Monday, September 29, 2008

Catching Up

1. Bob took the boys on a "father/son" campout at a local park Friday night. It was organized by a man in our local homeschool support group, and this was the fifth annual campout, although the first we've participated in. It was very drizzly and yucky Friday, so we weren't sure how things were going to go, but we gamely got everything packed up and loaded. It was just misty during the evening, and the boys all assured me they weren't even cold and didn't even need to change into jeans or put sweatshirts on. Anna, Grace, and I were glad to be warm and dry, however, LOL. Nathan summed up the experience as "eating, sleeping, and throwing stuff into the fire". Sounds like a good time for boys! They roasted hot dogs and made smores. Bob thought to bring our shade pavilion thing, so he set that up and the kids played in there, staying dry, while the parents sat around the fire.

After a dampish night of sleep and a breakfast of pancakes, the boys put their soccer things on and went straight to their games. Anna, Grace, and I met them there. The weather was no longer rainy, but instead was very hot and humid. They all played really well--you would have never known they were tired! That showed up later on though, so they all had an early night on Saturday, LOL. Meanwhile, I had the momentous task of washing all the things they took on the trip, since everything was very damp and had been crumpled up in Bob's van for a hot morning. Yuck! I did 5 loads, including pillows and some sleeping bags. It was a success though. All the boys had a wonderful time and could not have cared less that it rained (well, I think Bob cared, LOL).

2. Anna is still doing really well at pottying. She went through a little phase, after we bought some pink pull-ups at the commissary (only for nighttimes), where pull-ups were all she wanted to wear during the day as well. Well, I definitely am not planning on stopping paying for diapers, jsut to start paying for pull-ups, so I told her if she chose to wear a pull-up during the day, then she had to wear a diaper that night. After one night back in diapers, she decided underwear really were pretty good for the day, and we haven't had any more problems, LOL. She's even started going most of the time on the big potty. Yay!

3. We are the proud owners of a Little Tykes kitchen! Our good friends, Tim and Amy P, who we have been stationed with before and who are in our Bible study now, asked us last week if we were interested in their old one, since their girls have outgrown it. I knew Anna and Grace would LOVE a kitchen, so I immediately said yes! We got it Friday night after Bible study, and Anna and Grace have indeed been having such a wonderful time with it. It's just sort of sitting in the middle of the family room right now, but my plan is to clear out the playroom and put it in there. I really want to go through the toys in there and put a lot into the basement or into boxes (or into the trash/Goodwill pile--shhh!), but I just haven't had the energy or time.

4. Our "new" air conditioner--the one on the main floor--is not working! We had a cooler week last week, so we turned it off, and even had the heat on once or twice in the morning, and now that it is hot again, the AC is not working! Fortunately it hasn't been blistering, but it has been humid, so the house has been uncomfortable. Bob is calling the guys who installed it, so hopefully they'll be able to come out and put it to rights . . . but it doesn't inspire long-term confidence, that's for sure.

5. This is a big week for us--the ultrasound is Wednesday afternoon at 3:00! Everyone has been asking me if we know what this baby is for many weeks now, so hopefully I'll have a clear answer to give them after Wednesday! Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Field Trip!

Today Bob took leave, and we headed up to Ft. Meade, MD to visit the National Cryptologic Museum . This is a place we've been meaning to visit for a few years now, but it took our friends Krista and Matt being assigned up there temporarily to make us actually get up there! We drove up this morning and ate lunch with Krista and little Henry at Wendy's before we all headed over to the museum.

The museum is free, which is one thing that had originally caught our eye, LOL. When we walked in, the man at the front desk gave the boys a scavenger hunt to do through the museum. Nathan did his all by himself, while the one for Luke turned into more of a joint effort with everyone else, even Jonathan, helping to write on it.

The museum was very interesting. I've always thought cryptology was fascinating, and I would have liked to spend time there with no little kids, so that I could actually read all the descriptions!

The museum had things like signal flags and cipher disks from the Civil War, and they even had a French Cipher that may have been used by Thomas Jefferson! I thought the World War II section was the most interesting. I've always thought the story of the Navejo code-talkers was amazing, and I also have enjoyed reading about the German Enigma machine, along with the machine that broke that code, which was invented by a man at NCR in Dayton.

This museum actually has several of the German Enigma machines, plus the American Bombe machine invented to figure out what the rotor settings were on the Enigma for the coded messages the Nazis were sending. That is a big, complicated machine! Each Bombe could go through all the rotor combinations of one wheel (the Enigma could have as many as 4 wheels) in 20 minutes (something like over 456,000 possible combinations), and there would be as many as 121 I think running at one time, so that all intercepted messages could basically be deciphered in real time. I'm going to get some books out of the library on the subject of the Enigma and the Bombe because I just think that is such a neat story, and I'd like to understand better how it all worked, and how the man invented the Bombe. (That was one of the description plates I could only skim over, LOL.)

So all in all, a very educational day, and the added bonus was spending time with Krista and Henry. Henry, Anna, and Grace maybe did not retain as much of the actual information, LOL, but they did enjoy playing around with each other and making each other laugh!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

One Less Thing to Worry About . . .

On our way back home from the commissary this afternoon, we were listening to the Focus on the Family Minute, or something like that. The man was talking about rebellious teens, and he said that teens who really rebel usually have parents that don't set clear boundaries, don't follow through on consequences, and generally let the kids run the house like little tyrants. Luke says, "Well, that's not you, Mom, so you don't have to worry about that!" Whew!

It was a long afternoon at the commissary. I remember this from the past few pregnancies, but the more pregnant I get, the longer it takes. We left at 1:00 and didn't get back home until 4:15. At least we don't have to go for another 6 weeks or so.

When I'm checking out, I really don't pay any attention to the bagger, so I was quite surprised when, after paying, I looked up and noticed a sea of white plastic bags in 3 bagger carts plus one regular shopping cart. "Ack, I asked for paper bags!" I said. The girl didn't seem really bright, and she said the cashier had told her plastic, but I think she just didn't hear right. I really couldn't figure out how we were going to fit $650 worth of groceries in saggy plastic bags into our van. Let me tell you, it was a tight fit. Maybe the next time the girl sees someone with as much stuff as we had, and she thinks they want plastic, hopefully she'll ask just to make sure. Or not. Like I said, she didn't seem all that with it. Anyhow, all the groceries are put away, and our garage has enough plastic bags to clog a landfill for several years, LOL. I have no idea what to do with them all.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Potty-Training Reward

How do you motivate a little girl to potty-train? By telling her that when she wears big-girl underwear, just like Mommy, then she can have painted toenails, just like Mommy!

We painted Anna's toenails Saturday night, so they would look pretty for church. She was so very, very excited. "PINK!" she kept exclaiming. She talks quite a bit about her pretty pink toes. She is very thrilled that they match Mommy's. Twins! LOL!
Here is a picture of the big potty-trained girl herself. Yay, Anna!

Grace in Her High Chair

Grace joined the "Cheese Club For Bald Babies" one night at dinner. This is one way to get some bangs!
Here she is just hanging out in her high chair. Lunch is a casual event for her, LOL.

For those who notice these things, yes, we do have the high chair back. The people who moved away and gave us their high chair, but then temporarily moved back and told us they needed it again, are once again preparing to move back to their new home. So we again have the high chair. Grace was fine just in a booster chair, but the new baby will need a high chair. I'm thrilled that we won't have to buy one (barring the family coming back yet again, LOL).

Luke's Braces

I'm going to try to post a bunch a pictures this afternoon. First, let's talk about Luke's braces. This first picture is from right after he got the braces put on his front teeth. You can see how the front teeth have deparated, due to the expander, and the tooth to the right has dropped down almost in line. The tooth on the left is a lot lower than it was.

Now here is a picture of Luke from today. It's not a mouth close-up, although it is pretty close to his face, so he looks a bit like he's in a fishbowl, LOL. Hopefully you can still tell that the front teeth have moved closer together, giving the left tooth even more room to move down. It's such a difference. I am absolutely amazed whenever I see him smile.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Successful Day of Pottying

I've been trying the whole potty-training thing with Anna again, although pretty casually. YOu may remember that I had tried it in early August, but it was a total no-go. She had very little interest in sitting on the potty, and she never produced anything. She was having other disobedience issues, so I figured why fight a potty-training battle in addition to everything else? I'm not crazy, LOL.

I must say I am glad we waited. Last week she was all of a sudden pretty dry after naps and upon waking in the morning, so I started putting her on the potty then. She would go, everyone would be so happy, M&Ms were passed all around--good times for us all. But I didn't really push the whole thing during the day.

Today she went in the morning and I put her in underwear. She only had one time where she started to go, felt it on her leg, and told Luke, who helped her get to the potty. I was the most thrilled when she came to me this afternoon and told me she had to poo-poo, then proceded to go on the potty. Yay!

Tonight was soccer practice, which lasts from 5:30 -7:30 for us. She peed right before we left, and she was not keen on the idea of going back to a diaper, so I left her in underwear, but packed a change of clothes. She had never been on a regular big potty, so I wasn't sure that she would go in one there. About halfway through the time, she came back from the playground to tell me she needed to go, so we headed off to the bathroom. She sat on the potty and went after just a few minutes, which made me very happy!

So if this indeed "takes", and we don't have some unforeseen problem in the next few days, I will have to say that I am a believer that girls are easier to potty-train than boys. For one thing, my boys have never been ready before right around their third birthday (and I have tried earlier, believe me, but I just ended up cleaning up a TON of accidents). For another thing, it seems that my boys anyways just can't keep track of their body signals when they are doing something (anything!) else. So they would NEVER have been able to stop peeing, tell a sibling, and get to a potty. By the time they realized they needed to pee, it was COMING! In a flood! No more time! Too late! Anna obviously realized things were happening before it was too late, which is a very positive sign, I think!

Since I pass out M&Ms (Skittles for Caleb) around to everyone when Anna successfully potties, she has a dedicated cadre of cheerleaders. Even Grace gets so excited and starts babbling away when she sees Anna sitting on the potty! As Anna gets more used to going, I've been phasing out the M&Ms. I'm not giving them when she wakes up or before bed anymore, mainly just during the parts of the day when she comes and tells me she needs to go. Still, we've eaten a lot of M&Ms in this house, lately. Good thing I had bought a giant bag of them from Sams last time we were there!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Farmer's Market

This morning we visited a local farmer's market. I've wanted to visit one before, but I thought the only one close to us was one that was only open on Sundays from 9:00-1:00, which obviously doesn't work for us. My friend Christine told us about this one, which is on Wednesday mornings. We bought some pears, apples, and peaches, as well as a few zucchini because Nathan has had a hankering for zucchini bread. Then we walked around the farm where the market is held. It's a restored farm that does programs for kids and whatnot. Anna and Grace really enjoyed seeing the cows, horses, goats, pigs, sheep, chickens, and turkeys.

The main reason I've been interested in visiting a farmer's market lately is the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barabra Kingsolver. I started reading it while we were at White Sulphur Springs, and I finally got aorund to finishing it a few days ago. It was fascinating! I know Barbara and I would not have much to agree on politically and religiously, and I have read The Poisonwood Bible, which I thought was well-written, but I disliked. But I learned a lot from this book, and it has made me think a lot about food, particularly where it comes from.

Kingsolver's family moves from Arizona to a small farm they own in southwestern Virginia at the beginning of the book. Their goal is to be able to for a year only buy and eat foods that they can obtain locally, with just a few exceptions, such as organic wheat for them to make bread (they couldn't find a local source), and coffee (they only bought fair trade coffee, of course). She begins telling their year's experiences in late March, as asparagus is coming up.

Kingsolver describes a osrt of all-purpose plant to give people a feel for what should be in season during a year. First, the shoots come up in spring, with small leaves, then bigger leaves (spinach, lettuce, etc.). Then lower buds come, and after that small green fruit (cabbage, romaine, broccoli). The fruits grow larger and riper as the days get hotter in midsummer (baby squash, cucumbers, green beans, green peppers, tomatoes, which lead to more mature fruits like beefsteak tomatoes, eggplants, red peppers). These matur into hard-shelled fruit with a lot of seeds inside (cantaloupes, honeydews, watermelons, pumpkins, winter squash). As the days grow cool again, the plant hoards sugars the leaves have made into some sort of storage unit (carrots, onions, etc.). She says that people used to know what things would be in season at any given time, but now people are so used to seeing everything in a store at any given time that no one knows what things are naturally growing around them at any one time.

To get foods here so out of season takes an immense amount of fuel and refrigeration, and in the process many nutrients are lost. In fact, she talks about how everyone wants so desperately to like vegetables and eat more of them, but they're all being bred to be hardy and stand up to long waiting times before being cooked and eaten, so most flavor is being bred right out of them! Also, by only buying things from big farming conglommerates, we have lost a ton of species of all these fruits and vegetables. I was struck by her description of the many varieties of potatoes (what a boring vegetable) they grew themselves, including a "Peruvian Blue" potato variety that actually has blue insides, having the same antioxident that blueberries have! I certainly have never even heard of that before! In fact, I learned alot about how all manner of fruits and vegetables grow, and it was very eye-opening to read about genetically-modified vegetables, which don't have genetic variety. We could be heading towards an "Irish potato famine" of our own, since we rely so much on basically a few strains of soybean and corn. Interesting.

It all made me want to go buy a few acres somewhere and start a huge garden (where the boys could earn their keep, LOL) and raise chickens. Oh wait--I can't stand birds. I do like the idea of fresh eggs though. Kingsolver's younger daughter did raise chickens and had a booming egg business. Thye also raised turkeys, although not the dumb ones with huge white breasts, like we eat for Thanksgiving. The funniest chapter in the book is the one where she tries to get her turkeys to mate because good mating and mothering behavior has basically been bred out of turkeys nowdays. Everything is artificially done.

I did have some bones to pick with her. First of all, she assumes that anyone who does not believe in macroevolution (evolution across species--ape to humans, for example), must not believe in easily demonstrated microevolution (evolution within a speices--natural selection). She makes several snide comments about this through out the book, which was irritating because it is so not true.

Also, she believes that the reason most people don't buy healthier organic and especially locally grown food is because it's more expensive, but these same people are wasting money all over the place on frivolous things like bottled water and name brand clothing. Well, that is not us. We buy cheap food AND use tap water, shop at second-hand stores, listen to the radio (instead of iPods), take vacations to visit family, borrow books from the library, etc., etc., etc. Of course, she only has 2 daughters to raise (and the older one goes off to college during the time of the book), and both she and her husband work (he is a professor at a college). Different family priorities.

In fact, a lot of what they eat during this year just wouldn't work, or would be a lot harder to deal with, if they had even one boy, much less a family of lots of kids. At the end of some chapters, the older daughter , Camille, writes a bit about something, and she also shares a week of typical dinners for that particular season. Many of these ideas really wouldn't cut it for a bunch of boys. Here is an example from May:

grilled chicken, bread, salad
asparagus and moral bread pudding
Asian summer rolls and rice
vegetarian tacos with refried beans
cheese ravioli tossed with stir-fried vegetables
chicken pizza
vegetable and cheese frittata, salad, strawberry-rhubard crisp

See, there's just not that much there for each meal, and you'd have to really have a ton of say, asparagus, to make a pudding that would feed a family of 10 (well, maybe not MY family, which I think would go hungry before touching asparagus and morel bread pudding, LOL). But I'm just saying . . . She's definitely writing to the small family, especially one with all girls.

But overall, I really enjoyed the book, and when I saw asparagus being advertised in our local grocery circular today, I wondered where that would have been flown in from, since it only comes up in spring around here. Hmmm. Kingslover had a funny section where she talked about her dislike for the local food writer in her paper. He would talk about pumpkins, but all his recipes would call for cans of pumpkin, and he would talk about things like making fresh pesto in the middle of winter, when the basil certainly wasn't fresh and ready to be crushed into pesto! Poor guy--he didn't realize he was writing to such an expert!

There are a lot of things I can't change--we live in an expensive area, with hardly any yard, and we have a big family. I'll keep buying most stuff from the commissary, and that's just the way it is. But I do feel more aware of what things we should be eating when, and I am planning on visiting the farmer's market regularly to support these (somewhat, LOL) local farmers. We can at least branch out in our vegetable choices and eat more really fresh ones, even if we can't grow much more than tomatoes ourselves.

Monday, September 15, 2008

En Garde!

Today was the first homeschool fencing class at our local rec center. Nathan and Luke were signed up, along with Isaac, Caleb, and Daniel McC. When we got there, we recognized another boy, Johnny, from our homeschool co-op who is in Isaac's class (5th grade, between Nathan and Luke), so they were excited about that. There was also a boy, Liam, in (my) Caleb's class (first grade) of co-op, and I wasn't sure how he would do, plus one other boy who looked about that same 6 year old age who we didn't know. I had thought about signing my Caleb up too, but aside form not having another $100 to put into this, I just wasn't sure he would be ready for it. This was indeed the case with Liam! He is the kind of boy who, frankly, gives homeschoolers a bad name, LOL. He talked all the time to the teacher, but paid no real attention. He goofed off with the foil and generally made a nuisance of himself, while the other boys tried to ignore him or keep him on track. I am sure Caleb would not have been that bad, but the influence would not have been good! Anyhow, by the end of the class, he had been reprimanded a bunch of times, and finally, when told he couldn't just whale away with the foil, he collapsed in a heap behind my chair and cried that he wanted to go home. His mom obliged, and I think they will just do the class for younger kids, where they use a foam sword-thing and it's more of just a fun thing. The other little boy was distracted by Liam, but I think he'll be fine without Liam there. He seemed to have a lot more of an attention span.

So after they got suited up and learned the right way to hold the foil, they worked on basic forward and backward footwork. They learned how to lunge and parry. They got to practice a little one-on-one with each other, and the 6 older boys paired off so well with each other. It really is going to work out well. The little boys worked with each other until Liam's melt-down, when the other boy got to fence with the instructor. I would say that Daniel would probably be his partner next time, and Isaac would work more with the instructor, or all the older boys would take turns with him or something.

The boys had a good time, and it was good exercise, especially for their arms! Caleb, Jonathan, and Joel McC played around with the foam swords from the earlier class while trying out the moves the older boys were learning. The instructor was really nice, and he encouraged even us parents to take a stab at it, LOL. I think I'll save that for a non-pregnant day, although I would love to gracefully dance back and forth like those Olympic fencers we watched!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

New Recipe

I tried a new recipe last night. It was really good, so I thought I'd share it with you. It was from the Sept/Oct 08 issue of Simple & Delicious.

Burgundy Beef

4 pounds beef sirloin tips, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 large onions, sliced
1 cup water
1 cup burgundy wine or beef broth
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
4 teaspoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground mustard
2 ablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons cold water
Hot, cooked noodles

In a 5-qt. slow cooker, combine the first 12 ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours or until meat is tender. Combine cornstarch and water until smooth; stir into pan juices. Cover and cook on high for 15 more minutes or until the gravy is thickened. Serve over noodles.

So that's it! The commissary didn't have "beef sirloin tips", so I just bought some big chunk o' beef (bottom round or something--whatever was cheap, but not chuck), and it turned out fine. When I got home from the commissary, I cut the beef into chunks and then threw them into a gallon ziploc bag to freeze. That way when I was ready to make it, the beef was all ready, so I just had to throw everything in the crockpot. I used the beef broth instead of the wine, and I just realized when I was typing it out that I totally skipped the paprika, but it was really good, and everyone liked it. Definitely a keeper for us!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Week of Appointments

We've had either a doctor or a dental appointment every day this week except today. And tonight we had Bible study over here at our house, so it was a day of cleaning!

Two of those appointments were for Luke, at the orthodontist's. Monday we went and they tied off his expander. He has to keep it in for a few more months, but we are done turning the screw and opening it more. It's been amazing to watch the transformation in his mouth. You can really see a difference! He had 2 teeth that had come in so high--way up in his gum--so high you couldn't even see them unless he pulled his lip way up. Well, with the new room from the expander, one tooth has dropped down almost to where it needs to be, and the other tooth has also lowered significantly.

On Thursday we went back for the orthodontist to put braces on these front top teeth--6 brackets in all. This will move the front 2 teeth back together (they have separated as a result of the expander), which will give the one tooth even more room to drop down to where it needs to be. I'm not sure how long he'll need the braces. We go back in a month, and I guess they'll tell us how well it's going at that point.

He really didn't complain at all about the expander, except that it really bugged him to get food stuck up there. He's developed this vacuum sucking noise that he does all the time to try to clear stuff out of it. I won't be sorry to see that thing go, LOL. He has been complaining about his teeth/mouth hurting since he got the braces put on, however. I've been giving him motrin, but I'm glad he doesn't have a whole mouth-full of braces! That must be excruciating!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Crazy Appointment

This morning I had a routine OB appointment. I'm about 18 weeks along, so I knew it would be just in and out, hear the heartbeat and go, so I didn't bother getting anyone to watch the kids. The appointment was at 10:30, so we left at 9:20. Traffic was heavy, so we got there a little after 10:00, but then our problems started. Bethesda is building a new parking garage, so they had to close a lot of the auxillary lots that people used to park in. Usually this means it takes awhile in the one parking garage they do have, and we have to go all the way up to the top level, which can take as long as 20 minutes. But for some reason, traffic was just stopped on the street in front of the garage entrance. We couldn't even get into the garage! Unfortunately I was at a place where I couldn't even turn around, so we just inched along. Finally we were where we could turn into the entrance, but it was already 10:25, and I could see that the line was just crawling along inside the garage. Obviously we weren't going to be able to park there and get to the OB clinic anywhere near 10:30. So we blew past the garage to try to find a space in some lot somewhere else on base.

We hurridly drove around through various parking lots, but there was absolutely nowhere to park. Finally we pulled into a lot near the childcare center, and we parked behind another lady in what was obviously not a legal spot. The lady, who had also just parked, told me that we were going to get ticketed. You could see the tickets on the windshields of the other cars near us. But what could I do? It was already 10:31, and we still had almost a mile to hoof it to get back to the hospital.

We raced out of there. Nathan and Luke took turns carrying Anna while we all ran. I huffed along pushing Grace in the stroller. We were quite a caravan! Amazingly, we ran the .7 miles in less than 10 minutes--pretty good for especially Jonathan's short legs! Good thing the boys are training for the Presidential Physical Fitness test in a few weeks, LOL. Otherwise we never would have made it. So we were only 10 minutes late.

I checked in, panting and red-faced. Unfortunately, at Bethesda as soon as you check in, you go back and get your weight and blood pressure checked. I told the lady it was going to be high (as I sat there fanning myself, feeling my blood racing), and it was--138/77. It's never ever been anywhere near that high! I thought it was bad the last time, when it was something like 126/70, which was also because I was stressed out trying to find parking, although this time I was in the garage and didn't have to run nearly a mile!

Then we waited in the waiting room, while we all drank water, read books, and settled down. Finally we got called back, where the midwife breezed in and out. Hey, everything looks good (no mention of the high blood pressure), heartbeat is in the 150s, and the referral for the ultrasound is in. Great! All that stress for 5 minutes! LOL! Actually, we were all still stressed because we thought we were going to get a ticket. The boys were very concerned about that, in particular how much it would cost. I've never gotten a parking ticket anywhere, much less on a base, so I had no idea how that all would even work, so I wasn't much reassurance.

Next we rambled around in the basement bowels of Bethesda to find the radiation department to schedule the ultrasound. Of course, when we finally got there, it was closed for lunch. "Come back in an hour!" Ack! We took a card and called when we got home. My ultrasound is scheduled for 3:00 on Oct. 1. I'll be 21 weeks along then.

We had a more leisurely but still fairly quick-paced walk back to the car. The boys ran ahead and were delighted to report that we did NOT have a ticket on our windshield! Whew! We were thanking God for his mercy, since we knew we were not parking in a good spot! We finally got back home at 12:30--over 3 hours for a 5 minute appointment. At least we got our exercise!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Change of Plans

I know you all are dying to hear how our granola turned out. Well, I regret to say that no granola was made, and no clothes were tagged. Instead, we ventured out into the wind and rain and bought a new (to us) crib! On Friday, Bob noticed a crib on the "for sale" board at his work, and we had been playing phone tag with the guy since then. We were finally able to make connections this afternoon, so we went to his house, liked the crib, and brought it home. It's a lighter brown sleigh crib. I'll have to post a picture when we get it set up (which is not an urgent priority because we do have 2 cribs, LOL).

So why were we even interested in a third crib? Well, to make a long story short, for Grace, we borrowed a crib from some friends in the homeschool co-op, but it is absolutely the cheapest Jenny Lind crib made. Shortly after Grace was born, the latch for the sliding side broke, so since then we have never been able to raise or lower the side. It just always remains up, which makes changing the sheets a royal hassle, especially when pregnant. It's also harder for the boys to get Grace up, since they have to lift her up and over the whole side.

We have had sort of mixed luck with cribs, and I can say "cribs" because we have had several of them! The first crib we bought, the one for Nathan, I bought used from an Army family at Ft. Carson. I was by myself when I went to look at it, and that's never a good situation because I always feel terrible about rejecting something in someone's own house, and I don't know how to make a graceful exit. So even though I could see that it was . . . rickety . . . for lack of a better word, that's what I bought and Nathan was in until he moved into a big bed.

When Luke came along, we bought another used crib, this one from a family up at the Air Force Academy. This crib, a Bassett, has been an absolute workhorse for us. We still have it, and it's the crib Anna is in. The family we bought it from had maybe 3 kids, and we've had 3 kids in it as well, since it was also Caleb's crib. It has also survived 3 of our moves with no problems! I thought it was really ugly when we first bought it, but it has grown on me, especially since it has been so reliable!

When we moved from USAFA, we left Nathan's old crib out for the trash men to pick up, so we just had Luke's crib. Caleb used that, so when we had Jonathan, we needed another one. Some friends of my parents had given them their old crib, so we used that one for Jonathan. We left that with my parents when we moved, and they have that set up for one of the girls to use when we visit.

Since we left that one behind, that explains why we needed yet another "second" crib when we were expecting Grace! I'm hoping that the crib we bought today will be another good, faithful sort of crib, so that we don't have to buy any more cribs. And as soon as we get this one up and running, Grace's old crib will be returned to our friends!

It's Raining, It's Pouring . . .

We are suffering from the effects of Tropical Storm Hanna's last gasp. It has been pouring steadily since last night, and our back yard is a huge lake. That's going to take awhile to dry out! I was worried about a lot of wind and potential power outages, but that doesn't seem to have materialized. It's been a bit gusty, but nothing very serious.

We are watching the McC's dog Stormy (isn't that an appropriate name, LOL) for them this weekend. We all went over last night to walk her, and we made it back to the van as it started to sprinkle. Now we need to go back over there to let her out again, but no one is leaping at the chance to get out in this deluge of Biblical proportions. Poor Stormy, actually having to do her business in all the rain! This is a day when I for one am very thankful for indoor plumbing as opposed to outhouses!

Soccer was obviously cancelled for this morning, so we slept in and are having a very relaxing day. The boys are watching football, and I am going to tag some clothing items I'm trying to sell at a consignment sale next Saturday. Then I think we're going to try our hand at making our own granola. I'll let you know how that turns out. A lot of recipes call for powdered milk, which we obviously can't use, so we'll see how it tastes.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Back to School

You can tell we've been back to a more regular school routine by the fact that there has been little blogging this week. Nathan and Luke started back with math, grammar, memory work, and Latin last week, but this week we also added Caleb back in. Next week it will be Jonathan's turn to start up (see how I'm easing back into this? LOL), and we'll also go back to our regular full complement of subjects, including spelling, history, writing, and science. Wow, is that really all the subjects we do? I guess so. It just SEEMS like more.

I am planning on starting Greek this year. My plan is that we'll just focus on the alphabet until I have the baby (and get around to ordering Elementary Greek), and then we'll go deeper. We're also still doing the recorder, although Nathan is the one who is the most motivated. He's really coming along!

For memory work, we are in the middle of Isaiah 53, which we'll finish, and then I think we'll work on Phil. 2:1-18. We're also memorizing Gen. 1:1-5 in Latin, and after we're done with that, we'll move on to the Apostles' Creed both in English and in Latin. Of course in English we have Rich Mullin's great song to help us along, so that should be a piece of cake. I haven't seen a version in Latin, unfortunately, LOL. Since I don't have any history thing to work on, I'll probably pick a poem from The Harp and Laurel Wreath to start.

In everything else, we're just plugging away. Nathan's almost done with Saxon 7/6, and when he's done with that, he'll start Saxon Algebra 1/2. Sigh . . . one of my babies is starting algebra! I'm so happy. I always loved algebra, so hopefully he'll feel the same way. Luke is still in Saxon 6/5, Caleb in Saxon 2, and Jonathan is in Saxon 1.

We're still going to use Rod and Staff for grammar again this year. I was pleased with it last year (well, technically Nathan and Luke both still have about 20 lessons to go in last year's book, which they are finishing because I am just that anal). I love the emphasis on diagramming. I am a diagramming kind of girl. I always liked those complex sentences our high school English teacher, Mr. Sundberg, used to give us. We're also doing Writing Strands this year. Writing is still a weakness for the boys, and it was never my favorite thing either.

We're still in the 4th Story of the World book, the one covering modern times. We moved slowly on that last year, I'm not sure why. Not for lack of interest and outside reading, that's for sure! I guess we just ended up on a 6 year history plan. It will work out well though. Next year, when we start Ancients again, Caleb and Jonathan will be ready to really participate.

Because we had another friend and her 1 year old daughter over all day Wednesday, I moved some of the Little People out into the family room from the playroom. This has turned out to be a brilliant move, as Anna has been very happy playing with them while we do school. For some reason she never wanted to be in the playroom unless one of the boys was in there with her. Grace has even showed more interest than ever. Nice! We'll see how long that lasts, of course, LOL.

So we're getting back into the school routine. If only I had a housekeeper to take care of all the pesky cleaning--then I'd be set to go!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Okay, just a few more pictures . . .

Caleb and Jonathan did get to ride around the corral after everyone got back from the trail ride.
This is the view we had of Grace all weekend--she was striding off to keep up with her brothers!
Anna and Grace had tons of fun on the wagon in front of the hotel. Amazingly, in this picture, they are both looking at the camera and smiling. I literally think this is the first time ever that particular miracle has occurred.

A Few Pictures

Caleb, Jonathan, and Anna are watching Nathan and Luke get ready to ride off. Anna was quite fascinated by the horses.
Nathan and Luke all set to go.
The boys did some canoing as well. Luke is in the "funyak" in this picture, but Caleb and Nathan also got their turn in it.
Caleb found a new lovely lady to have a crush on. He is such a ladies' man! This is Michele, who helped watch him and Jonathan during the sessions, obviously winning Caleb's heart. We had a picnic up by the pond Saturday for dinner, and he chose to sit at a totally different picnic table than the rest of us so he could sit with her!
It was really humid on Saturday, and Anna's hair actually had quite a bit of curl to it!

White Sulphur Springs Retreat

We went up to White Sulphur Springs for the Wright-Patterson OCF retreat. We went up Friday, getting stuck in all the "get out of D.C. for the long weekend" traffic, including one terrific construction-induced traffic jam on I-70. We made it to Bedford for dinner, where we met people at Hoss's Steakhouse. My parents were there, bringing back Caleb and Jonathan. It was so great to see them after 10 days apart! They could hardly stop talking about the fun things they did. (Jonathan's first comment: "Luke, I know you'll be jealous, but Grandpa let us have a WHOLE candy bar at a gas station" LOL!!!)

There were a lot fewer people at the retreat than have been previous years, but it was nice to have the small group I thought. Since chapel funding was iffy, they couldn't ask a speaker, so instead we watched some of the Ray Van Der Laan videos, "In the Dust of the Rabbi", which focused on discipleship. In Jesus' day, if you wanted to be a disciple of a master, you were passionately committed to being with your rabbi as much as you could be so that you could be just like your rabbi. It made me think about my level of commitment to that goal, but another point was that Jesus chooses his own disciples, instead of having men come and ask him if they could be his disciples. So he obviously saw in them the potential and knew they could be that passionate about him, and he knows that about us as well, whom he has also called to be disciples. After we watched the videos, we broke up into small groups for discussion.

And of course there was plenty of free time as well. We had a bonfire Friday night, horse-back riding Saturday afternoon, a square dance Saturday night, and rock-wall climbing Sunday afternoon. It's nice that the boys are big enough now to do a lot of things by themselves (well, as a unit, LOL), so we could just send them off to things while we relaxed on the porch and the girls napped. I started a fascinating book called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I'll have to do a separate post on my thoughts on that book. I mainly participated in the "White Sulphur Springs Triathlon": eating, sleeping, and rocking on the porch. It's good to be an athlete.

But now, real life calls. Our co-op has it's kick-off tomorrow, so I have to get up and fix lunch for everyone. I'm so glad I don't have to do that every day of the school year!!

In Celebration of Labor Day . . .

We are back from the retreat at White Sulphur Springs. I need to download pictures off my camera before I post about it though, so I'm doing a Labor Day meme I found at In a Shoe to pass the time.

How long were your labors?
1. Nathan--started having contractions Sunday, walked around all day Monday, ate nothing Monday night, FINALLY went to the hospital Tuesday morning, and was 6 cm dilated. But he wasn't actually born until 5:24 P.M., so he wasn't all that eager to come out. Fortunately, the contrations weren't that hard Sunday and Monday.

2. Luke--9 hours? But I went to the hospital at 11:30, and had him at 3:27 A.M.

3. Caleb-- 7 hours--went in at about 9:45 P.M. and had him at 1:10 A.M.

4. Jonathan--2 weeks overdue and had to be induced--started pitocin at 8:00 and he was born at 2:40 P.M., so almost 7 hours.

5. Anna--4 hours--started pitocin at 11:00 (but was already 5 cm), and had her at 3:09 P.M.

6. Grace--9 hours--started pitocin at 8:00, didn't have her until 5:04. Grrrrrrrrr

How did you know you were in labor?

1. Regular contractions, although they weren't that strong. Even when I went in to the hospital, the nurse thought they would send me home because I was obviously not in pain and could easily talk through the contractions.

2. Regular contractions. We went ahead and went out to eat at Macaroni Grill with the L's. I jsut had a salad and some bread because I knew I would have the baby that night.

3. Regular contractions, which started as I was making dinner. It was fish (orange roughy), and I had a hard time making that recipe again for awhile because it just wasn't a good taste/smell for me after laboring through it.

4. That was the problem--I never went into labor!

5. Never really went into labor here either, although I had enough irregular contractions to dilate to 5 cm. Or maybe that was the castor oil that didn't really work for me? LOL

6. Never went into labor here, but the paranoid doctor wouldn't let me, so she induced me almost a week early, a compromise from the 2 weeks early she wanted to induce me. She would probably have a heart attack if she knew I was having another one (she was young and was terrified that I was going to rupture my uterus, since I had had SOO many babies).

Where did you deliver?

1. US Air Force Academy Hospital

2. The Springs Center for Women (but by AF doctors--USAFA closed their inpatient OB ward)

3. Wright-Patterson Medical Center

4. Wright-Patterson Medical Center

5. Reston Hospital, VA

6. Loudoun Hospital, VA


Well, except for the pitocin, no. I'm scared of needles and epidural headaches.


No, although the older and more experienced I am, the more thankful I am that I didn't end up with one with Nathan. I stopped dilating around 9 cm, and hung out there for awhile. They started pitocin, which made the contractions a lot harder, but I still never dilated to 10. (This is why the labor was so long.) Finally, the AF midwife, told me she would hold the cervical lip out of the way with her finger, and I just pushed past it. I never had any urge to push, though, and it was very hard. I am so glad she let me do that though. Having a c-section for #1 would certainly have changed how our family looks!

Who delivered?

1. An AF midwife named Suzanne, who was some sort of student. I really liked her.

2. A different AF midwife, but I can't remember her name. I never actually had any appointments with her.

3. Someone I had never seen before. In fact, I can't even remember if the doctor was a man or a woman. I have absolutely no recollection.

4. A nice Wright-State resident. I do remember some details about her--she was an African-American female. No name though.

5. Dr. Barrett, my first civilian doctor. I liked her.

6. Dr. Sidhu. My second civilian doctor. I didn't like her as much because of how she handled my having a lot of kids.

So there you have it--my labors, in honor of Labor Day. I think that deserves a holiday, LOL.