Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Eden's Birthday Pics

 (Bag was made by Kristin, and we stuffed our presents inside. ::grin::)

Totally off topic:  My new 28mm lens is driving me a little bonkers when it comes to focusing.  Sometimes it focuses perfectly right where I want it to, and other times it focuses far in the background instead.  :(  I'm more than a little disappointed.  You can see it in the picture above, as well as in the next two photos.  I'm studying up on focusing because I know some of it has to do with composure, how far I am from the subject, etc, but it is hard to learn!

I had to throw in this last one.  Wowsers my belly has grown even MORE in the past week!!  Baby is really low and heavy in my pelvis.  The pictures probably still have the distortion factor going on, but I know it's bigger because most of my shirts no longer fit.  My belly hangs out the bottom.  Very unattractive feeling, let me tell ya!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Water Broke at 6:30 a.m., 12 years ago

:)  I hope I didn't "get ya" too bad there!

I know I've shared this story before, but I can't help but share it again. 12 years ago today I was having a dream that I was bending over cleaning the bathroom floor around the toilet.  I dreamed I started peeing and couldn't stop.  Quickly waking up, I realized my water had broken.  Instead of doing the smart thing and just jumping out of bed, I yelled for Mitch to get some towels.  He came back with one and I said, "That's not going to do it!"  I don't know how long I laid there before I realized I could move and the baby wouldn't just fall out of me.  (After all, it was only my second child...and with my first labor happened VERY quickly after they broke my water, so I didn't really know what to expect).  Labor did not start.  But we hurriedly got our things together, got a babysitter for Micah and arranged for Papa to pick him up as soon as possible.  I called a friend who was going to meet us at the hospital.  I might have taken a shower.  We pretty much rushed to get out the door.  As we drove past Lake Waconia, I noted that the lake still had ice on it.  We got settled into the hospital, then we sat and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Labor still did not start--well, at least not active labor.  I was about 4 cm dilated when I went in, and progressed to 6 cm on my own.  Pitocin was added a bit later to augment labor.  I took a half dose of stadol and in a couple hours took another 1/2 dose.  At 9 cm I began hyperventilating (really should have gotten the epidural, but a nurse talked me OUT of it!!).  The doctor on call came to my aid, helped with breathing, and gave me a para-cervical block.  This caused the baby's heart rate to plummet (of course!), and a nurse got in my face and told me I had to push.  I didn't really want to be told what I *had* to do at that point, and let me tell you, it hurt too much to push.  So I didn't.  :)  Thankfully Eden was just fine and was born after only 15 min of pushing, at 6:41 pm.  I was exhausted.  My friend held Eden and comforted her while I napped. 

Two days later when we brought our baby girl home from the hospital it was very warm outside--nearing 70 F, and the ice was gone from the lake.  Two days after that we surprised family by showing up at Grandma Theis's for Easter Dinner WITH a baby!  Eden had a little jaundice, but her doctor decided she didn't need to be on a bili-light.

The next 12 years are a blur.  Only 6 more years to go until our girl is an "adult."  She is 2/3 grown!!  I can't believe it.  I wish I could share all about her.

At 12 years old, Eden
~loves horses
~loves to read
~enjoys dressing up, looking good, painting fingernails
~likes listening to music
~enjoys "girly" movies
~thinks orange and blue are the best color combinations ever
~chose chili for her birthday meal and carrot cake for dessert
~would rather play Nintendo DS than any other screen time
~enjoys walking/running on the treadmill and is keeping track of her miles
~says Bible is her favorite subject in school
~is also good at language and math
~had hamburger helper as her second choice of meal for supper (yeah...I know...)
~makes friends easily
~enjoys special time with Mom and Dad, especially reading the "Preparing your Daughter for Every Woman's Battle" book with Mom at night
~is good at putting Tirzah to sleep at naptime and nighttime
~loves to shop for just about ANYthing

We love you Eden!

Pics to follow...

Monday, March 28, 2011

37 Weeks Pregnant (and weekend in review)

Officially "full term?"  Oofda, to say that a woman who is 37 weeks pregnant is "full term" is a loaded statement.  It is really subjective to a lot of different factors, based on guesses and intuition.  Sometimes we can be way wrong.  This is why it's always good to trust your body to know when to go into labor, to leave it alone and let it do its thing.  (Yes there are some medical reasons to support induction, but I'm speaking generally.)  It gets hard to be patient at the very end, but in reality I know the next few weeks will come and go and be a blur.  My days carrying this baby are numbered...I just don't know what the number is.  That's ok!

I had a great weekend.  I mean a REALLY great weekend.  On Saturday morning Mitch chauffeured me and 2 of my friends (Kelly and Karri) to Albertville to do some shopping at the outlet mall there.   Kathi, Eden, Zeke, and Malachi also came along.  We split into two groups.  Us three ladies hit up the Motherhood Maternity store for some new nursing bras--whoohoo for good sales, Old Navy, Carters, and The Children's Place.  Then I really got side-tracked at the Yankee Candle Store.  Ohhhhhh my.  Too many flavors of candles to sniff there.  :)  I scored my favorite candle, the Red Apple Wreath, for 1/2 normal price.  I also picked up a new flavor, Coconut Bay.  Yummy...perfect for summer.  Kelly even found me a Red Apple Wreath air freshener for the car--sweet!  We didn't make it back to St. Cloud until 4:30 pm.  What a day!  I spent the evening hanging out with my friends while sewing and chatting.

Sunday was church, which is always good.  Afterward Mitch and I took Eden and Kathi shopping for groceries.  We are so blessed to be able to buy foods we like to eat.  We shopped at Goodwill and found some deals there, too.  Later on my own I hit up Savers and found some cute knit fabric ($2/yard) and some little boy onesies.  When I got home, I fried up 10 pounds of ground beef to be stored in the freezer and baked and shredded 6.5 pounds of chicken breasts.  It is always a lot of work, and means hours on my feet, but it makes cooking supper later so much easier!  I wanted to make sure our freezer is well-stocked with "easy" meals once this baby arrives.  We have a monthly menu, and that is already prepared for April.  But now I have a secondary menu that we can (hopefully) switch right over to as soon as the baby is born, and they will find the ingredients already here.  Mitch suggested Little Caesar's pizza...yes, that will be good for one night I'm sure, but not EVERY night!

Today I saw the doctor again.  I forgot to ask her my Group B Strep test results, so I have to call back in and get that.  The baby has seemed to slow down in movements yesterday and today, and that concerned her.  She told me 3 times to do kick counts and to call if he seems sluggish.  So I will try.  He is moving, it just seems that he's {finally} not moving ALL THE TIME like he was before.  Maybe this kid will decide to sleep a little?  The heart rate was in the 130s.  My weight was up 2 lbs (thank you China Star Buffet and weekend splurges, LOL).  And I made some progress--I'm a "good" 3 cm dilated.  Again, this is right about normal for me to slowly dilate before labor starts.  His head is very low and engaged firmly against my cervix...usually my babies ride high until labor begins, so that was interesting also.  She tried to estimate the baby's size, but didn't tell me her estimate.  :)  I said he is what he is and we'll find out after he's born!  Honestly, I think if I catch wind that he's "big" it will freak me out a little and I'll get worried that labor/pushing will be harder.  So let's just not go there.  We talked due dates (calculated based on last menstrual period vs. ultrasound calculation) and the doctor and I both agree that this baby will come closer to April 8 and definitely not past April 18.

I did this 12 years ago...I was due with Eden around the same time (exact same LMP date, slightly different due date)...she was born on March 29.  She mentioned about 5 times that she hopes the baby does not come on her birthday.  I finally told her not to say that!  And to not be mad if he does.  But honestly I hope he waits until the weekend.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Not Good Enough

"You have been disqualified to serve as a juror..."

That's how my letter from the Jury Commissioner began.  They could have said "excused" or "dismissed", but no...they had to say I'm not good enough.  LOL.  Seriously?  It's like I tried out for a race and didn't make the cut.  Or was caught cheating.

I should feel blessed.  I talked with friends recently who were summoned for 3 months and 1 YEAR.  Why are they picking [on] us moms? 

I definitely feel relieved.  It will be something to save for the baby book and look back and laugh about, especially now that there is no pressure to serve in the immediate future.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Book Review: The Imagination Station Attack at the Arena

In my effort to continue reading books yet lighten my load a bit, I have been choosing children's titles to review.  I recently read Attack at the Arena, an Adventures in Odyssey Imagination Station book, by Paul McCusker and Marianne Hering.  This is book 2 in the series.

My kids have loved listening to Adventures in Odyssey (AIO) over the years.  So this maybe comes naturally that the book will feel a bit like listening to an episode of AIO, where the characters go on an adventure in the Imagination Station.  The Imagination Station is a contraption that Mr. Whitaker built that allows kids' imaginations to come to life.  The kids seem to travel through time and have experiences that are very real.  They walk through history, especially Biblical history, and wrestle with making decisions (and the consequences of those decisions) along the way.  There is always a moral lesson to the story, and usually the Gospel is presented in some light-hearted way as well. 

In this current book series, a bit of a mystery unfolds as Mr. Whittaker receives some letters saying his relative, "Albert", is in danger and to save him he must collect some items.  Mr. Whittaker must use the Imagination Station to do so, but finds it won't work for him.  So he sends two kids on the quest, cousins Patrick and Beth.  In Attack at the Arena, the cousins head to ancient Rome, meet Emperor Honorius, and retrieve a silver cup.  There is some real history mixed in with the fiction here, which is explained by Mr. Whittaker in the final chapter. 

The book is recommended for ages 7 and up, and the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level is 2.3.  To test this out, I asked Zeke and Josh to read along with me.  Zeke is 7 years old and reading at a normal 1st grade level.  Josh is only 5 years old, but reading at almost the same level as Zeke.  Both boys were able to read most words without difficulty, and picked up on words I helped them with quickly.  Zeke's attention span petered out very quickly, but Josh wanted to keep reading as long as I would let him.  This is consistent with their personalities.  Some pencil drawings along the way aid in keeping their attention.

Overall it is a great book, good for your younger elementary AIO fans.  First graders may need some help reading, but second graders and older should be able to tackle this chapter book on their own.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Tyndale House Publishers.  I was not required to write a positive review.  My thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

So much for Spring!

Yes, I know this happens every year.  Still it always amazes me.  Early spring snowstorms.  They come wet and heavy.

Just yesterday I could see the field in the back.  In the front there wasn't any snow left.  It started in the morning with slush falling from the sky, but by midday was just rain all day, melting lots and lots of snow piles away.  By 9pm the temp had dropped enough and snow began to again coat the deck.  (I thought that wasn't supposed to happen until after midnight?)  After all the storms that were predicted and fell short of the predictions this winter (yes, we still got a fair amount of snow...but there's something disappointing about expecting 12 inches and only getting know?), I didn't expect this storm to produce, either.  Yet as I got up throughout the night for potty breaks, I knew we had a good snow going on.  It was very light outside from all the street lights reflecting off the falling snow.

We were woken at 5:00 am and again at 5:45 am with calls from St. Cloud School District and Royalton School District to say that school was canceled.  That's probably the most amazing part!  I can't remember the last time St. Cloud had a snow day.  And it certainly wasn't for so little snow!  But since it rained all day yesterday, there was a good layer of ice under the snow, and like I said it's wet and heavy.  Mitch came in from shoveling a little after 6 am to say that the snow plows had not even been by yet.  So maybe that has something to do with the school cancellations also.  I tried to get back to sleep while letting my imagination run wild that all my daycare parents would find their work canceled for the day as well.  That wasn't going to happen, of course!

At 7:45 am Mitch came in again (I got to sleep in for about 45 extra minutes this morning) to let me know that Kathi did not believe him when he told her school was canceled.  She packed her lunch anyway and was getting ready to walk to the bus stop.  Poor girl.  :(  Maybe Mitch plays too many pranks on her??  She was really looking forward to a fun day--the Apollo basketball team is playing in the state tournament and she plays in the Pep Band.  They were going to take a bus down to the game.  She might still get to do that, so she can cheer up.  Right now she is curled up on the couch with a book.  :)

Mitch borrowed a neighbor's snow blower and is working on the neighborhood driveways and sidewalks (he likes to do the driveways of those he knows have a hard time doing it themselves).  I'm stuck inside with all the loud kids (including extra daycare kids since there's no school).  Yuck.  I momentarily wish I knew how to run that thing!  :)  The kids are playing with legos and it seems like everyone is having a difficult time sharing (even the 13-year-old...except now he went out to help his dad).  There are hundreds of legos...come on, guys, use your imaginations!!!  Why do kids want to fight over a little plastic block???

Today will be a GREAT day for a movie!  And maybe even some popcorn.  ;)

My cold is still running strong.  Coughing and congestion.  I haven't had a good one like this in a long time, so I guess I was due.  I sure hope it eases up soon.  It's bad enough to get up at night for multiple potty breaks.  Getting up for potty breaks + blowing nose endlessly + coughing = terrible combination.

They say that the sun is so high in the sky (angle, that is, of course we can't SEE the sun today) that this snow won't stick around for long.  Good thing.

Update a couple hours later:  It's still snowing.  Mitch may have to start over with the snow blower--our driveway is covered again with several inches!  The roads are terrible, so Kathi will not get to go to the cities.  If the boys' team wins, they will get to go tomorrow instead.  That's a pretty good compromise.  Since the snow didn't officially melt everywhere, this is our 121st consecutive day with snow on the ground.  Hmmmm...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sewing Projects (not by me!)

My friend Kristin blessed me recently with some gifts that she has sewn.  For some, I merely supplied the fabric.  For another (that I can't picture yet cuz it's a surprise), she supplied the fabric.  In the past I have had people send me fabric to make diapers from.  That's pretty fun.  Now I know just how much more fun it is to drop off fabric and receive back a gift already made!

First up is a carseat cover.  We have the covers that you put directly on the carseat.  They are great because they help keep baby warm without using a snowsuit.  However we have found that even with the carseat cover, we still put a blanket on top of baby and on colder days we put another blanket over the handle.  This creates a problem because the blanket is covering the handle.  So Kristin created this carseat cover (free instructions here).  It snaps onto the handle, so the handle is free, and the baby is covered.  The blanket is not in his face, and of course we can still put a blanket on top of baby underneath if we need to.  We probably won't need to use the stretchy cover that goes right on the carseat unless the temps get crazy cold.  This particular cover is lightweight enough that we can use it in the spring and summer too as a shade (much better than the flip-up shade)!

 You can see that the cover flips back easily so that we can see baby. 

Next up is a new bag for me.  I was carrying a bag I got free from Creative Memories.  It is cute, and almost the right size, but it is a light khaki color and has lots of stains.  I looked for months and months at the thrift stores (and occasionally at department stores too) to find a new bag, but could never find anything that was "just right."  Then Kristin volunteered to make me one.  ^^  She enjoys that kind of thing.  Me?  Not so much.
This just might be my favorite thing she made for me because I can use it RIGHT NOW.  It's so yummy and it fits on my shoulder perfectly and holds just the right amount of goodies.  I got lots of compliments already on it--isn't that cool??  I mean, who walks around noticing other womens' purses?!  :)  Thanks, Kristin!

She used some scraps from the carseat cover to make a burp rag.  I am going to use the rest of the scraps to make some diapers.  Isn't this one going to be cute??  I'm making it first and going to run it through the wash to make sure it holds up well before I make more to sell.

The only problem is I'm lacking energy to work on it.  I have a cold that is really wearing me down.  I can barely talk today.  Yay for the kids--no yelling!  But I don't have the strength to do anything 'extra'.  Only the basics are getting done around here.  I'm going to try to rest and get better...then be ready for nesting to hit full force.  Bring it on.

Monday, March 21, 2011

36 Weeks Pregnant

The great, growing belly.  :)  I'm really starting to feel uncomfortable now.  We have had yet another virus and this time I didn't get a fever blister, but rather the full virus.  Maybe I would rather have the fever blister.  I was up coughing a lot last night even though I took a generic Robitussin DM.  I thought to myself, "Oh my friends Dex and Guy are spending the night with me."  (dextromethorphan and guaifenesin)  :)  It helped some, but I still cough and it's still a pain.

I saw the doctor today.  My weight was down again, by exactly one pound, and this time I haven't been quite so "good" about tracking what I eat.  Just because I'm not writing it all down doesn't meant that I'm not still trying to make good decisions and curb bad snacking.  I feel like I have it under control, and seeing that affirmation on the scale was rewarding.  :)  It is normal to lose a little weight at the end of pregnancy.  Baby is putting on more fat than ever, but the amniotic fluid level usually drops off a little.

The baby is definitely head down and actually a little low.  That surprises me because my babies tend to stay high up until I'm pushing.  On the other hand it doesn't surprise me because I have been getting up many more times per night to use the bathroom than I think should be necessary!  I had the group b strep test done today and a cervical check as well.  I was 2 cm dilated already, and my cervix is "in a great spot."  She said everything looks perfect for being 36 weeks.   She asked me if I've been contracting and if they are getting more uncomfortable.  Yes, I am having quite a few braxton hicks contractions, but they are not usually uncomfortable.  Like I said a couple weeks ago, they're great for practicing my hypnosis cues.

My hemoglobin results from last time were 11.5.  That's not too bad, so I'll keep on with the iron.  I'm also taking alfalfa now, and I'm up to 6 tablets per day.  Next week I'll move to 9 per day.  They're not the most fun pill to take, especially not that many in one day, but I am so convinced that the benefits are worth it!!

The baby's heart beat was difficult to find.  It was in the low 130s.  She said she thought he was in a bad position so that if she placed the transducer on one side she was over an armpit or if she placed it on the other side something was in the way and causing an echo.  Tomorrow I see the chiropractor, and I'll be sure to mention this to her so we can see if we can convince the baby to get in a better position and stay there.  I'll be spending more time on the exercise ball, too.

The most "fun" news is that I was called for 2-week jury duty to start on April 11.  I had paperwork for the doctor to send a medical statement for me to be excused.  Obviously I can't be relied upon for jury duty at 39-41 weeks pregnant (or with a brand-spanking new baby)!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My new 28mm Nikon lens

These are some unedited photos I have taken with my new lens.  I have taken better pictures, I

The only true "editing" done was resizing them for faster upload.

 Picture of the first thing I could find with my lens straight out of the box.  The Bernina Record old as I am (literally) and probably one of the best machines ever for sewing cloth diapers.  ;)  People must find it useful for other things too, because in 30+ years it hasn't lost its value.

 This is a comparison.  The picture above is taken with my new lens, the Nikkor 28mm f/2.8.  Because the entry-level DSLR cameras have  a smaller sensor on them (vs. a "full frame" sensor equivalent to film cameras), this changes the focal length of the lens.  Instead of 28mm, what I actually get is more like 42mm.  If I had this lens on a full-frame camera (read: more expensive), even MORE of the background would fit/show in the picture.  That's what we call a "wide angle" lens.  

In contrast, this picture was taken with my favorite lens, the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8.  On my camera the equivalent focal length is 75mm.  Which means that if I need to fit more of my subject in the frame, I have to take some steps backwards.  Well, taking pictures in tight places or of lots of people (like my big family) means that I'm rather limited with the 50mm lens.  So that's one reason I wanted the 28mm lens.  

The second reason I wanted the 28mm lens (rather than just using my 18-55mm zoom lens) is aperture level.  Check out the background in both pictures.  It's blurry.  The subject is in focus, and the background fades away.  Love that?  The blur called bokeh, and it is caused by a shallow depth-of-field, which is controlled by the f-stop setting on the lens.  The second picture is the best, and that's because the f-stop goes all the way down to 1.8.  The new 28mm lens only stops down to 2.8, but that is better than my 18-55 zoom.  What does this mean for me?  Not just bokeh...which is great...but it means that it lets more light into the lens so that I can take a picture without a flash even when the lighting is not perfect.  (more on flash stuff later as I keep learning)

Tirzah's working on learning to go potty, but I'm not officially "potty training" her yet.  She still stays in diapers all the time, but every now and then we set her on the potty (especially when she strips down to her bare butt in the middle of the living room and shrieks to go "potty").  Every now and then she actually pees!  When she does, she gets an m&m.  Yay!  Our bathroom is very dark, so I used the flash on this picture.  The white-balance is terrible, and the picture over all is not great.  The subject makes it cute.  If you zoom in for a closer look, you will find that Tirzah's face is actually out of focus and the toilet seat is in sharp focus.  I want to get better at this--at all of it--the lighting, the white balance, the focus, the composure.  It's so much fun!  Notice the background is not all that blurry. Why?  Because I'm standing so far from my subject, and there's not a lot of depth-of-field in the bathroom anyway.

Maybe I'll talk more about depth-of-field and f-stops one day when I know more about it, but let me say that when you are doing a shot with more than one person in it or with a background that you want to be IN focus (such as landscapes), then you want to crank that f-stop up so that the background is not blurry.  Or so that one person is not in focus with everyone else being slightly out of focus.  Yeah...hate it when that happens to me!

Ok, because I just can't leave it this way, here are some pictures that are better, may be edited for sharpness, and were taken with either the 28mm or the 50mm lens...

 My attempt at a self portrait...easier with the 28mm and nearly impossible with the 50mm.

 We had over 114 straight days with at least 1" of snow on the ground (straight...meaning no days in between where there was NOT snow on the ground...grass is a sight for sore eyes!).

The kids are so sick of me taking pictures, I can hardly find a willing subject.  Even Tirzah.  When I say to her, "Tirzah, smile, say cheese," she just continues looking at whatever she is playing with and obligingly says, "cheese", without even looking up!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Who will this baby look like?  I think there's a good chance he'll look like one of his siblings.  Know how I can tell?






Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Book Review: The Earth, Its Structure & Its Changes

I'm excited to have the opportunity to review The Earth, Its Structure & Its Changes by Tom De Rosa and Carolyn Reeves.  This book is part of the Investigate the Possibilities curriculum series, and is targeted towards grades 3-8.  I also am reviewing the companion Teacher's Guide and Student Journal.

I'm very excited about this curriculum and how we are going to be able to use it in our home.  In the past I have avoided doing most science experiments because the logistics of doing them is too hard for me to juggle.  First of all, I have kids in 3 different grades, all doing different science levels and experiments at different times.  Also in the past it seems that the "earth science" unit happens to fall during the winter when it is impossible to get outside and explore any rocks whatsoever.  This curriculum is about so much more than labeling the layers of the earth and looking at rocks.  I can take this one curriculum and use it for all 3 of my oldest children (grades 4, 6, and 7).  The books were built on the National Science Education Standards for levels 5-8, but the authors also considered recommendations for grades K-4.  You know what that Kindergartner and my 1st grader should also be able to listen in and participate and pick up on these activities!  So now I have just tackled earth science for everyone at one time.

The student book is divided up into 20 "investigations".  It is designed to be done over the course of one semester, with labs held once a week.  The full-color pages are interesting and the material is well-organized.  The book flows well from lesson to lesson and is easy to "get the hang of".  Even though we haven't officially started yet, the kids have enjoyed looking through the book on their own time.  Each investigation begins with an experiment of some sort.  A list of items needed to be gathered is easy to see.  In most cases, the items on the list are normal household items (ie: no need to buy expensive parts or kits from somewhere).  Each experiment has step by step instructions with questions for the students to answer.

The next pages include the lesson that applies.  Some of it is fairly detailed.  It will be perfect for an 8th grader.  Your student will absorb what they can.  Application sections include "Dig Deeper", "What Did You Learn?", and "Pause and Think."  Some of the questions are easier, and some will require more thought.  I love how it is easily adjustable to each individual child's level.  I don't have to think hard about how I can make this work first for my 4th grader and at the same time for my 7th grader. It is also worth mentioning that this is a Christian curriculum and includes scripture references where applicable.

This is by far one of the best curricula I have ever seen for doing experiments.  It is so thorough and well put-together.  The simple act of following directions, recording observations, making hypotheses, and answering questions are so good by themselves that it almost doesn't matter WHAT we are studying.  We will be building a solid foundation for successful lab experiments in the future.  

Some of the first lessons in this book explore plate tectonics and earthquakes.  How cool is that?  It is really good timing for us!

The first half of the Teachers Guide and Student Journal includes a black & white small version of each page in the student journal.  Objectives, notes, and the answers to the "What Did You Learn?" questions are included below each applicable page.

The second half of the Teachers Guide and Student Journal is the student journal.  The pages are perforated so they can be easily removed.  Questions from the experiment are repeated here, as well as from the "What Did You Learn" section, with space for the student to write in the answers.  The spaces aren't long.  I think this will be encouraging for my students--they will realize I'm not expecting them to write paragraphs, but a short sentence or two will do.  Permission is not given to reproduce (make copies of) the Student Journal--though it is printed in black & white.  I am going to consider writing the publisher to request permission.  Otherwise, I'll let each of my kids create their own journal in a composition book using the journal here as a guide.  At $5.99 from, the price for the journal is very affordable.

Oh!  This book is not just for homeschoolers.  This is a great curriculum that you could pick up to do with your kids over summer break.  It really is broken down well and you don't have to be a teacher to teach this!

This video will be great for stirring up a little excitement:

I was given a complimentary copy of both books for review from Master Books (a division of New Leaf Publishing Company). I was not required to write a positive review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Laundry Day

I know laundry is a big issue for many families large and small, so I wanted to post about how I manage laundry for 10 people.

First of all, some of my kids change their clothes much too often and some of them don't change often enough.  I know for a fact *someone* didn't change their underwear more than once this week.  Yuck!!  ;)  I'm trying to train my boys that it's good to wear their jeans two days in a row, but bad to wear them more than that.  Some of my kids (particularly the same one who didn't change his underwear all week) will wear the same pair of jeans all week, and usually wear holes in the knees by the end of the week.  And they can't figure out why that happens!  This is the good/bad of homeschooling--the good is that they don't need to wear certain clothes every day, the bad is that mom may not notice if they are running around in very dirty clothes.  Case in point:  I just sent a child who came up for breakfast back down to change the clothes he has been wearing since after church on Sunday (two days)...and yep, the jeans have a hole in the knee.  Argh!

Secondly, I don't deal with stains well.  I usually don't notice a stain that needs to be treated until after the clothing item has gone through the washer and dryer, meaning that it will be even harder to get out.

I do the majority of our laundry all on one day.  We have a large capacity front-loading washer and a large capacity dryer, so we can get really good-sized loads in each wash.  My laundry room is set up with a laundry chute that empties into the deep wash tub.  That's usually spilling over by the time I get to sorting (I really should sort more often...but why?).  The tub, washer, and dryer are along one side of the laundry room.  Along the other wall of the narrow room is a counter that Mitch built for me.  Underneath I have 3 laundry sorters that have 3 compartments each. 

Yesterday I had 6 loads of laundry:  3 loads of darks, 1 of jeans, 1 of whites, and 1 of reds.  That's not too bad for 10 people for a whole week of laundry!  Kathi sometimes does some of her own things that she needs done at a different time during the week.  There are also delicates and things that I wash as needed and not on laundry day.  Diapers, towels, and sheets all get done at a different time too.  (I'll admit the sheets get done very rarely).

As each load comes out of the dryer, I fold and sort it like this:

We're short a couple of white baskets and I found out that our Walmart no longer carries them.  :(  But also see they are available on  Hmmm....  I like these because they are inexpensive and sturdy.  They stack nicely to put away between laundry days.  Anyway, back on subject.  For perspective, that church pew is 12 feet long, and I have all 8 kids lined up across there.  (And room for a couple more!) Mine and Mitch's are together in the basket on the floor.  I did get a couple blankets washed, too, because I needed to round out a load that wasn't quite full.

Ok, so this goes on all day until the laundry is done.  Eventually most of the kids' clothes will be hung, but I fold it neatly so that in the meantime it doesn't get wrinkled.  Much.  Because I don't iron very often.  Once it's done, I have each child put their own laundry away.  I put Tirzah's away.  Micah is Malachi's buddy, so he puts his laundry away too, and Eden helps Josh.  This usually works really well, but occasionally I step into the boys' closet and find a huge mess.  That typically makes me a very crabby momma, but I get it all organized and set right again and I'm happy.

If something happens in the middle of my day and I need to clean up in a hurry, I just stack the baskets on top of each other and set them out of the way.  Now there is no laundry mess lying all over the place!

What I hear from a lot of moms is that laundry is the job that never ends.  At my house, at least the bulk of it does end one day a week.  It really does help keep me sane.  Yes, there are always random loads that need to be washed here and there.  I try not to do any regular "clothing" during the week because I don't want to stop kids to put it away.  Wash it once, put it away once.  It's more efficient!  Don't you think?

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Well, I survived spring break week!  My kids weren't on spring break (and they complained every day), Mitch wasn't on spring break, but one of my daycare kids was and was here every day.  I did back-up care for a new family, so that added 2 more kids to our crazy bunch.  It was busy!  I have one more busy week with the new family, and I look forward to settling in and doing some nesting after that.  So hang in there with me...I'm pretty tired and don't have much free time.

I thought I would give a little update on the things that I've gotten done.  First of all, I've scaled back on reading for a little bit.  I'm choosing only children's books to read for review, and my library list is going to wait until I have more time.  I still have a great Earth Science curriculum to review for one publisher, and I'm waaaay overdue for getting it done.  So hopefully you will see that this week.  I want to really dig into it rather than just skimming.  From the start it looks GREAT and I'm feeling very blessed to have it.  The challenge is to answer the question:  Can someone like me actually use it?  Because it is chock-full of experiments and projects.  Which I stink at.  I sure hope that I can pull this one off, because I plan to go through all of it with the kids after the baby is born. 

Scrapbooking never happened.  I so wanted to get some scrapbooking done before this baby came.  I would love to get back into it again.  I want to especially get down memories of Malachi and Tirzah's first years before time gets away from me, but it's just not going to happen at this point.  I'm so sad.  :(  The time will come eventually...

I have been sewing like a crazy woman in the free time that I do have.  It is time well spent.  I made too many Little Cheekies newborn fitteds for the baby, and ended up selling some in my store (there are actually a couple left if you need any).  I made a few covers, and had to stop myself before I made too many of those also.  I had a couple gender-neutral diapers to hand down from Tirzah, and I made a couple more to round that out.  So here is his stash for the newborn stage:

   Total count is 18 fitted diapers, 9 covers, 5 pocket diapers, and 1 all-in-two.  They are SOOOO cute!!

Malachi and Tirzah have been using both the dressers in the nursery, but only Tirzah sleeps in that room.  I did some moving around so that Malachi could use a dresser downstairs.  He has graduated all the way to being a big boy.  ::cry::  I washed all the baby's clothes (and the diapers too) and got them put away in the dresser.

I finished crocheting another blanket.  This one is a little smaller than the first, and it is softer too.  I like both blankets.  Different blankets for different purposes!

I knitted another little baby hat with a blue and white yarn (no browns).

I used up tons of scraps making diaper wipes.  We don't need all those wipes.  They are perfect for giving away as gifts or sending along with diaper orders as something a little extra. 

I also used up some flannels and made burp rags, and even changing pad and a blanket.

With Kristin and Kelly's help I made my own swaddling blanket based on a popular blanket you can buy in the stores for about $30.  Their babies were great models for trying it out for me, and they loved it.  :)  Why not just use a regular rectangle blanket?  Are you kidding me??  Look at all the fabric I have here!  (Ok, so don't look...I don't want to take a picture of my messy piles).  The swaddling wraps are pretty darn cool.  Mitch is good at swaddling, but I'm not so good at it.  The wrap makes it almost fool-proof.  Google online to see some examples.  I made mine to be used without velcro--it's long enough that it will hold baby in snugly all on its own.  And no, I'm not selling them.  First of all I'm not interested in selling them.  Secondly, I'm not that good at making them.  Finally, the style I chose happens to be patented.  And if you haven't known me long enough to know about patents, well, don't get me started (as Kelly did, LOL).  You don't want to know, trust me.  ;)

Next I started on more diapers in the next size up.  I made 12 small fitteds and 6 small pockets.  They are equally adorable (but no picture yet).  I think by the time baby moves up to smalls I will also start him in one-size pockets or all-in-twos.  Probably pockets, because I don't want to do all the snaps for all-in-twos.  =P  So I will start by making 6 of those soon, but eventually will work my way up to having 24.  Only one problem--I'm running very low on snaps.  I placed an order from China, and I'm stalking my mailman not-so-patiently.

I am happy to announce I bought a camera lens like the one I wanted--yay!  I did not pay the price I wanted.  Boo!  I paid about $30-40 more than my original max price, but still nearly $90 less than the new price.  Whew!  I am also stalking the mailman waiting for him to bring me my new lens so I can play.  I really had bad luck with auctions.  When I looked at completed listings from just a couple weeks before I started shopping, there were some really great deals.  Of course, once I started bidding, the prices on all the auctions went up about $20-$30.  Isn't that how it always seems to go?  Everyone wants what you want.  The auction always ends for $2 more than you were willing to pay.  =\

I haven't had any good luck with the flash I want.  I can still buy it new from Sam's Club for about $224.  Ouch.  I have been watching auctions like a hawk.  It is seriously crazy.  A used lens will sell for well under its new value but a used flash doesn't?  How does that work??  I see auctions all the time that exceed $220.  Sometimes they get as high as $250 for a USED flash that I could buy NEW for less.  Crazy!!  I guess I expected a lens to hold its value better than a flash.  But I'm learning.  Maybe.

I will be 35 weeks pregnant on Monday according to my official, calculated due date.  I am 36 weeks according to the ultrasound due date.  I am chomping at the bit here.  I got a waterproof mattress pad put on my side of the bed (in case my water breaks in the middle of the night...or in case I'm just too tired to get up when baby punches my bladder, LOL).  I also got the baby bassinet placed beside my bed.  Oh--and I sewed a new sheet for that too!  It's yummy and soft microfleece.  See?  I told you I was sewing up a storm! 

I have had some good practice contractions and put my hypnobabies tools into practice as well.  One really bad night/day I had 4 leg cramps (charlie horses) over a span of 12-16 hours.  When the first one hit I didn't want to use my hypnosis tools.  I guess I was afraid it wouldn't work and I would be discouraged.  When the second one hit, I was like "no way", so I put on my earbuds and listened to a track that helped me relax.  When the 3rd one hit, I did use my tools without listening to a track and the cramp ended very quickly.  By the time I got to the 4th one, I was beyond annoyed but also feeling much more confident about hypnosis.  I asked Mitch to do one of the cues by placing his hand on my shoulder and saying "release."  It may sound weird, but it worked instantly.  The cramp stopped quicker than ever. 

Well, it's supper time, even if it is Saturday and I need to be back on duty here at home.  It was nice to stop by and give an update.  :)

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

34 Weeks Pregnant

Not much change?

Well, I can assure you that even though it doesn't look like it in the pictures, if you see me in person you know my belly has grown.  This is part of the whole size/distortion thing I talked about last time.  For the 34 weeks' picture I'm just a tad further away from the camera than in 32 weeks, and it makes me look the same size, if not smaller.  I tried several times to get the "right" picture, but there's nothing for it--my belly just wouldn't fit in the frame quite right!  :) 

Aren't those nice colors on the striped shirt I'm wearing today?  ::grin::  I'm stretching out of just about everything, this shirt included.  We have a few weeks to go.  This is the hardest stage.  I'm running out of jeans that fit.  Last week at the doctor I had gained 4.6 pounds, which is a net of 4 lbs over the past 5-6 weeks.  Not bad at all!  I'm still using to track my daily nutrition.  I use it to make sure I've gotten enough calories for the day, to help choose between a bedtime snack of something "healthy" or a bowl of ice cream, and most importantly to track my iron and calcium intake.  This helps me decide if I should take a calcium supplement at bedtime or not.  If I have hit over 1000 mg of calcium in my regular diet during the day, I most likely won't take one.  I'm trying not to go over 1500 mg because of my past history of kidney stones.

Since I went in at 33 weeks pg, I sort of got my whole doctor schedule messed up.  I'm not going in again until 36 weeks, at which time I'll be going in every week until I deliver.  I asked the doctor at 33 weeks to check my hemoglobin again.  I don't know the results.  She was only going to call me if it was still low and we needed to adjust my supplement.  I asked her for a liquid version if it was still low.  I'm going to take it that no news is good news and my levels are up.  I was feeling very run-down and tired, and now looking back I know that I was being hit with a virus. 

Things will probably be quiet around my tiny corner of the blog-o-sphere the next few days.  I have 3 extra kids in daycare this week.  I'm a little busy.  :)