Monday, September 29, 2008

Our Littlest Ducky

If I hadn't ignored my mouse's low battery warnings and then had to coopt my husband's mouse for his laptop which connects with a USB key, I'd search through our external hard drive for pictures of the first two kids in this towel. (The other USB port is broken and taped over because if you accidentally plug something into it, as I have done twice, you can send the computer into a coma.) So, you'll just have to imagine how incredibly cute First Son and First Daughter when they were little duckies.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

What Does Clean Sound Like?

Kansas Dad loaded up our water-softener with salt last night. We've listened to it cleansing our filters all night long and most of today. Stains can now be removed in the wash. The dish soap bubbles are overflowing. Lather is back.

Try To Look Happy, I Said Hopefully

Saturday, September 27, 2008

There She Is!

Just because it had been too long since I posted a picture of Second Daughter.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Facing Fears

Answer: Two weeks and one day.

Question: How long can we expect between installation of the new carpet and the first instance of sickness on it?

And we've been living on the carpet for less than two weeks.

Today, I faced two great mothering fears. First Daughter got sick and I cleaned her and it (mostly) up by myself. (I even caught some of it which seemed impossibly disgusting before but today I didn't even think about it until after the fact.)

Then, in preparing First Daughter's bath, I discovered a ginormous spider in the tub. I killed and disposed of it all by myself.

I won't say I've conquered the fears, and I certainly wasn't a pretty sight this afternoon. I think I was crying as much as First Daughter, and Second Daughter was blasting away from her swing while I was attending to other matters (which probably contributed to my tears as well). Now that I think about it again, that spider still gives me the shivers.

I'm struck, though, by what I can do when I focus on my children and their needs rather than myself. I did not want to face that spider. I seriously considered leaving it in the tub until Kansas Dad could come home and finish it off, but my little girl was standing there, spattered with sickness and crying even more because that spider was crawling on her rubber ducky and I just knew I had to take care of her (and therefore, it). So, death by flyswatter, a quick rinse of the tub, and First Daughter had her bath.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Swing Time

We finally have a few pictures of First Daughter enjoying her birthday present.

This is the more common view. She's either staring at the ground, mesmerized by the swinging motion and the grassland passing beneath her or falling asleep.

Does it count as daily exercise if the kids are in the swings and we're doing all the work of pushing? I have to come up with some running games I can play with Second Daughter in the carrier. (Suggestions welcome.)

First Daughter has some great fashion sense there, doesn't she? The problem is, she loves that 'lini dress, so she wears it just about whenever it's clean. Then, before we go outside, she rushes in to grab whatever pants she first touches, which are almost all pink. So, orange and blue and pink she is!

Flighty Visitors

This morning I watched a flock of pheasants cross through our back yard. They were already in the grass by the time I got the camera so you can just barely see them here.

I Will Not Mention the Presidential Election Again, Promise

HT: Creative Minority Report

HT: Mommy Brain and Far Beyond Pearls

First Daughter's Two Year Well-Child Visit

Kansas Dad returned to the PA's office today, this time with all three kids in tow for First Daughter's two year check-up. She is also growing as she should be, though not quite as chubberrific as Second Daughter. (I suppose that's to be expected as they move from baby to toddler, but it's still a little sad for Mama.)

Weight: 28 pounds
Height: 34 inches

She loved watching her blood get scraped from her finger into the vial for the lead test. That's certainly not something she gets from her Papa. (Her love of all her "lini" clothes must be from him, though.)

First Daughter is also perfecting her climbing and leaping skills. She can now get into her crib with the side down by launching herself over the rail. Kansas Dad and I don't doubt her ability to get in and out at her pleasure even with the side up, but we're trying to keep her in the dark about that as long as possible. Losing containment for First Daughter promises to bring more challenges.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Second Daughter's Two Month Visit

Kansas Dad took Second Daughter to see the PA today for her two month visit, just to make sure she's chubby enough. (She is.)

Weight: 13.9 pounds
Height: 24 inches (approximately)

Those stats put her at or above the 97th percentile for girls her age.

It would have been nice to take a picture to go with this post. My apologies.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Birthday Party

Someone has recently decided she doesn't like to have her picture taken.

She still can't stop being cute.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Yum - Grasshopper for Lunch

I found it here, here, and here.

Enjoying the Slide and Swingset

They don't even know we're planning on some new swings. Every time we're out here, First Son asks, "Who built this slide?"

Do you think he wants to thank him? Because Kansas Dad and I would have some other choice words to share with the previous owner. (We probably wouldn't, but we'd think them.)


Kansas Dad and I decided we needed to talk a walk around the property - to try to get some enjoyment to temper the frustration of trying to fix the house. (I'm sure you'll hear more about that later.) We probably only covered about half the property since so much of it is too overgrown for hiking with kids in tow (a carrier each and one boy on his own). So we didn't get to see the creek today.

Just for Brandy, I took lots of pictures. (Ok, I took them for everyone.)

Our property is shaped a bit like an arrowhead. This is our driveway on the left and our land goes all the way to the highway on the right.

It's hard to tell in the picture below, but our land goes all the way to the car on the highway, just crossing the "bridge" over our creek.

Below is our lovely "4+ car garage" which is really a half-built outbuilding of questionable structural integrity. We found the rest of the pieces later on our walk. (Who does that sort of thing on their own land?)

Kansas Dad is already planning the tree house for the tree below. It has some perfect branches. We think First Son will be ready to help build (and enjoy) a tree house pretty soon, so we're hoping to tackle at least the first phase next summer or fall.

Below you can see the trenches where the owner dragged out the two cars Kansas Dad found rusting on the property earlier. They are among the things we've discovered missing since we moved in (along with the wires on the clotheslines and some ductwork under the house).

First Daughter loved the backpack. I'm predicting she'll ask to ride in it every day from now on (which I know is true because I'm actually writing and posting these on the 24th).

Here's a little "hollow". The grasses and wildflowers you see growing here are all probably as tall as Kansas Dad.

First Son actually kept asking to go back home while we were walking, until we started talking about climbing trees. Then he spent the rest of the walk trying to climb every tree he could find, most of which were so surrounded by overgrowth he couldn't even get to them. We're going to have to clear some out for him soon.

A huge old tree we think might be on our land. (It's hard to tell away from the house. We'll have someone come in to survey it before we start doing anything with the wooded areas. At this rate, it'll be a year of so before we have time for that.)

Finally, the ubiquitous spiders. I have a fear of spiders. When I was pregnant with First Son, I woke Kansas Dad nearly every night with nightmares of spiders landing on my head, great big ones just like this (ok, bigger). Out here on our farm, though, it's easy to see them as friends, eating up all those bugs that eat our plants. As long as they stay outside (and these big orb weavers only come inside if we catch their webs and carry them in ourselves), we're on good terms.

We also have about a zillion grasshoppers, but I couldn't get a decent picture of one. If you know us in real life and want to see more pictures, let me know and I'll send a link to a Snapfish photo album...just as soon as I get these uploaded, of course.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Girly Girl

Today I found First Daughter in front of the mirror painting her lips with red marker. (Thank goodness it was washable.)

I hadn't even realized she'd seen me put on lipstick (or at least noticed).

Little Legs and Big Legs

First Son to First Daughter: "I always go slow and you always go fast."

Then she spent the next hundred yards watching her legs move twice as fast as his just to keep up.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Making a House a Home

It may seem cheesy, but the kids love it. The mural was our treat for First Son especially, to help make our new house enticing and fun and maybe just a little less stressful.

We've Moved!

We rented a truck on Sunday and headed down to our "new" house! Most of our belongings fit (where did it all come from?) so we're still going back and forth. It's little frustrating that I've spent the last two weeks at home alone with the kids in our rental while Kansas Dad worked on preparing the new house for us and tomorrow I'll be alone with the kids in our new house while he finishes up at the rental, but it'll all be worth it when we're settled in.

We've lost some storage space, but we've more than made up for it in living space, which I think is a great trade. It's good incentive to clear things out a little, when we have time.

So, we have a lot to do and sadly blogging will be sparse (though I'm constantly thinking of things to say or pictures to show, if only I could find the camera). In addition to all the normal moving stuff, we still have a lot of fixing up to do on the house, but the new paint and new carpet are absolutely wonderful and we've already started to eliminate some boxes.

I must sleep now. I'll need to be alert tomorrow (yikes! later today!) with the kids since we don't really have any kid areas set up yet. (I know; it would be good for their stress levels to do that early on, but we spent the day cleaning the old rental and working and tonight clearing the kitchen enough so we could actually eat here, which we haven't done yet.)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Missing the Point

First Son has been enjoying this book, courtesy of He has also been asking for bread and jam at meals, and refusing anything else.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hiding Out

Sneak Preview

In the mail today I discovered my second book from The Catholic Company. Hopefully the move and the end of my maternity leave won't delay a review for too long.

Small Town Service

Today I had to call the phone company for our new house because the phone had stopped working.

A person answered.

A person.

She promised to send someone to take a look. She did send someone. He crawled under our house and replaced some wires for us. Good as new.

I could hardly believe it. A person.

From the Mouths of Babes

At dinner last night, First Daughter announced "Baby [Sister] not an accident."

At breakfast this morning, First Son asked, "Could I have another awful*?"

Um, yes to both.

* translation: waffle

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dear to My Heart

What Counts for Excitement in Our Lives*

This morning I was racing around and out of the house with all three kids for First Son's dentist appointment. I forgot a bunch of stuff, but we made it right on time and the kids were amazing. First Son let them clean and floss. First Daughter did not destroy any equipment and in fact, stayed close to me and out of trouble the whole time. Second Daughter nursed for a while then slept. (By the way, I could never imagine taking my kids to a regular dentist after experiencing the pediatric dentist's office. Everyone there is so understanding and helpful when the kids start to wander! Plus, the cleaning, flossing and checking of the teeth is very calm and soothing because everyone really takes the time to make sure the kids are comfortable. The TVs on the ceiling are a great treat as well.)

So I was feeling adventurous and decided to hit one of those big stores for a coupon deal I saw on Money Saving Mom. I told the kids they could check out the toys, which is a big hit with them as we rarely take them to stores like this one. We wandered the toys for a while then picked up the groceries so we were there for over an hour. As I buckled everyone in and started up the van I realized I had Kansas Dad's keys, which wouldn't have been a big deal if I didn't also have the only key to the truck he had borrowed.

So he was home with a vehicle, but no way to drive the vehicle to the office. Poor Kansas Dad tried to reach me but just missed me at the dentist office and I didn't have the cell phone (worthless battery anyway). He hoped I'd notice and come home, but I hadn't. He ended up calling a cab and being 45 minutes late for his office hours. (It's a good thing it's early in the semester yet.)

I figure I didn't forget the kids anywhere (and even remembered to buckle them all in...except when we were leaving the library and First Son had to yell at me "Not yet!"), so I have my priorities straight.

* besides buying a fixer-upper house and 7+ acres with a newborn baby, that is.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Have We Got a Show For You!

Family Jeans

This pair of overalls has been worn by every living grandchild on my side of the family. We've been passing them around to the boys and the girls. I wanted to get some pictures of Second Daughter wearing them before mailing them to my sister who just recently (really recently) had a baby girl. Chicago Cousin #2, enjoy!

That little squint in Second Daughter's eye reminded me of someone:

First Daughter (did you guess?) is almost exactly the same age in this picture as Second Daughter is above. What do you think? Do they look like sisters? (You can't tell from the picture, but Second Daughter has quite a bit more hair than First Daughter did when this picture was taken.)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Anybody Need a Hero?

He Was Very Hungry

I sure hope this caterpillar visits us as a beautiful butterfly some day as we let him munch every single leaf on our carrot.

Officially Unemployed, Briefly

Well, it's official. I've just delivered my resignation letter to my employer. After seven years with this organization (and three babies), I've decided to stop working full-time. We'll be able to give Grammy a break from being the caregiver and more time to be just Grammy. I'll be able to spend more time preparing to homeschool in earnest next year and have some pre-k fun this year.

I've been looking forward to this day for many years, but I have to admit I was still a little teary as I sent the letter. My supervisor and I have discussed a contract for some project-based work and I'm very much looking forward to continuing to work with the applications I helped develop and the people of the organization.

Hopefully I'll be back to work next week!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Learning Patience at a Young Age

A wise friend once told me she would address the needs of her oldest, even while her youngest one cried, because the youngest couldn't run away.

I know just what she means.

Every time he can put together a few hours, Kansas Dad drives to the new house to remove wallpaper, prep walls for painting, paint walls, replace faucets, clean, paint trim...really, the list is extensive. For me, that means being home with the kids, often covering dinner, bath and bedtime alone. I know many women handle such situations all the time, but it's new for me, especially with a baby. We're learning together, the kids and I.

Tonight, all three of them needed diapers or bathroom assistance at exactly the same time (really quite a feat, now that I think about it). As uncomfortable as she was (and she was letting me know it), I decided to let Second Daughter wait until last because the other two, you see, are mobile, and I was just a little afraid of the potential consequences of asking them to stay still when they just might get distracted and wander energetically around the house instead.

Second Daughter survived and was even stunningly happy with the gift of a clean and dry diaper, showering me with smiles and coos.

No messy disasters and baby smiles. Life is good.

By the way, Kansas Dad is often at the new house until midnight. Every night. Such is the life of a sacrificial dad. We'll both be glad when we're able to move down there, even though there will still be lots for him to do.

A Contrast in Character

First Son loves this book. I guess I shouldn't be surprised to discover a four year old boy loves a book about a cockroach, leaf-cutter ants and a horde of army ants. There are some notes at the end that give startling insights into their little insect lives. For example, leaf-cutter ants do not eat leaves; they carry them home, chop them into tiny bits and grow fungus on them. They subsist solely on the fungus. Fascinating!

From the beginning, I didn't like the story very much myself and I've finally settled on one line that just rubs me the wrong way: "Now that his wing no longer hurt, he could think clearly." Apparently, you see, all his grumpiness and bullying should be attributed to his painful wing. I suppose it could be taken as an example of how we should consider the hidden pains or fears that prompt uncivil behavior. What a better example it could be if the cockroach behaved with greater concern for his fellow insects because of his pain! While he redeems himself before the end of the story, I would have even preferred a plot that presented his redemption before his wing was healed.

It's a fine book for us to read from the library, but I decided against adding it to the list of books we'd like to own. Not so for this next one:

I loved this book from the very beginning and am thrilled First Son is loving it, too. (First Daughter also likes to roar as she points to the lion on every page.) The overt moral is that sometimes rules can be broken for good reasons (like roaring in the library when someone is in trouble and needs help), but what I really love is the friendship and sacrifice the story reveals. The lion sacrifices his visits to the library by breaking the rules for a friend. One of the librarians sacrifices his own feelings and an evening searching in the rain to reunite the lion with the library and everyone who misses him.

The illustrations are also lovely. The lion is realistic, but lovable, if you can believe it. Borrow it, buy it, read it, enjoy it!

Friday, September 5, 2008

A Thankful Heart

First Son and First Daughter were blessed with an extravagant evening out with Grammy and one of her friends to see Bob and Larry in person. They had a wonderful time and I am so thankful for the generosity of Grammy, especially with her time. My kids love Bob and Larry, but they were mostly excited about spending time with their Grammy, even insisting on bedtime stories for each of them after she brought them home.

The hats are a side benefit.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Dress Envy

First Daughter goes through a couple of dresses a day. Partly she doesn't like to be wet at all (which she always is after washing her hands), but mostly I think she likes to wear different dresses (or outfits). She just likes to get dressed.

Today, this dress is what she picked for her second outfit. I had to send her back for a different one, though, because this is a size 6 month dress for Second Daughter.

I'm amazed she got it on (though I never would have been able to button it for her).

Monday, September 1, 2008

One Strong Garbage Bag

I recently signed up with to review environmentally friendly cleaning solutions. I'm really excited about this opportunity because Kansas Dad and I do try to clean without too many chemicals, especially around the kids.

Recently, I received a sample of these biodegradable trash bags from the

According to the promotional material, these bags will fully degrade in commercial landfills (degrading in approximately 36 months, depending on the available oxygen and microbial activity present). Of course, I don't have the ability to test those claims myself, but I do have some trash around here, so I pulled them out last week and starting filling them up.

I found some sharp corners to drop in there along with some heavier garbage and hefted them around the house. I was very pleased to find they handled the weight and the corners exceptionally well without any tears! Frankly, though I like the idea of a "green" garbage bag, I want one that's not going to tear and leak on its way out the door and these bags seem to fit the bill. (I wish I had thought to take a picture of the full bag...I'll remember to do that the next time I review a garbage bag.)

You'll see from the link the bags are $22.75 for a box (which I believe holds 120 bags). I wanted to do a price comparison with some conventional brands, but just haven't had a chance to get to the store with a little free time to browse the garbage bag aisle. I would guess these are more expensive, but if you've made an effort to decrease your trash, as we have, you should find a box lasts quite a while. The next time we need bags, I'll consider them, but will need to do a price comparison. (If cost is an issue for you, work on decreasing the amount of trash. We've found that makes a big difference in the number of garbage bags we use and is always a good way to be kind to the earth and a good steward of God's resources.)

If you're in the market for an environmentally-friendly garbage bag, I would definitely recommend these. They can handle being full to the brim.