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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bible Character Night At Awanas

Sam knew right away that he wanted to be a wise man for Bible Character night so besides whipping up one of these, I needed to come up with some royal clothes for him to wear. When I think of 'royal' I think of purple so my mind automatically went to my Sukura Bloom linen sling. I draped it over one of my bathrobes which worked really well to cover the bulk in the middle (the result of shortening the robe to fit a seven year old). Add a crown and a bag of foreign coins from my my trips across two continents and wa-lah! A wise man costume that didn't cost a penny.

Julia didn't know what she wanted to be so I suggested she look through her Bible until she found a girl character. I giggled when she suggested Eve. The irony of finding a costume for a woman who was naked in the garden of Eden was lost on her. But then I got creative....if she carried an apple with a bite out of it, then she could wear a fig leaf costume!  So that's what we made.  She put on three different green shirts, I wrapped her in my Sleepy Wrap and tucked strands of felt leaves I'd strung onto fishing line around her. All that was missing was the serpent but that wasn't a big deal considering how much my kids love snakes. Another free costume and two happy kiddos!


What Bible character do your kids like to dress up as?
Do you every use your baby carriers/wraps for something other than babywearing?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Alphabitty Moments - The Letter G is for....

Good Guys vs. Bad Guys

You know how a picture can say 1,000 words? Well this is one of those pictures. Cowboys and Indians, Fiddle Stix, Little People..these are toys from PapaBear's childhood as well as mine. Then there is the giant Simpson's book that I got PapaBear for Father's Day last year....
Then there's the boy behind this scene. Sammy Sam. Oh how I love to see the creations he comes up with when I walk into our playroom! We recently upped the responsibilities on our chore chart to include cleaning the playroom every.single.day so now they can have room to play in there and not just use that space to chuck the toys they brought back upstairs. What I want to remember about this picture is the sound effects that go with ALL of Sam's playing, the constant turning of everything into a weapon, and his ability to play for hours with a few simple toys.

What G moment do YOU want to remember this week?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It's been five years

Five years ago I carved out a tiny little corner of the interwebs for myself. As it is for so many people, my blog is a catch all of thoughts, memories - some good, some bad, lessons I've learned, and a place just for me. The interesting part of my blogiversary falling on the eve of my birthday is that it maginifies my desire to reflect on another year. But like so many of the times I sit down to tap on these keys I find that there is only silence. It's a conundrum. So much rattling around in my brain so much of the time but my noggin springs a leak somehow and I come up empty. Part of it is having a baby in the house - a baby that until very recently didn't sleep very much at night without being attached to me.

I applogized to PapaBear tonight as I made dinner. I'm sorry I fail. Any time there is more than one thing on my plate I feel like that plate becomes impossible to hold. Everything slips off. Rarely does a single one manage to stay balanced until I can put it exactly where it belongs. I

Sometimes I don't even bother to pick up the things I've dropped.
They are just too heavy. Too much.
I can't do it all. I know I'm not suppose to.

I want to celebrate the times I get it right. The times I get permission slips returned when they are suppose to, the times a healthy dinner makes it to the table, the times I forgoe all the housework to rock Elsa during her entire nap. Times like today when I'm hurry to meet a deadline but I found the time to make muffins with Julia so she could have a bake sale in our living room and made smoothies for Sam to sell at his "smoothie shop".

Tonight as I wrapped Julia in my arms, all snuggled into her fuzzy purple blanket I realized that she was not even four months old when I started writing here. Now she's almost ready for kindergarten.  Tonight I'm so grateful that despite dropping this blogging 'plate' countless times, I'm so glad I keep picking it back up and coming back to this space, my little corner of the interwebs where I get to be me and I get to know you.


Linking up with Heather today for Just Write


Elsa Louise at 29 Weeks

I was this close to giving up on the infant car seat this week. This.Close. So while I mourned the life of easily transporting Elsa I happily shopped for hats for her to wear with her winter coat. I found this adorable one on clearance for $10. It's fleece lined and oh so warm. Warm is good considering winter has finally arrived. We did have one last heat wave though and I took full advantage of the upper 40 degree days and took some pics of our sweet pea in the dusting of snow before it melted.



Then it got cold and for the first time in the series of basket photos I've been taking every week since she was only a few weeks old, I had to shoot indoors. Thankfully the sun was shining that day and I was able to get some decent ones.




New this week for Miss Elsa is the drool. Lots and lots of drool. Put a bib on and then change it an hour later kind of drool. She's discovered that if she waves her arms hard enough she can hit herself in the belly and make a funny noise. She practices this new skill often with great delight. We've had to give up the Miracle Blanket that we loved so much because she's just too big for it. Instead we use a Sleep Sack swaddler from my sister. It works really well and makes at least a couple of feedings a day pain free for me. (she's a pincher and a scratcher when she eats) Even with a swaddle wrap she isn't napping for more than 45 minutes during the day. Maybe it's taking so many naps in the car and not having a regular routine that is causing the sleeping trouble? On one hand I wouldn't mind her settling into a routine but since our schedule varies so much I don't feel like it pays to even try.

Hopefully the cold she's been fighting all week will take a hike soon. It doesn't keep her up at night any more than usual but she hates having her nose sucked out. Can't blame her! Maybe she's teething? Just in case I'm going to start using a amber teething necklace again in hopes that it can relieve any pain she's in. Julia had at least four teeth by now and I think I can see some breaking through Elsa's bottom gums.








Elsa Louise at 28 Weeks

Elsa is almost 30 weeks now so I'm playing catch up with posting her weekly photos. I take them every Friday, but sometimes they sit on my camera until I get a chance to upload them to my computer - a computer that is FULL of pictures. Every time I want to add more I have to remove others. It's a time consuming task that I hate doing! I'd much rather be playing with this cutie and her siblings! The days are going so fast, but I guess in the winter that's a good thing? Not taking very long naps and not staying asleep when I put her to bed at 7pm are the 'highlights' of the 28th week. I used to be able to put her down at 7 and she'd stay asleep until at least 11. This wouldn't be that big of a deal except that I'm working at night and the constant running upstairs is slowing me down. I told myself after the holidays we'd work on 'sleep training' but I just can't bring myself to do it. This to shall pass and if she needs me at night then I' going to be there for her. I'm exhausted during the day from never getting more than 45minutes of sleep in a row for a week straight, but she's worth it!




Instead of a hat this week Elsa is showing off her new crown that I made to go with Sam and Julia's crowns. Happy 28th week Princess Elsa!


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Soaking it up

Before I hit the {blog} books tonight I wanted to take a minute and write about our weekend. I had the privilege of spending a few precious hours with some women I met through blogging [gasp] three years ago. It was lovely to laugh to pass around the [four] babies that were there and to have conversations that were more than 140 characters long. I soaked up that time and will hold it close for those moments of motherhood that make me want to pull my hair out. We.are.not.alone.in.this.

After we all went our separate ways I spent some time wandering Babies R Us. So.much.stuff. I wanted to tell every couple with that registry wand beeper thing that they didn't need half of what they felt pressure to get.  I wish someone would have told me that back when I was one of those stressed out moms-to-be trying to figure out what exactly I needed to be ready for our first baby.  A swaddle blanket, a bouncy seat of some sort, a sleep sheep, a video monitor, and a sleepy wrap - those are things that I couldn't live without this time around.

I called home before I left the parking lot only to find out that the power was out at home again. Third time in six months that someone has taken out a power pole on our road. What are the odds? I mean really? So with PapaBear's blessing, Elsa and I went to the mall. She hung out in the ring sling and I pushed the stroller with the diaper bag. It has become increasingly difficult to get Elsa buckled in her car seat so I picked up a couple of hats on clearance since she's going to have to leave the cozy warmth of the infant seat any day now. Oh how I wish car seat makers would make the straps six inches longer! What's the point of saying a car seat is good up to 30 pounds if the darn straps only work up to 22 pounds? *sigh* I'm going to miss being able to let her continue a nap when we arrive at our destination or be able to sit and play with her toys while I get the older kids settled in their classrooms. It's winter here and man the timing of this car seat switch stinks.

At least the temps have been incredibly mild so far so I shouldn't complain. We've been able to be outside soaking up vitamin D on many occasions, including today.


The dusting of snow we got yesterday won't be here for long so the kids soaked up some winter fun while they could. Sledding, snowball fights, & shoveling.....just for the fun of it.  I could get used to winters like this!

and endings to weekends like this...









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Friday, January 13, 2012

How I made felt crowns

It was Bible Character night at Awanas the other night so I whipped up a couple of costumes for the kids, coincidentally they each wore one of my baby slings. I'll do a separate post on their fun costumes another time. Tonight what I wanted to share was how I used some sites I found on Pinterest for inspiration when I made a crown for King Sam and a crown for Queen Julia.




The inspiration for Sam's crown came from here. The genius in this tutorial is when you DON'T cut out two pieces of felt but instead cut out one, stitch it to the other full piece before you cut. No more matching and pinning like crazy to line things up. Saved a TON of headaches! Instead of making this a one size only crown I used bobby pins to close the back.



We live almost an hour from the nearest craft store so while Pinterest provides a ton of inspiration, we often have to improvise because I'm not running to the store to pick up one or two things every few days. You know what though? That's one of the best things about Pinterest...I find uses for things I already own and don't spend a penny. In fact, I SAVE pennies. Lots of them! Like when I made a huge batch of wipes to replace paper towels in our home. A subject for a different post... Back to the crowns.

This time Julia's:

The inspiration for her girly version came from here. Like I said, I can't run out and get supplies every time the kids ask me to make something for them. (Someone please tell me that they are going to remember that I spent so much time creating things for them to play with. please?) Anyway, I didn't have any pretty cording so I went with the old standby, sequins. This time I figured out how to sew them on without the bead in the center and I really like how it turned out, minus the uneven line of course.

This is what I was talking about earlier in the King's crown - you only cut out the top layer of the crown. Add the embellishments, pin the two layers together, and then stitch it all together. Once you've done that, you can easily cut the back layer out. I don't have big pieces of felt so I had to use white for the back of the crown. Not my first choice, but free is free!
My favorite part of Julia's crown are the flowers. I made them up as  I went along. No two are alike. It was fun to see how much depth I could create with a few scraps of felt, some thread, and a needle!

The best part was playing castle when we were all done. Julia didn't know what to do when both Mommy and Daddy were doting on her majesty and Sam was a really good sport about letting Julia crown him King. All the sword fighting we did so he could earn the title of King might have had something to do with it.

Not to be left out, I made a little crown for Miss Elsa as well.


Instead of elastic, I sewed a long ribbon on the bottom and for Julia's I used bias tape. This way they'll be able to play in kingdoms far far away for as many years as they want.



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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Alphabitty Moments - The Letter F is for....

Face Painting! 

So fun for the few minutes the design isn't smudged but then what a mess when they get an itch. :) Oh well! They are only young once!



What Alphabitty Moment do YOU want to remember this week?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A girl & her pearls


Inspired by this shot I found in Pinterest.


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She's ready for snow

My niece, Josie, turn 9 months this past Saturday so I pulled out some backdrops and set up my mobile studio to capture her sweet personality yesterday. The c.r.a.z.y part is that I was able to shoot o.u.t.s.i.d.e on my porch (where I take most of Elsa's weekly basket photos). It was 50 degrees outside in JANUARY!
Josie might be all dressed and ready for snow, but me? I can live with this uber mild winter! (I DO love snow, but it makes getting around with Elsa SO much easier.) It also makes it possible for me to have access to more natural light for photos! Our house is SO dark with a huge wrap around porch and giant pine trees around the side.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Shepherd Shuffle

For the past four years we've enjoyed participating in the preschool Christmas program. It will be a few years before we get a chance to watch Elsa up in front of the church. Until then we'll treasure the memory of this little shepherd and her classmates doing the shepherd shuffle.






Sunday, January 8, 2012

Elsa Louise at 27 Weeks

Our newly six month old tipped the scales at 22.1 pounds the other day. I was pleasantly surprised to get a green light from our doc to WAIT on solids until Elsa is 9 or 10 months old. Obviously if she shows signs of being hungry before then, we'll jump on board, but for now I'll keep nursing on demand as I have been from the beginning. Her nursing sessions have decreased from every two hours to sometimes making it five hours before she wants to nurse.

Two things are different this week for our sweet pea. The obvious one is that she's sitting up to play (and doing it well I might add - she almost completely skipped the wobbly stage and if she does happen to lean too far for a toy she can already self correct). The more subtle change is that you can see more hair coming in! No more bald spot in the back!!!

I lost every.single.pacificer this week and had to go out and buy more .again. She's partial to the 6months+ Mam brand unlike her siblings who used the Nuk brand. If I hold a paci in her mouth she automatically knows to make noise when I move it back and forth. She's getting the hang of using her fist for her favorite noise making activity as well - that and blowing raspberries. :) Miss Elsa is a chatter box much of the day but start to sing a favorite song and she quiets down and focuses on my face while I sing. I reorganized her room the other day so we spend more time in there (it's where the most natural light is) reading books, chewing on stuffed animals, & looking at her colorful curtains. Anything to keep her from grabbing my face, my hair, my chins, the skin on the underside of my arms...I'm surprised I'm not a walking bruise with the way she clamps on to me!
With a face like this I can't stay mad for long! I just keep distracting her and offering her things to hold. Speaking of holding....I made it a goal for 2012 to wear her at least once a day. I used to rationalize that if I wasn't going to wear her for a long stretch it wasn't worth the effort to put on a carrier/sling or that I didn't want to her to fall asleep on me and then I'd not be able to get as much done while wearing a sleeping baby. That's hard to admit since I really really do enjoy being able to sit and hold her while she naps, but the reality is that at 22 pounds I NEED a break from carrying/holding - carrier/sling or not!

Now that Elsa can sit up, she's got a whole new perspective on the world - one that I can't wait to experience right along side of her!  Happy 27 weeks baby girl!


Elsa Louise at 26 weeks

Notable this week:
Sat up for the first time on the 26th (in a pile of wrapping paper during Christmas #5)
Slept 8 hours on New Year's Eve


Dear Elsa,
You are the sunrise in our days with your huge grins and babbles first thing in the mornings. Sam and Julia fight over who gets to play with you while you lounge on Mommy & Daddy's bed when you wake up. I don't know how you do it considering how often you wake at night, but all thoughts of those sleepless nights for Mommy vanish when I look in your beautiful eyes. They are four shades of blue those eyes of yours. Navy on the outer edges, blueberry mixed with periwinkle comes next, and a steel blue right around the irises.


Somehow your half birthday is upon us and I can't help but choke up at the thought of how blessed we are to have you in our lives. Three children were not part of 'our plan' but thankfully God's plan for our lives is so.much.better. YOU make me better. You help me slow down and breathe in your soft silky hair as I marvel at the imaginations of your older siblings as they play 'school' with Daddy. Your absolute delight when one of us walks into the room is often the highlight of my
day. We don't deserve you but are so very grateful for you!


2011 was a year I won't ever forget. It was the year God gave me you.
Happy (almost) half birthday to my BabyBear!
I love you!
Mama

Perfection

It's that moment when all is right in the world. Her breathing quiets as does my heart. That anxious feeling of being pulled in so many different direction falls away and this moment is all there is.

Her and I.
She and me.
It is a connection that leaves me speechless and bursting with words of love all at once. The words are there, but they get tangled up so much that so often they get lost before they make it the distance from my heart to my fingers over the keyboard.

She is so dependent on me and that can be so draining. It is also what gives me the strength to keep going. She needs me and I need her.

It is a perfection that only God could have known when he created mothers.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

A day of babywearing

I wore Elsa in my fleece KangarooKorner sling

At a birthday party
At the children's museum
On a candlelit walk
On a hayride
While looking at the stars & planets through a giant telescope

For a grand total of 7.5 hours.

I have plenty of photographic proof, but my fingers are numb from being outside for the last 2.5 hours and the kids and I are very.very.very.tired.

Good night. Sleep tight.

Don't let the bed bugs bite!



Thursday, January 5, 2012

Alphabitty Moments - The Letter E is for....

E is for Easter Bunny! It really hit me this year as I watched Sam climb up on Santa's lap how quickly the time goes and how close we are to nearing the end of an era of the magic of the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. These photos are from 2009 - after they were no longer afraid of the Bunny but before they look so big sitting with him. (Photos filed under Tutu & Pretzels)

If you'd like to share an Alphabitty Moment please leave a link in the comments! I'm on the letter E but that doesn't mean you can't jump in and join the fun at any point!



Wednesday, January 4, 2012

For the Record

My pillow is calling my name but before I lay my weary self down for the night I am pushing onward with my resolution to put more time into writing about what's happening with the Bear Family. I get behind in my blogging and feel like I can't write about what's happening NOW until I catch up on the old stuff. Then the snowball grows and I never get anything written. Today that stops.

Today Julia discovered she has a loose tooth. I'm not surprised since she wasn't even four months old when that tooth popped through. My baby is growing up. She is SOOOOO excited and told all her friends tonight at Awanas. Speaking of Awanas...Sam started Sparks and Julia started Cubbies. They are excited to go back next week despite Sam being very nervous about tonight.

He only had good things to say about it during our snuggle time at bedtime though. That snuggle time is something that I had been missing out on since I had gotten into the habit of rushing through bedtime. Now that they are older and don't need as much from us I'd check on them before I turned in for the night and feel that tug in my heart that I should have spent more time with them that day. It wasn't a good feeling. So one of my goals for 2012 is to not rush bedtime and to make sure I am more available for night time conversations that seem to be so important to Sam especially. Julia is more interested in listening to her Jesus Storybook Bible at bedtime so she and I have our one on one time during the day.

Another goal of mine is to drink more water. It's pathetic how late in the day it is when I realize I haven't had a single glass of water yet!

I turn 35 later this month and need to take better care of myself. One small step I'm going to take is to make sure that even if I didn't put make up on that day that I will wash my face before bed. I love my Norwex anti-bac towels and will keep one available for faces only.

I'm also on the hunt for a good series of yoga workouts that are about 20 minutes long so I can add some exercise back into my life. It's not realistic to be able to do anything longer or louder than a simple yoga video.

Before 2012 is over I WILL have one year of my blog converted to a blog book if it kills me.

Those are all the goals I can think of at the moment...I'm running on fumes at this hour so you'll have to excuse my random train of thought.

Did you set any goals for this year?

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...