Thursday, March 31, 2011

moving furniture

So, the other day Mr. M came down and asked if he could get rid of some things in his room and move things around so they would have more room to play in there. I told him that sounded like a great idea, but that I would not be able to help him move furniture, and he should check with his brothers to make sure that what he was doing was fine with him. A little while later I went upstairs to find the landing filled with stuff from the boys' room, including a book shelf!

Later I looked in to find all of their clothes all over, dresser drawers on the floor, and Mr. M attempting to move the dresser (with some help from Mr. R). "Um, did you measure that spot to make sure it would fit?" the reply was "Yes!" with a nervous look at the space they were thinking of using.... a little while later one of them came in to ask to use a measuring tape.
They spent most of the day in there, and I was impressed with the thought they gave to this project and the initiative Mr. M took in doing this project by himself (mostly). I'm proud of them for taking responsibility for their room, and how it functions.

Organizing PJs

The kids' extra PJs were getting out of hand (you know, the out of season or off size ones). I have two bins for PJs, one for summer (smaller) and one for winter. Both were overflowing, and I had piles of PJs on top of them. This past week I pulled them all out of the garage and de-cluttered the PJs.

I took inventory and realized I had a bunch of "boy" PJs that just would not do for little girls, and that I really don't need to be holding onto all of those PJs for a few more years, even if this baby is a boy. I'm donating 1 1/2 bags of PJs, and I was also able to bless a friend with some needed PJs on top of that!

Now the bins have plenty of room in them for storing all of the PJs that are in the house. I was also able to figure out what was needed for this summer (all larger sizes for the "big" kids and one nightgown for Miss J). Since I have plenty of fabric to make any PJs that are needed this summer I'll be sewing all of the needed PJs. In the next couple of weeks this is what I'll be working on! Then I'll move on to winter PJs!

It feels so good to have these bins cleaned out and not have to worry about all of that clutter! Now to work on the rest of the garage....

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

of laundry and a sharpie...

One of my kids came in from hanging laundry on the line with a very pretty pink smocked dress in hand.

"Mom, you forgot to take the sharpie out of my shirt," child says while showing me the dime sized DARK green spot as well as several much smaller spots.
This is something we've been working on with the boys for over a year. Things MUST be taken out of pockets before going into the hamper. We don't let them off easy either. If it goes through the wash it may end up either in the trash, mommy's wallet, or up on the freezer (where toys etc go for a "time out"). Obviously this is not working well and at least one child does not see this as something they are responsible for.

"No, _I_ did not forget to take your sharpie out of your pocket. It was not my responsibility; it was yours. I don't think you will be using sharpies again for a long time." Since this was permanent marker I didn't think that the spot would come out but figured it was worth giving it a try. It lightened a bit but not much. I used rubbing alcohol, bleach, and oxyclean (separately).

this is the "after" picture after soaking for hours
This poor child is learning the lesson of responsibility the hard way. He is buying a new dress (on eBay) for his little sister, as well as a new white maternity shirt for his mom (also from eBay). Maybe he will be the only one that needs to go through this? Maybe the others are watching and learning? I can hope.

Oh, and if you are wondering.... yes, my maternity blouse had several spots on it. It is white so I thought it had a better chance of being fixed, but after spot treating with bleach gel and then running it in the machine with more bleach it did not take enough out to give much hope (though I did give the rubbing alcohol a try). There were a few other things that had spots on them; fortunately the rest of the spots were in hidden places so they are not ruined!

this is also an "after" picture

Monday, March 28, 2011

Back in cloth!

We took a break from cloth diapering during the first trimester of this pregnancy, though we were able to keep it up for a while (thanks Miss E, for offering to help out with diaper changes and laundry!). A few weeks ago we started easing back into using cloth again. Boy was Miss C happy! She loves her cloth diapers!
As we got back into the swing of using cloth again I started evaluating our stash. The pre-folds were looking pretty bad after three kids, we were going to need some new diapers. We've always had a mix of pre-folds and pocket diapers, but now was the time to re-evaluate our reasons for cloth diapering and what worked best for our family.

When we started these are some of the things we considered.

-I started using cloth diapers to help make potty training easier, the cloth diapers (mostly pre-folds) allow the baby to feel wet and have a better understanding of what is going on with their body.

-Pre-folds are harder to use, but less expensive.

-Pocket diapers are more expensive but easier to use (they go on just like a disposable would).

-I like that we are not adding many diapers to landfills (we do use disposables at night and on many trips). Since we use the diapers for multiple children and line dry the energy use is reduced as well. For us, cloth diapering is a way we can be good stewards of our environment.

Some things have changed since starting to use cloth diapers five years ago. I had to consider that I now have some very willing helpers when it comes to changing diapers, but they could not use the pre-folds (at least not very well). While I would not mind continuing to use pre-folds, I'd much rather allow my big kids to help me in this area! After talking to Rob about all of this it was decided that we would switch over to all pockets! I've had some fun looking and shopping (Miss C was excited to look at diapers on the computer too, she was a fun shopping buddy!). I'll post later on what I looked at, what I purchased, and my (short) wish list!

Friday, March 25, 2011


Trying to blog from my hubby's phone.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What do you see?

Do you see three sweet little girls reading?

I do too, and so much more! I see my girls becoming best friends. I see them learning to be mommies; the "baby" is reading to her baby, and Miss E is reading to Miss C. Little moments like these are such a blessing, to see that they are learning and growing, taking on the values we try to pass on to them.
Oh, and their love of books is great too! We spend so much time as a family reading books together, it is great to see them reading on their own regularly too!

I'm linking to "A wise woman builds her home" blog today.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What's wrong with this ad?

Can you see what is wrong with this ad?

Miss E spotted it and wrote a letter. I'm so proud of her in so many ways! It is such a blessing that she is learning to look over adds and helping me with our groceries and our budget. It is also wonderful that her math and reasoning skills are improving and that she is taking the initiative to write a business letter; politely informing them of a mistake!

She is such a blessing to us!

I'm linking to Raising Home Makers today.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Move to do list

Even though our move is not until September, and that may seem a long way off, I'm starting the prep work for it already. With the baby due just six weeks before the move date I can't really leave things until the last minute if I want to have some quality time to recover and bond with the baby! Slow and steady is usually how I go about such things, and I don't think this move should be any exception.

The first thing I did was get a binder and make up a list of the big things that needed to be done before we move. Each month before the move is the header on a piece of paper in the binder, and under it are the things that need to be done each month to keep us on track. I left plenty of room on each page to add more as things come up!
March was easy, it was mostly just getting the list done, and catching up around here. Future months include things like- School planning for the next school year, making a list of simple recipes and the kitchen equipment needed for them (to take with us so I can cook as soon as we get into our house), loading the trailer BEFORE baby is born and many other things like that.
I've also listed things like getting the kids fall/winter clothes and PJs collected. This is not such a big deal now that we know we are moving to Arizona. However; since we are not likely to be in our house until some time in October, and then I'll want plenty of time for settling in, it seemed like a good idea to have that taken care of ahead of time. I'm using this bin on our upstairs landing to collect winter PJ's. The pink paper is there to list what I've put in there already. Once I can see that each child has two pair of PJ's I can close the lid and be done with it until it gets cool there!
I'll just grab the bins of baby clothes in relevant sizes (that are already sorted and organized) to bring with me since it will be hard to tell in those early weeks how quickly this baby will grow and how soon we will need those 3-6 month clothes!

I'm linking this post to

A rough week for pets

This last week has not been a good week for pets in our house. The goldfish started dying off one by one. This was not too unexpected, but still a bit sad. I think the boys are planning to get more next time we are running errands over by Petsmart.

The more difficult thing was when we noticed that the cats had not been seen for a day or two. About two months ago we started letting the cats be indoor/outdoor instead of just inside. They were so happy, but always going in and out! Every once in a while one of them would end up outside over night, but not often. Just over a week ago we noticed that we had not seen either of them all day. Where had they been? By the next day we figured we should put signs up. It seems that there are plenty of black and white cats in the area, because we've had many calls, but none have been for ours. Its not looking so good for our cats, but we're still keeping our eyes open for them.

Friday, March 18, 2011

knitting a baby outfit

I've often thought it would be fun to learn how to knit, but never got around to it until recently. I realized that I was going to have quite a bit of time sitting in my OB's office (he is usually about an hour late) and that this just may be a good time to take up knitting! I've also been able to get some knitting done while watching the kids play outside.

I thought I'd practice on a baby outfit before we find out "who" we are having. Miss E had a fun time helping me pick the colors. Once we find out I'll make a more gender specific outfit, and now that I am done with this outfit I'm thinking that it looks way too boyish to put on a little girl.
Miss J spotted the little leg warmers and wanted some purple ones for herself. I'm working on those right now. We'll see if she actually wears them once they are done.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Racing cars...and trains?

Miss E and Mr R were so excited that they got to participate in the AWANA grand prix this year. Mr. R designed and painted his own car. Miss E had a little help with hers, she asked Miss J what she thought the car should look like.... from then on Miss J became the car's official sponsor! LOL! Miss J thought the "car" should be a purple train, and that it was hers!

Both of the cars raced VERY well. Miss E's won 2nd place! We all had a fun evening together watching the races. Miss E was so sweet to include Miss J in every part of the race, even handing the trophy over to Miss J when it was presented. Mr. R had a good time and seemed to be pleased with how his car did. There were some great looking cars out there, and some VERY fast ones too!

40 Days for life

This weekend our family participated in the "40 Days for Life" campaign, run by the Coalition for Life. Over the last few months abortion has come up in sermons and other times, which led to discussions in our home. This prompted Miss E to begin to faithfully pray that God would end abortion.

At about the same time I read the book "Unplanned" which is the true story of how a Planned Parent hood clinic director's heart was softened and changed. She is now pro-life and working with The Coalition for Life. It gave me a new perspective on those working for Planned Parenthood and also the approach of some pro-life advocates. I would recommend this book for anyone (adult) on either side of the debate.

When Miss E heard about "40 Days for Life," she asked if we could participate. We thought that this was a great opportunity for our kids (and our whole family) to take a stand for life and to teach our kids that it is important to be active in our community in such ways. The closest "event" was over an hour away though, so it required a special trip to make this happen. I think that making the extra long trip showed the kids, in a way, how important this is.

As an added bonus we were able visit and have dinner with some friends who live in the area. Thank you, "U" family!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Crockpot soap with Papa's Lavender

A few months ago we purchased the Homestead Blessings DVD set. We've enjoyed watching them all and have been inspired to try some new things including soap making. Soap making is something I've been interested in for a while, and the DVD made it look so simple and fun! Miss E really wanted to give soap making a try, so the ingredients and equipment went on our list of things to pick up at some point.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a blog post on how to make coffee soap in the crockpot. It looked even easier! I was inspired! Miss E really wanted to try making lavender soap. I realized that the anniversary of my Papa's death was coming up, and that I had a bunch of lavender from his garden just waiting to be used! It was decided that we would be making lavender soap.

We gathered our materials, including safety equipment. I talked to all of the kids about how just one ingredient (the lye) in the soap makes this a "grown-up" job. Miss E was going to observe for the first couple of times we make soap (with eye safety on), and then we would see if she could help a bit some time. Everyone else needed to stay out of the kitchen during nap time and stay quiet so I could give this a go.

It went very well as I added the lye to the lavender "tea" I had made using some of Papa's lavender. Next I melted the oils.

After adding the lye, things just did not progress as it seemed that they should have. After over an hour of heating and stirring my soap never made it to the "trace" stage. Something was going wrong with the soap. I had been avoiding using my stick blender (not wanting to contaminate it with the lye), but I realized that this was the only way to recover my very first batch of soap. The stick blender worked. A bit too well though. All of a sudden my soap was just how it should be! It bubbled up! And bubbled up some more. And more. Soon in was obvious that it was going to overflow the crockpot. I removed the stone wear from the heat to try to stop the cooking process. Fortunately the counter was covered with a towel and I had an extra towel handy so the mess was well contained (sorry, no pictures - I was a bit busy.). My soap progressed very well there without being put back on the heat. I added the last oil, some lavender essential oil, and some lavender buds from Papa's garden. Then I spooned it into the mold (a pringles can; the kids were so sweet to empty it for me!).

I'm going to let this cure for about a week or two and then get these ready to send out to the women in the family as a sweet memory of Papa. I hope they turned out.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

baked oatmeal

A few weeks ago we were visiting some friends and were served a wonderful baked oatmeal for breakfast (the link is to Stacy McDonald's recipe, which is the one my friend used). I've made baked oatmeal before, I didn't like it so much. This recipe was GREAT and so easy. Miss E and I have played with the spices a bit, and it always turns out yummy! One batch plus a few sliced bananas is just right for us, but I'll have to make more in a year or two.

We've been having this many mornings instead of our regular oatmeal. With real maple syrup drizzled over it and some sliced bananas this makes a wonderful breakfast that almost everyone loves (in a family our size you just can't please them all, but some just are not breakfast eaters anyways). Mmmm.... Now I'm hungry! I can't wait for breakfast tomorrow!

"Army" and the crew

We had several new additions to our home this week! Pets now outnumber the kids in our house!

Meet "Army" he is a "fancy bear hamster" and is dark grey. "Army" seems to be a good name for him so far as he is very active, likes to tunnel and climb the cage, and is fast! Mr. S is enjoying his new friend, and I'm enjoying having my "type A" kid busy caring for the hamster!

Mr. R and Mr. M were wanting goldfish. We pointed out that though they only cost 13 cents each they need food and a bowl. The boys would need to keep an eye out for a fish bowl. Those boys got so lucky! This week-end was the neighborhood bargain fair (a HUGE "garage sale" in the community center parking lot). The booth next to ours was selling a small tank for $5. They were set! They now have four goldfish in their room.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Surviving morning sickness

Now that I'm well out of the first trimester and feeling much better I thought I'd blog about surviving morning sickness, partly as something for me to look back to and jog my memory for next time and partly to encourage other moms.

Let me say first off that my "morning sickness" is BAD (diagnosed as hyperemesis). It has been for every. Single. Pregnancy. The exhaustion and nausea are rough, but I can handle those ok. Its the "sickness" part that really gets to me, and (even on medication) comes on suddenly if I'm not careful (or even if I am careful). While I've tried natural remedies that have helped a bit, none help enough. I've used medication for all but two (the first two) to make it through without IV's (though with babies #2, #3, and #4 I was close to needing them). However I think the last two or three have been getting better, and that through some changes we've made maybe the next one will be even better?

Here is a list of things that seem to help-

-Vitamins! I've been taking pre-natals for over 11 years now. About 7 years ago I switched to a more natural one, instead of the ones that are usually prescribed. I think those helped a bit. I've also noticed that taking a B complex for at least six months ahead of the pregnancy seems to help both for nausea and energy level.

-Exercise! I've been trying to get more regular exercise, which is easier at this assignment since Rob's schedule is more flexible. I managed to keep up my morning walks for a while and that seemed to help my energy level, but eventually due to interruptions and life happenings my walks gave way to morning naps. :(

-Beans! I read about the Bean Diet on a blog I read and thought that if it could be helpful during pregnancy maybe eating more beans AHEAD of the pregnancy would help (since I was fairly sure beans would not be sounding yummy for long once I got sick). I think that helped, and I'm thinking I should have kept it up a bit better despite my lack of interest in eating beans. Cooking and freezing the beans ahead of time would have been a good idea, since beans take a while to cook and thinking ahead is not my strong suit during the first trimester!

-Whole foods! The more processed the foods I was eating, the worse I would feel. That doesn't just mean staying away from sweets, and fast food and being sure to bake/cook from scratch, I mean no white flour, no white or brown sugar (though even natural sweeteners need to be very limited), and lots of whole grains, beans, and veggies. Protein is my friend during this time too.

-Great helpers! Now that some of my kids are able to help out more, this time is a bit easier to get through. They love to help watch the little ones, help with meals and even offer to change diapers! They all know how to help with/or do the laundry and clean the house. These are things they normally do, they just step it up a bit. However, they are still kids and our house does usually need some extra attention and a few days (or even a week or two) of re-organizing once I start feeling better.

- Let things go. The house does get messy during this time, things go unorganized, and I don't do nearly as much as I would normally. Even schooling slows down quite a bit. We keep up the basics like math and grammar. When I'm not falling asleep at nap time I read to the kids, and we always read together at breakfast and dinner (catechisms, memory verses, as well as a wide selection of books).

Happy Birthday Rob!

Rob's birthday was this week. As usual, much of the celebrating centered around food! Crepes for breakfast, a picnic at work (an old resort hotel turned school, SO PRETTY!), and Miss E made him dinner..... bagel dogs. She made them from scratch (we did not buy a box of the frozen things) and made plenty of extras to freeze for daddy to take to work for his lunches. She also made dessert, chocolate banana cream pie!

But before we cold eat the pie; Mr. M wanted daddy to throw one in his face! We filled a pie shell with whipped cream and.....Happy Birthday Rob!

Off to Arizona!

We've been waiting for this news for a while, knew it was coming, but did not quite expect it this past week....

We're moving to Arizona in September! Rob will graduate in September, which means it will be time for a new assignment. We are looking forward to this move, and finding out what God has planned for us there, but we will miss the many friends we've made here in California.

I'll post more in the coming months as we prepare to move with six kids and a newborn (baby should be about six weeks at the time of the move)! Yikes! This is going to take some careful thought, and loads of organizing and planning way in advance!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

NASA, stickers, and grandparents! Oh my!

This week-end we headed up for a quick visit with Rob's parents. On the way up we stopped at NASA. The kids had a great time checking out various pieces of equipment and watching a demonstration on the solar system. Of course we could not leave without picking up some astronaut ice cream at the gift shop!

Next we stopped at a sticker factory. They were not doing tours that day, so we got to watch the virtual tour on video. The kids enjoyed looking at the stickers that lined the walls. They LOVED getting to go shopping for stickers at the gift shop.

The kids enjoyed tons of fun playing at G'ma and Grandad's house. There are always plenty of things to explore and fun toys to play with. G'ma also had plenty of yummy foods and sweet treats waiting for them!