Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

Thanksgiving was only a few days ago but already seems like a distant memory. 'Tis the season I suppose...We always pack so much into this time of year.

Here are the highlights of the day we spent with Brian's family...

Sam never used to like wearing hats, but lately has been wearing a safari hat around. He changed to the headdress he made in school for Thanksgiving and wore it some of the day.

Julia broke out the cape she wore last Fall when she was Little Red Riding Hood for Halloween.

Brian's family has a gem of a property in the heart of a large suburb in the Cities. For as long as his little fingers could stand it, Sam was out riding around the property with cousin Kevin.

When the BB guns came out I made Sam come inside. I have enough trouble distracting him from pretending every thing is a gun without him experiencing BB guns.

Before it got dark we headed outside to take a family photo. The kids do so good smiling when I use the self timer. It's when I'm behind the camera that we have trouble.

We spent over eight hours catching up with cousins, aunts, grandmas, and grandpa.
By the time we ate two meals, played a ridiculously loud game of Pit, watched Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, drew names for Christmas, looked through the Black Friday advertisements, and got the kids in jammies, it was time to call it a day... a very very good day.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Naughty or Nice?

Thanksgiving updates will be coming soon...
We've been busy decorating our tree, drinking Egg Nog, and spending time with our family.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend everyone!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving is....

Thanksgiving is a
time of gratitude to God,
our Creator and Provider,
whose guidance and care
go before us...
and whose love
is with us forever.

Thanksgiving is a time
to reflect on the changes,
to remember that we, too,
grow and change
from one season of life to another.

Thanksgiving is a time
of changing seasons,
when leaves turn golden
in Autumn's wake
and apples are crisp
in the first chill breezes of fall.

Let us remember the true meaning
of Thanksgiving.
As we see the beauty
of Autumn, let us acknowledge
the many blessings
which are ours...
let us think of our families
and friends..
and let us give thanks in our hearts.
~~Author Unknown.~~

May you find many reasons to smile this Thanksgiving and always!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Raise your hand if...

- you've ever neglected to take important baby gear (pacifier and sling) along when you leave the house.

- you've let your gas tank get so low that you only have eight miles until the tank is dry.

- your two year old has run away at Target. (Only to be found two departments away hiding amongst the towels)

- you've told your child that you'd buy a toy so (s)he can show Santa exactly what (s)he wants for Christmas but with the understanding that Mommy would return it to the store later just so you can buy their Christmas present in front of them and avoid having to go back to the store to buy it.

- your child sees right through your little game.

- you've taken your kids to Target just so they can entertain themselves in the toy aisles.

- you've been in those toys aisle long enough to be asked for gift advice by the mom of a one year old and direct another shopper to the location of a specific toy when the sales associate is unable to do it.

- you've ever taken your children to see the mall Santa before Thanksgiving.

- you have agreed to sign up for a store credit card in a moment of temporary insanity only to snap back to reality when you realized it isn't worth $4.50 to spend even an extra second in the check out lane.

- you have ever felt like bursting out laughing at the extreme tantrum your child is throwing in the mall

- your two year old is stronger than you.

- your two year old decides to make that fact known to hundreds of strangers.

- you've blogged in your head while your kids scream in the back seat.

I don't know about you, but my arm is tired!

Not Me Monday - 10th Edition

Our entire household is battling colds so I apologize for the lack of snazzy intro to my Not Me post this week. Besides when you hear about the random* dead cat in our front yard you won't remember anything else anyway... Thanks for bearing with me and for visiting this week. I appreciate the human contact since we've been cooped up for so long except for that birthday party I didn't take my kids to despite being sick.

Wait, I wouldn't do that. Not me. I kept my on the mend kids home just to be safe.

Because I didn't take my kids to that birthday party there's no way I was an hour late. Not me. I read invitations very carefully and make an accurate mental note of the start time.

Earlier in the week I did not lose my temper in front of a doctor and her nurse because my kids were misbehaving. I would never punish them for their misbehavior by eating a treat in front of them. I'm more mature than that.

PapaBear didn't let the dog out Saturday morning and completely miss the fact that an orange cat was frozen to the ground at the bottom of the steps.

Our dog is so observant that he certainly didn't miss the cat carcass.

I did not have flashback to my childhood when I had to use a pitchfork to remove a kitten from where it had frozen to the street. Not me. My mind isn't a sponge for that kind of stuff.

What didn't YOU do this week?

*I have seen this kitty once a week throughout the summer, but never near our house...until it fell over dead. In front of my house. And then froze there.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

It's a small world after all

With all the anonymity in the world of blogging it came as a surprise when I learned the author of a blog I recently started reading, as a child lived only a few miles from where my husband grew up, rode the very same school bus, and who's parents know my in-laws. These days she lives with her family next to the town my dad grew up in. (Go Truckers!)
It's been fun getting to know Esther (Mommy Diaries) these last few weeks. She even gave me a bloggy award today. Thanks Esther! (and because I was once a Cheesehead - Go Packers!)

Here are the rules for the award:
1. Put the logo on your blog
2. Link to the person you received your award from
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs
4. Put links to those blogs on your site
5. Leave messages on the blogs you’ve nominated

I'd like to nominate these lovely ladies:

Lindsay at Our Lives in a Nutshell - I love opening up blogger and seeing that Lindsay has a new post up. They are always funny, witty, and many times exactly what I'm thinking, but don't know how to put in words. Oh, and she has a new kitty that looks an awful lot like ours.

Brittany at 4 Little Men and Girly Twins - I've been following Brittany's blog for well over a year. I know that when I go to her blog I will find something that makes me smile - whether it's pictures of her beautiful identical twin daugthers or a well written post on nutrition (a topic near and dear to my heart).

Kelli at Gohn Crazy - I think I stumbled onto Kelly's blog during International Babywearing Week and now I'm hooked. Check out her one of a kind template and you'll be going back for more too.

Jenn at Knee Deep In Munchkin Land - I have been reading Jenn's blog since my early blogging days. She has a heart for the Lord and her family that shine through in every post. Her family has an exciting couple of months ahead of them. I'm thankful for the opportunity to follow along.

JMom at Lots of Scotts - Another blog I've been reading since the beginning. JMom has triplets that are six months older than Sam. Without fail her wisdom reaches deep each time but hits a light note too.

MckMama at My Charming Kids - MckMama's the reason I even know what a blog is. We are In Real Life friends. Her miracle son, Stellan, is a living testamony of the power of prayer.

Jennisa at The Princess Diaries - An In Real Life friend of MckMama's, we've been blogging buddies since I started blogging. Her youngest is three weeks younger than Julia so it's been nice to have another friend who's parenting a two year old.

From the beginning

Three years ago I struck up a conversation with a woman at the community center. She had a son the same age as BrotherBear. She also shared that she was pregnant with number two. I had gotten a positive pregnancy test that morning, but since I had resolved that this time PapaBear would be the first to hear the news, I kept that information to myself. I suppose I could have told a total stranger and it wouldn't have made a difference, but I kept the exciting news to myself none the less.

We chatted each Tuesday during tot time and I found myself scanning the room when we arrived to find her first. When the weather warmed up we'd talk while our boys splashed in the pool. Her son had these toy animals that I thought were great. I went out and bought my own that same day. Later that summer, the day before her scheduled C-section, I asked for her last name so I could send her a gift.

Two months later she brought our family dinner after SisterBear's birth. She gave me her family's blog address and I caught the blogging bug instantly. When I was ready to make a blog of my own my new friend was there to lend a hand.

Both of our families have gone through some major changes since the beginning of our friendship, but the thing that hasn't changed is that I call MckMama my best friend.

Being the fun, creative, and generous person that she is, she's having a contest this weekend. You can check out the details in this post, that includes adorable pictures of her daughter.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Not again!

This picture applies to today too, but for different reasons. The other day I had deadlines to meet, mouths to feed, bills to pay, phone calls to make, trips to preschool....and thankfully I can't remember what else.
Today it was about our whole family being sick. PapaBear has been fighting a cold (or two) for almost two weeks. SisterBear's croup was a blip on our radar, but now she and BrotherBear are "only" suffering from colds and deep rattle-y coughs. It was a miracle that I stayed healthy as long as I have considering I've been spit on, sneezed on, and coughed on daily since these germs entered our home. Late last night I succumbed and now have terrible sinus pressure and a sore throat.

The timing couldn't have been worse. After years of being untreated I finally got to see a dermatologist for my skin issues today. Did I get to sit and quietly discuss treatment options with the doctor? Not a chance. Both kids were running around the room like wild Indians, stepping on the levers to adjust the table, and tackling each other. It was awful. They were defiant and they knew it. I was furious and they knew it. Their consequence was not getting a treat when we went to the store afterwards. I took it one step further and bought myself a treat and ate it on the way home with them screaming all the way home. What kind of mother does that? The kind of mom who's kids get obnoxious when they are sick, the kind of mom who has waited seven years to get some relief for a painful condition, the kind of mom who hadn't eaten lunch, the kind of mom who was frustrated that the doctor's office had zero books or toys for kids to play with.

What stinks is that we had brand new books in the car that would have kept at least one of the kids quiet for the entire time and kept them from antagonizing each other. I didn't bring them in because I didn't want to transfer germs from the doctor's office toys to our new books. Apparently only adults see dermatologists.

Everyone is tucked in their beds now and I'm going to join them in a minute. Tomorrow is a fresh new day - hopefully it will be a healthier one too!

The Bear Family Photo Album

My new blog names and identity may only go back a few days, but we've been a bear family a lot longer than that.

Sister Bear (3 weeks) Brother Bear (2 years)

Sister Bear (1 year)

Brother Bear (4 years) Sister Bear (2 years)

They are the best of friends....when they aren't fighting like cubs cats and dogs.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

More with Less - easy no-knead whole wheat bread

Jenn hit the nail on the head with her comment on my previous post. The beauty of this recipe is that it only dirties the mixer, bread pans, one kettle, and the measuring cups/spoons.

Here's the recipe straight out of the More with Less Cookbook:
(I'll add my two cents at the end.)

Combine in large mixer bowl:
3 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 T salt
3 pkg dry yeast

Heat in saucepan until very warm (120-130 degrees):
2 cups water
2 cups milk
1/2 cup oil

Add to dry ingredients:
warmed liquids
2 eggs

Blend at low speed until moistened. Beat 3 minutes at medium speed. Stir in by hand.

Add 5-6 cups white flour

Use enough flour to form a stiff batter.
Cover and let rise until double.
Stir down and spoon into 2 greased 9x5 inch bread pans.
Let rise 20-30 minutes.
Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

I wouldn't consider this a true whole wheat recipe since there's more white flour than wheat. At the point where you add 5-6 cups white flour, if I have enough wheat flour I use 2-3 cups wheat flour instead. It never hurts to sprinkle wheat bran in either.

The first thing I do is start heating the milk, water, and oil. While that's heating I combine the first ingredients in the mixer. That way I don't have to wait for the liquids to warm up.

When we are out of milk or running low, I use powdered milk. Works like a charm and is cheaper.

Happy baking everyone!

What My Kids Learn From Making Bread

During the summer (when these pics were taken) we spent part of Mondays making bread in an effort to eat healthier and save money.
I wish I could say I kept up with that tradition, but alas, I've returned to buying bread from the store. (We still make these muffins though.) Without any good way to store the loaves they were getting moldy too fast and I've yet to figure out a way to slice the bread so I can use it for sandwiches. It probably has something to do with the recipe I use, but I don't have a bread board either so I can't use a recipe that requires kneading. Does anyone have a good sandwich friendly no-knead recipe?

It was fun while it lasted and I think the kids got a lot out of it.

They practiced taking turns.
They worked on motor skills when they dumped the ingredients.
They learned that you have to work for what you want.
They practiced their math skills.
They learned to be patient.

They learned that things you make yourselves always taste better.

If you are new to my blog this post also talks about why we made our own bread and the cookbook that has inspired me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wordless Wedensday - A new take on tummy time

Evelyn at 5 weeks

(Evie is the daughter of Brian's childhood friend.)

If I Were A Butterfly

Now that you're all humming the tune you might as well sing along with Sam's preschool class as they sing at church:

If I were a butterfly
I'd thank you Lord for giving me wings.

(Those kids in the four year old sure sing loud!)

...If I were an elephant, I'd thank you Lord for waving my trunk...

And if I were a crocodile, I'd thank you Lord for my big smile...

But I just thank you Father for making me ME!

Cuz you gave me a heart and you gave me a smile.

You gave me Jesus and you made me his child.

I just thank you Father for making me ME!

I would have taken more pictures to have all the actions for the song, but with these moms in my way the whole time I let the video camera do it for me. Sam did so good listening to Mrs. W, doing all the actions, and singing the words. I couldn't really hear him, but that's ok.

When the kids were done singing their songs, (they sang Into My Heart first), the rest of the children in the church came forward for the children's sermon. It was very new for us to have a church full of kids. There are only a handful of children at our church each Sunday. At this church all these kids and their siblings sit in the sanctuary during the service.

Sam came home from school on Thursday saying that Jesus was going to be at church on Sunday. I thought he meant the pastor that would have a robe on similar to Jesus.
Then we walked in Sunday morning and saw the front of the church.

See Julia there in the front? I was so proud of her for walking to the front to join her brother. At first she freaked out when she couldn't find Sam, but Mrs. S helped her and she sat right down....for a minute. Then she walked towards our pew. You know how kids will get within reach and then back up? That's what she did. I tried to entice her with her paci which worked OK until she came running back up the aisle. Then I tried to get her to come back to me by showing her a sucker. That got her atention until it flew out of my hands and up the aisle.

Thankfully the rest of the service was uneventful. The kids worked on their suckers and their Color Wonder books.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

This is me

For so many reasons this picture is exactly how I feel.
Being pulled in 10 different directions will do that to a person.
I won't go into the details but I'm feeling down today.

To maintain some semblance of sanity I've been playing this song in my head.


Refresh my heart Lord,
Renew my love.
Pour Your Spirit into my soul.
Refresh my heart.
You set me apart Lord,
To make me new.
By Your Spirit lift me up Lord,
Refresh my heart.

And I will worship You Lord,
With all of my heart.
And I will follow You Lord,
Refresh my heart.

(Words and Music by
Geoff Bullock)

Tomorrow I will start fresh.
Tomorrow my to-do list will be much shorter.
Tomorrow I will love on my kids more.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Not Me Monday - 9th Edition

Seeing this is the 9th week I think I can skip the intro. You know the drill by now right?
Click here to visit MckMama's blog and read hundreds of other Not Me posts.

I am not typing some of my Not Me Monday's on Sunday.
I am not avoiding my work by doing so.
My work isn't doing itself. Oh how I wish it would!
I have not gotten myself in over my head this week with two book deadlines, an Usborne book party to close, and my boss's family photo shoot to proof...all before Tuesday.
Tuesday is not PapaBear's birthday.
I did not completely redo my entire blog identity and layout in one day.
I did not drag my kids outside at naptime to take pictures of them wearing the bear costumes for my new look.
I didn't shoot 70 pictures in 10 minutes so they could get to bed.

I did not take my kids outside to play Pooh Sticks even though I knew the pond would be frozen and the sticks wouldn't float.

My kids aren't sick.
My husband isn't sick.
I do not wish I'd just get sick and get it over with.
I did not take SisterBear to the ER at 4:30 Sunday morning when she woke up with croup.
I didn't take the camera with so I could document our 2 hour adventure.

I did not receive 4 different people's mail in one day. I didn't do those strangers a favor and throw their junk mail away.

I did not walk around being poked in the foot for two days before I realized I had a tack in my slipper.

We did not have to deal with furnace issues for eight days before things were resolved. (Read about the overheating days here and the beginning of the no heat stretch here. The house spent twenty-four hours at 63 degrees and then another twenty-four hours at 52 degrees.

This is not apple cider.

At least not any more!

Friday, November 14, 2008

In the Den

We knew something was wrong with our heat when we left for dinner this evening, but we didn't think it warranted a call to the furnace guy. We figured our employers had spent enough money on us this week with a furnace repair, a furnace tune up, and a brand new dishwasher since our old one conked out).

Unfortunately they'll be getting another bill for tomorrow. The pilot light is out on the boiler. There are wires coming out of all four sides with no clear way to remove a panel even if we did know how to safely light a pilot light. Earlier in the day we noticed that the thermostat wasn't budging from 62 degrees even though the temps were changing depending on what I turned the dial to. That sort of issue can wait until Monday. No heat with lows in the 20's and highs in the 30's can't wait. First thing in the morning we'll be giving the furnace guy a wake up call.
At least we caught the problem before we went to bed. I put extra blankets on the kids and brought their monitors into our room so I could make sure they stayed covered and warm.
Seems fitting that I chose tonight to become a bear. We're going to need the warm fur tonight!

Deep inside Bear Country

...lives the Bear Family.

In an effort to keep more of our personal information personal I have come up with new blog names for our family. I will still use Sam and Julia's names from time to time since I love their names too much not too.

I will be tweaking the layout in the days to come. If you can't see something let me know ok? We're walking out the door to meet Brian's family now and I wanted to get my blog public again before we leave.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Carrie MamaBear
Brian PapaBear
Sam BrotherBear
Julia SisterBear
(this might take some getting used too)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A trip down memory lane

Some of you may not know that this isn't my original blog. My first blog had my last name in the address so I created a new one in January of this year. I don't regret protecting my family from creepy people out there, but I do miss being able to link to old posts. There were over 500 of them. I spent a few minutes this morning going through the posts from November and December. So much has changed since then! I don't expect anyone to have the time or the interest in reading about what we were doing a year ago, but here's the link to November and December nonetheless.
It makes me want get cracking on making my blog into a book. I know I'm not the greatest writer out there, but years from now my kids won't care when they can look at a narrative of their childhoods.

Consider this a plug for making your own blog. You won't regret it! I'm talking to you Tina, Heather, Naomi, Rhonda, Gary and Laura!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

like mother, like daughter

I'm not the only one embracing babywearing* during International Babywearing Week.

In the last two weeks Julia's dolls and stuffed animals have benefited from her emerging mothering instincts.
She pats them on the bottom, covers them with blankets (hankies), and sways back and forth. She also cooks them meals in the play kitchen. It was just about this age that Sam's love of trucks, trains, construction vehicles etc. took off. It is so sweet to see where their interests develop.

When I was a child I was always playing "House". Either with my sisters, my cabbage patch kids, my My Little Ponies, or with my LittlePeople. How fun it will be to do it all over again with my daughter.

* There are companies that sell toy slings, but a simple dishcloth does the trick at our house.


That's all that separates my 2 year old from my 4 year old.
One and a half pounds.

Sam (with shoes on): 38 pounds.
Julia (without shoes on): 36.5 pounds.

No wonder my arms feel like jelly after carrying them at the same time!

That's affirmative

Julia's latest word isn't really a word at all, but the slang word I apparently use quite a bit.
This morning on the way home from dropping Sam off at school...
"Julia, would you like to watch Winnie the Pooh when we get home?"

Winnie the Pooh it is then.

Monday, November 10, 2008

International Babywearing Week

Steph over at Adventures in Babywearing has been sharing sweet and heartfelt posts about her life as the mother of 4. I found her blog when I was a new babywearer two years ago. I didn't wear Sam, but I'm making up for lost time with Julia. I put her in my Kangaroo Korner sling the day she got home from the hospital.

(This photo was taken at the Minnesota State Fair)

(I started this slide show a year ago with photos from my other computer and never got around to finishing it.)

Now at two, she asks to get in the sling. She takes naps in there when we're out in about. MckMama can vouch for me on this one as I arrived to visit her after Stellan's birth with Julia zonked out in the sling. Without a doubt my sling is the most important piece of baby gear I've ever had. I love the feeling of having my baby so close. She loves feeling safe and secure. From 8 pounds, 14 ounces to 36.5 pounds this has been the perfect sling for me. I'm all for trying new things though and would love to win one of the slings being given away at Adventures in Babywearing. If you are a babywearer (or want to become one) check out her contest.

School Spirit Beanie Crochet Pattern

Beat those winter blues and cold winds with this a FLEECE lined brimmed hat! It seems like everyone is wearing a beanie these days - me in...