Friday, December 25, 2009

Logically

Thomas was shouting at Jonathan: "I want it, I want it, I want it!" I sat him on my lap and had the following conversation with him.

Emily: "Thomas, shouting at Jonathan is not going to make him want to give it to you."
Thomas: "Mmm."
Emily: "Shouting at Jonathan is not going to make Mommy very happy."
Thomas: "Mmm."
Emily: "So I think that shouting at Jonathan isn't really going to help you."
Thomas: "Yes it will."

Ah, logic. How I miss thee.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Early morning workout: attempted

I got up early this morning, utterly determined to get my workout in before the children got up and my busy day started.

The dvd didn't work. Stuck, stutter, stuck. Close all other programs. Stutter. Restart the computer and try again. Stutter, stuck.

Do you know how much harder it is to make yourself work out hard for twenty minutes without Jillian telling you what to do and do not stop?

Hard enough that I didn't do it.

The appraiser comes in five minutes (please pray that our house appraises for enough to allow us to refinance!) and the house is clean, the kids are playing happily and I've had a shower, and we are all well fed with pancakes and applesauce.

I'm glad I got up early.

*update* The appraiser has come and gone. The kids are outside playing and I just tried turning Jillian on again, just to be SURE it didn't work...

It worked.

Maybe my dvd player is just messed up - but I have to wonder if perhaps God wanted my morning to go a little more smoothly!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Advent photos

Wreath making! This:



Ended as this! Isn't it pretty? I was surprised by how nicely it turned out.



And cookie baking and decorating.





Dad, aren't you proud of my pattern nesting abilities?





We bought a St. Nicholas cookie cutter (think Bishop of Myra, not Santa) and had great fun with it. Gabe took a bite before I could get a photo, but you get the idea...



Christmas is coming SO FAST...we're getting our tree on Saturday and then only five more days! The kids think that is forever. :)














The boys are enjoying our "special Advent things" each day. Here are a few highlights:

Joy Szabo, good for you!


A few months ago Joy Szabo was in the news. She wanted a vbac and her local hospital, where she had previously had a vbac, informed her that she was required to have a cesarean. They had changed their policy since her last birth. Joy resisted, strenuously. She talked her way all the way to the CEO of the hospital, which only resulted in a threat of a court ordered cesarean. That's when the media got involved, and the hospital backed off their threat. But they still wouldn't let her try a vbac.

Joy decided not to back down. Since she did not have other local hospitals as options, she moved. Yes, moved. Alone, leaving her other children with her husband at home. And she had her vbac at a different hospital in a different city.

Do you have any idea how much courage that took?

The fact that CNN reported the story - Gabe saw it on TV and emailed me about it - just makes me happy. :) Every little step toward more knowledge and more power for birthing women is important!

Joy, you're an inspiration. Thank you for standing up for yourself, for bringing attention to the state of maternity care in America, and for making it just a bit easier for other women to follow your example.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Thinking about kindergarten

Education has been on the back burner of my mind since Jonathan was just about 2 years old. Gabe and I both entered marriage with glorious dreams of homeschooling our children. Both of us were homeschooled and felt well prepared for further academics. With college degrees under our belts and (for me) an interest and calling to teaching (albeit older grades) we had a plan and thought the decision was made.

But the best laid plans don't always mesh with reality, and for the past 2-3 years I've wondered, and oscillated, and stressed, and cried, and worried about how to educate our kids. I'm not sure I'm any further toward a peace filled decision than when I started.

Jonathan is a passionate child, full of will and energy and action. He needs routine and structure to help him channel all that energy, but he also needs wide open space and time to explore and play and run. He loves people and would happily play with friends all day, every day, unless someone hurts his feelings (and that takes a lot of care to help him process). He and I have an often stressful relationship, and I wonder if having me as his teacher (as well as mother) would be too difficult for both of us. But would a teacher, with 20 other charges, be able to see him as anything other than a difficult and hyperactive little boy?

I read articles like this one and I think that I will never put my child in school. My best friend, a vocal proponent of public schools for all the years I was against them, decided this year to homeschool her oldest for many of the reasons outlined in the article: too much pressure and not enough play. I find it amusing that she and I have switched positions, but am happy to see that so far it seems to be working well for them.

And have I really switched positions? Not exactly, since I do still think that homeschooling can be wonderful. I'm just not sure about doing it myself, with my child. Will Jonathan enjoy doing "real school"? Or will it be an ongoing battle? And then there are all my personal fears, like how I can fit it into my already too-crowded days, and still give my small ones enough attention, and keep up with laundry and housework and getting dinner on the table?

There are so many options now, which is wonderful and terrifying at the same time. Would we use a Charlotte Mason approach, or Montessori, or go classical and teach them Latin? Math-U-See or Saxon or something else entirely? Printing or cursive and which of the myriad of styles? I swear that there are at least sixteen different methods to teach a child how to read. And where do art and music and science and languages fit in? Is it best to just pick a curriculum and follow directions, or should I try to put together a hand-selected mix (terror says follow a curriculum, guilt says hand-pick it all).

If I'm honest, I think that I don't want to do it. I'm afraid of the whole process - all the decisions, trying to fit it into our often overwhelming days, the potential for more conflict with Jonathan, the responsibility.

And yet, and yet...

When I think about sending him to school, after the initial relief of "someone else will take over", I run into all the worries about pressure and lack of playtime and not being allowed to be an energetic little boy because TESTING is so all-important.

And when we do spend time learning together I love it. Once past all the fear and the dithering and the stress of dirty floors and underwear, when we sit down and do it, it is wonderful.

So maybe I had it right in my early idealism. I'm quite sure I overlooked the realities of implementing it in the midst of real life with children, but maybe my job now is to figure out a way to pull it off anyway.

I could really use some writing on the wall this coming year.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Naomi Julian Peckham


I had the joy and privilege of supporting Katie during her labor.
Welcome, Naomi!

December 12th, 2009

6:36pm 19.25" 6 lbs 13.5 oz.



Thursday, December 10, 2009

The 12 Days of Christmas

Every year in December this version of the 12 Days of Christmas gets passed around the internet a lot, and for good reason! It is fun! Straight No Chaser started as a college a capella group and ended up going professional. They re-recorded the original 12 Days hit ten years after the first one. Here they both are: which do you like best?

The original (1998)


Re-done (2008)

The Free Shipping phenomenon

Amazon rolled out an interesting promotion this month: they offered a free trial of Amazon Prime to anyone and everyone for the duration of December. Amazon Prime, which usually costs $79 a year, gives you free 2 day shipping on all purchases. For the December deal they didn't even attach strings, as such promotions usually do; they gave you an easy option at sign up to choose not to continue as a paying customer in January.

Interesting.

I signed up. Why not? But then I proceeded to surprise myself by how very much I did end up shopping at Amazon. Yes, it is the Christmas buying season, but I had finished nearly all my gift purchases so I did not expect this.

Take a look:

December 4th - a book about St. Nicholas
December 8th - sippy cups
December 9th - dvd/coloring book set for kids
December 10th - rain boots for Jonathan

The fact of the matter is that when I know that I'm not going to be paying for shipping, my first place to buy is Amazon. St. Nicholas' day is coming up - get a book on Amazon! Need sippy cups? Don't bother going to Target, just get them on Amazon. Find a great deal on something you had no intention of purchasing before you saw it? It would be fun and there's no extra shipping charge, so why not? I think you get the picture.

Because the shipping is free (and I don't even have to hit a $25 minimum order amount) I found myself buying things on the spot as I remembered needing (or wanting!) them. Shipping fees have always been a built in "slow down" factor for me (after all, who wants to pay $6 shipping on a $4 item?) and once removed I found that I had much less incentive to slow down and think twice about my purchases at all!

What I think is fascinating is that I, who am so very budget conscious and always looking for a good deal, reacted this way. So I can only imagine that many, many others did so as well, probably to the tune of many more dollars than I did. I'm sure that this is exactly what Amazon is betting on. And I wonder if it will work for them. I also wonder if it will work well enough for them to try it on an ongoing basis.

They have to cover their costs, of course, which might mean raising their prices a bit more. But what if the sippy cups cost $8.99 at Amazon, and $7.99 at Target? I'd buy at Amazon in a heartbeat! Paying an extra dollar on an item to skip the extra trip out would be absolutely worth it.

I don't know anything about the ins and outs of running a large scale business like Amazon. But given my own reaction to this promotion, and assuming that there have to be lots of others like me, I have to wonder if it might be just a little bit brilliant.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Anna and Christmas

Dr. John Mark Reynolds has written a really powerful essay on Anna and her role in the Christmas story. Who is Anna, you may ask? (I couldn't remember right away, either.) But I don't think I'll forget her now, and I hope that I won't forget what she teaches us. Go, read.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Baking

I made banana bread today, and learned something in the process.

Baking soda is important.

Amazon gift card giveaway

And one more thing from the Thrifty Mama - she's giving away two $25 Amazon gift cards. All you have to do is go leave a comment on her post. Although I do highly recommend browsing her site, because she is really good at posting deals.

FREE clementines TODAY ONLY 12/8/09

If you have a Vons card, go here right now to add an e-coupon for a free box of clementines to your card. Because it will be pre-loaded to your card, it should come off automatically at checkout.

The coupon is limited to the first 25,000 people who put it on their card, and the coupon is only available to use TODAY. Also, a minimum purchase of $25 is required.

Thanks to Crystal, The Thrifty Mama (and one ofy very favorite thrifty bloggers) for pointing out this deal!

Monday, December 07, 2009

I can't say that I never win anything anymore...

Because I just won something! Lee Jeans has a promotion going on right now on their facebook page: they're giving away 120 pairs of jeans each day this month. And amazingly, I won a pair! Which is just fun. :) I'm also looking forward to trying them, because I'm still trying to figure out what brand and style of jeans works well on my post-three-children body. Maybe these will be the ones?

Anyway, if you're on facebook, it might be worth your while to enter the giveaway!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Dreams of a doula-to-be

My subconscious is pretty strange right now! Last night's dream:

I had been asked at the last minute to be a doula for a girl, M, who I had known in high school but had had no contact with since then. They asked me to meet them at the hospital, which I did, only to find the room stuffed with family members. I had never met the husband, and originally mistook him for her father. I had forgotten my birth bag and ball, and was so scattered that it took me three trips back home to actually get my stuff together, and when I finally walked back into the hospital M's mother said something snarky like "I thought you were supposed to be HERE with her" (her mother in real life is nothing like that!) :) And then it was my worst nightmare of labor, really, because M wouldn't do anything I suggested, just lay flat on her back and cried and thrashed around. Thankfully, Gabe woke me up before it was over.

Don't worry, Katie, I have NO expectations of your birth looking anything like that! :)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

CVS trip - free Swiffer!

I've been wanting to get a Swiffer for awhile. People who have them tend to love them, and well, I hate mopping or sweeping the floor. Something new is worth a try, right?

This week CVS has an extra buck deal on Swiffers and refills. The starter kit is $9 and the refills are $4. If you spend $15, you get $5 back in extra bucks.

That's what I went in for...and I was thrilled to discover that they (the store on Whittier and Idaho) are doing a major clearance as well! So here is what I did today:

2 Celestial Seasonings tea samplers (90% off) $0.74
12 bars of soap (90% off) $1.08
1 Swiffer $9.00
2 Swiffer refills $8.00
2 gal. milk $5.38
Subtotal: $24.20

Celestial seasonings coupon -$0.74 (adjusted down)
Swiffer coupon -$5.00
Swiffer refill coupon -$4.00
2 milk coupons -$1.00
$5/$20 purchase CVS coupon -$5.00
Extra bucks -$8.00

Subtotal: $0.46
Tax: $0.71
TOTAL: $1.17

I received $5 in extra bucks, but spent $8, for a net total cost of $4.17. Which is, please note, less than the cost of the milk. Yay! :)

Monday, November 30, 2009

These things EXIST?

Yes, yes they do:



I think there is a reason they're hand-welded instead of being made on an assembly line - how many could they possibly need to make??

Software development and music composition

Not the sort of things I usually think of together, but the results here are wonderful. I knew Scott Ward back in college, but had no idea he had this kind of unusual talent. As a musician married to a developer, I appreciated the performance on a whole variety of levels - I hope you enjoy it too. Scott, if you ever read this, thank you!

Advent

Last night we set up the advent wreath and lit the first candle. Then we sang a couple of advent carols. This year Jonathan is interested in learning them, so I think we're going to have a nightly (or as-close-as-we-can-make-it) advent carol sing. It was a lovely and simple beginning.

If you're looking for thoughts or ideas on Advent, the Third Annual Advent Carnival (part of Carnivals of the Church Year) is up at A Ten O'Clock Scholar. It is well organized and I always find great ideas and reflections there, so I encourage you to take a look.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

It occurs to me that I have forgotten something important

Baby Josiah is now officially a toddler! I just put him in real shoes for the first time last week. He is too sweet, wobbling around on his little feet, and so very pleased with himself!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Secrets

I took Jonathan shopping with me last week, and we picked up a present for Daddy. I discussed with him very seriously that this was a present, a secret, and we had to be sure not to tell Daddy about it. He informed me that he was four years old and could keep a secret.

Then on Thursday, all the Black Friday ads came. While Gabe was flipping through them, Jonathan came across the Target ad (which included a picture of said present). Jonathan threw himself across it and said "Daddy, Daddy, you can't look because that is your present!!"

On Friday, Gabe took the boys out shopping. In the store, they passed a display of the same item, and Jonathan, eyes wide, cried out "Oh, Daddy, don't look, it's your present!"

Isn't it amazing how a child's mind works? He still thinks that the secret is safe. After all, he's four, and he can keep secrets now!


(I was reminded to blog about this when I read Ma Torg's post on the same subject.)

More worm farming

Our worm farm has been doing quite well, which is amazing considering how we forget about it for days at a time! Today I realized that the worms were pretty much living in their own castings, which isn't good for them. So we traumatized them utterly by turning their living space upside down and inside out, then added new shredded paper bedding and greens. Here is the result:



The part on the bottom (of the picture, anyway) is the new bedding and food, and I expect that they'll migrate over to that side fairly quickly. When they do, we'll be able to finish harvesting the rest of the castings.

We were able to get some of them right away, though. Thomas liked holding the bucket but did NOT want to touch the worms or the castings. :)



Doesn't that look beautiful!



This is the bed we're preparing for a winter crop of peas. I love the fact that I can turn kitchen and garden scraps into the most amazing fertilizer for our garden!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful

This evening before prayers, Gabe asked Jonathan and Thomas what they were thankful for. The list was wonderful. Jonathan is thankful for apples, birds, rainbows, clouds, Cubbie Bear, Luv E. Lamb, pigs, Daddy and Mommy, Siah and Thomas, and God.

Thomas? Thomas is thankful for "some shirts".

I am thankful that I get to be their mother.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Playtime

I’ve been struck, recently, by how differently my children approach playtime. During quiet time each morning both Jonathan and Thomas play separately on their beds. Usually, they listen to a story cd and play with Duplo. So far, similar! But what they do with their time and toys is entirely different.

Jonathan creates things. Preferably big, cool, amazing things. Airplanes, helicopters, and large double deck buses are favorites of his, and the fun seems to be in the building – once built he doesn’t want them broken, but would rather set them on a shelf than play with them. Thomas approaches play entirely differently. He builds relational settings. He wants all the little Duplo people, and he sets up tables with chairs, or benches, or houses with bedrooms and beds. His little people sit next to each other and have conversations. (It is a lot of fun to listen in.)

Here are some pictures of Thomas' playtime creations:





This is just one example, but I think the observation holds in general. They are such different children! I think it is fascinating to watch, and ponder, and I hope that as I pay attention to my boys growing so differently, I’ll be able to parent each one better.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Minimalism

I wrote this on Friday and forgot to post it until now. :)

This morning we had our carpets cleaned. Which means that last night I picked up everything possible off the floor, moved the strollers out to the van, and made a mental list for this morning. And this morning I moved everything that could possibly be moved off the carpet. And when I say everything, I mean everything that isn’t nailed down or two heavy to move without multiple people. :) Carpet cleaning happens rarely around here (it’s expensive!) so when it does, I plan to take advantage of it!

And now my carpet is clean, and I’m sitting in an absolutely beautiful and very, very empty house, and I don’t want to put it all back.

Did I mention that I think I’m a minimalist at heart?

Outside on my back patio are children’s toys, a baby gate, recycle bins, a laundry hamper, bookshelves, more children’s toys, a coffee table, and a bookshelf we’ve been trying to sell for weeks without success. In my van are three strollers, only one of which is well-serving the purpose for which it was purchased. On top of my bed is a rocking chair, a chest, piles of books, wrapping paper, blankets and pillows, and everything that has been living under my bed.

I’d like to bundle it all up and ship it…elsewhere! Certainly not pack it all back inside where it was before.

I’m curious how others handle the competing needs: for clean, spacious room to live, and all the things that having children seems to bring into life. Do you ever just get rid of tons of stuff? And if so, do you find that you miss it later? Do your (my!) kids really need everything they own, or would we all be happier in a home with more space to play and fewer things?

*And now I have to laugh at myself, because apparently I feel this way every time we do a major carpet clean.*

UPDATED to add that I did take three bags and two large items to our local Life Center, and we also have three other VERY large things that we're considering selling. That will help with the space problems!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Bluebirds - preschool project

I learned today that there are three different kinds of bluebirds: Eastern, Western, and Mountain. You learn all kinds of fascinating facts when you're teaching small children. We had a lot of fun enjoying the pictures. These are really beautiful birds.

As always, we did a bit of handwriting practice; as always, Jonathan complained about it; as always, he did a very nice job. Makes me laugh inside. :)

Then we got out the watercolors and painted a couple of lovely coloring pages. Did you know that the Eastern Bluebird is New York's state bird? Jonathan was very interested in the coloring differences of each type and gender of bluebird. He painted his to be an female Eastern bluebird.

We listened to the bluebird's calls and songs. And the best find of the morning: the Children's Bluebird Activity Book - a printable pdf book all about bluebirds! It is written at a 4th grade level, so I chose about 1/4 of the pages to print and read through with Jonathan. Then we hole punched everything and tied it together with blue ribbon, making a sweet little book.

Overall, this was a more time consuming preschool project than we usually tackle, but I think both boys enjoyed it!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Case in point: Albertsons shopping trip

To give you a better understanding of why I am irked with Vons, let me give you a run-down of my shopping trip at Albertsons this evening.

1) It was quick. Door to door (MY door) was 45 minutes.

2) They have helpful clerks/managers. While I love some of the clerks at Vons, Albertsons really does give them a run for their money in the helpfulness category! When I walked in, a manager was immediately visible. I asked her a question about the promotion (it was unclear from the ad) and she went to the office to get the official paperwork to find an answer for me. With a smile.

3) It was a very good deal.

6 cans green beans
1 box progresso broth
24 oz progresso bread crumbs
10 lbs gold medal flour
3 boxes general mills cereal
5 pkgs yo-plus yogurt (20 single serving containers)

Original total (sale prices, no coupons): $30.07
11 coupons used: - $8.75
Total oop: $21.32

Catalinas earned: $15
Net cost: $6.32

Open letter to Vons

To Whom It May Concern:

I was very disappointed to read the fine print in your most recent store coupons. It stated “With a single purchase of $50 or more in a single visit after deduction of Club Card Savings and manufacturers’ coupons.” While I certainly understand having a purchase requirement, and I understand requiring the amount to be after club card (i.e. store sale) savings, I do not understand the requirement for the total requirement to be met after manufacturer’s coupons. Manufacturers’ coupons are not a discount that you (the store) are offering. You are reimbursed by the manufacturer, so in essence, a coupon is like cash. Because of this, I do not see any reason for you to require me to pay $50 after coupons, because that is actually requiring a much higher purchase amount. If I pay $50 cash after coupons, and I also used $15 worth of coupons, you are actually getting $65.

Vons coupon policies used to be quite attractive, but in the past year or so they have become more and more restrictive. I am often frustrated by the new requirement to only accept two like coupons, as I have a large family and usually want to purchase more than two items! You get reimbursed for all the coupons, so why limit my purchase to only two?

I love my local Vons – you have some really great staff there – but I have a large family and a limited budget. The fact is that your restrictive coupon policies are very close to driving me to a different store. Because in the same time period that you have become more difficult and restrictive, Albertsons has become more coupon friendly and has lowered most of their prices. It is fast becoming a better deal to shop there.

I hope you give some thought to this. I have been a Vons shopper for 5 years (most of my adult life) so I think it might matter to you that your coupon policies have made me seriously consider going elsewhere.

Sincerely,
Emily Moothart

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Hair, or, the lack thereof

Josiah has had really terrible cradle cap since birth. I've mostly just ignored it, but lately it has been flaking off quite a bit and it really is kind of yucky. So last night when I was giving him a bath, I decided to try an olive oil treatment that I'd read about. Seemed simple - rub olive oil into his hair, scrub his head, then wash as usual.

He loved having his head scrubbed. Seriously LOVED it. I wonder if it has been itchy for awhile. And it all came off!

So did his hair. All of it in the front and on the top of his head (where the cradle cap was). He looked ridiculous!

Which is how I came to give him the closest buzz cut I ever hope to give. :) He's pretty cute anyway, don't you think?

video

Friday, October 30, 2009

Did you bank with WaMu?


We did, and we loved it. We had some great accounts, lots of flexibility, and the only fees we had to worry about were overdraft fees (not fun, but usually avoidable.)

Last year Chase bought out WaMu. We were assured that nothing would change, we could keep our accounts, nothing would change, everything would be great...etc.

Last week marked the final stage of the takeover: our accounts were now officially Chase accounts.

Today I discovered, quite by accident, that what used to be free is no longer free. That Chase would like to charge me upwards of $90 a month in fees for the same things that WaMu let me do for free.

Nothing will change. Right. I called and politely asked if these fees could be waived for my account, since I was a customer of long standing with WaMu and I had never been charged previously. I was told "No. We can't waive any fees. We're not Washington Mutual, we're Chase, and this is how we do things."

To which I replied, "I'm so sorry to hear that. I will be transferring my money and closing my accounts."

The thing that bothers me most isn't the fact of the fees (although that is irritating), but that they were not clearly disclosed. Had I not been setting up a transfer today, I would have found all those fees after it was too late to avoid them. That is not only bad business, it is wrong. Which is why I have spent all my free time today finding a new bank and moving my money out of Chase.

So if you did bank with WaMu, you might want to dig a little and find out what fun new fees Chase wants to charge you. Then shed a few tears for WaMu, and head for the exit.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Giving with coupons

I took the boys on a shopping trip to Target today. We were there to buy, among other things, a whole stack of cookies. The boys, of course, wanted to eat the cookies, and so we had a conversation about how the cookies were for the homeless shelter. "Why?" Because we have plenty of food, and those people don't, and they will enjoy having cookies (and peanut butter, toothpaste, etc.) We're trying to raise the boys to have a heart for those less fortunate, and so far the lessons seem to be sinking in: neither boy protested giving away the cookies. It is nice to see a bit of parenting success!

Anyway, I mention this because I want to challenge my readers to keep your local homeless shelters, food banks, and crisis pregnancy centers in mind when you're out shopping this season, no matter where you are. Coupons can stretch what cash you have to give to amazing proportions. (The aforementioned stack of cookies cost me only 50 cents.) There are some amazing Hasbro toy coupons available right now. You can actually make money by purchasing dove deodorant at CVS this week. Another money-maker: Quaker oatmeal at Walgreens. Many department stores (such as Penneys and Kohls) offer $10 off $10 purchase coupons on a regular basis. If you don't need something specific for yourself or as a gift, consider picking up a cute maternity top. Our local La Habra Life Center just published their list of requests, and maternity clothes are one of their major needs.

Of course we can't all get to every store and pick up every deal, but keep your eyes open! Sometimes taking a little extra time and paying attention to the good deals means you can give far more than you could if you just wrote a check.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mom, Mom, can we light the candles?

So requested my eldest this evening. Why? "Because they remind us about Jesus and how He made the light!"

Of course we did, and as I lit them Jonathan explained to Thomas how the light made us remember Jesus. And then we sat and looked at them for a moment with the lights out, enjoying their flickering beauty, and I recited what I could remember from the Genesis account of God separating the light from the darkness, evening and morning, the first day, and seeing that it was good.

I think that the spark for this evening's conversation was a lesson a few weeks ago at Cubbies (yay Aunt Libby and Uncle Jon, the awesome leaders!) It is very sweet to see the results of lessons that have percolated for awhile in his mind.

Photo credit: Jon Sullivan

Friday, October 23, 2009

Angry

There should be an uprising of women across America in protest. We vote, we have jobs and prestige and equality and yet we accept this? Where is our voice?

Proud of myself

This morning I didn't feel very well, and pretty much the last thing I wanted to do was work out.

But I did it anyway.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Healthier stuffing

The recipe on a box of stuffing mix usually calls for 1/2 cup chopped celery and 1/2 cup chopped onion, along with a good chunk of butter. A few nights ago I tried an experiment: I cut the butter way down (just about 2 tsp.) and used 1 cup minced carrots, 1 cup chopped onion, and 1 cup chopped celery (and then followed the recipe as stated).

It was great! Better than usual! And so much better for us. :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Saint Francis

Jonathan, looking at a book about St. Francis:

I love deer, and they run away from me, and he loves deer, and they don’t run away!”

A few minutes later he sighed and added, “Well, I guess I just have to love them a long time.”

Gabe said, “Jonathan, St. Francis was given a special gift – not all people have that gift from God.”

Jonathan's response?

“But, I was given a special gift too, and deer still run away! Why???

(Yes, he talks in italics. All the time.)

Monday, October 19, 2009

I'm raising Tom Sawyer

This morning Jonathan asked for a slice of green pepper, which I gave him. One bite later, he informed me that he didn't like it, then walked away. A moment later I overheard the following conversation:
J: Thomas, do you want this?
T: No, I don't like that.
J: But Thomas, it's good! It's a vegetable!
I think his technique needs a bit of work, as Thomas refused the vegetable and Jonathan returned it to the kitchen. :)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

When it rains...

it pours orders, apparently. We had our first major rain storm of the season, and all of a sudden I have orders to ship out SEVEN slings or scale slings in the next week. SEVEN!!!

Direct causal link, I'm telling you.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Cesareans and insurance discrimination

ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) has asked us to spread the word: they need examples (with or without hard documentation) of women who have encountered insurance discrimination after a c-section.
ICAN needs stories about discriminatory insurance practices based on a previous cesarean. This can include but is not limited to demands for sterilization, restrictions on how soon you can have another pregnancy and be covered, higher premiums, restrictions on the total amount of benefits they will pay, excessively high deductibles for maternity care. Even if all you have is your name, state, contact information (email is fine) and a description of the circumstances (with the name of the relevant insurance company(ies) if possible) we can use it. If you have written documentation, that would be pure gold. There is interest about this at the highest levels of the Federal Govt. and we will use this to open the discussion on other areas of discrimination (like VBAC bans, lack of transparency, etc)….so please, take a moment and get the information to ICAN. You can email me at advocacy@ican-online.org or you can snail mail to ICAN of Ann Arbor, PO Box 48, Stockbridge, MI 49285.

Your story could make a difference that would improve the care available for millions of women and their babies.
Read more about it, including a press release from ICAN on their latest work.
Thanks, VBACfacts!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Perfect storm parenting

Jonathan is 4 and 1/2 years old. He has an inquisitive, sharp mind and wants to "discuss" things constantly. His imaginative play is amazing, as is his empathy, especially with his stuffed animals. He takes very good care of all those animals! He needs, sometimes legitimately, more attention than I can give him. I wish I could figure out a way to spend an hour each morning and an hour each afternoon just with him, probably focused on some kind of learning. He would love that and I think it would go a long way toward helping him be calmer during the rest of the day. He often whines that he is "bored" and those are the times he is most likely to provoke/hit/kick/shove Thomas, or take his toys, or throw a full-blown tantrum about who-knows-what.

Thomas is 2 and 3/4 years old. His speech is improving, giving us a better window into his mind, which is often such fun! He wants to be like Jonathan, but he is definitely his own little person. He loves to read and can sometimes be found sitting on the floor in a corner, carefully paging through a book. He needs quiet time alone, but rarely gets it. Jonathan is always pulling him away to join into his own games. Perhaps in retaliation, perhaps just because he needs to be alone and never is, he has mastered the art of getting on his brother's nerves. He takes toys away from Jonathan and Josiah, hits and shoves both his brothers, and then cries desperately if Jonathan retaliates (even though he started it.) He needs, sometimes legitimately, more time and attention than I have to give, especially right after waking up from a nap. I wish that I could spend an hour just holding him and reading stories. He would love it and it would make our afternoons much more pleasant. He's just starting to give up his afternoon nap, so our afternoons are always difficult (either because he's been awake too long or because he's having a hard time waking up.) The whining and crying are hard for me to handle.

Josiah is one year old. He has an even, sweet, happy temperament. He loves to explore, to touch, to taste, to climb (on everything), to throw things. He has a truly incredible ability to find the open door when my back is turned (the older boys simply CANNOT remember to keep things closed) and get into the toilet or the mud puddle. He gets multiple baths, or at least rinse-offs, nearly every day. He's old enough to get into lots and lots of trouble, but not quite old enough to obey instructions. He needs, legitimately, more time and attention than I can give him. I wish I had the luxury of lots of time to spend just focused on him, looking at tree leaves, and bugs in the mud, and reading books and stacking blocks. All things we do but in tiny little two-minute increments, when I want fifteen.

There is so much going on in our household right now. So much growing and learning - an explosion of fascinating maturing - yet with that comes a cacophony of discipline issues. I feel like I spend my days dealing with the immediate, the required, the child who has been shoved and needs a hug and the child who did the shoving and needs a time out and a talk, the little one who has now been ignored for too long, is playing in the potty, and needs a bath. The tyranny of the urgent is my perpetual reality.

This does feel like a perfect storm. I think I would need to be super-woman to be successful right now, given these realities. And the fact is that I'm not super-woman. I get tired and stressed, I raise my voice too often and I listen too little. Like Thomas I need quite and space to myself, and like Thomas, I find it in far too short supply.

I started writing this hoping, I think, that I'd figure something out in the writing. Sigh.

God grant that this stage, this storm, is short, and give me grace to live well until it passes.

(photo credit: Ian Britton, FreeFoto.com)

Friday, October 09, 2009

Signing!

Josiah is properly signing "more", "milk", "hungry", and "all done". I started signing with him about ten days ago, and suddenly it all clicked! He's using the signs appropriately and specifically to get what he wants (not just in response to us.) Hurray for communication!

He is also pointing very effectively and continuing to say "over there" and I think he's also adding "that". If he thinks something is exciting and wonderful he greets it with an adorable "oooooh!!!!" So far, the most exciting and beautiful things he has encountered are trees. That boy LOVES TREES. He wants to touch them, and look up into their leaves (especially if there is a breeze blowing!) and especially likes it when I lift him up to sit on a branch. Maybe he'll grow up to be a naturalist. :)

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Trader Joe's

I've never really understood the appeal of Trader Joe's. I've shopped there a few times, and they have a few products that I like, but not enough to make me go back frequently. That said, it does have nice ambiance, and while it isn't my shop of choice I know that it is the favorite of many of my friends. So when my sister linked to an article including this video, I watched it, and it made me smile. Enjoy.

Tired

Lack of sleep makes it nearly impossible to care about eating right and working out. I had such great plans...but right now I just want to curl up on the couch with hot chocolate and buttered toast. And not move.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Josiah's first words

Josiah has words! His first consistent words are "over there" combined with a pointed finger. I kind of thought I was imagining things until I mentioned it to Heather (Thomas' speech therapist) and Josiah obliged by saying it for her...and she said it sounded like words to her! So it is official - no "mama" or "dada" for this boy, he wants to go places! Specifically, "over there!"

Siah is also developing an adorable sense of humor. Today during a diaper change he lifted his feet up, draped his shorts over his feet, and cracked himself up. It was so funny to watch him, so convinced that he was hilarious!

Things I want to remember

Thomas is improving so much in his speech (we have a truly amazing speech therapist for him) and while we cheer his progress, there are some Thomas-isms that I love and will be silently sorry to lose.

Na-na-han (Jonathan)

Ya-ya or sometimes Do-ya-ya (Josiah)

Namies (pajamas)

Guck! (truck)

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming...

to pat Mommy on the back.

This morning Jonathan asked for a graham cracker for his snack. I said that graham crackers weren't an option, but would he like a cheese stick or some apple slices? He threw a half-hearted fit about that, then opened the refrigerator and asked "Mommy, how about some carrots and keifer?"

Pat pat pat. I think I'm doing something right.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Vons shopping trip 10/3/09

I enjoyed my grocery shopping this week - it was a great trip! I forgot to take a picture before putting it all away, but here is the run-down:

3 packages frozen peas
1 package steamfresh potatoes
1 package steamfresh broccoli
1 package steamfresh veggie mix

1 Newman's own pizza
2 frozen healthy choice lunches
2 boxes Jones sausage
2 boxes chicken tenders

1 lb turkey lunch meat
1 lb Foster Farms chicken
2 lbs bacon

1 lb butter
4 lbs shredded cheese
2 gallons milk
24 oz blueberry yogurt

3 cans green beans
2 cans peaches
10 lbs potatoes
6.5 lbs bananas
2 lbs baby carrots

1 package Nature Valley nut clusters
1 box microwave popcorn
2 loaves Artisan bread

2 Glade mini candles
2 Colgate toothpaste

Total cost: $47.32
Total savings from coupons (not sale pricing): $48

It makes me happy to "pay" more in coupons than in cash! :)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

NBC responsible journalism petition

Remember NBC's so-called-reporting on "the perils of midwifery"? They seem to be listening to the outcry. First they re-titled it "the perils of homebirth" on their website, and now they have taken it down all together. Maybe I'm wildly optimistic, but I'm still hoping that they'll air a retraction! :)

In any case, there is a petition directed to NBC, asking them to provide the public with the real story of midwifery. I usually don't re-circulate petitions because they often aren't well done, but I think that this one is. Some of you might want to sign it.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cheetahs!

Aren't these beautiful animals? I love the spots.

We found a couple of coloring pages - Jonathan was concerned that he couldn't color carefully enough to manage the spots! We ended up using a sharpie marker so that he could just touch each spot to color them in.

A basic fact page, as well as a page about babies. Jonathan is very interested in size right now; he wants me to show him what a foot or a half a pound "looks like" with my hands.

Did you know that cheetahs don't roar? They chirp! No kidding - they sound more like birds than cats!

A jigsaw puzzle, of course. I love this site - we've been learning about all kinds of animals and so far there has been a puzzle for ALL of them!

Handwriting practice, which Jonathan informs me "makes his hands too tired to color". Poor overworked little boy.

And his favorite part: videos! We found a cute one of cubs at a zoo, as well as a pretty cool montage of cheetahs running. A cheetah in motion is one of the most amazing sights. Beauty and raw power - wow.