Not Me Monday!

As always, it feels good to lay the honest truth about the week out there and there have been more less-than-wonderful moments this week than I’d care to admit.  Not Me Monday’s over on MckMama’s blog always offer perspective and make me feel a little better about my imperfections!

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I did not assist a child (who shall remain nameless) on the side of a busy road in going potty while my sister handed out a dozen wipes from the van and tried not to laugh.

I did not take a nap on Sunday afternoon instead of clean and shop and do other responsible things that desperately needed to get done.

I did not manage to workout only twice this week despite my new goals of 6 days out of 7.  And along those lines I did not put off returning an email requesting I write some reviews for a new fitness video…deeming myself “not the right person” for such a task!!

I did not start laughing during said workout when my son asked “Why is there so much popping mama?” as he listened to my tired body try to move speedily 🙂

I did not question (only slightly) my ability to homeschool with many young children in my home.

I did not use dessert as leverage to convince my kids to eat a bowl of cucumbers, nope we just eat healthy for the fun of it… (nevermind that ‘dessert’ is the yummy protein cookies we’ve now made two batches of in one week!).

I certainly didn’t order pizza twice in 5 days.

I did not drink diet coke in a coffee mug so no one would ask to share, I love sharing my food/beverages/bathroom time/hairbrush/everything with my sweet children all day long 🙂

I definitely did not lament (only for a moment) that I have two budding readers at home and our ability to spell words that we’d rather not say out loud has just gone out the window!  Like at Red Robin on Saturday when my sister spelled S-E-X-Y and then both older kids started (loudly!) sounding it out.

Just Heard Thursday

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(One day late) – it’s been a long week!

Audrey has decided it’s time to be done nursing.  It feels strange to have an almost 18 month old baby and to not be pregnant again.  By this time with all the others, we already were expecting another.  Somehow this week, Kyler became acutely aware of his sisters’ other food source (me) even though she hardly ever nurses anymore.

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Kyler (forlorn, watching Audrey nurse):  “I wish I could be Audrey.  I wish I could snuggle an’ have what she’s havin’.  Yeah, I like mama so much.”

Kyler (again later, just staring at Mama):  “Yummy mama (sigh)”.

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Caleb:  “Can we play that fun game?”

Mama (knows he means UNO which lasted a LONG hour yesterday):  “I just woke up, I’m not ready for that yet.”

Rylee:  “But I heard you get Audrey up early.”

Mama:  “Well I did, I got up two hours ago with her cause she was screaming her little head off.”

Caleb:  “Well then you lied to us.  You didn’t just wake up, you’ve been up a long time, you can play the game.”

Mama:  Okay, what I meant was, I’m still just waking up.  I haven’t woken up enough to play the game.

(I shuffle away sleepily)

Rylee:  “See Caleb, she can’t even make the right words yet.  She’s definitely not awake yet.”

Benefits of a large family

It’s been a while since I’ve written about some of the aspects of  life with several kids that are (in our opinion) a blessing…so here are a few that have popped into my mind this week:

  • When the youngest is tired, even though she is only 16 months old, she goes and gets her lovey and a pair of jammies and lays herself down to sleep in the middle of the living room
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  • The older ones are great at snuggling the littler ones in bed (and telling great stories about binkies and dirt bikes)
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  • Older kids that are quickly learning to read, LOVE to read to the younger ones
  • Food never goes bad.  We used to have trouble eating things before they weren’t good anymore.  I realized recently I almost never throw food away any more.  In three days this week we ate 4 pounds of minneolas, 3 pounds of grapes, 2 cucumbers, a box of spinach and 8 pounds of apples.  At that rate, there is very little waste!
  • There is always someone available to unload the dishwasher or go check the chicken coop for eggs
  • There is always a chance to learn yet another lesson in sharing and practicing kindness (truth be told we are all learning that every day…even me!)
  • Siblings.  Someone to share a ride with or share clothes with or share a smile with.
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While it is loud and sometimes quite hectic, we still think it’s great and are glad this is our life.  We wouldn’t have it any other way….even on days like today-which has been less than perfect!

Sunshine and cousins

We hustled our buns this morning to get our morning school work done so we could go for a walk down our favorite trail.  The nice, clear, blue sky/cool air days are such a delight.  Having a cousin to share them with is even better.

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Audrey was a little sad that she didn’t have a stick like her buddy Isaac. But she found one then continued her ‘baby chatter’ with her cousin.

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How sweet are they?  They are so their own little people already.  Audrey throws fits over what shoes to wear.  Isaac finds danger at every possible opportunity.  Audrey’s face crumples if you look at her sternly.  Isaac is so tough that he does remarkably well ‘wrestling’ with his big boy cousins.

We thought it would be fun to have same-gendered cousins since they would be 6 weeks apart in age…but wow, we both feel abundantly blessed to share our lives with these two little people.   They are both such perfect gifts to our families!

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“Got my pink shoes, my pink kitty, my pink jacket and my favorite lovey-what a lovely walk!”

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“Got my stick.  What else is there?”

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It is possible this one needs a haircut.  But man is his straight, soft hair so handsome.

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And this one?  He was carefully holding his treasure in the lid to my coffee, a super fuzzy caterpillar that he brought home with us today (he also-unknowingly-brought a shoe covered with fresh dog poop into the van, that was fun).

My fab five baby picks (after 4 kids!)

I was pondering the other day what kid stuff I would choose if I had to pick 5 favorite things.  After four babies in six years, there are a few things that I really love.  Some I discovered later into the game and some have been around from the start.

1.  Phil and Ted Stroller (with double ‘jump seat’ attachment) – This is my newest discovery but it still makes the list because it is so wonderful that I’ve sold every other stroller that was taking up space in our garage since this one is so top notch.  It has options for every possible baby/kid scenario.  It is incredibly lightweight, it folds up so small that it takes up a fraction of the space in back of my van compared to my other recent strollers (the Joovy Caboose and the InStep double baby jogger).  We often go out without a stroller, but when we need one, this one fits the bill in every way.

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2.  Ring Sling style baby carrier (like the one I bought from this darling Etsy shop) – I’ve been through about 12 different baby carriers.  Most have been sold on Craigslist.  The only remaining ones around here are an Ergo, a Baby Bjorn and my ring sling.  The ring sling is so easy to nestle a newborn in and so quick and easy to slip a growing baby into for a hip carry.  Mine is a deep cranberry Tencel material and it still feeling positively yummy.  It packs up super small (which has become one top priority criteria these days!).

3.  Food.  Dinners I mean.  Okay, so it’s not a baby or kid product.  But there is something completely magical about getting to dinner time and having someone bring you food when you have a new baby.  Or in the months/years that follow when the days are still quite chaotic and exhausting, opening your freezer to find….real food.  Not a frozen pizza or corn dogs.  Food that nourishes and leaves you feeling full and good.  Food that you made.  Food that your friend who has five kids made you and brought to your freezer.  Food that Dream Dinners made or maybe the deli at Costco made?  Yes, that kind of food.  Absolutely priceless.  (And diet coke has been my long-standing unhealthy vice/coping beverage since day one as a mama.)

4.  Swaddling blankets and special blankies.  The first for new babes who startle themselves awake.  The Miracle Blanket saved our life more than once when we were going crazy with fussy babies.  It is weird looking and expensive but worth it’s weight in gold.  The second for all our kids has helped in them sleeping on their own.  They have all had a blanket that was special and smelled like their smell that they would snuggle with to sleep as they got older.

5.  A diaper bag that is organized,  functional and easy to clean.  I had to delete the word ‘cute’ because honestly, it wasn’t on my list.   For our first three kids, this was the Eddie Bauer diaper bag backpack.  It worked so hard for me it didn’t matter that it wasn’t pretty or trendy.  It held loads of clothes covered with bodily fluids of every kind.  It was big enough to hold snacks and baby supplies and serve as my ‘purse’ even once we had three kids.  It was small enough to fit under the stroller.  It was black and waterproof.  Need I say more?  I love that backpack.  But for baby four I did splurge and get a darling pink camo Wendy Bellisimo diaper bag that I have had such fun using the past year!

The things I didn’t need that I bought?  The list is long but on the top of it would be the giant carseat stroller combo thing.  I would have just needed a good carseat and then maybe the cheap little carseat carrier stroller if at all.  Also things like bottle warmers, powder scented bags for dirty diapers, a swing/bouncy seat/baby rocker (none of our kids spent much time in any of the above no matter how hard we tried).

And all the baby toiletries I thought I needed!  I had lotions, creams, washes and products up the wazoo.  And now, we just use Burt’s Bees Baby Wash for all 4 kids and some apricot oil if their skin is dry.  Same for baby medicines, holy cow we used to have a baby medicine for EVERYTHING.  And we shelled out doses of Tylenol like it was candy.  Last year I threw it all in the trash (since it was expired anyway!).  And now we have homeopathic tablets we use as needed and give a dose of Tylenol every once in a blue moon.

My how things change!  I am continually amazed at how simple things can be, how much we can do without (whether it is voluntary or involuntary) and how my perspective on parenting is ever evolving.  Just when I think something is worked out…it isn’t.  There is no “I have arrived”,  there is simply “We’re at least on the road” and doing our best every day (which on days like today means getting really, really dirty and laughing till we scream…and drinking diet coke…and eating tamales from the freezer that I bought from a darling little Mexican girl at a garage sale).

Stories…a favorite part of homeschool

I love books.

I love writing.

I love words.

I love watching my kids fall in love with the written word more each day.  We are spending a LOT of time reading.  I am continuously surprised at how much time they can sit and listen to me read to them.  Sometimes, I wish they were ready for a break and my mouth gets tired.  But I love it.

One of the highlights for me right now is is the time Rylee and I are spending going through First Language Lessons by Jessie Wise.  It’s one of the few things she’s doing on her own since she and Caleb are at close to the same level in most areas.

Part of that learning and part of what we were already doing this fall before I started with that book is having her write (by dictating to me) stories.  It is so fun to hear what comes out of her mind.  This is a little story of her’s from this summer:

Once upon a time in a land far, far away there was a rose.  The rose loved his land and his other friends the flowers.  And his mom one day told him he could soon go out for a date with one of his friends.  For their date they went to the church and danced and had beautiful cake that was made by the rose’ mom.

And one day they were going outside and you know what they saw? A huge rose, that was their grandpa, and a smaller rose-that one was their grandma.  And they went out on a date with both of them.  Then the rose went home and had a lovely, lovely cup of tea and went to bed.

Then he went to bed and woke up and stretched and woke up to a HUGE puppy that was so loud and he took care of the puppy all day.  Then he had another lovely cup of tea and went to bed.

A recipe for breakfast success

After a week without my second most important survival tactic-COFFEE-I am still alive.  I haven’t been the most patient or most perky mother every morning but my stomach feels better and I managed to get off the caffeine roller coaster I’d found myself on each day.  Every 3 hours I needed more coffee.  With a little cream and sugar.  So the calories were adding up and my stomach hurt from at least a half a pot a day of liquid energy.

Instead I drank two cups of Guayaki Yerbamate.  What the heck is that?  That’s what I thought when I bought a box last week.  But the tag line for the product said “Vitality. Clarity. Well-Being.”

Those are three things I’d like to have a bit of.  So I’ve been steeping myself some tea every day and it’s been good.

Along with that change, I have been bored to tears with our breakfast regime.  I make pancakes or waffles almost every morning.  Eggs sometimes too.  So I was delighted to find a recipe on one of my fav blogs for Breakfast Cookies.  I’ve tried to make these several times with several recipes.  None were good enough to make again.

Enter “Analiisa’s High-Protein Breakfast Cookies“.

Easy to make, full of awesome ingredients and absolutely the best ‘health cookie’ I’ve ever made.  As Caleb carefully measured each ingredient with me, the first sample of the dough told me we were in for success.  Caleb would like to eat a ZONE protein bar for breakfast, lunch and snack.  So my hope is to have these on hand and it will be far more economical even with the long-ish list of ingredients.

High-Protein Breakfast Cookies

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 c organic sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup soy protein powder-be ready to shell out a few bucks for this one (not soy flour)
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1 t mace (I used nutmeg after I couldn’t find mace)
  • 1 t allspice
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 eggs (I used 4 small eggs)
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, blueberries, cherries (I used dried cranberries)
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans (or any other nuts-I did walnuts)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In food processor chop dried cranberries till nicely small.  Then process nuts and oats if desired.  With kids, I prefer this to big chunks that they can pick out or complain about.
  3. In a large bowl, mix sugars, flours, berry/oat/nut blend, soy powder, baking soda and baking powder, salt and spices.
  4. Add oil, eggs, water and vanilla, and stir thoroughly until blended.  The dough should begin to gather in a ball in the center. Sometimes you have to add more water, depending on your ingredients. This recipe is not an exact science!  The dough will be sticky.
  5. Place balls a little larger than a golf ball on cookie sheets covered with parchment paper. Flatten slightly.
  6. Bake 8 to 9 minutes (do NOT overbake), and cool on a rack.
  7. Store in a tightly covered container. These cookies freeze well.

Just Heard Thursday

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Here are a few things that made us laugh this week (and one from July that I found and had forgotten to post)!

Kyler (to a toy phone):  “Yes, I do.”

Toy phone (again): “Do you want to be my friend?”

Kyler:  “Yes, I said yes.”

Toy phone:  “Do you want to be my friend?”

Kyler (exasperated, still holding the phone to his ear):  “Yes, I said YES already!”

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Toy car:  “The Piston Cup is mine!”

Kyler:  “No its not.  It’s mine!”

Apparently he can argue with toys if no one else is around.

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At the dinner table last night a discussion of muscles arose:

Caleb:  “Squeeze real hard Kyler, like this-then you can show your muscle.”

Rylee:  “If dad were here, he would show us his muscle and it would be like a giant, hard rock.  He’s so strong.”

Kyler:  “You have muscles mom?”

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Rylee:   “Yeah, Princess Camp was pretty fun today.  Except this one girl named _____.  She made us call her  AngelCake.  She was really mean.  She kept hitting me with the streamer sticks we were playing with.  She kept going in time out.  She didn’t listen at all.  That was not so fun.”