Wednesday, May 20, 2009

In other news

Today I emailed the lady who adopted our dog Tilli over two years ago. The kids had been wanting to see pictures of her. She replied that Tilli had passed away early this year. The description of events sounded like bloat was the culprit. My heart crumpled a little bit. No, she hadn't been our dog for some time now, but I loved her a lot and so did the kids and she and her hi-jinks are part of our family folklore. Rest in peace Tilli. I hope you find heaven full of warm laps, dog friendly couches, unfenced spaces and unlimited snacks.

So I've decided to start weaning Elsa. This was a hard decision for me since I nursed Gwen till 2.5 years and it was a good experience for both of us. However, I need a break. I need a break from being pregnant and/or nursing. If we are going to have another child, then I need a good chunk of time where I'm not pregnant or nursing. Partly because I want to lose some weight (I'll talk about that later in this post) and I can't seem to go below a certain level while nursing and partly because, well, have you ever been so touched out that you just can't take another pinch, bump, bite or nudge? Where you feel like backing up, arms outstretched, and saying, "Hey, some space please!". That's kinda where I am. I'm a person who needs a little personal space to retain mental peace. That's why I could never sling my babies round the clock like some people do. After awhile, the slightest touch would make me incredibly cranky. So I'm still nursing her in the wee hours of the morning when we arise (5am seems like the hot hour these days), and if she wakes at night (which she's not doing anymore). Otherwise, she gets a bottle of milk. She does not seem bothered in the slightest by the change, and I'm ok with it too. I need to remind myself that what I did with one child is not required to do with another. Each child, each time frame, each situation, is different.

I'm on my 3rd day of doing Slim-Fast. I don't know why I chose to do Slim-Fast. Probably because its easy and convenient mostly. And I think it works well for my eating habits. So far its been ok. I had to change around the basic plan a little. They say a shake for breakfast, snack, shake and "side" for lunch, snack, then a regular meal for dinner, then a snack. Well I'm ravenous in the mornings and almost never eat lunch so I switched it to having a shake and toast or yogurt in the mornings and just a shake for lunch and this works better for me (and my blood sugar). I'm seeing if a straight calorie reduction gets me on the way. Right now its hard for me to find time to exercise. If I can, I will, but I'm hoping that cutting back calories to a much smaller amount and weaning should allow my body to release the weight. Last year I was walking almost three miles every other day for a month and cutting back calories and didn't lose any weight or inches. And my milk supply suffered. My body protects its milk supply! I don't have that much to lose so if I can keep on this without too much cheating, I should be done by August.

On Friday we leave for Spokane to visit the family peeps over yonder. Because my camera is busted, I won't have any pictures to share. Maybe I'll pick up one of those digital disposables. I've been wanting to try them. The kids are, of course, super excited because its HOTEL! And SWIMMING POOL! And best of all, FREE BREAKFAST! Heh, for these kids going to a hotel is just about all the excitement they can handle :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Happy Birthday to Elsa


1 year old... I can't believe its been that long. Every day has felt long, but the weeks and months go fast. She seems too small to be that old.

We held a party for her on Sunday. She fit the dress that Gwen wore for her first birthday perfectly, though she didn't appreciate the skirt sticking under her knees and making it hard to crawl. The weather was perfect... warm and gentle.

Right before the party I tried to take a few "beauty" shots. Elsa was NOT cooperative, but we got a few good ones. I'm putting them all up though because I think she looks darling in her dress!

Unfortunately, after these photo set was taken, Ethan dropped my camera on the pavement and its now bollixed. I've gone through two of those cameras now... I guess we're tough on them. The rest of the pictures were taken with our video camera and are therefore very poor in quality.

Her personal cake. It looks huge here, but the plate is a very small lunch plate. Though, we did find that it was still far too much cake for Elsa!

Doesn't she look excited? Heh.


Frosting in the eye... the sign that the fun is over!

We gave her a sink bath after she was done and she zonked out pretty fast in Grandma Karen's arms soon after. I will tell you though, that girl ate a LOT of cake. I was impressed.

After everyone had left the kids were watching TV. It becomes quiet. The show has ended, and the children aren't talking. We peek over the couch to find...

It was a busy day for everyone!

Today Gwen was supposed to have her field trip the Kangaroo Farm. Unfortunately, its been raining (as in downpour) since last night and it was canceled due to excessive mud. You can imagine that she was very very disappointed... poor thing. Her teachers still held school today though and it was a day of fun with pizza, popsicles and games.

Ethan has his class field trip this Thursday. We're going to tour my favorite grocery store, Central Market. I'm very excited about this. More so than Ethan!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

We are going to homeschool

So I think we've officially decided to home-school Ethan next year. We have really agonized over the decision. Gwen will still attend pre-k at the church pre-school next year. We love the school and the teachers and the kids seem to really enjoy the experience. That will also give me a "warm up" year to get used to home-schooling. Its strange, although I grew up home-schooled and almost everyone I knew was home-schooled, it still frightens me. Perhaps because I know my own weaknesses and organization, planning and follow-through are not at the top of my character qualities. Perhaps its knowing that we are solely responsible for every aspect of our children's education.

I will tell you there is a large part, a VERY large part, of me that just wants to get over my uneasiness and send the kids to a public or private school. I have enjoyed the hours during the week when its just me and Elsa, running errands and doing little task are much easier with 1 child instead of 3. I worry about feeling overwhelmed and stressed out, like I often do now... without having the added responsibility of schooling.

Perhaps the biggest reason I've reluctantly agreed with home-schooling is that Jason has done a complete 180 on it. When we first married and had children, he wasn't interested at all in home-schooling. We had agreed that a private school would be the path we'd take. Yet over the years his position started to change and now he feels very differently than before. Jason doesn't change his mind very often. When he does, its worth paying attention to.

In other news, speaking of Jason, he just went to bed after working a 24 hour shift. Yep. He started yesterday at 6am and stopped this morning at around 7:30am. He had some upgrades to do at work, but everything went to heck in a handbasket right before the upgrade and he, and a few co-workers in Cincinnati, worked all evening, through the wee hours and into the morning to resolve the problem. He came home around midnight (thank goodness, I could finally fall asleep), had dinner, and settled in. I awoke this morning and found the bed still empty. I couldn't believe he was still working! Around 3am he had to make coffee and had most the pot drunk by the time I got up at 5:30am (yes, 5:30. My children punish me with their early waking!). He's not a good day sleeper, so I don't know how rested he's going to be today, poor guy. I'm proud of him though. This is why his superiors give him such glowing reports. He works his butt off and does it with good nature and skill, even when he's running on empty.

I washed all the downstairs windows yesterday. Its amazing how much brighter and clearer the light is in the house! I also scrubbed most the mildew off the shady parts of the patio. Still will need to rent my parents pressure washer though.

My garden is very very slowly growing. The only thing really growing with vigor is parsley, which is kinda funny because I've had no luck growing it in the past! Carrots haven't grown at all in about 3 weeks. Beets are still tiny. Lettuce pretty much the same. Radishes took off the last few days, but even the biggest ones are the size of a pencil eraser. Tomato's got weather burned a little by the unexpected freezing temps we've had off and on at night. Basil is weak weak... just barely holding on. It even looks sad.

Go parsley!

Sad basil

Happy, mop-headed, dirt-eating, child

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Even a mother can be mothered

Today I woke up feeling really bad. At first I thought it was because all three children were raring to go at 5am. But it wasn't... I had (have) a very stiff neck and shoulders, an aching head and nausea.

I managed to get Ethan to school, but was feeling sick enough that I was carrying a ziploc bag in my pocket because I felt like I was going to hurl at any moment. I called my Mom, broke down crying, and asked if I could come over because I could not bear to care for the children feeling this bad.

Bless her heart, she said to come over right away and after we picked E up from school we did just that. I came in, said hello, and went right to bed. 20 minutes later my Mom comes up with a bowl of chicken and rice soup and saltines, which, even though my stomach was churning, went down easy and more importantly, stayed down :)

I stayed in bed for 3 hours. They, Jenni and Mom, tended to the kids that time and kept me undisturbed. It was so nice. It was so so nice.

When I did roll out of bed, I felt better, though not quite healed. If this is the same bug my sister Michelle had, it'll be another day before I feel better.

There is nothing like being at your parent's house, tucked into a bed, fed and tended to, with not a care in the world because your Mom is taking care of it all.

Thanks for being there for me Mom.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


All the kids have a bit of a cough, so we dosed them with a spoonful of honey right before bed.

Me: and Jesus, we ask that you heal Ethan of his cough so he...
Ethan: Momma? Can you tell God that I don't want my cough to go away? I want to have some more honey tomorrow.
Me: Um.
Ethan: Well, let just ask him if I can be sick for one more day, then after my honey tomorrow night, he can make me better.
Me: Ok, buddy, whatever you want to ask of God you can. But he may make you better anyway.
Ethan: Awwww... *said with frustration*

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Bedtime routines

There was a time when our bedtime routines with the kids were simple and quick. Nowadays they are a complicated dance!

Gwen's are the most elaborate. We thought we had it bad with the numerous "beeps" we had to give each night (a beep is when we touch her nose with our finger). We thought it had gone too far when she wanted to give us foot beeps (touching our nose with her feet, ew!). Lately the nighttime ritual has grown more elaborate and despite it being somewhat frustrating at times, its pretty darn cute.

First we must pray. And it must be a "good pray", not one of those, "Thank you Lord for this day. Amen" prayers. Then she reminds me of the 5 steps. The prayer, then the Eskimo kiss, then the regular kiss, then the hug, then the beep. But that is not all folks. Recently she added another procedure all on her own. She tousles your hair. Then she pinches your ear. Her fingers are run over your eyebrows and you are told, "They feel different". Then she compares the temperature of your forehead to hers. "Hot" "hot" "They match!". (Note: both our heads are always hot). She runs a finger down my ski-jump nose ("whee!"), then touches each nostril. Then she asks that I open my mouth very wide and not bite her finger. But she really does want me to bite her finger, so I do when she tries to put it in my mouth.

So after that 20 minute routine is done, the baby is easy in comparison. I hate to say anything and risk jinxing it, but Elsa has been going down really easy. I lay her down, pat her back, and leave. Almost too good to be true there.

Ethan doesn't like a lot of fuss in the evenings. Usually he wants me to sing, hug, kiss, and pray. A lot of the time we talk about what happened during our day, especially if he got in trouble or I lost my temper with him. We ask forgiveness, if needed, and all the bad air is cleared before we go to bed. Ethan and I butt heads the most, so its nice to end on a good note.

Many nights these little routines seem like a big hassle, but really they are sweet and show the personalities of each of our children.

In other news, Gwen had her first dance class on Thursday. She loved it and looked so cute in her outfit.

I don't know that we'll be returning to the dance studio though. It was extremely professional, which is not a bad thing. However, I think its perhaps a little too intense for what we want for Gwen at this stage. There are also some things, like parents not being allowed to view the class and having to pay to see the kids perform, that don't sit well with me. In a few years, if Gwen really wants to do dance intensely, this would be the place. For now, I think we'll seek out more gentle pastures for her to frolic.

Grammy invited me to go to a brunch at her church today and I had a wonderful time. I got to meet many of her friends and hear an entertaining speaker/comedian/writer by the name of Jenn Doucette. I could relate to so much of what she was saying! Anyway, it was fun morning out with a lady I sure love a lot :)

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Gwen's 4th Birthday and Lake Chelan

I'm waaaay late, but the week has been busy busy. Better late than never.

Gwen celebrated her 4th birthday last Saturday (25th). Can't believe my tiniest baby is such a big girl now. She's a wonderful child and such a blessing to us.

She had a princess theme party and was so excited by her castle cake, castle pinata and the birthday hat!

Wearing her lovely party dress

Have to include this one because Ethan kept trying to walk in front of me while I was taking pictures. Its SO a brother thing.

Opening presents

Elsa unimpressed by the hubbub

A stick horse (er, unicorn). Despite her face, she really liked this!

Uncle Michael helping her read the cards

Pinata! In typical fashion, I didn't get a picture of the birthday girl hitting it down, but the other kids did a great job too :)

A long day calls for a much needed snooze on the couch.

After the party was over, we had to turn our planning to the upcoming trip to the family cabin at Lake Chelan. Its located on Gold Creek, about 8 miles north of Manson. There are no roads that come close to the cabin, so its boat access only. There is also no plumbing, and running water is drawn off the creek and run through a filter into the house. No hot water! Its a lovely, special, rustic place. Its so neat to go to a place that your Grammy has memories of from her young adulthood, as does your Mom and Dad, and you, and now your own children.

Usually we take our boat to Chelan, but the water is quite low this time of year (making it hard to dock the boat) and my Dad wasn't able to come. He's the only one who can make that boat run, so we decided to take The Lady Of The Lake, a ferry that travels the entirety of the lake every day. It makes flag stops at various points... one of those being our cabin. It was totally fun taking the boat, but it made packing hard because we were limited by weight AND we knew that if anything was forgotten we couldn't just send Dad over to the other side to pick it up.

Mom and I were handling the food, and we both had detailed lists. It was a hard balance having to keep things light and lean, and yet still satisfying because we knew we'd be working while we're there and Chelan always calls for a lot of snacks. Mon-Thur I was totally consumed with planning, purchasing and packing.

We got up very early on Friday (me at 3:30) and all met in Monroe at 5. We had to be at Fields Point by 9:30 because the boat left at 9:45. We made good time and were there by 8:45am. The kids were super rambunctious the whole way there... can't blame them though. They were so excited!

Unfortunately we were over-weight on a few items (though some of us think that it was a mistake...) so we had to pay extra, but it was all good. We were on the boat and on our way.


My brother Michael and his girlfriend Melissa. The little pup is Kai, my Mom's dog.

The kids waiting for the boat to come in. Usually there is no beach here. The lake was very low.

Our first view

Getting closer!

We're there!

The day was perfectly crisp and clean

Lovely apple (half the tree is pear I think...) in bloom

Gwen zonked out before dinner

The wood stove that I cooked on all weekend. There is something so... authentic about cooking on a wood stove. When we started this baby up, we discovered that there was an ants nest in either the wall or the stovepipe. Tiny ants came pouring out around the chimney in both the kitchen side, the living room side and even upstairs where the chimney passes through to the roof. They all died. I'm not kidding when I tell you that we swept up dustpans full of the things. Luckily after the initial carnage, there were no problems.

Everyone playing Settlers of Catan

Doing our clean up of the grounds... we burned a few fires on the rocks to get rid of a bunch of driftwood

Working and playing wears a kid out! Even better when you have your great-Grammy to snuggle with.

Ethan, Elsa and Toby taking their nap

The Lady picking Becki up on Saturday. See how far down on the rocks she had to load up? That was a nightmare to move coolers and bags up and down on wobbly rocks.

Nana and Elsa

Gwen showing off her marshmallow. You can tell she'd had a few...

Aaron and Ben

Our first family portrait with Elly and aren't we a sight?

The bonfires burning at dusk...

Random house shots. It is just so lovely in spring!

Our stuff to load onto the ferry... do you see a little face in there?

On our way home we stopped at EZ's in Wenatchee... awesome burgers! They also have the most darling kid's meals.

Our drive home was kinda rough. Grammy was riding with us because her car was parked at our house... that's not what made it rough though :) Elsa cried almost the entire way. When we stopped in Wenatchee for dinner, I got garlic fries (yum). I then proceeded to spill the oil from the fries on Toby, who was nestled between the two back seats! Ugh. Just what we needed in a crowded car. A dog covered in fragrant garlic oil! The baby continues to cry, the kids continue to fight. We stopped and switched drivers multiple times. Finally, just 30 minutes from home, everyone falls asleep. Poor Grammy. She was very kind about the whole thing but I'm sure she was glad to get home to some peace and quiet!

All in all we had a great time. I wouldn't say it was relaxing for me, but any trip to Lake Chelan is restorative to my spirit.