Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Generation gap

When I am out doing errands, with a a baby in the sling and two children either in a stroller or attached to both my hands, a large percentage of the people I pass choose to comment on our "large" family. Most of the comments are meant to be neutral, I suspect, but end up sounding rather negative. It is the tone, I think.

The interesting thing is that these neutral/negative comments come, without fail, from adults between the ages of 20 and 50. These are the career women, the parents of one, the bachelors.

Most of the time I hear "Wow, you have your hands full." My stock response to that is "yes, in the very best way!" Once I was shocked into silence, however, when "you have your hands full" was followed up by "I'm so sorry." Yes, that unfortunate woman was sorry that I have been blessed with beautiful children. I am sorry for her.

I respond with a smile because I want these people to know that I rejoice in my children, even on the hard days. I want them to know that my hands are full by choice and that I would not have it otherwise. But it is not their comment that makes me smile, and after the sixth one in an afternoon sometimes I want to grit my teeth and ask "did you think that comment was original?"

(Of course, I won't. But oh how I want to!) :)

Not everyone thinks that I have my "hands full" however. There are the teenagers, who usually don't notice anything around them, but if they do notice us, they think that my family is "awwww, just sweet!!!" (with all three exclamation points). And there are the elderly, who light up my day with their genuine smiles. From them I hear "Children are such a blessing, aren't they?" and "You have three boys? - what fun!" and "What a beautiful family you have." Many of them want to stop and chat; smiling at each child individually, telling Jonathan that he must be a so proud to be a big brother, asking Thomas how old he is; enjoying their chance encounter with these, the very newest generation.

What has changed? The elderly know the joy and the value and the very full hearts that come along with the full hands. The generations that followed them seem to have missed that truth, and I wonder why.

Rainstorms and other happy occurences

Some of my happiest memories from childhood are of rainy days spent splashing and sailing boats in very large puddles. When we were completely wet and freezing cold, we'd head inside to warm up and sing for our "grog" - broth with noodles.

Last night it rained, and when I woke at 3am I had the awful thought: I only have ONE pair of boots for the boys! So first thing after breakfast we headed to Walmart to get a new pair of boots for Thomas.

They had a great time. Actually, they had two great times - they came in to warm up, changed clothes, and then headed back out again, this time in sandals because their boots were sopping wet. I almost told them "no", because I am a silly grown-up and nearly forgot how important it is to get wet feet.

It is very important.

When they came in for the second time they disrobed, changed into pajamas, and had hot "grog" before nap time. And I sang "Oh me father was the keeper of the Edystone Light" for them while they ate. Remember that one, siblings?

Rainstorms always make for a good day. Even if they do multiply the laundry and get mud all over the floor. :)

In other news, Josiah is laughing!

And my sweet, sweet middle child, who is so very dear, wants to be just like Daddy.

Wish lists

Jonathan (pointing to a magazine): "I'm going to get this, and this, and this for Christmas!"

Gabe: "Well, not necessarily."

Jonathan (slightly confused): "No, but I'm ASKING for them!!"

Gabe: "But you don't always get everything you ask for. People have to buy presents for you."

Jonathan: "Well...WE could buy them!!!"

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

Shameless plug for Lullaby Slings

If any of you, dear readers, are planning on buying Christmas gifts for a mother or small child, would you consider shopping at Lullaby Slings? (See, I told you. Completely shameless.)

I have some really pretty and useful items for sale right now:

Ring slings ($40-50)

a mei tai ($75-85)

burp cloths ($16)

and really sweet snuggle blankets in all kinds of adorable prints ($8)

(Click on the pictures to go to the item in my etsy shop.)

I am trying to earn enough money to buy a new sewing machine - needed for lullaby slings business, and also for the joy of sewing on a good machine instead of an entry level one! Isn't it pretty?

For friends and family and readers of this blog, I am offering a 10% discount on orders placed before December 15th. (Did that get your attention?) :) If you do place an order, just write a note in the comment box letting me know that you read about it here and want your discount. Depending on how you choose to pay, I'll either send you a modified invoice or give you a refund via paypal.

Go shopping!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Advent readings

I want to read some Advent stories to the boys this year. I'd like a few good renditions of the Christmas story, of course, and also I'd love to find a good preschool or kindergarten level story of the real Saint Nicholas. If there are other saints with special days during Advent, their stories would be great, too. Oh, and a story of the three kings (to read before Epiphany). Do any of you have any favorites?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


There is an evil, ugly, insidious lie that I am very prone to believing. It sends me spinning around the house from one thing to another, flitting from room to room, never completing one thing before rushing on to the next.

The laundry needs to be done, but in the doing I notice that the beds must be made, and while making one the children need me to play with them, and while playing I realize how I haven't read to them in far too long, and while reading I remember the laundry and the dishes, and while washing dishes oh dear, we haven't done art projects this week, and while getting out art supplies I remember the beds, still unmade, and the laundry, still un-hung.

The lie is "never enough". It says that I should do everything. It says that I should do everything well. And it says that I should do everything well without ever getting upset or angry or tired.

It is easy to think that it is true guilt, that I really should do everything, and well, and that if I don't it is because I am failing my family, failing God.

I think the Father of Lies would like me to feel guilty. He would like me to let that guilt keep me spinning in circles and then collapsing, crushed, on the couch in despair.

But he lies. God's call for my life right now is very full, but it is not He who says that my efforts are "never enough". Rather, He says "my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

It is enough.

Thank you notes

When I was small, my mom would always help me write thank you notes for every gift I received. As I got older, I learned to do it myself, and I also came to appreciate the importance of writing them.

Now as an adult I make it a point to always send a note in response to a gift. I keep a list of gifts received and cross off each individual as I write and send their card. This system usually works really well.

Usually. Apparently not when I am post-partum and overwhelmed with the demands of three small children.

You see, I made my list. But I think that I may have forgotten to cross off some of the people for whom I've already written cards. Now as I begin writing a note I am plagued by the thought: "didn't I already write this one? I think I've written this exact same phrase! Or maybe I only thought about writing it, but didn't actually get it on paper? No, I'm sure I sent that one because I emailed to ask her for her address. But maybe I did that and then didn't actually write the note?"

As you can see, mama-brain has arrived and appears to be staying.

So, friends and family, if you gave us a gift in the past 8 weeks, and haven't received a thank you note, please accept my humblest apologies. And if you have received two cards referring to the same gift, go ahead and laugh. :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Homeschooling the teacher

It's a good thing we went to the library today. We found an amazing book about bees (thank you, National Geographic!) and learned that bees do NOT make honey from pollen. They make honey from nectar, which they sip with their tongues. I'm not sure why they pick up pollen with their feet, but my guess is that it is simply for pollinating the flowers.

Obviously I'd better start studying.

Carrot Bran Muffins

Katie and I were talking about healthy recipes today at mom's group, and thus I am inspired to post my latest find. These taste like carrot cake, but they have so much good healthy stuff in them! The recipe posted here is an adaptation of the Basic Bran Muffin in Esther Brody's 500 Best Muffin Recipes.

2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 T. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3 cups natural bran
1-2 cups raisins
1 cup chopped nuts (optional - I left these out because I didn't have any)
2 cups grated carrots
2 tsp. cinnamon
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1/2 cup molasses (or use 1/4 cup honey and 1/4 cup molasses - I did this because I ran out of molasses!)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup applesauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, bran, raisins, nuts, and cinnamon. Stir in grated carrot. In another bowl beat together eggs, milk, molasses, butter, and applesauce. Add to flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Do not overmix - batter will be lumpy. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins, dividing evenly between 36 muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes. Best served warm (re-heated is fine, too!)

These muffins turn out VERY moist. When I make them next I think I may cut back some of the milk and probably use less honey/molasses. I'd rather use less sugar, but I'm not sure how to do that without ending up with muffin soup! If anyone knows how, I'd love suggestions.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Accidental homeschooling

Yesterday we went for a walk. While we were out, I noticed a honeybee on a flower, and we stopped to look at it. We talked about how honeybees are different from wasps, and when Jonathan asked what the bee was doing I explained how he was collecting pollen with his feet to make into honey. Jonathan found this fascinating, and for the rest of the walk home we talked about bees making honey - every step from the pollen to the hive to the bee keeper harvesting honey and packaging it up to send to the store. When we got home I put little drops of honey on the boys' fingers and they licked it off. It was such fun to watch their delight! When Gabe got home, Jonathan excitedly told me that Daddy needed honey on his finger, too, and gave a pretty good rundown of what we'd talked about. He was definitely interested!

So today we continued with the subject, this time with an art project:

Construction paper, scissors, glue sticks, crayons, and stickers (I am SO glad that I picked up those insect stickers last weekend!) made for a truly enjoyable 45 minute project. Thomas is old enough to enjoy doing things like this now, too, as long as he has some extra help. So I cut out suns and clouds and grass and beehives, and the boys pasted them onto paper and decorated their creations with stickers.

Do you see how intentional Jonathan was with his honeybees? They're stepping on the flowers to collect the pollen, and one of them has already carried his pollen home!

Tomorrow we're heading to the library, and I'm hoping to find a book about bees to read to the boys. Nothing like capitalizing on an interest!

I told my mom about this, yesterday, and said that it seemed like "accidental homeschooling". She said that most early homeschooling is like that.

I waver back and forth constantly, wondering if homeschooling is something that I can and want to do. Days like these make me think that I do. :)


Josiah is sleeping all day long. And I am quite positive that he is busy growing, because in the space of about three days he has outgrown his 3-6 month clothes. I am not kidding. I switched all his 0-3 month clothes out, and three days later I realized that I'd better go find the next size up. It isn't that he's so very big in pounds, but he is very long and getting longer. He is getting a little bit of chub, too, which is very cute. His cheeks are filling out nicely. :)

He continues to like spending time on his tummy, and is just starting to try to hold his head up. It is pretty jerky and doesn't last long, but he's working on it.

Jonathan and Thomas have definitely adjusted to having Josiah around. Sometimes they'll be very sweet to him (kissing his head, asking to hold him, etc.) but most of the time I live in minor terror for his life. Today Thomas and Jonathan were rough-housing and chasing each other, and Thomas fell over, right on top of Josiah's head. Poor baby.

Lest you think I am a horrible mother, I will say that I do try, very hard, to keep Josiah in safe places. In this particular case he was in my lap. Thomas just managed to fall over on top of both of us.

Did I mention that Josiah has started smiling? It is utterly adorable. I will make extremely silly faces and sounds for a very long time, just for the reward of that smile.

Oh, and he can sit up, sort of, if propped in a corner. And make funny faces.

Yes, that was a lot of pictures. But his grandparents really like me now. :)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Kiss a wookie, kick a droid...

My sister-in-law Jenn posted this fantastic video on her blog. Apparently she has insanely talented friends. And yes, I am a musical geek. :)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

What a night

At 11pm we went to sleep.

At 1am Thomas woke up, crying.

At 2am Josiah needed to nurse.

At 3am Thomas woke up, crying.

At 4am Jonathan wet the bed and then refused to go back to bed. Tantrum ensued.

At 5am Josiah needed to nurse.

At 6am Gabe left for work, and since Josiah was awake, I was on the job, too.

What a night.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Afternoon smiles

This afternoon my boys were enthralled by the painter across the way. They sat there, side by side, and watched him for a good 15 minutes. At one point Jonathan turned around and said "Mom, I think we'll wait to play until he's done, ok?"

Thomas is our little camera ham - he has developed a special "camera smile", which I have captured for your amusement:

And this is him being his own sweet self. We make cute children, don't we?

It is a good afternoon.


My oldest son never stops talking. Today I asked him to stop talking to me, to just please, be quiet for a few minutes, and his response?
"Well, is it ok if I talk to myself?"
I love him. So very much. He is funny and creative and sweet and loving. But my ears are tired - tired to the point of my head aching and my soul crying out for silence.

I didn't know how much I needed silence until I couldn't have it.

Lord, help me to survive this time of blessed noise.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Nesting projects

I was going through some old posts and found this one in draft form - I had almost finished it, but didn't quite get it posted before Josiah showed up. :) Rather than just delete it, I thought I'd post it now and we can all giggle together over my crazy pre-birth instincts.


Over the past 2-3 weeks, I've definitely had the nesting bug. Apparently most women nest when they're about to have their baby. I get started a good 4-5 weeks ahead of time (I had the same experience with Jonathan and Thomas, so this does seem to be a predictable pattern!)

Some of these projects I've done myself, some of them I've enlisted (ok, drafted) Gabe's help to accomplish. :)

Building the bunk bed. Didn't Gabe do a wonderful job? This one really was his project entirely, and it took a lot of hours (particularly since he did almost all the work with "help" from the boys!) He's a good Daddy. I'm so pleased with this piece of furniture. It really is exactly what we wanted - real wood, good quality, very safe (it is practically a crib on top!) and with a trundle bed underneath. All three boys will be able to sleep in this bed for a good many years to come, and still have room to play in their bedroom.

Organizing my side of our closet, as well as my hope chest. This was a project that took more than a full day, since I actually opened and went through all the boxes that I'd been moving from place to place for the last ten years. The result was fantastic - we actually have room in our closet again and I know precisely what is there and which box it is in. I wish I had thought to take a "before" shot, because you would all be much more impressed.

Going through two boxes of clothes that we had been given for the boys. Some of it is now packed away in a box (the sizes J will be in next) and the rest was given away.

Getting rid of two LARGE boxes of books that had been sitting around for the past year. They had been listed on BookMooch, (and I still love BookMooch!) but at some point you have to assume that no one wants the ones that haven't been taken for a year. So out they went!

Walking through the house (with Gabe) and getting rid of a variety of books, toys, clothes, picture frames, and other stuff that we just didn't need/love/use.

(Notice a theme here? My particular brand of nesting usually includes throwing or giving a lot of stuff away. All my tendencies toward minimalism and simplicity come out in full force: "Out, out get it OUT OF MY HOUSE!!!" is about how I feel. Poor Gabe lives in fear for his possessions while I'm in this frame of mind.)

Organizing the dresser in the boys' bedroom (which had been holding all the various stages of 0-24 month clothes), then moving Jonathan's clothes into his very own drawer. He's quite capable of choosing his own clothes each day, and likes having that grown up responsibility. Now the shelf on the changing table that used to hold J's clothes is available for baby onesies!

Sewing, sewing, sewing! I have a boutique sale coming up in early November, and one of my goals has been to get nearly (if not completely) ready for it before Josiah showed up. On top of that I got a couple of large and unexpected orders (six slings, my word!) in the last two weeks!

Finishing a collage frame of photos of Thomas' first year. I'd been meaning to do it for about six months, but never got around to it. Apparently guilt over having a third child before paying attention to photos of the second is a powerful motivator. :)

I'm actually having a hard time coming up with anything else that needs to be done before Josiah shows up. Maybe he'll take the hint?


I'm not sure pancakes were the right choice for breakfast this morning, considering that there were five children, ages 4.5 and under, who all wanted to be fed RIGHT NOW I'M HUNGRY RIGHT NOW WHERE IS MY FOOD????

Particularly since the only adult in the house (why yes, that was me!) was also hungry. Do you have any idea how complicated it is to cook pancakes, ("don't BURN THEM, yuck mine is all BURNED") add the requested condiments ("I want applesauce on mine, I don't want applesauce, I want syrup, I want applesauce-syrup, hahaha!") and cut up ("into pizza slices, please!") four plates of pancakes?

By the time I got all the way around the table I had burned the pancakes, and the child who started first was now clamoring for seconds. And then thirds. Oh, and Josiah didn't want pancakes, but he did quite emphatically want me. Oy vey!

I did eventually get some breakfast, too. About an hour and a half after we started. :)

Monday, November 03, 2008


Tonight Jonathan, Thomas, Autumn, and Hunter are all sleeping in the same room. Well, we hope that they sleep. Right now they're awake and chatting, and I just heard the following exchange:
"I'm going to stay up ALL NIGHT."
"I'm going to stay up all night TOO!!!"

Well, that will be interesting.