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Sunday, August 31, 2008

GULP!

I think I might have dyed Julia's hair by accident.

Julia's hair is becoming dry and brittle and in an effort to salvage every last twist of her trademark curls, I used a deep conditioner that came with my hair dye from July. In a perfect world I would have some organic conditioner from the health food store, but I figured the other stuff would work for the time being. That is until I caught a glimpse of red in her damp locks. What's done is done. It never dawned on me that there would be a hint of color in the conditioner.
Gulp.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

4 the love of siblings

Julia adores her big brother - almost to a fault. Her favorite toy is whatever Sam is playing with. Her favorite activity is being in Sam's space. For the past two weeks the kids and I have been in a downward spiral of boredom, laziness on my part, and the most annoying of toddler behavior. (Screaming, tantrums - she actually foams at the mouth they are SO bad)
All of these in combination have made our household edgy, grumpy, annoying, and majorly bummed out. Thank goodness school starts on Tuesday!! Not necessarily looking for a way to escape the plethora of bad attitudes, we have been doing our best to get out of this funk as I call it. Brian took Sam to GanderMountain to purchase some fishing lures while Julia and I read stories under the giant willow trees in our backyard. (Ever since I was a kid I've dreamt of reading books under a shade of a weeping willow.) Brian has taken the kids fishing a few times as well.

In the midst of all the frustration there have been pockets of brightness - Julia continues to do well at potty training (as long as she goes bottomless she doesn't have any accidents), Sam has moments (actually 15-30 minutes) where he'll play with his matchbox cars by himself), and Julia
brings smiles to all our faces when she sings the ABC's or counts to ten. (something she started doing two weeks ago) I wish I could upload a video of her singing and counting. It's adorable all run together - especially the L,M,N,O,P part.




We plan to squeeze out every ounce of joy we can of our last summer weekend - no crabbiness allowed!
Tonight we're roasting marshmallows over the fire, the guys are sleeping in the tent and thanks to Merranda's idea I might check and see if we can go bowling tomorrow.
What are YOUR plans for this long weekend?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A whole week?

Has it really been that long since I blogged? Geez. Sorry 'bout that.
I actually had to go read my own blog to see what I wrote about last.
The last week has been a blur of activity and preparation for my sister's visit. She and Lily arrived Monday evening and it's been a rollercoaster of emotions ever since. Lily wasn't gaining weight, but didn't have insurance to be able to go to the doctor. Kara lives in a different county and it was an uphill battle to get my county to help out with some much needed forms. Would you believe the woman I talked to wouldn't even tell me if she had the three forms I needed in her office? Ugh. I don't get it. I knew the exact name of each of the forms and she wouldn't tell me if I could pick them up at their office or not. Stupid.

Your prayers for Kara and for Lily are appreciated. Specifically, you can pray for an easier time with the navigation of the paperwork trail, the communication between the center where Kara and Lily will be living and the agencies who are helping them, for Kara as she continues to learn the ropes of motherhood, and for Lily - that she would continue to gain weight.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - sack o' potatoes

(Pictures from my MIL retirement party back in July)










When was the last time YOU were in a potato sack race?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

4 Little Men & Twins on the Way

Please join me in prayer for Brittany and her unborn twins who were in a car accident this morning. You can read her story here.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The worst drought yet

***Pop Quiz answer posted at the end of this post***

There is an ebb and flow to the number of pacifiers we can locate on any given day. Ever since Julia decided that she needed at least three every night to fall asleep we've been lucky enough to be able to keep track of 3-5 most of the time.....until yesterday. We came home from the hospital and couldn't find any. Somewhere I know there is a stash of them that we brought home from the cabin last week, but we haven't been able to find them anywhere. We tore the house apart at bedtime, desperate to find one. The couch coughed one up so disaster was averted.

Twenty-four hours later we found ourselves in the same desperate situation because the one paci Brian found in the couch wasn't the kind she liked and for some reason and the only other one I could scrounge up was the one we had cut the end off when we broke Sam of the paci habit.
"BOKE!" she said with a sob - over and over again. She was also crying about going to the bathroom too so I had to keep getting her up and taking her potty.

A knock on the door tore me away from the bedtime battle and five minutes later as I was walking back from checking a camper in at the office I remembered that there might be a paci in the stroller I keep in the back of the van. Score!
She was out like a light before I could walk the five steps to her bedroom door. (Which goes completely against the answer to my pop quiz question from earlier in the week - The average person takes 7 minutes to fall asleep.)

Introducing....

My niece, Lily Angel
born August 15th at 9:39pm
7 pounds, 7 ounces
19 inches long

Lily with Grandma

and with Aunt Katie


Since she was "supposed" to be a boy my mom, sister, and I went on a shopping spree when we left the hospital to grab some lunch. No more blue for this beauty!


Sam and Julia were shy, yet curious about their new cousin.














Congratulations Kara!


She's beautiful!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Surprise!

It's a .........









boy girl!

I'm still in shock that they told my sister, Kara, that she was having a boy at her 20 week ultrasound but about an hour ago she had a little girl. I can only imagine how Kara must feel after 19 hours of labor to be handed a daughter when she was expecting a son.
In the morning the kids and I will head up north so they can meet their new cousin, but first
I'm going to go peruse all the blogs of pregnant ladies I know who have posted recently asking for baby name suggestions since Andrew James won't work for my 7 pound, 7 ounce niece.

If anyone reads this before I leave to go visit her tomorrow morning feel free to leave you suggestions for names. She likes names that start with A, K, or J. Irish names are high on her list too.

Zzzzzzzzzz's

Apparently I wasn't meant to go to bed at a decent hour tonight. My sister called at midnight to say she was headed back to the hospital now that her contractions are getting stronger. Hopefully the next time I log on it will be to share the exciting new that I'm officially an aunt.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

potty mouth

I'm so mad right now! I was sitting here updating my blog, adding new pictures to my sidebar, etc... when I hear a knock on the door. Uh-oh. This can't be good at this hour. Did someone need to call an ambulance? Would I have to go out and quiet down a rowdy group of campers? Was somebody dumb enough to want to check in at 11 o'clock at night?

Nope.

The large group that is here for the night was..... get this.... out of paper towel in the women's bathroom.

IF I had been asleep in bed and been woken up (and the rest of my crew along with me) I would have handed them some rolls from MY bathroom and sent them on their way.

This isn't the first time that I've been rendered speechless because of something a camper has said to me. (Once, I caught a lady who had left her dog unattended and she gave me the excuse that her 12 year old daughter must have let it out. When I asked her where her daughter was, she said she didn't know. Nice. And I was worried about the dog.

At least the woman tonight had the decency to knock quietly instead of ringing the doorbell. I grabbed my keys and headed up to their campsite (for the 3rd time today). My blood really started to boil when I got up there and saw that a bunch of cars that I had asked them to move hours ago were still parked illegally.

I kept as calm as I was called the "toilet paper lady" by someone. Doesn't anyone know what time it is????!!!?!?!?!?!?!!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
But this is my job, you say. I know I know. They need toilet paper and paper towels.

So off I marched to the storage room to grab an armful of supplies only to discover when I entered the bathroom that there were FOUR ROLLS four rolls I tell ya! left in the bathroom, not to mention that the mens room was fully stocked. If they HAD to go (say because it was in the middle of the night and nobody in their right mind wakes up a total stranger to tell them they need toilet paper) they could have used the other bathroom.

I'm only going to say this once and then I'm going to stop pounding on my keyboard:

How many rolls of toilet paper was one group need from the hours of 10pm until 7am?
Seriously people, you are camping. Shake the water off your hands or wipe them on your pants.



There I feel better now. Sort of.


More with Less - potty training

We're potty training Julia almost a year earlier than Sam and to be perfectly honest it's because we are trying to cut our expenses as much as possible. More than ever before I'm glad we invested in cloth diapers to fill in the gaps while she's training. So where does the More with Less lesson come in? Instead of buying candy as a reward for going in the potty I bought a bag of these TollHouse treats. I get more candy and spend less money AND I indulge my sweet tooth at night with a small handful.
I'm also getting more with less by using the old fashioned Gerber plastic pants instead of the fancier diaper covers. For less than the price of one cover I get three (better fitting) ones.

Other reasons we've decided to start potty training is that she talks so well and it's much easier to train in the summer months. It would be silly to wait until next summer. She's totally on board now so why wait?
With the warm weather we're having she simply runs around naked (less laundry!) when we're downstairs on the hardwood floors and wears a cloth fitted diaper when we're upstairs.

Today marks end of the first week of training. How is she doing?
1 accident in 5 hours this morning
8 times peeing in the little potty chair (I'm a big fan of the chairs where kids can go by themselves. It only took her a day to learn the cues that she needed to go so now any time she has the urge, she simply runs over and goes. It also means less times in a day that I have to ask her if she needs to go.)

My goal for the upcoming week: For her to be able to stay dry when she has undies or a diaper on. She wets her diaper more than she has accidents and considering that she's not wearing a diaper very often, that's an area we need to work on. All and all I am very happy with how well she's doing. We aren't in a hurry, we don't go out much, and she likes going on the potty.

What hints have you found helpful in training your kids?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

You are special


We work very hard to make both our kids feel special and do our best to not compare Sam and Julia. One way we heap on some extra lovin' is to make the day of the month they were born their "special day". Sam was born on the 13th so each month on the 13th he gets some extra attention, gets to pick out what we eat (within reason) and gets a special privilege (watching a movie, one-on-one time with a parent of his choosing etc...)
Yesterday his special treat was to get a bagel from Target.
I sang happy birthday to him while we snuggled at bedtime, kissed the second freckle he got as a 6-7 month old and told him how much I loved being his mom.

It happens to be VBS week at our church so he was able to play with his new friends Savannah, Zach, Naomi, and a friend from the community center, Riley. The kids giggled as they batted a balloon back and forth, they tumbled into each other at the end of Ring Around The Rosie, and they each focused on creating a watercolor and crayon masterpiece during art time.

Soon preschool will start. In fact, I got the school supply list in the mail the other day and about cried. I am so happy that he'll be attending a Christian school only five minutes from home. He'll have 7 girls and 7 boys for classmates. How cool is that?! He'll be gone from 8:30 until 11:00 twice a week. Thanks to JMom's idea I think I'm going to start a chart similar to hers as well as a Bible verse to work on. We've had a very lazy summer as far as structure goes which was fine by me. We're going to savor the final days of summer before Sam heads of to school.

Cabin Recap

Last week we spent four glorious days up North at a friend's cabin. The weather was P.E.R.F.E.C.T. The lake was like glass for much of the day, but somehow there was enough breeze on land to keep us from getting too warm. I was a little concerned about how Sam would sleep without his pack-n-play, but he ended up being so tired at night that he fell asleep in my arms while we sat around the fire most nights until almost midnight. Julia asked to go to bed by 9pm - two hours past her usual bedtime.

On Thursday the kids played in the water - a LOT. I think Sam, Adam, and Tommy (twins who are six months older than Sam) ran for an hour straight back and forth in the shallow water of Hartley Lake.

We missed having Brian there with us, but thought of him often. Brian's family has been friends with the cabin owners since Brian was Sam's age. These families have lots of history together which always comes out in funny stories told by Tony (one of Brian's groomsmen at our wedding seven years ago). We're now privileged to watch the next generation form life-long friendships. Each night the kids played with Sam's little bag of Matchbox cars until it was too dark to run around anymore.

Friday we were given a taste (literally!) of some of the best blueberry picking around. Sam went fishing with the other boys, Julia hung out with Sharon, and by the end of the day I had two exhausted kiddos who slept through the night again.
Saturday morning brought us yet another picture perfect day. We started off with pancakes with freshly made blueberry syrup before headed off to find another berry patch.
In the afternoon we took a drive to get the biggest ice cream cones of all time, as is tradition.
Another tradition we continued was going to the dam. The water is deep, clear, cool, and weed free. We washed our hair, splashed, watched a boat launch, and greeted a canoe full of our friends who came to see what all the screaming was about. (The kids weren't all that excited about washing their hair.)

Back at the cabin Sam took is first ever canoe ride and then Julia and I went out for a cruise as well. We watched a juvenile eagle fly over us and had a loon surface very close to the boat.
Water activities continued to entertain the kids through the rest of the night with all eight kids fishing from the dock. I even caught myself a bass with Lucy's Snoopy pole. Before we called it a night we roasted marshmallows and watched the stars come out. Every day we watched the moon move across the sky and reflect over the water. What was strange was that the moon didn't rise, but instead got lower as the day went on. Anybody know why that is?

Saturday night was the worst night of sleeping of the whole trip. There were nights that Sam fell off the air mattress or woke up in the middle of the night for a second, but this night took the cake. At 4am Sam woke up and asked for a drink of water. The talking woke up Julia who cried for 20 minutes. At 6am Sam woke up saying that he was all sweaty - except it wasn't sweat, it was pee. I got him out of his jammies and we went back to sleep. At 8:30am we all woke up to discover that not only was Sam's sleeping bag soaked, but so was mine. ugh. gross.

Sunday morning we packed up the van and started the five hour drive back home. I had hoped the kids would have taken long naps in the car but that wasn't the case. Sam never slept and Julia only dozed off for 30 minutes. I still have the bruises from being smooshed in between the car seats in the third seat, but they're worth it.
(Rather than upload soooo many pictures I opted for a collage. You'll need to click on the image to see them better. Bonus points to the person who can pick out which two pictures Sam took.)

Captions for each photo will read from the left to right like a book.

1.
As excited as all the kids were about the prospect of playing together they were shy at first. Running in the water quickly cured that Thursday evening as the sun set over the lake.

2. Tony was very brave to take 4 little boys out fishing Friday morning.

3. The sign for the cabin at the end of the driveway. It's been in the family for generations.

4. Blueberry picking near the cabin. It is so peaceful up there. The kids can walk down the middle of the road and pick as many berries as they want.

5. Grandpa picked the most blueberries out of all of us. He used a picker that he designed and built himself. Whenever someone came back from picking the littlest ones (especially Julia) were right there to sample the berries.

6. The kids played really well together considering they were sleep deprived. These are the kinds of days I want my kids to remember about their childhoods - hours and hours of playing outdoors with their friends. Julia had at least 10 slivers from the dock and just as many scratches - a sign of a good trip IMO.

(second row)
7. A loon from our boat cruise on Friday night

8. Maddie is six months older than Julia and was the perfect model for me while I gave her uncle Chris some pointers about apetures, f-stops, and shutter speeds to use with his new camera.

9. These are some of Tony's handmade fishing rods. Isn't he talented?

10. Sam caught 5 fish on Friday night

11. Julia wasn't as lucky, but she had fun anyway.

12. These dainty daisies were scattered all over the place. Julia and Sam picked some to cheer up Grandma who came down with the flu.

(third row)
13, 14, 15, 16. The giant ice cream cones I wrote about earlier. Sam ate his entire vanilla cone without needed one napkin. Julia needed 30 by the time she polished off her strawberry cone and half of my chocolate peanut butter revel one.

17. These signs can be found at many of the intersections up there.

18. I didn't get a signal on my cell phone up there so internet was out of the question even if my computer hadn't been in the shop. I felt like we were in the boundary waters because we were completely cut off from the outside world since there wasn't even a land line phone where we could be reached. We couldn't check in on little Stellan, but he was always on my mind.

(fourth row)
19. This isn't a posed picture. Julia put her hand on Sam's back on her own. How sweet is that?

20. Sending Sam off in a canoe without me was hard for me to do, but I'm trying to not be so overprotective.

21. The kids thought it was fun to go for boat rides on land. They each had a paddle and would sing Row Row Row Your Boat.

22. By 11:30 the moon would turn this orangy color, right before it went behind the tree.

23. I started potty training the day before we left for the cabin and I didn't want to lose the momentum we had gained in one day. She did really well up there too. In 4 days she only used 10 disposable diapers. This picture also reminds me of my bad mom moment when I glanced up to see Julia climbing on the open toilet seat of the outhouse when I thought she was playing ball with the boys. That could have been beyond horrible.

24. Big Blue - that's what we called this blueberry patch. Eleven of us could sit here for hours and pick.

(fifth row)
25. It took 5 hours of picking to get 1/2 a bucket of blueberries. Wild blueberries are tiny, but so fun to pick.

26. Snug as a bug in his sleeping bag.

27. Kitty leading the way on one of our berry adventures.

28. Sam and Tommy picked berries for almost two hours on Friday (when they weren't busy picking up logs and climbing over stuff). It was funny how some of the kids ate every single berry they picked and others put them in their cups for later.

29. Saturday afternoon's nap: He rolled off the mattress, but stayed asleep. Now that's tired!

30. Julia's first canoe ride - Look out Boundary Waters! Here we come! (as soon as we ditch the diapers for good)

(bottom row)
31. More of the glass lake. Have I mentioned how perfect the weather was?
32. My first fish in a LONG time.
33. I took this from inside the tent when we took a nap on Saturday.
34. THE BEST ICE CREAM IN THE WORLD
35. There were a bunch of little fish who came to say hi while we were at the dam. Julia wasn't so sure about them.
36.One tired girl.

Pop Quiz

I'm married to a walking encyclopedia. Brian is a bottomless pit when it comes to trivia. He soaks it up every day by reading baseball stats, trivia books, and even by reading TriviaPursuit cards sometimes. He was one question away from passing the Jeopardy test. Me? I have a tendency to soak up useless knowledge. Things like: The first ingredient in licorice ten years ago was flour. (Now it's high fructose corn syrup.) Or this one: My third grade boyfriend's birthday is January 3rd. The reason I bring this up is because I found a collection of random trivia the other day and thought it would be fun to share some of it with my readers in the form of a pop quiz. Here's the first question:

How long does it take the average person to fall asleep?


Wordless Wednesday
















I couldn't think of a caption for this one so I'm using it as my WW. Anyone have any good ideas? Sorry no prize awarded except the thrill of being the most creative. :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

9 days with Daddy

Last month Brian was laid off from work for a week. This was a mixed blessing for us. One one hand we were stoked to get extra time with him, but missing a paycheck is brutal.
We also had to tend with the fact that we NEVER get time to do things as a family away from the park. We thought long and hard about what special activities we could do during this rare window of opportunity.
We kayaked a few times over the 4 of July weekend.


We dined on our porch many times. Thanks for bringing the yummy shortcake Sharon!



We cooled off at the beach at least three of the days.


This is the face I get when I ask Julia to smile lately.




We went to church together and watched little Sierra get baptized.


We made it up to the tennis courts for the first time this season. If you can call always being careful not to bop the kids with the ball playing tennis.



Sam's coordination is improving the older he gets. He enjoyed hitting the ball so much he didn't want to wait for his turn.


I'm looking forward to the day that they kids are old enough to play on the playground near the courts while Brian and I play tennis.


Our one day away from the park we chose to visit the Como Zoo. It was HOT like it usually is when we go, but we went early and had a great time. Our favorite spot was the Butterfly Garden. I could have stayed in there for hours.




Back at home we grilled, roasted marshmallows, attempted to sleep in the tent,



and spent some time fishing.















Of course the time went by too fast and soon Daddy had to return to his routine of waking at 5:15am.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Back in saddle again

Phew!! I can't tell you how good it feels to be typing on my OWN computer again! It was a long two weeks without my "baby". I'm going to pull an all nighter and get get caught up on my work. I dropped the ball big time with a couple projects that have been in the works. It will feel SOOOO good to get caught up. It will be great to get caught up with all of YOU too. I didn't want to get too many blog addresses plugged into my work computer so it's been a while since I've checked in with many of you.
I could write all night about the spur of the moment road trip the kids and I took over the weekend, the flu bug that is going around, Julia's potty training and the backlog of pictures I have to post, but duty calls.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

It's about the perfect time




I know many children half Sam's age that are in toddler beds, twin beds, or even full size beds, but since he has never attempted to climb out I never felt the need to move him to a toddler bed. As his fourth birthday draws near I figured it was high time I made the switch. I watched Craigslist for deals on toddler beds but never saw anything that would work in his room. Then I remembered that the front of my cousin's crib came off and maybe, just maybe that would work for us too.

Cha-ching! No need to spend money on a bed. Sam sleeps securly and soundly in his "new" big boy bed - until 6:20 that is, and he comes in to tell me "I like my new big boy bed Mommy!".

"Great Sam, then go crawl back in it until 7am. "

Keeping it real


You may have noticed my lack of pictures lately and that is due to my computer being broken. It's looking like it will take at least 2 weeks before I get it back. I have all my data on a new external hard drive and am piecing together ways to get some work done. One of the things I've figured out is how to post pictures using my work computer (without having to save them on the computer - this photo especially) The catch is that I can't edit them. You are getting them SOOTC (Straight out of the camera) as Pioneer Woman calls it.


So on with the reason for this post... Why is my daugher only wearing puddle boots?


because it's potty training time at our house, that's why!
Almost a year before Sam started, Julia is learning to tell me when she needs to go. Four hours of running around naked this morning yielded only 2 accidents and then success. She ran over to the potty and went all by herself. A peanut butter chocolate chip for a reward and then it was back to playing in the garage which happens to be a great location for potty training. Who knew!?

today is a gift

That is why it is called the present.



Recently I've tried to put my feelings of contentment into words during a conversation with Brian. Being able to stay home and raise Sam and Julia is a gift I treasure and one I know I write about often. No matter how often I try to put it into words, it never seems to be enough. Being their mom is the greatest privilege next to being married to my best friend. We have a roof over our heads, a loving family, and more to keep us entertained here at the park than we can do in a summer. I used to want to get out and go somewhere every day, but now I'm content to tidy the house (FINALLY learned to stay on top of the housework most of the time), read, bake, sit on the porch, play in the sand and just BE with my kids. To put it simply our lives are just that - simple. That simplicity leaves lots of room for hugs, snuggles, giggles, and quality time spent as a family. I am grateful for the peace that God has given us after a difficult year. It's hard to believe that it was one year ago that we decided to put our house on the market, that Brian resigned from his job, and my full time daycare closed. We trusted God to work things out and he did that and more.



It was almost two years ago that we welcomed our daughter into this world. I knew to savor every moment as we had decided that she would be our last baby. Somehow 22 months have slipped by and I'm now nursing and cuddling a 34 pound toddler at nap time and bedtime instead of a 8 pound, 14 ounce newborn.


Some of the things that I want to remember about this stage in her development:

When she runs, it's like she's running in place with her knees high and one of her arms flailing.

She insists that I ONLY sing "Hup Baby" (Hush Little Baby) when I'm rocking her. No humming allowed.

She has to have four pacifiers in bed with her at bedtime.

She can get all four in her mouth at once.

The blankets have to covering her and her puppy and hippo.

She's using three word sentences most of the time.

Her screams can be heard in Iowa.

She gives some of the best hugs (Her big brother is a good teacher).

I love this girl to pieces. It's as simple as that.


Monday, August 4, 2008

Catch 22

The computer techs gave me a glimmer of hope to get me through the weekend as I try not to stress about losing the data on my laptop. On Friday they could see the file names, but the "easy method" as they called it wasn't working to retrieve my files. All weekend long they ran a different recovery program and today I got the call that saying that they have retrieved my data. Praise the Lord!
Here's the catch: There is so much data they don't know where to put it. My hard drive is shot and it would take too many DVD's to store all the data in any sort of organized fashion. I need an external hard drive. (Like I haven't been telling myself that for a week!)

Problem is, the money I could have used to purchase a external hard drive will now have to go to the geniuses who saved my data. I also learned this good, yet bad piece of information: My hard drive is covered under warranty and the GeekSquad would have recovered my data for FREE.

Ugh.

Tomorrow I will have to bite the bullet and purchase an external hard drive, then drive to the computer fix-it shop to have them work their magic by putting my data on the new drive, drive back to BestBuy and beg for mercy and miracles that they agree with the techs and replace my hard drive for free - in the same day. I will attempt to accomplish this feat with two kids on an 85 degree day.

Ugh.

Any suggestions on which external hard drive to purchase? I already have 30g of data in 4 months of owning my laptop, but I can't afford the super duper big drives.

Canoe camping with kids

I've been sharing highlights from our recent trip to the BWCA on Instagram . The spot we go is perfect for families with young kids beca...