Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Truly practical ideas for mothers of little ones

My friend Jessica has a wonderful post up tonight called Four Under Four Made Easier. Her suggestions are beautifully practical, and they are helpful for any mother, not just mothers with many littles. Jessica has an ability to parent her small ones with a grace that I aspire to reach someday, and I think her tenth point says a lot about why that is.
Prayer. Pray always, pray without ceasing. You cannot parent without God's parenting of you. Ask for his help, beg for his help, and when your prayers that they will JUST SLEEP aren't answered, pray for his help to take care of them and love them anyway. Thank him that they're here. Thank him for giving you food and shelter and family. Ask him to keep providing for you. Tell him you can't do it without him. Ask him to do it with you. Praise him for his inestimable love in the redemption of the world through our Lord Jesus Christ. Sing hymns to him through the day. Call him "Father" as you lay down to sleep at night. Mother of twins, of one, of more, of none, God alone can sustain you through this life.

I promise, you'll want to read to the end of this one.

The best days are the days when the morning runs smoothly. Something about starting the day out well just tends to keep it going well. And even if I end up dog tired by nap time and get nothing accomplished after 2pm, well, the morning went well!

We've developed a nice routine for the mornings, and the result is that almost every day I feel like we've at least started on the right foot. We get up and have breakfast, then all three of us get dressed and I take a shower if needed. The boys are wonderful about playing together in the early morning (after being fed!) and so usually a shower isn't a problem. I turn on a Psalty cd for them in their bedroom and so far no one has seriously injured the other. :) No, really, they enjoy the playtime. :) Once we're all ready to face the day, washed and dressed, I do what I've started to think of as the "morning chores". Nothing fancy - just making sure the dishes are washed and kitchen is clean, the bathroom has been swished and swiped, the first load of laundry is going (and if I'm really on top of things, hung up!) the beds are made and the floors are picked up. This can generally all be done, with varying levels of toddler assistance, before Thomas needs a nap around 9:30 or 10am. The boys either play or "help" me with spray bottles/rags, and I always have Jonathan help pick up the floor. This used to be cause for major tantrums, but since I've started being consistent about it he'll generally help without even fussing. Yay for consistency!

I really think that both boys prefer living in a picked up house. Jonathan is more likely to actually choose a toy to play with if they aren't all spread over the floor, and he's much more able to help with clean-up if it is a manageable mess. Besides, Mommy is more fun to be around if the house keeps some semblance of order! :) In any case, the result of our morning chores is a neat and tidy house, generally happy boys, and a happy mother. Doesn't that sound like a nice beginning?

From there we move on to Thomas' naptime and Jonathan's preschool time and then quiet time. I rest during J's quiet time. I'm finding, this pregnancy, that regardless of if I think I ought to be doing something productive during morning quiet time, if I do I actually end up less productive over the course of the day! Rest time is just rather essential right now.

And speaking of the reason I'm needing all this rest, we found out today that ...

we're expecting a BOY in September!

We're reasonably sure, anyway. The ultrasound technician had a hard time finding out, because our little baby is an active child! He spent the entire time kicking his legs, which makes it rather difficult to discover anything between them. From some angles he looked like a girl, and from some a boy, but the final consensus was BOY. :)

Isn't he cute? In this picture his face is turned toward you, and his fist is waving in the air. Ok, not the air, but you know what I mean. Also, you can't tell from the still shot, but he was practicing sucking and it was utterly adorable.

We make awfully nice boys, don't you think?

Doesn't that just make you want to meet the next one?


I am continually grateful that we have so much space for the children to play in. Considering that we live in a condo in southern California, it is an amazing gift.

The strawberry patch is a few years old now and I can barely keep up with the production. Today I cooked 6 cups into syrup for pancakes (mmm!) and still had plenty leftover for nibbling!

Thomas has discovered that he can pick his own strawberries and send them directly from the patch to his mouth. Unfortunately he has not yet mastered not eating the stems and the occasional slug. We're working on that part. :)

My flower garden is so pretty it rather defies my ability to describe it. Take a look:

And while I weed and water and trim, the boys are loving the fact that it is hot enough to play in the pool!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

And the winner is...

wait, first you have to appreciate the process. Random number generators aren't usually this cute, now are they?

And the nineteenth commenter was Ma Torg of Torgusborg. Who just happens to be a friend of mine, but I promise I didn't rig the toddler! Congratulations! :)

Thursday, April 24, 2008


I've had a couple of people let me know that they tried to tell friends about my Etsy shop but couldn't remember how to get to it. Well, THAT certainly can't be good for business! :) So as of today, there is a link (with pictures!) in my sidebar that will take you directly to LullabySlings. So if you can't remember to send people to (which is, I quite understand, rather a mouthful) please just send them here instead.

So far all my sales and leads for sales have been word of mouth, and I think that is awesome! So please do keep telling your friends! I think it is particularly fun to sew things for people with whom I have some sort of connection, even if it is just a friend of a friend of a friend. :)

I have some really nice things in inventory right now, and I love taking custom orders, too, so take a look!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Giveaway! (Baby burp cloths)

I am ridiculously late to the party, but I decided to post this anyway. The quarterly Bloggy Giveaway is happening over at, what else, Bloggy Giveaways. :) Head over there to check out the HUNDREDS (not kidding!) of giveaways going on right now!

I'm giving away a custom set of three baby burp cloths. Here are pictures of some of the sets I've made recently.

These beautiful ribbon burp cloths are made from real Chinese pre-fold diapers for extra absorbency. They will be a welcome addition to any mother's nursery. Yours can be similar to those pictured, or I am happy to take specific color/style requests. My limitation is just whatever ribbon is available at JoAnn Fabric. :)

Please leave a thoughtful comment if you'd like to be entered in the giveaway. Tell me why you'd like to win them, or who you're planning to give them to (maybe yourself!) or just a funny baby story. Comments such as "oh cool, enter me!" will not be counted. Please also note that I can only ship within the continental United States.

I'll put all legitimate entries in a hat on Friday evening and my three-year-old will choose one. :) If you aren't the lucky winner, but are interested in buying a set, you can browse and purchase at my Etsy shop, LullabySlings.

Slow-Cooker Chili

I made chili in the crock pot yesterday, and it turned out really well. The original came from, but I changed it so much that I think I can fairly claim this recipe as my own. Enjoy!

Slow-Cooker Chili

1.5 lbs ground beef
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1-2 cans diced tomatos, undrained (I used a little more than one 14.5 oz can, because that was what I had. You can decide how much you want.)
15 oz. tomato sauce
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 T. chili powder (double this if you want it spicy - I made mine so that the boys could comfortably eat it.)
2 t. salt
1/2 - 1 t. pepper
shredded cheddar (garnish)

Brown and drain ground beef. Mix all ingredients (except cheese) in the crock pot. Cooking time is very flexible - I cooked it on high for two hours and then low for about 3.5. You could also cook it on low all day, or on high just for about 2-3 hours. I like it cooked longer because the flavors can meld better, but you really can just cook it for as long as you have available. When you're ready to eat, sprinkle shredded cheddar on top of each bowl.

(I wish I'd thought to take a picture of this, but I didn't. :( Sorry!)

Another recall notice

The last time I posted a recall notice I was very glad I did, because a commenter said that she DID have the item and hadn't heard about the recall! So here is another one, because I care about you, dear readers. :)
RECALLED: Beco Baby Carrier Recalls "Beco Butterfly" Infant Carriers

Manufacturer: Beco Baby Carrier Inc., of Newport Beach, Calif.

Hazard: The buckles on the carrier shoulder straps can unexpectedly
release tension, causing the strap to slip through, posing a fall hazard
to the baby.

Incidents/Injuries: Beco has received eight reports of the carrier
straps slipping through the shoulder buckles. No injuries have been

Description: The recalled infant carriers were sold under brand name
"Beco Baby Carrier Butterfly." The carriers have a black label with a
green "b" logo on the left side and a butterfly on the right side. The
label is sewn on the outside of the carrier. The following carrier
styles are included in the recall: Mia, Pony Express, Carnival, Addison,
Ethan, Sophia, Cameron, Ava and Joshua.

Sold at: Specialty retail stores nationwide and internet sites from
January 2008 through February 2008 for about $140.

Remedy: should immediately stop using the carriers and contact Beco Baby
Carrier to receive instructions for returning the carriers for repair.

Consumer Contact: Consumers should contact Beco Baby Carrier Inc.
toll-free at (888) 943-8232/9-GET-BECO between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. PT
Monday through Friday, or visit the firm's Web site at

Monday, April 21, 2008

What we've been doing lately

Reading, reading, and more reading. This past week Thomas decided that he LOVES to read, and to be read to. He'll frequently grab a book and come plop down in my lap (quite regardless of what I'm doing at the time!) :) It is awfully sweet and I'm enjoying it. It is a good reminder to me, too, to slow down and make sure that I am reading to the kids, not getting caught up in errands and chores and heaven knows what else that isn't really as important.

The boys all got hair cuts (don't they look nice? I think I'm getting better at this!)

This is the "I'm busy watching a movie and can't be expected to look at a camera" pose. :)

Jonathan has been enjoying preschool time. We made thank you cards after his birthday - paint hand prints. We talked about why we were making them, who we'd send them to, and Jonathan even specified exactly what text he wanted me to write on the cards. I think they turned out awfully cute.

A bonus of this project was Jonathan's discovery that if you mix two colors, you get a new one!

He really concentrates on projects like these.

This past week Jonathan has developed a strong interest in letters of the alphabet. He wants to know how to spell everyone's name, and which letters start the names of everyone in our extended family. Since I'm about to run out of alphabet stickers, I thought I'd better create a new alphabet project!

So today we started making alphabet cards. I cut out the pictures and letters, and Jonathan glued them together. He had a good time making them, although he decided to get "shy" and refuse to actually try making the sounds or tell me what each picture was! Oh well - the point is just exposure and fun right now anyway!

As for me? I've been gestating. This baby is coming along nicely, don't you think?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Hmmm...what do you think?

My sister has been experimenting with her blog design and inspired me to try creating my own signature. The inspiration was vastly encouraged by her very clear instructions on how to do so. Of course, once I finished following her instructions I discovered that I actually had to do a lot of extra work to make the color match my blog (who knew that what looks like one color is actually about six???) But with perseverance and the help of my long-suffering husband, I have triumphed! Anyway, what do you think? I think I like it but, so please chime in and tell me your impression!

They will know we are Christians by our...

children? Apparently so. Not because they are gloriously well behaved, or can recite the Nicene Creed, or attend church three times a week. No, it is the simple fact of their existence that marks us, their parents, as Christians.

Obviously all Christians don't have large families. But the fact is that in today's culture, when most couples choose to have one or maybe two children, those who choose to have more are almost always followers of Christ.

Early this week at Gabe's new job, he and a co-worker had lunch together and discovered that they had much in common. A., who is not much older than we are, has three kids and a very pregnant wife. Gabe came home that evening and told me that he thought it likely that A. was a Christian, because it is so unusual to find a family of that size and spacing anymore. A few days later, they were talking again and A. mentioned that he had thought the same thing when he found out that Gabe had two children and a pregnant wife!

The number of children we choose to have marks us very visibly as "different". Those of us who are Christians and have thought about this choice recognize the same choice when we see this "difference" in others. I wonder how many others, the people who I pass in the grocery store and who do double takes at the sight of my two toddlers and pregnant belly, pause to consider the reasons for our choices and our difference?

Most of them probably don't. Perhaps having many children is the new equivalent of scratching the icthus in the sand. We see each other and nod and smile and know. But I do think that perhaps, as our society continues down the path of fewer and fewer children, a large family will come more and more to mark us specifically as followers of the man who said "let the little children come to me."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

An example of baby sign in action:

While most of the signs Thomas uses are those which I have taught him, yesterday he came up with one by himself. I think this is wonderful, because it tells me that his mind is really absorbing and understanding the concept of signing, rather than just copying me without thought.

Yesterday morning Thomas had been bonked on the head rather too often. Each time he would come over to me, looking very sad with his hand up at the side of his head. Each time I'd say "oh, do you need a kiss?" and kiss his head. A few hours later he hurt his foot (this time I saw it happen) and promptly came over, looking very sad, with his hand once again up at the side of his head. Apparently he decided that this sign was the way to get a kiss!

Speech development and baby signs

I've been wanting to write this post for about two months now, but I never seem to be able to find the time and energy that it deserves. At least not at the same time.

Today I've decided to just write something, regardless of how perfectly it turns out. :)

About two months ago I took Thomas to the pediatrician for his one year well baby visit. Everything went beautifully (and quickly!) until near the end I mentioned that he didn't seem to be talking much. Well, at all, really. He had one basic sound: "nananana" which he used for everything.

The normal visit suddenly became not normal as the doctor paged through his entire file and asked half a million questions. This was followed by some little tests to see if Thomas responded to a voice or clapping outside of his field of vision. Apparently this kind of indeterminate use single sound "talking" at age one is consider a speech delay, and boy do they ever jump on it. The concern is that a speech delay may mean a degenerative hearing disorder, in which case early intervention is crucial. I was also told that even if it isn't a hearing problem, they might refer us to a speech therapist - also for "early intervention".

I'm glad that we have a pediatrician who pays attention. I'm glad to know that early intervention is possible and that if Thomas does have any sort of problem, he will have help, and quickly.

I don't think there is anything wrong with him.

I think he's hearing just fine. He responds to us when we call him, he points out airplanes in the sky when they roar overhead. He startles when dogs bark. He just doesn't say much.

As of today, Thomas is developing a few more sounds. He's pretty good at "dadada" and the occasional "mamama", although still indiscriminately. I don't think he has any concept that "dada" is Gabe and "mama" is me. They're just sounds that he's playing with.

Jonathan was far ahead of schedule in his language development, and because of this I've been intentionally reminding myself, all last year, that Thomas need not develop at the same pace. He's taking his sweet time talking and that is ok with me. He can take as much time as he wants learning to talk. Now, communication? That is another issue.

Communication has become crucial, not because of my frustration but because of his. The amount of screaming that suddenly started happening around age one was incredible. Thomas had very clear ideas of what he wanted, but he had no way to tell me other than waving his arms over his head and yelling. Let me tell you, that got old fast. So we're teaching Thomas some baby sign language, and it is such a relief! Thomas can now tell me when he's "all done" and wants to get down, or if he wants "more", or if he's "hungry" or "thirsty", or wants "up". We're even starting work on some less concrete words like "sad" to give him language to use when Jonathan cries, and "sleepy" just in case he ever wants to take a nap (is that wishful thinking, or what?) :)

Now that Thomas has a handle on some sign language, I can have a new level of expectations for him. Before, if he screamed it was just something I had to deal with. It wasn't his fault, really, because he didn't have any other way to communicate. He was in a toddler body with a baby-stage grasp of language. Now, if Thomas chooses to scream, most of the time it is in a situation such that I can say "No screaming, Thomas. Use your signs." And he can. Sometimes it takes some reminding, but he can. It makes parenting him as a toddler much more reasonable, because it is fair to expect him to communicate. He may not be able to talk yet, but we've taught him how to tell us what he needs.

I know that there are lots of arguments surrounding the use of baby sign language. Proponents say it helps the child communicate now and increases his speech abilities later. Others disagree, saying that it just increases speech delay. I've read arguments on both sides and frankly? I don't care. Because right now it works for my son. Instead of being a screaming, frustrated, cranky toddler, baby signs allow Thomas to have his needs met. I'm not frustrated, trying to guess why he's screaming, and he's happy because he is understood.

There is a lot to be said for communication. Since my baby isn't a baby anymore, but isn't ready to talk yet, sign language is a satisfying solution.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I don't think this is supposed to happen

when you wash curtains.

I think all you can do is laugh when this sort of thing happens. Besides, my dear husband says he can lower the curtain rod. :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What a night!

Or morning, I guess. After the crazy nearly-10pm bedtime that the boys enjoyed last night, they were awake at 5:45am. I think Jonathan woke up then (as he often does - that child has a nutty sleep schedule) and then he turned on the light. Which of course woke Thomas up. So Gabe and I heard them giggling in their bedroom and had to decide what to do. We opted for putting them back to bed with a serious admonition to Jonathan not to turn on the light. I showed him that it was still dark outside and told him that he couldn't turn on the light or talk to Thomas until it was light outside and Thomas woke up on his own.

About half an hour later, Jonathan came into my room. This is a normal time for him to be awake, so I told him he was welcome to play in the front room with his toys, but not to go into the his bedroom or wake up Thomas. He opted to climb into bed with me instead, saying he was cold.

So much for sleeping anymore, thought I.

And then I woke up at 7:40am, sleeping child beside me. He's still asleep. Thomas is still asleep. I can't imagine what we'll do about naptime today!

Monday, April 14, 2008

9:20pm - what are YOUR children doing?

Mine are giggling to each other. First there were many tears (neither of my children is a big fan of change); now there is giggling. Sleep doesn't seem to be on the agenda tonight!

We rearranged Jonathan's room this evening, and now it belongs to both boys. I actually really like the result:

Gabe thinks I'm nesting again. I have this mad urge to throw or give practically everything away, reorganize closets, and reorganize my life. I guess he might be right, although I can't imagine why most normal people nest right before delivery and I seem to do so regularly throughout my pregnancies.

Part of what is prompting this is a moderate case of dissatisfaction with the order/schedule/planning of my week. Suddenly I have transportation available every day, which I haven't had since before I had any children. The flip side is that the van gets about 17 mpg, and gas is nearing $3.70/gal. Also? The number of random errands on my list seems to have multiplied like rabbits!

I feel like I ought to be able to do life well with one trip out for groceries, one trip to the library and park, one trip to church, and perhaps a visit to a friend each week. That would be manageable and give us plenty of at-home time to keep up with laundry, chores, and the all-important things like playing with playdough.

Like my snail?

Jonathan did.

Maybe it is a result of being pregnant and tired, but I'd really rather spend most of my time at home doing home stuff. Playing with the kids outside, watering the garden, cooking good meals, staying on top of the laundry, keeping a clean house, cutting and pasting and playdough-ing and reading with my toddlers. Those are the things that seem real and solid and good and important.

But the errands on my list aren't made up, much as I wish they were. The fact is that to make meals I have to get groceries, and that isn't a short trip. In fact, it is usually at least two trips, because we generally go to three different stores in an attempt to keep costs down.

Add to the grocery shopping the trip to Lowes to return/exchange some house project supplies, and the dry cleaner who has had our clothes ready and waiting for two weeks now, and Jonathan's dentist appointment that I need to make (and then keep), and the fact that I've managed to outgrow my maternity clothes in under 16 weeks and need to go find some new just all adds up.

Sometimes I think it would make more sense to do one or two errands every day, instead of trying to do them all together in one or two days. That might make it less stressful and more possible to work around two different naptimes. And it is a possibility now. On the other hand, it takes so much effort and time to get out the door for errands I wonder if I'd ever get anything done around the house?

I'd like to find a way to balance it all, to start a week with a plan and finish it well, without either dragging the kids all over town or leaving half the items to sit on my list and reproduce exponentially for the next week.

Has anyone else encountered this problem/feeling? Is it a result of my tired pregnant body and brain, or does it just come with the territory of having two toddlers? Has anyone figured out how to balance it all? Because I'm sure my husband would prefer that I figured this out before I rearrange all our closets, give away everything we own, and turn into a puddle of frustrated tears in his arms. :)

Wow, this post ended up going an entirely different direction than I originally intended. It is 9:55pm and apparently my children have passed out from exhaustion. Bedtime for me, too!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Potty Training Update

Well, one year after the beginning, and about nine months after the frustration, (both of which were repeated, although not blogged, a few more times) we may actually be succeeding in the potty training venture.

Easter candy and marshmallows got us started again. And they disappeared when Jonathan turned three, replaced by this:

Jonathan gets stickers when he is successful, and he's very pleased about this. We've only had one or two small accidents this week. Today marks the end of the week, and his reward for a full sticker chart? A trip to Walmart to choose a (small!) toy. We're going to gradually extend the number of days on the chart, and eventually I know we'll be able to get away from the reward system. For now, though, this seems to be a good transition from immediate (candy) gratification to a slightly more delayed form.

Potty training with a three year old is a completely different experience from training a two year old. Even though it was his idea in the first place, I do wonder if it wouldn't have been wiser just to wait. Maybe it would have saved us a year of ups and downs and major frustrations. It will be interesting to see how (and when) Thomas approaches the idea.

Let them eat cake!

This is what happens when you leave the cake within reach of the one year old.

I think he liked it. :)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Pregnancy funnies

Have you guys checked out WifeAdvice? This is a site that can nearly always be relied upon for a good belly laugh. Particularly now, since they're discussing matters of pregnancy.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Pantry Soup

This afternoon a neighbor dropped by and stayed talking for nearly an hour. It was nice to catch up with her - she is someone I'd like to get to know better - but I lost my dinner preparation hour! So instead of the planned Sausage Rice Pilaf which I thought we'd be having, we had Pantry Soup.

1 can Progresso Light Italian Soup
1 can refried beans (thanks to Jessica for the idea to add this!)
1 can V8 juice (low sodium)
leftover vegetables from previous nights (I used about a cup of green beans)

It took five minutes, quite literally. All you do is dump, stir, and heat, and the result is surprisingly tasty. Gabe said he liked it, and commented that it seemed "meaty" even without meat. I think the beans help with that. Anyway, I thought I'd share because I'm quite sure that I'm not the only one who occasionally needs to change dinner plans on the fly. :)


Softball is a fact of life in the Moothart clan. All four siblings played on teams growing up, and a holiday barbecue isn't complete without gloves, balls, and bats. The Palmers, on the other hand, played "Palmerball". We used Whiffle balls and bats, got at least four strikes each, and fielded for Dad if we didn't happen to be on base at the time. It was great fun, but it bears little resemblance to serious softball. And the Mootharts play serious softball. They'd probably tell you it was just for fun softball, but let me tell you, when someone talks about "squaring up to the plate", throws a softball hard enough to make your hand sting (inside the glove!) and can use the bat to send the ball sailing in whichever direction he feels like? That, my friends, counts as serious softball. I'll just let you imagine the embarrassment of my first holiday barbecue with the Mootharts.

In any case, it was only a matter of time before the indoctrination began. See what Jonathan got for his third birthday?

But it is a Whiffle bat, with whiffle balls, so I'm ok with it.

I just try not to think about the logistics of shuttling lots of children around to lots of softball practices.

Besides, how could I possibly object to this kid of sweetness??