Newsletter – May 2014

Hello Tiny Humans!

Back to more catch up on our newsletter. Now we’re on May. We spent this month having fun at home and starting to get outside in the warming up weather. Yay for almost summer!

This month Peanut took on a whole different part of the role Big Sister. Everywhere we went, you made sure Twig was involved in whatever game you and your “friends” (mostly kids you just met and decided to play with, but would tell me are your friends). And when a kid was being mean to her, you let them have it! You are Twig’s protector and it’s awesome. You also make sure that she’s not doing things that can get her in trouble or hurt, which is extra helpful for mama.

You also seemed to really leap developmentally. For a long time it was really hard to get you to do quiet time. We’d try to do an hour every day (since you don’t nap anymore) whenever we were on break from school, but you’d like fight it like mad. Now though, you seem like you really need and enjoy it. That break in the day is really helpful for all of us.

You also seemed to start to really understand reading. I got a Hooked on Phonics app that went on sale (for free!) and you just took right to it. You’ve known all the letters and their sounds for a couple years now, but putting them together into a word just wasn’t clicking for you. This month, with the help of this app, you started to get simple words just by saying their sounds. This proved super helpful later in the year when you started kindergarten.

The baby goat is eating your hair!

Lastly, you started to cook simple recipes completely on your own. You’ve always loved to help in the kitchen, but now you’re doing recipes from start to finish with very little assistance. You started with crepes and now do pancakes and French toast too. We’ve also done muffins where you did everything except grate the carrots. And of course you still love to help with steps in other recipes like chopping veggies and measuring ingredients.

Twig, you also love to help. You want to get the laundry out of the dryer with me, pick up rooms, load the dishwasher, and everything in between. Sure, these tasks take a lot longer with a two year old helping, but you love it. I’m also hoping it instills some good habits.

You’ve also started listening to my belly with the little play stethoscope from Peanut’s Doc McStuffins set. Every time you put it on my tummy and listen, then offer the ear pieces to me to let me listen, just like they do with the fetoscope at the midwife’s office. It’s so cute!

Both of you girls have been preparing for the birth too. One day in the tub I heard you two having a long conversation about anatomy and babies. Peanut taught Twig all about how girls have vaginas, boys have penises, and how babies come out of their mom’s vagina or sometimes get cut out of their tummies. Twig just absorbed all of it and immediately started talking about all of it as if she knew it all along.

27 weeks 4 days

Banana, not much to report for you. Still kicking away and growing away. Your big sisters are getting so excited to meet you!

Love you all!
Mama

Removing Milk Stains From Baby Clothes

The clothes go into storage looking great, but when they come out they’re covered in yellow stains. What’s going on?!? Milk stains!

It turns out there’s something about breast milk that causes these stains to pop up with time. Possibly with formula too (as the lady at the consignment store actually called them “formula stains”), though I don’t have first-hand experience there and I’m guessing the same techniques wouldn’t get them out since it’s not a bodily fluid. Anywho, I digress.

Well I’m here to tell you that these stains are ridiculously easy to get out of your baby clothes. Seriously, you will be amazed. No special products. No real effort. When I was pulling things out before Banana was born I found these stains once again and decided to share with you all the process of removing them. First, wash the clothes as normal (we just wash on cold, by the way, since there’s no real reason to wash clothes on hot). Second, hang them in the sun to dry! That’s all! Well, there’s a third optional step of either washing them again or spraying them with a little lemon water and letting them sun some more if the first time doesn’t work.

Want to see some before and after pictures so you can see how well this works? Well you’re gonna!

Before: 

During: 

With my umbrella clothesline, I make sure the most stained clothes are on the outside and I try to stagger the layers of clothing.

After:

Isn’t it awesome?! They’re completely gone! This nice little trick works with any bodily fluid, so if you get something like blood on your clothes this will help too. Yay sunshine!

Did-do List

I did accomplish getting a smile out of this little guy this week.

Lately I’ve been having the feeling that I don’t accomplish anything even though I am constantly doing things all day. I’ll clean throughout the day, but the house still ends up messy. I change endless diapers, potty Gideon (we’re doing part-time elimination communication), and nurse constantly, but there’s always more of those things to do. Same goes for playing with my girls. I’m always on the move, but my husband comes home from work and the house is often more mess than when he left. The kids are the same, if not more crabby (yay evenings!). Yes, I’m doing the most important job in the world, but it’s hard to see that in the day-t0-day.

So yesterday I made a “did-do list” rather than a “to-do list.” I read about it in some book for new moms. I’m surprised at how much I really accomplish in a day! Seriously, this list is long (and no, I’m not usually so on top of the cleaning, this was an unusually productive day in that respect). And so many of the things I do are simultaneous. If you’re feeling kind of burnt out and like you’re not accomplishing much as a mom, I’d definitely suggest you make one of these. So, without further ado, here’s my

Did-do List

Woke up (6:45am)
Nursed Gideon
Wiped Mere’s bum
Put the girls in the tub
Changed, pottied Gideon
Got Curtis fruits and veggie
Got the girls breakfast
Nursed Gideon
Changed, pottied Gideon
Nursed Gideon
Fed pets
Braided Dea’s hair
Helped the girls hold Gideon
Made my coffee
Took Dea to school
Read Facebook
Took bath with Mere
Started my breakfast
Helped Mere get undies on
Changed Gideon
Stopped my breakfast
Nursed Gideon while pumping
Comforted hurt Meredith
Cleaned/massaged Gideon’s eyes
Started my breakfast again
Helped Mere get on her dress
Put Gideon in the carrier
Cleaned spit up off floor
Bounced while cooking my breakfast
Made egg for mere
Froze pumped milk
Watched tv while eating and nursing
Put baby in swing
Corrected Pascal for barking
Cleaned up a little trashcan
Set a trap for little trashcan
Put away clean dishes
Wash all dishes in sink with Mere
Clean sink
Transfer and brew new water kefir
Drink some water kefir
Boil water for sweet tea
Make snacks for girls
Cut and freeze questionable broccoli
Wash newly acquired dishes
Gather dirty laundry around house
Put on shirt and deodorant
Start load of laundry
Put away clean diapers
Change blowout diaper and clothes
Start dirty cover soaking
Clean Mere’s pee off floor
Put teabags in water
Picked up Dea (late)
Signed permission slip
Put Gideon in the swing
Put on a movie for the girls
Switched laundry
Scooped cat litter boxes
Vacuumed laundry room
Showered
Picked up crying Gideon
Thawed chili
Ate snack, nursed, facebooked
Switched laundry
Nursed
Started chili
Made sandwiches
At lunch with the girls, nursed
Changed, pottied Gideon
Put diaper on Mere
Got Mere down for a nap, nursed
Switched laundry
Filled up pet water jug
Jolted upstairs to get awake Gideon
Wrapped Gideon
Bounce-walked Gideon to sleep
Made vaccine appointment for Mere
Helped Dea read a book
Bought Gideon’s birth certificate
Switched laundry
Put sheets upstairs
Started folding laundry
Played Blokus with Dea
Finished folding laundry
Put away laundry with girls
Sorted photos
Changed, pottied Gideon
Nursed, pumped
Sorted photos, nursed
Dish out chili for dinner
Put away clean dishes
Wash dishes in sink
Watched tv while eating and nursing
Nursed
Changed, pottied Gideon
Nursed
Watched tv while eating and nursing
Read books to Mere, nursed
Got Mere to sleep, nursed
Put away clean dishes
Prepared coffee for tomorrow
Took out trash
Changed Gideon
Watched tv, ate, nursed
Put sleeping Gideon in the wrap
Finished a hat, started a second hat
Changed Gideon
Went to bed (11pm)

Newsletter – April 2014

Hello Girls and Baby of Unknown Sex!

Peanut at story time.

Back to our catch up of newsletters! This month mommy and Peanut finished up the semester (ending preschool and getting excited and nervous for kindergarten in the fall!) and we started spending every day together! It was stressful at times, but overall it’s been a great change.

This meant that we started to do fun things like going to story time. The last time we went, Twig was just too nervous to go sit on the rug. Now though, you love it! You love to sit right next to Peanut or on her lap and Becca, the storytime teacher, is one of your favorite people.

Speaking of books, you were obsessed with Green Eggs and Ham. All Dr. Seuss books are great in your eyes, but we read Green Eggs and Ham EVERY night before bed. You also adore Winnie the Pooh in any form.

Twig’s new tea set.

We started giving you allowance this month too. I wasn’t planning on starting so soon, but you get upset every week when Peanut would get hers, so I finally gave in and let you get it too. You definitely don’t get it like Peanut does, but it’s only $1 a week anyway (half your age) and 25 cents goes into your piggybank. You surprised me though and actually bought something you really love, which was a tea set. You had a little jump start to your allowance with the money from Easter (just change that we put in the eggs) so you actually had enough to get a secondhand porcelain tea set. You still play with it all the time too (though a few pieces have been hot glued now).

Practice run for your Merida hair.

Speaking of Easter, you were awesome with it this month Peanut. We asked you not to grab every egg you found so your sister could find some too. You took this as you should help her find eggs. And not only that, but you alternated back and forth with every egg between you finding it and Twig “finding” it. It was so cute and considerate of you!

This month I asked you what you want to be for Halloween so I could get started on costumes before Banana was born. I asked you this month so you could have some time to decide, but you immediately decided you wanted to be Merida from Brave and you stuck to it! For a moment you pondered being a hobbit, but it was only a fleeting thought. You even talked Twig into going as one of the little bears, so we’re doing a full Brave themed family costume! More details to come. :-)

Another great thing this month is that I felt you move on the outside Banana! That also meant that your sisters and daddy could feel you of course. Problem is that you just would not kick Peanut! She was so excited to feel you, but every time that I got her to come over you’d stop kicking! We told her that you just loved her too much to kick her. We also had an ultrasound to check on you (after our bleeding scare in the beginning of mama’s pregnancy, I needed the reassurance) and continued to not find out your sex.

Well that wraps up the month of April! Love you all!
Mama

Sunday Surf – Adjusting to a New Normal

Sunday Surf with Authentic Parenting and Hobo MamaI’m joining Authentic Parenting and Hobo Mama for Sunday Surf. Share your best reading of the week, and link up your post at either blog!

For more great reading, visit Hobo Mama or Authentic Parenting for the latest Sunday Surf and linky.

Happy Surfing!

Banana is 3 weeks and 3 days old! Wow time is flying. He’s already looking and acting less like a newborn and more like a baby.

And as a family we’re getting back into our routines. Every morning my husband drops Peanut off at school (after either I get her ready or he does if I’ve had a rough night with Banana and need to sleep more). Banana usually sleeps all morning, either on me or in the swing, and I play with Twig and get her ready. Then at 11am we go pick up Peanut from school, spend some time at the park or running errands or just hanging out at home. Lunch around 1-1:30, then naptime (thankfully Twig started napping again) and quiet time for the girls, Banana usually naps here too (even sometimes in the bed with Twig for a while). Usually Peanut gets some mama time after she finishes quiet time (an hour) and before Twig wakes up from her nap (usually 2 hours) and we read books, play games, and do her homework. Then more playing and daddy comes home at five, we eat dinner and hang out and/or watch a show as a family. Obviously weekends are different, but it still follows the general formula.

The adjustment is going much better this time than when Twig was born. I’m sure that’s in large part my lack of postpartum depression, which is still baffling to me. I’ve had a lot better support this time around, especially from my husband and in-laws. I’ve still felt a little bit overwhelmed and a few times I’ve gotten that barely keeping my head above water feeling, but I think that’s normal for this time period. I’ve also been getting a decent amount of sleep most nights (yay for breastfeeding and co-sleeping!), though Banana having a minor cold through a wrench in the works for the last few days. Even then it hasn’t been terrible. Anyway, on to the surf!

The magic way I get crabby evening baby to sleep.

I got bangs!

Peanut just adores him.

25 Ways To Ask Your Kids “So how was school today?” Without Asking them “So how was school today?” at Simple Simon and Company. We’ve been using some of these and it’s working really well. I’m still getting used to Peanut being in a school that doesn’t have a one way mirror window. We especially like to use #1 thus far.

13 Great Things to Say to a Sleep Deprived Parent at Belly Baby. This list is great! I love that it has so many positive reinforcement messages for the parents. When parents, especially first time parents, are constantly told that their baby shouldn’t need to be held so much/needs to stop using mom as a pacifier/should already be sleeping through the night it undermines the parents’ natural instincts. Telling someone how wonderful and happy their baby is and how they’re doing a great job can make all the difference.

5 Things Not To Say To A Woman With Postpartum Depression — And What To Say Instead at The Huffington Post. Like I said, I’m not suffering from postpartum depression this time (yet. knock on wood), but this is great information to have for anyone who is around a mom who does have PPD (which is likely you, as something like 10% of moms have it). I especially like the one about how your symptoms are not you, but just your symptoms. I think it would have been nice to hear some of these things after Twig was born (and thankfully I didn’t hear any of the bad ones!).

And a funny little video Things You Can’t Do When You’re Not a Toddler.

My New House Not-Monday: The Stairs

Welcome to the September 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Home Tour

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have opened up their doors and given us a photo-rich glimpse into how they arrange their living spaces.

***

And for another addition of My New House Mondays, except not a Monday (hello Carnival readers!) and really not such a new-to-us house anymore. We’ve been in this house over four years! And we did our flooring on the main level two years ago! Two years. It’s amazing how time flies. Anyway, it’s been on our list of to-do’s ever since to do the hallway upstairs and hopefully our stairs (one set going up and one going down, as our house is a split level), depending on the amount of laminate flooring we had left once the hallway was done.

Last fall I got ambitious and tore out the ugly carpet in the hallway and on the top set of stairs (bottom set of stairs lost it’s carpet when we did the other flooring). That left us with white wood stairs. Not something that I would even dislike if it weren’t for the condition of them. Biggest issue being that two of the stairs on the bottom set were cracked all the way through the middle. I tried different methods of holding the crack together so I could paint over it, but it just broken right apart again. The next step was to go put a piece of 2×4 underneath them to brace the crack, but we never got that far. My husband finished the hallway laminate early this summer and came up with a plan to completely cover our stairs in the laminate, even the risers! So finishing our stairs went onto the before-baby to-do list.

Our biggest issue came from the noses. They were incredibly thick and rounded, so even if we put the noses that match the laminate on top of them, white would have shown through the bottom. This is where my husband’s brilliant plan came in–we cut them off! I thought it was kind of crazy at first, but it worked out really well.

Top set of stairs minus their noses.

It took some very precise measuring (which, as you can see, still wasn’t perfect) and cutting with a circular saw braced up against a piece of wood. It was kind of terrifying, but also awesome. Since it didn’t reach all the way to the sides, we used a jigsaw and dremmel to cut off the rest.

Lower set of stairs post-circular saw and pre-dremmel. (Please forgive the blurry husband foot)

Lower stairs minus noses.

Then once the noses were off, it was mostly a bunch of measuring. We cut eat piece of laminate to the precise width of the stair (checking to make sure it fit and trimming again if necessary), then did another the same way for the riser. The riser was cut so it was level with the top of the background riser and the tread so it was the correct size that the nose would fit over the top of it without a gap in the overhang (or underhang?). It sounds more complicated than it was, really. We just had to piece it together like a puzzle and do lots of cutting and measuring. The hardest part was using the locking mechanism of laminate to lock the two pieces together at a 90 degree angle. Once we had that in place, we used liquid nails on the back along with a nail gun to secure them.

Upper stairs in the process of being put together.

Our final step is to do the very top riser. If you look closely at this last picture, you can see that the bottom of the hardwood flooring shows past the nose a bit. Since this is the case, we need to make sure that we have a perfectly straight and nice looking line on the top riser. So my husband is going to take the last two pieces to his co-worker’s house and cut them on his table saw to get the nice clean cut. That part we didn’t accomplish before Banana arrived, but I still consider these stairs complete (since my part of the work is over). Yay new stairs!

“Completed” lower stairs.

***

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon September 9 with all the carnival links.)

  • Being Barlow Home Tour — Follow along as Jessica at Being Barlow gives you the tour of her family’s home.
  • A Tour Of My Hybrid Rasta Kitchen — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama takes you on a tour of her kitchen complete with a Kombucha Corner, a large turtle, her tea stash, and of course, all her must-have kitchen gadgets. Check out Hybrid Rasta Mama’s most favorite space!
  • Dreaming of a Sisters Room — Bianca, The Pierogie Mama, dreams, schemes and pins ideas for when her younger daughter is ready to move out of the family bed and share a room with her older sister.
  • Building a life — Constructing a dream — Survivor at Surviving Mexico-Adventures and Disasters shows you a glimpse inside the home her family built and talks about adaptions they made in constructing their lives in Mexico.
  • Why I’m Sleeping in the Dining Room — Becca at The Earthling’s Handbook welcomed a new baby but didn’t have a spare bedroom. She explains how her family rearranged the house to create Lydia’s nursing nest and changing room in spaces they already had.
  • The Gratitude Tour — Inspired by Momastry’s recent “home tour,” That Mama Gretchen is highlighting imperfect snapshots of things she’s thankful for around her home. Don’t plan to pin anything!
  • Our Home in the Forest — Tara from Up the Dempster gives you a peek into life lived off-grid in Canada’s Yukon Territory.
  • natural bedding for kids — Emma at Your Fonder Heart shows you how her family of 3 (soon to be 4) manages to keep their two cotton & wool beds clean and dry (plus a little on the end of cosleeping — for now).
  • I love our home — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings explains how lucky she feels to have the home she does, and why she strives so hard to keep it tidy.
  • Not-So-Extreme Makeover: Sunshine and Rainbows Edition — Dionna at Code Name: Mama was tired of her dark, outdated house, so she brightened it up and added some color.
  • Our little outdoor space — Tat at Mum in search invites you to visit her balcony, where her children make friends with wildlife.
  • Our Funky, Bright, Eclectic, Montessori Home — Rachel at Bread and Roses shows you her family’s newly renovated home and how it’s set up with Montessori principles in mind for her 15-month-old to have independence.
  • Beach cottage in progress — Ever tried to turn a 1980s condo into a 1920s beach bungalow? Lauren at Hobo Mama is giving it a try!
  • Conjuring home: intention in renovation — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama explains why she and her husband took on a huge renovation with two little kids and shares the downsides and the ups, too.
  • Learning At Home — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling helps us to re-imagine the ordinary spaces of our homes to ignite natural learning.
  • My Dining Room Table — Kellie at Our Mindful Life loves her dining room table — and everything surrounding it!
  • Sight words and life lessons — The room that seemed to fit the least in Laura from Pug in the Kitchen‘s life is now host to her family’s homeschool adventures and a room they couldn’t imagine life without!
  • A Tour of Our Church — Garry at Postilius invites you virtually visit him in the 19th-century, one-room church where he lives with his spouse and two kids.
  • Preparing a Montessori Baby-Toddler Space at Home — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the Montessori baby-toddler space she’s created in the main living area of her home along with a variety of resources for creating a Montessori-friendly home.
  • The Old Bailey House — Come peek through the window of The Old Bailey House where Erica at ChildOrganics resides with her little ones.
  • My New House Not-Monday: The Stairs — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl shows you her new laminate stairs in her not-so-new-anymore house.
  • To Minimalist and Back Again — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how she went to the extreme as a minimalist and bounced right back. Read how she finds it difficult to maintain the minimalist lifestyle when upsizing living space.
  • Our Life As Modern-Day Nomads — This family of five lives in 194 square feet of space — with the whole of North America as a back yard. Paige of Our Road Less Traveled guest posts at Natural Parents Network.

Newsletter – March 2014

Hello!

Back to catching up with our newsletters, now we’re onto March! Peanut, you turned five this month! Yay!

Riding your birthday present with your birthday girl pin.

Speaking of your birthday Peanut, this is the first year you really understood it was coming. Months and months before your actual birthday (really I think it was just a few months past your last birthday) you told me you wanted a surprise party. I told you this meant you didn’t get to choose a theme or anything and you were okay with it. You spent nearly every day this month counting how many more days until your birthday and you were completely surprised when you came home from music class one Saturday to your Frozen themed party. For how much you loved that movie, I just couldn’t go with any other theme.

Pointing to the house you painted in the class painting at your art show for preschool.

This month we also “read” (or rather listened to the audiobook) The Hobbit. One day on the way to school you were nervous about staying during nap time, so I told you the story of The Hobbit. It took us three or four days of the time from when we dropped off sister to when we got to school to tell it. You loved it so much that I decided we should get the audiobook. You loved that too. We spent nearly the whole month listening to it. In the end you told me your favorite characters were Bilbo and Gandalf, quickly followed by naming every character you could remember. You also started making up languages this month (mostly just speaking jibberish and calling it a language). Wonder if the two are related?

Last photo with our chickens before they went to a new home.

You also started another level of independent play this month. You’re a very social little girl, so independent play has never really been your favorite thing, but suddenly you started really enjoying your alone time. You just sit and color by yourself, stay in quiet time (and really seem to benefit from it) looking through books on your bed, even playing pretend by yourself making little dolls talk and do silly things. It’s like some magic switch flipped.

Twig, this month (similar to last which you did with the color blue), everything was two. You would bring me any number of things and announce proudly that there were two. If I asked you how many, two. Maybe it’s because you figured out you were two? Regardless, it was pretty dang cute.

This month your vocabulary just exploded. Suddenly you were saying words I didn’t know you knew every day and speaking in actual sentences. You coincidentally became really interested in books this month and would actually sit still long enough for me to read them. At the time of me writing this, reading books is now one of your favorite things.

Banana, this month I finally felt you move. It took so much longer than it did with Twig that I was convinced I must have an anterior placenta, but my ultrasound showed it low and posterior. Once I felt you move though, it was pretty constant movement there on out.

That’s all I have for this month! Love you all!
Mama