Thursday, July 31, 2008

Frugal Friday--Tips for Clothing Toddlers

Frugal Buy Gone Bad! These matching dresses sure were cute on the clearance rack for $3 each back in March when I thought for sure I was having another girl! Frugal tip: Don't buy for your kids, even on a super clearance, when you don't truly know the gender of your child-to-come!!! I ended up giving them to a friend with two little girls in exchange for borrowing her steam vaccuum cleaner.

Something I'm learning about toddlers/preschoolers and clothing is that you can't always plan ahead and "stock up" for them in advance when it comes to clothing. My frugal tip of the day is... that you should endeavor to buy very little for your toddler in the way of clothes even if it is at yard sale prices unless those clothes can be used within the next few months and you know that they really need that specific item. This may apply more to girls than boys in general.
If you received the clothes free, as we have gotten most of ours, you can pick and choose what to store and see what happens. But do realize that just as they got passed on to you because of quick growth spurts or adamant preferences, you will be passing many of them on in a while too. So don't waste your time/space storing too many. For example, Ali went through a stage of only wearing dresses. This was fine by me but we had dozens of cute jeans and khaki/courderoy pants that weren't even used that I had stored in anticipation of her wearing. Thinking I had her figured out, I began collecting pretty dresses for her in the next size up and giving away most of the jeans we got from hand-me-downs in the bigger size. Then she switched to only wanting to wear skirts and so the same two or three favorites got worn threadbare while dozens of beautiful, like-new outfits sat untouched in her closet. So, I scooped up little skirts where I found them at yard sales and the hand-me-down bags and then summer came along and with it a new preference for shorts, not skirts! And though we have tons and tons of shorts saved that still fit from last summer, she wears the handful of ugliest ones she has and routinely turns down the cutest pairs. The summer dresses I had anticipated her wearing sit untouched in her closet, already outgrown in just a few months' time!
Since we have lots of other battles to fight with Ali, fighting over clothing is not a huge priority on my agenda. I'd rather be flexible and give her some independence than force what she wears each day. So today she went to the library in pink crocs, a yellow t-shirt, and a blue skort. Oh well! Here are some tips that may help you plan wisely in the kid clothes department:
*Choose Practical Clothes! After you have had your first you will know what kind of outfits you like and don't like. I discovered I love baby bunting pajamas, button-up-the-middle onesies and zip-up style pajamas for newborns that allow easy access for nighttime diaper changes. Keep these little things in mind as you plan for your next child and pass on those outfits, adorable though they may be, that you know won't be practical. If you haven't had a baby, ask a seasoned mom to look over your baby clothes with you and give advice.
*Choose simple clothes! Don't get me wrong, I have a darling suit for Jer and Ali has had some wonderful Easter dresses but they are most comfy in simple clothes that don't hinder their movement.
*Stocking up on t-shirts for boys is usually safe but be careful about pants/shorts as they may not fit right in a year. Right now Jeremiah is very happy with shirts that have things he is interested in on them. He may never care what I pick when it comes to shorts or pants (after all, he's a boy!) but he is thrilled to wear a truck or an elephant or a bike shirt. I know that stocking up on these types of things for next year is pretty safe since he'll likely still be into those things. Even if boys don't have as many choices and aren't as picky, keep in mind that those cute pants you bought might end up being too tight or too loose around the waist or might look like capris when they are meant to be long shorts (Jer has a pair like this and he's been teased about it!)
*Keep it frugal by hitting the thrift shop sales periodically. Our thrift shop does $2 a bag days at least 4 or 6 times a year and this is a prime time to fill up a huge bag of clothes for your kid for that season. Even if it's not a bag sale day and I need something, like pajama pants for Jer, I can almost always find really nice clothing there for around 10 cents to a quarter per item. I've said it before on my blog, but our thrift store often carries kid's clothes with the tags still on them!
*Stock up on the essentials at yard sales/clearances/thrift stores that will definitely be used in the coming year or two:
Undies (if new)
Swimsuits in good condition in the next size up
Footie Pajamas in bigger sizes
*Don't buy used shoes for your kids unless your child tries them on right there and they will be used right away. I have gotten so many great buys on shoes only to find out that though they were the right size, they weren't wide enough, or they skipped that size altogether in a growth spurt, or the velcro on the tennis shoes doesn't stick well when they run, etc. Sometimes you really do find great buys on used shoes, but be very cautious about buying them. Accept hand-me-down shoes and give them a try but also look for good clearances at discount stores or shoe stores as it's often more bang for your buck to buy your child new shoes that fit them well and have a little room to grow in. My personal preference is getting my kids inexpensive Croc-type shoes for the summer since they are washable and comfy and easy for them to put on.
*One In/One Out! If you see something cute that you want to get for your child, make yourself follow the "one thing in, one thing out" rule. I found a really cute pink flowery skort today at the thrift shop and remembered that one of the cotton knit skirts Ali always wears is not only losing the painted flowers on it, but is not very modest on my active girl. So, I determined to throw out the old skirt and replace it with the new comfy skirt that has built in shorts under it!
*Shop with your child's preferences/temperament in mind. Today I saw an adorable, brightly-colored, like-new shirt that would have looked lovely on Ali for the fall. However, I remembered the battles we had last fall/winter over her getting her sleeves wet when washing hands and having a fit about it and changing clothes 10 times a day. I also know that she is always hot, even in the dead of winter, and prefers t-shirts. Since t-shirts on her make my life easier and can easily be layered with a fleece sweatshirt, I decided not to buy the cute long-sleeved shirt even if it was a steal.
*Know what you have. Periodically paw through your kids' clothing boxes and figure out what you need and what you don't need. Some women make lists in a little notebook to remind themselves so they don't buy things they already have. We use apple boxes and HUGE ziploc storage bags for storing next-size-up clothes in the kid's closet and purple and blue rubbermaid tubs for storing the outgrown clothing in the storage shed. I turned down an adorable baby tuxedo this week at a yard sale because I knew that we already had one in storage from when Jer was a baby.
*Don't stock up for more than a year in advance. One reason I choose not to stock up beyond a year in advance is so that I can keep on top of the organization of the many kid's clothes we have. Besides, if I shop for the next 3 years, I will rob myself of the joy of yard-sale-ing next summer! Or, I will buy more, even if I already have things, and end up with way more than I need.
*Don't store too many outgrown-clothes! I choose to give about half or more of Ali's clothing away when she outgrows it just because it is more than we need even if we have another little girl and it might as well be used in the here and now. There are no guarantees we will need pink clothes again and so I'd rather not waste precious storage space holding on to too much. No doubt if we were blessed with another daughter in the future, friends would gladly pass on little girl things, or I'd have a ball bargain-shopping for her! I do save my very favorite outfits or the ones with special memories attached because it would be fun to give a few outfits to the kids when they have their own babies to wear them! I save most of Jer's clothes since I know another boy is following close behind, but I'm sure that many of those things will get passed on as Justus outgrows them (since there are no guarantees we'll see blue again either!)
*Clothing quality/color. Because we have been given so much for free and have such great bargains in our town, I can afford to make choices of clothing based on my kid's coloring and the quality of the clothing. While I definitely don't think name-brand clothes are a must, and I don't want my kids to be spoiled about clothing or vain in their appearance, I do pass on the clothes that are stained, dirty, faded, or stretched out, even if it's only slightly. I look for new or like-new clothing and I've found that brands like OshKosh are wonderful because they still look new wash after wash. We've been given so many clothes with the tags still on them that there is no reason for me to purchase worn or heartily-used clothes at yard sales, even if they are only pennies. I endeavor for my kids to look somewhat nice since we are a walking testimony of a Christian family in our little town. Since my darker-skinned kids look nicest in bright and bold colors, I often pass the cute pastel hand-me-downs down to friends with little blondies! When something becomes too threadbare or stained with paint/ink I throw it in the rag bag or thrift-store it!
And two tips for getting kids to wear outfits that are nice instead of over-used/mismatched concoctions:
1. Hide their usual picks in the upper closet for a week or two so they can't find them when getting dressed. King Jo wanted to hide all of Ali's ballerina outfits for a while he got so sick of them!
2. Pick out two or three nice outfits and ask your child to choose one of the three for the day.


Some evenings when I lay myself down to sleep I feel like I'm in a freaky "Twilight Zone" where I can hardly take another minute of the discomfort/worry/dread/anticipation of waiting for labor and my baby and all that it will entail to get him here. Other moments I'm amazed that I still feel so good, seem so small, and that time is flying faster than it ever did in my previous two pregnancies. As time continues to roll on and my Dr. appt. approaches tomorrow, I know that even though some of these moments feel like forever and some feel like the blink of an eye, we don't have long to go until we meet our precious little guy. If I can just keep from thinking too much about it and continue praying and staying busy with the daily care of my family, before you know it it will all be over, and the odds are good that I will have lived through it, whether it was a long and torturous natural labor or a scary, first-time C-section. I appreciate all of your encouraging comments and e-mails in recent days. You would all be very proud of me as I came across a website last night with graphic breech birth photos and I didn't look at a single one! Though I've looked at lots of sites with info on breech babies, I have not been obsessing about turning him, just praying, and doing what I can to encourage him. I'm at peace if my doctor recommends a version turning session tomorrow or sometime early next week.

Please keep praying for us and I'll report back to my blog tomorrow after my Dr. appt!

P.S. Thanks to Nicole for recommending a chiro! I went today and even if the adjustment doesn't cause him to turn, it sure felt good to get aligned as my hips, tailbone, and lower back and neck were starting to have a lot of discomfort from the weight and strain of a baby!

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls

I came across a blog yesterday that is one of my new favorites! Laura, a mom of 4 active young boys, has a ton of inspiring recipes and homeschooling tips to check out on I tried her Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls, and they are delicious and so much better for you than the regular kind. I also can't wait to try her applesauce bread, her soft pretzels, and her pizza pockets among other things.

The cinnamon rolls fulfilled several needs. A crazy need I've been feeling recently to cook up a storm (is this hormonal?), a craving to eat a homebaked treat, a desire to bless others (they made so many that my folks' Bible Study got a plateful, as well as a friend whose son had surgery today and my hippie neighbor who loves home-baked whole wheat goodies), and I froze some too! And to top it all off, they added something special to my Operation-Invest-In-Alathia goals since she got up really, really early this morning and we shared a nice breakfast together of cinnamon rolls, juice, and fruit and spent time cuddling, chatting, and reading books before her brother woke up! She quickly devoured two and loved them! So, if you're a mom who is looking for healthier snack ideas for your kids, check out Laura's site! Did I also mention that these rolls were very, very simple to make?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Leather Shoes

Most of these pairs were ordered by friends in MN (or friends of friends).

I haven't made leather shoes in a few months, but I have been meaning to post pics of the latest pairs I made and kept forgetting. Heather's post today reminded me to post my pics. Heather is the reason I got started on sewing leather shoes in the first place! Maybe in a few months I will be whipping out a pair for little Justus! I miss sewing but it's not something I have tons of energy for right now.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Little Boys

Playing with twucks all day long!
" Pshoo! Pshoo!" Shooting at Mama with the water pistol, only the pistol is actually pointing right at him!
He loves his dog puppet, which he puts on his arm and then says, "Wuff! Wuff!" Then he tries to make the puppet eat me or eat big sis!

Having both a boy and a girl is very interesting! They are very different just due to personalities but some things are very gender-specific too. Whereas Ali drug her little doll everywhere with her at 21 months and liked to play babies, Jeremiah drags a truck (twuck) or a ball (socca ball or ball-ee) around EVERYWHERE we go and the first thing he says when I come get him up in the morning or from nap is "TWUCK!" as he shows me his trucks for the hundredth time! His eyes lit up with ecstasy when I pulled out a new shirt from the thrift store that has construction machines on it! He said, "Ohhhhhhhh!"

In spite of his fascination with sticks, trucks, and balls (and recently squirt guns thanks to a friend's little boy) he is still my tender-hearted little cuddle bug. When I scold him (which isn't too often) he gets a very hurt, worried look and runs over to hug me. I have no idea where he learned this but he started saying "I wuv you! I wuv you!" when I'm upset with him or while he's sobbing after a light spanking. Sometimes he says, "Kisses?" and other times if I'm not scolding him but just ignoring him because I'm busy he looks at me with big eyes and says, "Mommy?" I know exactly what that look means and I turn to him and say, "I love you Bear-Bear!" and he cheerily replies, "Okay!!!" He just needs some reassurance that I'm happy with him. Though I love my kids equally their personalities bring a different dynamic into the picture. Ali seems to know how to push all my buttons effortlessly, perhaps because we are so much alike in many ways, and Jer seems to know how to diffuse my bad moods instantly, like his daddy does, and make me smile or laugh!

Operation Invest-in-Alathia

Figuring out how to roll cookie dough into small balls!

Yummy! We're so proud of ourselves!

You may be wondering how Operation Invest-in-Alathia is going. It has been really difficult to do anything with her in the last week alone due to the fact that each evening we were attending 5-Day Clubs and it seemed like our days were so full there was never a moment when she was either a.) awake b.) alone and not running around outside with brother or the neighbors or c.) cooperative, not to mention that King Jo was busy this weekend with different things (caving, helping Jorge replace a major car part, caving again) so I didn't have an opportunity to take Ali on a date. I'm hopeful that we will get to do something fun together this week. We did make cookies, which she loved, and Frida enjoyed helping too. Frida and Ali were outside playing and I was supervising them and noticed Frida being naughty so I told Ali to come in and do cookies with me. Frida pleaded to be allowed to help and I wavered for a moment. On the one hand, I know it is one of her VERY FAVORITE things to do and yet I was already tired of dealing with her and didn't want her to spend too much time with Ali. But, you will all be proud of me (!) I put aside my irritability and kindly told her she could help make cookies if she was a good girl in our home instead of sternly ordering her to go home. The girls both had a blast and did wonderfully and I sent her home with a plate of cookies when they were done and told her playtime with Ali was over. *Side note* Later that day we found out Frida had lied to us about something and we were explaining to Ali that lying is wrong and she piped up with, "Frida doesn't get spankings when she lies because her mom doesn't have a spanking spoon!"

Operation Invest-in-Alathia is still very much at the forefront of my mind and though I daily seem to fail in my responses towards her and daily find myself exasperated and at a loss as to how to parent her gently, I continually "get back on the saddle" and beg the Lord for patience and wisdom in this! By the way, why is it that one's spirited kid is PERFECT for everyone else? We went to the dentist for their very first check-up ever today and I was nervous considering how some of our doctor visits have gone. But she laid in the chair perfectly, talked to the dentist like he was an old friend, and kept her mouth wide open the whole time, even when he was busy reaching for other tools and stuff! I was amazed! Jer did the typical one-year old routine of being scared and crying but his check-up was only a minute or two.

Fun With Beans

Thanks to Mara's post called "Cool Beans" I was inspired to let my kids play with beans tonight while I made supper. It was slightly difficult for them to share and Jer had some trouble dropping some beans on the floor, but overall it was a very fun activity for them and one I plan to whip out often in the future for a sanity saver during meal prep! Thanks for the great idea Mara!

The book Mommy, Teach Me mentions letting kids play with a tub of rice so that's another possibility for some variety. Also, a veteran homeschooling mom told me a few weeks ago that one of the best ways to keep little kids busy while older kids are doing lessons with Mom is to let them drive trucks and cars around in a tub of cornmeal in the kitchen. I like that idea as it would be a bit easier to clean up than sand!

Making My Home a Haven Monday

I didn't do a before pic but my lids used to just be randomly thrown in with the pots. Thanks to a brand new pot lid rack at a yard sale for 10 cents my pot lids look very nice now! On the right I store wire racks and placemats.
My silverware drawer was starting to look awful with odds and ends strewn about. I took a couple of small boxes out of my gift wrap stash and put sippy valves in one and clothespins (for closing up chip and snack bags) in the other. I weeded out a lot of rarely-used utensils and put them in a less-accessible cupboard, trying to keep this daily-used drawer more simple.

As you know, I've been madly cleaning, organizing, and preparing for the new baby. It feels really good to tackle all these "unfinished projects" and neglected areas of the house. I got most of the cabinets in my kitchen organized (a couple more to go today) and have been taking care of little piles of papers on my desk and dresser and other little odds and ends that get put off continually. I also need to clean out my Bible case as it is getting pretty cluttered with bulletins and sermon notes. Other areas that need worked on our the desk cubbies and under the couch (where I know stray toys are hiding!)

What are you working on in your home today?

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Crazy Things a Woman Will Try....

Don't worry; my hubby took this photo at a weird angle so it looks like I'm more upside-down than I really am! This position definitely irritates the baby and makes him really active, which is the intended goal!

Alathia thought it would be cool to try it too. She makes it look so easy!

It is truly, truly uncomfy to lie in this position when all your joints are sore anyway and your back and tailbone hurt and you're laying on a very hard surface and carrying lots of extra pounds. Whereas we normally can't feel baby body parts, when I'm on the board we can feel and see many things and his little round head is always right under my ribs. We've tried moving a flashlight down my belly and it's amazing to see how he truly responds to the light and seems to like it. If only he would follow the light......

Maybe we'll try classical music today...

Handstand-under-water pics to follow soon........(Just KIDDING!)

The only thing we may get out of this crazy exercise is the need to buy a new ironing board...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Operation Christmas Child Reminder

MoneySavingMom had a great post today about how one woman is using many of the free products she gets through couponing to fill shoeboxes at Christmas time. I do the same thing and hope you will keep this ministry in mind during this time of year when crayons, school supplies, and flip-flops are on sale so you can stock up and be prepared when November rolls around. If you aren't familiar with Operation Christmas Child it is a ministry run by Billy Graham's son, Franklin, that takes shoeboxes to kids all over the world who don't get Christmas gifts. I think they did over 7 million last year! Many churches do shoebox drives to encourage each family in their congregation to fill a box. For more info on how to participate, go here.

If you regularly participate, be scouting for things to put in your boxes NOW. I have found brand-new-in-the-package matchbox cars at yard sales for a quarter which are ideal gifts for these boxes. Not only will it save you money to buy most of it in advance but it will save you the stress of shopping during the busy holiday season. If you have young children, this is a really fun service project for them to be involved with as they help you shop for things and pack up the boxes for kids their own ages who have nothing.

Deals of the Week

Does couponing really pay off? It depends. I think if you make it your obsession and spend every waking moment clipping, shopping, and hording, it has taken over your life and should be something you tone down or cut out. But having a moderate view of couponing REALLY DOES pay off! I've been mocked and teased for being a couponer by some, and have had people question if it really saves you money after you buy a paper and go to various stores, etc. but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have saved hundreds of dollars through couponing! (And if you respect Dave Ramsey; he said his wife saved $700 last year just by using coupons!)

Diapers is a great example! The cheapest generics in our town are around $7 with tax. Thanks to shopping Walgreens diaper deals this month, we have gotten around 12 packages for $2 or $3 a piece! (and some of you with the extra coupons have gotten this many for FREE!) This package of LUVS was only $3 with my $5 off coupon that came in the mail. It took me about 30 seconds or less to fill out my address on the LUVS site that MoneySavingMom linked to and they sent the coupon within a week. Was it worth that 30 seconds to save $5? Absolutely! Is it worth reading MoneySavingMom for 5 minutes each day and printing off the coupons that apply to my area now and then? Absolutely! You only have to read the many posts under this thread to figure out how God has blessed us through couponing. I definitely don't do all the deals out there and have limited stores, and very limited coupons in our local paper, but it's still worth it to make this a part of my life. We have been able to bless lots of missionaries and friends with the excess (medicine, shampoo, toothpaste, etc.)

School supplies are on sale! I love stocking up! I use the glue (22 cents at Wal-Mart) for scrapbooking and crafts and the tape for wrapping gifts (3 for $1 at Walgreens.) I always like to have a stash of new crayons (22 cents at WM) for our travel bag, gifts for Ali's toddler friends' birthdays, or Operation Christmas Child boxes.

Freebies! With an internet coupon, the BIC pens were around 30 cents a package and the Kotex were free with a coupon from the paper (Wal-Mart). We didn't need Lamisil, but since it was $9 at Walgreens and I had $9 in coupons for it, I got it and plan to use it as a stocking stuffer for my dad or brothers for Christmas. The highlighters should have been free with overage, but I'm not sure if the cashier got all my coupons straight on that deal so I may have paid a little for them. The markers and gel pens are free-after-rebate at Walgreens this month! The sippy cup was only $1 after being on clearance and an easysaver coupon and it will either be a nice baby gift or something Justus can use eventually.

Since my mom is a teacher and my dad is notorious for losing pens, I plan to save some of these things for Christmas stocking stuffers!

I got other things we needed to stock the pantry, and odds and ends I needed for my hospital bag or for around the house too. Shopping this week was BEYOND stressful! I guess my new rule of thumb should be that I only make the trip (30 miles) if my mom or hubby can watch the kids because it is seriously exhausting, especially in the heat and with a huge belly! Even if you try to do it in 2 hours it almost always takes 4!!!

In spite of the long delays in the check-out and the mix-up with some of my coupons not working (the Walgreen's register's fault), it was worth all the stress to get the good deals on things we really needed. I'm always amazed at how much I get from Walgreens for so little money. At one point the cashier was refusing to take both a store coupon and a manufacter's coupon and she said, "We can't just give you something for free!" I inwardly chuckled at that thought since I've gotten COUNTLESS things from there free, but I merely said, "Okay," politely and her manager came back a few minutes later and said they COULD do both coupons!

I'm hopeful that I won't have to shop in that town for a full month or two now that I'm stocked up on some essentials. Those of you with CVS or Walgreens right around the corner, you are blessed!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Prayer Request

Well, I finally got to see a real doctor today after 2 months of being shuffled around and seeing only nurses ever since my midwife became unable to practice due to the OB over her moving away. The good news is that the doctor was wonderful. I've never had a male doc before but he was kind, friendly, informative, and experienced. He was a grandfatherly sort who immediately puts you at ease that he knows what he's doing.

The bad news is there is a reason that I measure a bit small, look a lot smaller, have no pubic bone displacia this time, and don't feel a lot of kicking or pelvic pressure. The doctor is pretty sure our baby is breech. He also checked for dilation and where most women who have previously had a baby are at 2cm the last two months of pregnancy, I am completely closed, due to no head down there putting pressure on me. He said not to panic because I'm only 36 and a half weeks and he said they often wiggle and move around until after 37 weeks. My next appointment is in 9 days, and if the baby still seems to be breech he will do an ultrasound to confirm that. Then I will have to go to the hospital to endure a "manual inversion" which doesn't sound fun at all and involves several people manhandling me in an effort to turn the baby. This exercise can cause you to go into labor and has some risks, though they are minimal. If manual inversion doesn't work, of course it's a c-section.

I would ask you to pray with us that our little guy turns himself around and that we have peace about this whole thing. I was amazed at myself at how well I took the news and how non-emotional I was about it even when I got to my car. I'm pretty sure I cried last time when my midwife told me Jer was face-up and that labor would be much more difficult and painful if he didn't turn, and this is even worse than that and no tears! Yet, it must have affected me more than I know because right after the appointment I went grocery shopping and backed into a little elderly gal's car when I was leaving the parking lot! What a day!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Gentle Mothers Support Club

So, how is everyone doing with mothering with gentleness these days? I feel like some days I do so well and really delight in my kids, but so often it's all too easy to completely lose it and be way out of control emotionally! I wish I could snap my fingers and make myself perfect in this area but I guess it will be a lifelong journey! And no doubt God uses the children we have to teach us patience and self-control too! I can't wait to not be pregnant anymore and see if that has any difference in how irritable I am with Ali and the naughty things she does.

This week I've been mulling over whether or not some of the things that bug us most about our kids are things we ourselves have modeled before them. It all started for me when I went on a lake trip with a friend and Ali began freaking out every single time a toy or shovel got in the water on the edge of the beach. She was going crazy and panicking about the toys floating away. Of course her little buddy decided to capitalize on the situation by throwing her floatie ring into the water just to hear her scream! I tried calming Ali down and the boy's mother tried convincing him to stop but at last he threw it a few feet out and Ali had a complete meltdown and went into screaming hysterics over her little $1 floatie! She was screaming in a bossy manner at my friend to get it and my friend was busy trying to make her son go out with her and get it and the floatie went a little further and further. Meanwhile, Ali's incessant screaming and crying freaked out the little kids, one of whom started crying too. Finally, my friend went out to her chest and got the floatie and her son got in big trouble for refusing to help her and throwing it in the first place. I tried calming Ali down and explaining that it wasn't the end of the world if we lost a floatie and she would be punished for such extreme hysterics if she did it again. I was emotionally worn down and embarrassed by her behavior and at a loss as to how to deal with it and with her. Later, chatting with that same friend on the beach I said, "I don't know why she's pulling this drama queen thing lately. She's paranoid about balloons flying away, her brother going close to the gate at our house, and always cautions me to be careful driving. I wonder if I could be modeling it or encouraging it?"

Then I got to thinking about how scared I am of the kids getting out on the street or running in parking lots and how often I backseat drive and tell King Jo to slow down or to be careful on my parents' somewhat rickety bridge. Am I modeling paranoa for my children? While I may not scream and cry tears, are my serious lectures and vehement warnings rubbing off in a negative way, making her scared of the world?

I've been dwelling on these thoughts this week and realizing that some of what kids go through is developmental, and some is just personality related. I can't live my life thinking everything my kid does is a reflection of my parenting or of me. This breeds unhealthy parenting and I mentioned that the book Scream-Free Parenting covers this and states that we aren't responsible FOR them but TO them. I have fallen in the trap of pride and perfectionism of being horribly humiliated and angry and upset when my kids have hit other kids or refused to obey or listen in public and I feel like everyone must think that I'm a failure of a parent or that I'm not doing it "right."

However, even if our kids are innately sinful little humans who often act against what we are training them in and how we want them to act, I think we have a huge impact on them through our example. How appropriate that my devotional reading for today, out of "A Mom After God's Own Heart," included this poem:

A careful Dad I ought to be;

A little fellow follows me.

I do not dare to go astray,

For fear he'll go the selfsame way.

Not once can I escape his eyes;

Whate'er he sees me do he tries.

Like me he says he's going to be,

That little chap who follows me.

I must remember as I go

Through summer sun and winter snow;

I'm molding for the years to be-

The little chap who follows me.

Benjamin R. DeJong

Parenting is such a huge task! There's nothing like watching your children play and seeing "yourself" coming out in them. You know you aren't being a Christ-like mommy when your daughter is yelling at her dolls and being harsh with them! On the other hand, it's so precious to see them "disciplining" their little dolls in love or pretending to have devotions with them or tenderly wrapping them up and cuddling them.

If you've blown it big this week, be encouraged that you can start afresh; it's never too late. Lean on the Spirit to help you change your habits, patterns, and reactions.

Reflect on whether or not there is anything in your own life that you are modeling for your kids that you shouldn't be and determine to work on it. Join the Gentle Mothers Support Club by sharing your thoughts on this in comments section!

You all know that I am working on gentleness, something I truly want to model for my children but so often fail at. I also want to make sure that during this "panick mode" of Ali's current stage I am modeling trust in God and teaching her how to control her emotions (which is something we women continually struggle with throughout life.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Frugal Thank-You Notes

You may recall one of my goals for Project Preparation was to have a large stash of baby thank-you notes on hand. While I'm not expecting to get many gifts with the third child or to have a shower, I know that our church will be supplying meals and a few people will buy Justus something since they just can't help themselves.

In our town, the supplies for making your own thank-yous are expensive. I could use regular construction paper but then I'd have to find envelopes that fit and stickers or stencils or something to decorate the cards with. I thought about taking some cheap wedding thank-yous I got at the Dollar Store and covering the front with blue paper and this poem to turn them into baby thank-yous. But that involves lots of work, something this tired Mama-to-be isn't interested in right now!

So, when I was browsing the Dollar Store today, a fast and easy idea hit me. I grabbed a package of pretty, baby-ish printer paper (45 sheets for $1) and brought them home and printed this sweet poem on the top of them. I can fill in the middle and bottom of the sheet with my hand-written thank-you and Ali can even help by coloring a picture on it. It's cute, cheap, and easy and I have tons of regular-size envelopes that I can easily stuff them into. Who says thank-you notes have to be little card shapes anyway? If we are surprised with a girl, the thank-yous still work, even if they are mostly blue. If we don't get many baby gifts, these sheets can be used as stationery for letters to friends having babies or can be used for baby shower cards, etc. If nothing else, Ali would love to cut and color on them so they won't be wasted!

This is what I call a frugal fix! Another thing to check off the list!!!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Baby Come Soon!

Both shots at 35 weeks, taken a week ago.

Yes, I'm still wearing that same shirt (above) and yes I'm still cutting off my head in these since I look like an absolute zombie in all the belly shots that are taken of me! Maybe it's the fact that I self-time them all? I may feel really, really tired, but the photos make me look even worse than I feel!
I technically have a little less than a month to go but am hoping for 2 or 3 weeks! I will meet the Doctor this Wednesday (hopefully) who will deliver the baby as my midwife can't deliver anymore due to the fact that the OB she worked under moved away. I'm not feeling overly uncomfy or strained, which is so very odd since I think I was huge and miserable for the last 2-3 months of being pregnant with Jer. I sometimes wonder if Justus is incredibly small or worry that he's not healthy since he's not very active and doesn't cause me nearly the pain Jer did. Of course Jer was sunny-side up some of the time which could have been the problem! Jer caused me pubic bone dysplacia and an umbilical hernia, back pain, neck pain, as well as me being so enormous I couldn't seem to do anything, let alone roll over in bed without extreme effort and extreme pain. This pregnancy seems "too easy" beyond the usual fatigue. So far I've gained about 12 less pounds with this pregnancy than with Jer's.

Thank you SO MUCH to those of you who said you'd be praying for me because of my fear and gave me verses of encouragement for labor. I plan to print them all out and meditate on them and have a list for my hospital bag. Thanks to Adrienne in OK for typing out 36 verses of encouragement for me in a comment on that post! Wow!

Making My Home a Haven Monday

Top Photo: Before
Bottom Photo: After

While my closet isn't nearly as minimalist as Crystal's, I did feel really good after going through it and getting rid of a couple of grocery bags worth of clothing I no longer wear. I still have what looks like a lot of clothes (and that's not even including my fall/winter stuff that's in our storage shed) but the various seasons and occasions of my life demand that right now. I have a maternity wardrobe, a nursing wardrobe, clothes for summer and fall and sweaters for wearing over dresses, clothes for a funeral, casual dresses, church dresses, etc. I also need to have more than a few outfits since I have a little boy notorious for wetting through diapers onto me and due to the fact that we share one washer and dryer with 14 other people in our building, we can't always do laundry when we'd like to.

I bagged up the maternity clothes that no longer fit to store, and pulled out some post-pregnancy clothing so it will be ready when I bring baby home. I finally got rid of some outfits that were emotional burdens (so-and-so gave me this so I need to keep it even though I'd never wear it in a thousand years....) and it felt really good.

I've been feeling a zealous kick of organizing everything in our house. Whether this is the supposed "nesting" instinct or just the realization that whenever I have a little energy I'd better get my rear in gear and get my life de-cluttered to make room for a new baby I don't know but I'm loving the way it feels to have these little cluttered areas cleaned up! For instance, I don't know how long it has been since we deep-cleaned our cars, but it's been bugging me so much that I finally determined that they would get cleaned out today. My hubby spent a few hours doing most of the hard stuff and I vacuumed them, washed mats, and hauled a laundry basket worth of toys, missing socks, shoes, and hair clips in from the cars. Since my hubby is a carpenter that spends much of his days sanding, his car was absolutely filthy with a thick coat of dust and woodchips. We are switching cars until our van arrives since his car has A/C and the other car (my Honda) will be sold in a couple of weeks. I did not want to bring Justus home in an inch thick layer of sawdust so it was IMPERATIVE to me that the car get cleaned. What a wonderful feeling to see it all pristine and toy and crumb-free tonight! King Jo estimates it will last about a day since he knows what 2 little ones can do in one outing in one of our vehicles!
Other areas I've been crazily organizing:
The PIT PILE in my bedroom:
What is it about our bedroom that becomes the catch-all for odds and ends and junk? Besides the bassinet and a bag of diapers/hospital bags and stuff for post-birth, there are so many piles of junk in my room. Somehow I ended up with a gallon of window washer fluid in that corner along with some large speakers King Jo wants to sell, and a big stack of photo albums and frames that we aren't using that need taken to the shed. On top of this there is my growing thrift store pile, my hand-wash laundry pile, a basket of children's books, a pile of books to take to the used book store, etc.
I finally got sick of NEVER having that corner of the bedroom clean and organized and madly attacked it. After a trip to our shed and a trip to the thrift store and used book store, that corner will be completely junk-free and I can stash a laundry basket or something there to catch dirty baby laundry.
I love books, but I'm realizing more every year that I don't need to hold on to all the good books out there. I'm also finding out that books I thought were SO IMPORTANT to keep a few years ago now hold no interest for me, not to mention that I don't have time to read them. So, I trade them in at the used store for credit to buy other books, on subjects like how to get babies to sleep through the night and how to survive toddlerhood, etc.
I recently went through and sorted out our entire bathroom cabinet and organized things and took stock of what we have. I forced myself to get around to doing the absolutely easy things I've been meaning to do that I haven't done yet like putting a pretty pottery mug on the bathroom counter to hold our combs and brushes, etc.
My next task is to do a touch-up re-straightening of the pantry and go through all the kitchen cabinets and throw out utensils or gadgets I never use. I also want to organize my pots and pans in neater fashion because if I don't I know someone who will when she comes to visit and see the new baby!
To top it all off, I have actually dusted my home for the first time in who-know-how-long! Being pregnant causes you to let a lot of things go, but I feel like I'm catching up now all at once!

Friday, July 18, 2008

2 Counts of Bliss and Weird Pregnancy Dreams

Yesterday afforded me two wonderful treats. One was coming back from an all-day lake trip to get a message on the machine from my mom saying, "I'm pressure-cooking a roast and wondered if you'd all like to come over for dinner tonight?" and one involved the fact that I got a really, really nice nap thanks to hubby coming home a bit early from work and taking the kids for me so I could sleep off the lake-trip fatigue in my air-conditioned bedroom before eating a delicious dinner I didn't have to prepare!

One really strange thing is that during my nap I was dreaming hardcore about putting a huge piece of chocolate cake in the microwave to heat it up so I could drizzle caramel all over it. When King Jo shook me awake, I was in such a cake-focused state that I couldn't even remember where I was! Naps are very rare for me! Of course he had to wake me seconds before I ate it....
Then last night I was in a very deep sleep dreaming endlessly about desserts and brownies and how I was fixing up plates of them to serve to company and was enjoying having about 5 different things to choose from and sample.
Is this a sign that my body is craving brownies/cake/ice-cream or what? Oh well, it beats most of the crazy dreams we pregnant women have where they tell you will give birth to hamsters or you find out there are two babies and one comes out as a 3-year old and the other stays in utero for an indefinite amount of time......

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Safeway Summer Savings Marathon #2

Well, the Savings Marathon is still going and I'm trying to hit it weekly and get the deals I can to roll the $20 over to another week and another week, etc.

Tonight I got a total of 29 items for $53. The total was well over a hundred but using my Safeway card brought it down to about $80 and I used about $7 in manufacter's coupons and then my $20 register reward coupon from last week. So, $53 spent, and out popped another $20 coupon for next week! I feel like I got some good deals this time on stuff we needed and will really use.

What did I get?

1 Chinese Dinner Kit Sweet and Sour Chicken
2 Crisp Crust Margherita frozen pizzas
8 boxes of General Mills cereal
2 boxes of Nature's Valley granola bars (hubby loves these for work)
2 boxes of Tuna Helper (can we say desperate and don't have energy to cook?)
2 jars of salsa
2 jars of Bertolli garlic parmesan alfredo sauce
2 bottles of salad dressing
1 large bottle of Palmolive
1 # cottage cheese
1 tub of Promise butter spread
1 6 pack of Scotch Brite dish scrubbers
1 package of mini hotdogs

I also bought a bag of Clementine oranges, some Ziploc BIG bags (which are on clearance and handy for storing baby clothes and blankets!) and some cotton swabs. These extra items added about $11 to my total, so I really technically got all of this stuff for about $40!!!

I wish they would have had the Sara Lee Bread at our store as it would have been nice to stock up on bread. Oh well, still some great deals and some easy fixes for those days when I don't feel like cooking (which is MOST days!)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Staying Home

The kids proudly show off their visors with bug stickers on them. These were their prizes for completing the reading program at the library this summer!

I overheard some ladies talking at swimming lessons today. One gal is about mid-fifties and works at a local public school. The other gal is about 40-45 and is due with her second child in less than 2 weeks and also works at that same school as a school psychologist. The first one was asking how much maternity leave the pregnant one had and saying she would miss her at work for the month of September. She made some comment about how the preggo mom would be "sitting at home enjoying herself" and then the preggo mom said, "It'll be so nice to get back to work. It's been nice having the summer off to do stuff and it's nice 'cause we can get out in the summer a lot but I couldn't be at home all fall and winter long. I'd go crazy. I have to work."

There I sat, feeling a little miffed and a little amused as I listened. These ladies, so typical of our culture, think being at home is "boring, unfulfilling, menial, and basically being lazy!" I chuckled to think how much work this mom will actually be doing once she has two little ones instead of just one to care for. I'm surprised to hear her talk about how her neighbor will be watching the kids all year, 40 hours a week, and how it's no big deal for her to drop her new, 2-month old off for the day and head off to work. I personally know the gal who watched her 2.5 year old daughter last year and I know that SHE was investing in this little girl as well as her own 3 kids and other babysitting charges, taking her to library, helping her go potty, running errands with her, feeding her, and watching her hit all the milestones while her mom was working.

How sad it is to see what a low opinion the world has of full-time mothers! I don't know about you all, but I'm certainly not bored and am busy as a bee! I think the sacrifices for staying home are infinitely worth it and that it's especially important in those early years. My parents drilled that into me as a kid. When my little brother would complain that we couldn't afford Nike shoes like his cousin wore my mom would say,"His mom works ALL THE TIME. You may not have name-brand shoes but you have a Mommy home with you all day." Years later, that cousin, who was raised by his Grandma and by daycare is now following in his mom's example by working all the time for material success and has a low view of family and marriage whereas my brother has forgotten about having Nikes and has followed my mom's example of pouring herself out for others as he evangelizes the lost in Honduras as a missionary.

While being a stay-at-home mom won't guarantee your children will be Christ-followers, I do believe it is a very, very important job with eternal significance and great fulfillment. While worldly women are chasing their own fulfillment in their careers and accomplishments, there are moms pouring themselves out to teach and to train their children in godliness and to "swim upstream" in our immoral culture. While there are days it might be overwhelming or days when we wonder if we will go crazy with screaming little ones or endless poopy bottoms, or days when going off to a job sounds nice, there are mostly days where I am so thankful that God has allowed me to be in this profession of full-time mommyhood because there is nothing I want to do more than this!

I guess I'd better finish this post so I can go put my feet up and eat Bon-Bons and watch soaps, after all, I'm a stay-at-home mom, isn't that what we do?

Safeway Summer Savings Marathon

I was so excited to learn from MoneySavingMom and the other Safeway shoppers on the web that the Summer Savings Marathon has started! I got so many great deals in the fall, I've been waiting for a super deal like this to come up again.

Here's what I got:

2 Packages Chex Mix
4 Betty Crocker Cake Mixes
1 Box of Cheez-Itz
1 Box of Jolly Time Popcorn
2 jars of Ragu Robusto Pasta Sauce
1 packet of Ragu Fresh and Simple Sauce
1 box of Raisin Bran
3 boxes of Frosted Mini Wheats
1 huge bag of Mission Tortilla Chips
2 large boxes of Kleenex
3 packages of Green Giant frozen veggies
2 containers (1 # each) of cottage cheese
2 bags of salad mix with lettuce, dressings, and nut toppings
1 box of Ziploc BIG bags (I wanted to try these and they were on clearance so I got them and love them for storing clothes and blankets!)

Total spent: $46. 79
Reward: $20 coupon off anything in the store for next time's shopping trip

So, in actuality I spent around $27 and got 26 items! Pretty good deals for our town! Woo-hoo! Can't wait to see what's on sale for the next week that are part of this same deal so I can use my $20 to buy more marathon items, thus causing another coupon to print off, etc. etc.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Conquering Fear Yet Again

It's inevitable in this stage of pregnancy that I will be dealing with an old enemy: FEAR. Fear comes upon me in the last month before a baby arrives as I contemplate what's ahead. With the first there is always fear of the unknown and the horrors that people tell you about but you truly don't fear as much thanks to lots of scientific research and reading and the plain old fact that ignorance is bliss. The second time my fear was very strong and I remember quoting verses to myself constantly in the shower during labor about not giving way to fear and instead trusting in God. This time around, you would think I would be relaxed and un-concerned, knowing that I survived 2 natural childbirths and my body knows what to do. But instead, I'm more terrified than ever since 2 times was enough to solidify in my mind that childbirth is TORTURE and there is something rapidly growing in my belly that is huge and has to come out eventually and it's neither fun nor easy!

I've been laying awake at night trying to figure out ways to cope as these thoughts swirl through my head:
*What if I can't do this?
*What if I freak out and become a complete basket case/emotional wreck?
*What if I can't get a grip on fear and it causes labor to be even more painful with the whole fear/tension/pain cycle?
*What if my mom is out of town when she's supposed to be around to watch the birth and help King Jo coach me?
*What if they don't allow me drugs?
*What if they do allow me drugs and they make me feel horrible?
*What if I count on a pain-free labor with drugs and then the epidural doesn't take effect?
*What if I get there too late for drugs?
*What if the baby comes too fast like with Jer?
*What if I have to undergo natural again?
*What if I don't undergo natural, will my baby be lethargic?
*What if I hemhorrage again and lose consciousness?
*What if the doctor doesn't get there in time? (Since my midwife can't deliver anymore right now there are only 2 options for OB doctors in this town and I have yet to meet either one so I definitely don't feel comfortable with them yet!)
*What if something happens to the baby?
*What if our baby isn't healthy?
*What if this kills me and I can't be the Mommy of my children?
*What if I have to have a C-section like my Mom did on her 3rd?
*What if I don't make it to the hospital in time for drugs and yet don't feel I can cope without them?

Now I know these fears may seem silly in retrospect and I should just pull myself up from my bootstraps and trust in God's sovereignty because He will give me the strength I need for EVERY situation! Women have babies every day and I've done this before and will be fine, no matter what happens. His grace is sufficient. It's crazy because I WANT it to be time for the baby to be born and I want him out of me, but I definitely dread that quickl approaching day too. I know it will be one of the best, most exciting days of my entire life as I meet a tiny new treasure God has blessed us with. But my physical body groans in anticipation of the pain (which you definitely DON'T forget instantly like they say you do when you see the baby).

Here are some things I'm trying to do to get a grip:

Memorize Scriptures that will remind me not to fear, but to trust.

Don't think about it! A woman at church with 4 young ones said she battled fear too (who doesn't if you've had all-natural births?) and she said the key is to not dwell on it. This means I should cease reading Pregnancy Guides late at night that give me nightmares as they describe the details of labor, bringing back painful memories, and avoid surfing the net looking for birth stories, etc.

Build a prayer team. It was really cool to call friends and ask them to pray in the past when we've been heading into a birth and this time is no exception. I want no less than a hundred people praying for me when I go into it, even if I have to call every prayer chain I know and blast the news on my blog and facebook that I'm going into labor. You'd better believe that I will pray for you too, if you ask me to, when it's your turn to face childbirth! I have already started asking God to call my friends to pray for me on that day whether or not they even hear or read that I'm going to the hospital.

Think of what's worse! This may seem a bit twisted, but I promise you, it helps me! In some weird way, it's like being thankful for childbirth because it really is better than a lot of things. Call it perspective. For example, I could be having an infected wisdom tooth/root pulled again when the anethestic doesn't work, which is almost as painful as labor but without the reward of a baby! Or worse, I could have a kid that has cancer or have suddenly lost my spouse! I could be enduring torture or rape for my faith as our persecuted brothers and sisters in other countries are, or could be watching my children murdered or kidnapped. I could be dying young of horrendous injuries or be sentenced to prison for a crime I didn't commit, etc. etc. There are so many things in this life more torturous than childbirth that it is humbling to think about.

Please keep me in your prayers and ask the Lord to help me conquer fear.
Please share with me any encouraging Scriptures that come to mind for my situation.
Please share any tips you may have on getting through childbirth! (No horror stories please!)

I'm always blessed by reading the blog, Amy's Humble Musings. When she was battling this intense fear of childbirth recently when she was expecting her sixth, she posted these quotes on her blog, which I plan to carry with me to the hospital.

What is thy only comfort in life and in death?
That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and redeemed me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me, that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must work together for my salvation. Wherefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me heartily willing and ready henceforth to live unto Him.
How many things are necessary for thee to know, that thou in this comfort mayest live and die happily?
Three things: first, the greatness of my sin and misery. Second, how I am redeemed from all my sins and misery. Third, how I am to be thankful to God for such redemption.
~ The Heidelberg Catechism

Amy's Thoughts: Being assured of the greatness of my sin and misery is no problem right now. It wasn’t too long ago that women were grateful to make it through childbirth alive; now we all just want to make it through without too much pain. Times have changed. The good news, if it can be called that (since the Apostle Paul tells us that dying is gain) is that I’m not going to die—at least not just yet. The bad news is that I feel like it.

Place Your Guess--When Will Baby Come?

My hubby thinks I should do a baby poll on here to see if anyone can predict the day accurately when the little guy arrives. He said the winner gets the baby! (But of course he is kidding!)

King Jo guesses the baby will come on August 14th. Talk about negative thinking! After all, I'm due the 18th and I was 7 days early with Ali and 8 days early with Jer! I personally favor the 6th of August. What do the rest of you think?

And while you are at it, how big do you think he will be and how long? Since I had one 7 # 14 oz. baby and one 7# 12 oz. baby both about 20-21 inches long I have a tendency to think Justus will be 7# 8 oz. and 20 inches.

One more question: What do you think we will pick for a middle name?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Yard Sale Deals

There is no way to express how great yard sale-ing is in our town. It becomes addicting because the deals are so hard to pass up! I've tried to be really careful this year about not buying things that I will not use or that will just create clutter and be thrown out next year. And my goal this summer is to only spend around one hour at it when I go, during which I can hit about 6 kid-stuff sales and only use up about $1 in gas going a total of about 5 miles.
A new baby bib that will go in my baby gift stash (50 cents), a brand new washable bib cover-all for Jer (50 cents), new pacifiers (I hope Justus is a paci-baby), and a baby feeder for 50 cents (mesh thing you put fruit in that allows them to chew without choking when they are small infants.) I also got some educational kids videos for a quarter each that will be nice for those cold winter days ahead when Mama is sick of Ali choosing the same movie again and again each day for about 20 days in a row.

I've been looking for another glass bread pan and $1 is a great price! I now bake in only glass since my metal pans have been leaving metal flecks on the bread loaves. The dishtowel is new and a welcome addition to my stash which is growing quite ragged after only 5 years of marriage!

A gift wrap stash extravaganza! I wasn't planning on buying this gift wrap (Shiloh and Amy laugh because they know my weakness for cards and gift wrap stuff at yard sales) but as I looked it over, I was surprised that a grandma would sell an unopened stack of 40 sheets of gift wrap when she obviously had lots of family she could have used it for on holidays. I asked her why she was selling it and she said she had too much and wouldn't use it and she was SO DESPERATE for me to take it that she said, "I'll throw in a bunch of other stuff if you buy the whole box for $2." So, I got 40 sheets of new gift wrap in 20 different birthday/Christmas/wedding designs, 3 new gift bags, 2 new packages of tissue paper, 2 new rolls of Christmas ribbon, 2 Christmas ornaments, a huge bag of new stick-on bows, fancy sheared tissue paper, a new package of Christmas goodie sacks, and a package of gift tag stickers. What a deal! I won't need anything for Christmas now as far as wrapping stuff goes; no matter what kind of deals Walgreens has on Black Friday! She also threw in a free new Nalgene-style water bottle she wanted to get rid of and gave Ali a free toy.

I didn't take pics but the thrift store had stuff-a-bag-for-$2 day which allowed me to get a lot of nice things for hardly anything! I got two or three sets of summer PJs which Jer needed, some socks for him, 3T pants for Jer for next year, baby clothes for a friend who needed some, shoes for Ali, baby towels for Justus, etc.

At one sale I went to a girl handed me a garbage bag and told me to stuff it full for $1!!! I had gotten there at the very end so I missed all the good stuff, but I saw the folks who had gotten there before me heading off with 7 huge bags full of girls' toys and stuff! I did find a bunch (10-15) of beautiful bow hairclips in a rainbow of colors so our bow supply is adequately stocked which is nice since Ali somehow managed to lose half of the ones I made a while back. And since that's all I could find to buy that I wanted she only charged me a quarter!

My very eco-conscious neighbor also started a Free Market every Sunday which is like a free yard sale in the park. So, there is no lack of clothing/toys/books, etc. in our town for anyone who wants it!

Investing in Alathia Update

For those of you who are wondering how I've been doing with Ali lately I will say that it has been a really good week. We still have our clashes and there have been a couple of times where I've lost control of my emotions but for the most part, once I committed to making this a priority, I've noticed myself being more careful in the way I talk to her and about her. I have found it a lot harder than I thought to implement some of the ideas I had for spending time with her due to this last's week schedule. The tea party I was anxious to have with her hasn't happened yet and everytime I'm cooking it seems she is off riding her bike or playing outside. *Little confession: I also try not to cook much these days so that limits her being able to help out too!
However, swimming is still going for another week and I DID take her on a fun mother-daughter date today. I let her choose whatever flavor ice-cream she wanted at the TCBY in the gas station and she picked Rainbow. Then we headed to the park where she ran around and played and I watched her and pushed her on her favorite swing. She had so much fun and all day she was talking about how she was going to go on a "date" with Mama. I definitely will have to make these special times together happen frequently, especially with a new little one taking up a lot of my time and attention in the future.
Just trying something a little new together and having some relaxing time to chat without other responsibilities pressing really helped me to focus on what a beautiful and special little girl I have and filled me with gratitude for the treasure she is in our lives.
I've been making an effort to include Ali in more hugs and cuddle time and keep things fair with the kids and making sure she knows I love her lots. Jer is still more prone to cuddling for long periods of time but now if she's in the room I make sure to invite her to join in and she hasn't been too bad about wiggling or hurting me this week.
While we still keep busy with friends and pool parties in the yard to cool off I'm finding myself slowing down in the activities I do and looking for the easy options. I don't walk or bike nearly as much now and I take advantage of every opportunity to get a free meal (my folks have been in a grilling mood lately and often make extras and invite us over much to my delight!) and to avoid housework like dishes at all costs! I try to shop without the kids now as it's just too exhausting, especially since they never fail to throw screaming fits in Safeway for some reason (no other stores, just Safeway!) Slowing down and not trying to do too much really help me stay less irritable during this stage of pregnancy, which in turn helps me deal with Ali in a more Christ-like manner.
One funny Ali story:
Perhaps Ali will work in the Justice system someday. After all, she absolutely understands right and wrong. She DEMANDS what she has earned. What am I talking about? Well, on the way to Grammy's one night she hollered in the car, "Now, don't you forget my two spanks!" She reminded me when we got to Grammy's to give them to her right away much to Grammy's amazement. We had been at a pool party before leaving for Grammy's and she had hit her best friend over the head with a kickboard, as well as not obeying when I said it was time to leave. She knew that she had been wrong and deserved consequences and knowing how forgetful Mama is during pregnancy, she demanded that I remember to give them to her and get them over with! The same scenario happened the night before too when she sternly told me, "You get yourself into that kitchen and you get the spanking spoon and give me my spanks RIGHT NOW!" I was speechless. I was shocked that she was ordering me around in such a bossy tone (like mother, like daughter?) but even more shocked that she would ORDER me to spank her! Isn't parenthood something?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Ranks of Motherhood

The other day a fellow mom at the swimming pool was quizzing me on what it's like to be pregnant with #3. I answered her questions and then inquired if she was thinking about having a third. She said, "Well, there's no thinking about it now! I just found out yesterday I am!" I reassured her that she would be fine and gave her all the encouragement I could give even though I'm sure she notices my tired waddle, my yawns as I sit in front of the fan near the bleachers, and how busy I am hanging on to two little ones in the locker while lugging around a belly. I thought about how I act the same way with moms who have recently had their third. I'm always asking them all kinds of questions about the logistics of surviving when you have 3 kids 2 years or less apart.

It's almost like I've joined new ranks: The "I Have 3 Kids Club." There seems to be a realization among women that as you go up in number of kids you go up in some mysterious ranking in wisdom, experience, capabilities and possibly insanity? For instance, there is a mom who comes to swimming lessons who has 5 children, 3 of whom are in lessons, and two of whom are very young (one is still a nursing infant and one an active 1 or 2 year old.) I look at her and just think, "Wow! How does she do it? She must be soooo strong! How did she get through 5 pregnancies?" Moms like that are my heroes! Then there are the moms who have 10 or more kids and they boggle everyone's minds! Anyone who has had 2 kids knows the endless work involved and thus we have trouble comprehending how these moms do it! Anyone who has delivered at least a couple of babies and knows the pain involved in labor (especially natural childbirth) assigns respectful awe to women who have undergone that many, many times! And bonus respect points if your husband works a lot, is gone a lot, you had bad morning sickness or uncomfortable pregnancies, you adopted, or you homeschool or work full time! This doesn't mean moms of one or two kids don't work really hard. They work constantly! Yet, just as you build muscles with weight training and gradually add more and more weight, so also the more kids you have, the more disciplined you have to become as a mom and the harder you work in so many areas unless you want to live a life of complete chaos. Not only do you grow more as a mother and home manager with each child you have, you also learn to lighten up and relax on the things that aren't truly important. I get a kick out of Amy Scott's blog, Read her posts in the Babies category for some great advice on surviving life with 3 kids 3 and under. She now has 6 kids 10 and under, homeschools, and has a great sense of humor!

There is also a certain safety in talking with other moms who have the same number of kids you have. When I had one child, I sometimes felt like the ladies at church looked down on me in a child-like, head-patting way and were forever giving me comments like, "If you think motherhood is hard now, wait until she's mobile. Or wait until she's a toddler. Or wait until you have two, etc. etc." It was so nice to chat with my buddies who had one baby as well and compare our struggles and challenges and joys as well as discussing getting pregnant again and all of our fears and excitement over having #2 without feeling like we were wimps because we were plenty busy taking care of one baby. It's funny because now that I'm going for #3, most of the ladies in the church have no more advice to give since many people in our church have 2 kids. Those that have 3, or the rare ones who have 4, who give advice now pass it on respectfully as one warrior would to another and I welcome it gladly! And everyone and their dog feels the need to say to me, "You're gonna be BUSY!!!" Like I didn't know that and I like I'm not busy now!

Stay tuned in the coming months for updates on how we're making it work with 3 little ones! I have a feeling that I'll have a lot more energy than I do now; I've always felt better non-pregnant on no sleep than pregnant on a full-night of sleep! In the meantime, if you have 3 kids or more, please leave your Heroic Advice for me in the comments section!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Kid Funnies

One evening the girls decided that they wanted to have big tummies like me. Here are their "pregnant bellies."
The girls have abandoned their tea party. It's time to move in and chow down on this watermelon! (notice the watermelon seed under his eye!)

At Heather's request, I decided to do another kid funnies post!

Ali always asks me if she was in my tummy in the picture on my bedroom shelf. It's a wedding pic of Josiah and I. I always explain that back then we didn't have ANY kids. She says, "Where was I?" I say, "You weren't alive yet." She said, "Was Grammy babysitting me?" "No." "Was I dead?" "No, God hadn't made you yet! First people need to get married and then God makes their children." "Oh, okay. Now you have me and Bear-Bear and now we're married!"

Ali was trying to tell me something a neighbor had said to her the other day. She wanted me to be sure I knew who she was talking about. She described her to me as the red girl with the really, really big tummy! I'm so glad our neighbor didn't hear her since our neighbor wearing the red shirt is NOT pregnant!

Ali told Daddy she loved him and she wanted him to give his usual reply back. But his mouth was full of toothpaste so it sounded like, 'wwa wuv woo.' She said it again and he mumbled again. Finally in frustration, she said, 'Daddy! I want your mouth to say 'I love you!''

Ali ran into the hall in a panic one day. She didn’t realize I was watching them from the hall and that Jer was at the other end of the hall. She cried, “I can’t find Bear-Bear! He’s maybe killed!” (Can you tell we have given them stern lectures about what might happen if they go out of the gate and get in the street?)

There’s been a lot of saying sorry and forgiveness going on around here. I often hear little apologies going back and forth when the kids are playing. Jer is very quick to say “Saw-wee” and give gentle hugs if he does something mean or accidentally hurts Ali. Ali has some interesting apologies. One day she said she was sorry for breaking my pretty tulip and I told her I forgave her. She then told me she loved me too, and that she forgave me! She often does that! One day I heard her telling Jer in the bedroom, “I love you Bear-Bear. But sometimes I’m naughty and I shove you down.” Jer replied, “Oh-kaaaaay!” It was sweet!

Ali told me today that if you don't wear your seatbelt you die. But she said, "I don't die because I always wear my seatbelt!"

Ali noticed my cup of raspberry iced tea sitting on the table and informed me, "If you leave your juice out it will spoil. So, I'm going to drink it for you so it doesn't spoil."

Ali told Daddy, "When I get big I'm going to be a Mama and a doctor is going to put a baby in my tummy. But my baby isn't going to be Justus. It's going to be a girl."

Jer copies everything Ali says. One of their favorite things to yell with big smiles when Mama mentions a nap is "NO NAP! NO NAP!" He copied one of the neighbor girls tonight and now says "mucho" and it sounds so funny in his little baby-talk accent. They thought it was very funny and cute! Leave it to the second kid to have all the "naughty" words memorized thanks to an older sibling. He loves to holler for chips, candy, ice-cream, pie, cookies, etc. One of the neighbor girls taught Ali the word "Heck" so we've been working on training her NOT to say that. When I heard my little guy yelling "Heck! Heck! Heck!" one day, I knew Big Sis had been up to no good! Jer has also started copying Ali's routines. Tonight before bed, he was saying, "Taco! Taco!" I realized he wanted to be wrapped in a blankie taco like Ali is every night. He also says "Baby Duthis (Justus)" and will say this and point to my tummy, telling me he wants to kiss the baby bump at night like Ali does. One night when he was hugging/kissing my belly, Justus kicked his cheek and he got this big grin on his face, like "something is alive in there!"

Every day and usually every night Ali asks the same questions over and over. I've given her the answers a hundred times in several different ways. Her favorite questions are: Why did Auntie Kika get bit by a spider? Why did Uncle Goo Goo (Grant) fall out of a tree? (Good question, Ali!) Why did Rico (my dad's horse) get a sore on his leg? Why did Squirt (my mom's gerbil) die? Why did the boy who didn't wear his seatbelt die? (a recent car accident in our town where a man my age was killed.)

Freezer Meal Progress

Last week, I mentioned here how my freezer meal progress was going. I'm really liking this gradual adding to the freezer as it's less stressful than trying to do a mega cook-off weekend with little ones in the household. This week I've added a few things to the freezer:

*Grilled chicken breasts (6 large ones). Chicken was on a good sale and I was using my folk's large, fancy grill to make supper for some cross-country bikers (friends of friends stopping through town for the night) so I bought an extra package and threw it on the grill at the same time and now have a bag of yummy grilled chicken to use for post-baby meals!

*3 bags of cooked mac n' cheese. I normally make the homemade kind but the kids enjoy the box kind too and it was on a good sale. So, for lunch one day I made 4 boxes instead of 2 and froze a few bags for quick lunch food for the kids post-baby.

*One large roll of yummy cookie dough. A new recipe I got from my hippie neighbor that is absolutely delicious! I doubled the recipe and froze half for some quick treats to have on hand.

*One bag of cooked brown rice. I plan to freeze more rice too but one bag is a start! It will be quick to reheat this in the microwave and throw some veggies on top for a nutritious lunch or dinner when I'm breastfeeding!

*Two frozen containers of Ravioli. I bought a 10# can at Wal-Mart since it was so cheap and froze two containers full as well as serving it for dinner and lunch the next day. It will do for a quick, kid-friendly lunch.

Goals for more meals/fixings:

*Get at least a few bags of bread dough in the freezer. Also some pizza dough for making homemade pizza. I would normally make the pizzas up completely (homemade frozen pizzas) if I had a big freezer to work with, but to save space, at least having the dough ready will save a lot of time for me in post-baby days.

*Get more mac n' cheese frozen as well as a few bags of cooked pasta this week.

*Stock up on canned chili, some canned soup, cans of Chow Mein, and frozen veggies.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

4th of July Fun

Ali tries sparklers for the first time!

The fire trucks finish off the big town parade by spraying everyone down! This year was the wildest one yet as I've never seen the firetrucks go so crazy and have an all-out war of the water, causing the main street gutters to become flowing rivers of water! Getting sprayed feels so good!

The kids did well in spite of staying up really late two nights in a row and enduring 3 big picnics in 24 hours, tons of fireworks shooting off, and a huge parade and playing in the water at two of those picnics!

How King Jo Almost Lost His Job on July 4th

Have I mentioned that our town goes absolutely nuts on the 4th? Firecrackers and fireworks go off non-stop all day, but especially from about 7-12 p.m. People spend hundreds of thousands on fireworks here. Because of the rodeo and the huge town parade and the picnics and the firework show the night before the 4th, this is one of the most fun places to live on the 4th, if you like noise!
However, it can also be extremely dangerous! One piro-neighbor of my parents' shot off a firework that ignited the field that borders my parent's property. My dad's wood shop was just a few feet away from the fire! His shop is huge, and full of expensive tools and untold quantities of lumber he sells and builds with, and it's not insured! If they had lost the shop, King Jo would have been out of a job and my dad would have been hurting badly business-wise!

The firetrucks came immediately and got the 4 ft flames put out immediately. They said that had this occurred just 2 weeks later, when the grass was a bit drier, the shop would have no doubt burned to the ground.

After the fire was put out, the cops and my dad noticed that a portion of the fence was broken near there. From looking at the broken glass and the tire tracks, it appears that someone was driving fast down the alley towards my parent's property, saw the fire and was watching it on the left, and not paying attention, missed the corner and rammed into the fence, busting out their windshield. Since the fence-buster immediately drove off, they have no idea who it was. The screech of the car and the crash into the fence alerted my dad to the fire as he was working in the wood shop at the time. Also, one of my brother's friends, most likely the guy who accidentally started the fire who lives nearby, called him to alert him about the fire too and he woke my mom. All the neighbors came out to watch the firetrucks screaming over to the fire and many people thought the shop itself was on fire due to the amounts of smoke over the shop.
What an exciting 4th of July for my parents! On top of it all, my friend's dog bit my mom's hand during the big 4th of July parade because it got tangled up and got panicked. It bled a lot and freaked us all out but it turned out to be a small puncture. It turns out one of my best friend's kids, Elijah, got bit by a random dog at the parade too!
I got hit by a firework on the 4th, one of those flying spinners that flew towards my friend's house, bounced off her chimney, and straight at me, but I deflected it off my watch when I raised my arm up for protection, which caused my pastor to start calling me Wonder Woman. My watch is no worse for the wear and I'm glad we all made it through the 4th alive this year!
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