Saturday, October 31, 2009

getting ready

We spent much of yesterday getting ready for today. The kids are not trick-or-treating or going to any harvest festivals. We've done that in the past a few times and enjoyed the fun family time, but around here things just are not very family friendly. In our neighborhood many of the houses are decorated with VERY scary things (there are a few that we've seen that are really bad even in day light), last year we found that the costumes got pretty bad too. The kids are very excited about our plans for this year, and have had a good time helping me get it all together.

*it looks like we've already been having too many sweets though, we're loosing teeth!

The big fun yesterday was putting together goodie bags to pass out. We decided that we would pass out bags full of candy, with tracts in them. It was fun to see how excited the older kids
were about the tracts and that they knew this was the most important part of the goodie bag. I had planned to have the older kids do this project during nap time, but we had other things to do then. Mr. M had gone to shooting practice with Rob, leaving me just four kids to do this project, two of which I thought would be no help. I was wrong! Mr. S and Miss J were great
helpers! Miss J was so enthusiastic about putting the candy in bags that at one point we had to distract her by letting her eat candy so we could finish the job (she was fine with the concept of one candy per bag, but when we switched candy types and went to three per bag she just could not follow).

Next came decorating some pumpkin shaped cookies. This was fun, and I was able to get a big job done at the same time. The big kids took turns decorating and moving oatmeal from the huge bag to smaller bags for storage in buckets. Once again we had to
distract Miss J from "helping". She is often very good at helping with jobs, but this time she was getting more oatmeal on the floor than in the bags, however she was quite happy to decorate cookies once she saw that was an option!

Rob and I made some chocolate popcorn balls that the kids had found the recipe for and asked me to make. I don't think they are very good, but I'm thinking the kids will enjoy them.

We're also getting ready for Miss C! At this point she could come at any time! One of the hardest things for us in getting ready for a new baby is figuring out who will watch the other kids. We always try to find someone close by, that we know really well. This is easier said than done, we know plenty of people that are willing to help with the kids, but most of them live 20-30 minutes away, they are our back ups though! We are so blessed to be stationed again with a family we went to church with in Florida! They live right down the street and are more than happy to watch our kids when Miss C comes! Miss E will be coming to the hospital with us this time. She had asked to come when Miss J was born, but we were not ready for that. This time we think she is ready and this has really provided some nice times for the two of us to talk and for me to enjoy my "little girl" as she is growing up! However I was a bit nervous about having to wear my "mom hat" during labor, but a dear friend is coming along to be Miss E's buddy so I don't have to worry about that anymore. We had not planned to have anyone else come to be with Miss E (I'm not big on having others there, the less people the better. I mean, last time the doctor was barely in the room for the birth! LOL!), but this friend happened to mention in conversation how she had always wanted to be at a birth (besides her own kids), she is one of the few people I think I'd feel comfortable having there. So, I shocked her by asking her to come to Miss C's birth, she is so excited! Miss E is excited to have here there with her too. So, everyone is now waiting for the phone calls to get moving. We can't wait!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

distractions


After reading my blog post about the daily bins we rotate a friend at church offered to loan their collection of lincoln logs to us for a few months! I decided to make them our Wednesday bin since the kids have not been as engaged in the wedgits lately. They had a GREAT time playing with them today! They will be a welcome distraction in the next few weeks/months while we are able to have them. This collection is much bigger than the one we have and the kids spread them all over the living room making up some wonderful buildings and other fun things! Small distractions like this are exactly what we need right now. Not big enough to tire me out and it really just blends in with our normal day, but it is special and captures the kids' attention. They also thought it was cool that their friends were sharing with them! This picture was taken just as they were getting into them, so there are not too many things built in the picture. Miss E joined them shortly after the picture was taken, and Miss J was on her way down for a nap.

Monday, October 26, 2009

adjustments


I made some adjustments to my diaper bag that I had made this summer. I could tell right away that something was just not quite right with the bag, but I needed to think about it and then figure out what to do about it. I knew it was something with the straps. They were too long AND too far apart. I took them off a couple weeks ago and just now got to cutting them down and putting them back on differently. The bag feels (and looks) so much better now! I'm much happier with it.
We're making other adjustments around here too. About this time in pregnancy I always "hit the wall". I'm just done and it takes everything I have to just keep the basics going around here (with five kids, basics can be quite a bit of work!). We could tell I was getting to that point a week or so ago and started making the needed adjustments. This week we are pushing through what I had scheduled for school, but I'm doing very little cooking and we're not doing much extra stuff. I do have a couple fun things planned for Friday and Saturday, but the kids will be doing most of the work (and they are so excited!). After that we are cutting way back! I don't have any school stuff scheduled, instead I have plenty of Thanksgiving/pilgrim books, worksheets, and activities in place for either myself, Rob, or my mom to do with the kids in the coming month. This will keep the kids doing school, but allow for the days we know are coming (but can't be scheduled) that we will not be doing school.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Trick boy


About a year ago Mr. S discovered that he has a "trick thumb" (it is double jointed). Encouraged by his siblings he began showing anyone and everyone that would look. Friends, family, people at church, doctors, nurses, commissary workers, total strangers.... Everyone has seen his trick thumb! Its cute in a very Mr. S sort of way.

This week he found a new trick at dinner one night. He had a piece of cheese stuck to his nose and Rob suggested he lick in off, he tried. He could not quite make it, but he could reach his nose with his tongue! Rob exclaimed "you have a trick tongue!" Oh my, I could just see it! Now everywhere we would go he would be showing this off too! We quickly pointed out to him that this was not okay to do anywhere but at home and NOT at the dinner table unless asked to do so by mommy or daddy. He has been great about it, but is quite happy to show off when asked!




video

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

belly pictures

With every pregnancy but Miss E's I've gone and had "belly pictures" done. This accidentally turned into a tradition, and its a fun one! I wear black and all the kids wear white (usually nightgowns/silps and boxer shorts/undershirts). We all have a great time with this and it signals to the kids that we are at the end of the pregnancy, they always look forward to this. We have a fun time with the poses, they are always a fun time for all of us to get a bit creative and I think my kids' favorite part is when I'm posing on the floor and they get to figure out how/where to pile on mommy!

This time the photographer took a close up of my belly with the kids' hands on it. I knew it would be sweet, but it was not what I was wanting (I wanted to SEE my kids in the pictures!). However she did a great job of captioning it with "blessings" in larger print and then in small print under it "every good and perfect gift is from above... James 1:17" I thought that was so sweet and had her show Rob (he came along with us to help out since the kids were also doing individual pictures, so we had a few outfit changes happening). He liked it too and wanted to get it to hang in the house, it looks great in the frame!
In an effort to cut down on the chaos when we go back in a few months for family pictures and sibling pictures (you know, after Miss C arrives and has had some time to fill out and get cute!). I had all of the kids do their individual pictures this time too. Aside from wanting to be able to look back and see how they've grown physically I want their pictures to show their personalities too. So, I usually let the kids pick out their own outfits for these pictures (I have veto power though!). They all knew exactly what they wanted to wear, and I was not at all surprised by their choices. Miss E's favorite outfit right now is the apple one, and Mr. R loves to wear orange so I expected these choices. Mr. M and Mr. S chose exactly what I thought they would, but had hoped they would not! Mr. M talked Nana into these outfits on a shopping trip and has been so excited about his and was thrilled that is was coming into the rotation this fall! Rob and I decided that since these outfits fit them so well (personality/age wise) that we would go ahead and let them wear them. Miss E had picked out Miss J's matching apple outfit for her, but when we were there doing the belly pictures Miss J just could not get enough of this little set of stairs. She looked so sweet all in white on the white stairs, so we decided we would go with that instead.

car seat

One of the last things we NEEDED to do to get ready for Miss C was to get the infant car seat out, wash the cover, and put it in the car. Miss J was very excited to see it and until it made it out to the car she spent quite a bit of time in it, saying "baby". (it took about three days to get the cover washed, dried and then put back on correctly) Once we had her get her baby doll out to help size the straps she seemed to understand a bit better that it was NOT for her and she enjoyed talking to the baby in the seat and taking care of it. So, at this point we are really quite ready for Miss C, I still have a list of things I'd like to do. Those things are just "fluff" though, now I'm trying to just slow down and enjoy these last weeks.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Taste of Home "cooking school"


Miss E and I had the opportunity to go to a Taste of Home "cooking school" event last night. One of the ladies at church organized the evening out, and Miss E was so excited when she heard about it weeks ago. As much as I wanted to go I just was not sure I would be up to it (by the end of the day I'm not good for much these days!), and so we never made plans to go. However, a friend was not able to use her tickets at the last minute so I was able to buy both of hers so I could take Miss E! Rob and I decided it was worth the effort since she was so excited about it, and to give us some special time together and with some wonderful ladies from church! I'm so glad we went!We had a great time!

Our group got there over an hour early and were able to get the first and second rows on one side. With being there so early we had plenty of time for fellowship, and I enjoyed the extra time walking around with Miss E too. She was the youngest one there, but a couple of the teens she knows from church were there too, she thought it was great to be able to sit with them.
Miss E seemed quite absorbed in the "show" and I'm sure she picked up plenty of tips and new ideas while watching. It was great to see how excited she was about the whole thing. It lasted 2 1/2 hours and we were there over an hour early, that is a long time for a kid, but she did great! Not once did I hear that she was bored!

The highlight for her was at the end of she show when they were giving out the last of the door prizes. She won one of the dishes that was prepared that night! She was so excited and beaming
from ear to ear. I don't think she even cared what it was that she had won,
but one of the first comments she made was "I'm going to share with Daddy!". Sure enough when we got home the first thing she
did was to give him her winnings! (She won a tray of open faced sandwiches, the serving tray was part of the prize too, it is very nice!) One of her friends also won a gift basket, in
fact much of our group took prizes home. There were 14 of us, and I think we came home with 7 (or more) prizes!

Monday, October 19, 2009

newborn cloth diaper stash

I have never cloth diapered a newborn before, so though used cloth with my last two kids I needed to get all new diapers for this stage. I started picking up these diapers, and some of the fabric too, before finding out that we were expecting a girl so there are not many "girly" diapers for Miss C.

I'm not exactly sure what kind I'll like best, or even how long this size will last, but I've heard that you want to have at least 24 newborn sized diapers if you want to use them right away and you don't expect a baby over 9 pounds or so. So that is what I have.

I picked up 12 newborn sized pre-fold diapers. These are like the old fashioned white diapers that my mom used with us, but smaller so they will not be so bulky on a newborn. I'll use a snappi with these instead of pins.

Covers- The pre-folds need covers, I have 5 xs ones. Two are the "thirsties" covers that have an
umbilical notch in them (one white, one celery). The other three are by "bummis" (one white, one with celery dots, one jungle print).


Fitted diapers- These are not water proof, but are easier to use than the pre-folds since you
don't have to fold them and they snap closed. I made all of these. Since they should be fairly absorbent I don't know if I'll have to use a cover with them if I'm just using them at home during the day. I used minky on the outside of these, it is so soft, I can't wait to put them on Miss C!

Pocket Diapers- I like using pocket diapers best of all (at least with Miss J), but these are more
expensive. These are water proof and go on and off like a disposable, but you wash them and re-use them! I purchased three of these, there is a blue one with a cow print inside and an aqua one with a penguin print inside as well as an "air force baby" embroidered one. I had purchased a pocket diaper pattern a couple of years ago, so I used that as a guide for making the rest
of the pockets. I made three out of the celery outer and the monkey print inner. I also had some Christmas print PUL fabric too, I made two out of that, I'm not sure if they will still fit her around Christmas, but I figured it was worth the try!

So, for now I'm set on cloth diapers. I'm not sure how long these will last Miss C. It really depends on how big she is when she is born and how quickly she gains after. If she is on the bigger side these could only last a couple weeks to a month. If she is smaller then I may be able to use them for longer. Once she grows out of all of these I have the small diapers I used for Miss J. However I also had some "one size" diapers that I used during that time that I'm still using with Miss J, so I may have to pick up some more. I like the bum genius one size diapers (they don't work so well for newborns though, I've heard), but I've been looking into the blueberry one size diapers as well (the thing is that they cost quite a bit more and so far the best thing they've got going for them is the cute prints, I don't think its worth the extra $$$, but they sure are cute!). Having more one size diapers will come in handy if Miss J does not potty train soon since I'll be able to use the diapers on either one of the girls. Otherwise I've got pockets, pre-folds, and covers in sizes for both of the girls.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pizza fun

We all made our own pizzas for lunch today! I had a bunch of shredded cheese left over from making the lasagna that needed to be used, so I thought this would be fun. The kids all had a
great time rolling out their own dough and putting the sauce and toppings on. These were all very simple pizzas since I had not planned this so we did not have many choices for toppings. I also just wanted to keep it simple and really did not feel like digging around in the fridge and pantry to see what we had. Everyone was quite happy with cheese and pepperoni.

Miss J had a great time too, but she did not think it was fair that I had rolled out her dough for
her. That was the best part, and she had to miss it! So once she was done putting the toppings on her pizza she nicely asked for more dough so she could roll it out herself. She stayed busy doing that until her pizza was cooked and ready to eat.
This has been a quiet day today and that was exactly what I/we needed. We've had quite the busy week again and I'm really feeling it. It was nice to just hang around at home and though I have some things I would not mind getting to, I'm mostly just taking it easy and enjoying the day. The kids have been having fun doing some more stop motion videos and playing with legos. Miss J has needed extra cuddle time the last few weeks, I think she knows that she is not going to be the "baby" anymore and is getting a bit nervous about that. I spend quite a bit of time holding her, but today it was nice to do that and know that there was nothing else I needed to get to!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Another cooking day


Yesterday I had another big cooking day, and I think it will be my last big one, I'm really slowing down (or at least I can tell my body wants me to!). A friend came over and we put together three different meals (a total of 12 pans of food). This friend is due to have a baby around the time I'm due, so we both need meals in the freezer. We also made extras to give to another friend that could use a break from cooking dinners. It was a great time of fellowship and it made my work go so much faster (I would have been doing most of this cooking on my own since these were things I wanted in my freezer). I'm so glad we were able to do this!

Early in the day Miss E made some pumpkin bread. As soon as Miss J heard that she would be making bread she ran to get her apron on and headed to the table to "help". This time I
encouraged Miss E to just give Miss J some flour and such in her own bowl so that she could make her own bread. She had a wonderful time and it was so cute to see the confidence with which she acted and she pulled various items out of her little kitchen that she felt she needed to accomplish her task. She asked for each ingredient as she saw Miss E add it to her bread, and when we would not give her any liquid ingredients (which she seemed to think was a mistake on our part), she calmly walked over and tried to swipe and egg from Miss E! She finally figured out that she could have just about all the flour and spices she wanted, but NO liquids, and was then content to go on with her creation. She made a huge mess, but she had a great time with "the girls" and is learning to love helping in the kitchen! She gave us plenty of reason to laugh too! I just love that both of my girls enjoy working in the kitchen and that we were all able to have a fun time together while accomplishing some important jobs!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

pumpkin cookies


Mr. M and Mr. R were thrilled to be able to gut a couple of pumpkins for me yesterday. I want to make pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cookies and I'm even considering making pumpkin butter.

The kids had a great attitude about not getting to decorate their pumpkins this year. In
exchange for their pumpkins the first thing on my list to bake was the pumpkin cookies (I thought it was only fair to the kids). My Auntie J sent me a great recipe a couple of years ago for these cookies, but of course I messed with it! It was good, but it had the potential to be somewhat healthy too, so I used whole grain flour, used my own pumpkins instead of canned, reduced the sugar and added more vanilla (I think that was all I did to it). The kids all loved them and said they turned out better than last year (when I did not mess with them so much)!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The pumpkin patch

Going to the pumpkin patch was always a fun yearly event growing up for me. My Auntie B had the perfect place we always went to with a ride out to the field where we got to pick our own pumpkin and then there was always plenty of other fun to be had around the farm. I try to make picking out our pumpkins fun for our kids too, but sometimes its hard to find a good place depending on where we are stationed. It was easy to find a good place here! We went on Monday to the same place we went last year, Rob and our Friend Miss E were able to come too!

This place is an organic farm and though they already have all of the pumpkins picked and in a
little field ready for you to choose from, they also have plenty of other fun things to do. The big hit was the corn maze complete with chickens roaming in it! We all went through the maze once, and then Rob took the kids a couple more times.
There were also a couple of herb gardens that the kids enjoyed exploring. Mostly they had fun
trying to get close to the chickens that were also hanging out there, but they had fun checking out the plants and smelling them. I think Miss E had the most fun in the gardens. I enjoyed having more time to visit with our friend Miss E, we were all so glad she was able to come with us.
Then it was time to go pick out our pumpkins. The rule is that you have to be able to carry your own pumpkin to the wagon. Usually the kids all try to get the biggest pumpkin they can, but at
least two of them got rather small pumpkins, they could have lifted so much more. Since the plan was to cook these pumpkins I had to pick out a couple of my own to make up for the smaller ones that were
picked out. Miss E appeared to have picked out a water mellon (her's was large), but upon closer inspection it turned out to be a pumpkin after all! Thats why I love this place, they have so many different varieties of pumpkins!

kid fest




This Saturday we went to "kid fest" it is put on at our local county fairgrounds that we drive by regularly. We went last year and the kids all had a great time, so when they saw the signs again this year we told them we would do our best to go. This is a free activity, so we just needed to make sure we had the time set aside!We got there plenty early so we could get a decent parking spot and had a good time while waiting in line. One of the kids found a caterpillar and that provided quite a bit of entertainment for a while. Once we got in the big kids headed right to the bounce houses, while Miss J just enjoyed watching everyone bounce.
There were plenty of games to be played and everyone was giving out prizes. Miss J quickly figured out that all of the baskets/buckets on the tables contained candy and that all of the people behind the tables wanted to give it to her! She had little to no interest in anything else at that point.

Four of the kids won vouchers to "black bear diner" for free kids meals. We thought that would be a nice way to finish off the morning of fun so we took the kids there for lunch. The kids were all so well behaved (more so than usual it seemed) and we enjoyed the time so much. Then it was back home for much needed naps!

Friday, October 9, 2009

packing the hospital bag


Miss E helped me pack up my hospital bag today. It is not totally packed, we made up a list of things that either need more prep work before they can go into the bag, or need to be purchased on our next errand day. I still have about five weeks until I'm due, but I always like to be prepared, and by the end I'm usually so tired that its just not a good idea to leave things until then that could be done now.

It was fun having Miss E help me. She has enjoyed being involved in each of my pregnancies, but she is older now and it is fun to have her helping out and involved as she becomes a young woman. It is something fun and special to share with her.

I had one project I had to do on my own. Our babies always bring treats with them that are arranged in their bassinet when the kids come to meet them. This is mostly for the benefit of the youngest child that does not quite understand yet that this baby is a good thing! We like to add a bit of encouragement towards that way of thinking. ;) The big kids always look forward to what the baby will bring, and ask for months ahead what I think the baby will bring them (its never anything big, but they still look forward to it!). Its almost like our family's version of santa! LOL! I'm taking advantage of the
season and using a bunch of smaller candies to make up goodie bags. Since our kids will not be trick-or-treating this will still be exciting to them! They are now packed away in my hospital bag, and I'm looking forward to taking them out sooner rather than later (I just need a couple more weeks and then I'll be done baking- both food for us and Miss C!), but I'm not due for five more weeks.

a little helper and a little "mommy"


Thursday was a cooking day for me. I made four lasagnas (one for dinner, two for my freezer, and one for a friend), and two loaves of garlic bread after doing school with the kids and all of our other regular everyday things.

Miss E's job today was to make zucchini bread (her favorite quick bread). Mr. R wanted to learn how to make bread, so I had him help her. That went okay, but next time I think I'll just supervise as he tries to do it on his own. I think he can figure it out. They made a great double batch! (at least it smelled great, both loaves went right into the freezer).
The big hit of the day was when Miss E was making her second double batch of zucchini bread. All of the boys were busy with afternoon clean up and Miss J was running around getting into trouble. Miss E invited her to come help her (I was making garlic bread, Miss J was not interested in helping me, she just wanted to be held if she was in the kitchen). Miss J thought helping Miss E sounded great and stuck with her from start to finish (I love our school table, it is great for most projects the kids do!). She helped pour everything in after Miss E measured it. She helped stir (you should have seen the mess!), and once they were all done she even helped with clean up! Miss J was determined to do all that she could to help out and be a big girl! It was great to see her interest in helping with the food and her ability to stick
with the job. I think the best part though was to see Miss E working so well with her, including her in the work even though it really made more work for her. I guess I liked seeing these things because these are both things I work hard at, teaching the kids to enjoy serving/working and I work hard to include the kids in most things I do. It was great to see both of these things reflected in my "little helper" and my "little mommy"!

*this morning I got up to find Miss E had helped Miss J pick out hair bows (Miss J LOVES her
hair bows). Miss J thought it was quite important that this morning she have her hair done before breakfast, so Miss E changed her diaper, got her dressed and did her hair too, all while I made breakfast! What a good big sister she is (and a great help to me)!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

an afternoon at the ranch



We have some wonderful friends that happen to own a 1,000 acre ranch in a valley fairly close by. Rob made plans for us all to head out there on Monday afternoon. He loaded the van up with bikes, air soft guns, snacks, and of course the family and off we went for a wonderful afternoon of fun and fellowship! We've been out here a few times, so the kids had some idea of what they wanted to do, but it is still all quite new so just stepping out of the van provided plenty of excitement and fun! They got to hunt for lizards and ride their bikes around a bit before heading off to the chicken coup. Our kids would love to have chickens some day, so they never pass up a chance to go see the chickens here. Mr. S was the best at holding the chicken and had a great time with this one. The big kids each collected and egg and put them in the refrigerator in the barn.

Among the many attractions of the ranch is their lake, however it had dried up. This provided even more fun than if it had been full (I think). Mr. R and Miss E were excited to be able to get all the way out to the island to explore it.
Mr. S and Miss J had fun
throwing rocks into what water was left. The problem was that though it looked mostly dry there were many spots of thick, gooey mud that even the kids would sink down into (Rob had no hope of crossing). One by one we lost the kids to the mud in varying degrees. Miss J was the first to really get it. I could see that her feet had gotten stuck, but before I could get to her she toppled over and got her hands in it. This is thick, rich, sticky, black mud- she was not impressed- she kept saying "gross". We got her all washed off but she lost the use of her pants and shoes for the day. About the time we were done cleaning her up we realized that both Mr. S and Mr. R were stuck in the mud too! Rob had to go out and rescue them, but the mud could not support him so he ended up doing the rescue on a wooden box to spread the weight a bit. It was quite a sight to see! Miss E and Mr. M just got their shoes/boots a bit muddy, but did not get stuck.


After that we enjoyed some kite flying, target practice, and a snack. The boys were so excited to get to bring their guns and swords to play army and/or hunting! It was great to see them running and playing in the wide open spaces, enjoying the great outdoors. This place is the
perfect place for guys (and girls) like ours. Miss E loves plants and animals so she was thrilled to have the chance to explore this place too. We are so blessed to have friends that are willing to share such a wonderful place with us!
On our way home we stopped for pizza. I had a great time at the ranch too, but Miss J requires much help and supervision in a setting like that and I'm not really in the best condition right now for such activities (but I just can't pass up a chance to go to the ranch, it provides such great learning opportunities and fun for the kids and great fellowship with our friends!). Rob was so sweet to realize that I was worn out and needed food quickly so he stopped at the first place that looked family friendly, we had a great time and the food was good too!