Sunday, May 30, 2010

Our Gatlinburg Trip

Here are the pictures from our Mini family vacation to Gatlinburg, TN that we took at the end of April. I finally got around to uploading the pictures. We stayed for 2 nights. We went hiking on a trail in the Smoky Mountains to Laurel Falls. It was a 4 mile hike round trip. The kids did really well and even Mommy & Daddy made it! We even saw a black bear. We were just out in the woods on the hike with no one around us. This isn't a zoo guys! This was a real live bear 30 feet from us. It was rare to see that. After taking a few pictures we decided we'd better continue back on the trail since we had all the kids with us. After heading on we looked behind us and that bear walked right onto the trail we were just on! And get this! A few weeks after we saw that bear we heard about a hiker that got biten by a bear in the Smoky Mountains. There are TONS of trails in there so I never thought it would have been on the very same trail we were hiking on just a few weeks before. To my surprise I found this (click here for the article) news article. Here the hiker bit was on the VERY SAME trail we were on. Kinda freaky since most likely that was the same bear that we saw just a few weeks before. Just glad it wasn't us getting attacked! I don't know what we would have done with all 4 kids there! EEEK!
On our trip we also went to the Ripley's Aquarium the kids loved it there. They have an underwater shark tunnel. It was so neat seeing the sharks from underneath them.
We had a great trip. Here are some pictures from our adventure.

On the way up the Smoky Mountains we stopped to look at the view and get a picture! (the babies were asleep so we let the big kids get out and look)

The whole fam at the waterfall (before our bear encounter)

Here is our friendly bear

by the jelly fish at the aquarium

Thursday, May 27, 2010

From Slap Bracelets to Silly Bandz

First of all, do you remember those slap bracelets that were popular in the late 80's and early 90's. I know I had a few! I swear everyone had one on at school. Until they were banned that is. Now today it's "Silly Bandz". For those of you that don't know what they are they are stretchy, rubber bracelets that are shaped like things (animals, sport figures, alphabets, etc. When you put them on you can't tell what shape they are until you take them off. I was first introduced to those by my Sister-in-Law. She said all the kids are crazy about them and she gave my kids some. They wore them a little but since they aren't in "real" school they haven't really realized just how "cool" they are. Today on Yahoo I saw that they are started to ban silly bandz from schools since they are a distraction! Imagine that! When I read that, it made me remember when Slap bracelets were "the thing" and how horrible it was that they were banned! I'm sure there are MANY kids out there SO terribly upset that silly bandz are banned from their classroom. Oh to be a child again and only have silly things like this to be upset about! LOL!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Meet Rosy....

Today we had our 1st experience with "Unschooling". (unschooling is basically allowing children to learn on their own thru nature, etc). While Jordan was working on his math lesson and Mya was working on her letters I saw this beautiful moth on the door outside. I showed it to Mya. She wanted to catch it. So I got a baby food jar and we caught this moth. Then she wanted to look up what it was. I was hoping we were able to find it online. Sure enough, we found out it was called a "Rosy Maple Moth". So she named it "Rosy". Then she wanted to know what it ate and all about it. (on a side note...this moth does not strange isn't it?) It was neat to see the kids learning thru nature. We didn't have it planned out today to learn about moths but it ended up being our science lesson for today. I love homeschooling! :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Splish Splash

After TONS of hard work done by Ryan our pool was FINALLY swimable (is that a word?). It looked like a scummy pond a month or so ago. After much hard work he had it crystal clear and had all the chemical levels perfect for swimming! Thank you honey for all your hard work! It was a wonderful Sunday afternoon swimming in the pool.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

History does Repeat itself (well, in the case of hand-me-downs at least)

So now I'm on this kick of taking pictures and comparing pictures of my kids wearing clothes that were handed down from my oldest to the younger ones. Just like THIS post I have once again decided to take a picture of my child in an outfit handed down from an older sibling. And again, this wasn't intentially done. I didn't set out today to re-create history. But when I saw Gracie wearing this outfit it reminded me of Mya's 1 yr picture that I took in the same outfit. So I went and got the same prop I used almost 4 yrs ago to take Mya's One Year Picture and decided to take an 11 month old picture of Gracie. So here you have it folks! I'm once again "Re-Creating History".

Here is a picture of Mya just a couple of days before she turned 1 yr old

Here is a picture of Gracie that I took today. (darn, Mya didn't have the shoes on in her picture. I thought for sure she did--those were Mya's and passed down to Gracie too!)

Here is another picture to compare as well. This was Jordan back in March of 2007 and this was Mason today. Jordan was 3 1/2 and Mason is 2 1/2...and they are wearing the same shirt! Guess Mase is a little bigger than Jordan was!



Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Breastfeeding: Take 4

It has taken me 4 tries at breastfeeding to make it to my goal of breastfeeding my baby for at least the first year. Well, I haven't made it to that one year goal with Gracie just yet but on the 22nd it will be 11 months and I definetly don't forsee any weaning taking place in the next month. So I'm super happy to see my goal being met soon! It's what I set out to do since I was pregnant with my first baby 7 years ago. I knew from the time I found out I was pregnant that I would breastfeed. I never considered NOT doing it. When Jordan was born we started out GREAT! No problems at all with nursing. But due to me working outside the home we only made it about 4-5 months. When I had Mya once again nursing was going great. This time we made it to about 7 months. Both of them were given supplemental bottles of formula throughout the day (that was probably the main reason for stopping so soon--I didn't pump so my milk supply slowly dried up). Then came Mason. I breastfed him for a full 9 months. He only had a few bottles of formula now and then. I worked hard at pumping milk for when he needed bottles. I thought FOR SURE we would continue for the first year UNTIL I got a real bad kidney infection and had to be put on strong antibiotics so I couldn't nurse for 5 days. I had to pump and dump. How horrible to see all that milk being dumped down the drain. And how horrible it was to see Mason want to nurse so badly and not understanding why I was handing him this plastic bottle instead. I cried many tears because of that! Right before bed was the worst. He seemed SO sad to be missing out on those nursing sessions. By the time it was time to nurse him again he had almost weaned himself. I continued to breastfeed him for about another month but it didn't go very well. So now I'm on my 4th try at it. It has been going GREAT! Forget the supplemental bottles of formula, forget pumping (I mean, really, WHO has time to pump??..I sure don't!) I just feed Gracie when she needs to be fed. No messing around with pumping. Usually that involves me feeding her while walking around the house doing other things but hey, she's happy! As long as she has boobie she's a happy girl! Since I don't pump I have had to buy a can of formula for when we are in the car. She SCREAMS when we go anywhere. So I put the formula in a bottle and it helps keep her content while we drive somewhere. BUT other than that no formula.

I keep trying to think of why this time around it was so successful. All of them started out the same so why is it lasting so long this time? I came to the conclusion that it's because now I feel more comfortable and confident with it. The first two, I would leave the room to nurse the baby (even in my own home). I just didn't feel comfortable when other's were around (besides Ryan of course). Even with a blanket over I was afraid the blanket would slip off or something. When I think about it now, how foolish of me. With Mason I was a little more comfortable but I still wouldn't do it in public. I guess I was afraid someone would make a negative comment?? Again..foolish. But with Gracie I bought a nursing cover and with that I have nursed her everywhere! I feel comfortable because I don't have to feel like I might accidentally expose myself in a way I would not want to. Now of course at home I don't use that. Just in public. So, I guess since I have felt more comfortable I didn't have anything holding me back from doing what I wanted to do for my baby. Now I'm thinking that this time my issue might be with weaning. I've never "had" to wean really. It just kinda happened slowly on it's own. Gracie sure LOVES to nurse! Especially at night. She would all night long if I would let her. She seems to think I'm an "open all night" milk bar! Either that or she is using me as a human pacifier. (she's my only child that refused to take a pacifier--to this day she won't take it!) So we'll see how that goes when that time comes to wean. I'm not sure when that will take place. I'm just SO happy to have almost made it a solid year of breastfeeding!

Now on a side note. I do think breastfeeding is a great thing and EVERY mother should at least give it a try. BUT I don't hold anything against you for formula feeding your baby. I know each person's situation is different and everyone has their reasons for not being able to breastfeed. I do not judge you. I trust you have done what is best for your baby and your situation.

Re-creating history

This is a picture of Jordan & Mya. Jordan was 2 1/2 and Mya was probably 8 months old. Notice the clothes.

Here is a picture of Mason and Gracie wearing the same clothes that Jordan & Mya had on a few years ago!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Awhile back I posted THIS post. And finally a few weeks ago I made my homemade laundry detergent! I've been using it for almost 2 weeks and I must say it's working WONDERFUL! I can't tell the difference between using homemade and store bought. Besides the savings left in my pocket! Actually I think it might even get the clothes cleaner. My kids get their clothes SUPER dirty. We live in the country and the kids are CONSTANTLY getting muddy or dirty from playing outside. I don't know if it's my imagination but I honestly think that my kids clothes are coming out cleaner than before. I don't notice any stains left on their clothes. Usually the dirt or in Gracie's case--baby food leave stains on their clothes. They seem to come out REALLY clean now! So I have to say I'm 100% happy with making it homemade! Here is the recipe I used:

* 4 cups of water.
* 1/3 bar of cheap soap, grated.
* 1/2 cup washing soda (not baking soda).
* 1/2 cup of Borax (20 Mule Team).
* 5-gallon bucket for mixing.
* 3 gallons of water.

First, mix the grated soap in a saucepan with 4 cups of water, and heat on low until the soap is completely dissolved. Add hot water/soap mixture to 3 gallons of water in the 5-gallon bucket, stir in the washing soda and Borax, and continue stirring until thickened. Let the mix sit for 24 hours, and voila! Homemade laundry detergent.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Only in Small town Tennessee

Jordan is in baseball. The team he is on is a small town team and everyone knows everyone. Well, except us since we are newbies to the area. Funny thing is they knew where we lived though! I was listening to the parents as they rooted for their kids playing ball. The names I heard being shouted out consisted of Buck, Tadpole and Wheel (okay, so the kids name was "Will" but with the deep tennessee southern accent it was pronounced "Wheeeel"). So yes, I kid you not. There was a boy named "Tadpole" on his team. Now I'm not 100% sure that was his given name but it was the name printed on the back of his baseball jersey and it's what everyone called him. I wish I could put on here how it actually sounded when they said his name. It was something like this-- Taaad po. If you could imagine saying that with a deep southern accent. Buck, not that most strangest name. But I still found it rather "Country". They have even changed Jordan's name into something more "country". Jo-dan. That is kinda how they pronounce it. Just say it like that but add some "country" to it! Oh and this picture is of Jordan after his game. He got the "game" ball! He was SUPER proud! He plays 1st base and got all the outs for his team and his team won! Way to go Jordan!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A beautiful Mother's Day

I spent a few hours out on the back deck just watching the kids play. It was SO fun to watch my precious kiddos. I love them so much and feel privileged that God gave me those four precious babies. I can't imagine life without them.

4 reasons I love being a Mom

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A tribute to my Mother

The past few phone conversations I've had with my Mom have been really good. We've just talked a lot about being a "mom". It really got me thinking about how my own Mother has influenced my life as a mother. Something my mom did that has always stuck with me was that she always told us how much she loved us. Every day, many times a day. I never doubted how much my mom loved me. I truly love my kids more than anything and I am always making sure I tell them so they know. I want them to know just how much I love them just like I knew how much my mom loved (and still does of course!) me! Another attribute my mom had was that she was always adventurous with us. Whether it was driving Up North to walk up Thunder Mountain or going to Door County on the beach. We were always going somewhere or doing something adventurous She also helped us build forts in the woods and even a real tee-pee in our backyard! She always seemed to enjoy going on all these adventures with us. Now I'm not QUITE as adventurous with my kids as she was with us (I prefer being more crafty rather than trampling thru the woods--lol)but I understand how she felt enjoyment in that. When I think about what I want to do for fun it always involves something for my kids (making a craft, going to a playground, taking a walk on a nature trail, going to the zoo). I truly find enjoyment in watching my kids have fun. So now I understand how my mom felt when she did those fun things with us. There are many small things I find myself doing and think "that is JUST like Mom!". One of those things is taking pictures of my kids. I don't think a day goes by that I don't snap a few pictures. Thank goodness for the digital age or else I would need a whole room just to store all those printed off pictures! I would have millions! So does my mom. She has a whole closet full of pictures--mostly of us kids. So when I grab my camera to get a shot I often think "that is just like mom!". Another thing I have recently noticed that I do is point out God's beautiful creation. My mom was always fascinated with nature. She would take pictures (see she was ALWAYS taking pictures) of flowers and leaves all the time. She would collect leaves and they would be all over our house. She would also point out beautiful trees and flowers all the time. I now find myself doing that every time we drive somewhere. You can also find little vases of wild flowers (some are actually weeds-lol) around my house. I think of my mom every time I see something beautiful in nature. Something else that my mom did that has always stuck with me was when she would pray with us before we left for school. From Kindergarten thru my very last day of High school every morning before we left for school she would hold my hands and pray with me for the day. EVERY DAY with out fail. That had such a big impact on my life that you had better believe that I did that with Jordan when he started Kindergarten. So there you have it. Just a few of the special ways my very own Mother has impacted my life as a Mother. She is one very special lady in my life. Without her I would not be who I am today. I know I don't get to see her as often as I would like but I want her to know that I think about her daily and love her with all my heart. Happy Mother's Day Mom!