Thursday, January 31, 2013

Home Alone!!!!

Today was a big day for me.  Elizabeth was off in DC with her homeschool group (I still get a kick out of that one!) so that meant that I was home alone with all 4 of the little ones all by myself til she got back at about 2:30.  It really isn't bad, but since this is the first full week that we have had Baby B, and this is only the 3 day that we have had him full time, there has been some transition time for all of us.

For me, I think that the biggest transition has been that I have to set an alarm to get up now.  I have not had to use an alarm for years.  I used to not have to be at work til 9, and the kids got me up in plenty of time for that, and before that, I worked overnight, so I was up anyway when I went in, but now, I have to be ready for Baby B at 6, so I have to set my alarm so that I am up and ready for him then.  It actually makes me kind of nervous through out the night thinking about how the alarm is going to go off, and sharing the room with Gabriel and Jesse makes it worse because the last thing I want when I get up before dawn is to have 2 little people hanging on my while I am trying to pry my eyes open!

Also, of course, there is the getting used to Baby B and his temperament and schedule.  It seems that he is adapting well to the schedule that the rest of the kids have and pretty much sleeping when Jesse sleeps in the morning, and again when everyone sleeps in the afternoon.  That is perfect for me and seems to be working for him.  I didn't even do anything to make that happen, but I think he is just feeling the rhythm of the house.  And he doesn't cry much, which is good, too.  He's a pretty easy going little guy, so I can't complain.

I still have not taken them all anywhere other than out in the yard, of course, and on walks around the neighborhood, but next week is MOPS on Tuesday morning, and I don't want to miss that, so I guess that will be my trial run.

But actually, it hasn't been that bad being home every day.  I have gotten a lot more schoolwork done with Jo but I think that Elizabeth has gotten a bit less time in since she's been helping me.  But I think that will work itself out with some patience and practice as well.

Jo's handwriting is getting much better.  She has been doing copy work everyday.  I have her write her AWANA Bible verse.  This helps her memorize it, but also, since she has it memorized, I can ask her how you spell words that she can't necessarily read on her own, but then she realizes that she can read it through recognition.  It's been really fun to see her light up when she 'gets' it.  I also hit up the clearance bins at Michael's (70% off the red sticker prices!) and got her some more rubber stamps to add to her collection.  I think that she is happy to have something other than Christmas themes to work with.

  She got the marker tower and some Christmas stamps for Christmas, but she is so good and responsible with her things that I have let her use my Stampin' Up stamps and markers, too.  I figure that even if they get 'messed up' at least they are being used!

Gabriel was working on scissor work today:  Open 'em, close 'em.  Open 'em, close 'em... and he actually did pretty well.  He had been having a really hard time turning them the right way in his hand and making them work.  I think that when he saw the true power of the tool of destruction that I was placing in his hands, he caught on faster.

Who?  Me?  Destructive????  Never!

And then, of course, there was some random cuteness going on.  Jo is loving having another little one to take care of!!!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

To Nuke or Not to Nuke, That Is the Question

I have been going back and forth on this for a while.  I got this large powerful microwave from my brother about 14 years ago when we first bought the house, and it has been my friend ever since.  But I think that our time together is coming to an end.

I defended it loyally when my mother-in-law wanted to replace it because you could no longer see the numbers on the touch pad, and I wouldn't even let her put her shiny new red one in its dedicated space on the counter when the top started bowing up.  And it still cooks like a champ, and I can make my 30 minute chicken in just that...30 minutes with all the fixin's.

But we (I use that term has really been just me) have been trying to move toward healthier, more natural alternatives in our food consumption and lifestyle.  First, we got rid of plastics in the kitchen, then we moved on to change our diets so that we eat more salads and less starchy foods, and now, I feel that the next step is to get rid of the microwave.  I know that there are conflicting feelings and opinions about the microwave, but since ours seems to be compromised, I can't believe that it's good to have it hanging around brain height of the little kids and belly height of the rest of us.

I expected to meet much more resistance, but Jimmy has been mentioning that he thinks that we should get a new one since the old one is getting a bit old and worn out, so it's not been as hard as I first thought.

But I couldn't expect everyone to just go cold turkey, so I've been taking it in steps.

First, I cleaned all around it and unplugged it, but it's still on the counter.  That way, everyone still feels 'safe' that there's still one there if we 'absolutely need' it.  But it turns out that with a few changes in the way we do things, we haven't really needed it, although Jimmy did confess last night that he plugged it in to heat up some milk and then unplugged it again.  But the remorse that he felt and timidity with which he confessed along with the incredulity that he saw in Elizabeth and me will probably keep him from doing it again.

The biggest thing that we miss it for is heating up leftovers and milk.  Jimmy likes to make hot chocolate or coffee in the morning, and he feels that it's wasteful to dirty up a whole pan just to heat one mug of milk, although why this would bother him since he leaves it in the sink is beyond me.  As far as the other things, we have been using the toaster oven that we have, and that has been working ok, but the oven has some kind of problem and doesn't always turn off when you think that you have turned it off, so I think that we need to replace it to be safer.

But the very best thing that we have that has been most useful is this great little hot water maker that I have had for a few years.  I love it and we all use it all the time.

The only thing that I don't like about it is that I would like it to have a larger capacity, and it would also like it if the space where you put the cup was taller so that larger mugs could fit under there.  But it works for us.  One of the things that I do like about it is that the water doesn't come out after it's heated.  You have to push a lever to get it to release.  That's good if you put water in it right after you heat some up because otherwise it would just flow out the bottom because it doesn't register that it is new cold water.  Of course, that is a bad feature in one way if you travel because it seems that the hotel water warmers are the flow through kind so that means that if you don't remember to put your mug under it right away to catch the flow, it flows all over the top of the microwave that it's sitting on and onto the table and the floor.  I mean, not that I know this from experience, of course...I'm just surmising...

We have been using the water heater even more now that we have Baby B with us.  It works perfectly to heat up the water, put it in a cup and then float the milk that his mom leaves us, and I also found that one of my Pampered Chef Prep Bowls fits in my measuring cup perfectly, so I can float that with the frozen cubes of food that they send with him, too.  And everything comes out the perfect temperature!

So, our next step is to move the microwave out the door!  Yay!

And now, for today's dose of cuteness:

The weather was nice enough outside to pull out the bikes.  I was impressed that Jo and Gabriel did so well on them after having them packed away for so long!  

 Good morning, Baby B!

 Definitely double trouble both in her arms and at the table in the background!

Here, Izzy.  Let me help you with that Lit homework...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What You Don't Know...

When I mention that I am homeschooling, I always get asked if I am in any sort of support group or homeschool group.  I always say that I am not, because up until Saturday, I didn't think that I was.

Elizabeth did a wonderful job on her poetry reading on Saturday.  The artist was there and spoke about his pieces, and then the kids got to read the poems that they wrote that were inspired by the art. If you missed it, here's her poem.

Here's picture of Elizabeth and part of her group.  The lady at the far right is Mrs P, the one who organizes all the things that the kids learn and study.
But before I go any farther, let me tell you how it all started.

I started homeschooling Elizabeth last year in February.  I was still working full time, and we due to have the baby at any moment, but February was when the semester at her middle school ended, so it seemed like a good transition point.

After she got out of school, I was away all day and it was just my in-laws and Gabriel in the house since Jo still was in preschool, and Elizabeth needed something to do to help with the stay home transition.  So, when I saw a posting at the library for a teen book discussion, I got the book, which was Up From Slavery by Booker T Washington.  I assumed the book was chosen because February is Black History month, and Elizabeth read it and went to the group, which met on a Wednesday.  While she was there, the facilitator of the group, Mrs. P, invited Elizabeth to be a part of the outings that she organizes for every Thursday.

I was all for that, so Elizabeth started to go every Thursday.  I couldn't go with her because I still had to work, but this awesome friend from church agreed to go with her so she didn't have to ride the metro alone.

All this was wonderful and Elizabeth really seems to like the classes and learns a lot in them.

But as the book group went on, the book selections seemed to be very biased.  They all, or at least mostly, seemed to have to do with African American history or authors, and the discussions seemed to be very one-sided.  All of the other kids in the discussion group, and most of the kids in the DC enrichment group with the exception of Elizabeth and 2 other students are African American, so I just assumed that had something to do with it.  I even went as far as to tell Elizabeth that if she wanted, she could suggest a book pertaining to the Latino culture to round things out a bit.

So, when I got to the library on Saturday, I was not at all surprised to see that I was very out numbered.  My sister and her husband came to hear Elizabeth, and aside from us and one other boy who was participating, we were the only Caucasian people there.

I got a copy of the program and sat in the back so that Jesse would not be as distracting, and looked over the schedule of events.  At the bottom, this is what I saw: (sorry it's so blurry!)

Yes, Elizabeth belongs to Culture at Home:  An African American homeschool support group.

Well, then.  That explains things.  But also, now, when I am asked, I can proudly say, 'Why yes!  I am part of a homeschool support group!'  And honestly, I'm not sure I would choose another if I were to have to make a choice!

That being said, here's some cuteness that's been going on around here:

That's Baby B.  He's a new little guy that we are going to be watching every day.  It was a totally unexpected God thing.  We weren't looking to take on any more little people, and I'm sure his mom and dad weren't expecting to come across an answer to their childcare issue in the church nursery, but here we are and he is such a cutie!  And it is so fun to see him interact with Jo, Gabriel and Jesse.  He is about 2 months younger than Jesse.  They are quite jealous of each other!  When I pick one up, I'd better be ready with the other arm for the other one!  (Any hints on how to help that?)  But they still 'play' together following each other around on the floor and passing toys to each other, and Gabriel and Jo are really enjoying this new little playmate.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

When I Dream by Elizabeth

Elizabeth's classes recently have been really great.  Last Saturday she got to go to a writing workshop with Clarence Jones, the author of Martin Luther King, Jr's famous I Have a Dream speech and for the last 2 Thursdays, she has been working with Jonathan B Tucker on the following poem that she will be reading in this program:

When I Dream 
By Elizabeth

When I dream I'm free
I soar away from reality
I leave my chains and shackles
I escape, I run
I flee from the pain, the hurt
I hide from the hate and the mocking voices
i forget the fear
I speak my mind
I raise my voice in the choir of the oppressed
I n the world, my name is Slave
I am nothing but an object
Abused, mistreated, unloved, uncared for
My hands hurt, my back aches, my legs tremble
My family torn away from me
My parents sold, my sister given away
No one cares about who I was
No one cares about who I wanted to be
In the world I only have one future
But when I dream, I'm free
I can run as far as I want
I can eat as much as I want
I can have the childhood I always wanted
The one they took away
The one they left back in Africa
Along with my joy and happiness;
My hopes and dreams
When I dream I am home
Home with my friends
Home with my family
Home where I am a person
When I dream I dream for the little boy down the road
I dream for teh little girl two towns away
I dream for the brothers and sisters
The mothers and fathers
And I dream for the owners
That they no longer hold us here
That they see with our eyes
In the world, I am a slave
I am a caged bird, I am a tethered dog
But when I dream I am free!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

In the Player: Avengers

Elizabeth got the DVD Avengers for Christmas.  I like movies and I like books, but I usually see or read them once and then I am done.  But not Elizabeth.  She will watch a movie until she has it pretty much memorized, or read a book til she can just open it to the part that she wants to read and skip around where she likes.

Her latest flick has been Avengers.

I liked this one.  I had seen Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, and Captain America in each of their own individual movies, and this was basically a movie where all of those super heroes come together to fight a common enemy.

Tony Stark, of course, was brilliant.  He is once again perfectly cast as the irreverent know-it-all Iron Man.  He is quick, witty, and fun and, of course, easy on the eyes. ;) I also like the Black Widow in the scenes where she is very deviously gets the information she wants out of whomever she wants it.  I don't prefer her in the fighting sequences, but the others make up for that.

The theme is well built.  I like the way that it's not just a blow 'em up good against evil, but it has the aspect of the different super heroes that all think that they are the best and must come to terms with working together and respecting one another.  The Hulk, of course, has his own issues as well that must be controlled before he's really worth anything, too.

Avengers is PG13 and has some super hero violence, some kissing, and some crude language, but on the whole, it's a great movie that I don't mind Elizabeth watching again (and again and again and again...)

In the Player: Premium Rush

(I know that this posting was under a different heading, but I don't know how to link things and move them around, so I apologize that it's here, too.)
Premium Rush (+ UltraViolet Digital Copy)

Premium Rush!  I really enjoyed this one.  It's not really my style, but the 'car chases' were much better on a bike!  The plot was ok and I liked the way they played it out with the clock going forward and backward to show you what happened when.  I was on the edge of my seat pretty much til the end.  I must say that even though I don't like him much, Michael Shannon was perfectly cast.  Plus, there were some pretty funny sequences.  There was a little kissing in it, but nothing major, and there was some language in it, but I would definitely let Elizabeth watch it.  (She isn't feeling well, so she's already in bed.)  Definitely worth the $1.26 at RedBox!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Cherished

I know that it's not Friday anymore, but I still want to participate, so here goes!

This Friday's topic was:


She cradled the box to her chest.  In it was all she held dear, all she thought she cherished.  But in order to take the next step, she had to leave that box behind.  She couldn't take that box with her, full of all the things that she felt she couldn't leave behind, and still step out into the unknown.

There was a wait limit, and she'd reached it.  In fact, far surpassed it.  She couldn't wait anymore.  She had reached the limit of waiting, and, as a matter of fact, she had also reached the weight limit.  The box was full to capacity and she couldn't carry it anymore.  And he wouldn't wait forever but she couldn't go to him if she didn't leave that box!  The weight of the wait pulled on her.  And she knew that all she had to do was let go of that darned box.

But her knuckles were white gripping the thing.  It wasn't even pretty, you know.  It was old and battered and dirty.  Grimy in a depressing and disappointing kind of way.  How could something so ugly be so hard to let go of?

But it pulled her down.  It had her on her knees, knuckles dragging on the ground, getting bloodied by the rough pavement.

Let it go!

He kneels in front of her, lifting her chin with a gentle hand.  This isn't how it has to be, you know, he says.  She looks up at him and asks him, will you still?

And he says, yes.  He says he will.  He says he's never stopped asking her.  But she was the one that never stopped saying no.

Because to say yes meant that she would have to leave her box.

But then, she did it.  She stood, and left that box there.

It wasn't as hard as she thought that it would be.   The box didn't call to her, it didn't chase her down.  It stayed put right there on the steps where she left it.

And they stood there alone together at the altar without that box and she said yes and he said yes and her tears were of joy and fear because what if she needed that box or what if it found her again but it felt so good to have left it there.

And it's not that she never thinks about that box because one has to, you know.  You can't just leave something behind that you have had with you for so long and expect to not ever think about it or have it come back to visit you in one way or another, but she has a new box now.

And it's bright and beautiful and slightly banged up here and there but it's full to bursting and she's always trying to cram more and more into it and it's lovely because it's raw and it's life and it's here and it's now and it's memories and she has finally realized what it is that needs to be cherished.

Five Minute Friday

Monday, January 21, 2013

Mini Hands Make a Task Light

There has been something going around about how there is a 'contest' to clean out your house by getting rid of 2013 pieces of clutter in the year 2013.  While I do not want to take the time to count and keep up with how many pieces of clutter I am getting out of the house, nor do I want to try to figure out if the whole 25 piece playset counts as one piece or 25, I do think that it is a good idea to get rid of clutter.

My biggest problem with that is what to do with what I get rid of.  Every week we have about twice as much recycling as trash, and probably 1/3 of all our waste is put in the compost.  I feel guilty if I use a disposable diaper when I could use a cloth, and so it's just hard for me to get rid of stuff.  I want to be sure that it is going to the 'right' place.

I used to just take all my stuff to the thrift store on Rt 1, but then I realized that they were throwing a lot of stuff away!  I saw them just toss stuff from the collection bins directly into 2 huge dumpsters without even looking to see what was in the bags or boxes!  That really made me feel bad!

So, now I am on the lookout for what else to do with the stuff that I don't want or need anymore.  I found a good clothes closet for the outgrowns, I take our written materials to the library booksale, sell what I can on eBay or craigslist, and put a bunch of other stuff out on the lawn to be picked up by one of those trucks that comes around.

I figure that I did my best.  I am trying to be a good steward, but honestly, it was really driving me crazy to try to worry about each and every little thing that left the house!  At least I know that the clothes and books are in good hands, and I just have to let out of sight, out of mind take care of the rest.

It has been kind of exciting to be going through things and getting rid of them.  It is a sense of freedom to let go and make much needed space.  Plus, with my in-laws gone, I have so much more room to organize all the things that I have been holding on to in the hopes that one day I would have the space and time to use them with the kids.  You know, the craft things...punches, stickers, paints, buttons...things like that.

So, I have been working on the shelf in the dining room which has really gotten out of hand.  (Eek!  Don't bump it or you'll be buried!!!!)

And we have all been working on the girls' room as well as just general clean up.

It was actually kind of fun working all together.  We really should do it more often...or just keep the place neater and avoid the issue...

Friday, January 18, 2013

In the Beginning...

They sit looking up wide eyed at the teacher.  What are these wonders that she is telling them?  Should they believe this?  Should they believe that

'In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth'  Gen 1:1

They are at their own soft beginnings.  New soft arms and legs reaching up and out and hearts and minds stretching just as far as they can.

And they accept what she says, what we say sitting around the dinner table feeding both their minds and their bodies so that they can stretch to their fullest.

There is something wonderful about those words:  In the beginning.

Baby-like beginnings.

Birth-pain beginnings.

Beginnings.  A promise of something new.

A promise of something old now gone.

And God was there.

In the beginning, God created.  He created.  He made it with His hands and formed it to its fullest.  The vast emptiness that splayed before Him, He saw.  And it pleased Him to say the words and separate the dark from the light and the land from the sea and the birds of the air from the creatures that crawl along the ground.

He spoke the words and it was.  We were.  In His infinite wisdom, He made us knowing full well what we would do and who we would become.

But to me, it seems like everything I need to know is wrapped up in those words:

In the beginning, God.

That's pretty much all I need to know, isn't it?  He was there in the beginning, which gives me the confidence that I need to know that He will be with me til the end.

When I think of the words, 'In the beginning' I think of power, wonder and fulfillment.

And I look at the faces turned toward me as we circle hands around the table to say grace over our food, and I see the beginnings that are there all around me, and I thank God that He is the ultimate beginning and that He was there and will be there for this and all beginnings we will see.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Bag of Surprises!

When we received the box from France, we knew that inside the box, there was one gift for each child:  cute heart decorations for Elizabeth, really neat letters that spell out Jo's name for Jo (obviously!), super soft and flexible indoor shoes for Gabriel and an awesome sleeping bag for Jesse.

The bag is somewhat like the Halo bags that you can get to use with your newborn, but it is much thicker and much much larger.  It is the thickness of a comforter and has a zipper all the way down one side and around the bottom, snaps at the shoulders and long sleeves that can snap on and off.

And this sleeping bag has been the most fun!  Everyone wants in on it!  It fits Gabriel...barely, but it does, so he asks to wear it in the middle of the day when he (occasionally) takes his nap, but even when he gets up, he doesn't want to take it off!  He likes to sit in it on the floor or on the couch and chill out til he really wakes up, and even then, he tries to scoot around on the floor!  I don't let him, though, since it is not meant to do that and I don't want him to wear the 'knees' out.

I don't have a picture of Jesse using it because he uses it at night and sleeps snuggly in it and I don't want to wake him with the flash, and I keep forgetting to take one when he wakes!  

Jo keeps swearing that she can fit in it, too, even thought I kept telling her that she is too tall, and once when I wasn't looking, she tried it on!  I walked in to see her lying on the couch with it zipped up and pulled up as high as it could go around her waist.  It was too funny!  Mom, she said, you're right.  It doesn't fit me.  

And then, I saw this: 


So now, I must ask...

Do they make these things in larger sizes?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Dreaming of a White January...

Since it has been raining quite a bit, and since we (finally!)  took down our Christmas tree and decorations, and that made the house look a little bare, we decided to break out the paper and scissors and make some snowflakes!

Snip! Snip! Snip!

Here's Gabriel, picking his weapon...

Really, Mom?  You're letting me use scissors all by myself?

 Um...that's not really a snowflake, Elizabeth...

Ahem!  Excuse me, ladies!  I have applied my mustache.

Well, so, we made a few snowflakes, but then we just cut and trimmed paper!  Fun!  And if you look at the pictures, you can see Jesse peeking at me.  I was going to the kitchen to get his food, but then I decided to take a few pictures of the kids since they were all together peacefully (for once!) and so he was peeking at me to see where his food was!

Oh, and Fifthchild Annie and I have been having fun with the window crayons!

As the Days Go By...

Some days fly by.  Some days flow by.  Some days bump by.  And some days lurch and crash and fall to pieces to be swept to the side and locked in some dark dungeon to hopefully never be revisited.

Last Friday was that kind of day.

The last one.

The lurch and crash one.

I don't know what it is about the kids, but as well as Elizabeth does babysitting everyone else's kids, she has the hardest time watching her own siblings.

Jimmy's company has been working overtime to get all the products that they have designed produced and on the shelves in time for the Inauguration rush.  No matter who's side you were on, the Inauguration is always a big deal, and the company that Jimmy works for always is commissioned to make a lot of new products; coins, prints, bookmarks...even the invitation to the Inaugural Events themselves.

So, it is an exciting time, but this is the first really big project that Jimmy has had to handle on his own since I left the company to be home with the kids.

I usually go in for a few hours on Friday mornings to help him with anything he needs or to answer any questions, make any necessary calls and help him get a handle on ordering materials, but I am usually able to get home by around 9:30 or 10, so it's not really a big deal.

But this week, I went in for what was to be just a short while and ended up staying almost all day.

It was horrible!

It was so stressful to both Jimmy and me to have me there knowing that all who-knows-what was breaking loose at home, and it was super stressful for Elizabeth to have to deal with said who-knows-what, and I am sure that it was stressful for the little ones who were the ones causing the who-knows-what.

Honestly, by the end, we were all at our wit's end.

Elizabeth was in tears, Jo was in a tizzy and had pushed Gabriel down the stairs (he wasn't hurt, thankfully), and Jesse was beside himself with the confusion and chaos of it all.

The thing is that it seems that most of the issue stems from Jo and Elizabeth and their relationship.  It is not a very good one and I don't know how to make it better.

Elizabeth tends to be overbearing with Jo, and Jo has a hard time respecting Elizabeth's authority when I'm not there, and that causes Elizabeth to be even MORE bossy and overbearing.  I have talked to Elizabeth about this, but of course, when you are in the heat of the moment where you ask Jo to please stop pulling on Jesse's legs, and she looks at you and defiantly says 'NO!' and keeps pulling and makes him fall and cry, it is hard to remember to be calm and firm but loving.  All you really want to do is put her in her room til dinner.

For some reason, I am pretty much the only one that Jo consistently responds to.  Even Jimmy has his times with her.  I mean, she drives me crazy, but in the end, I am usually the one that has to/can bring her down from the rafters when she has gotten herself all worked up with no exit in sight.

Part of the reason that we decided to keep the kids home from school is so that they can have more time and better relationships together, but I seem to be having a hard time fostering a good relationship between Jo and Elizabeth.  They are both just so headstrong.  It is like having 2 oldest children, which, in fact,due to the difference in their ages, they both kind of are.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I can help them have a better relationship together?  It's really kind of driving me crazy!

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Unintended Diet

I don't diet.  I mean, I eat pretty well, and my plan of attack has always just been to eat pretty well and get some exercise and that has pretty much worked for me.  I mean, I'd like to be slimmer or more in shape, but honestly, it's not something that I want enough that I am willing to stop doing something else that I am doing so that I can start doing more exercise.  You know how time order to start doing something new in an already booked schedule, you have to stop doing something that you are already doing.

Anyway, I have been wanting to lose more of the weight that I put on with Jesse, but I just haven't gotten around to really putting the time into making that happen.  So, although I have lost a lot of the weight, I have hit a plateau that is a number (that I will not divulge here! :P ) and have pretty much just hovered around that mark for the last few months give or take a pound and a half or so.

This Christmas, I was talking to my mom who offhandedly mentioned that she was 'dieting' as in changing her diet to fit her lifestyle better.  Not dieting as in eating a regimented amount of food in order to lose weight.  She is in very good shape and walks miles a day as well as goes to the gym several times a week.  But she said that she had been hitting a slump every day in the afternoon where she just wore out and often ended up taking a nap, which would then disrupt her sleep in the night time.

So she said that she had cut out all carbs in the morning and afternoon only eating carbs in the evening with dinner.  But, she assured me, she made up for the lack of carbs in the day with her evening meal!  She said for breakfast she would eat yogurt with chocolate chips and/or fruit, ham and cheese or chicken or whatever in the afternoon for lunch and then a 'normal' dinner in the evening with my dad.

I, too, had been feeling that afternoon slump, and I was tired of trying to combat it with just plowing through irritably or downing some coffee to keep me going.  I knew that something wasn't right if I had to depend on a drug like caffeine to get me through the day.  I didn't want to get addicted so that I 'couldn't function' without it or I got headaches if I didn't get it.

So, I decided to try my mom's plan.  I am, after all, my mother's daughter, and so what works for her just may help me, too.

And it really does!  I still indulge in a coffee now and again, but it is more for fun than a necessity, and I completely avoid carbs all day til dinner.  Well, I guess I should say that I avoid breads and grains til dinner.  I know I still get some carbs in other food I eat.

But this has had an unintended side affect.  I have lost 1.5 pounds in 2 weeks, I don't get as ravenously hungry like I did before when I would eat cereal for breakfast and a sandwhich for lunch, and I find myself making healthier choices.  Now I know that instead of reaching for a slice of banana bread, I have to/can/will grab a yogurt or an apple or something else instead.  I shop differently now, too.  I plan ahead to be sure that I will have good food on hand like eggs to boil, lowfat yogurt, good cheeses, and lots and lots of veggies and fruits so that I have something yummy to look forward to.

And that has an unintended side effect, too.  Now there are even more fruits and veggies in the house so it can be the go-to snack for the kids and I can be sure to pack extra broccoli in Jimmy's lunchbox.  (This guy will not eat any fruits but bananas, and very few veggies, but he likes broccoli.  I''m not complaining, but go figure!  Who'da thunk?)

I think that the way that this works for me when other 'diets' didn't is that I know that I can eat my banana bread in the evening.  It is not that I am eliminating tasty snacks from my diet, just putting them in their place.


(Insert picture here of a yummy spinach salad with a sliced egg and crumbled cheese on top.  I would insert it for you, but the computer won't read the camera card right now.)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Five Minute Friday: DIVE

Five Minute Friday.  Where you have a topic that you write on for 5 minutes.  This week's topic?


Brown legs dangle over the edge.  I can't Mommy.  I'm scared.  It's deep.

You can do it, Honey.  I am right here.  You can swim.

But the water is so deep!

Yes, but if the water is over your head, it's over your head.  If you can swim in 5 feet, you can swim in 12.

Will you be right there, Mommy?

Yes, Sweetie.  Right here.  Waiting for you.

Ok, Mommy.  I'm going to do it.

Ok.  You can do it.  I know you can!

Trots to the end of the board.  Peers into the blue depths.  Looks at me for reassurance.  Stands up just a bit straighter.  Focuses ahead.  Looks down.


Bobs to the surface.  Paddles.  Looks for me.  Huge grin.

I did it, Mommy!

Hauls out of the water and drips on my shorts, small brown arms wrapping around my waist.

Yay!  My hero!  My Elizabeth.

At 3 years old.

Yes, I still remember the little days.

Sometimes it's not a dive that you need, beautiful and swan like, but a trot and a jump will do the trick.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

I Love My Truck...

I love my truck.  I really do.  I feel so blessed to have been able to find a car that fits our family so well, and I just love it!  I feel like it's just like me:  hardy, hard working, tough, slightly oversized but with plenty of amenities to love and really good looking, too, of course!  ;P

And now it is even better!  Look at this super-cool decal that I got from my friend in France!  Apparently, these decals and this brand are as popular as all those family decals that are so popular around here, so I am really in style now, even if it is in France!

(As a side note, I never really got those family decals.  I mean, the baby is only going to be a baby for a while and the kids will grow quickly, so are these decals meant to be changed out every few years?  I'm sure the marketing company would say yes, which is another reason why I like my decal which will be cool forever!)

So just admit truck is even more awesome than before...almost as cool as Mr Finfrock's, but not quite .  I still need some running boards to compete with his...

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Peacetime Dilema

We have a scheduling issue.  It's been going on from some time now, but it seems that it has really come to a head recently.

You see, for my sanity, I appreciate a time of peace and quiet with all the kids doing something other than crawling on/pulling on/hanging on/talking to me.  Even just a short while is great and helps me keep the energy that I need to make it through the rest of the day.

But the problem is that if Gabriel takes a nap in the middle of the day, it takes him forever to go to sleep at night.  Jo, however does well with a midday nap and without it, she has a hard time making it through the day and her behavior is horrible for at least one day after she has missed her nap.

So, what we have been doing is Jo will take a nap and Gabriel will stay up so that I have time with Gabriel 'alone' in the middle of the day and then he goes to bed before Jo so that I have time with Jo 'alone' in the evening.

That works...kind of.  The problem is that then Gabriel is so tired by the end of the day that he falls asleep in the car on the way to pick Jimmy up from work, which is about a 5-10 minute ride, and is miserable when we have to wake him up and sometimes if he sleeps for those 15-20 minutes for the round trip, he has a really hard time falling asleep at night.  He also just looks really tired all afternoon.

I have been toying with the idea of just letting him have quite time in his room, but the thing is that his room is also Jesse's room.  And my room.  And Jimmy's room.  So I can't really say that it is very well childproofed and that means that while he is in there jumping from our bed to his, I can't really put Jesse down for his nap.

We have a pack and play that we use for Jesse sometimes downstairs in the back room, but Jesse never really sleeps that well there and it is also very close to the day noises of anything else that is going on in the house.

Sometimes, though, I put Gabriel down and he falls asleep in 5 minutes, which means that I know that he needed the nap.  (I usually use 15 minutes as my benchmark.  If he doesn't sleep in 15, then it's not meant to be.)  But that means that there is really no consistency for him...nap or no all depends.

I know that he is transitioning out of his naps, but I just feel like it's not really working out the way that we are doing it right now.

How have any of you helped the transition period with your kids?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A New Years Eve Tradition

I think that New Years Eve may be my favorite holiday from a celebration point of view.  We don't have to go anywhere, no one expects anything from us, there are no gifts, and no disappointments.  

Unfortunately we skipped last year due to the craziness of the year, but the year before that, we started a new tradition that we continued this year, and it was so much fun!

I'll let the pictures do most of the talking here, but this is what it is:

I give each child a page out of a scrapbook and we use stamp ink to make a print of both of their hands and a foot and then we help the little ones write about themselves.  They write what they like to eat, do, read, how tall they are, their exact age and any other fun thing that they want to have to remember themselves by.  Fifthchild Annie was here, too, so she got a page as well.  Then we take a photo of each kid to add to their page and waalaa!  A fun way to remember the kids and to track their growth!

We also did a puzzle and make a whole bunch of yummy goodies, so since the table was fully covered, we made dinner super easy by just cutting up some cheese and cold cuts with lettuce and tomatoes to make subs while we watched a DVD.  

Then, at about 8:30, we celebrated the new year with the little guys by letting them use the nice champagne glasses and counting down and drinking sparkling apple juice.  (First we clink, then we drink.  Clink and drink.  Good, good.  Keep going...Anyone else watch Despicable Me way too many times, too?)

Oh, but I forgot one really important part!

When we start to count down from 12, everyone has 12 grapes and each person has to eat their 12 grapes before the count gets to 0!  Of course, we didn't push too many grapes on the little kids because we didn't want them to choke, but Annie managed to choke herself on the second time that we did it 'for real' at midnight.  (But don't tell the little dudes that it really wasn't midnight when they went to bed!  First they will deny it, and then they will be really really upset!)

So, without further ado, here are the pictures!

And I just have to add these super cute pictures of the kids in their new pajamas.  And take a look at Gabriel's slippers.  He got them as hand-me-downs from a friend of his at church, and he LOVES them!  He wears them all day and even sleeps in them.  We have to take them off his feet after he is asleep.  I have never seen a kid like slippers so much.  Whenever Jo or Elizabeth got slippers, they never used them especially if they were the type that were wide on their feet.  Finally my sister made Elizabeth some 'sockfeet' that are knitted socks with leather bottoms, and we found some like that for Jo at the thrift store last year, but other than that, I have never ever seen such love for slippers!

I just love kids in pajamas!  I even like the word 'pajamas' itself.  It's such a snuggly word.  (Please disregard the mess in the background.  I'm not really sure what happened there, but I can pretty much guarantee you that it's probably still happening...)