Tuesday, October 30, 2012

And the learning continues...

I thought we might get back to some school work today, but it just 'ain't' happening.  

I'm ok with that.  I know we will be back to it sooner rather than later, and I allowed for more time than we'll need when I was planning our schedule this summer.

Besides, as I posted in our Weekly Wrap-Up this weekend, learning happens anyway, whether we are "doing school" or not.

On the way back from the mailbox one day last week (when it was still warm enough for shorts!), Alan discovered a trail of ants.
He came inside looking for something - anything! - to feed them.  I think he ended up taking out some cake crumbs.
There you have it: nature observation.  Science for the day: check!

Daniel came along to help me take pictures. :)

Monday, October 29, 2012

44 things update

My original 44 things post.

And my progress:

Things I want to do by mid-October 2013:

1. Read through New Testament (before December 31, 2012).
Not going too bad. Finished the gospels and I'm reading Acts and Romans at the same time. Almost done with Romans.

8. Clean out baby room closet

9. Publish 200 blog posts in 2012
Very pleased with my September/October progress. If I keep it up I should be able to make it fairly easily, even with taking days off for the holidays.

12. Decorate our newly painted bathroom.
Need to get on this one before it's not "newly painted" anymore.  Lost out on a lot of beautiful October days I could have done some spray painting (frames) outside!

13. Name this baby.
Daniel Austin!

15. Prepare a space for him.
Daniel has plenty of dedicated sleeping and changing areas, but I'm not done hanging a few decorative items.

16. Use softer, kinder words when angry or frustrated.
Hmm.... always a work in progress, I suppose. 

21. Get Brooklyn's outgrown clothes boxed up and into the attic.

22. Teach the boys more Spanish words and phrases.
I've kinda sorta started on this but I need a 'system' to keep up with what we've done for reviews and such. 

23. Learn better maintenance skills and habits for keeping things orderly and neat.  Then do them.
Taking 2 weeks off from housekeeping after having a baby and watching other people do your job is luxuriously spoiling but also leaves you antsy to get back your momentum.  We'll see how well I recover from 'recovery'!

25. Buy a double stroller.
Yay! Garage sale find the day before Daniel was born! Can't wait to try it out with TWO babies! 

32. Teach Dale some basic cooking to do independently. 
I let him make biscuits recently.  

39. Avoid an induction and spend some time laboring at home.
Umm... hello! Check and check! Do I get extra points for delivering at home?!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up - Maternity Leave

We just finished our second week off since Baby Brother Daniel was born, but just because we haven't been hitting the books doesn't mean learning hasn't been happening!

It was a wonderful blessing that the weather was so incredibly mild and beautiful the last two weeks.  The boys (and even Brooklyn a little bit!) spent a lot of time playing outside.  With the windows open I was able to listen in on their adventures and creative play.  It seemed the longer the week went on the more creative and content they became.  My favorite was hearing them play pirates.

I think their favorite was the bucket of fine planting dirt they overturned and claimed as their own sandpile.  That kept them busy at least a couple of days!

While the boys were busy outside in their dirt, I made use of some of those pinterest ideas I have saved and got Brooklyn busy with a pan of flour.
 She loved it!  And yes, she ate some.  And yes, by the time she was done the mess was pretty big, but swept up easily.  Very much worth it for how happy and busy she was.

For more inside play one day I got out the sea creatures and a bucket of water.  It wasn't long at all before Alan came looking for the salt shaker.  Everyone knows sea creatures live in salt water!

Another pinterest idea I pulled out for our maternity leave week was Slushies in a bag.
 We froze a quart-size baggie of extremely salty water overnight, then placed it inside a gallon baggie and added about 2 cups of juice, and shook, shook...
 ..shook some more...
 ...and pretty soon the juice froze into a yummy slush!
We used juice two days and on the third we used sweetened milk with a splash of vanilla to make ice cream!  For more details on this project you can visit here.

In addition to these activities Dale kept reading, and working on his ongoing story he's writing, Alan did some reading aloud to me and Daddy and Mimi, and lots and lots of playtime has been enjoyed, both inside and out.  Not bad for having a new baby brother at home!  

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Because boys don't play Barbies

In case you haven't noticed, Brooklyn has a lot of hair.

It can be quite unruly.

And on occasion (as in, almost at least once a day) she gets plunked down in her high chair with that hair in her eyes.

It's interesting enough when Daddy fixes her hair (I overpaid for a garage sale onesie that said "Daddy did my hair" - somebody knew what they were doing when they designed that one!  It's been one of our favorites!) 

Anyway, Daddy is one thing, but I love when Brooklyn's helpful brothers come to the hair rescue.

 They always manage to get the function part taken care of: no hair in the eyes.
 But they also believe in careful hairbow selection...
...even to match pj's!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Baker Boys

It's occurred to me if I want my boys to be competent in the kitchen, then I need to get them in there more!  Makes sense, yes?  

So one morning recently when Dale really wanted to make breakfast, I said 'sure' and handed over the reins.

How bad can it be to rest on the couch and give directions (when needed) while my kiddos make breakfast?!

I had been about to make pumpkin biscuits, so I handed over the recipe and walked away - but not too far. ;)

 They did a great job, both working together and creating a yummy breakfast.
I wouldn't be surprised if we make these pumpkin biscuits again, and next time I want to have some apple butter to go on them! :)

Pumpkin Biscuits
adapted from: 

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
5 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons honey

Preheat oven to 400.  Mix dry ingredients.  (I never keep pumpkin pie spice on hand, I always make my own with cinnamon, cloves, ginger, & nutmeg.)  Cut in butter until crumbly.  Pour in buttermilk (another cheater ingredient I usually don't keep around, but simply add a splash of vinegar to regular milk and let sit a few minutes), pumpkin, and honey.  Stir gently just until mixed.  Knead gently just long enough for dough to hold together and roll out well.  I had to add some flour.  Roll to desired thickness and cut biscuits.  Bake on greased baking sheet 12-14 minutes.

Monday, October 22, 2012

When life gives you koolaid...

Before going to a church event recently I laid out a packet of koolaid powder I intended to mix and bring to ensure our boys would have a caffeine-free drink option.

Well, we got in a hurry and the koolaid didn't get made, but the envelope sat on the corner of the counter for a couple of days.

Until somebody who's not even supposed to reach up on the counter discovered it and cut the top off!

Then the rolled-down and folded up packet sat there for a day or two more.

Finally, mama gave up on drinking koolaid (full of bad stuff anyway, right? ;) ) but felt funny wasting even a 10 cent packet.
What perfect timing to run across a blog post on koolaid playdough!  I've seen it around several times, but never made it, until now. (I halved the recipe since I only had 1 opened packet and it made plenty for all 3 boys.)
Tyler and Alan joined me in measuring, mixing, stirring and kneading and we've enjoyed our bright pink, cherry scented playdough several times now.
 I'm thinking after naptime today may be time to enjoy it again!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Happy 1 Week, Daniel!

Monday's child is fair of face,

Tuesday's child is full of grace,

Wednesday's child is full of woe,

Thursday's child has far to go,

Friday's child is loving and giving,

Saturday's child must work for a living,

But the child that's born on the Sabbath day,

Is fair and wise and good and gay.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Chicken Nuggets

One day last week I decided to fry myself some chicken livers one day for lunch, for all those good-for-baby (and mama) reasons.

I made some mac and cheese for the boys and set the plate of livers on the table just to see what would happen.  My boys aren't usually ones to turn down food and sure enough, they all just assumed they were for everyone and loaded their plates.

When they asked, "What is this?", I gave an honest-enough answer: 


They accepted that answer, and I suppose based on size and shape, they decided they were eating.... chicken nuggets!

Before I knew it they were all eating their chicken and discussing their lunch with "chicken nugget" this, and "chicken nugget" that.

Every time somebody said "chicken nugget" I had to hold in a smile.  

"Can I have another chicken nugget?"

You betcha.  

But the best was the following exchange between Dale and Alan:

"Why do these look different from other chicken nuggets?"

"Because they are homemade!!"

And now you know... which part is the 'nugget'! :)

Friday, October 19, 2012


"Five?  You've got your hands full!"
Yes, we do.
And this week of cocooning with them has been wonderful.
Our hearts are full.
Contentment and joy abound.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Daniel's Birthday, the Rest of the Story

If you haven't read Part 1, you can click here to read it first.

Until I stepped into the shower I had my mind on getting out the door.  The moment I stepped into the shower I was no longer mentally preparing for a trip to the hospital. Neither was I preparing for delivery.  I was just coping from moment to moment.

I was aware of my mom arriving, and heard Greg's greeting to her: "We're not going to make it out of this house."

This announcement was the first time the reality of how imminent Daniel's birth really was started to sink in.  For just a moment I was surprised by this realization, and that Greg knew before I did.  My full attention then returned to the task at hand.

By this time I was aware of feeling a lot of pressure.

Greg and Mom agreed they needed to call the paramedics, and Greg went to place that call.

My next words were, "I feel his head!"

Without even needing to think about what to do, I slowly knelt in the bathtub as first Daniel's head and then shoulders gently slid into my waiting hands.  

Once he was fully in my arms I carefully sat back, still on my knees in the tub.  I gently laid my baby on my belly.  

It was 11:50 pm.  

For one brief moment we all stared at this new person and may have even wondered out loud, "What do we do now?"  

In a matter of seconds we had our bearings and the action began again.  There was work to be done!  We made sure he was breathing (he was), stimulated a cry, and got a towel to keep him warm.

My dad arrived at the same time Greg was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher answering questions about our conditions.  

Within a couple minutes the paramedics arrived, although at this point there wasn't much left for them to do!  Our helpful pair seemed pleased with the condition they found things in.

Greg and Mom left the tiny bathroom while they went to work cutting the cord and drying and cleaning Daniel.  My Dad was on guard quietly and gently reassuring boys as they woke and - for the moment - sending them back to bed.

Somewhere along the way we had acquired a fireman (in his big red engine) and a big burly policeman.  Lots of my clean towels were taken out and passed around.  I'm not sure what they were all used for, but they seemed to feel we needed them.  Even the big burly policeman was reaching in and passing them out!  

The lady paramedic carried Daniel to the ambulance, and a minute or two later the man helped me up.  The gurney couldn't turn in the hallway, so I leaned heavily on his arm (we were both cautious of my foot that had fallen asleep earlier) and walked to the hallway where they buckled me up onto the stretcher.

I waved like a princess as they rolled me out the front door.  While still sitting in the driveway they placed an iv and a couple of monitors, and quickly reunited my boy and me.

Just before we left I looked up to see my dad with Alan - grinning from ear to ear - peeking into the back window of the ambulance.  A giant wave and smile to them, and then we were on our way!

Before we were even out of the neighborhood Daniel latched on and began nursing like a pro, which he continued for most of the ride.  Greg and Mom followed close behind while the paramedic and I chatted like old friends.  Dad stayed home to fill the boys in on all the good news and get them tucked back into bed.
The nurses at the hospital were all eager to hear our story, and just like with the paramedics, there wasn't much work for them in the labor and delivery room!  Our stay there was less than an hour before I was walked to postpartum.  
I knew I needed sleep but it took a while to settle my mind from the events of the last 3 hours.  Had all of that really just happened!??!  It has been so fun to relive the experience and retell the story in the days following.  As always, above all, God's grace, mercy, and gifts are so evident through it all.  

We are blessed, and we are thankful!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Daniel's birth story

I'm not usually one for sharing a lot of intimate details, but sometimes when the story is good enough you have to put aside the tiniest bit of modesty for the sake of the story.  Daniel's birthday is one we will be reliving for a long time.

Sunday, October 14, 2012
8:00 am - I put 2 dozen pumpkin muffins into the oven and turned my attention to Greg's much over-due haircut.  I had already had a couple of nice contractions and had two or three more over the course of the next hour, getting ready for church.  Could this be the day?

10:35 - The one and only contraction I had the entire 2 hours we were at church.  It was pretty mild; apparently things were slowing down.

1:15 pm - Laid down for a nap.  Contractions had picked back up about every 12 minutes or so while making and eating lunch.  Not long after laying down, they stopped, and I enjoyed a nice long Sunday afternoon nap.

5:30 pm - Back to church.  All contraction action had pretty much stopped.  Looked like today probably wasn't the day after all, but I had an appointment the next morning and was looking forward to seeing how the day's activity had progressed things.  I felt optimistic we'd be having a baby in a day or two.

8:30 pm - Saying bedtime prayers with the boys.  Had to breathe through one decent contraction, but it was in the middle of my turn praying and even Greg couldn't tell I had felt a thing.

10:30 pm - Went to bed having experienced 3 or 4 contractions since putting the boys to bed.  They were a good strength, but pretty far apart and irregular.  I expected that just like naptime earlier, they would stop all together once I settled in for the night.  My hopes were definitely up for a baby the next day, though.

10:55pm - I was just drifting off to sleep only to come back awake with a pretty painful contraction.  I practiced relaxing and breathing through that one.  If I was going to deliver a baby the next day I wanted to remind myself of my favorite relaxation techniques.  After that first one passed I had just about fallen asleep again when a second followed.  I checked the clock.  It had been 18 minutes.  But wow this one really hurt!  I figured I was going to have to do way better than this tomorrow if I was going to be able to relax my way through another natural labor!

I got another chance to practice about 15 minutes later.  Ahh... I had found my groove by now and was relaxing nicely through this one when.... *pop*. Splash.

Ohmyheck.  I gave greg a couple of hard elbows to the ribs to wake him up, but that wasn't necessary.  With my next words he was fully awake and on his feet.  "My water just broke."  It was 11:37.

He asked what we needed to do and I said "We need to GO.  Things are going to happen fast now that my water has broken." 

Greg immediately called mom and dad, mom to go with us and dad to stay with the kids.  I headed to the bathroom.  It just seemed the right thing to do.  Plus if I was going to be leaking fluid all the way to the hospital I wanted something absorbent, right?

However, once in the bathroom, the contractions were nonstop.  Looking back, I remember telling myself to blow through them, and not push, but in that moment it didn't occur to me that if I was telling myself to blow I must have also been feeling the urge to push!  I knelt for a moment in the floor and then decided to get into the shower.  Greg was checking on me constantly as he got our things into the van.  At one point he shushed me, concerned about waking up the kids, as I was groaning my way through the now extremely painful contractions.  

11:44 - Mom arrived to find Greg holding the shower head against my lower back and me holding my nightgown up out of the water.  He looked up at her and said, "We're not going to make it out of this house."

To be continued....

Part 2

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

We're home!

And officially a family of seven. Seven!
An interesting bit of Buffalo family trivia: 
I was sitting in the hospital this morning and realized I was in exactly the same place 33 years ago today.  33 years ago today I came into the world in that same wing of that same hospital.  Today I sat there as the mama of my own sweet gift.
Blessings abound and I am so grateful!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Baby Poem, while we are waiting for baby

When One Becomes Two
 - Jacquelyn deLaveaga

A new life begins - 
a fresh heartbeat,
a flutter of feet,
a new soul.

Little miracle placed in my womb - 
I feed you, I nurture you
and the string between our hearts grows strong.

Little one growing in my womb - 
Daddy and I lay our hands upon my growing belly
and wait for you to flutter a reply.

Little person living in my womb - 
I welcome and cherish your consuming presence
and long to gaze into your deep, warm eyes.

Little babe curled up in my womb - 
I embrace your tiny self and dream of holding you forever.

Oh baby, sweet baby - 
a fresh heartbeat,
a flutter of feet,
a new soul.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Nosy Nelly

The cool thing about doing stuff out in the pasture with the cows is that you are... well... out in the pasture with the cows!

Who knew cows were such curious and sociable beasts?

I just wouldn't recommend leaving your vehicle doors open and unattended.

Their bovine curiosity might get the best of them!

You think she's wondering if that's real leather in there?

Looks pretty wary, if you're asking me!

There's my cutie crew!
Happy Saturday, everyone!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up - Weeks 11 & 12

Seems like it has been a couple of uneventful weeks, school-wise, as we keep marching along toward maternity leave.

Last week was a full week, but this week has lightened up some to allow more time for resting and to-do list accomplishing.  For me, obviously.  

And the to-do listing is coming along, even if it is slowly and surely.  Last week I spent a lot of time washing, sorting, folding and hanging baby clothes.  So satisfying to see drawers full of baby things ready to be worn!
We're down to weekly dr. visits now, and those are on Mondays.  So Mondays are very full days with getting everyone out and still trying to get in all our usual school and home lists.

Tuesdays I've started calling our 'socialization' days.  Mostly kidding, of course.  We have library story time at 10, usually followed by a trip to Nana & PawPaw's afterward.  
This week Dale couldn't leave until he had completed one of PawPaw's word searches.  

After spending all morning on breakfast and morning jobs and getting ready to go, then being gone the rest of the morning, that leaves all of our school for the afternoon.  Plus menu planning and putting away our new load of library books.

Whew! Is it any wonder Wednesdays may be becoming my favorite day of the week?  This stay-at-HOME HOME-schooling mama likes just that... being home!

Then this week Thursday morning turned out to be another morning out as we returned our bottle calf-that's-no-longer-on-a-bottle to pasture.  

Once again I was glad for a day at home today.  Even more so with today being planned as a light day in an already light week.

After the calf-return yesterday I was feeling generous, afraid there might be some sadness at letting him go, and agreed to let the boys get out.....
The Legos.  
For just over 48 hours, and then they are all going back away.  Way away.  So, the baby gate has been across the boys door and when they haven't been out making the most of the beautiful fall weather they've been spending lots of time building, building, building.  I have to admit... it's been kind of nice!
So, between all our going and slacking, we're still making academic progress.  Yay!
Here's two week's worth:

Dale - Finished reading Numbers and 14 chapters into Joshua.  Covered first 4 time periods of the Old Testament.  Completed several exercises and reveiws on working with weights and volumes, both metric and standard.  Copied 2 poems for copywork/handwriting practice.  Learned 12 new spelling words, finished 3 journal entries and a couple of blog posts, and worked on "to be" verbs.

Alan - Studied Bible stories from Acts chapters 5-9, finished his first phonics book and went several pages into his second, starting on consonant blends, practiced his name in cursive, plus the letters 'h', 'f', and 'k'.  Continued practicing addition and subtraction, including an introduction to word problems (with which he did great!). 

Together we read about Italy, including Venice, Pompeii, ancient Rome, Leonardo da Vinci, and Vivaldi.  Hopefully a post on Italy will be forthcoming next week.

Tyler has spent two weeks making fall leaf and pumpkin crafts along with similarly themed rhymes.  Among other things he also got some scissor practice and playdough time.  

Tyler and preschool posts are in the works for next week as well.  

All of this posting is assuming we don't have a baby in the meantime, or at least that I can get them written before then.  Wish me luck, right?