Sunday, August 31, 2008

Well heavens. Its been nearly a week since my last blog. I felt like I should blog on the day of my birth. Yeah, I'm 30 today.

This past week has been long for some reason. On Wednesday, we traveled to downtown Seattle to meet up with some people from my online message board. This is how I met my good friends April and Alyssa actually. Some others from Washington were in the area and we decided to get together. You'll have to read all about it on April's blog... it was quite the adventure getting to the meeting site but we had such a good time. Its a unique experience to meet people that you've known for years online. There is an instant level of comfort. Its nice.

Friday, my Mom took the kids overnight ('cept Elsa of course) and I made one of my favorite meals for dinner. We hit Baskin Robbins for dessert and both zonked out by 9. We are SO old! Saturday, we bummed around, went out for lunch and headed over to my Mom's for dinner and a party in the late afternoon.

Grammy and Elsa (by the way, I have my replacement camera now. Yay!).


My cake (the candles shape the number 30)



I was blessed to receive some great gifts. American Cookery, by James Beard. A wonderful book of recipes and historical information on the origins of American cuisine. A truly delicious bar of chocolate flavored with espresso. Probably one of the best bar chocolates I've ever had! Also, a few folks combined funds and purchased me a ruffler foot for my sewing machine which will come in handy.

Speaking of sewing, I finished my latest project for Gwennie. It's a little too big but since she's growing so fast its no problem. It has that big old ruffle on the bottom which gave me fits! I had to gather 108 inches down to around 40. I hate hand gathering. So the ruffler foot that will arrive shortly will be sooooo welcome. I have two girls. There will be lots of ruffles in my future!


Monday, August 25, 2008

Congratulations are in order for my cousin Lindy, her husband Tim, and their son Cedric, on the birth of their little girl Cienna Yvonne last night!

I simply cannot wait to visit with all these Eastern Washington babies next month!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

We need advice.

Today we tried a new church. One that is within walking distance, which is pretty cool. Its called Lake Country Baptist and has around 150 people I'd guess.

Right away we appreciated that we were noticed as newcomers and welcomed as such. Mom, you'll like this... as we were walking in, an older lady greeted us and asked about the children and such. When she found out how close E & G were, she said, "Oh, that is wonderful". Another greeter said, "My goodness your hands must be sooo busy with these three" and the lady said, "But its good, so very good". It totally reminded me of you. There was also a really good mix of old and young people, which is important to us.

We put Gwennie in her class (went in without a single look back at us), and Ethan joined us for the service until dismissal to his class after worship. This is where we need help. He was pretty bad. I had to take him out and into the bathroom for some serious discussion about his behavior. After that I tried to take him into his class and he acted much like he did last year at pre-school for the first month. Whiny, crying, pouting, dramatic and pretty much miserable. After trying to get him to warm up and play for 15 minutes, I decided to bring him back into the service. He then started acting up and talking, fake crying really loudly, pouting and being destructive. Jason took him out for a few minutes and when he returned he started kicking the chair in front of him. Needless to say, it was embarassing and stressful and I remember exactly one sentence of the entire sermon!

Its really the most I've felt like a complete dunce of a parent. Now, in all fairness, he had an allergy flare up this morning and was on Benadryl. I'm sure that didn't help. But this behavior is not abnormal. Anyone who knows Ethan has seen these things happen before. I realize he's 4, but his behavior seems immature for a 4 year old, at least to me. And worse, I feel like we don't know what to do to make it better. We punish him, especially in public, and he reacts even worse. If we try to deal with it by talking or distraction, the behavior really amplifies.

I feel like we're doing it all wrong, but I don't know how to do it right. Any advice? Post it in a comment or email me. I want to hear what others, outsiders, have to say.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Yesterday, Mom and Aunt Jenni took E and G to the zoo. Aunt Becki also was there and the kids had a great time. I enjoyed the quiet time around home, though most the time they were gone was eaten up with grocery shopping and buying prizes for the kids. Why you ask?

BECAUSE THE KIDS WENT 5 SLEEPS WITHOUT A BINKY! Yay! If you can't tell, we are very happy about it :) We still have work to do because Ethan, upon reaching this goal, promptly asked for his pacifier because, "I got my 5 stars, now I want my binky back". Uh, no. Not how it works buddy. Ethan got a small Lego Indiana Jones set and Gwen got a ballerina leotard with a little skirt. Now we need to keep on them for the next 5 sleeps. We don't push it, letting the allure of a prize do most the work. They both had binkies last night which is disappointing, but we persist.

So I made these cupcakes and I was real excited because they were on my favorite cooking show, Good Eats, and looked delicious. I put them in the oven and as I'm bustling about cleaning up after myself, I notice this bowl of white powder... wha? Well shoot, it was the flour and leavening! Luckily the wet mix did have cocoa powder and beaten egg whites so they cooked up with some structure, but they came out looking like sunken souffl├ęs. The taste was still good, very chocolaty. But eating one was like eating nothing at all. There was almost no heft to it... like air. Oh well. Maybe we'll try again today!

Dad made a quick stop at our house last night and Gwen really beat him up. He left saying, "I feel like I've been mugged". For such a little sprite, she sure is rough!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Another cousin of mine, Julie (sister to the aforementioned Jennifer), just sent me the recipe to some absolutely delicious bread she brought to the family reunion. SO good. I cannot wait to make it. I'm going to share the recipe here and urge you to try it.

Dilly Bread
I'd guess from the portions that this would make two loaves

2 T yeast

4 ½ C flour

¼ C sugar

2 tsp. dried onion

2 tsp. salt

½ tsp. baking soda

4 T dill seed

½ C warm water

2 C cottage cheese, warmed

2 eggs

2 T butter


Put all the ingredients in a mixer, dry on the bottom, wet on top, and knead 5-10 minutes. Divide and put into pans. Let rise till doubled.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.


While I'm talking about Julie, I want to mention her website, MeantToBeModest.com. She uses her talents to make modest swim wear for women and girls. This definitely is a need in our world and I'm glad she's providing this resource. Cool stuff.



Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My husband is so cool.

For my birthday, he wrestled the budget and found enough money to buy me a new sewing machine!


http://www.brother-usa.com/Homesewing/ModelDetail.aspx?ProductID=EX660

Do you see how computerized it is? I'm so excited. I might actually be able to do items with buttons now! I am always amazed how Jason is able to manage our money and work numbers. Its something so beyond me.

The last few days have been rather stressful. I've felt so overwhelmed and worn out by Ethan and Gwennie. They've been up to major hijinks and my house is constantly being messed up, even when I'm right behind them picking up. I just can't do it fast enough. So today I packed everyone up and we went to Fred Meyers, where I put them in the in-store babysitting and strolled around for an hour and picked up a few things and basically just enjoyed some peace and quiet.

We've started a rewards chart for E and G's binky withdrawal. So far we've been able to do two days of binky free naps. Neither child is ready to give it up at night. Naps are hard though. Without the paci they aren't sleeping much and they, well Ethan, is upset with going down. He's motivated because if he can get 5 stickers he'll get a Lego set, but he really misses the binky. I've caught him a few times sucking on his fingers which is not great, but he doesn't seem to find it so great either so I'm not too worried about it being a replacement for his paci.

Monday, August 18, 2008

We had quite the funny morning. At 4am our fire alarm started beeping, which means the backup batteries are low. It sends a beep through all the alarms, so basically into every room. It beeps every 30 seconds or so. Irritating, but I could have slept through it. Problem is, our dog apparently felt there was a fire and was terrified. Poor Toby! He stood next to Jason and panted heavily and shook like a leaf. Jason tried to get him in the bed, but Toby was too paralyzed with fear. After a lot of bed patting and encouragement he managed to jump up on the bed and squish himself right up next to me. He was shaking so hard that our California King size bed was vibrating. Really really vibrating. So much so that it was cracking me up and I started giggling hysterically about it. Jason was not so amused.

Jason got up and removed the offending fire alarm and Toby calmed down and I was able to go back to sleep for another 2 hours. The vibrating bouncy seat seems to be a good trick for calming Elsa... maybe I'll just scare Toby and put him on the bed next time I need some relaxation!

Couple of videos

Here are two videos that Jason just got around to compressing for me.

The first is of Elsa, taken a week or two ago. If you want to see a super smiley baby, click :)
Check out this video: Talking with Elsa



And here is one from way back in May, when Ethan had his preschool graduation program. Ethan is the second in from the right, in the blue shirt with a stripe. The camera is shaky because Gwen was attacking my leg.

Check out this video: Ethans graduation "program"

Sunday, August 17, 2008

So my camera is absolutely broken, and despite RadioShack advertising a very enticing price for the same model, and despite us traveling all the way to this very location specific RadioShack where it stated online that said camera was residing, guess what? It wasn't there, and sorry, their website isn't updated very often. Well. Imagine our feelings on that.

Anyhoo, long story short, I won't be having any pictures for a bit. Ebay came through and one is being shipped, but it will be a few days at least.

Saturday, before the RadioShack debacle, we met with April and her husband Gregg, and their loverly boys Gibson and Grady at Willis D. Tucker park for some spray pad fun. Even at 9:45, the time we met, it was warm and by the time the water came on at 10 it was perfect for splashing. We stayed till about noon, then went to La Palmera with the "G's" for lunch. 5 kids, 4 adults, mexican food, numerous bathroom trips (potty training is fun) and mess and guess what? We actually enjoyed ourselves, which proves that Gregg and April are good folk because believe me, it could have been rough.

Its been hot and very humid, which will wilt any native Washingtonian. We ain't built for this stuff. The fans don't seem to move the heavy air nearly enough to provide relief.

Today, I got up very early to bake two items for our Likkel family reunion in the afternoon before it got warm. Unfortunately, everyone else got up when I did so our day started a bit rougher and earlier than I generally enjoy. We had a great time at the reunion and there were so many people there (I think I heard my Mom say 75 or so). It was not only a reunion, but a celebration of my great-Aunt Dellis and Uncle Bob's 60th wedding anniversary. Wow. Of course, lots of nummy food was available, and it was so good to touch base with people that we pretty much see once a year.

I'll tell you something. When I was a kid, I viewed the family reunions with some boredom. They were long, they were full of adults talking about things I didn't know or care about and I was forced to play with kids I didn't know. As a young adult, it was easy for me to just skip the reunions because I was a busy person! I had so much going on! How could I drive the 45 minutes! I'm important, things to do, things to do! As a regular adult (not a young, but not an old one either), I'm starting to really and fully appreciate the significance of these get togethers. The multi-generational aspect. The reminiscing. The story-telling, teasing, and familiar faces. Its good to see my great-Uncle Berk or my Uncle Brad (not really an uncle, but that's what we've always called him) because they bear striking resemblance to my beloved Grandpa in their faces. And I can see him in so many others, in the way they talk and move their hands, and their postures and that is so good to see because I don't want to forget those things.

Point is, these people, these people that I see once or maybe twice a year, whose name I may not remember (but the face I do!), these people would support me, and I them. They would house, clothe and feed me and mine at the drop of the hat, for any reason. They would get down and pray for me. They would give me the shirt off their backs. And I'd do the same for them. Can many others say that about their close families? How about their super extended families? Today while sitting and eating we stretched our brains trying to figure out how my kids were related to another persons kids and it was something like 4th cousins. That's a pretty far relation. Despite the distant relations, people keep making the effort to stay close and I think that's amazing.

Anyway, I'm rambling here. Its just that the past two years have been more special to me than 28(?) previous reunions that I brushed off or was too young or shallow to care about. Perhaps its me getting older or that the loss of my Grandpa has changed my perspective. I don't know, but I do know that these kin of mine are pretty super special.

Speaking of super special kin, I wanted to share with you the blog of one of my, well, I *think* she's my second cousin. I'm too tired to draw out the family tree to be sure, so we'll go with that! Her name is Jennifer and she has 6 of the cutest kids you'll ever meet and she has a pretty entertaining blog here: http://squawcreekranch.blogspot.com/. I'm adding her to my sidebar because its become a daily read for me!

Ok, off to bed. Its cooled down considerably so I think we'll actually get some good rest!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sunburn, ouch ouch ouch.

I've been applying vinegar which has helped and slathering on the aloe, but dear heavens it hurts like crazy. Last night I could barely sleep because I'm a side sleeper and both my shoulders are burned! I was up at 5:30 because I just couldn't lay down any more.

I don't want to hold Elsa all that much because she tends to scratch my skin with her fingers when I have her on my hip and you can imagine how much pain that brings me.

In other stupid Mommy news, the antibiotics I got for Ethan last Thursday were supposed to be refrigerated. Guess what I didn't do. So basically a whole week of dosing him for nothing. They're going to have to be replaced. I wonder when I will be sharp and smart again. I don't say that with jest, I really mean it. I've done such stupid things consistently for so long, I fear it may be the new me.

While I have the time, I want to blog a bit about our nighttime routine with the kids. Jason has been wanting me to put this down in writing for some time so we don't forget it later on.

Jason and I tag team the kids, I start with one and he starts with the other. For Ethan, I must snuggle him (hold him on my lap like a baby, hum a song and rock him) for maybe 30 seconds to a minute. As long as his 4 year old little body will tolerate. Then we pray, talk about what we're going to do tomorrow and I remind him not to get up before his alarm goes off. When Jason goes in there, him and E hug, then play thumb war, which Ethan always wins because he cheats. Even if they do a few rounds, Ethan will always cheat and beat Jason at thumb war.

Gwen has a slightly more complicated routine. We get into bed, pray (she used to interrupt me mid-prayer to get a drink of water and then direct me to start again, but I stopped that habit!), then we must hug, kiss, eskimo kiss (rub noses) and then beep. Beep is where she touches our nose and says beep!, though she no longer says beep, she just wants to touch our noses. First it was just a single touch. Then it was a beep with her little finger for Mommy and thumb for Daddy. Now it is a quick beep with all fingers on the nose. Sigh. Jason also taught her the wind up beep which is where she swings her arm around and around and makes tighter circles until she reaches your nose. That one can take forever and you are in fear that she will smack you with her arm because she swings it quite wildly. Daddy also plays thumb war with her, but in an interesting twist, she cheats the first game and wins but in the second round will let Jason win. She then exclaims, "Yay! We both won!".

And that's basically it. Some nights it can take forever to get through the routines, other nights its shortened because the baby is crying or because Mommy and Daddy are too tired.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I have pictures from our family BBQ on Sunday, and just one or two from our foray to Jetty Island yesterday, but my stupid camera fell one time into the sand (it was off and lens retracted even), but now it won't work. I messed with it and now it won't even turn on. Googling about it does not look good. We'll probably have to replace it. I'm so irritated with the darn thing.

Jetty Island was fun. The ferry was shorter than even I imagined. It was literally like 2 minutes. April and I had wagons which was very smart of us, if I do say so myself. Alyssa and her husband Corey and their two kids, AJ and Andrew joined us too. We walked a little ways to a more secluded part of the beach and the kids had a great time. The tide was WAY out. Like 1/4 of a mile from the beach, so there wasn't much water play. Sand was good enough though. There was a nice breeze too, which made April and I forget to apply sunscreen to ourselves. Weeeell. Both of us are scorched. So very painful. My shoulders and back is quite bad, but even my face has it. My nose will peel. How icky! I hate peeling!

Here are some pictures that April took.

Gwen and Gibson on the ferry


Elsa and her amazing tongue!


Nana making sure Elly stays happy (thanks Nana!)


After the long walk to the water, some deserved splashing around. All the kids were icked out by the seaweed


Uh, Gwennie... your dress?


Ah well, lost cause!


Little Grady enjoying himself. Such a smiley kid!


Gwen and her sand socks


Elsa chilling on the blanket. No, she wasn't like this the whole time, just for the two minutes that we were finishing packing up. She was out of the sun the entire time... unlike me.

Monday, August 11, 2008

My first "retail" project

A lady from my message board asked me to make her two dresses (after seeing Gwen's dress), one for each of her daughters. She picked a beautiful palette of green/pink/white and I was able to find some great fabrics for her locally at good prices. They need to be washed and ironed to look their absolute best, but I just loved how cute they looked and couldn't wait to snap a picture to send to her!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

A HUGE congratulations to my cousin Holly and her husband Tim. Their first born arrived this morning at 7:55am in Spokane. Welcome to the family little Cian Timothy!

Friday, August 08, 2008

First, some pictures of my "garden".

Strawberries... I thought for sure we planted too late and would only get the teeny-tiny ones that came out 2 months ago. To my surprise, a huge bunch grew again and these look like they'll be much bigger too.


My ginormous "Early Girl" tomato plant. I'm going to have to rig up a taller trellis.


And my precious tomatoes that I check on daily (sometimes twice a day). Little tomatoes are popping out every day!


Elsa... Look at that head strength!


Awww


These pictures are from my Mom's church camp-out last weekend.

Can you guess what is wrong with this picture? How about having to bundle a baby up in August! That is just wrong.


This little girl loved Elsa so her and Gwen had lots in common :)


Later they put the bikes in the sand and made "exercise" bikes (since the back wheels wouldn't move).


Gwen and her funny face


Her mad face (check out the lip!)


Princess face


For the record, I wasn't ignoring my son. He was with the other kids and watching the relay races. Speaking of races...

My brother Michael and cousin Ben (they're in the red)


Jenni and Ben balancing eggs on a spoon




Later, there were eating competitions. Our family was well represented


Ben going to town!


While I was taking pictures, Mom was holding Elsa, who, from all appearances, was having a great time.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

We took Ethan in for allergy testing today. The nurse swabbed his nose first thing and when the doctor came in he was almost excited at how bad his swab was. He said he'd never, in 12 years, seen one so dirty and that he was sorry we had to wait so long because he had to show it to the nurses as a teaching tool. Way to freak me out in the first 30 seconds! This doctor was so geeky.

P.S. When I say dirty, I don't mean that there was actually dirt and dog hair and gunk up there. I mean that there were lots of white blood cells (the doctor used a word for themthat I did not know and my best attempts at googling haven't found anything so I think I heard him wrong) in a certain state. There were tons of them under the microscope. That's what he meant by "dirty".

Anyway, basically it means that Ethan has likely had sinusitis since he was 1(!) and we need to get that cleared up like now. He said its not uncommon for it be overlooked by pediatricians because unless there is mucus pouring out they aren't really trained to look for more. DS's nose was 80-90% closed with swollen tissue. So he's starting us on a 3 week antibiotic and daily steroidal nose spray.

His prick test showed that his highest response was to grass and cats (dogs was there, but just borderline), which was sort of a relief. Grass is pretty easy to manage, and we don't have cats. We'll have to be more vigilant when we're at my Mom's (she has two cats), but it could have been much worse.

We're to give him the spray every day until two weeks before his next appointment in October. Then they'll swab him again and see if he'll only need the nose spray during high grass pollen months or year round.

The doctor does feel that given the very dirty swab that statistically the allergies will likely worsen over the next few years and he'll need weekly, tapering to monthly, allergy shots. Because family history of allergies and asthma, he feels we should be aggressive now to prevent asthma from forming.

I'm so glad that we got this done and things were not as bad as they could have been. I'm not thrilled about the nose spray and need to research that more. But hopefully Ethan will finally have clear sinuses!

Ethan did great. He was brave and obeyed all the instructions the doctor and nurse gave. He got an ice cream sandwich on the way home for his excellent behavior.

Guess who has taken a bottle of pumped breastmilk two days in a row with not one single fuss? Elly! She took it like it was nothing at all. That means next girls night out, I'll go sans baby. Woo! She's such a easy baby.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Just a quick note that Gwen has been dry at night for 3 nights without nary an effort on our part.

Inspired by April and her 3-day potty training program, we told Gwen that we'd tossed all her diapers away and it was time to do nighttime sleeps without a diaper, like Mommy, Daddy and Ethan do. The first night we roused her twice for potty and she remained dry. The last two nights we've let her be and she's been totally dry. Well, that was pretty easy! I figured the first few nights would be troublesome, but like much of Gwen's training, its been smooth and easy.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Sorry I've been so lax in posting. I must be in some hormonal swing or something because I'm cranky, constantly irritated and, in general, kinda pissed off at everyone. As you can imagine, I'm just a peach to be around!

Friday night, I joined my friend April and a few of her friends for a Girls Night. We did this in July and enjoyed it, and enjoyed perhaps even more the second time. I hope we can keep up the once a month thing. Its fun to get out and away (though Elly comes with me) and visit. Here's a picture of all the girls. It was the same group as last time. Unfortunately, a number of people haven't been able to make it both times, but maybe in September we'll have the whole group. (Why am I so hunched over? Gotta work on the posture).


Usually I like to have one drink while out, but this place only had wine and beer. Uncertain of what to choose, the server recommended that I try a Lindemans Lambic beer. Well, I hate beer, but he assured me that this was totally different. He had a cherry and peach flavored one and I ended up with the cherry. Incredibly delicious! Closer to a wine than a beer in flavor. Wow. Really good. And not at all intoxicating, at least for me. Which is a plus since I'm a real lightweight!

Saturday, we headed out to my Mom's church campout at Jim Creek Recreation Area. Jason stayed home to do some work, but the kids and I went out and played and chilled out for a few hours. I have some great pictures but I left my camera there and my Mom has it. She's dropping it off today so hopefully I'll get those pics up.

Besides that we've been pretty dull. Today we're going to go to West Seattle to visit family that are up from Astoria and California and have a BBQ. Should be fun.

Oh, and there is SUN. Yay! And I see the first tomato appearing on my tomato plants. Double yay!