Thursday, May 27, 2010

Yard Sale Finds!

One gal was declaring all of her Christmas stuff was free, so this brand-new box of Christmas cards cost me nothing

A new, clay-looking picture frame for 25 cents

Hardly, if-ever, worn baby clothing for 20 cents.  Great for the gift stash!

Brand-new onesies and baby washcloths, 20 cents

The same gal who had scads of cheap baby girl's clothes was also selling these for 20 cents, even though they were brand-new!  I gave her closer to 50 cents each since they were so nice!

This darling little honey pot was a bit pricey.  $3 was 2-3 times more than I would usually pay but the owner said it was hand-made by a well-known potter and I figured a cheap one at Walmart would probably run me the same price or more.  I've been wanting a honey pot for a long time!

Other good deals I found that day:
Very nice leather ballet shoes in Ali's size 25 cents
Like-new ballet leotard and skirt for Ali 25 cents
Complete NIV Bible on CD, new in the box $1
Brand-new Chronological Bible $3.50
Some like-new Christian books on Creation/Evolution $1 each
L.L. Bean kid's sandals that looked hardly used 25 cents
Blue's Clues flannel sheets for Jeremiah's twin bed 25 cents
Hippo swimming floatie 25 cents
Booster carseat (identical to the one Grammy just bought us for $20) for $5
Hand towels for the bathroom 25 cents
Brand-new bottle of my favorite shaving cream $1
Brand-new bottle of my mom's favorite Mary Kay lotion $1.50
Shorts for Ali 25 cents
Underwear for Jer 10 cents each
Columbia boy's winter coat in mint condition $2

When you have a growing family living on one-income, yard sales are the place to shop!!!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Best Sippy Cup on the Face of the Earth

I've been searching for good sippy cups for a long time.  I was pretty happy with the Playtex brand cups until everyone started talking about BPA and wondering if their kids' sippies were safe.  We still have a bunch of the Playtex ones, and they are very leak-proof and probably BPA free too, but I have found that the Nalgene Tritan Grip n' Gulp for kids are now my ultimate favorite.

Why I like them:

They are BPA free

Just like Nalgene's adult water bottles, which I have used for years, they are extremely durable...even when thrown against pavement by angry children

They aren't baby-ish, making them perfect for older kids too.  Your child could use this cup from 12 months until 10 years old.

I can carry 3 sippy cups in one hand while I'm juggling kids or keys in the other, thanks to the little finger loop

They are completely leak-proof

Residue doesn't build up in them like it does in our Playtex cups

Easy to remove valve--and large enough that it's harder to lose

Dishwasher safe

They hold 12 ounces, which means less fill-ups for our extremely thirsty kid

My "oral child" who chews everything to destruction has left tooth marks on her spout but hasn't managed to destroy it or smash it in--it's a very durable spout!

Possible Cons

On the reviews, some of the moms said their children couldn't get any liquid out of them.  We haven't had this problem at all.  It does take a bit more suction than our Playtex cups, but I count this as a blessing seeing as how it takes Jeremiah around 6 minutes to drain his 12 ounce Nalgene sippy instead of 1 minute (the length of time it takes him to drain his 10 ounce Playtex).

Some moms don't like that they have to tip the cup up to drink from it.  If you prefer that your child not have to tip their cup up, you can give this sippy a try, which one of my mom-of-4-four-and-under friends highly recommends.  I was going to buy this kind but couldn't bring myself to pay $20 per sippy, knowing my kids would probably lose them the next day if I did.  Also, some moms said the straw pushed their kids' teeth forward so I wasn't sure I wanted them after all.  Someday, when they go on a REALLY great sale I will try them and see if they become my new favorite.


You can buy the Nalgene Tritan Grip N' Gulp online from several different places, but ebay seems to have the lowest prices, even after shipping.  They will run you around $8 each after shipping.  Because a local sport and outdoor store here had them for $8 each, I purchased mine locally.  It seems expensive, but I think they are worth EVERY penny.  My kids have used them hundreds of times and they have been the best thing ever for soccer practices and games, picnics to the park or the mountains, church,  taking into restaurants on our long trip to MN and back, and just drinking from all day long.  And in spite of taking them everywhere we haven't lost one yet.....thankfully!  They have 4 colors, which means whether or not we have a boy or girl the fourth child is going to end up with a pink one.  Maybe.
One more thing: Most pics online show a sideview that leaves you wondering if they have a pointed spout that is uncomfortable for the child.  The spout is not pointed, but rather very similar to the Playtex sippy spouts.  This is a blurry shot of Justus' cup.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Modest Swimsuit Idea

A year ago I was really frustrated with swimwear.  I couldn't find a suit that fit my body properly.  And forget about finding a modest is next to impossible in our area, where there are very few places to shop for clothing in general.  If I did happen to find a modest suit, the material wore through, stretched out, or snagged right away.  I was sick of kids tugging on the neckline and embarrassing me, even when I was wearing a modest suit.

I started searching like crazy online and found several sites that sold swim dresses or modest swimwear.  However, the prices were more than I could afford.  So I put together my own modest swim outfit on a budget, spending several hours scouring the internet in search of the perfect swimsuit for me.

Here's what I came up with:

Underneath-a tank suit in my size.  Doesn't matter if the neck is a little low or the legs are high so long as it fits comfortably.  Found one on e-bay for about $2 (new) and found a great used one in my size at the thrift store for 50 cents.

Rash Guard--these shirts are UV protective and popular among surfers.  I found mine here for $20 on sale.

Board Shorts--I found lots of cute ones online at surfing supply shops or sport's stores but most were around $50 and I couldn't bring myself to pay that.  So, I opted for some swim trunks from the Walmart's men's section ($6) and I simply snipped out the mesh lining in them and they work great!

I have never felt more comfortable in my swimsuit and am so happy with my current set-up.  For around $30 I got a suit that I feel comfortable in and it should last at least a few years, even though we swim a lot.  Of course now I'll have to find a maternity option for this summer so I don't stretch out this suit!

I can't believe I just posted a picture of myself in a swimsuit on my own blog!  And to top it all off it's a bad picture where I'm blinking!

*Ali wears swim shorts (found at a Gymboree outlet for $6) over a tank suit*
*When we swim outside, I have all of my kids wear rash guards for sun protection*

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Kids and Ice-Cream

MN Trip Pics

Justus and Avylene (2nd cousins only 4 months apart)

My brother Grant joined Ali and Jer for a pic with Paul Bunyan

Grandpa Joel, Josiah's dad, with all of his grandkids thus far
Alathia, Daniel, Justus, David, and Jeremiah

Cousins playing outside together

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Overwhelmed by the Goodness of God

Remember this post?

It's hard for me not to tear up every time I consider all of the family and friends who have been praying for us to get this house if it is God's will.  And last night, our realtor called with unbelievable news... we never dared to hope we
would ever hear.

Morning-Noon-Night Sickness--The Real Deal--Coping Emotionally

When I was in MN for a day, my first college roomie, Ashley, known to us all as "Parker" dropped by for a few minutes and we swapped pregnancy talk.  We're due about a day apart (her first, my fourth) and we've both been really sick.

I've talked about how Morning, Noon, and Night sickness can feel like a never-ending tunnel.  Many women suffering from it find themselves depressed and despondent.  If people think it's rough having a 2-day stomach flu, you can imagine how much harder it is to cope emotionally when it's a 60 or 200-day bout of nausea during pregnancy.

I truly want to help those of you who are suffering with sickness.  I want you to know that I am here to listen and to pray if you find yourself in this situation.  Please leave your e-mail in the comments or contact me on facebook if you are at the end of your rope and need some encouragement in getting through.  I'd love to help you!!!

I am hoping to be done with the nausea soon.  I've stopped taking my Unisom most nights now and am not throwing up or gagging much anymore.  I still feel very nauseous at night, but have hope that soon that will end.  Sometimes I feel like this 4th kid really has it in for me as I was feeling better by 13 weeks with the others and this has lasted 3 weeks longer.

How to Survive Morning, Noon, and Night Sickness Emotionally

1.  Find a buddy who has been there, and preferrably someone who IS there with you.  While it's always fun to talk to fellow preggies, it's important that you have someone in your corner who really understands the relentless sickness.  Otherwise, you may find yourself resenting your friends who are glowing and "have never felt better than while pregnant" and they may feel that you are just a whiner or complainer.  I have been so blessed to go through two pregnancies with my friend Lesley and to have her still encouraging me through this fourth one even though she isn't pregnant right now.  I know about 40 women having babies this year (crazy!) and a few of them, including Parker, have been able to swap morning, noon, and night sickness tips with me through it.

2.  When you find a buddy who is there with you, ask them to pray for you frequently and swap weekly calls or e-mails to keep you on track.

3.  Look for ways to help others in the midst of your distress.  Pray for those who are struggling with cancer and chemo and facing similar nausea.  Send a card to someone who is more sick than you are.  Get involved in a project to feed the hungry or clothe the homeless.  This really can help lift your spirits when you feel down. 

4.  Read books and verses on suffering and listen to sermons geared toward those who are in the midst of trials and suffering.

5.  Comfort tactics--in a previous post in this series I talked about comfort foods.  But beyond the food department, look for things that have a soothing effect on you.  Praise music, or gentle instrumental music really lifts my mood and helps the nausea feel more bearable.  Buy some pretty flowers to brighten the kitchen table, look at neat photography, light scented candles, watch a favorite movie, snuggle in a microplush blanket, take a hot bath every night (yes, I know you have to be careful about hot water in pregnancy and I exercise my common sense here), etc.

6.  Distract yourself.  Stay busy, but not too busy.  Don't try to do so much you are overly exhausted, as this will cause even more nausea.  But laying around without a plan or places to go can cause you to feel worse.  Stay moderately busy.  I try to plan one errand or playdate per day so that I am getting out of the house and the kids are getting some exercise at the park or something fun to do (library, ballet, soccer, etc.)  In the evenings, when I have felt the sickest, sometimes it has been hard to read a book or even surf the net so in those most-intense months of sickness I have watched lots of old movies from the library or watched Lost to help pass the time and distract me.

7.  Don't make major plans or decisions while in the throes of sickness.  Also, don't invite company over.  We love to have Sunday lunch guests over but when I'm in the first trimester, my rule of thumb is NO COMPANY!  I don't have energy to clean, I can't bear to cook, and I'm gagging all the time so this season of life is not conducive to hosting a meal.  If you must host a meal, get hubby to help with the cleaning up, order pizza, and don't worry what other people think, after all...they understand that you are in a difficult season of life.  As much as you will be tempted to sign your husband up for surgery during morning, noon, and night sickness, do not make a major decision like this until you have had time to process it further and are not throwing up daily.  In so far as you are able, don't switch careers, move, start a business, start homeschooling, or go on a major vacation while you are in the first trimester.

8.  Know that the Lord walks with you on this difficult journey.  I have been so encouraged by my SEEDS Courage CD and by reading in the Psalms.  When I have been at the end of my rope emotionally and have prayed for help from God, He has supplied.  I've shared how various sweet ladies at church have blessed us with treats or meals.  He does care and will give the strength you need to make it through each day.

9.  Take time to look at your sleeping babies at night or go through their baby albums.  If you don't have kids yet, borrow a friend's baby for a while.  I nearly break down crying when I hold a newborn during my first trimester.  It feels like therapy, and it helps me to keep my focus on the reward at the end of all this sickness.

10.  Give yourself lots of grace.  Don't expect yourself to keep a clean home and don't beat yourself up when you end up feeding your kids Dominos 30% of the time or letting them watch some extra movies.  Don't assume that because you feel lazy and unproductive that you have always been this way and always will be.  Your body is working as hard as it would be to run a marathon or climb mountains all day as it builds a little person with functioning organs and systems, so even if you lay around all day, you are working hard!  Expect to be tired and less productive and focus on surviving, not keeping a perfect house and being the perfect mom, which you couldn't attain anyway, even if you weren't pregnant!

A final thought:  For those of you who have gone through bad morning sickness, consider using your experience to help others.  Look for gals in your church, neighborhood, or moms' group who are really suffering and share your tips, take a meal, babysit their kids, etc.  I've told you how Elizabeth and Jenny really blessed me and I hope to carry that on and do the same for others in the same situation.  I hope for the rest of my life that I can be a source of strength and help for those women who suffer from intense nausea.

So....what if you are one of those very blessed women who doesn't get nauseous and isn't sure how to help your friends who do get sick?  Here are some ideas:

1.  Ask how they're feeling and sympathize as best as you can and avoid mentioning that you felt great while pregnant.

2.  Bring a meal by.  Don't just offer, just jump in and do it!  It's okay to find out what sounds good and what day would be most convenient but make sure you follow through if you offer.

3.  Put together a bag of treats of things that are sour or known to help with morning sickness like my friend Jenny did.  Pickles, lemon stuff, cinnamon gum, green apples, etc. are usually good options.

4.  Share things that you didn't end up using because you didn't get sick.  I have a friend who bought Preggie Pops and B-Natals, but didn't end up needing them and she generously shared them with me.

5.  Invite your friend to do things with you.  It has been a blessing to be able to look forward to a picnic at the park, a swimming playdate, or just a ladies' night out when I have been sick.  Don't assume because they are sick that they want to stay home for two months.  Treat them normally and love them anyway when they barf in front of you.

6.  Share this blog thread with them and look for articles and books that might be of interest to them.

7.  A little card or surprise is always fun.  Try buying them a good-smelling item, like lotion from Bath n' Body Works, lavender or eucalyptus soap, or a quality candle or a reed diffuser or potpourri.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Fun with our Friends

Shiloh and Havily at church

Ali, Arianna, and Kennedy at a BBQ
Baby Havily has gotten sooooo big!
The Blasdel twins
Trying unsuccessfully to get a nice pic of all 6 kids in the pool
Carsen and Jer looking for snakes after church

Monday, May 17, 2010

I'm Back!

Just when I thought I would have a lazy week and be able to do some blogging for fun, things got crazy again!  My dear Grandma passed away on May 6th.  It was a hard week knowing it was coming and talking to all the family about it.  A day later our good friends the Blasdels came for a visit from Kansas and we spent nearly every waking moment of the weekend hanging out with them.  Then, I decided on Saturday to drive with my mom and all of my kids to MN for the funeral so we left on Sunday and arrived there Tuesday morning after 2 nights on the road and some scary experiences driving in the rain.  We had about 1.5 days in MN and then turned around and headed back for a 2-day drive home.  5 out of 6 days spent driving, 2,300 miles, more than 20 public restrooms, 11 restaurants, lots and lots of cousins, aunts, and uncles, etc.  I have to say my kids are awesome travelers though!  It was good to be with family and to be there in person to grieve.  There is so much I want to mimic my grandma in.  She was an excellent cook, made money sewing wedding dresses and decorating cakes from home, a diligent worker who turned out an acre-big garden each year to feed her 6 kids, and she loved the Lord.  My dad shared at the funeral that when he was just a little boy of 4 years old, his mom persuaded his dad to start taking the family to church.  Grandpa was a drinker, and not a church-goer but he gave in to her pleading and they drove the many miles into town to church on Sundays.  At first Grandpa dropped them off and went to visit his siblings while they were at church.  But after a few years, Grandpa started going and got saved and his life turned around.  My dad prayed to believe in Jesus at 5 years old at that church with his Sunday School teacher and he shared how the legacy continues with his granddaughter, Ali, becoming a believer last summer.  A legacy his mom left him.
My dad built an incredibly beautiful casket for his mom, just as he did for his dad, grandma, brother, and father-in-law.  It truly was a labor of love and I wish I had a picture.

Lots of pics and posts to come this week!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Monday, May 3, 2010

Love You Grandma

Because of her, 6 children, 20 grandchildren, and 17 great-grandchildren thus far have come into this world.
She taught me how to decorate cakes, gave me tips on sewing, and always had excellent recipes to pass on and a cookie or piece of cake to share.  Hearing about her life as a young mom is refreshing to me.  How many women could have stood up under the pressure of having 6 children by 25, feeding 5 hungry boys and a girl with very little money, and using cloth diapers, glass bottles, and a clothes line?  She was a pioneering work-at-home mom, sewing wedding dresses, prom gowns, and clothing for people and decorating cakes as a way to earn extra money, even though she only had an 8th grade education. 
She's not expected to live beyond today.  At age 69, her health problems have taken a toll and a fall last week caused a brain hemorrage and the doctors are saying there is nothing they can do.
Though she's lived 1,000 miles away from me most of my life, she has always had a wonderful presence in our family and in our memories.  I will miss her cheerful smile and laugh and the way she delighted in people and loved her family.
I'm so thankful for the comfort of knowing that she is going to be with Jesus and that this life is not the end.

This song's lyrics bring me comfort today:

It is not death to die,

To leave this weary road,

And midst the brotherhood on high

To be at home with God.

It is not death to close

The eye long dimmed by tears,

And wake, in glorious repose,

To spend eternal years

As of today, Wednesday, Grandma is still hanging on to life in spite of what doctors have said. She may be allowed to do hospice care at home today and leave the hospital.  We don't know how much time she has left but we pray for God's will to be done in it all.  Thanks for your kind words and prayers!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Where Have I Been?

We sure have had a busy week!  It didn't feel super busy but now that I look back I'm amazed at all we got accomplished in the last week.  But, I didn't end up being able to squeeze in very much blogging!  I have lots of posts floating around in my head just waiting to be shared next week!
This last week I did Spoil Josiah week and made a bunch of his favorite foods.
Alathia had soccer practice and her second soccer game.  Do you know how weird it feels for me to not only have a minivan full of kids (that are mine!) but to be driving a soccer practice carpool?
Alathia has her spring dance recital (The Three Musketeers) tonight and she's had a rehearsal in addition to regular ballet class.  I did the rag curls thing again last night and she looks like Shirley Temple today.  I can't wait to see her dance on the big stage!
I got some sewing done, as I shared in my last post.
I got some annoying errands done....less emotional debt...whew!
I have felt incredibly fatigued some days.  My body feels like it's moving in slow motion.  No doubt it will help when I get off Unisom, but since I'm still throwing up at night some, I'm going to continue taking Unisom for now.
We had a park picnic playdate with friends.
I took all 3 to Walmart (30 minutes away) for a shopping trip and then met my friend who has 5 little boys (and is due in Dec with #6) at Burger King for a visit.
I made homemade cut-out cookies in flower and butterfly shapes and we made May Baskets full of cookies and lollipops for some folks we wanted to bless.
Justus came down with a croupy cough last night and has a terrible cold and fever.  Poor little guy is clingy and extra needy right now.
I had my first pre-natal appointment and things are looking good.  It sure is rewarding to know that there is really something in there, and to hear the baby's heartbeat for the first time!
I went yard-saling for the first time this year and found some awesome craft stuff and some large glass jars to store my flour and sugar and oatmeal in (trying to get rid of plastic canisters and go with glass)!

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