Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Card Surprise!

Here is our Christmas card for this year!  We sure surprised a lot of people! :)
Wishing you all a blessed Christmas season and New Year!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Complain, worry, fret....

moan and groan,
feel uneasiness about,
have resentment over.

Oh how many times do we do this??  How many times do I go about my day worrying, complaining, grumbling to God, sighing over the latest sibling argument, another load of laundry, you're in time out again....

...when I can choose to be THANKFUL

Gratefulness is the key to a happy, full, joy-filled heart!

"give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:18

There will always be something that we could worry over or complain about. 
There will be hard times.  Extra bills, sick kids, the house is dirty, there's not enough time to do everything, disease, suffering, loss.

But there is always something to be thankful for.


We have a choice.

What will yours be?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Back from Florida with some pics!

We went to Florida last week for our Goddaughter's baptism!  And we had lots of fun goofing around and taking some pics of our family :)

There's always someone who isn't looking at the camera! LOL!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A really big snake.

We had just finished a picnic of chick-fil-a in our backyard.  I was slowly bringing things back into the house, folding the picnic up.  Rob is holding Caroline and calls me to come look at something above him.  He is standing under a pergola, which has a really massive Carolina jasmine vine growing over the top of it.  The previous owners had stapled this black netting under the top of the pergola so that when the leaves from the jasmine fell, they would not fall on their head, but be caught by the netting.  I'm thinking, "okay, honey, be right there...just let me..." when I hear him say with a little bit of panic in his voice, "Ian get inside right now.  Ian....get....inside!"  So, I grab up Ian (save the kid, ask questions later, right?  Maybe it's a yellow jacket nest!)  Toss him into the garage and start to close the garage door, and Rob is trying to get in quickly with Caroline at this point.  He tells Isabel to take over Caroline, so now I know there is something scary out there.  All the kids go inside, and I go over to the pergola and look up.

"Is that a snake?"  he asks.

When I start to realize what he is talking about, my mind recoils at the thought that this is a real live snake hiding up in the pergola....sure, we have seen a snake living up there before.  But this snake's belly was fatter than my arm. 

Oh.  My.  Gosh.

My mind tries to think of any other possibility of what this thing could be until I see it's scales.  And each scale is the size of a fingernail.  I am starting to think in expletives about now.  But I tell my husband that it is definitely just a really big rat snake....I know, because I saw something on the internet about how they can get really, really strange cases.

He asks if I think the previous owners let loose a giant python.

We start thinking about the movie Anaconda.

When I say "big", it was a big snake.

By now, we are sure it is a snake, so we do the only possible thing to do.  We go inside and load as many guns as we can carry. 

I'm thinking, "if a snake that big is up in the pergola...."

Fill in the blank:  it could eat my kids.
                             does it have a mate hiding under the deck?
                             at some point, it was on the ground.
                            what if it had come into the garage?
                             that thing could probably constrict me!
                             what if a bullet doesn't kill it?
                             I wonder how far it can strike.
                            how are we going to get it down?

We are armed and he decides to poke it.  It doesn't move.

"I think it's dead," he says.

"There is no way it is dead.  It's just hanging out.  That's what big snakes do."

He pokes it some more and it doesn't move...he notices that it's belly looks collapsed.

Finally we are fairly convinced that maybe we won't have to shoot it up, and that it is indeed a really large dead snake. 

So he gets a ladder and climbs up with a gun at the ready, just in case....and starts to pull it out.

The skin comes apart in pieces.

That's when we realize that it is not in fact a black rat snake.

It's not a real snake at all.  Dang previous owners must have thought it was funny to scare someone senseless with a really big blow-up snake. 
We laughed about it.  Mostly in relief.  I sort of wanted to cry.  I didn't even want to touch the fake snake. 
Ugh.  I hate it.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Garden Mid-October 2013

In the garden, we currently have rutabaga, cabbage, pumpkin, squash, zucchini and okra in the ground.  We planted seed for broccoli, lettuce, carrots and onions along with some herbs, but I have yet to see those things come up.  Oh yeah, and the last 3/4 of the garden are full of cowpeas, aka black-eyed peas, aka crowder pea, aka southern peas.  Technically they are just a cover crop to enhance the fertility of the soil, but we are harvesting their delicious little peas as well.

Rutabaga seems to be doing great.  Cabbage did not start well, and is still very small....not even in a round head yet.  Pumpkin we got into the ground too late....I think it will frost and kill them before they set fruit. (yeah, we were wayyyy late with the pumpkin).  Squash and zucchini I planted super late just to see if they would produce anything this late in the season, and what do you know?  So far, they are doing great!  Eating fresh squash in October???  Yes please!  The okra is still producing.... that stuff has been crazy. 

(Above)  Rutabaga on the row to the left.  Cabbage is supposed to be growing on the row to the right.  It's pretty slow.  The day after we planted seeds we had a huge downpour and that washed some away, I'm afraid. 

Rutabaga (above), Squash (below)

Woohoo!  Squash in October! 


They are covered in kudzu bugs because we have not treated them with anything.  The bugs apparently drink something from the plant stems, so we will see how many pea pods we can harvest before this starts to affect the actual peas.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Baby Sleep Hell 1 week update

I'm back.  Sleepy, but back.

So we moved Ian back into his room and he has been very happy with that.  Poor kid, now I feel bad that I ever thought it was a good idea to move him out- but all is well!  He won't remember it, and now he is in his new bunkbed.  Lower bunk, obviously.  The bunkbed arrived Tuesday.  Rob put it together and Ian was thrilled.  He had no problems with leaving the crib for his big boy bed.  I told him that there was only one rule with sleeping in the bunkbed and that was that he had to stay in his bed once we tucked him in, and in the morning when he woke up, he could call for Mommy or Daddy to see if it was time to get up.  I thought for sure, my strong willed child will never cooperate with this rule....I secretly wanted to keep him contained in a crib until he was 5.  I watched him as I closed his door to just a crack, and he instantly got out from under the covers and crawled all over his bottom bunk....but the kid didn't get out of his bed.....THE ENTIRE NIGHT!  And in the morning??? In the morning, he called for us to see if he could get out!!!!

Oh man....I was beside myself.  I was completely giddy that he had obeyed this one directive!

Night Number 2 went the same way. 

So, Ian is pleasantly transitioned to his new bed, which leaves the crib free for C, but she is  such a screamer that I think we are still going to wait until she outgrows (?) this screaming stuff before she moves into the room with him.

As far as C goes, I started with the first commenter's idea to wait to nurse C when she starts her usually nightly scream instead of right before I put her to bed at 6:30pm. 


It worked on the first night.  I fed her dinner, bathed her, got her ready for bed, put her in the pack and play and she cried for just 15 minutes.  And then she didn't wake up for another 3 hours.  There was no screamfest an hour into her sleep!!

Night Two, it started to work again.  In fact, she was asleep within 9 minutes and I thought we were homefree.  But she did wake up 45 minutes later screaming, so I nursed her then.  And she went back to sleep.

But then she woke up an hour later, and then an hour after that....almost every hour or two.  And she didn't want to just be held or shushed to go back to sleep.  She wanted to nurse. 

The next two nights were also like this.  Tiring for me.  Not so bad for hubby, since I just kept getting her up and nursing her.

Ugh.....I so thought maybe that was the solution!

But hey, I'm not done trying things.   Last night I tried nursing her around 6:00pm, after her baby food, then I gave her a bath and put her to bed.  Ummm.....that didn't work so well for the nightly scream.  She still woke up at 7:17pm (after going down at 6:30) and screamed until 8:07....yes, 50 minutes with 3 interventions.  But it does seem like she just gets more angry after we go in and pick her up.   After the third time we went in there, you could hear her cries start to wind down....but still that is one persistent baby to scream that long!   And why isn't she tired before an hour of screaming is up?  I mean as an adult, it's exhausting to cry for that long!  How does a little baby do it????

OH....but the good news about last night is that she did sleep for 3 hour stretches!  More or less.... she woke up at 10 something and nursed, 12 something and nursed and 3 something and nursed.  So that was actually a big improvement on the previous nights!

Thanks for the ideas.....I mean, she is doing small periods of CIO right now, but we may have to progress to just plain CIO since going in to comfort her seems to make it all worse! 

Friday, October 4, 2013

I'm in baby sleep hell.

Okay, so transitioning Caroline out of our bed and into the pack and play in her shared room with Ian went really well for about 2 nights.  And then it was a disaster.  She has never been an "easy" baby, so I don't know why I thought this would be easy!

She would cry, it would wake Ian up.  Or she would be asleep and then we would put Ian to bed about an hour later and she would wake up and scream, which would leave me mad at Ian for waking her up (and we all know that is fair, right? To be mad at a 2 1/2 year old for waking up a baby? Yeah.)

So at first we would swoop Ian up out of his crib and put him in a pack and play in our room so that C could fuss without disturbing him.  But he wasn't really sleeping that great in the pack and play in our room, and I think he might have even felt a little displaced...which in reality, he was!  So during the day he was starting to act out.  Sitting in time out, oh 6,000 times a day.  Ian is strong-willed as it is, so time out 6,000 times a day didn't do much for him.

I was frustrated...overall....with everything.

We hadn't really fixed any problems.....we just traded one kid out of our room for another kid in our room. 

And things were going down hill fast.  I was beyond frustrated.  I was frustrated in the daytime with all the acting out.  I was frustrated in the nighttime with all the crying and settling, and resettling.  I thought I had all the answers for getting C to sleep since I had read the internet up and down. 

It turns out, I didn't have any answers.

The other night, when the baby was screaming, and Ian was displaced and not sleeping, I started my husband. 

For doing exactly what I had told him to do.

Because what I told him to do wasn't plan wasn't working....and I wanted to blame somebody.....anybody.

I am still so ashamed of how I acted.  I just cannot even believe it was me.  Of course I apologized and (thankfully!) he forgave me immediately.  But it was awful and I knew something had to change. 
What we were doing was clearly not working.  It was breaking our family.

So we made the decision to move Ian back into his own room and bring C back into our room in a pack and play.  And it has already been much better as far as Ian's behavior is concerned. 

But the problem with C remains this:  She screams for an hour or more (usually just 1 hour) around bedtime.

Here is what happens:

5:30ish C eats dinner (babyfood dinner, not just breastmilk).
6:00pm C has a bath- she LOVES bathtime
6:15ish New diaper, get into pajamas, nurse
6:30pm-ish Put her down in the pack and play, with the fan on for noise, usually sleepy but awake; sometimes asleep from nursing.
7:15-7:30pm Somewhere between 45 minutes to an hour later, C wakes up and starts screaming.
For the next hour at least, we go in every 10 minutes to comfort her.  But she is hysterical....I basically pick her up and she calms down and sometimes instantly falls asleep, and then I put her back down and she might stay asleep for a minute or two, but then wakes up screaming.

This is every night.  I don't know how to get her past the "1 hour past bedtime screamfest".  

After she finally settles down (usually after an hour of this screaming routine), she is asleep for another 3-4 hours, waking around 11:30pm to nurse and then wakes around 4am to nurse, and after nursing goes right back to sleep beautifully....and then she wakes up around 7:30am.  I'm totally okay with the 2 nursings throughout the night....but the screaming isn't about wanting to nurse....I just don't get it.

I don't know what to do.  She's got a routine, she usually goes down just do I get her to make it past that daily nighttime scream?

I need help!  Right now I feel like we're in baby sleep hell.  It's at least better since Ian is getting sleep again, and I know it won't be this way is a limited amount of time....just like her colic/purple period was. 

Did I mention she is 6 months old today?? 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Four F's

Fireplace renovation!

Falling asleep, Ian style!

Feast of St. Therese cake!

Finding my feet!

First, (gotta love alliteration), here are some before, during and after pics of our fireplace.  It was the boring old dark red brick with brass and glass doors....blah.  I didn't realize how much I didn't like it until we whitewashed the brick.  Before I was just happy to have a wood burning fireplace.  Now, I'm happy to have a really beautiful I-did-it-myself fireplace!

Before we moved in:

Whitewashing took about 2 hours.  We had to do 2 coats.  But super easy:  1 part white latex paint to 2 parts water.  Basically 8 cups of water and 4 cups of paint did the job with quite a bit left over.  We probably could have halved that. 

I have to say when I started whitewashing, Rob was outside and I thought that it looked like white mold all over my bricks.  "Great", I thought, "He's going to come in and hate this and say that it looks like I've made the fireplace look moldy!"  But as it dried, it no longer looked moldy ;) 
Thank goodness!

Here is the finished product.  It's not the best lighting, but you get the idea.  We are installing a wood-burning fireplace insert soon to heat our entire home!  Thus the gaping fireplace opening minus the old brass and glass doors.

And a little bit more of the room.
Meanwhile, during all the whitewashing, Ian fell asleep.
Like this:

Today Isabel wanted to make a cake to celebrate the Feast of St. Therese.
We made a cake recipe from The Pioneer Woman.  It was delicious.
Isabel designed it with a hand-drawn picture of St. Therese and she iced and "flowered" it herself.

She even let Ian help with the flowers.

Finished product.

And Finally, Caroline Found her Feet.
Got 'em!

Oh!  I got 'em!

Can I get them to my mouth???


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Me and Flatophant

Meet Flatophant.  Her new sleeping buddy.
And sometimes hat to protect her balding head.
Okay, okay...that wasn't very nice about the balding!

Also good for flying lessons.
And of course, to eat.
One more, just for fun.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sleep training: Update after Night One!

Well, I'm baffled.  Here is a recap of last night:

6:30pm put C into the pack and play after a bedtime routine including bath and nursing.

She fell right complaining. 

8:00pm put Ian to bed in his crib in the same room.  He was quiet!!!  He fell asleep around 8:20.

9:10pm  She woke up and I nursed her in their  bedroom, so as not to stimulate her with lights and sounds of the living room.  She fell back asleep nursing and I put her back in the pack and play.

9:30pm  She woke up and cried for a little while, but not a hysterical cry....just kind of fussy.  I went back in and held her for a minute and laid her back down and she fell back to sleep after fussing for a few more minutes.

12:10am She woke up and nursed, went right back to sleep.

1:00-2:00am  She was talking and fussing and crying during this hour.  It woke up Ian, so I took him out of his crib and he laid down in our bedroom with me while Rob let C fuss it out a little bit and then she fell back to sleep on her own.

4:55am  C woke up and I fed her and then she went back to sleep on her own.

7:14am  Ian woke up and was whispering from his crib for Mommy to get him up!  WHISPERING!  I can't believe it!

8:30am C FINALLY wakes up.....that's 14 hours.  I know, she wasn't sleeping the entire 14 hours, but this is much better than any sort of system we have had up until this point.

So overall, we had to get up to do something with her (feed, comfort, etc.) 5 different times and this is so much better than I was expecting.  I think she was really yearning for some good sleep in her own space.  She didn't ever really cry it out, and I fed her when I felt like she was hungry.  I'm not trying to get her to not eat at night....I'm happy to feed her if she is hungry.  This was really just an attempt to get her to sleep in her own room in the pack and play, and it was a success in my opinion!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

We're sleep training...need I say more?

I'm not sure what I was thinking.  We bought this house and thought, "oh yes, we will put Caroline and Ian in the same room....they will share a room and this will be great."  Sure, in my head this sounded so easy.  In reality, I have a baby who doesn't really care to sleep...or doesn't really know how to sleep.  And I have a 2 1/2 year old who likes to push every button, and do the exact opposite of what I tell him to do. Like I'm going to put him to bed and he's going to be quiet like I tell him to????

What was I thinking?

So I was fed up.  I was fed up yesterday when C did not sleep well during the day for the umpteenth time.....because not sleeping well during the day translates into not sleeping well at night.  And I had been up with her by myself Wednesday night and Thursday night.....late.  And then early.  I was exhausted.

So exhausted that I whined about it on facebook.

"Okay, so I cried reading this, because it is so true and because we just went through a super tough night with husband out of town, baby not sleeping, toddler waking up to pee pee in the potty every 3 hours during the night because he doesn...'t want to wet his nighttime diaper (I's a good thing, right?), baby completely rejecting one breast, and I'm tired and want to cry! But then I read this post and it helped me remember that every mom goes through this! There is someone (many) who are just as tired as I am this morning, and they still go on to handle their children with LOVE during the day."
Then my husband got back from out of town.  And C slept like an angel that night.  Go figure.
The next night was not so good, she was up for baby party time at 4:30am.  So then last night I guess Rob was done with all this baby-not-sleeping-nonsense and he sat with her while she cried it out....sort of.  She cried and he was there, and then eventually she fell asleep. 
I was mad about the CIO.  I felt terrible that she cried, my blood pressure was rising, so he took her upstairs where I could not hear her.  I googled "CIO" on my phone as I lay in bed, trying to find reasons why she shouldn't CIO so that I could march upstairs and give him a piece of my mind, and so that I could save her from the crying and cuddle her to sleep.  What I found was one of a gazillion sites on CIO, and this one convinced me that our baby indeed needed some sort of self-soothing training....not that CIO was the complete answer, but I read enough that I was able to go to sleep and let him handle her last night, and today I sprung into action. 
I moved the pack and play into Ian's room.  So Ian is still in his crib and C went down for a nap in the pack and play.  I put a super loud fan in there for white noise.  I put C down when she was very sleepy, full of milk, but still awake.  She cried.  I left and timed 5 minutes and went back in.  I picked her up (okay, have no idea if that was the right thing to's what I wanted to do, but I felt like it might be a bad idea)....calmed her, laid her back down and she cried for 10 minutes.  Same routine, went back in and soothed, laid her back down and came back after 11 minutes.  It took 50 minutes, but then she fell asleep.
I couldn't believe it.  Yes, I thought my baby was going to really stay awake for ever.  I thought she would cry and never give up.  But she didn't.  Her cries got more and more tired and less "fighting", and then she got into a comfortable position and went to sleep.
Rob asked what I did while she was crying.
Crunches.  I figured it would help relieve some of the adrenaline I had flowing while she was crying and while I was getting stressed over the crying.
Well, not 50 minutes of crunches, but enough to take off the adrenaline flow ;)
Then I put Ian to bed.  He was a little noisy at first.  He was totally testing me.  He was kicking his feet on the crib mattress and then looking over at her pack and play to see if it would wake her up.  It did, and he didn't do it again after the talking to that he got.  But I had her back to sleep in 10 minutes.  And she continued to sleep and then he fell George, at one point they were both asleep in the same room.  I thought I was going to fly to the moon I was so excited.
So she took a good afternoon nap, and so did he.  But as the day progressed I started to get really anxious about what the night would hold.  She was getting cranky around dinner time and I thought there is no way to hold her off another 1 1/2 hrs.  So I gave her her nighttime bath and we got into pjs and nursed and I put her to sleep at 6:30pm.  It is now 7:29pm and she is still sleeping.  I have no idea how it will go trying to put Ian to bed in about 30 minutes.  The best I could think to do was at least get his pj's out of the room so that he can put them on somewhere other than his room, and then we will tiptoe to bed!?!? 
The other problem with my plan is that Ian has a cold.  So there is the potential of him sniffing, sneezing and being utterly cranky throughout the night which could also throw a big wrench into my sleep training plan. 
I guess only time will tell...the minutes keep on going by and it's only a matter of time until C decides she's going to wake back up.
From this....
To this.....

Wish me luck!

Monday, September 9, 2013

5 months old! Pics and milestones

I'm five months old!
I can almost sit up on my own for a few seconds.
I've lost almost all of my hair!
But I'm still cute :)  My new hair is coming in blonde.

At night, I am still a tricky baby.  Some nights I sleep great, and others I like to party until 12am....or wake up and party at 4am.  I still sleep in Mommy and Daddy's room, but I will be transitioning to the crib in my new room pretty soon.  I roll over onto my tummy at night, and that used to wake me up and make me really upset, but now I have figured out how to roll onto my tummy and sleep :) Ahhhhh.....

I can talk......a lot.  Mommy thinks it is just babble, but I know exactly what I am saying! 
I still love bathtime.  It might be my favorite time of the day! 
After baths, I like to sing a song about being "so fresh and so clean".
I've also started to eat baby food.  I am still in stage one foods and Mommy mixes in oatmeal cereal with them.  So far I have tried sweet potatoes, apples, bananas, and pears.

 I'm about 14lbs and starting to look too long for my infant carseat!
Mommy can't believe I'm growing so fast! 
See you next month!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Caged, Part II...the Chicken Tractor.

After stalking chicken tractor designs, running numbers, measuring, running more numbers, a couple trips to different farm and garden centers, and a whole 'lotta man handy husband freed the chickens.  Well, freed them from the coop to their new, spacious, almost-like-being-complete-free-rangers-but-not-quite chicken tractor.  It weighs a ton.  It has wheels on the back but it is impossible for one person to move it on their own to a new location.  We have to either use the Kawasaki mule or the tractor to reposition it.  But it's done.  And it allows the birds to have access to new spaces while keeping them safe from predators and keeping our neighbor's yard safe from them! ;)  And we can position them over the garden or any areas that need *ahem* fertilizer.

So from start to finish, here is their new cage.

Nesting box built in 30 minutes.  They've already taken to it.

I had originally thought we could just let them lay their eggs in that plastic crate, and Roxy did, but she seemed really stressed out that it wasn't very private. LOL!