Monday, February 28, 2011

Organic Binky Storage

I have five children and I still haven't figured out the answer to this most vital of parenting questions: how many binkies do you have to buy before you can always find one when you need one?

I actually thought I had it figured out a week or so ago, because this time around I am making use of a highly-useful organic binky storage device:


Whenever I needed a binky all I had to do was call out "Rabbit!" and this brilliant organic binky storage device would appear and hand me the binky that it was currently storing. It was really remarkably useful. I had only bought one package of two binkies but I never had trouble acquiring one when I needed it.

But two things have happened recently that have made things more challenging. First of all, the pink binky has gone missing and we are down to just one binky. And now the ejection mechanism on the binky storage device is malfunctioning and it simply will not eject. Attempting to manually remove the binky from the device results in an ear-splitting noise. And what's worse, if I do manage to get the binky into Peanut for a time, I can't figure out how to turn off the recapture mechanism on the binky storage device to stop it from recapturing the binky from Peanut. Even in the middle of the night it has been known to suddenly turn on and perform binky recapture.

So, yes, my three-year-old is now addicted to binkies again and I'm back to figuring out how many packages I'm going to have to buy before I can always find one when I need one.
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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hairstyles

You could say I've never had a talent for hair. That would be an understatement. As a tween I developed the typical interest in hair but I very quickly figured out two things: 1) I just could not get my hair to do what it was supposed to do and 2) spending hours in front of the mirror fussing with my hair was tedious.

Once I figured out that a simple bob was fairly flattering on me and required almost no work except blow-drying I stuck with it and have spent the last twenty years ignoring my hair as much as possible and spending my energies on more fruitful enterprises such as blogging.

When Roo was born, I was so excited to enter the world of pink and purple and dresses and all that fun stuff. I was a little apprehensive about the hair thing though. Luckily for me, Roo had almost no hair for several years.

But now I have ample hair on both Roo and Rabbit and I am trying to learn to do hair. The problem is they won't let me. For a long time anything I put in their hair would be pulled out again within five minutes. Then, recently, when they realized hairstyles were "pretty," they wanted them but wanted to do it themselves. We have a bag of clips and barettes for Sunday and they make a big deal out of picking out their Sunday clips, but then they insist on putting them in themselves. And then the Rabbit pulls them out again long before we ever get to church.

And I think about people like my friend Julie, who has a small army of beautiful tiny daughters who show up to church with nicely braided/curled/ponytailed/baretted hair and it's still nicely braided/curled/ponytailed/baretted when they LEAVE church-- how do you do it, Julie?

Obviously there's some secret to hair that I've just never been told.

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Wonky Weather

We have been continuing to enjoy very dramatic temperature shifts lately. One day it will be 70, the next day 30, then back to 70 again. It's quite fun to be able to have winter and spring at the same time. And some days Peanut gets the chance to wear this wonderful hat!

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Friday, February 25, 2011

The Piggy Suit

Peanut is growing so fast that today I got out the bag of 3-6 month clothes. In this bag is one of my favorite outfits ever. It was a hand-me-down from my friend Allison when I had Roo, so all of my girls have worn it. The pig on the front is adorable, but the best thing about this outfit is the soft terry cloth that just makes you want to pick up Baby and squeeze her.



Here is Roo in the Piggy Suit in April of 2006 (looks a lot like Peanut, no?):


Here is my Rabbit in the Piggy Suit in July of 2008 (along with her cousin Abe):


Long live the Piggy Suit!
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A Vital Piece of Family History

I was going through some old photo albums pulling out photos to scan when I found this absolutely wonderful picture tucked behind another picture. I had completely forgotten of its existence and I was pretty excited to see it. It shows very clearly how the Badger and I were meant for each other. This picture was taken in the summer of 1999 on the coast of Maine. We weren't even engaged yet. And yes, those are banana peels on our heads. I so totally married the right man for me.

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Something I Want to Remember



Someday....


When I'm awfully low....




When the world seems cold...



I will feel a glow just thinking of you...


And the way you look tonight...



Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Right Present for Rabbit

Remember my story about the doll Roo got for Christmas and how she wasn't crazy about it but the Rabbit was? Well, that was all still fine until I started making the little dress for the doll to give to the Rabbit for her birthday. Roo saw me making it and asked about it. When she learned that you could actually have the fun of dressing these dolls in different clothes she suddenly decided that it really was her doll. There still were no fights-- Roo being such a sweetie and all-- but I decided that to alleviate any future tension it only made sense to get another doll. So, along with the doll clothes


my Rabbit got a doll for her birthday that is Officially Hers. As you can see, this was a very good idea.


Now we have two dolls and four dresses and the girls spent all evening dressing their dolls and brushing their hair (we finally found a hairbrush that works really well on these dolls.) It is so funny to watch Roo: after two months of ignoring her doll she is suddenly all over it. She has decided it is named "Mary." Rabbit hasn't named hers yet, but she totally gets the idea that the brunette is HER doll and the blond is Roo's. And she loves it and she's sleeping with it right now.


I look forward to many years of happy doll play ahead. I'm envisioning a small plastic tub full of all sorts of fun doll clothes and accessories-- I guess I better go buy some more needles for my sewing machine!
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Cake!


After all the fuss I went to in making a sugar-free birthday cake for Roo I had to do something similar for the Rabbit. I decided I wanted to do a strawberry shortcake sort of deal. Doing the strawberries and whipped cream with honey was no problem, but I wimped out and decided to use some sugar in the cake itself, though less than the recipe called for. I then flipped open my cookbook to my classic yellow cake recipe and thought "boring!" and then saw a recipe for pound cake on the next page and thought "that would be interesting!"

Interesting it was. As soon as I got started the strangest things started to go wrong. The cake got mixed incorrectly-- the butter never got fully incorporated into the batter (it's a long story). And it turns out that even a small proportion of whole wheat flour is a really bad idea in pound cake. Then I added way too much cornstarch to the strawberry filling. When it came time to do the frosting I decided to do cream cheese whipped cream but I got the proportion wrong and there was way too much cream cheese. I also added too much honey and then I thought I whipped it long enough but realized as I was frosting it that it hadn't been whipped anywhere near long enough. What a mess!

But it still looked good, and that's most of what the kids cared about. Plus, I wasn't that interested in eating it, which is very helpful for my diet. I had a little bit, but I mostly ate off my frosting and left the cake for my little clean-up crew.

The kids didn't seem to notice that it was a culinary disaster and ate with gusto. And the Rabbit was happy. And I'm happy too because I don't have to worry about the leftover cake calling to me from the fridge late tonight. It seems everything worked out just right.
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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Here Comes the Bride

After making that last doll dress, I decided my girls needed a wedding dress for their doll. Roo in particular is completely obsessed with weddings. So I found a remnant of white satin at the fabric store, modified the pattern a little bit, and cranked this baby out:

Simple, yet elegant. I wouldn't mind finding some sparkly beads or something to sew onto it because it's kind of plain, but my girls are going to adore it regardless. Now I just need to find a piece of something sheer so I can make a little wedding veil.
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Pizza for the Rabbit

My little Rabbit is now three years old. What a crazy wonderful three years it has been with her. From the beginning she was a very high-need baby, but she is slowly turning into a very capable and competent little person. In a few more years she'll be totally running my household for me and I will get back all the time I lost pacing the floor with her when she was a colicky newborn and helping her deal with her very intense emotions as a high-strung two-year-old. Oh Rabbit, it has all been worth it and I would do it all again for you. You are such a wonderful human being and we love you more than you will ever know, at least until you have a Rabbit of your own.


We had pizza for the birthday meal. That's the great thing about those first few birthdays-- Mom has a lot of influence on the menu. This time around Mom didn't want to cook, so she went to Papa Murphy's. What did we ever do without Papa Murphy's?


We're going to have cake tomorrow. I didn't get it baked in time and her main present hasn't come in the mail yet. No worries-- spread-out celebrations are more fun anyway.
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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Seven

A dozen years ago I was miserably single. I had no idea my life was about become a whole lot richer, and that that richness would keep multiplying...

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Blossoming Roo

Roo is really taking huge developmental leaps forward lately.


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A Couple of Firsts

Here is Peanut's first smile that I've been able to catch on camera. Here, too, is Peanut's first time wearing a Sunday dress.


(When Roo was born I was so excited to dress a baby girl in dresses and I never would have taken her to church without a dress on, even from the time she was brand new. But I quickly learned that dresses for tiny babies are mostly just a bother. The fancy ones are extremely uncomfortable and you can never get the skirts to stay down and then they spit up all over them and it's all over. So by the time Peanut came around my attitude was "why bother?" and she's been going to church in her sleepers until now. Which was fine because she pretty much stayed in her car seat asleep with a blanket over her the whole time anyway. But now that she's getting a little more interactive I thought it was time to put her in a comfortable little dress. It is fun to dress up little girls!)
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Saturday, February 19, 2011

After the Manner of Happiness

Clear back in 2002 there was an article in the Ensign magazine about living "after the manner of happiness" (2nd Nephi 5:27.) The author, Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy, went through 2nd Nephi chapter 5 and identified all the things mentioned about the way the Nephites were living that constituted living after the manner of happiness. I found the article very interesting, though most things were pretty obvious: family relationships, keeping the commandments, being industrious, etc. Only one thing he said really surprised me: he listed having and caring for animals as a part of living after the manner of happiness.

Here is a direct quote from the article: "Animals—be they horses, cats, dogs, hamsters, or turtles—touch us deeply and promote our emotional well-being. Given affection and care, they return affection and care generously and consistently. People whose lives include relationships with animals are usually happier."

The reason this surprised me so much was that at the time I had very little experience with having and caring for animals. I'd rarely had pets as a child, and nothing bigger than a gerbil at that. So, I thought, what am I missing out on here? It really made me wonder, which is why I remember the article more than eight years later.

Now that I have a little bit of experience with animals I think I'm starting to understand.

A couple days ago, I took the Rabbit's half-eaten plate of beans and corn tortilla out to the chickens. As usual, they came running madly and clucked excitedly as I approached, which always makes me smile. I dumped the food in and they went bananas as they pecked at the beans.

Then they saw the large hunk of corn tortilla. They went for it, and one of them grabbed it. The others all started trying to take it from her, so she went running off with this thing in her beak trying to get away from all the others. I watched her race frantically around the chicken pen with eight chickens hot at her heels. She dodged, she darted, she even turned around in circles as she tried to hold on to her prize.

I just stood there and laughed. It was one of the funniest things I'd seen in a long time. Chickens are funny to begin with-- bobbing heads, beady eyes, and all that-- but desperate chickens are hilarious.

I'm not very good at laughing out loud. I'm easily amused, but I tend to hold my laughter in. I've been trying to work on this because I know that laughter is incredibly healthy. So when something makes me laugh loud and long, I know it's really good for me and I'm really grateful for it.

Thank you, chickens, for helping me live after the manner of happiness.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Spring Comes Early in Oklahoma

Soccer practices for my boys have started already. The boys are excited, but the Minnesotan in me is screaming "BUT IT'S FEBRUARY!!!" Their first games will be the first weekend in March. Even Kansas didn't start this early.

And according to the county extension website, it's just about time to plant spring crops: lettuce and peas and such.

My brain is still on Zone 6 time and I was starting to think about some more sewing projects because I wouldn't need to think much about gardening for another month, but now I'm trying to shift gears. The Badger and I are going to be working on putting in some square foot gardening boxes in the next few days.

I'm really having a hard time shifting mental gears with all this, but the fresh warm breeze coming in my open windows helps!

Morning Unwrapping

Every evening I swaddle Peanut tightly in the SwaddleMe wrap and she sleeps beautifully for me. Every morning, as soon as Roo wakes up, she comes to me and says "I want to touch Peanut's hands!" It's like she can't start her day until she's connected with her baby sister. So, if I feel like Peanut has slept long enough at that point, I tell her she can go unvelcro her and touch her hands. Rabbit sometimes likes to get in on the love too:

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What School Looks Like at Our House

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Today's Quote

This is what stood out to me when I did my personal gospel study this morning:

"It is impossible to overestimate the influence of parents who understand the hearts of their children."

-Elder Robert D. Hales, April 2010 General Conference

When I was at BYU, probably the most influential experience I had was my participation in Student Leadership Seminar, which taught Christ-centered leadership. We studied "The Five Principles of Divine-Centered Leadership." One of these five principles was "Knowing Each Heart" (of those you lead.) At age 19 I had never thought about that as something important to leadership before (in fact, I'd always thought of leadership as simply being charismatic and knowing how to tell people what to do.) When I read that quote from Elder Hales this morning I realized what an impact that teaching of SLS has had on my motherhood over the years.

And it was nice to have an opportunity this morning to ponder how well I am doing at that and where I need to improve.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

For My Rabbit

My Rabbit has a birthday coming up and I wanted to give her some clothes for her doll. They sell clothes for this brand of doll, but they're like $20 an outfit. I don't spend that much on my kids' outfits!

I don't have a lot of time for sewing lately, but I do have a Rubbermaid tub full of fabric scraps perfect for this sort of thing. And so I thought, how hard could it be to make a doll dress?

Actually, it was almost as time-consuming as making a dress for one of the girls. The smaller pieces mean you spend less time sewing the longer seams of a bigger dress, but you go through all the same steps and with everything so small you have to go slow and be more careful.

I wasn't that careful. My seams waltz all over the place on this dress, so don't look close. But it still turned out pretty cute, I think.


I was trying to think of when the last time was that I made an article of clothing. Roo's pioneer dress in the summer of 2009, probably. I guess I did a little bit of sewing when we lived in Utah, but I haven't done anything but sew patches on Scout uniforms since we moved here. It felt so good to dust off my machine and get "back on the treadle." But, boy, am I rusty!
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On Mom Power and Naps

My sister Pineapple sent me a link today for a website called The Power of Moms. It is described as a "professional organization for deliberate mothers striving to be the moms and women they really want to be." That's right up my alley, which of course is why she sent me the link.

So I took a peek at it. The first article that caught my eye was called "Mommy's Naptime 101."

Now, there's something you may not know about me: I crash in the afternoon. It's been this way ever since Junior High. After lunch I just shut down and everything is a struggle. If I can get a nap, I'm good to go for the rest of the day. If I don't get a nap I can slog through the afternoon, but then around dinnertime I will totally fall apart and be nearly useless the rest of the day.

This was only moderately inconvenient in high school and college. When I went to BYU I never scheduled classes past noon and if I had to kick around campus longer than that I'm one of those people you'd see sacked out on a couch in the Memorial Lounge. With my jacket over my head to block out light and noise. Ah, those were the days.

Once I had kids, this afternoon crash has been a real thorn in my side. When Bean got too old to nap, I had to get really creative to figure out ways to make sure I could get my afternoon rest. We've got it down now and everyone is used to "Quiet Time," but it can be a darned nuisance. So many times lately I have wished I could have that time in the afternoons for other things. Now that homeschool takes up most of my mornings, the afternoons would be such a lovely time to go shopping/meet a friend at the zoo/take the kids to the park/work on a quilt. But no. I have to sleep.

I have been trying for YEARS to figure out how to change this. I have had a long list of theories of why this happens to me-- everything from adrenal gland fatigue to iodine deficiency. And some things help. Lately with the iodine supplements and not eating sugar I've actually been doing better and it's been a little more like "gee, it's time to lie down for a few minutes" and a little less like "IF I DON'T GET A LONG NAP IMMEDIATELY I AM GOING TO SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUST."

So anyway, this has been on my mind a lot, and then there's this article. And it talks about the benefits of an afternoon quiet time for not just Mom but for everyone in the family. Like, this might actually be good for my kids. And I see that I'm not the only one that does this. Brilliant people who create websites for empowering motherhood do this too. And there's a link in the article to another article which asserts that human beings were meant to have an afternoon nap. What a beautiful concept. In other words, this plague of mine might be normal.

Well, sort of normal. I still think that certain systems in my body are out-of-balance and this is causing an exaggeration of the normal afternoon slowdown.

But suddenly I am feeling a lot more okay about my little afternoon problem. Even if I need to work on my body chemistry, I don't need to feel guilty for making everyone in the house have Quiet Time every afternoon. This imbalance of mine might actually be doing all of us a favor.

Extremes

Right now we are enjoying balmy weather in the mid-70's. That means that in one week we have gone from a low of -7 to a high of 75 degrees Fahrenheit. When you consider that our summertime high is about 30 degrees higher than 75, that's a pretty impressive span when calculated as a percentage of our annual temperature span.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Slow Process

I'm off to a good start on my plan to lose the extra pounds I picked up while pregnant with my Peanut. I always gain more weight than "normal" when I'm pregnant, but I've always been able to get it off again afterward. It's a struggle, but it's worth it. One thing that helped me after I had the Rabbit was a monthly report on my blog. I did it every month on the 15th and it helped me feel accountable to someone, which kept me going. So I am going to do that again.

I partied all through December and then went into Weight Loss Mode on January 1st with a total weight loss goal of 42 pounds. I figure I can achieve that by September 15th. Basically five pounds a month, which is typical for post-partum me.

I've been off sugar since January 1st and so my energy levels are up and my food cravings are under control. I'm starting to get some exercise and I'm eating tons of salad. I'm totally headed in the right direction and that feels good.

So far I have lost nine pounds, which puts me a couple pounds ahead of schedule. That would be because of that Yucky Virus I just had. Thank you, Yucky Virus.

Weight loss is such an interesting process. It seems agonizingly slow. And I always lose weight in spurts. Days and days go by with no change on the scale and then suddenly one day I'm down three pounds. Those are good days. But it's hard sometimes thinking it's going to be two more months before I'm down another ten pounds and even then I'll still be a long way from my goal. And the weather will be warm and my bathing suit still won't fit.

But I'm going to do this, and I know from past experience that the end result is absolutely wonderful.

Winter Warmth for Little Ones

One of the things I love most about my Badger is his passion for preparedness. He wants to be ready for anything and I so appreciate his efforts in this regard. Lately he's been working on winter gear again, trying to make sure that everyone in the family can keep warm no matter what. (And since we live in a house that is heated solely by electricity the probability is quite high that at some point, during one of these crazy winter storms we've been having, we might have to really bundle up if we lose power.)

He really likes polypropylene thermals and a few years back he bought a bunch of them on sale somewhere. But they are adult sizes and we have lots of tots around here, so he got crazy with my sewing machine and turned one of the adult-sized tops into this:





He admits it's not perfect: the sleeves and the rise are a little short, but he totally improvised the pattern and I think he did an amazing job. (I had to post all four pictures because I think the Rabbit's faces are so great.)
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Almost

I still can't get a picture of Peanut smiling. She'll be grinning like a jack-o'-lantern, but then the minute I pull out the camera...

I almost got it today-- this is about a 1/3 smile.

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

From all of us at Toad Hall.

(Imagine coyotes howling in the distance when you look at this picture because that's what we hear when we go outside in the evening lately.)
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