Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Neighborhood Gang

We have a gang in our neighborhood: a group of six guinea fowl who've been roaming around.  I'm not sure if one of our neighbors actually bought them and has been letting them run free or if they ran away from somehwere and just took up residence here.  But they come in our yard about every day and we think theyr'e so cool!

They sit on our fence...




They look at our trampoline and contemplate jumping on it...




And then they move on, making silly squawking noises all along the way.  Aren't they keen?




We also had a beautiful pair of hawks in our yard the other day.  I took a picture and then accidentally deleted it.  They were eyeing our chickens, but with the goats there to protect they don't dare try to grab one.  Even though our chickens free range over more than an acre, we rarely lose one. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Ah Don't Have an Accent.... Y'all Do!

The longer I live here, the more I like the Oklahoma accent.  It took me awhile to get used to it, but now I really enjoy it.  I actually heard someone over the pulpit in church today drawl through Malachi 3:10 as follows: "...bring y'all the tithes into the storehouse..."  It was awesome. 

I find that when I am around someone with a really thick accent I start to talk with an accent myself, at least a little bit.  But most of the time I don't talk like an Okie... well, maybe a teensie bit.  Y'all is such a useful word. 

I also really love the way they use the word "fixin'," as in, "I'm fixin' to do the laundry, so y'all better make sure your dirty clothes are in the basket."  Even better, I was getting to know someone at co-op and she told me that she had a daughter who was "fixin' to turn fifteen."  I just love it. 

Yonder is another great Okie word.  They have ways of using it which are even beyond my ability to explain to y'all.  

The kids don't talk with an accent. I wouldn't mind if they did, but I am determined that the bad grammar won't rub off on them.  I didn't think that was an issue until one day when I was doing a homeschool grammar lesson with Fish and Roo that was emphasizing that we don't use the phrase "I seen."  I didn't think they would even need that clarification until the lesson asked a question to see how they would respond and they both responded with "I seen."  Oh dear.  Cute provincialisms are one thing, bad grammar is something else entirely. 

Mornings

I've never exactly been a morning person and I definitely don't like getting up early, but I really love mornings lately.  I love it that after all those months of pregnancy I get up feeling ready to tackle my day.  I tend to have pretty good energy in the mornings and I love that I have motivation again! 

Another thing I love about mornings is how the kids all come into my room when they wake up and snuggle me and/or the baby for a few minutes before getting going. 

 


But the thing I love best about mornings lately is that Junior is in a wonderful mood.  You never know how he's going to be in the evening and sometimes you go to bed exhausted from trying to soothe him, but you always wake up to his smiles and coos and snuggles.  It just doesn't get any better than that. 


Please notice his raccoon suit.  I purchased very few things new for him, especially clothes, but Carter's had this raccoon line that was just adorable.  I think I bought three different outfits in various sizes when they had their big sale last November and I wish I'd bought more.  Check out the adorable feet. 
 
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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Thoughts on Six Children

Mothers are always talking about which number baby was the hardest adjustment.  I have heard so many conversations over the years like "I was fine until baby number three" or "having two kids really threw me for a loop." 

One thing everyone has always seemed to agree on though is that there comes a certain point where one more doesn't really make a difference.  You've already got so many, what's one more?  It's just the same as before: you still have a baby and a toddler and a preschooler, you just have more older kids.  So it's actually better, right? 

Five certainly seemed that way to me... not much different than four.  But six has been a bit of an adjustment. 


I read a journal entry from after Roo was born.  It said something like this:  "I have so much energy!  When the baby naps, I get so much done!  The house is clean and my bed is even made for the first time in months!" 

All through this last pregnancy I kept telling myself, "don't worry, as soon as you have the baby your energy will come back and you'll be able to get a handle on the chaos again."

Well, my energy did come back, but just not quite the way it used to.  It's either a getting older thing or it's that there's SO MUCH to do around here.  Back in those Baby Roo days, I could clean my whole house from top to bottom in two hours and I only did laundry once a week.  Once a week!  These days, if my washer isn't running it should be and I'm gonna be in trouble.

I do have more motivation and I'm less irritable than when I was pregnant.  And I have good spurts of energy where things get done.  But I definitely wouldn't say I have a handle on the chaos.

Sigh.

The baby hasn't settled into a daytime routine yet.  A book I am reading says this is normal.  I probably have a few more weeks of this "hold me all the time and I'll doze when I want to but only when you're holding me" stuff.   Apparently it has to do with the maturation of the nervous system.  At least he sleeps well at night.  I am not really sleep-deprived, which is a blessing.  I just still can't keep up with the housework.  Maybe that's just a six kid thing.  Or a homeschooling thing. 


The kids are getting better and better at helping with housework and dishes and stuff.  They are learning a lot.  Bean and Fish are like my right and left arm: when they're not home I'm really hurtin'.  I tell myself that by the time I have baby number seven two or three years from now they will be totally running things for me and it won't be such a big deal to have me so sick and tired.



I spend a lot of time on the computer these days.  I can do that while I'm holding a baby.  It's quite nice, actually.  (It would be blissful if the rest of the family didn't keep thinking they needed to eat.)  It seems computer-related hobbies are the only hobbies I have left at this stage of my life, so I try to make my computer time productive.  I would blog more, but I usually only have one hand.  I work on my photos a lot: I already have a nice Shutterfly photo book put together for Junior and those take a lot of time to assemble. 


I am glad I have six kids.  Growing up I always wanted at least five, and then when we got married we said we'd have as many as we could handle.  We weren't sure exactly what that was... it kind of depends on the spacing and the temperament of the children as well as the mother's health... but as the picture has come into focus we know we were meant to have each one of these little people in our family and we love and enjoy each one so much.  We also feel that we are not quite done yet, though I expect at this point I will only be able to handle one more. 


So this big family is the life I always wanted.  It is messy and exhausting and chaotic, but it is also rich and rewarding and glorious.  '

Saturday, January 19, 2013

More Baby Faces

It's bugging me so bad that I don't have a nickname for this little guy yet, so for now I am going to call him Junior on here.  That may change down the road aways, but for now at least I don't have to call him Baby. 

 
 
 
 
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Snowflake Visits the Goats

An out-of-state friend of Roo's mailed her an awesome picture of a snowman named Snowflake.  She asked Roo if Snowflake could see what she does during the day, maybe take some pictures, and write a letter back to her.  How fun!  (Letter coming back soon, Julie!)

This morning Snowflake went with Roo to milk the goats.  She thought it was great!




I love watching Roo milk the goats and do the farm chores.  Having animals has given her so much confidence.  I loved watching her lead them through the gate, calling out, "Feeding time!" and then go get them their food.  I love how fast she can milk and how she sings Primary songs while she does it. 

Having goats has been a lot of work and a lot of expense and bother, but it's been fun and very much worth it. 
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Three Sisters

I wonder what it will be like for this little guy growing up with three older sisters.  They will probably play with him like he's a doll when he's little.  Then they will boss him around.  They will teach him how to match his clothes and tuck his shirt in and comb his hair the right way.  They will help teach him to read.  They will help me make his birthday cakes.  And they will love him always. 

 
 
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Friday, January 18, 2013

Baby's First Trip to Walmart




Walmart is one of those things that is so normal and everyday that it never makes it into any record of our lives. About a week or so after Baby was born I had to go to Walmart for a couple things and I thought it was so funny how I was taking the baby to Walmart long before I would ever think of taking him to church. But I thought the first trip to Walmart was something of a milestone for a 21st century American baby, so I took a picture. I kept him covered, as you can see. He didn't even see Walmart.

I see it all the time. I don't like Walmart-- most people don't-- but I shop there all the time-- most people do. I have to shop there, with a big family on a budget. Plus, it's the closest store to my house. "We need to make a run to Walmart" is a commonly heard phrase at my house.

I remember when my dad discovered Walmart, back in the early 1990's. There weren't very many of them in Minnesota at that point, but he would drive far to shop there because they were really big back then on selling things that had been made in the USA. Boy, how I wish they still did that!

It's been interesting to watch Walmart grow and become more and more a part of our lives over the years. I remember when they first started selling groceries. I thought it was so weird. Now it's totally normal to go there and buy a quart of motor oil, a necktie, and a bunch of bananas.

Walmart is kind of like McDonald's in that you always know what to expect. In my road atlas (purchased at Walmart) there is a directory of every Walmart in America so no matter where I go I can find one if I need one. And when you're on a trip and you need something, it's nice to know you can go to Walmart anywhere and get it for a low price. I've done that quite often.

So, Baby Dear, that was probably your first of many, many trips to Walmart.  
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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Our First Week of School

During November and December I thought a LOT about how I was going to handle school in January.  I knew there needed to be lots of flexibility, and yet there also needed to be some consistency.  I knew it couldn't be too rigorous but we needed to cover the basics. 

The co-op was a blessing from heaven (and boy, do I pray for help with homeschooling!)  The classes the kids are taking from the co-op are all what I call secondary subjects: art, geography, history, sign language, etc. 

I realized that with all that going on at co-op I could spent my time at home with them working on core stuff: reading, writing, spelling, and math.  That was a huge weight off my shoulders.  I love love love all the curriculum I have for secondary subjects, but we'll get back to it all when co-op is over.  In the mean time, with a tiny new baby, it's nice not to have to worry about that. 

I decided that with a focus only on core subjects we could get everything needful accomplished in three days: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  Friday I would leave free for things like field trips, social visits, special activities, and any other extras I feel are necessary. 

The other thing I told myself was that I wasn't going to stress about when we got started in the morning.  I've been struggling for years to get us up earlier, to get us actually out of bed at whatever designated time, and to get school started "on time" each day.  But with a new baby, I'm giving myself a break.  If I need to sleep in or catch up on folding the laundry in the morning, so be it.  We'll start when we start.  Having fewer subjects to cover each day makes that possible.  

Here's how our week went:

Monday was wonderful, of course, since it was our first day of co-op and the kids were so excited. 

Tuesday was horrible.  The kids were doing a lot of complaining and foot-dragging and it was rubbing off on me.  It's hard to get up in the morning excited to teach and then stay happy and excited when everyone you're supposed to be teaching is whining and complaining about it.  Fish was especially bad that day:  he kept saying how co-op was better.  That drove me nuts.  For years they've been fighting me trying to get them to sit down at the table and do actual assignments and then after one day of being in a co-op where they sat them down at tables and gave them actual assignments all Fish can say is "Gee, Mom, why can't you make this more like an actual school?" 

On Tuesdays and Thursdays we go to a friend's house halfway through the morning for the Rabbit to do preschool.  I bring my other kids along and they do math and stuff sitting on her couch.  By the time we left on Tuesday I was feeling pretty grumpy.  On the way over I had a talk with the kids.  I told them how the complaining was a vicious cycle and it had to stop.  I told them that from now on they were not allowed to complain about homeschool-- verbally or with their body language-- in front of me.  They were welcome to complain when I wasn't around all they wanted, but when I was around it was forbidden. 

The rest of Tuesday went better (with the exception of Bean having a brain shut-off at one point,) and then Wednesday went GREAT.  They just dove in and did their work without any murmuring at all.  They got it done before lunch.  How many times have I told them that if they would just apply themselves they could get their work done by 11 or 11:30 and then we could do fun things with the rest of the day?  Well, maybe they're finally going to figure that out.  I let them play with wikki stix until lunch and they had a ball. 

Thursday went okay.  I was feeling tired and I didn't really want to do school, but I didn't complain and I pressed on.  The kids did pretty well... at least they didn't complain.  WHY didn't I lay down that edict years ago?  I do still need to come up with a consequence if they do start complaining, or maybe a reward if they don't.  I'm sure the issue will surface again! 

Friday we went over to a friend's house that we haven't seen for awhile.  The kids have not had a lot of unstructured social time lately, and I felt that was the most important.  It was a mild day and they played outside and had a blast.

Today I'm tired, so we've had a really relaxed day.

I'm looking forward to next week.  I think I've succeeded in making homeschool manageable for the next few months.   

Squishy and Smiley

The problem with having a winter baby is that most of the time you keep them so bundled up you don't get to enjoy their soft skin and delightful squishiness.  Today I took some time while I was changing the baby to do just that.  I love how his legs are getting nice and round and plump.  When they are first born their legs are so scrawny... you can hardly imagine that they will be walking on them in a year or so.  But by six weeks old their legs are nice and round and squishy. 



And then this kid is so smiley in the mornings... it's so fun to play with him and watch him crack all these huge grins!  I love the age he's at right now! 
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Monday, January 7, 2013

So That's What It's Like!

Today was the first day of our co-op school.  Wow, what a day! 

Awhile back I found a Christian homeschool co-op in a nearby town whose theological parameters did not exclude me.  They said I could join when their new semester started up in January.  So we've been planning on having these Mondays with the co-op but I didn't think it was going to be a really big deal.  As the first Monday approached and the flood of instructions washed into my email inbox I realized that this was going to be like going to actual school.  For me and all of the kids!  Co-ops come in all shapes and sizes, but this one is large (60 plus families) and well-organized with excellent facilities and a wide variety of class offerings. 

So I woke up to an alarm early this morning and routed the kids out of bed.  Everyone got dressed in the outfits I had laid out for them the night before (normally I don't have to worry about what they wear, but for this I didn't want them dirty, full of holes, and smelling like goat!)  I packed lunches in brown paper sacks.  The boys got backpacks and made sure they had freshly sharpened pencils. 

Off we went, and we actually arrived at the church on time.  We signed in and got our name tags.  Then I made sure all the kids made it to the classroom they were supposed to be in.  Then I went to my first assignment, which was to help in the nursery doing childcare for the co-op teachers.  I'm in there most of the day and it's perfect because I still have Peanut and the baby with me. 

I met lots of nice moms coming and going from the nursery either as workers or as teachers picking up and dropping off their kids.  Everyone was so nice and we had so much in common! 

I periodically went around and checked on my kids through the classroom windows just to make sure they had found where they were supposed to be.  They seemed like they were all behaving themselves even though they've never been in this kind of classroom setting before. 

During the 11:00 hour I was assigned as a classroom helper for the Kindergarten class, which was where my Rabbit was, along with seven or eight other kids (nice class size!)  My Rabbit was so excited to see me.  However, as the hour wore on, she had a harder and harder time sitting still and paying attention, even though she was mentally capable of keeping up with the material.  I don't know if she would have sat in her seat quietly if I hadn't been there, but I could tell she was seriously overstimulated.  I didn't know it was possible to overstimulate my Rabbit.  It certainly hasn't happened before! 

Then we went to lunch in the big lunchroom and I got overstimulated!  All those people, all that noise... how did I ever handle public school as a kid?  But it was really fun to sit with my kiddos and eat out of our brown lunch sacks together.  I hope as the weeks go by they all ditch me to go sit with friends.  This co-op gives off good vibes and I feel totally happy about my kids making all kinds of friends there. 

When the kids were finished eating they could go out on the playground for the rest of the hour.  It was a really nice playground and it looked like they were having a blast.  

After lunch/recess the older three had one more class and I was back in the nursery with my littles, including Rabbit.  It was a good thing for Rabbit to go to the nursery at that point because she was done.  She had a fun time playing with the other kids and all the nifty toys (it was a really awesome nursery!)  Then at 2:00 all my older kids showed up, with huge happy grins on their faces, and we loaded up and drove home. 

All the way home the kids were bubbling over with enthusiasm for their classes, their teachers, and the co-op in general.  Fish was particularly happy.   "It was like real school!" he kept saying. 

My kids were all drooping by 7 pm and several of them were asleep by 8.  Then I finally understood how people can put their kids to bed that early.

It was a wonderful day.  It was fun to go to "school."  But I'm glad we only have to do it once a week! 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

High Style

We had the baby blessed in Sacrament Meeting today. I didn't have a little white suit for him to wear, (traditional though not required) but I did have this.  Doesn't he look distinguished?  It's a brilliant piece of clothing because it's actually a one-piece outfit that zips up the back, so it's absolutely no more fuss than usual installing it on Baby, and who needs more fuss when you're trying to get six kids to church on time?   

 

I can't remember where I got this suit, but I do remember the day Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave it his stamp of approval.  Bean was about this age, we were living in Idaho, and we were having Stake Conference with Elder Holland as the visiting authority.  The church was packed to the rafters, we were sitting in the waaaaaaay back, and I had absolutely no intention of trying to get in line to shake Elder Holland's hand.  It was enough just to be there and hear him speak.  He's been one of my favorite Apostles ever since his BYU devotional address in March of 1999 that completely rocked my world.  So anyway, after the conference was over and we were visiting with friends around us, the Badger and I got separated.   I went looking for him and I couldn't find him anywhere.  I decided to look up in the main part of the chapel so I started trying to squeeze my way in there against the flow of people pouring out.  I'm standing there waiting to turn the corner, I look up, and Elder Holland is right there in front of me with his big jolly smile.  He looked at baby Bean in my arms, reached out and shook his tiny hand, and said "I like your suit!"  It was a moment to remember. 
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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Sixty Pounds

I have one big goal this year: to lose sixty pounds. 

I know I can do it.  I always do pretty well with weight loss after a baby.  I have more to lose this time than usual, which I must admit is discouraging, but I am determined and I will stick with it.  I know what it feels like to be thin and I want that feeling again.  I can't be the mother and homeschooler that I want to be when I am so unhealthy and low on energy from carrying around so much extra weight.  My life is much more fun when I am healthy and active. 

I really really hate being overweight.  But this time around, I am determined not to wallow in self-loathing like I usually do.  I am going to try to be attractive and feminine anyway.  I'll go shopping and buy some nice-looking plus sized clothes.  For me, weight issues and low self-esteem have always gone hand in hand, but I have seen plus-sized women who dressed beautifully and seemed very comfortable with themselves and I want to be that way right now.  I shall add "I am beautiful" to my morning mantra. 

I am currently going through sugar detox.  I let myself eat anything I wanted during December and I totally went into full sugar addict mode.  I usually do this, but the good thing is that I'm really good at telling myself it's all over on January first and then sticking with that.  Of course I binge big-time on the days leading up to New Year's, but once the calendar turns I'm good.

So no sugar.  And I'm trying to eat a lot healthier.  I can already tell my appetite is down and I am wanting to eat healthy foods, which is such a nice change from all those months of "give me a cheeseburger NOW!" during my pregnancy.   I even drove by Braum's today and saw the sign for the 2 for $6 ice cream special and wasn't even tempted.  

The last piece of the puzzle is exercise.  I haven't really been able to do any yet, but I have big plans.  The Badger rearranged his office today and made room for the treadmill in it.  This is so much more feasible for me than when it was in the garage.  I am excited to start moving again.  

I'm telling you all this so I have some accountability.  I will report monthly on my blog.  And I will be honest and open about my thoughts and feelings in the hope I might say something that is a help to someone.  Weight issues have been a huge part of my life for the last 20 years but I've come to a point where I'm not too embarrassed to talk about it. 

Here's to a happy, healthy 2013!

Daddy Snuggles

Nothing better!

 
 
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Friday, January 4, 2013

One Month

The baby is one month old now (this post is two days late!) He's at that blotchy, pimply skin stage which makes it hard to get good pictures, but I liked these. New babies have such a wide range of expressions. It makes photographing them a fascinating adventure.



 


Love the eyebrow dimples!
 


I was half a second too late to get the huge smile.  I just caught this little half smile, which I still think is adorable.
 


I love babies' tongues!
 


And babies' yawns!
 


He has spent a good portion of his life sitting in the Boppy pillow with a blanket draped over it.   He's kind of a funny kid.  So far he doesn't like the swing or the bouncy chair or the Amby bed.  Ninety percent of the waking day he's not happy unless he's being held.  Then he's very happy.  He loves it when I wear him in the Hug-a-Bub wrap, so I do that whenever I am shopping or on my feet doing household tasks that don't require cooking or a lot of bending over.  I am very grateful that Bean and Fish are old enough to hold him for me while I cook, etc.  Especially at dinnertime.  I wouldn't call this little guy colicky exactly, but he's definitely more fussy in the evening. 



These pictures were taken in the morning, when he's usually very placid.  


We still do not have a nickname for him.  We have tried and tried all sorts of things (and had many suggestions!) but nothing has stuck yet.  I'll let you know when something does!

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Dining Out With Toddlers

There have been some posts on my facebook feed lately which have humorously pointed out what a nightmare it is eating out with toddlers. I thought about them today as the Badger and I went out to lunch with our two youngest in tow. 

Here is our secret to eating out with toddlers, especially high-maintenance ones:  eat at Mexican restaurants.




The problem with toddlers in restaurants is the wait time, but in Mexican establishments they immediately bring out chips and salsa and your toddler gets to dip and eat to their heart's content while you wait for your food.  Toddlers love dipping, and most Mexican restaurants these days are bringing out queso too so you don't have to worry about the heat of the salsa.  Everyone is happy. 
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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Moving On

I put away Christmas today.  Ornaments, books, CDs, garlands, lights, dishes, knickknacks... it all packs up into five plastic tubs, plus the tree.  


 

I'm not ready for Christmas to be over.  I love Christmas more and more every year, and this year I just didn't get enough.

Part of that was having a new baby: I didn't get out much in December.  We didn't go to any concerts or programs, and we never made it over to that town with the big light display. 

But I think this is the first time I haven't been sick of it all by the 26th. Even the music.  Always before I felt strange doing anything Christmassy after Christmas Day itself, but this year I kept feeling like it was Christmas all the way until New Year's. 

I should have left all the decorations up until twelfth night.  But I really needed to clear it all away so I can get ready for our new homeschool term. 

Goodbye, Christmas.  See you next December!

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