Sunday, May 31, 2009

Another One!

I made another nursing top today! This time I used the instructions here: overlap nursing top. I started with the same basic t-shirt pattern, but this one came out tighter than the other one. I'm not sure if it's the fabric or the elastic. Still, it's cute--I might change the empire waistline to be a little higher, but my sleeves sure turned out better this time! :) I used about a yard of fabric with a little usable scrap left over (something for Tirzah???).

I made a nursing top!!

I'm so excited!! I had previously been frustrated with my wardrobe, and also been told by Mitch that I'm not quite as discreet as I "used to be" while nursing (explain that one to me!). Hmmm... So I started shopping for nursing clothing and was easily disappointed. Since I'm a bargain shopper, there was no way I was going to fork over $20+ for a top that would possibly shrink or fade or stretch in the wrong spots or not be any more discreet than what I normally wear. I had two options: either get myself to a store where I could handle the shirts firsthand, or make it myself. You should know me well enough by now to know what I chose. :)

Google landed me on the blog of someone I used to "know" when I was learning to sew cloth diapers. She's a very talented seamstress and a dedicated mom to boot. Here is the blog post with instructions for the top I made: Twist Top with a Twist. I started out slightly handicapped, as her instructions begin "start with a t-shirt pattern." I have none. I did score a cute, basic, Old Navy t-shirt from the thrift store last Monday, so I grabbed that one out of the laundry bin (yep, wore it already) and traced it. The sleeves were harder than I thought (note for the future). Otherwise, I proceeded to practice with some fabric I didn't care that much about and ended up with this great nursing shirt!! I think you can probably figure out where the nursing access is. I wore it to church today. :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

This picture deserves an explanation. If you put him to it, Mitch will tell you that he doesn't think newborn babies are "adorable" or "cute" or "beautiful." He DOES think they are precious, but when it comes to looks, well, he says they look more like reptiles than people. Whatever! So our dialogue keeps going something like this:

Steph: Isn't she cute???
Mitch: Yeah, she's cute, for a lizard!

When I snapped this picture last week, I knew EXACTLY what to use it for. To take you back in the story a little bit, Mitch had snuck onto my computer and tatooed the picture I had on my desktop. See?

I figure turn about is fair play, so the top is what he found later on his desktop!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


We had a great weekend! It's been busy around here. Mitch's birthday was on Sunday--he turned 33 while I still remain a lovely 29. :) Ok, so that's a lie about my age, but it's a fun one. On Saturday we had dear friends from Crown College come up to visit us. Mitch enjoyed playing a few hours of basketball with Al (and some other guys he pulled together), while Barb and I enjoyed visiting and watching all the kids. When they came home, Mitch fired up the grill (a new present) and we had a bbq feast. On Monday we had an even BIGGER gathering of friends over to enjoy some more grilling. It was a little chaotic but fun. Let's see there were the Emersons, Holly & Kyle, Geweckes, and the Bergrens. That makes 10 adults and 21 children. Huh--not too bad, 2.1 kids per person! :) We all had a lot of fun, but Tirzah became grumpy just as the food was ready. I had a very difficult time getting her calmed down--it was after bedtime when she finally settled down and went to sleep. It was hard to see her like that.

Tirzah saw the doctor on Friday. She is healthy and well despite her cold! She weighed a whopping 10.5 lbs. She's gained 2 lbs in a month--yay! That's really good. It doesn't seem like she'll be quite as chunky as the boys--whew! On Sunday she got to wear the dress I made her, and Eden wore her matching one. Remember when I made it right before Easter?

Eden is such a good helper--she knows how to hold Tirzah just the right way to get her to calm down! She can even put her to sleep. I took both of the girls shopping with me at the thrift store yesterday (everything 1/2 off--yay). Eden put her to sleep right away and she stayed asleep for 2 hours while we found lots of good deals. :)

Josh is so funny. On Thursday he was sitting on an office chair, and a daycare kid was spinning him around (not good). He lost his balance and fell and cracked his head on the corner of the hutch. We gave him an ice pack. On Monday he thought he still needed it. He calls it his "ice water pack." The backpack he is wearing is almost inseparable from him right now. He always carries it around and never lets anyone else have it. There have been many screaming matches between him and Malachi over this backpack. Oye! He has a blanket stuffed in there, a kitty, and other miscellaneous treasures. He has 3 very favorite outfits that he wears and every now and then I'll find one of those stuffed in there as well. :)

We still have a little bit of the sickies around here. On Saturday I woke up with pinkeye (how embarrassing!). On Sunday afternoon my voice disappeared. This morning I woke up with a fever blister (and still no voice) and a wet cough. I was scheduled for a dentist appointment to have two fillings redone, but those got rescheduled (oh darn). It's hard to be without my voice again. Flashback to almost 2 years ago when I lost it for almost the entire time Mitch was in Texas. I hope it gets better soon. In the meantime I'm drinking lots of water!

Oh, Mitch & I saw the new Star Trek movie on Thursday night and it was really good. I had a few beefs about it, but overall it's a fantastic movie. I enjoyed lots of laughs and wanted to come home and dig out all the old movies and watch them. :) Like everyone else says, it's a good date movie!

Well, I'm off to get some more school work done with the kids! Caleb is proud to announce that he finished all his lessons for the school year! He considered going ahead and starting 3rd grade, but finally decided that he would like a summer break after all. We would like to pull out the kids' science books and see if there are some units that would be better to do during the summer time when we can get out and explore the outside world (insects, plants, rocks). We got their standardized tests back and were pleased to see their scores improve from October to April in spite of our poor timing for giving the April tests. They each ranked "Average" or "Above Average" in all of the subjects, so we are satisfied. We won't test them again until April 2010. That's it for now!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pinkeye (No, I'm not talking about how much pink we're seeing these days)

So we officially have 3 kids with gunky eyes. Lots of kids with runny noses. And one kid with a nasty infected ear. That would be Josh, Malachi, and Tirzah with pinkeye, almost all the kids with runny noses (Tirzah included), and Josh with an ear infection. It's been many long months since anyone has been diagnosed with an ear infection. Score! (Yeah, right). We've been sharing with daycare children, too (why not?), and some of those guys are sick. Ick.

Happy 1 month, Tirzah!!

On the upside, I think I get to go see the new Star Trek movie tonight. Whoot!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

There are some more cute pictures on my facebook. I think you can see them by clicking here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Time to see the dentist!

It is time for everyone to go have cleanings. Everyone except Malachi (and Tirzah...obviously for her). I think that given Malachi's personality, he's not quite ready to go. Perhaps in 6 months he can join the rest of the gang. We stormed into the dental office today creating a flurry of attention. I love our dentist. We have been going there ever since Micah was 3 years old (wow, that means almost 9 years). They take very good care of the kids, and everyone is so friendly and encouraging. I had the oldest 5 with me for cleanings, and Tirzah along just because we had to for daycare numbers. I left Mitch at home with 6 other kids. No one had any cavities!! This is huge to me. I had lots of cavities as a child and have very large fillings in my molars (only one crown, but I feel doomed to have more before my time is up). I'm so glad my kids have been spared thus far. (It's also worth noting that no one has had to wear glasses yet, in spite of bad genes all around--we always prayed they'd have my eyes and their dad's teeth!). Micah has a slight crossbite and they are going to fit him with a retainer to correct it. Wow. Simple as that. No braces! Eden has had a retainer for about a year and a half but she got permission to give it up now--her teeth look fantastic. How exciting!

I go see the dentist on Thursday and Mitch's turn is next week. I'm sure he'll get a clean bill and I'll come away with something terrible. After this we all head in for doctor's appointments (regular checkups). Heh--even the vehicles have been scheduled for oil changes and tune ups! Guess you can figure out pretty quickly what we're spending our tax return money on. :)

It's not all bad--Mitch bought a new grill (the first regular sized gas grill we've ever owned), and a new tool chest thingy (he has spent HOURS today playing with his tools). He got incredible deals on both of them.

Today Tirzah is 4 weeks old!! She is simply beautiful. She's eating and growing really well. She gets pretty gassy and crabby every now and then (usually once or twice per day), but balances it out by sleeping some nice long stretches for me. It's so cool to be able to get things done during the day AND get sleep at night. What a blessing she is! I'll be sure to post some pictures later this week...I don't have the camera beside me right now, and laundry is calling. :P She sees the doctor on Friday, so it will be fun to have a weight update then. I don't have any doubts that she's growing well.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Malachi's World

Remember me saying that Malachi is a budding photographer? (Maybe a camera thief is more like it). It's so funny because my camera always has hundreds--literally--of photos on it that he has taken. One day I began to wonder if it would be possible to glean anything at all from his photos. A view of his world perhaps? He definitely takes pride in his work (I'll have to video him for another blog another day). He loves to snap a picture then quickly turn the camera around for us to see. We have been working hard at pointing at the subject. Below is a "best of the best" slideshow I've put together. See if you can figure out what things are. I'll give you a couple hints:
1) He loves to take pictures of his own feet.
2) He's kind of short, so he gets lots of pictures of everyone else's feet.
3) Look for the somewhat-adorable "self portraits," especially the ones he took in the mirror.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tirzah's Dedication

It was too cold for her to wear the dress I wanted, so this was her outfit. The white blanket is one that all of the kids except Micah have had for their dedications. I made it when I was pregnant with Eden.

This is our pastor praying over Tirzah.
This is another pastor praying for all the babies & families being dedicated (there were 7, including 2 of Kristin's babies).

Tirzah slept through the whole thing, then through the sermon, and woke up briefly as we were getting in the car but went back to sleep until we were home--yay!

She's 3 weeks old today...I can't tell how well she's growing. Everyone else says she's growing, and everyone also says there's no denying who she belongs to. What does that mean??? :) I'll probably try to get her in to the doctor next week for a 4-week visit.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

For Mother's Day

I don't have a great post (yet) for Mother's Day, but one of the best blogs I follow does. If you haven't found Ann Voskamp's blog yet, you need to. :)

Her special post for Mother's Day is a repost from last year. Has it really been a whole year that I've been following her blog? Surely not! Maybe she has reposted it more recently. Or maybe I read it digging through the archives. Oh well, at any rate, it makes my heart skip a beat and my throat ache with the joy of being a mother. How blessed I am!

Tomorrow we are dedicating Tirzah in our church. The dedication ceremony is a special ceremony where both we as parents and our church family dedicate her to God. All of our children have had similar ceremonies. Part of what the pastor will say is this: "...together with your parents who love you dearly and this people who care about the outcome of your faith, I dedicate you to God, surrendering together with them all worldly claim upon your life in the hope that you will belong wholly to the Lord, forever." I should have pictures to post tomorrow. Hopefully we'll get a good family one, too! It will be a good way to celebrate Mother's Day. :)

Friday, May 08, 2009

Book Review

When I went to the library the day before Tirzah was born, I checked out some good books and wanted to share my opinions. :)

First, The Best Birth, by Sarah McMoyler, is a birthing method. During my last pregnancy I studied the Bradley birthing method and loved it. It helped me tremendously as I relaxed through labor. I just picked this book up on a whim because I was bored and had NO idea what to read--I was browsing the shelves. I mainly wanted to read it objectively. The first line on the back of the book begins, "While Lamaze and Bradley were revolutionary in their day..." Hmmm...since I love Bradley, and I tend to immediately defend that which I love, my interest was piqued. I checked this book out in the morning, and my water broke at 5:20 or so that afternoon, so you may think I didn't have time to read it. Well, actually I spent my nap time that day in bed reading it and managed to get through 160 or so pages. While I may have needed the sleep, there were some things in the book that did help me get through the night. I had prepared for labor for months planning on as few medical interventions as possible. It turns out that I had many interventions--starting with an iv and antibiotics, then later pitocin, and culminating with an epidural. The book really DID hold a balance between two extremes: a totally natural approach to labor and a "high tech" approach. It was very pro-hospitals. Here are some of my favorite tips from the book:
1) "There is absolutely no room in the birth process for guilt, regret, or feelings that you've failed. You're not going to win any prizes for having a natural childbirth." (Wow, did I really need that later when I finally decided on an epidural!)
2)"We believe that while there are occasional bad apples, the overwhelming majority of doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals are your allies, fully committed to providing you the best emotional and physical care." (This also really shaped my thinking as I arrived on their doorstep a few hours later. I was much more relaxed through what was about to happen, and the position of my attitude towards my nurses was much better--even when a nurse I had a previous bad experience with walked into my room.)

Next up is "The Post-Pregnancy Handbook" by Sylvia Brown. This book was packed into my hospital bag as soon as my water broke! I managed to read tidbits after I had the baby and was still in the hospital. It was very easy to pick up and find answers to questions I had. It has a lot of herbal remedies and homeopathy suggestions in it--so detailed that I would never use them, but maybe helpful to others who study those things. :) It goes through the entire first year postpartum. One cool tip I read about to help deal with "afterpains" (which are worse in 2nd and later pregnancies)--lay on your stomach. Also, massage your uterus before you nurse the baby.

Next is "Finding God in the Lord of the Rings" by Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware. It's no secret that I love "Lord of the Rings." I had been wanting to read this book for a long time. I am well aware that the books are NOT allegories, and J. R. R. Tolkien would certainly be offended if we tried to make them so. Therefore, I was extremely curious what these fellows had to write about! It turns out that each chapter is merely a reflection, or devotional if you will, connecting little "lessons" learned throughout the books with lessons taught in scripture. For example, the first chapter is titled "A Deep Yearning." First the authors describe the yearning in all the "good" characters of the story for things in Middle-earth to be set right again. This is then compared to our own longing for better days. The reflection states, "Our hearts yearn for the good that God is." I recommend this book as light reading for anyone who would like to contemplate what we as Christians can glean from LOTR. It isn't overly theological. I have found it fun to relive some of my favorite parts of the books without picking them up and reading the whole thing again.

Finally is the book "Gimme Cracked Corn & I Will Share," by Kevin O'Malley. Write this one down to grab and read to the kids next time you are at the library. It's worth the trouble of remembering!! You will find yourself either chuckling or groaning at all the "corny" jokes throughout the book. The surprise ending is so much fun! I can't take credit for checking it out, though, one of my kids did. :)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

A Local Contest

One of our local Christian Radio Stations, Spirit 92.9, is hosting a Phillips, Craig, and Dean concert this month. They are renting our new worship center too, and the concert is sold out--cool! I'm not sure why, but there was/is no opening act for the show, so the radio station decided to hold a contest to select a local person to do the opening show--very cool! The station held auditions a la "American Idol" style. Now the contest is in the final round--the contestants have been narrowed down to just four. Over the next couple of weeks, two contestants will be eliminated. On the night of the show the final two will go on stage and sing one song each. The winner will be announced, and will go on to sing a couple more songs. (At least, that's how I understand it, maybe my details are a *little* wrong, if so I apologize). The best part is two of the four finalists are Mitch's former students from St. Cloud Christian School--VERY very cool. :)

You can participate in the contest if you'd like to. Each of the finalists recorded one song, and those songs are being played on the radio now through the end of the contest. You can also listen to them online. Then the voting is online. I don't really want it to be a popularity contest, so I won't tell you who to vote for, but we are cheering on Sarah S. and Mark A. :) You can go hear them here: I wish you could see video--Mark knows how to jam with his guitar. (Personally I don't think his song is a good fit for him--we are privileged to have him on the worship team at church and I KNOW he does an incredible job.). I think Sarah's is the best!

This contest has been SO popular that I'm seriously thinking there needs to be something similar on a little bit larger scale. I hope I'm not the only one thinking this. It was so cool to see all the people who were participating. While I was in the hospital even one of the nurses said her teenage son was auditioning. How fun is that?! It's such a neat way to connect our community. Very cool that it's "family friendly"--even Christian--too.

I'm so proud of these "kids" for being in the contest. It's fun to think, "I knew you when..."

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Finally a free minute...

...although, I should be waking my baby up to eat!

So far our first days back to daycare haven't been too bad...I'd say pretty much right on normal. Our kids are back to school and back to their same old ways--falling behind! Argh! At this point I feel like just letting them. Hey, it's up to them--when they're ready to have summer break and be done with my nagging, they'll get the work done! I wish that were true. I know that if I don't stay on them, we'd drag this out through all of June. =P

We are doing standardized testing with the kids. In Minnesota, homeschoolers are required to test 1 time every year. We didn't do it last spring, so we did it in the fall. We don't want to be on an every-fall schedule, so we tested again this spring and won't test again (I think) until next spring now. Anyways, we did a very BAD thing in testing them at the end of their 2-week break instead of at the beginning. Eden was lazy and didn't work out any of her arithmetic problems on scratch paper. She did them all in her head instead. From what I can tell she missed over half of them. I was SO disappointed--this is the child who makes straight A's in math on much harder problems. Sigh. It's just a test, right??? At least she admitted her laziness and got back on track (hopefully) for the rest of testing. We'll see how those results come out. It's not like it's the SAT or anything. :) Ahem.

I'm very happy to say that Tirzah is doing much better with her eating. I'm still waking her to eat, but I don't have to stand on my head to get her to latch on and nurse now (at least that's what it felt like with all the pumping, shield, syringe business)! She's peeing and pooping really well. She peed out of two of my cloth diapers yesterday and had to have wardrobe changes--so that's a good sign. I can't believe how much her face has changed since she was first born. Apparently she had some swelling and puffiness in her face. Also it was covered almost immediately with newborn rash/acne. I've had kids get that before, but not immediately. Thankfully it went away almost as suddenly as it came, a few days after we were home. Her cord fell off on Saturday night, although I'm SURE it wasn't ready to come off. Every time I would change her diaper her belly button would be bloody again. I wouldn't call it "active" bleeding, but it did concern me. Today it hasn't bled at all, so I think we're on the mend. Now that she's got a belly button, we can move on to some of my diapers that don't have a cut-out for the cord (a pattern modification I wish I had time to work on). She is still sleeping really well at night. She tends to have a fussy period each day, but is fairly calm and content the rest of the time. I'm finding that a nuk (our favorite is the wubba nub) helps us get through the fussy times. That and just going to bed. :)

Here are some pics (click to enlarge)!

This was another of the projects Mitch worked on with Karen & Marc. Kristin & her hubby led the way by making a new toddler bed for their daughter (got to go see pics on their blog). While ours couldn't be built with scrap lumber (mainly cause we didn't have enough) like Kristin & Tim's, I'm still pretty excited. Ours is still not finished--Mitch has to add 5 more boards to it, but it's getting there. It's also a *little* higher than I wanted it to be for just a toddler bed, but still lower than a regular bunk. That's good. This is Josh on the top bunk and Zeke on the bottom, but actually Malachi gets the bottom bunk. Zeke sleeps on the top bunk of the other boys' bed we have.

This was Tirzah before church on Sunday.
This is Tirzah this morning, at 2 weeks old. Showing off that new belly button and cute Pampered Cheeks cloth diaper! FYI: it's a size newborn pocket diaper--it has a cotton knit PUL (waterproof) outer, berry cuddledry microfleece inner, and it's stuffed with a shaped bamboo/cotton insert. She proved yesterday that she has no problem saturating those thirsty inserts (not a bad thing, though)! It's a trim and SOFT diaper. I love it.