pieces (I used walnuts instead)
3 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups (9 oz) chocolate chips
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (or improvise)

Preheat oven to 325 F if using a silver 9-inch springform pan (or to 300 if using a dark nonstick springform pan).

Mix crumbs and butter; press firmly onto the bottom and 2 inches up the side of pan.

Place caramels and milk in a small microwavable bowl. Microwave on high 3 minutes or until caramels are completely melted, stirring after each minute. Stir in pecans/walnuts. Pour half of the caramel mixture into crust. Refrigerate 10 min. Cover and refrigerate remaining caramel mixture for later use.

Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended.

Microwave 1 1/2 c. morsels in medium, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on high power for 1 min; stir. The morsels may retain some of their shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring just until morsels are melted. Stir 2 cups of cheese cake batter into melted morsels, mix well.

Alternately spoon batters into crust, beginning and ending with yellow batter.

Bake 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes or until center is almost set. Run knife or metal spatula around side of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing side of pan. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

Microwave reserved caramel mixture on high 1 minute; stir. Pour over cheesecake. Sprinkle with mini morsels. OR melt chocolate (more chocolate chips or even semi-sweet chocolate squares) according to package directions and drizzle over cheesecake.

**My own notes:
Put a "drip pan" like a cookie sheet on the rack under the cheesecake. My butter *leaked* out of the springform pan and made a smelly mess on the bottom of the oven before I realized what was going on.

I didn't use all the caramel mixture. I saved it and served it along with brownies today. Yum.

If you bake the cheesecake too long, it will be really dry at the edges and less flavorful. I know the worry is that it won't get "done" in the center, but I found that the 1 hour 5-10 min baking time was just perfect...even in my imperfect oven. This was a very easy cheesecake, and I am not even CLOSE to an expert cheesecake maker.

If you don't have a springform pan, you should be able to make this in a regular 9x13 pan. Just line it with foil running both directions so that you can lift the cheesecake out later (makes for easier serving). If you do this, you will need to adjust the baking times (and I have no idea how much).

Wassail
I love this. The first time I had it was when my step-mom's sisters brought it for Thanksgiving dinner. I remember what a big deal we all made out of it. It's so simple, though

1 Gal Apple Cider
27 (or so) whole cloves
8 cinnamon sticks
1 qt pineapple juice
1 can froz orange juice concentrate

Mix the ingredients together and heat until as warm as desired. I usually let it simmer all day. I haven't found a way to get the leftovers to keep (it gets stronger and stronger, plus heating it all day contributes), so we throw any away at the end of the day that is unused.

When I was looking for a "good" recipe, I came across lots of stories of traditional wassail. That's fun to read/research. I liked this recipe because it's very simple with ingredients that are easy to get. The flavor is just right, and we have used it for several years now.

To answer another question, the students we had over were part of the international program at our local university. We heard about it through other church members who promote the program, but it is NOT a religious or church-affiliated program. I think the university would have big issues if they thought it was associated that way. :) They have other programs available too beyond Thanksgiving, but we had never gotten our act together to participate. Now that we have these four students that we've fallen in love with, I think we will try to do more things with them. In fact, we bought some fleece to make blankets for each of them and hope to invite them over as soon as finals are done. I know they will love it!

Friday, November 28, 2008

My Heart is Full

My heart is SO full. We had such a blessed Thanksgiving celebration yesterday!! I wanted to share some photos with you, and a little of the story.

Mitch picked up "our" students at 10 am. They are all from Nepal. I was sooooo nervous. My first thought when I saw them approaching the door was "They are beautiful!" With dark hair and eyes, they do have a more "Indian" complexion. {For those of you whose geography skills are as poor as mine, Nepal is sandwiched between China and Northern India. Mt. Everest in is Nepal.} Names were exchanged rapidly and I figured I would never get them right! We handed out name tags (yay Mitch for thinking of that), and that helped. We asked the students to come early if they wanted to help with the meal preparation. So we got started with that right away. We made munchies first--homemade chex mix and muddy buddies. This was a big hit. We showed them around the house and tried to keep the kids from all talking at once. They loved the kids instantly. We explained EVERYTHING as we went along. They had expressed interest in learning about our culture, so we really took this angle and ran with it. We pulled out kids pictures depicting the Thanksgiving story and explained the tradition. A nervous question was asked, "It's not a religious holiday is it?" We were able to keep rolling right through and explained that religious freedom is one of the main reasons why settlers came to America in the first place, so yes, it is a religious holiday. But only for some. We continued with the history of the first thanksgiving, explaining how the settlers had been starving. The first feast was a true feast...it's all about eating AND giving thanks. A little while later I took the opportunity to share, in diluted form, a story Ann Voskamp recently posted on her blog. Giving Thanks without specifically saying WHO you are giving thanks to is like putting a letter in the mailbox but not putting an address on it. Then as the day went along we prayed before our meal with no trouble and Mitch had the opportunity on the drive home to once again say how thankful we are to God for all He has provided for us. It was seamless, and not uncomfortable (I worried that it might be). We just were US. We didn't put on airs. We didn't try to be who we were not. We were ourselves.


Mitch expertly carving the turkey. I should have gotten the whole "spread" in this pic.

After our dinner, we all cleaned up together and sat around and played games. There were no shortage of willing children to play games! One student is a music major, so I brought out my dad's mandolin. He had never seen one before, but he tuned it and gave it a try. He loved it and came back to playing it several times. He did very well for it being the first time he had ever picked it up! After we thought our food had settled enough, I brought out dessert. Right at this time (good timing!) Holly and her boyfriend Kyle came over. They brought some dessert too (a custard pie). For dessert I had made (both from scratch) a pumpkin pie and a turtle cheesecake. Not even the crusts were store bought (though the pumpkin was canned, lol). I don't like pumpkin pie, so I'll have to take Kyle's word for it that it "looked and tasted just like pumpkin pie!" LOL. We let the students sample each and their favorite was the cheesecake. I have to agree! It was so rich and delicious.


We had homemade wassail in the crockpot brewing all day. It was delicious also!

Boy, do those desserts look good, or what!



Not long after dessert was over we gathered for more pictures, and it was time to say goodbye (around 6 pm). This was the hardest. No one wanted to go. We have promised to keep in touch. One student is a computer science major, and I offered to help with studying for her calculus final. We offered to help them with rides or even just to have them over again any time they want. We would like to try to invite them over at least once a month just for games and food.


Holly took this excellent group photo. Kyle and Mitch are wearing hats the students brought as gifts for us.

I am SO glad we did this. It was a wonderful experience. Like I said at the beginning of the post, my heart is full. I could write more and more about the day. The students were so warm and gracious. My heart breaks to think of them here all alone in this strange country. They said we were the nicest people they had met so far. There are so many people in St. Cloud who are just as nice and even nicer than we are.

Today I'm just chillin'. The closest we went to shopping on black Friday was buying a newspaper to look through the ads. We saw quite a few things that we would "like to have" but nothing that could convince me to get up early or brave the cold even now at a modest 9:44 am. I think a nap sounds good. Doesn't it?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey in the Oven

Hehe...I love the play on words!

Here is an 18-week 3-day belly shot BEFORE I chow down this afternoon. Hmmm...maybe I'll post an "after" shot later.

Yeah, right. ;)


I haven't had much change in the past two weeks, huh? That's because it ALL went into my hips. They have spread apart quite a bit!! I am feeling movement now, too, have been (for sure) for a little over a week--yay! I only feel movement on the lower left side (the side facing the camera, not too far above my left hand). That's exactly where the doctor always finds the heartbeat too. To me, my uterus feels "higher" on the right side, and at first that's where I thought the baby was (and where she would find the hb). So now I'm thinking *maybe* the placenta is on that side??? Maybe it won't even be low-lying this time!! I'll find out for sure in two weeks when I go for my ultrasound. I can't wait!

Wishing you all a VERY Happy Thanksgiving! It's my favorite holiday. :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Birthday Soon...

It's going to be my birthday soon (next Saturday), and you know I DO like to celebrate a little. I've been joking for a few years now that I'll be 29 forever, therefore every year (since #29) we celebrate my "golden birthday". This year is no exception.

The emails are already rolling in. I was surprised by my inbox this morning and I had to chuckle. So many people wanting to wish me a Happy Birthday, and they're all a little early!! So here are some of the well-wishers:

Old Country Buffet: Free buffet with the purchase of an adult buffet
Perkins: Free slice of fresh-baked Perkins Pie for you AND your spouse with the purchase of an entree
Red Lobster: $5 off two adult dinner entrees
Arby's: Free regular roast beef sandwich with the purchase of a medium fry and drink at full price
Another still to come from Cold Stone Creamery: a free very small ice cream in a bowl (no additional purchase necessary)...I know this one is coming because we have everyone in the family signed up for it and thus have made a few runs to CSC this year.

I had NO idea I had signed up on so many websites. Goodness!! (No wonder I get so much spam mail, too, huh?).

The one I'm most looking forward to requires no email--it's a free entree from Mexican Village, and that includes fried ice cream for dessert. THAT is the best value out there, in my opinion. I can already taste the Durango with their special fundida sauce now. Or just thinking about the free chips and salsa makes my mouth water. :) I hope Mitch gets a sitter--to take advantage of this great deal we have to go on my actual birthday. I've been looking forward to it ALL year!! Hehe.

So anyways. I thought I would put this out there as sort of a funny and also if you see any thing up there that *you* would like for your birthday, go sign up!

Oh--here's another freebie, albeit a one-time thing and not a birthday thing--Dr. Pepper is giving away a free 20 oz pop to every person in the US. To get a coupon, you have to log on on Sunday (Nov. 23) to their website. It will only be there for 24 hours. You can read the story on Fox News. Or visit the Dr. Pepper website here.

Hmmm...you think Pepsi would send such a loyal customer a free 20 oz pop on her birthday...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

No Lice!!

I just wanted to update to say that we never did see any little buggies here. Yay!! All the laundry is done, thanks to Mitch doing a large part of folding and putting away. :) It took more than 4 days. Today we are going to bring the pillows and stuffed animals back in the house. The risk is minimal at this point since we never actually got infested, and also we've had a week of freezing temperatures that probably helps kill anything that may be there.

I'm feeling better every day. The nausea still comes and goes, but it seems that it will either be here one day or not be here, so instead of feeling a little nauseous every day I'm only getting it some days. I'm still pretty exhausted, though.

This week *may* be going by a little faster than I thought it would. I'm glad it's already Wednesday. I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving next week. It's my favorite holiday, and we have so much to be thankful for! We are hosting some international students from St. Cloud State University for Thanksgiving dinner. We may not be able to go to other nations (right now), but we are blessed to live in a town where the other nations come right to us!! There are many, many students who would like to have somewhere to go for dinner, and very few host homes. If you live in the St. Cloud area, call SCSU and ask about the program. :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Another Hink Pink

So here are some fun ones we came up with one day when trying to give the kids clues that I was pregnant (they didn't take the hint):

What do you say to a woman who might be pregnant?

Maybe Baby

What do you say if you hope if the baby is a girl?

Think Pink

What do you say if the baby is a boy?

Boohoo Blue

I'm kidding of course. I had my 16-week doctor appt. yesterday. I had gained 4.8 lbs since my last visit, and 11.2 lbs total to weigh 133.something. It's a little more than I wanted to, but what else can I do? I'm probably not going to give up my high-calorie snacking ways. I gave up Pepsi, what more can I say??? :) My blood pressure was low as always, 110/60. She asked how I felt (everyone asked how I felt), but honestly I was so happy to be there and hear the heartbeat that I was feeling great at the moment. I have been feeling exhausted, still a little nauseous especially in the evenings (right at supper time--oh goody), and having frequent headaches. I asked the doctor if it's alright to be taking tylenol 2-3 times per week and she thought I was going to say 2-3 times per day. Yeah, per day would be a little too much. Per week is ok, she said. I said, you know, you read so much and then it is contradictory and then you just sit and worry. Frustrating. I already know that the headaches are due in part to increased blood volume and that is also affecting my sinuses. It's also due in part to the on again-off again Pepsi thing I've got going on (I do allow myself about one per week, and then drink it over a 2-day span). Oh, am I rambling on? Should I get on with it already??

The baby is still a stinker. I barely heard the heartbeat before lots of static and then my own heartbeat. The doctor kept trying to find it, moving all over, and we'd briefly and unclearly hear it before it would be gone again. Finally she found it. It was 145, 146, then 147 bpm. It was really, really low in my uterus! The fun part was that I got to schedule my 20-week ultrasound. It's going to be on December 12th. Hopefully Mitch will get to come, since I scheduled it after daycare is over.

Since I keep detailed records, here is some fun trivia for you comparing my pregnancy with Eden (my only girl) to my pregnancy with Malachi. In the other pregnancies I went to a doctor that did not tell me the heartrate, so I only know theirs from the ultrasounds.

Eden at 17 weeks:
Gained 7 lbs so far to weigh 118.
Blood pressure: 110/55
Heartrate: 136 bpm



Malachi at 17 weeks:
Gained 4 lbs so far to weigh 129.4 lbs
Blood pressure: 98/40
Heartrate: 140s
I had a very itchy rash all over my legs and nothing seemed to work. It got better later with good lotion, but it was still there until I had him.
This pic is technically 18 weeks, but it's the closest one I have. The next closest is 20 weeks.


And today's (16 w 4 day) belly shot,I need to brush my hair so I cropped out my head! Mitch is a good stand-in, right?:


So, now that you have more details, go VOTE in the side bar. If you need to change your vote, you can do that too. :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Louse House

Ever played the game of hink pinks? A hink pink is a riddle whose answer is two rhyming words. For example, what do you call an overweight feline? Fat Cat.

Here's another one, a little more difficult now:
What do you call a home for people who are infested with insects that live in their hair?
Louse House.

Ahem.

Our home.

Yes, I realize that was not funny. Neither was the phone call we got from a daycare parent this morning, saying that their family has been infected with the little buggies. That meant her child had been here yesterday INFECTED and possibly left a few little "friends" behind. And I have no idea how many days before that too. We don't have a policy for this. In fact, I don't think it EVER entered the realm of possibilities for me. I mean, it's not even possible that our family could get Lice! Do you realize how much cleaning and chaos that would require? I do NOT like chaos. I like order. I was pretty close to panicking, and Mitch was contemplating what kinds of drugs the doctor might prescribe me if he had to call her. LOL.

We already had two daycare kids here. We met the next family at the door and gave them the option of leaving while they had the chance. They took it. Then we turned to research. We immediately combed the internet and desperately tried to come up with a game plan that would work. We checked heads. Good. No lice or nits spotted. We stripped the beds and took any clothing from the floors and put it down the chute. In fact, we took every blanket from everywhere that may have been used in the past couple days and sent them to the laundry room. Pretty soon we had an impassable pile. Then we began vacuuming the "safe" rooms. The rooms that daycare children don't go in as often. This would be the place where we would take blankets after they were clean. We moved every piece of furniture in these rooms and vacuumed everywhere. We even vacuumed the mattresses. Still no bugs spotted. We put tea tree oil in a shampoo bottle and everyone got a good head washing. We read that the bugs don't like the smell of tea tree oil, so it's a good preventative measure. At this point we considered ourselves still in "preventing" stage, though my head is itching uncontrollably. Next we proceeded to bag up every cloth toy that would not get a chance to be washed and put it in the garage. We also put all the unused blankets in the garage--if they hadn't been used in the past couple days, we can survive a couple weeks without them. At this point *I'm* actually praying for freezing cold weather! We continued to vacuum every inch of the house, moving toys and furniture and giving it a very thorough cleaning. And we get to do it all again TOMORROW! Yipee. Not. Well, we won't do all the washing again. But the vacuuming will happen for sure. I'm not done with the laundry yet. Here is a photo after I tried to make some sense of the mess that was in the laundry room. Oye Vey.



There are no less than 12 loads here. I've done 6 so far and there is still a mess to go. And let me tell you: 59 min on the washing machine does not mean 59 REAL minutes. It's actually longer than that. Sigh. Oh, we did make sure MJ didn't carry any bugs from the pile to the rest of the *clean* house.

It's 12 hours later now, and still no sign of any bugs or nits. Let's pray that it stays that way and none of us have to have more serious treatment. At least we'll all have clean hair for a change!! I'm still quite a bit paranoid. After supper I asked Mitch to check my head again. You know, just to be sure. It was too funny. He said my scalp was so pale. For whatever reason that made him sick to his stomach. Hahaha.

Friday, November 07, 2008

A Little Fun...to Lighten the Mood

First, I think it's safe to say I "popped". Here is my 15 w 3 d belly pic. My tummy yesterday morning looked so funny! I think I'm carrying differently, but it's a little early to tell for sure. I made both the shirt (it's an undershirt) and the jeans!

Next, Kristin has been crocheting baby hats, and that reminded me of all the cute newborn pics I see on the message boards of newborns wearing adorable hats...unlike the ones my hospital uses...and I got a wild hair that I wanted to knit a hat. So I did. My stitches are terribly uneven! It's pretty funny. I'm good at crochet, but not so much at knit. We are using this doll to model because Kristin & I measured her head and it's the same circumference as an "average" newborn.

The yarn is very special. It was my grandmother's. :)


I had some cotton yard that I LOVE and I really wanted to try again making another hat. I felt bad using *blue* yarn, because I'm convinced I'm having a girl. ;) {Don't forget to vote!} But I love the yarn that I did it anyways. Well, it is 4-ply yarn and the pattern calls for 3-ply. Also it's just heavier, and it doesn't have as good of recovery as acrylic yarn does. Therefore, something strange happened and it ended up plenty big enough to fit Malachi! Isn't it adorable???

I don't feel so bad after all now.

Finally, Mitch was browsing You Tube the other day and came across this WILDLY popular video. If you haven't seen it yet, you are in for a treat. Here is a kudos to brothers!!

"Charlie bit my finger"

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Thoughts...

First of all, thanks for everyone who has voted so far on the gender poll! It's way too much fun. Mitch (who thinks this baby is a boy) has accused me (who thinks the baby *may* actually be a girl) of somehow messing with the numbers or guilting you into voting "girl". I assured him I have not!

Next, I have been strangely quiet this political season. I will not deny that the results of the election were largely a disappointment to me. It was not Republicans who lost yesterday. It was unborn babies. :( This verse has been a great comfort to me today:
Romans 8:28
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Barak Obama may be President-Elect, but Jesus is still KING!!

Finally, if there is any doubt in your mind that there *might* be a reason to EVER abort a child or do induced labor abortion, please watch this video. It may make you cry. They showed it at our church for Sanctity of Life and I bawled. It's incredible. Mitch and I have discussed different scenarios at length, even ectopic pregnancy, and we will never terminate a pregnancy or do an early induction, no matter how bleak the prognosis. We will never really know the pain without walking down that road. I'm grateful for people who make incredible videos like this that MAGNIFY God's perfect goodness. I can't even begin to understand, but I cling to hope.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Gender Poll

For fun I put a gender poll in the sidebar. I hope to find out the gender of the baby in early December, but the ultrasound is not scheduled yet so I'm not sure exactly when. It will definitely be fun to see what you guess. Come on, lots of guesses please!! :)

Auto Pilot

It is totally normal to have weird dreams while you are pregnant. I really have some interesting ones! My dream last night left me with a somber thought.

I dreamed I was going home from somewhere, in the truck, with just the youngest 3 children: Zeke, Josh, and Malachi. I was driving along a 4-lane road that is undivided and the speed limit is 35 mph. In my dream I realized Malachi still needed to be buckled in, so I put the truck's cruise control on, then climbed back into the seat next to him and proceeded to buckle him in. Next I realized that traffic in front of the truck was moving slower than I was. I *slightly* bumped the car in front of me (which happened to be Mike Gewecke's car, if you recognize that name! Sorry Mike!!) and the truck veered into the left-hand lane where traffic was moving along a little quicker. Suddenly the road we were on was not the same road, but that doesn't matter in a dream, now does it? Neither did curves, since the truck seemed to be taking those just fine too. I climbed back into the driver's seat just in time to slam on the brakes (good brakes) as the cars in front of me stopped to make a left turn. Such a weird dream. And it seemed so logical in my sub consciousness.

Now here's the somber thought: How many of us parents go through life on auto pilot? We don't know how to handle the tough issues that our kids face, especially as they head into adolescence, therefore we close our eyes and hope they make it through just fine? As Micah nears 12 years old, I've been reading every book I can find on the subject. We absolutely can NOT afford to close our eyes and pray they make it through ok. While prayer should be central to raising our children, we need to be MUCH more proactive than that! Two books I recommend (one I have read and the other I am reading) are:
Parenting Today's Adolescent by Dennis & Barbara Rainey
A Chicken's Guide to Talking Turkey with Your Kids About Sex by Kevin Leman and Kathy Flores Bell
A book I want to read is Preparing for Adolescence by James Dobson (going to check my library for that one!).

In other news, I worked last Friday on making a pattern for a maternity cami (under shirt), with Kristin and Tami's help. Kristin was actually wearing a cami and I made her put on one of my shirts so I could trace hers. The first cami I made turned out too big for me (we were all laughing), so I passed it on to Kristin and modified my pattern. The next one had a critical design flaw, but still works good enough. The third time was the charm and it turned out *perfect*. I have a picture on my camera, but I'm too lazy to upload it right now. Kristin is the proud owner of the cami that turned out too large. I love this cami because it's very fast and easy to sew. Very fast. It's perfect for me because I'm always cold, especially in the winter time, and that makes it a perfect under layer--plus it will cover my expanding belly all the way to 9 months.

I'm still feeling pretty sick. Last weekend I was stuck on the couch and in bed all weekend, except for a trip out to the store. This weekend I have been doing some scrapbooking for the first time in MONTHS and thoroughly enjoying it. I finally finished Josh's (yes, Josh's) baby album. That means I have, oh, 5.5 months to finish Malachi's if I want it done before the next baby comes and erases all memory. I have my family albums caught up through 2005. 2006 pictures are printed, but sitting in a bag waiting to go. I'd love to get completely caught up before baby comes, but that's pretty improbable. I am crocheting Malachi a baby blanket (never did that either), and it's my goal to have it finished by December, before the big ultrasound. Then when I find out the gender of this baby I can start making a new blanket. Ideally I'll finish the blanket before I bring the baby home, unlike with Malachi when I was just plain tired of crocheting!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

More Sewing

I have been at my machine again. Editing patterns and modifying styles and in general having a good time. This time I took my shirt pattern and made a few edits. First, I shortened it. It also has darts in it, which are really unnecessary especially in a knit fabric. These two prints are two of my all-time favorite diaper prints. Yep, they are diapers. I got the fabric down in the cities at S.R. Harris, but only bought 1 yard of each and quickly sold out. Recently a diaper friend who lives in town went to the cities and stopped at the fabric nuthouse and bought me 2 more yards of each. I feel a *little* guilty not using it on diapers, but not too bad. And I still have scraps of each for a couple diapers!

On the purple stripe one I didn't remove the darts, but I did remove the stitching--so it puckers a little back at the sleeve (where the dart is permanently sewn in), but otherwise looks fine. I took some excess fabric out of the back to make the back narrower than the front and hopefully remove some of the barn-size drape. Also, you just can't do facings with knit fabrics. On the last shirt I made, I tried just hemming the neckline. On this one I made a binding from the same fabric and sewed it on (*sort of* like bias tape, only not cut on the diagonal). Ha--I just realized that when I did this, I didn't cut off the seam allowance from the neckline. I suppose the neckline looks just fine how it is!



On the blue stripes one I edited the whole dang pattern and took out the darts. Yay me! It was a little scary because it messes with the sleeve/arm opening. But I wiggled the pattern around and finally just decided to "risk it". It worked. And really you can't tell a difference between the two. I think it still looks a little too drapey. But I'm too chicken to make it tight-fitting. I do, after all, want it to fit well when I'm 8.5 months pg. And chances are that I'll never wear them when I'm this small (since I can still wear regular clothes).



But I'm making some progress in the tummy area too. For your viewing pleasure (laughter), here is my new 13-week tummy I'm sporting. First in "regular" (ahem-that would be the next size up and stretchy) jeans, trying to be a little artsy with my photographs:



Second is a new maternity pants tummy style that I've made. I copied this idea from a popular new pants that actually has a patent pending (ooooooohhh--not too surprising from me, huh?). It is a nylon-lycra fabric all the way around. It is SOOOOO comfortable. And a good fit even now. I swear every time I try these on I do NOT want to take them off. I have plans to make MORE. :) Hehe.



And don't forget to read the post about Zeke below!

Zeke's Birthday


Whoa! I can't believe I forgot to post about Zeke's birthday on the 12th. He turned 5 years old. He's such a cutie!! :) We didn't have much of a party...just Mitch's sister Holly and then all of us there. I made the cake (Zeke picked it out), but Mitch and Zeke did the candles on it. We didn't do much for presents. We did let Zeke go to Toys R Us and pick out a small gift--he chose a pack of hotwheels cars and loves them. He also got to buy some "birthday candy" which he has a little bit of each day and loves (he chose M&Ms). Here is an amateur, unedited video for your viewing pleasure.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The proverbial cat...

...is out of the bag! Just a quick post to let ya know that we dropped some pretty significant hints to the kids last night and they finally figured out that baby #7 is on the way! Oh my...we were rolling our eyes at their naivete. Finally Micah was the bright one to come right out with the question, "Are you pregnant?" I replied, "Go ask your dad." Of course, Mitch was NO help at all, giving them totally post-modern cyclical answers. :) So they came back to me, and I got the bright idea to tell them to "Call Kristin and ask her." They did and didn't get much more info out of her (though we put her on speaker phone and had a good old time laughing). So in the midst of this we were sitting down to supper and we went around the table and prayed, youngest to oldest, just like always. Mitch closed his prayer with "Keep Mom and the baby safe. Amen." To which Caleb immediately replied (and this is priceless especially after spending at least the past 45 min on the topic of whether I am pg or not), "Dad, do you really think it's going to snow this week? What day is it supposed to snow on?" I looked at Mitch, who looked at me and cracked a smile, then I belted out laughing. After a horrendous pause, Micah (the brilliant 11 yo) says, "Guys, Dad just told us that Mom is pregnant!" LOL. About 30 seconds later the phone rang. It was Kristin calling to tell us what had happened at their supper table. Her brilliant oldest had said, "Steph can't be pregnant, we were just there on Friday and she wasn't." (You know, I wasn't *showing*). So we spent the rest of the evening blasted with questions and lots of cheers and overall excitement. Today in the midst of a rebellious streak (over not wanting to do dishes), Caleb was making plans to run away (Mitch was helping him, LOL) and his plans included coming back when the baby is born...didn't want to miss that big event! So in other words, they (the ones that have a clue) are all very excited. They are also thrilled about finding out the gender at Christmas. It's a great milestone to give them. Ok, so my "quick" post turned into a long post that is devoid of necessary paragraph breaks. I apologize for my poor journalism and hope it hasn't turned you off! That's it for now. :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Houston we have a heartbeat

I was thrilled to go to the doctor yesterday and hear the baby's heartbeat for the first time! It was in the 160s. The doc was having a hard time "catching" it at first. We would briefly hear it, then a lot of swooshing (baby moving) and it would be gone. So this one is quite active without the pepsi. The doctor muttered, "Ugh, stinker!" She finally got it good and said, "Now it's trapped." I thought that was funny. Everything looks good.

We went to the park last night and took family pictures. Holly helped us get a family shot. It was much chillier out than I expected, so we all huddled really, really close and it looks so good. Is it wrong of me not to post it? I want to use it for our Christmas card (assuming I ever get that one out). Well, ok, I guess I'll post it. You know, just in case my best intentions don't play out. I also took individual pics of each kid as their "annual" or school picture. They all turned out really good with a few extra tries on some. Eden was the only person that got a great picture on the first try.