"Lo, Children Are An Heritage of the LORD: and the Fruit of the Womb is His Reward" - Psalm 127:3

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Progress and Packages

It's been a busy day. Seems like much longer than yesterday since I posted, given the amount of things that have been done. I guess that's a good thing.
I think I'd get a lot more done if I wasn't always having to be on the alert for things like this.  Thanks to the encouragement of his brothers, the one year old is now able to climb onto the top bunk...

And then there is the four year old.  And sand.  On my floor.  Repeatedly.  And this was no accident. The favorite new game is to throw sand at the open door.  Yeah.  Our big sandbox is buried in snow.  But the kids filled the water table (which is shaped like a pirate ship) with sand and moved it to be near the door.  We moved it yesterday, but he was still carrying a scoop of sand over to where he could throw it into the door.

So if it weren't for all the sweeping, and chasing the baby off the ladder, and today, keeping the baby from filling the toilet with all things un-flushable, I might actually get something done.  That and the fact that my back was hurting yesterday.  I went to the chiropractor and he suspects that I either have a compressed or herniated disc in my lower back, which is putting pressure on the nerve that is making my leg fall asleep.  We're waiting to see how I am Monday, hoping this adjustment will be enough, but I may have to have an orthopedic consultation.  So last night I wasn't up to doing too much.  We had AWANA clubs at church and I went and helped awhile with that until it was clear that I needed ice and pain killer.  I didn't get much done before the appointment because I had a one-month-old in my daycare, and she wasn't interested in being put down.  After AWANAS I did get time to read while I iced my back, and was able to finish my book - The End of Your Life Book Club.
Remember how I told you I had gotten myself into a bind with all the books I need to read?  Well, talk about multiplying the problem... I found an online book club on one of the blogs I occasionally read.  Their book for March is The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman.  It's a fiction book, and since I'm obsessive about switching back and forth this year between fiction and non-fiction, I need to read a fiction book now anyway.  So I signed up for the book club.  If I run out of time it won't matter because there are so many people in the book club already.  They won't miss me.  The problem came when I stopped in the library on my way home last night - just quick enough to pick up that one book - and ended up grabbing five instead.  Seven inches worth of books.  (My eight year old thinks I'm nuts for measuring the books.) I'm keeping track of how many inches and pages I've read this year.  I'm sure these won't all get read, but thought I'd bring them home to see which ones I would want to read.

The first thing I tackled this morning was my kitchen cupboard.  As I mentioned yesterday, I wanted to make the second shelf tall enough for the books to stand up.  I figured moving the heavy plates to the bottom row would help my eight year old be able to put things away.  What I didn't think fully through however, was that now he can't reach the plastic cups.  I should have made it so the books were on the top shelf.  I still might.

 Today was a good day for packages arriving.

The eight year old's birthday is coming up next week, and you would have thought this was one of his gifts.  It's not, but it is something really cool.  If we get it put together tonight, I'll show you what it is.  Until then, you'll have to live in suspense.  Hint - it's for the daycare.

I also got two of my allergy-free cookbooks in the mail.  I paged through the one on the left, and am not sure how much I'll be able to use that one.  It isn't free of all allergens - just some of them.  So there are a lot of recipes that I will either have to adjust or not use.  I didn't have time to go through the one on the right.

I also received the cookbooks I had ordered before we learned of the one year old's additional allergies.  I thought he would be able to eat most of the things that are allowed on the Paleo diet, and he probably would have if he didn't have these additional problems.  In fact, that's why I asked for him to be re-tested.  Well, it's a big part of it anyway, along with the fact that I thought there had to be something more he was allergic to.  But as for the recipes, I thought if he could have almond flour, it would be a good low-carb option for everyone.  But that went up in smoke when he tested allergic to almonds.

 The biggest challenge to all these allergies is finding substitutes so he can eat a somewhat balanced diet.  And the substitutes are really expensive... especially the specialty flours.  A lot of recipes call for brown rice flour, and I did the math and figured out that it would be well worth the money to purchase a grain mill.  I researched it and found one I think should work well.  It arrived today too.  I would have shown you more than the box, but I started to open it up, and realized it would be better to leave it all put away until I have time to read all the paperwork and try it out.  So, more on that later.  Now I need to buy a big bucket of brown rice -  which they have for a good price at our local grocery store.  I use rice all the time, including to make my own rice milk, which I also did today.  I'm having to do it every week or two, depending on how much I make at once.

 I also bought a new portable crib.  It's a nice wooden crib, but it folds up nicely for storage.  Definitely a step up from a pack and play, and I use those all the time.  If this one works out well, I'm going to buy a couple more of them.  I hate wrestling with those pack and plays.

 The other big thing I got done was to cut and press my half square triangle pieces.  I layed them out on the counter to audition some designs.  I'm sure the colors will be re-arranged some, but for now I'm just trying to figure out what is going to look best.  So which design do you like best?  I have two at the top of my list, but I'm not going to tell you which ones they are because I don't want to influence your choice ;)  The one above - #1 - reminds me of Charlie Brown.

 #2 reminds me of a flock of birds in flight.

#3 reminds me of a reflecting pool.  And yeah, I see the three pieces on the right that I forgot to flip around.  Ha. I didn't notice them until I loaded the pictures on my computer, and I'm not going to lay it all out again to take a proper picture.

#4 is called broken dishes, but I also see pinwheels here.  Depends on how you look at it.

 #5 is a herringbone design, which kind of reminds me of braids or tire tracks - lol.  And yes, there are errors in this one too. I wouldn't necessarily keep the stripes of color.  I think I would adjust so that the two colored pieces match up better, but are more scattered around if that makes sense.

So, let me know which one you like.  I've got to run to the library again.  My printer isn't working for some stupid reason that I can't figure out, so I need to go print some things for homeschool. Let's see if I can get out of there without checking out any other books.   *wink*

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Lego Homeschooling, a "Book Bind," and a Sewing Update

It's been a few days since I updated you on what's been going on.  Busy here as usual. More ski club meetings (they are never ending - almost weekly meetings now, on top of weekend practices), and then the normal everyday reading, sewing, daycare and homeschool.  In other words, business as usual :)

So why the pictures of Legos?  Well, this my friends is homeschool. (Not complete homeschool, mind you, but part of it.)  This is a model of a home, gardens, etc., that was typical of the Ancient Indus River Valley.  Don't know where that is?  My homeschooler does :P  lol.  Just giving you a hard time ;)  Anyway, he was pretty detailed in his creation, including the river, a ladder, and a well.  At the same time, we've been learning about different religion - specifically Buddhism and Hinduism at the moment, along with lots of mythology and ancient history.  I used to hate ancient history, but I'm coming around to it.  There's some pretty interesting stuff to learn about.  

 It is our routine to do baths right after dinner (see that face and you'll understand why).  Last night, the one year old got down from his chair and ran straight into the bathroom, and climbed into the tub without waiting to get undressed.  It's one of his favorite things every day.  He often gets two baths a day as he tends to soak through his diaper overnight - even when we get up with him and change him in the middle of the night.

 The first of my allergy-free cookbooks arrived yesterday.  I have three more coming - two focused on baking, and two for meals.  This one looks like it's going to be pretty good.  I didn't have time to go through and pick out recipes yet, but I'm hoping to get a chance to do that later today.  And a bonus for my 22 year old when he comes to visit, these are all vegan recipes :)  I didn't notice that when I ordered it.

Their baked goods look really good - I hope they turn out as nicely as they look in the pictures.  So far I've only seen a couple of recipes that he can't have - using cornmeal.  He's allergic to corn, along with eggs, dairy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, coconut and sesame.  But thankfully I only saw a couple recipe (things like corn bread) that use it, so hopefully it won't be too much of an issue.

I made up a batch of breakfast cookies for him this morning.  Well, two batches really.  This is not a recipe from that book, but one I found on Pinterest.  I know I've mentioned this recipe before but I can't tell you how much I love it.  It's so simple and quick, and it keeps well.  I just mashed a banana on a plate, stirred in some oatmeal (I just eye-balled it), and then mixed in raisins.  I was going to use dark chocolate chips which he had been able to have before, but when I reviewed the contents, I saw that they contain soy, which we recently found out he can't have.  So no chocolate now unless it's straight from cocoa powder.  Maybe next time I'll have to try adding some of that.  I was thinking about doing a batch with applesauce and chunks of fresh apples, but I figured two batches was enough at once.  They each made about 8 cookies.  Three of them makes a good breakfast for him (we use them for snacks too).

 I added Craisins to the second batch.  I was surprised to find when I went to the store that several of the Craisins brand contained something he could not have.  I'm definitely having to read the labels on absolutely everything now.

 These cookies don't change much in the oven, so make sure they're pressed down into the shape you want them before you stick them in the oven.  The first time we made these we ended up with cookie balls.  This is what they looked like before I put them in the oven (using the cookie sheet on top of my skillet to melt the cheese on my breakfast.  Let's hear it for multitasking -lol).

And this is what they looked like after being baked 15 minutes at 350 degrees.  Pretty much the same, just a little browner.  The original recipe said to be sure and grease the cookie sheet or you would be sorry.  I haven't found that to be the case.  I like them better when I bake them on the stone, but even on the airbake sheet, I didn't have a problem getting them off.  They do stick pretty good, but I just use my metal spatula to slide them off, and I made sure to remove them before they had entirely cooled.

He still looks pretty sleepy here, doesn't he?  This is the kid that is talking about breakfast as I'm lifting him out of the crib.  I do make him get his diaper changed and get dressed before he eats, and you should hear it on the days that he has to have a bath first.

This is a little better.  One cookie down, two cookies with bites missing, and starting to perk right up.  I love that these cookies don't have any added sugar (the fruit is plenty).  I have added cinnamon to these in the past, but didn't today because I just didn't think about it, and I think they were just as good without it.  Of course if you wanted to get really fancy, a dash of vanilla might be nice...

The table project is moving along nicely.  It is nearly scraped off entirely.  This has been a much more labor-intensive project than we anticipated.  My husband works on this about every night, with the eight year old pitching in once in awhile.  I'm hoping this gets done this week so I can paint the top over the weekend and get the eight year old to working on it with the markers.

I also talked to a professional painter about doing our living room (main daycare room).  I have so much going on that I think it would be nice just to hire the work done.  Then it would definitely be done in one day and I could get on with setting up the daycare space the way I want, and doing the fun decorating projects I have picked out from Pinterest. ;)  It's a bit pricey, but I think well worth it. We have 10 foot ceilings in our living room and ladders and I are not on speaking terms - ha. More like mortal enemies.  My husband doesn't mind ladders (despite the fact that they've bucked him off more often than not), but straight lines are not his forte - and we're doing dark chocolate brown against a white ceiling on one of the walls...

I managed to get myself into a bind... a "book bind" if you'll pardon the pun.  Last weekend I decided I had too many library books checked out that I wasn't going to get to read soon enough, and I had a big stack of books I own that I want to read soon.  So I returned most of the library books, and put all my "want to read really soon" books on the piano (where I normally keep my current reading) instead.  Only eight of these are library books.  Yea... I can hear some of you laughing at the use of the word "only" in that statement.  The rest are mine, with fiction to the right and nonfiction to the left.  I have a self-imposed rule that I read a fiction book, then non-fiction, then fiction, etc.  And here enters my dilemma.

 I am about three quarters of the way finished with the book on the bottom "The End of Your Life Book Club" by Will Schwalbe - which by the way is a really good non-fiction book about the author's mother's battle with pancreatic cancer.  I think I mentioned that I recently joined the book club at the library.  It meets at noon in the middle of the week, which means I can only participate via their facebook page, thanks to the daycare.  I had asked if they ever thought about doing an evening book club, and from that question, a new evening book club was formed.  Their first meeting will be later this month, and will be on "The Poisonwood Bible" - which looks like it's going to be a great book.  But it's non-fiction.  (I should be clear that I LOVE non-fiction, and have to fight myself to ever read anything other than non-fiction).  But thanks to my self-imposed rule, this means that I can't start this book until I finish the one I'm reading, and then read a fiction book.  Lol.  Oh, and both of these books are about 2 inches thick :)  Suffice it to say I will be choosing a much shorter fiction book to read in between. :)  The other problem is that I've also requested to borrow another non-fiction book for training credits for my daycare licensing.  I had suggested a couple of weeks ago that they purchase the book, which they did at my request.  They are now mailing it to me, and they only allow three weeks from the time it is mailed from Cheyenne and returned back there - via  the ever speedy (not) media mail.  So I guess I'm going to need two very short works of fiction - lol.

Okay, so when I type it all out like this, it sounds a little obsessive, huh?  :)  Yep, That's me.  And pretty much all of it self-imposed.

 So in between everything else, I've also been working on sewing the red borders on my blue hexagon diamonds.  I am working on number 7 right now.

I also have seven more after that needing red borders.  Then I'm going to sew all 14 of them together and then remove the paper templates and start all over again.

Also in yesterday's mail was a lovely package from Connecting Threads ... my good friends.  They don't know me personally, but they're fairly well acquainted with my debit card.  LOL.  Anyway, the arrows pattern I mentioned the other day arrived.

I'm planning to use my Wing Clipper ruler for the flying geese section of the arrow blocks.  I think it's going to make things really simple.  I probably won't get to sew this for awhile.  I need to get the tote bags (yes, two of them) done asap.  I should have had these done last week, but it didn't happen.  All of my sewing machine time needs to go toward those before I worry about anything else.

Of course I couldn't just order the pattern.  I mean, as long as they were shipping something to me, I might as well have a little sale fabric, right?  So I picked out this nice assortment of blue fabrics to be added to my hexagon quilt.  (That was the intent anyway.  I'm trying to decide whether that blue rain drop fabric - the one with the green in it - really goes with this, or if it's too much.)

I'm thinking maybe I'll start cutting fabric later today - both for the hexagon quilt and the arrows.  But then, I keep thinking of things I want to get done "later today" and the list is getting mighty long... and it's already noon.  I'm also hoping to finish the Will Schwalbe book, clean off my kitchen island (where all my sewing stuff is), study the recipes in that new cookbook, homeschool while the daycare kids are napping, re-organize one of my kitchen cabinets, sew more of the red borders onto the  hexagon diamonds ... oh, and I have a chiropractor appointment at 5:45 (because my whole left leg has been numb from my hip to my toes for three days now) and we have AWANA clubs tonight, which my husband and I run.  I'm the master of multitasking, but I think it's clear to see that not all of these goals will be met - ha.

   In case you were wondering (or seriously bored) this is the cupboard I intend to change up.  I need to raise the top shelf so I can stand my recipe binders upright.  I have at least three more cookbooks arriving, and another I'm considering ordering, and I hate digging through a stack of binders laying down. It's so much easier with them upright.  (And you know how I am with books... I have another entire cupboard shelf full of cookbooks too... and more on the shelves in the garage...)  I think I'll also move the plates and bowls to the lower shelf.  See how bad this one is bowing?  I think the bottom one should be sturdier - and easier for the eight year old to safely put plates away on.  (He empties the dishwasher for me each morning.)

So there you have it.  When my older kids call they always ask me what I've been up to.  I usually either say, "Not much" or "Same old, same old."  So D & N, now you know what that means... assuming you actually read all this. :)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Happy Saturday!

It's been a good Saturday.  I got to hang out with my two youngest in a mostly quiet house while my husband went with our eight year old to a ski race in Jackson Hole.  He didn't do so well in his race - fell in both runs because they had over a foot of fresh powder on top of ice, but they had a good time in their free-time skiing.  It was the first time our eight year old has skied Teton Village, and he was impressed.

So while they were gone, the younger boys and I had fun together with running a couple of errands, spending some time at the library, and doing a bit of shopping. The one year old and his four year old brother found a couple of fireman hats in the vehicle today, and couldn't wait to wear them.   I've decided this combination of hats officially makes our one year old the fire dog.  

You can see his lip fairly well in this picture too.  He had his stitches out on Wednesday, which I worried was a little early, and it seemed like his lip was splitting open again this morning, so I stopped up at the clinic and had a nurse look at it.  She thinks it looks like it is healing okay, but that he will probably have a little dip in his lip right where the red is.  Thankfully she didn't think it would require any stitches.

So on to other topics.  See his foot?  Daddy is forever searching for both slippers.  Now I can show him with certainty what exactly happens to them... :)  They walk off.  Literally.

 The other night when I stopped at the grocery store, they had a great sale on paper towels and toilet paper (I had to buy 5 packages to get the deal, but it was worth it.  I just hadn't intended to use them this way...

 The four year old has really started to get into imaginative scenarios in his playing.  He was pretending his dog had a broken leg, and his older brother helped him put a cast on it.  He used two baskets - one upside down on top of the other - to make a kennel ... and we don't have pets, so I'm not sure where he got the idea for the kennel.  Anyway, he spent a good two hours in this same play theme.  He was even taking a string of Mardi Gras beads and looping it around the dog's head and "walking" his dog (good thing we don't have a real one, because it was pretty much strangulation)  :)

 This little guy is our daredevil.  See where his feet are?  I kept missing the shot, but he kept standing up and bouncing.

 Then he would slide all the way to the back - where he was hanging off the back, and rock as hard as he could.  No wonder he's the one who needed stitches.  I have a feeling we're going to be seeing a lot of the doctor with this one.

Well I suppose that's true regardless, considering his allergies.  I'm doing a little better at figuring out options to feed him.  I made him breakfast cookies today with oatmeal, bananas and cranberries.  (That's all.  Just smashed it all together and baked at 350 for 15 minutes.)  He loves them, but the four year old won't touch them.  Of course that's just how the four year old is.  He doesn't like sweets at all.  I have a feeling I'm going to be making these cookies several times a week, with all sorts of variations.  It's one thing he can have at snack time that at least resembles crackers or other carbs that the daycare kids can have but he can't.  I am sooooo looking forward to my allergy cookbooks arriving soon.  I hope they get here next week, because he's probably going to get really tired of the limited things I can think of to feed him until then.

This was so funny I had to share it, though it doesn't translate well through the pictures.  The baby was walking around in circles, singing "Ashee, Ashee ... fall down!"  He had the basic tune right but the words got lost except for the "ashee" part.  It was hysterical in person. :)

He would spin around, sing, fall down, then pop up and do it all over again. and again. and again.

I did manage to get a lot of things done today, though none of it was sewing related, and only a very little bit of time was spent reading.  I wanted to get my homeschool planning for the week done today too, but that didn't happen either.  I usually do that on Sunday afternoons, but since tomorrow is the Daytona 500, I had hoped to get it done today.  We don't have television service, but we do listen to the race online and follow it that way.

I did manage to order the homeschool books the eight year old will need for the next nine weeks though (all 32 of them!)  We're using Tapestry of Grace, which is a literature based curriculum, and I'll use those books for his brothers too, so it's worth it.  And I get them all used, so all 32 of them only cost around $150 on half.com.  I also ordered his birthday presents.  I gotta say I'm loving Swagbucks.  His birthday stuff would have been $53, but I only paid $28 on Amazon because I had $25 worth of credits built up.  Woohoo!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Very Productive Naptime :)

 I love naptime.  Especially when everyone actually sleeps :)  I can get a lot done.  Today I layed out my hexagon diamond units.  Last time I had these out, I thought I had made an error in sewing the red hexagons on one side.

Thankfully I was wrong about that, and they go together perfectly!  So now I'm going to go ahead and sew the red sides onto the blue diamonds (shown in a stack on the right) that I have finished.  I have 8 1/2 blue diamonds awaiting red borders.  Then I can get to work sewing these all together.

I also cut my dark brown dotted fabric to go with my brown charm squares.  I'm planning on half square triangles with these fabrics.  I can't wait to play with the layout.  Half square triangles offer so many possibilities.  I'm hoping to have some time this evening to use my sewing machine.  I want to put together those two tote bags, and maybe even start on these pieces.  That's a lofty goal though, given the distractions around here.

 Yesterday the one year old woke up at 5:30.  By 10, he had crashed on the floor in the midst of the daycare chaos.

See?  Yesterday was crazy too - they had every toy out and such a mess, and tons of noise.  Some days are like that.  Thankfully they're a little more subdued today.

 You've heard of a traffic stack-up, right?  We had our very own version yesterday.  I believe this was the doing of my eight year old, in his attempt to "clean up."

My husband has been working on scraping the laminate off of our folding table so we can paint it white and turn the eight year old loose with sharpies.  I can't wait to see how this turns out.  It's gonna be awesome :)

The baby was really into napping yesterday.  He was so sound asleep.  I needed him to get up so we could get to the clinic to get his stitches removed.  He was so sound asleep that I could lift his arm and let it drop and he didn't even respond.  I hate waking kids up when they're that into their sleep cycle.  They never wake up well from that.  But he recovered quickly, and the stitches came out easily enough.  And there was another popsicle in the end, so it's all good ;)